Monday, December 31, 2012

My Personal Review for Luke's Present by Sue Brown

When I saw Sue Brown was revisiting two of my favorite characters in her Morning Report series, I was thrilled. Welcome back to the Lost Cow Ranch and see what happens when both Luke and Simon need a little holiday help.

My Rating for Luke's Present:  4 Stars and highly recommended

Buy in e-book only at Dreamspinner Press


Welcome to the Lost Cow Ranch. When foreman Simon Bryan finds out that his partner, Luke, has postponed his knee surgery yet again, Simon doesn’t know what to do. Luke has been having nightmares and reeling from the flood that also took his beloved horse Lulu, Simon is at the end of his rope. It comes to head when he feels Luke start to pull away emotionally and Simon figures it is time to get through to Luke one way or another. With a special Christmas present, Simon is hopeful that things will return back to normal not just for him and Luke but also for the ranch they both love so much. But Simon is unprepared for Luke’s present that just may change everything in their relationship.

I absolutely adore Sue Brown’s Morning Report series and with this holiday novella, we return to the couple from the first book, Luke and Simon, who stole my heart in Morning Report (Book one). This is a perfect swan song for Luke, Simon and the rest of the boys at the Lost Cow Ranch.  The story is at times realistic, poignant and down right naughty at times. Ms. Brown comes full circle in Luke's Present and the readers will enjoy seeing everyone in the first three books back again for Christmas at the Lost Cow Ranch. The story is well written, delivers some really humorous moments that had me chuckling out loud at times and the characters are multi-dimensional. You can feel Luke’s pain as he hobbles on a bum knee to Simon’s desire to get Luke to have the operation and get better and more. 

The Morning Report series is one of the very first books I read from this author and from the very first book (Morning Report) I was hooked on the characters of the Lost Cow Ranch and the town it is in. The characters are well written, has realistic aspects in the story that you can not help but think "I have gone through that." or "I know someone who had that happen." This is a true testament of a masterful storyteller in my opinion. When the author can draw a reader in, capture their imagination and let themselves fall in love while reading of real life things that you may see online or in a newspaper article. The characters are the true stars, though, of this story and in Luke's Present we get a completed circle for the first set of boys, Simon and Luke, partners for over a decade and dealing with issues that may sink their relationship or it just might bring them closer than ever. 

Luke's Present is a wonderful story to enjoy this holiday or any day for that matter. If you enjoy sexy cowboys, a love that is so real, you can’t help wish for it in your life and a story that leaves you breathless in the end, then run-don’t walk-to grab LUKE’S PRESENT today. I highly recommend this entire series to enjoy and suggest you start with book one, Morning Report, to see how Luke and Simon’s story begins. 

The Morning Report Series is as follows:

Book one: Morning Report
Available in E-book & Print
Western M/M
Dreamspinner Press

A decade on from their first kiss, Luke Murray is more in love with Simon every day. Running the Lost Cow ranch for Luke’s parents, they keep their heads down and get along with the locals, even if Luke is known for being a hothead. Then one day they discover the local store owners refuse to serve them.

They’re bewildered until Luke’s mom tells them the new pastor has targeted the couple in his sermons. Suddenly Luke and Simon find themselves alienated from people they called friends, and their ranch comes under a series of attacks. As the town’s hatred and homophobia turns on them, Luke and Simon will face a critical choice: give in to the town’s demands and disappear, or stand and fight for themselves and their love.




Book two: Complete Faith
Available in E-book & Print
Western M/M, Interracial
Dreamspinner Press

For Tommy Bradley, a hand working on the Lost Cow Ranch in rural Texas, admitting his sexuality is impossible, even if his bosses, Luke and Simon, are gay—Tommy has spent his entire life hiding the truth from his homophobic parents. Then Tommy meets pastor Noah Taylor in Luke’s father’s hospital room, and his difficult secret becomes that much harder to keep.

Noah is unlike any man of God—or any man—Tommy’s ever met. For one thing, his congregation is made up primarily of GLBT individuals and their families. For another, he isn’t afraid of the attraction he feels toward Tommy, and he makes his intentions very clear. But Noah won’t hide his sexuality or his love from the world, and he won’t start a relationship with Tommy while Tommy hides his, either. Faced with the choice of losing Noah or coming out to his parents, Tommy takes his first steps out of the closet.

But Tommy isn’t the only one facing challenges. Thanks to an outpouring of hatred from Pastor Jackson and a group of ranch owners, Noah must cope with the possible loss of his church and his livelihood. 

Book three: Papa's Boy
Available in E-book & Print
Western M/M
Dreamspinner Press

When Ray Sloane tires of the men in his usual club, he finds himself in the Pink Palm, an inauspiciously named spit-and-sawdust dive, not the sort of place an elementary school teacher and pastor’s assistant should be seen in. On the other hand, Ray needs a fresh face. But what he gets is a closeted, desperately unhappy divorcé named Zeke.

Losing his teaching job and his kids has left Zeke bitter and in denial about his sexuality, but Ray is determined to get under his skin. Just as Zeke starts to relax, life interferes with Ray’s plans: Lee, the teenage organist from St. Mark's, tells his parents that he was abused as a teeanger by a prominent congregation member from his old church, and Ray becomes the target of bullies at school and has to worry about his own job. With the specter of what happened to Zeke hanging over him, Ray must protect Lee and his own reputation, all while trying to convince Zeke that he doesn’t need to run away when their relationship grows more intense.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

WRITERS WRITE...WRITING PARTNERS FEUD ~ CHRISTMAS EVE...VIL EXCERPT 3





A: Even though the presents have been unwrapped, the gift giving ended for the season...
Z: Unless, you are one of those of gives gifts on Little Christmas.
A: I'm getting another gift, yea!
Z: You and our readers.  It might not be the Epiphany but we are offering our readers another excerpt from CHRISTMAS EVE...VIL.  ALSO, for the first three readers who write us at writingteamcw@yahoo.com, we will give them a free copy of the book!
A: Well, good for us and great for them.  Now, on to the excerpt!

CHRISTMAS EVE...VIL

About the story:

Resisting the fervent advances of Luke Calico while snowbound isn’t Anya’s only problem, she must also hide from the malicious preacher wishing to harness her power while withstanding the demonic spirit trying to lure her soul.


