Thursday, January 21, 2021
Friday, January 15, 2021
When you see the world through the eyes of a child, there’s magic everywhere.
And crumbs. Lots of crumbs…
But that’s not going to stop Mike and Bryn Kneller from traveling with their nephew Liam at their side. Not that deciding to take the lad to visit Bryn’s homeland was an easy decision for the two recently wedded men despite how much they adore the boy. This trip was supposed to be a romantic anniversary trip after all.
However, life, as it does, tends to lead us down a path of its own choosing. Combining an unexpected announcement from a family member with the not-so-subtle pleadings of Bryn’s parents, the decision was made. With lots of hand sanitizer and a heaping helping of patience, the journey begins, leading Bryn and Mike to discover a great deal about themselves, their marriage, and their plans for the future.
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.
When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
by Xenia Melzer
General Release Date: 5th January 2021
Word Count: 53,035
Book Length: NOVEL Pages: 201
ANGELS AND DEMONS, COMEDY AND HUMOUR, CONTEMPORARY, EROTIC ROMANCE, GAY, GLBTQI, PARANORMAL
Finding love is hard—especially when you’re a demon and your potential mate is your sacrifice…
Sammy is content with running his bookshop and leading a book club consisting solely of paranormal creatures. Despite the persistence of his friends, he has resolved himself to a life without romance, since he doesn’t think anybody could find him and his tendency to spill useless knowledge whenever he gets nervous attractive.
Dresalantion is a demon prince and slightly—make that majorly—annoyed when somebody persistently tries to summon him. He finally decides to show up and put the fear of Dresalantion into his summoners but finds himself rescuing their sacrifice instead.
Sammy intrigues him from the get-go, and when Dre realizes that Sammy can get him the manga he’s been hunting for months—not to mention that he refuses a wish he offered him—the sexy demon decides to get to know this fascinating man better. Much better.
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of kidnapping and an attempted human sacrifice.
“Is everybody set?”
Sammy looked around the group of people gathered in his bookstore. It was Wednesday, which meant there would be a book club meeting after closing hours. Their little group met at least twice every month to discuss books and interesting topics related to books, and Sammy loved it. It had formed half a year after he had opened his shop, Sammy’s Book Corner, and the participants had become something like a family to him, which he desperately needed after his parents had died five years before. He gazed around to make sure everybody had their stash of cookies—this time provided by Mavis and Maribell, the two witches—along with their favorite drink.
The delicious smell of freshly baked cookies mixed with the aroma of two hazelnut toffee lattes, the sharper tang of two Chai teas—heavy on the cinnamon—and his own hot chocolate before the familiar background scent of books, both old and new, made him once again congratulate himself on buying the fancy coffeemaker and establishing the little lounging area across from his cash counter. The members of their book club were seated on the four old couches around two low tables, getting comfortable.
Sammy was especially proud of this setup, since he had found all the furniture at flea markets and had given them each a do-over. The whiskey-colored leather couch hadn’t been much work. Just cleaning and treating the leather with a special balm had made the piece shine again. It now smelled faintly of beeswax, something that made Sammy crave a peppermint tea with honey every time he sat on it. The two chaises had required more effort. He had upholstered them and given them each a new cloth as well. Now customers could sit down on the colors of the rainbow to read their latest purchase. The last item was a lounger whose frame he had painted in pink then sprinkled with golden glitter for good measure. A turquoise throw made the piece stand out. One of the tables was covered in dots of various sizes and colors, and the other one had wall tattoos of Drogon and Smaug looking at each other on a black background.
Sammy was the first to admit that his artistic talent was closer to what a six-year old could produce than the fine artistry people with a real gift made, but he had done a good job with the furniture and his shop. Perhaps it was because he loved his little haven of books so much that it brought out the best in him. Except for the laptop in his office and the coffeemaker, nothing in the shop was new. Most everything had come from flea markets and garage sales, making for an interesting and charming mix of styles. Sammy had dedicated quite some time matching his books with the furniture. His antiques were stacked in open wardrobes that matched their age—or came close to it. The fantasy and science fiction books lived on shelves from IKEA, which he had sprayed silver. The romance books had found their home in old wooden wine crates that were clustered around the shop in small stacks of six to ten. Comics and manga were stashed in big boxes he had built from panoplies and painted in different hues of blue. The shop was Sammy’s idea of home, a feeling that seemed to convey itself, because most of his customers were regulars and loved hanging out in the place.
