Tuesday, February 18, 2020

New Release-Excerpt: THE PROFESSOR'S GREEN CARD MARRIAGE by Heidi Cullinan



The Professor's Green Card Marriage
by Heidi Cullinan

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Blurb

I’ll marry you.
Professor Valentyn Shevchenko isn’t sure how to react when, after months of ineffective flirting, the cute barista’s first words to him are a proposal. In many ways, Peter Grunberg is the solution to all his problems. With his work visa inexplicably denied, Valentyn is running out of options to keep from being deported. But is a green card marriage really the answer? Is it still a marriage of convenience when he’s this attracted to his potential spouse?
Peter came to his uncle’s coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado, to reset his life after his struggles with selective mutism returned with a vengeance. He never meant his first words to the handsome ecology professor to be an offer of marriage, but he’s not backing out now. It doesn’t matter that Peter struggles to find words. He can say everything he needs to with his body.
Though this relationship may have started out back-to-front, Valentyn and Peter are determined to make their fake marriage real. But one misstep in their immigration interview could bring everything crashing down. They’ll have to hope that their love is enough to overcome all their obstacles and give them the prize they’ve both been dreaming of: a certified happy ever after.


Excerpt
“SO did you meet up with the coffee shop kid?”
Valentyn, eating a soup and sandwich from the campus deli in Dennis’s office, paused midbite.
Raising his eyebrows, Dennis crossed his leg over his knee and threaded his fingers over his chest. “Quite a reaction. Please elaborate.”
There was no point in trying to hide anything from Dennis when he was in a mood. Pressing his hands together in front of his mouth, Valentyn drew a breath, then dove in. “I went to discuss things with him after he got off work last night, and instead we ended up f*cking.”
“Nice. Your place or his?”
“You misunderstand. We did it in the coffee shop. At my usual table, in fact. I’ll never be able to grade another paper again there.”
Dennis wolf-whistled. “Damn. All right. So… I assume you’re tied in knots because now you want to f*ck him dirty on the regular, but as usual you can’t get past your hang-up that romantic relationships should have clinical, no-nonsense sex? And to make it worse, he’s actually willing to marry you, something you desperately need?”
Valentyn pursed his lips. “I don’t think romantic relationships should have clinical sex.”
“Sure, you tell yourself whatever you need to. Outside of that offensive bluntness of phrasing, do you object to anything else? Am I wrong?”
He wasn’t, not even about the clinical sex remark—which stung—but Valentyn would be damned if he acknowledged it directly. He changed the subject. “He writes incredibly persuasive texts and emails.”
“I’ll bet he does.” Dennis propped his elbow on his desk and leaned into his palm. “Given the way you keep blushing, he must be dynamite in bed. Or rather, on table.”
Valentyn let out a heavy sigh. “Dennis, he’s exquisite. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to f*ck him harder or weep at his feet.”
“Please, please tell me he swings.” When Valentyn bristled, Dennis laughed. “You’re possessive. Oh, honey. You must be a mess.”
“I keep trying to put this thing into some kind of rational box and all it does is get worse. I encouraged him to call me the familiar diminutive of my name in email last night after copious amounts of vodka, and I told him I loved him. In Ukrainian. Then repeated it in English.” He threw up his hands and sank deeper into the chair, terror swirling around him.
Dennis had no empathy, only grinned wider. “God, this is so delicious. I want to meet this kid.” When Valentyn glared at him, he amended, “Young man. Except honestly, Val, once you pass forty-five, everybody under thirty is a damn kid to you.”
“I don’t know if he wants to meet you. Well, no. I can’t say that for sure. If we were to stop by now—” He cut himself off, blushing hotly as he remembered that morning, the way Peter had melted him with a brush of fingers against the pulse at his wrist. How he’d dragged Valentyn into the kitchen, pressed him against the wall, and f*cked into his mouth with his tongue.
The breve had been excellent too. As promised.
Dennis sighed happily. “I honestly love seeing you like this. It’s the best show in the world.”
Valentyn flipped him off absently. “I could handle it if there weren’t issues with my immigration status. In fact, I made an appointment with the dean to try to get him to reapply for me.”
“Except will the application come back in time?” Dennis’s expression grew serious. “I’ve been doing research. Apparently part of the reason you’re struggling with this is a huge change with how they process all visas.”
Valentyn’s gut tightened. “I know. My immigration lawyer said the same thing to me.”
“My point is, the employment visa route has all kinds of risks now. I still think you’re going to have an easier time of things because you’re not brown, but if you apply for a work visa, get denied twice, then show up conveniently married, you’re going to have a rougher time of things. They want to see proof of a marriage. That means they want actual receipts. Photos, licenses, proof you’re living together, vacationing together, being a couple together. If they think you’re not genuine, then it’s really over. This guy might be the golden ticket, because you could potentially be a real married couple by the time you get to the interview.”
“Yes, but what you’re telling me is that I need to marry him as soon as possible. What if it falls apart? What if we despise each other but have to stay together to keep me from being deported?”
“Look, you’ve got three options. Marry him, marry someone else, or go back to Ukraine. Can you see yourself marrying somebody other than your Peter? Rather, let me rephrase. Can you see yourself marrying someone other than Peter while you’re chasing down this rush of feeling you have going for him?”
Valentyn tried to honestly consider it. However, his body still hummed from that kiss. “No.”
“Then I’m pretty sure you’re marrying him.”
“F*ck,” Valentyn murmured and hunched forward, pressing his arms against his abdomen.
Dennis rubbed his shoulder. “You’ll be okay. Just ride it for now. I mean, you probably want to close the deal in the next few weeks, a month at most, but for now, just keep getting to know him, let him get familiar with you. I assume you have plans to meet again?”
“We’re going to go into the mountains tomorrow. He has the day off, and since it’s Saturday, I do too. He has some family thing tonight, so we’ll just email and text.”
“There you go.” He sat back in his chair. “I know you crave control unless you specifically surrender it in certain settings. Figure out a new way to feel like you have a grip on the reins. It might be that you fizzle out as a romantic couple but stay friends, that he helps you because he cares about you the way I do. You can aim for that result too. This doesn’t have to make you freeze up.”
Valentyn knew all this. And yet…. “I’m scared, Dennis.”
“I know, hon.” Dennis rolled his chair closer and kissed Valentyn gently on the forehead, ruffling his hair. “I know.”