Excerpt:

Uncomfortable, she put the tchotchke back on the table. Not many people used that word, most used knickknack or bric-a-brac, but this wonderful woman who taught her Sunday School, Mrs. Dowd, used it. At this moment she missed the strength and protection of Mrs. Dowd.


She returned her gaze to his face. He wasn’t judging, just absorbing her. His charisma came from the way he looked at her. Almost as if he was an art student and she a statue in a fine museum, he devoured every line of her, absorbing every nuance without being boorish or overbearing. She blushed1I and inhaled to cleanse. His eyes twinkled. She noticed and wanted to blurt, they twinkled. A sudden magnetism ignited the air and weakened her knees. She swallowed, trembled, for the first time fearing this stranger, not because he could physically harm her. Though if it had been his intent he would have done so while she was unconscious. Fear rose because he got to her without conscious intent, because in an instant he stripped away her emotional blockade consciously reinforced, yet, he breached her defenses. One pull within her begged her to crawl into his arms and plead to be held, hoping to dissolve in his strength. It had been so long since she had been in a man’s embrace. Winston didn’t believe in hugs, called them a weakness, and there had been no other she had taken seriously before Winston. In retrospect this should have been a signal about Winston—what man doesn't hug. She recalled trying to accept the rationalization of machismo but real men hugged. Their mothers taught them.She took in his swarthy dark-toned complexion that hinted at a Spanish heritage, but the man didn’t have the stereotypical height or frame. His long, sturdy legs combined with wide shoulders and large, yet elegant hands defined a Nordic strain. However, the greatest contradiction materialized in the form of audacious, blue eyes, much darker than her own. They devoured with such intensity it nearly made her moan aloud.

Where were these sensations coming from? Something about him granted her permission to feel. Why? His glow of honesty? How could a single look make her sizzle like rain on desert sand? Lord, she felt him in her very soul. Intertwining with intimate places of her being. How did it happen? She thought, no, knew, the sensual part of her had been broken. She couldn’t feel passion. But she did. Sexual pressure? She had never comprehended what all the fuss was about. It took a stranger's unconscious prowess to unlock a door she wasn’t even aware she possessed and when it was ajar a whoosh of uncertainty flushed forth. For the first time in her life, she wanted in the way of big screen romance, never consciously recognizing she hadn't had it. There it was as blatant as the ecru teeth on a grizzly, she craved that epic love. She didn’t know it was possible. She wanted even with this blasted fatigue dragging on her, wanted despite the situation, wanted because of the situation, wanted with the certainty that he could take her places she had never been. She took a deep sighing breath, chasing the thought away. Beyond the sensuality draping him like a dazzling aura, there was something very open about his personality, a man who thought little of heroics, a man who’d listen intently to others, a man of which Mrs. Dowd would have approved.


         ****

We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at writingteamcw@yahoo.com (Write - Blog - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi KILLER DOLLS ~ SNAKE DANCE ~
CHASING YESTERDAY CHRISTMAS EVE...VIL ~ Christmas 2012
http://www.champagnebooks.com/

Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane STEEL EMBRACE
BOOK NOOKIE-A LIBRARIAN'S BUIDE TO THE DO-ME DECIMAL SYSTEM 
http://www.carnalpassions.com/

THE FABLE OF SIN-SIN CINDERELLA Series
angelicahartandzi.com

COMING
DECEMBER/JANUARY 2012

Release Blitz for Zara Stoneley's Good Enough to Share


GOOD ENOUGH TO SHARE (Good Enough, Book 1 – Christmas) by Zara Stoneley

An erotic contemporary romance, including menage, F/M/F, M/F/M and sex outdoors.

One Christmas, four friends – but will they still be together by New Year?

Divorce wasn’t part of the plan for Holly, but then again nor was spending the festive period with two sexy men and Santa’s little helper! With a disastrous marriage behind her, and three good friends who are willing to share, moving on could be fun – if only she can accept that sometimes her heart is wiser than her head.

Dane doesn’t do commitment, which suits Holly just fine. But when things heat up between the four friends, he’s forced to face up to his past. Will realising he’s good enough mean he no longer wants to share…?

Laid back Charlie knows that if his best friend becomes his lover he could end up losing big time. But can he resist? And when the girl he once loved comes back, who will he decide to spend the New Year with?

…And Sophie just wants to have fun. She’s got the answers to everyone's problems, except her own …. is she the one who needs good friends most of all?

Will a caring, sharing, lust and love filled Christmas lead to the happy ever after they all desire?

WARNING - Christmas may never seem the same again!


BUY LINKS:

EXCERPT:
 “You two out on the pull then?” You know how some deep male voices have that perfect resonance to vibrate right down to the bottom of your stomach and beyond? Yeah, that. I was blushing from the inside out and I had completely and utterly forgotten about Charlie, with or without a surfboard.
Christ, why was it that every time Dane Stephens popped up I was dressed in something that either said ‘shag me, I’m a complete tart’ or ‘I’m a complete saddo’? Or in this case a mixture of both. The fact that Sophie and I were propping up the bar, both with a goblet of wine in hand each didn’t help with the image much either.
“We’ve been working.” I tried to keep my face straight and stop my nipples making a break for freedom as the gorgeous guy who seemed to feature in every one of my current run of dirty dreams rested his hand on my shoulder and sent a warm thrill straight between my thighs. Along with a very strong urge to grab hold of him and give him the type of kiss that would leave a lasting impression. Gee, life would be so much easier if that kind of full frontal attack was one of my special skills. It wasn’t. Best mates with a bit of flirting thrown in as a side order was a better description of my capabilities.
I’d been having dirty dreams about Dane for as long as I can remember. Well, probably since the first time all six foot something of him had swaggered into this bar and given me the type of smile that gave me an almost, emphasis on almost here, uncontrollable urge to strip every last inch of his clothing off in slow motion. But I hadn’t, because nice girls don’t, do they?
“Been out hammering shoes on?” I tweaked a bit of straw out of his thick dark hair and resisted the urge to tangle my fingers in deeper, just in case I’d missed a bit. And then rub a hand over that broad, strong chest just for good measure. He was buff underneath that shirt, I just knew it. Well, I did actually. I’d seen him strip to the waist the odd time at the tail end of the summer when we’d actually seen a bit of that golden orb in the sky they call the sun, and he’d built up a sweat manhandling horses. And along with every other girl on the yard I’d gone weak-kneed and tried not to stare as I’d watched his muscles ripple and a trickle of sweat bead its way down his back. A bead of sweat that needed licking off.
I’d had a thing about cowboys, well, since I was fifteen when my boy friend, as in two separate words, had dragged me along to watch a western in the local cinema. His idea had been to get his tongue down my throat, but he’d faded into insignificance when the hero of the piece had got off his horse. This had been no normal cowboy, he’d been naked down to the low slung jeans that barely scraped his hips and when he’d slipped one hand under the waistband, just as he tugged the girl in for a kiss the rush of dampness to my knickers had shocked me. And left me squirming, and meant that the boy friend got an end of show, tongue twisting snog that shocked me more than as it did him.
And as I grew up I realized men like that just didn’t exist. I just never met a man who’d had the same effect on me, not even the man I’d married had done that. Until Dane had walked in four long months ago and been the nearest thing to a cowboy that the English counties had to offer. He’d probably never had a Stetson on his head, or a rifle in his hand, but I bet he’d look good on a horse and even if he didn’t, in my mind it just didn’t matter. Dane was just hot, and made me hot, and wet.
His jeans were slung just the same, so I just knew I’d be able to see his hip bones if I unbuttoned that thick cotton shirt. And boy did I want to, and I was just itching to slip my own hand tight in there. I just needed an excuse and September through December had left me too tongue-tied to find one. Even if my horse seemed to be throwing a shoe on a weekly basis and he’d been out an embarrassing number of times.
“Yeah, lots of thrown shoes, darling, you know ‘tis the season.” He winked and my mouth watered. Literally. Much more and I’d be drooling, a drooling elf who would have thought? Bugger, I really did need a plan or I’d be spending another Christmas morning just wishing I’d asked Santa for the type of toy box that had long life batteries and lube in it. But was quiet enough not to disturb Charlie.
 “Hi Dane, boy. We—” Sophie was practically licking her lips, he had that effect on every female old enough to have hormones, as she drew herself up to her full five-foot one and a half inches and put a hand on his arm “—have been doing our good Samaritan bit.” She knew him? I didn’t know which bit made the feeling of empty spread in my stomach, the fact that she knew him, or she knew him. Because from the way she was grinning in a slightly flirty, slightly too cosy way meant she definitely knew him. Every bit of him.
***
To read a longer excerpt visit Zara’s blog.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Blast for Reindeer Games: Cupid by Lucy Felthouse


Reindeer Games: Blitzen by Lucy Felthouse

As a postman by day, and one of Santa’s reindeer on a single very special night, Cassius Cupid eats, sleeps, and breathes deliveries. He doesn’t mind, but sometimes wishes that someone would send him something more exciting than bills and junk mail.
One cold January morning, Cassius gets his wish. A young woman arrives with a parcel. Turns out it’s for his housemate – but Cassius doesn’t care. All he’s interested in is Carina – the beautiful female courier.
Has Cupid finally met his match?

Teaser Excerpt:

Cassius Cupid woke with a start, and then sat bolt upright in his bed. Shit, I’m going to be late! was his first thought.
Milliseconds later his brain switched on, and he remembered. He was on holiday. Flopping back onto the warm mattress and pillows with a contented sigh, he smiled. No work for fourteen whole days—it was going to be utter bliss. He stretched, relishing the feeling it created in his sleep-softened muscles. Ahhh…this is the life.
He knew he wouldn’t go back to sleep—hell, it was eight o’clock, which was practically the middle of the day for someone in his profession—so Cassius fell to thinking about how he was going to spend his day, not to mention the several others in front of him. God knew he deserved to relax and have some fun. He’d just emerged from the busiest part of his year, and he was more than ready to do some chilling out.
He enjoyed his job as a postman—he really did—but the Christmas period was a total killer. He idly wondered how many cards and presents he’d delivered over the past few weeks. It didn’t bear thinking about. Once you factored in the festive period itself, the weird few days between Christmas and New Year, and then the flurry of mail that got sent when everyone went back to work properly at the beginning of January, he’d racked up some serious deliveries. And that was before you even thought about his other job—which was for just one day a year, but was arguably more important than the other 364 put together.
Cassius—or Cupid, as he was known to his boss and colleagues in his second, but most important job—was not only a regular postman for the Royal Mail, but also a reindeer. For a single day of the year, Cassius had the supernatural power to transform into one of Santa’s faithful steeds and help pull that famous magical sleigh, delivering presents to excited children the world over.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Cassius really did eat, sleep and breathe deliveries, but not for the next fourteen days. All he planned to do was watch some TV, read some books, maybe go out hiking, meet some friends… basically anything that wasn’t delivering something to someone. Hey, he might even receive something through the post himself—preferably not the usual crap; bills and junk mail. He didn’t hold out much hope.
He lounged in bed for another ten minutes before realising he was lying there just for the sake of it. Being on holiday didn’t have to equal staying in bed all day—and certainly not for someone as active as him. He reached over to his bedside table, grabbed his glasses and put them on. Throwing off his thick duvet, he walked to his bedroom window and peeked out through the curtains, immediately glad of the effective central heating he and his housemate had forked out to have installed the previous year.
The outside world was covered in a thick layer of snow, and Cassius was mightily glad that he wasn’t out delivering letters and parcels. The stuff was treacherous enough without having to carry a heavy bag up and down driveways, paths, and pavements — most of which either hadn’t been cleared, or had been cleared badly, leaving incredibly slippery patches of ground for an unsuspecting postie to come across. God knows he’d gone down enough times, but, much to his relief, nobody had ever seen him do it. He’d always been relatively unharmed—excerpt for his pride, of course—and had been able to scramble back to his feet and carry on.
The eerie silence outside was broken by the rumble of an engine, and Cassius turned his head to look up the street—he lived in a cul-de-sac, so he knew that’s where the vehicle would come from—and watched as a delivery van made its way slowly and carefully down the road. He hoped the driver was sensible enough to try and steer over the thickest parts of the snow—the more people went over and over the same patches, packing it down, the more the road surface resembled an ice rink. And since the cul-de-sac was on a slight hill, it was easy enough to get stuck. He’d seen it so many times—even going outside one time last winter to suggest the driver go down to the bottom of the road, turn around and try reversing up the hill—an almost foolproof plan for vans with rear-wheel drive. He’d gotten a big thumbs-up for that suggestion as the driver finally got to the junction where the road became flat, and went on his merry way.
As the van drew closer to his house, he saw that the driver was a woman. That would explain her cautious driving—he’d never admit it to one of his drinking buddies, but women were far superior when it came to driving in adverse weather conditions. He even thought he’d seen some survey containing statistics that proved it.