Sammy looked at his fellow book club members and adopted family and felt a brief shudder when he remembered their last meeting, where Amber the banshee had insisted on providing the baked goods. She might be four hundred years old, but just like every other banshee in the world, her baking skills were those of a blind man who had to find his way in a kitchen with both arms tied behind his back. Nonexistent. According to Emilia, the vampire in their group, this had something to do with their magic, which allowed them to pinpoint the exact time of death for every person. Apparently, the mixture of being able to look into the future without upsetting the balance of time and still warning people of their impending end didn’t go well with any kind of cooking. As to why exactly that was, Emilia couldn’t—or wouldn’t—tell. As the only human in a group of paranormals, Sammy had gotten used to not knowing everything. There was too much going on and he had learned soon after stepping into this world that ignorance truly was bliss in many cases where paranormals were involved. He would have preferred to know about Amber’s anti-talent in the kitchen, though, before he’d accepted her offer to bring snacks.
Per group vote, Amber had been banned from ever bringing sweets to the meetings again, even though Jon, the zombie living in the cellar under the bookshop, had later confessed to Sammy that the stone-hard lumps weren’t that bad, once one managed to get through the crust—the burnt, black crust that may or may not once have been sugar. Sammy swallowed hard. Just remembering the taste made his stomach revolt. And he hadn’t even been able to get to the core of the—he tried to find a fitting word for the deadly pieces of ballistic bakery and finally settled for ‘pastries’. Declan and Troy, the two werewolf alphas, as well as Emilia, had sharper teeth and more strength in their jaws, yet the looks on their faces when the crust gave way had been disturbing, to put it mildly.
“I don’t see what’s so different about these,” Amber declared with a pout while holding up a perfectly shaped chocolate chip cookie. Her pixie cut with the neon green hair went well with the huge, sapphire-green earrings, the thick golden chain with various amulets dangling from her neck, the five leather bracelets with Celtic runes etched into them and the approximately twelve rings she was wearing on her fingers. Compared to her jewelry, her outfit was plain—black skinny jeans, black sneakers and a black shirt with a sparkling unicorn on it, declaring Eat My Stardust, Suckers.
“The difference, my dear Amber, is that these cookies can be eaten without costing you a tooth. I’m so sorry to break this to you, but your baking skills are what I imagine Terry Pratchett had in mind when he created dwarf bread.”
Declan put one of the cookies in his mouth, munched on it with an expression of pure bliss on his ridiculously handsome face and gulped it down. He and Troy, who wasn’t there on that day due to business, looked like everybody’s wet dream. They were tall and had angular faces with chiseled jaws and sharp cheekbones, broad shoulders, slim hips, long, muscular legs and hair so thick and healthy that Sammy knew women would murder for it. Apparently, the good looks were part of the genetic makeup of shifters, but Sammy still found it almost offensive how perfect Declan and Troy were. Like two sides of a coin, one dark and dangerous, the other blond and…well, dangerous, they were a constant temptation for women and men alike. When they’d first joined the book club, Sammy had had some disturbingly hot dreams about threesomes with them and it had taken him almost four months until he had been able to put them firmly in the ‘friend zone’. It had helped—once they’d felt comfortable enough to relax during the meetings—to see their true selves. Because, no matter how perfect their looks were, the two werewolves were almost annoyingly arrogant and overconfident, as was typical for alphas—or so Sammy had been told by Jon. Their saving grace was a great sense of humor and their unusual choice of favorite book—Pride and Prejudice. After they had confessed this, nobody in their little circle was able to take them too seriously anymore, because how could somebody who loved the perfect book be a bad person? The posturing was just that—a façade to frighten potential enemies away—and the paranormal world was full of those.
“Dwarf bread?” Amber lifted one of her meticulously plucked eyebrows, a hint of steel in her voice.
“Don’t take it to heart, dear. If you want, you can come over and maybe we can teach you how to get them right.”
Maribell smiled at Amber and patted her hand. The witch looked like a nice, elderly lady with her flower-print dress, the square handbag and the perfectly coiffed bun at the back of her head. Her thick black hair was infused with gray strands, and around her almond-shaped eyes—a heritage from her Asian father—laugh lines softened her features. Sammy knew better, though. Maribell reminded him of his first-grade teacher, Mrs. Smithson, who had been able to shut unruly pupils up with one stern look. Those who inspired her displeasure quickly learned that there was nothing worse than the wrath of a teacher provoked…except for the wrath of witches. And with Mavis and Maribell, the first lesson was also the last.