Author Q&A

  1. What made you write this book?  I wanted something lighthearted and soft, easy to read, but still possessing that emotional depth. Basically I wanted to write something that sparked some feels but mostly left me snuggly and happy. It was an absolute blast to write.
  2. Did you start writing about Ukraine before or after it was part of the impeachment investigation?  I began writing this book in early 2019, and by the time I was half done I felt like I was in a twilight zone because the country I’d been so diligently studying for so long was suddenly everywhere. It was surreal and slightly sad because I knew how much the withdrawal of aid hurt the country on a level most people didn’t, and I knew how many of the wild conspiracy theories were baseless (and who had started them). While politics doesn’t play part in the book, I definitely felt it swirl around me as I finished.
  3. What interesting things did you learn while writing this book? I learned more about the immigration system of the US than I knew was possible to know, and I gained an incredible respect for every immigrant of every status who comes to the country. It’s an arduous and nerve-wracking process to get in the door no matter how you do it. Sadly I also kept having to rewrite parts of the book because immigration policy grew more restrictive and unfair while I was drafting, and I had to make peace with the fact it would likely change again before publication, which it has.
    I also learned a lot about environmental studies and green movements in general, as one of the characters was passionate about it. I wished I’d taken the time to do so for my own responsibility as a citizen of the planet and hadn’t needed to wait for a character to spur me. Of course I also learned more about selective mutism as well, which was fascinating. There's a great short film you can watch if you want a perspective from own voices SM.
  4. What's this book like--is it sexy or sweet?  I would argue it’s both, in its own way. It’s decidedly sexy and sensual, with more heat content than I’ve been writing lately, but it’s also just so soft and snuggly at times that it was a comfort to simply work on it. I was so sad when the book finished, because it made me feel good just to write it. And it was nice to get back to some steamy stuff again!
  5. Is this book very angsty or is it lighthearted?  There’s a little bit of angst because of the worry Valentyn might get deported, and some struggles for Peter to overcome his selective mutism during times he desperately needs to communicate, but it’s mostly light and comfy. I kept worrying to my editor that there wasn’t very much intense conflict, and she laughed and said, “Heidi, that’s what a category IS!” So I learned I like writing category a lot because it’s so soft and relaxes me. I’m looking forward to doing it again.
  6. Where is this book set?  It’s set in Boulder, Colorado, with a few stints in the mountains and Denver.
  7. Are you writing a sequel to this story?  No, this is a one shot. But I do plan to write more category length books. I’d love to do one a year if possible.
  8. What was the best part of writing this story? It just felt so freeing and happy to me. I’d been struggling with a lot of things for a good year before I began this book, but writing it really set me free in a lot of ways. I have such fondness for this title! I wish it all the best things as it goes out into the world.
  9. What are you working on now? I’m currently wrapping up another Copper Point trilogy. Copper Point: Main Street will be out next year. I have my eye on writing another category, though I think this one might be too sexy for the Dreamspun line. I also have been really longing to write some fantasy again, and of course I want to finish the series that were the casualty of Samhain closing, but I’m trying to be practical about how that happens.
  10. Are you coming to any conventions I can see you at?  Unfortunately I don’t intend to travel at all for the foreseeable future. It’s very hard on my body, and my focus needs to be on strengthening myself right now. It’s possible I’ll break this for specific events, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I am taking my daughter on a trip to see her girlfriend this summer, and that’s going to take all my energy.
  11. Why aren't you posting much online right now? Because my struggles with hEDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome hypermobility type) continue, I must strictly limit my keyboard time, and I like to save it for writing as much as possible. Some days I can’t type at all, so it’s very critical I approach things sensibly. I also have found the brain fog that goes with my condition means literally any social media post about even the most benign thing can pull my focus and make me lose my train of thought. I’d like to be able to return at a limited capacity, but for now weaning myself is easiest when I don’t do it at all. I do still post regularly to my patrons, though, because I get a bit sad if I don’t interact with readers at all.
  12. What are you looking forward to this year?  My daughter is about to attend college, and I’m completely focused on getting her a good initial experience there. I’m so proud of her I just burst. Also, as mentioned, I want to take her to New York State to visit her girlfriend, and I’ll get some time with my own partner there as well.
  13. Got any anime, drama, or book recs?  I mean, if you haven’t read The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, watched the donghua or read the manhua, I hope you’ve at least watched the live action version called The Untamed on Netflix. I’m actually incredibly into many Chinese and Korean BL stories, and honestly all Asian webcomics and dramas in general. I feel like I grow as a storyteller every time I read or watch, and at this point it would be a dream come true to be translated into any Asian language. Right now if you want something incredibly romantic and absorbing with a visual counterpart, be it animated, live, or drawn, Asia has got you covered.