*****
Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story - so she did. It went down a storm and she's never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Constable and Robinson, Decadent Publishing, Ellora's Cave, Evernight Publishing, House of Erotica, Ravenous Romance, Resplendence Publishing, Secret Cravings Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour, Seducing the Myth, Smut by the Sea and Smut in the City. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9


Monday, December 24, 2012

The Best Books I read in 2012.....

I got to admit, some stellar books came out this year from some of my favorite authors and some new ones I discovered.  This is only my top ten of books I discovered that stole my heart and made me want more from that author. I wish I could name them all but alas, I would be here till 2015 just listing them all. *smiles*

10: TA Webb's Second Chance-Heart rendering and delightful. No other words can describe it.

9: Andrew Grey's Love Comes Silently- a story so emotional, you can't help but fall in love with the story, the characters and this author's writing.

8: Sue Brown's Papa's Boy (Morning Report 3)- Her final novel in the Morning Report series delivers a story so wonderful yet heart felt, you can't help but wish for more after that last page is read.

7: D.N. Simmons' Unholy Alliance- the final book in a engrossing series. You couldn't help but want more after the last page is read.

6: Hank Edward's Venom Valley 1: Bounty-when paranormal meets western. Delightful and that cliffhanger ending made me race to read book two.

5: Lauren Dane's Laid Open- my three favorite characters are back in the Brown Siblings series in this novella and we see how they finally find a way to reconnect together in the sand, sun and passion that will steal your heart.

4: Silvia Violet's Hoofin' It to the Alter-Mystery, vampires, shifters and love scorching hot. What more can a reader want?

3: L. E. Harner & Lisa Worrall's Continental Divide- a story that leaves you breathless even as you scream at the nook/kindle/computer at the end.

2: J. D. Robb's Delusion in Death- A series going on it's thirty-fith book and it will captivate you till the very end.

and number one is.....

Laura Harner and TA Webb's Deep Blues Goodbye-powerful, delightful and a story you need more of.

There are plenty more but alas, I would be here till the end of the world or thereabouts. I can't wait to see what 2013 brings, reading wise.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winner from the Candy Cane Blog Hop

Random.org picked the winner of the  52 Weeks of naughty nights, a year's supply of scratch and win cards with naughty I.O.U.'s, suggestions, coupons, role plays and more; a small "It's a Life Saver, Vibrator" plus an e-copy of My Liege of Dark Haven (any format).

The winner is.....Marrianne (marianne@...)

Congratulations. If Marianne doesn't contact me by Thursday December 27th to claim her prize, a new winner will be chosen. Thanks for stopping by my blog.


Happy Holidays to you

A very merry holiday season to all my friends and may bright blessings be upon you and your family in the new year.




Release Blitz for A Taste of London by Lucy Felthouse


A Taste of London by Lucy Felthouse

Ryan Stonebridge and his friend Kristian Hurst are heading off on the trip of a lifetime. They’re spending their gap year traveling the world and expect lots of sun, sights and sex. The guys have a couple of days in the English capital before catching the Eurostar to Paris. Unfortunately, a family emergency means that Kristian has to head back home for a while, leaving Ryan to continue the trip alone.

Luckily for Ryan, he’s an attractive guy and there is no shortage of gorgeous women available to help take his mind off Kristian’s family drama.




Teaser Excerpt from  Chapter One

“Come on, mate, let’s go and grab our travel passes from the machine,” Ryan said, his familiarity with the locale apparent by the way he marched along the train platform toward the heart of St. Pancras Station.
“What? Uh – okay.” Kristian re-arranged his bag on his shoulder and scurried to keep up with his friend.
Bypassing the huge line of impatient, muttering people queuing for the manned booths, Ryan headed to one of the ticket machines. By the time Kristian caught up, Ryan already had a travel pass in his hand.
“So, um, what do I need to buy then, mate? I’m not as au fait with all this as you.”
“Been practising your French for the trip, Kris?” Ryan punched his friend on the arm playfully. “No worries. We’re only taking one trip tonight so you just need a single to London Bridge on the Tube.”
“All right,” Kristian replied, carefully tapping the relevant areas of the touch screen, feeding his money into the machine and triumphantly retrieving his ticket.
“Okay, I’m ready to go!”
“Come on then.” Ryan hoisted his bag back onto his shoulder and walked in the direction of the Underground, with Kristian close behind.
“Hey,” Kristian said, pointing as they passed a map of the Underground, “don’t you need to check where we’re going?”
“Nope,” Ryan said, without breaking stride, “I know London pretty well, plus I double checked all this stuff when I organised this part of the trip. What can I say, it’s the Boy Scout in me.”
“Cool. I guess it makes things easier when you’re not checking a map every two minutes. So how long will it take us to get to London Bridge station from here?”
They stepped onto the escalator. Rather than standing still and letting the moving staircase do its thing, Ryan continued to walk, eager now to get this leg of traveling over and done with so he could have some fun. It had been a long day, or at least it felt like one. They’d actually only traveled around one hundred and fifty miles from the outskirts of the Peak District to the centre of London, a couple of hours on the train, but it had felt like longer. Perhaps because he’d been so eager to actually get to London and start their adventure.
“Not long mate. Probably about ten minutes. It’s a direct journey and at this time of day it shouldn’t be too busy. We can dump our stuff at the hostel then have some drinks next door.”
“There’s a pub next door? No wonder I let you sort out this trip. You’re a fucking genius!”
By now, they’d reached the bottom of the escalator. Ryan stepped off, then turned to face his friend. Tapping his head, he grinned and said, “It’s not just a hat rack, mate.”
Kristian laughed. “You’re right there.” He paused. “It’s a fucking chick magnet, too!”
Ryan frowned, looking genuinely confused. “It is?” Then he shook himself and smiled. “I wish someone had told me!”
“Are you kidding, mate? Everywhere we go, women are checking you out.” Kristian grinned. “Why do you think I agreed to go traveling with you? I’m hoping some of your apparent sex appeal will rub off on me and get me some action!”
Ryan laughed, then started walking towards the southbound platform for their connection to London Bridge. “So that’s your ulterior motive, eh? Never mind being my best mate, or seeing the world, you just wanna get laid?”