There’s just something about a book club consisting of paranormal creatures that is very appealing to me. Sure, this one can cast a spell on you and that one can drain you dry, and the other one over there might eat you—or maybe just your brains—if given half the chance. But later on they’ll meet up to discuss the role of the hero in modern literature or tropes that no longer work in the modern day. Or maybe they’re all just as friendly outside the club as in.
What I loved was that even with their differences, they still get along and ALL of them consider Sammy family, even if he’s just a human. And I also loved Sammy owning a bookstore—yeah, I’m a sucker for bookstore owners and librarians…it’s a book nerd thing.
The introduction of Dre, a demon, to the group is really the logical progression, Gotta add diversity, right? Dre is a great character, and he fits right in. The undeniable connection between him and Sammy doesn’t hurt either, and that’s another thing I’m a sucker for—fated mates.
There is really no angst in the story, it’s primarily Sammy and Dre falling for each other and the development of their relationship. Usually I thrive on relationship development so that was a good thing, but I could have used a touch of excitement too. I still enjoyed the story though, and I’m looking forward to more in this series…like oh, say Dre’s brother ;-)
Demon’s Wish was a 4-star read for me, and if you’re a paranormal romance fan looking for a no-angst story this one will fit the bill.
About the Author
Xenia Melzer was born and raised in a small village in the South of Bavaria. As one of nature's true chocoholics, she's always in search of the perfect chocolate experience. So far, she's had about a dozen truly remarkable ones. Despite having been in close proximity to the mountains all her life, she has never understood why so many people think snow sports are fun. There are neither chocolate nor horses involved and it's cold by definition, so where's the sense? She does not like beer either and has never been to the Oktoberfest – no quality chocolate there.
Even though her mind is preoccupied with various stories most of the time, Xenia has managed to get through school and university with surprisingly good grades. Right after school she met her one true love who showed her that reality is capable of producing some truly amazing love stories itself.
While she was having her two children, she started writing down the most persistent stories in her head as a way of relieving mommy-related stress symptoms. As it turned out, the stress-relief has now become a source of the same, albeit a positive one.
When she's not writing, she translates the stories of other authors into German, enjoys riding and running, spending time with her kids, and dancing with her husband. If you want to contact her, please visit either her website, or write her an email.
Giveaway!Enter to win signed/personalized copies of books 1 & 2 in the Club Whisper series and a $5.00 First For Romance Gift Code!
Monday, January 4, 2021
Cover & Blurb Reveal with an Excerpt & Giveaway:
Right As Raine
by Lucy Lennox
Releasing February 2nd!
Cover Designer: Natasha Snow
As the first openly gay professional football player, I can’t afford to make any mistakes, on or off the field. And the absolute biggest mistake I could make right now would be to fall for Mikey Vining, my best friend, employee and, more importantly, Coach’s baby boy. I might fantasize about Mikey at night-—every night—but actually touching him would be a serious personal foul.
And falling for him? That’s completely out of bounds.
I’ve learned my lesson about falling for one of my dad’s players. They’re a bunch of spoiled jocks with more muscles than brains. I’ve spent years learning to keep my eyes, and my hands, to myself. But resisting the temptation becomes nearly impossible when Tiller Raine and I end up together in a small cabin in a remote Colorado town.
Suddenly, there’s not much to do but look at each other. And talk. And hopefully, hopefully touch.
But what happens when our stay in Aster Valley is over and it’s time to return to the real world? Will Coach blow the whistle on our relationship? Or will Tiller admit there might actually be something he loves more than football after all?
I turned and ran right into a delicious-cologne-smelling beast.
“Oh, f*ck,” I blurted, windmilling my arms in an effort not to keel over.
Strong hands grabbed my sides and held me upright. I glanced up into Tiller Raine’s stormy-gray eyes and tried not to get a stupid crush on a cocky rookie football player which meant I jumped back with a choking grunt sound and almost fell over again.
The edge of Tiller’s mouth turned up the barest amount. I glared at him. “I’m fine, thanks,” I snapped before reminding myself this person was now my boss.
Tiller’s nostrils flared. “Listen, Mikey. You don’t need to like this,” he said in a low voice. “And I don’t need to like this. But we both have a job to do, so let’s just focus on the job. Got it?”