About the Author

Author of over thirty novels, Midwest-native Heidi Cullinan 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. Heidi is a two-time RITA® finalist and her books have been recommended by Library Journal, USA Today, RT Magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading novels and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more at heidicullinan.com.



Thursday, February 13, 2020

Cover Reveal & Pre-Order: WITHOUT YOU by Marley Valentine


Without You
Author: Marley Valentine
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: March 12, 2020
Cover Design: PopKitty Design
Photographer: Wander Aguiar
Models: Jacob Cooley & Luke Schaeffer




“Tragedy brought us together, but something stronger made me want to stay.”


Julian was the boy next door. My brother’s best friend, he fit with my family in ways I never could. While he and Rhett went on to play house, I left the only life I knew, desperate for a fresh start.

Until everything changed. 

Heartache came along, and the aftermath of my brother’s death was here to stay. I was now face to face with Julian more than I ever wanted to be. 

Being around him brought up all my insecurities, forced me to deal with hard truths, and conjured up feelings I had no business entertaining. He wasn’t the man I thought I knew. He was complex and layered, and inherently beautiful in all the ways I’d never noticed. 

Not on another person.

Not on another man.

Not until him.








Marley Valentine comes from the future. Living in Sydney, Australia with her family. When she's not busy writing her own stories, she spends most of her time immersed in the words of her favourite authors.




HOSTED BY:

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Audio Review & Excerpt: The Prince and His Bedeviled Bodyguard by Charlie Cochet, narrated by Greg Boudreaux (Paranormal Princes #1)


The Prince and His Bedeviled Bodyguard
Series Title: Paranormal Princes
Book #: 1
Author: Charlie Cochet
Audio Release Date: 12.26.19
Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Length: 3 hours and 18 minutes
Publisher: Audible/Coffee and Chaos Productions LLC
Genre: Paranormal Shifters


Blurb
Prince Owin
Being a fierce predator—not at all adorable, despite my graceful stature—the last thing I needed was a bodyguard. Especially a wolf shifter, whose presence alone was an insult to my princely principles. As Prince of the Ocelot Shifters, I prided myself on my infallible feline instincts, uncompromisable dignity, and flawless fashion sense. If having a canine follow me around at all times wasn’t bad enough, I now faced the most important moment of my entire life. The time had come to prove I was worthy of my crown. If only I could find a way to get rid of the pesky bodyguard.