*****
About the author and where to find her on the web:

Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story - so she did. It went down a storm and she's never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Constable and Robinson, Decadent Publishing, Ellora's Cave, Evernight Publishing, House of Erotica, Ravenous Romance, Resplendence Publishing, Secret Cravings Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour, Seducing the Myth, Smut by the Sea and Smut in the City. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Welcome Shira Anthony Today


Thanks, Dawn, for hosting me today!  And happy holidays, everyone – I hope you are enjoying the first of a few well-deserved days off with family and friends.


Aria, the third book in my Blue Notes Series, will be released on Monday, December 24th by Dreamspinner Press.  The Blue Notes Series consists of standalone novels that can be read in any order, each with a classical music theme.  Secondary characters in one story become the main characters in another, and many of the characters in the various books know and/or work with each other as musicians.  Each book draws on my own experiences as a violinist and later, as a professional opera singer, and each book introduces the reader to different aspects of the lives of professional musicians.

Aria is a story about a musician and a lawyer.  Sam Ryan from Aria and Jason from Blue Notes almost end up in bed together at one point in the first story of the series.  They're former courtroom rivals who meet after Jason's heart has been broken.  The two men become close friends and when Sam visits Jason in Paris, Sam runs into former lover and international opera sensation Aiden Lind.  So begins their rekindled romance.
Aria is at times sad, at times sweet and funny, and of course, there's a happily ever after (no spoilers here - I only write books with happy endings!).  In fact, the HEA in Aria is probably my favorite so far in the series.  But that's all I'm saying!

Aria has a bit of the backstage world of opera.  From the wigs, to the pancake makeup that tends to run down your face when you sweat under the hot lights (the heavy costumes don't help much either), it's really hard work.  They say singing an opera is a bit like running a marathon.  Not sure about that (I've never run a marathon!), but I do know that it's a physical career.  And no, in this day and age, most opera singers are not fat.  In fact, the thinnest I've ever been was when I was singing.  You really do have to look the part!  Tosca, by the way, was supposed to be a sexy opera singer.  ;-)  Want to see what I call sexy when it comes to opera singers?  Check out this excerpt from Bizet's "The Pearlfishers" - the operatic equivalent of a bromance.  That would be Aiden (the baritone) on the right in the clip.  Yummy!  See, opera singers can be hot!

I'll leave you with a NSFW excerpt from Aria. This is the scene where Aiden and Sam first meet, five years before present day action.  It's a long and hot one.  And if you have a minute, stop by my blog and comment to be entered into a series of prerelease contests for all kind of Blue Notes Series goodies that I’ll be drawing winners for on release day, Christmas Eve! -Shira

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Aria by Shira Anthony
A Blue Notes Novel
Dreamspinner  Press


Blurb: Five years after a prestigious scholarship jumpstarted his opera career, Aiden Lind has it all: fame, choice roles, and Lord Cameron Sherrington to share his life with. Maintaining his façade takes effort, but under his poised, sophisticated mask, Aiden is still the insecure kid from rural Mississippi. Then he walks in on Cam with another man, and the illusion of perfection shatters.

Philadelphia attorney Sam Ryan never moved on after his partner died, though he tried. Instead of dating, he keeps himself busy with work—but when he unexpectedly runs into ex-lover Aiden while on a rare vacation in Paris, he’s inspired to give their love a second chance. First, though, he’ll have to get Aiden to forgive him. Because when Sam was still grieving five years ago, he broke Aiden’s heart.

When rekindled lust blossoms into a true romance, it seems like the start of something wonderful. But Aiden’s career has him on the road much of the time, and the physical distance between him and Sam starts translating into an emotional disconnect. If Aiden and Sam can’t learn to communicate, their separation may prove more than their love can bear.

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Chapter Five:

New York, New York

The SoHo bar was crowded when Sam arrived a few minutes after eight o’clock. Some of his friends had recommended it to him, but he had never been inside. Typical of many establishments in the area, the walls were stripped bare of years of paint. Modern canvasses in various sizes and shapes broke the monotony of the ancient brick. Italian track lighting hung from the drop ceiling illuminated the artwork and the tables. Sam could make out the strains of classic jazz over the low drone of conversation. The smells of alcohol, aftershave, and musk hung in the air.
Sam realized his hand rested on his briefcase. He thought briefly of the metal cookie tin inside, which inevitably made him think of Nick. He and Nick first met in a bar, but Sam had never liked them much. As a couple, they had mostly socialized with friends, alternating hosting get-togethers at their loft apartment and spending weekends upstate in small B and Bs.

Sam felt overwhelmed as he sat down at the end of the bar and ordered a drink. He reminded himself that he was just here for the alcohol, but the Manhattan gay scene loomed frighteningly on the horizon, and he was woefully unprepared. Even now, a year after Nick’s death, he knew he wasn’t ready, though he’d already received a few appreciative looks in the few minutes since his arrival. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be ready for it again—it had been intimidating enough the first time around.

“Vodka tonic,” he told the bartender. Tonight he needed something stronger than his usual beer. Running a hand through his hair, he took a look around the bar for the first time. There was no dance floor, so the action was subtler. Men filled nearly every seat at the long bar, chatting in undertones over drinks. He fought the urge to leave. When the bartender placed a drink in front of him, he thanked the man and took a long, desperate swallow. The comforting effect of the alcohol began to kick in.

What am I doing here?

The man seated to his left got up and threw a twenty down on the bar, then waved to the bartender and the other men at the counter. Sam finished his drink in one long swallow and looked up again, this time into a pair of warm brown eyes framed by long lashes. The newcomer smiled affably at him. Sam managed to return the smile before quickly looking back down at his empty glass.

This was a mistake. He pulled his wallet out of his jacket and rummaged for a twenty.

“I hope you’re not leaving on my account,” said the man next to him. And, God, what a voice! A resonant, sexy-as-fuck baritone that went straight from Sam’s ears to his cock.

“Aiden Lind,” he said more formally as he offered Sam his hand.

“Sam Ryan. Nice to meet you.” Sam’s hand was warm, his grip firm.

Aiden gestured to the bartender. “Two more. On me.”

“I was just about to leave.” Sam didn’t want to be rude, but he needed to get out of the place. Coming here had been a mistake.

“Sure I can’t convince you to stay?”

“No. But thanks, Aiden. It was good meeting you.” Sam forced a smile and picked up his satchel before heading for the door. A moment later he stepped out into the chilly night air, taking deep breaths to calm his racing heart.

He wasn’t ready. He pulled his jacket collar up, then started for the subway station.

“Sam!”

Sam turned around to see someone running after him down the street. What was his name? Aiden.

“Look, Aiden,” Sam said as he caught up with him, “I’m tired.”

Aiden blinked. “Oh. No. It’s not like that.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a wallet. Sam’s wallet.

Shit. The guy was being nice, and Sam had tried to blow him off.

Sam took the wallet and their fingers brushed. Sam’s cheeks warmed as their eyes met. 
Uncomfortable, he shifted his briefcase from one hand to another. “Thanks. Damn good thing my head’s attached to my body tonight.”

“No problem.” Aiden shoved his hands back into his pockets.

“It was good meeting you.” Sam was hard-pressed not to like the man.

“You too, Sam.” Aiden hesitated a second longer, then turned and waved as he headed back toward the bar.

It’s only a drink. No strings. It’s not like you have anyone waiting at home.

“On second thought,” Sam called after Aiden, “I think I’ll have that drink.”

“Great!” Aiden turned around and beamed at him, and Sam’s initial hesitation evaporated in the warmth of Aiden’s smile.

A few minutes later, they walked back into the bar. Aiden motioned to a free table. “This okay with you?”

“Sure.” Sam set his briefcase back down and settled into one of the metal chairs.

“What are you drinking?” Aiden asked.

“Vodka tonic.”

“Great. I’ll be right back.” Aiden headed for the bar before Sam could offer to spring for the drinks.

Now that they were back inside in the light, Sam got his first good look at Aiden. He hadn’t noticed when they were sitting down, but Aiden was nearly as tall as he, probably around six feet. He’d already noticed Aiden’s curly hair, high cheekbones, and the strong line of his jaw. Now, Sam couldn’t help but notice the black jeans that hugged Aiden’s firm ass and the long-sleeved Henley that fit his upper torso tightly enough to hint at the muscle beneath. Casual but undeniably sexy.

Back a minute later, Aiden sat facing Sam, and Sam noticed Aiden’s foot tapping the leg of his chair.

He’s nervous too. That surprised Sam. The guy was good-looking, friendly. Trying to quell his own anxiety, Sam took a deep breath. “Thanks for the drink. And thanks again for the wallet.”
Aiden seemed buoyed by Sam’s change of heart. “Long day?” He brushed a stray lock of hair from his eyes.

“You could say that.” Sam shook his head and exhaled audibly. If only you knew….

A waiter brought their drinks. “Cheers.” Sam held up his glass and Aiden touched his beer against it.

“Cheers.”

They drank in silence for a few moments until Sam realized he must have been staring, because Aiden leaned in and gazed at him—a gaze that held more than a whisper of lust. For the past year, Sam hadn’t even considered how he looked to the world at large. He donned his expensive suits like the uniforms they were, shaved, and combed his unruly hair, but he’d just gone on living, nothing more. He’d had a few blind dates friends had set him up on, but none of them had gone anywhere and he hadn’t cared. Now he was suddenly self-conscious, his suit rumpled after a long day bent over piles of documents, his hair undoubtedly sticking up in odd places as it liked to do.

When did it get so hot in here?

Sam pulled off his jacket and draped it over the back of his chair. As the second drink went straight to his shoulders, he felt his old confidence return. “What do you do for a living, Aiden?”

“Musician.”

“Really? What kind?”

Aiden appeared uncomfortable, almost apologetic. “I’m a singer. An opera singer.”

“You’re serious?” Explains the voice of God vibe.

“Yeah.” Aiden shifted in his seat.

“That’s cool,” Sam said enthusiastically.

“You think?”

“Yes, definitely.”

Aiden laughed—a warm, rumbled laugh that made Sam melt like a puddle into his seat. Aiden Lind was a handsome man, even more so when he laughed. “I get a lot of flak from my family about it.”

“Really? Why?” Sam finished his drink and flagged down the waiter for another round.

“They think it’s queer. I used to sing rock and gospel. That was okay with them. But opera? And shit, if they knew I liked men and women….” He laughed again, but Sam heard an edge to the sound this time and saw a flash of something like pain in Aiden’s eyes. “So what do you do, Sam?”

“Compared to singing opera? Just boring stuff. I’m a lawyer for a firm near Wall Street.”

“I sort of guessed. Nice suit, briefcase ’n all. Nice tie too.” Aiden wasn’t looking at Sam’s tie, though; his gaze never left Sam’s.

Maybe it was the booze, but Sam wasn’t in the slightest bit tempted to look away. Instead, he loosened his tie and undid the top button of his shirt.

“So what kind of law do you practice?”

Shit. What was it about Aiden that made everything he said sound like an invitation to do something sexual? The voice. Definitely the voice.

“Personal injury. Not my first choice.” Sam had rationalized taking the job for many reasons, but one in particular topped the list: the prospect of going home to Tennessee and back into the same dark and claustrophobic closet he had come out of was too horrible to contemplate.
“What would you rather be doing?”

At that moment Sam could think of a few things he’d rather be doing that had nothing to do with practicing law. “Employment law. Plaintiff’s work. You know, the underdogs?”