Grimmwolf
When the King of All Shifters asked me to guard Prince Owin, I admit I had no idea what to expect. Cat shifters tend to be a little intense, not to mention kinda cranky. Owin was no exception, though he seemed crankier than most. Being his bodyguard was proving to be one of the greatest challenges of my life—but not nearly as great as convincing him there was something special between us. When Owin is faced with a perilous quest to prove his worth, I was determined to keep him safe, even if the same couldn’t be said of my heart.

Excerpt
“What the—” Grimm dropped the orb, and we both jumped back. To my utter disbelief, it spread upward and sideways until it was roughly the size of a large doorway, a forest appearing inside. “Hmm. What do you know? A portal that will take us where we want to go.”
How cross would the king be with me if I accidentally pushed Grimm off a cliff? Or left him with the Cù Sìth? Not like he didn’t have plenty of wolf shifters. What was one less in the grand scheme of things?
Grimm narrowed his eyes at me. “You’re not leaving me behind.”
How did he do that? “Are you sure you’re not a seer wolf?”
Grimm didn’t look impressed. “You’re right. I’m a seer. My curse is that I’m limited to visions of you being a jerk.”
I opened my mouth to respond, then thought better of it. “Can we just go?”
“As you wish, Your Highness.” He bowed and motioned for me to go ahead. Clearly, he thought I was an idiot.
“What if it’s a trap and I step through and burst into flames? You go first.”
“Your generosity knows no bounds, my liege. Fine. I’ll go first, but if I meet my demise, my blood is on your hands.”
I shrugged. “I’ll get over it.”
“So mean.” He shook his head at me and stepped through. On the other side, he turned and held his arms out. “See? All good. Wait….” He gasped and clutched at his chest. “What’s happening to me? It burns!”
“Grimm?” My heart lurched in my chest, and I stepped up to the portal.
“I can’t,” he gasped, falling to his knees. “I can’t….”
“Can’t what!” Oh my Goddess, oh my Goddess. I never expected him to actually burst into flames! I flailed around feeling utterly helpless. “What do I do? Is it flames? Are you bursting into flames?” I frantically looked around. “I don’t see a fire extinguisher!” Not that I knew how to use one. I’d just have to toss it at him and hope he could do it himself.
“I can’t….” He gasped for breath. “I can’t… believe you fell for that,” he said with a laugh.
“I’m going to kill you!” I darted into the portal, ignoring his laughter as he took off, his long legs putting him out of my reach in a heartbeat. “I hate you!”
“Admit it! You were worried about me,” he called out from across the field.
“Worried you’d die and I wouldn’t be able to pry the magic purse off your cold, dead, dog-smelling corpse!”
“It’s a satchel!”

Carra's Review

No matter how you slice it, and I’m sure much to Owin’s consternation, Owin really is adorable.  Yes, he’s snooty and acts as though everyone should just give him whatever he asks for because he’s a prince.  But the way he acts and talks and just everything about him screams adorable, even when he’s acting like an entitled brat.

Grimm on the other hand is as normal as they come, laid-back, and understands the way the world works.  He finds Owin’s antics just as amusing as I did and even calls him adorable right to his face—which of course Owin soundly disputes.  Owin, after all, is a fierce feline and deserves respect, right?  Bless his little kitty heart.

This novella not only had me smiling as I listened to it, but at times had me literally laughing out loud (I may have even giggle-snorted a time or two).  For all of Owin’s arrogance, he’s still a great character—especially once Grimm’s personality starts to really rub off on him.  Grimm plays a key role in the growth of Owin’s character, and the two of them do fit together like a lock and key.  

The quest on which Owin is sent serves as the backdrop to his development into a more understanding, even-keeled, unselfish person, and while the setup and journey may seem a tad formulaic and symbolic, Owin’s realization at the end still was satisfying to me as a reader.

4.5 stars for The Prince and His Bedeviled Bodyguard, and the nice bit of steam does make this a story for readers/listeners 18+.  As for the narration, Greg Boudreaux nails it, and I think for me it was his presentation of Owin that made me like his character as much as I did.  5 stars for the narration!

About the Author
Charlie Cochet is the international bestselling author of the THIRDS series. Born in Cuba and raised in the US, Charlie enjoys the best of both worlds, from her daily Cuban latte to her passion for classic rock.
Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found devouring a book, releasing her creativity through art, or binge watching a new TV series. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review & Excerpt: UNEXPECTED by K.M. Neuhold (Inked #3)


Unexpected
Inked Series, Book 3
KM Neuhold
M/M Menage Romance
Release Date: 12.26.19



Blurb

Kyle needed a place to stay, he never thought it would turn into so much more.