“Nothing wrong with that, is there?”

“No. Nothing at all.” The job had been a compromise: it hadn’t been what Sam had wanted, but it hadn’t been part of Samuel Stetson Ryan III’s “plan” either. It had been a huge disappointment to the old man that Sam didn’t return to Memphis to work for his firm.

Sam shifted in his seat, brushing Aiden’s foot by accident. At least he thought he’d done it by accident. “So.” Sam changed the subject and tried to focus on something other than Aiden’s foot rubbing against his own. “What’s it like, singing opera?”

The waiter came with another round of drinks—Sam lost count of how many he’d downed. Was this three already? It was hard to focus, and Sam was pretty sure it wasn’t the alcohol that was turning his brain to mush.

Aiden leaned back in his seat with his legs slightly apart. It was an inviting pose. Aiden held his beer in his right hand and gesticulated with it as he spoke. As Aiden’s leg pressed against Sam’s, Sam did his utmost to keep his eyes focused on his companion’s face. His own face felt warm.
“It’s great,” Aiden replied. “I’m planning to go to Germany soon, maybe do a few auditions there.”
“Sounds exciting. What would you be auditioning for?” Laughter erupted from the bar, and Sam moved his chair closer to better hear Aiden’s answer.

“Most of the larger German cities hire contract singers for their opera houses. It’s better than in the States. Here, you mostly just string gigs together to make a living. There, you have a steady job for a year at a time, do stuff in repertory. Beats waiting tables.”


“I didn’t realize it was that tough getting work.” He and Aiden were only about a foot apart now. From this distance, Sam could see the hint of Aiden’s hard nipples beneath the close-fitting Henley. It was difficult to focus on the conversation when his mind was busy imagining how he might take one of those nubs between his teeth.

“Once you get an agent, it gets better. I only graduated from school a few years ago, and it’s hard to get hired for big roles right away.”

“Kind of like getting stuck doing the grunt work right out of law school.” Sam knew the feeling well. He’d only made partner last year, and he’d done his share of shit jobs before that.

“Yep.” Aiden finished the rest of his beer, lingering over the mouth of the bottle before giving Sam a smile.

Sam swallowed hard and tried to ignore the renewed jolt of sexual heat he sensed in Aiden’s gaze. He looked down at his drink. It definitely wasn’t only the booze talking. He got hard just thinking about kissing Aiden, tasting him. “Are you from around here, originally?”

“Nah. I’m from Mississippi. Little town named Fenton, right outside of Jackson.”

“Really? Hell, I grew up in Memphis.”

“No shit.” Aiden laughed. “I thought I heard a little Tennessee in you.”

“You had me fooled. I figured you were from up north.”

“Comes with the territory. Good ear. Had to study French, German, and Italian in school. You lose the drawl fast or they beat it out of you.”

They talked about growing up in the South for a few minutes. Comfortable, easy conversation. How long had it been, Sam wondered, since he’d had a conversation like this with someone other than Nick?

Too long.

“Listen,” Aiden began as he stared awkwardly at his beer, which was now clearly empty, “would you like to get out of here?”

Since Nick died, Sam had said no to anything but casual hints at dating. This was much more of an offer.

“I’d like that,” he heard himself say.

Aiden looked surprised and pleased, but no more than Sam. Had he really said yes?

“I live over in Alphabet City. It’s not much, but….”

“That’d be fine,” Sam reassured him. He might be ready to spend the night with someone, but he sure as hell wasn’t ready to take a man back to his own apartment—the apartment he and Nick had shared. Not yet, anyhow.

Maybe never.

After a short cab ride, Sam followed Aiden up the stairs of a third-floor walkup off Avenue C and into a small two-bedroom apartment. The living room appeared to double as a third bedroom. Pots, pans, and cooking utensils hung from every inch of the high-ceilinged walls of the tiny kitchen. An electronic keyboard sat atop a cardboard box, and piles of music filled the built-in shelves. In spite of the clutter, the apartment was clean and smelled vaguely of lemon.
“I live with two other singers,” Aiden said. “Mark works nights, and Rob is out of town at a gig, so we have the place to ourselves.”

Sam put his briefcase down and tossed his coat onto the couch. He turned to find Aiden only a few inches away. In the shadows of the semidarkness, Aiden’s high cheekbones were more defined, his body backlit by the light from the streetlamp outside.

A moment later they were kissing. Rough, hungry lips met with equally awkward eagerness, teeth tapping against each other as Sam and Aiden found their bearings. Sam ran his tongue against Aiden’s lower lip and gained entry before pressing inward to find the warmth that waited there. Aiden’s mouth tasted good, with a hint of dark beer that lingered from the bar.

“Bed?” Sam asked.

Aiden’s answer was a low growl with the same deep resonance of his speaking voice. Sam had never realized the sound of someone’s voice could be such a turn-on. His body was thrumming now, and he knew there was no going back. He’d waited so long, denying himself in silent penance for circumstances over which he’d never had any control. Now he would let that final piece of Nick go and give his body over to someone new.

You know he would have wanted this for you.

Aiden put his arm around Sam’s waist as he led him down the short hallway, then pushed the bedroom door open with his foot. Sam felt the bed at the backs of his knees as Aiden pushed him down on top of the ragged comforter. The bedding smelled clean, though. Sam didn’t have a chance to take in the rest of the room before they were kissing again. Sam scrabbled for purchase on Aiden’s shirt, reaching to pull it over his head. He needed to feel Aiden’s chest, to feel someone else’s skin beneath his fingers.

Aiden’s body was as finely honed as Sam had imagined it to be back at the bar. Lean—not the overly sculpted abs that graced Times Square billboards—but just the way Sam liked them, with more than a dusting of dark, curly hair between his nipples. He pressed his hand to Aiden’s enticing skin. He wondered what it would be like to feel that chest vibrate when the other man sang. The thought led him to a renewed jolt of desire, and he pinned Aiden to the bed before pushing down Aiden’s dark jeans along with the gray boxer briefs to reveal the purple tip of a sizeable cock. It took only another minute before Aiden was completely naked on the bed. The fact that Sam was still fully dressed only served to arouse him more.