So, your gorgeous boss, Maverick, and his yummy husband, Ari, are letting you stay with them while you get back on your feet? Here are a few simple tips:

Don’t call his husband Daddy. I know it’ll be difficult, but seriously, don’t.

Don’t leave a pair of red, lacy panties in their bed.

If you hear interesting noises from their bedroom in the middle of the night, don’t peek in. Don’t.

And most importantly, don’t fall in love.

Follow these tips and everything should go as expected.


**This book is the third book in the Inked series, which is a spin-off of the Heathens Ink series, but it CAN be read as a stand-alone. Unexpected is a super sweet, steamy MMM story with low angst and very light Daddy kink.


Purchase Link



Excerpt

Ari ripped into me, and I don’t blame him. If anything, I think he went too easy on me and forgave me too quickly. If I hadn’t forgotten my laptop in my office, would I have ever known Kyle was sleeping there? He said he wasn’t planning to stay long, so what was his plan? Sleeping in his car? Going to a homeless shelter? Sleeping on the street?

Bile rises in my throat, my appetite completely gone.

Ari is telling Kyle about his many jobs, and I take a second to look at the kid. I’ve never seen him without makeup on. He looks like a completely different person. He’s still beautiful, but in a more understated kind of way. You might look past him on the street, and what a tragedy that would be.

I shake off the thought. I made him homeless, and now I’m checking him out. I think that earns me a first class ticket on the trip to hell I’ve already been booked for.

I push the food around on my plate until the two of them are finished eating, then I gather all the dishes.

“You don’t have to clean up after me,” Kyle argues as I pick up his silverware to take to the sink to wash.

“Consider it part of my penance,” I answer dryly.

“You don’t need any penance. I told you it’s fine.”

I don’t bother to respond, because I think all three of us know it’s far from fine.

In spite of my insistence that I can take care of everything, Ari wipes down the counters and puts away the dishes once they’re washed and dried while Kyle slides onto the floor and sits cross-legged petting Piglet. He looks so young sitting on the floor with the dog in his lap, his face clean and a hint of red under his eyes that suggests he cried recently.

My chest aches at the sight—with guilt and something else I can’t put my finger on. Ari’s lips pressing against my shoulder startles me, and I turn my head to give my husband an apologetic smile. He raises his eyebrows at me in an unspoken question that I can’t quite decipher. Is he wondering what I’m thinking? Why I haven’t told him more about Kyle? If I was checking out Kyle? I’m not sure I have a good answer for any of those things.


Carra's Review

This combination of main characters—Ari, Maverick, and Kyle—was just perfect. Anytime I start reading a story with an established couple where a third comes into play, I’m always unsure as I sit with my fingers crossed hoping that the dynamic of the couple doesn’t get ripped apart with the new addition. Here, Maverick actually has a similar concern…though his worry is more focused on not getting hurt again if things don’t work out.

Thankfully, Kyle does not feel like an add-on to Ari and Maverick’s marriage; it’s more accurate to say that the three of them together fully complement each other and their triad makes them complete.

For those who like men in lingerie, Kyle will not disappoint (and his choices do trigger certain events in the story). For those who like boys and their Daddies, the connection between Kyle and Ari will make you smile. And for those who love M/M/M relationships, Ari, Maverick and Kyle will absolutely satisfy as a triad. Drama? Not so much…a touch of angst, yes; and Maverick’s apprehensiveness to getting involved with Kyle with his ongoing worry of losing him did wear on me just a bit. In the end though, the choices the three of them made concerning their individual and collective paths mean everything comes to a gratifying conclusion.

Unexpected was a solid 4-star read for me. Though it does feature quite a few supporting characters from the author’s previous books, it can definitely be read as a standalone. And as you might have expected, this book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Author K.M.Neuhold is a complete romance junkie, a total sap in every way. She started her journey as an author in new adult, MF romance, but after a chance reading of an MM book she was completely hooked on everything about lovely- and sometimes damaged- men finding their Happily Ever After together. She has a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well. And she fully admits that her OCD tendencies of making sure every side character has a full backstory will likely always lead to every book having a spin-off or series. When she's not writing she's a lion tamer, an astronaut, and a superhero...just kidding, she's likely watching Netflix and snuggling with her husky while her amazing husband brings her coffee.