He didn’t need any encouragement to take Aiden’s erection in his mouth; he had to taste it. God, but the man tasted so good! Sam swallowed Aiden’s long cock down, pulling back the foreskin as he went and grabbing the base with his hand, slicked up with saliva. For a man who made his living with his voice, Aiden remained remarkably silent, but the upward arch of his body was tacit reassurance. Sam licked with abandon at the underside of Aiden’s hard width, then tightened the suction until he was rewarded with a gasp.

Sam’s ran his teeth and lips over Aiden’s cock as he moved upward to the tip, then nibbled his way around the crown and probed the leaking slit with his tongue, sucking to milk the salty essence there. He could feel his own hard-on pressed against his pants, which only served to intensify the experience. Denial for now. But later….

“Shit, Sam,” Aiden murmured in a distant rumble. “So good. So fucking good….”

Sam smiled wickedly, happy to have finally coaxed a sound from Aiden’s lips. He reached his free hand underneath Aiden’s balls, rolled them in his palm, then licked them, all the while fisting Aiden’s hard cock. He swallowed it again, skating wet fingers to find the clenched ring of muscles between the tight asscheeks. The press of his finger against the tight opening was rewarded with a low drawn-out groan, so he teased it again.

“Lube?” he whispered as he released Aiden’s cock for a moment.

“Don’t want any,” came the tense response. “Just push your finger in.”

Sam hesitated.

“Nah, Sam. It’s good like that… I like it like that sometimes.”

The words shot through Sam like fire. He pressed his saliva-slicked finger inside and felt Aiden’s big hands grasp his shoulders and pull him closer, encouraging him to push deeper. Sam hollowed his cheeks and increased the suction, pulling and licking until he could feel Aiden’s balls pull tight against his forearm.

“Shit… Sam… gonna… come,” Aiden warned.

Sam released Aiden’s cock from his mouth but continued to rub his lips and hand over it until he felt the warmth of Aiden’s come on his cheek. After Aiden stopped shaking, Sam met his warm brown eyes and smiled.

Aiden reached up and wiped Aiden’s cheek with the sheet, then leaned back against the pillow and inhaled long and deep. “Good God,” he said in an impossibly low, sexy voice, “that was incredible.”

Sam’s face warmed at the compliment, and he fought the urge to protest. Even after so many years of living in New York as an openly gay man, he still felt the stirrings of shame from time to time, his Southern Baptist roots too well ingrained to ignore. But the moment of embarrassment was short-lived, eclipsed by his own unsatisfied need.

“I want to fuck you,” he whispered. “If that’s okay….” He had never been hesitant before, but he felt like he was seventeen all over again, doing it for the first time in the woods behind the cabins at summer camp.

“You’re joking, right?” Aiden laughed. “Hell, yeah.” He reached under the mattress and pulled out a box of condoms and a small bottle of lube, then tossed them within Sam’s reach.

The tension in Sam’s shoulders relaxed until he felt his companion’s hand rubbing at the crotch of his pants. His breath caught in his throat. Too long. Way too long. He started to loosen his tie, but Aiden stopped him.

“Fuck me in that suit. It’s so damn hot.” He rolled onto his stomach and lifted his ass in blatant invitation. “I want you to fuck me in your clothes.”

“Damn,” Sam hissed as he unzipped his fly and pulled his cock out. There was something thrilling about the way Aiden had taken control, something about the way Aiden’s words had sounded almost like an order that made Sam shiver. And, oh God, the globes of Aiden’s ass beckoned, tight and smooth. Sam began to stroke him while he uncapped the lube and slathered his fingers with it, then reached around to press at the hole he had only barely breached before.

“No prep,” Aiden rumbled. “Lube it up. I like it when it hurts a little.”

What the hell do I say to that?

Sam knew the feeling himself, although he had never admitted it to Nick. He and Nick had been tender lovers—the kind of lovers who explored every inch of each other’s bodies with gentle fingers and tongues. Their lovemaking had never approached the rough animal sex Sam had often fantasized about. That hadn’t been Nick’s style; he had been as laid-back and slow in bed as he was in life, and Sam had loved that about him. The sex had been great. Better than great, but now….

Sam rolled the condom over his erection and greased it well, then leaned over and spread Aiden wider. Aiden’s low laugh was an invitation, and Sam looked up to see Aiden’s eyes filled with a mixture of need and playfulness. He pressed the head of his cock against Aiden’s hole, inhaling sharply as the outer ring of muscle gave way and he felt the warm tightness nip at his sensitive tip.

“Come on,” Aiden urged him. “I want it all the way inside.”

He pushed harder, Aiden’s inner muscles gradually releasing with some resistance until Sam was seated up to his balls. Aiden was half-hard again, and Sam grasped his thickening flesh with one hand as he pulled out. Then he pushed in once more, making sure he brushed against Aiden’s prostate. He felt Aiden’s shudder and saw the look of pleasure on his face.

“Harder, Sam. Need it harder.”

“Oh God, yes. But it’s been too long. I won’t be able to….”

“I don’t care.” Aiden’s voice was now rough, husky with need. “Do it like you know you want to.”
The realization that Aiden had guessed at something Sam himself had long denied only served to intensify the urge to pound Aiden senseless. “Fuck,” he panted. “You’re so tight.”

The bed shook as he picked up speed, pistoning back and forth, letting go of all of his repressed desire. His shirt clung to his skin, his pants rode up his ass, but that only increased the pleasure that ran from his cock up his spine and pulled his sac tight. He came with a shout and a series of shudders, then leaned down so his face was only inches away from Aiden’s.

Their eyes met. For Sam it was like diving into dark water—he didn’t know what he might find, but he was caught in the siren song. Aiden’s lips met his, and something deep inside Sam’s heart let go. A door he had closed when Nick died opened just a crack. It stayed open for a brief instant before he felt ice in his veins as fear seeped back inside.

“Stay?” Aiden offered hopefully.

“I….” Sam hesitated. “Okay.” He knew he should leave, that he wasn’t ready for this, but he couldn’t do it. He was so raw, so hungry for Aiden’s touch. He wanted more.

Aiden smiled at Sam and began to unbutton his shirt.


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