For some reason, that hurt. I wanted to be allowed to dislike him for no reason, but the same didn’t apply to him disliking me.
“It’s Michael, actually,” I corrected, even though absolutely zero people used my full name outside of doctors and government offices. “And yeah, focus on the job. Fine.”
How many times could I possibly use that word in one day?”
“Fine,” he repeated with a nod.
We stared at each other for a few beats before Tiller seemed to snap out of it and reached into his pocket for his keys.
“Key to the apartment,” he said gruffly, handing it over. “I’ll get a copy of the house key made and bring it over to you after practice.”
“Thanks,” I managed before remembering what I’d been hired for. “Any allergies, picky eating, or health issues I need to know for your diet?”
He shook his head. “Whatever is fine.”
Great. Fine. I’m sure I could narrow down the choices from about ten thousand options. No problem. “So… I’ll just… throw together anything?”
The great Tiller Raine gave me a sum total of one word in response. “Sure.” Which suited me just fine. This time I’d made myself a promise. No sleeping with jackass ballplayers. No sleeping with players of any kind, in fact. And absolutely no sleeping with my boss.
Enter the Giveaway:
To celebrate Lucy's upcoming release, we are giving away 2 advanced e-copies of Right As Raine before it's released!
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!
After enjoying creative writing as a child, Lucy didn’t write her first novel until she was over 40 years old. Her debut novel, Borrowing Blue, was published in the autumn of 2016. Lucy has an English Literature degree from Vanderbilt University, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the years and years of staying up all night reading tantalizing novels on her own. She has three children, plays tennis, and hates folding laundry. While her husband is no shmoopy romance hero, he is very good at math, cooks a mean lasagne, has gorgeous eyes, looks hot in his business clothes, and makes her laugh every single day.
Lucy hopes you enjoy sexy heroes as much as she does. Happy reading!
Connect with Lucy:
Thursday, December 10, 2020
HE SEES YOU WHEN YOU'RE SLEEPING
By Sara Dobie Bauer
We met when you were just a child, but you’re a man now and need my protection.
With Christmas Eve approaching, I’ll watch over you.
Whether you know it or not.
Because no one is allowed to hurt you.
No one but me.
At 20K words, He Sees You When You’re Sleeping is a twisted take on Santa, featuring M/M romance, horror, and the holiday season.
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf
This is one of the most unique holiday stories I’ve ever read; just be advised that it’s a darker take on the Father Christmas/Santa Claus myth. That said, I was so totally absorbed in this story and definitely wasn’t expecting the plot twist near the end. Even with this being on the darker side, it still brought out my tears.
When the story begins, Kris really doesn’t know anything other than what he must do every Christmas Eve. He seems unemotional and mostly apathetic, though understanding of his role as a protector of children…until Jack enters the picture and changes everything. That’s when the really interesting events begin.
The prevailing atmosphere is gloom, but within that there is still hope—due in large part to Jack. He is a beacon of it for those less fortunate and hurting, but also for Kris. Expect an exceptionally non-traditional take on Father Christmas, along with redemption, self-realization, and eventually atonement. There is so much more I want to say about this story and the characters of Kris and Jack, but I think anything else I want to say might give away too much.
What I can say is that this is the most intriguing book I’ve read this year. 5 stars and a Top Recommendation from me for He Sees You When You’re Sleeping. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language, sexual content, violence, and a scene of self-harm/suicide attempt. Told ya it’s a darker one…but it’s a GOOD one. I doubt you’ll look at Santa Claus the same ever again.
About the Author
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Heart of the Holidays
by Pat Henshaw
Everyone hopes his road to happily ever after will be carefree and smooth, but too often hair-pin turns and detours seem to get in the way.
Having thought he was on the road to forever before, former Silicon Valley programmer Dan Lassiter is leery about pedaling down it again. His elderly companion Charlie urges him to get to know Rick Reardon whose bakery is across the street from Dan’s bicycle shop.
Under the watchful eye of Charlie, Dan and Rick take tentative steps towards each other, all the while trying to avoid potholes such as exes, homophobes, and family problems.
As summer turns to fall and then winter, they hope that the road will be smooth going from their first date and first kiss to having what Rick’s sister euphemistically calls their “sleep overs”. At each step, though, they are tripped up and wonder why there seem to be so many bumps in their road.
Maybe Dan and Rick should heed some of Charlie’s sage advice or maybe they should listen to their hearts instead of the warnings from their pasts.
The kids and their mom arrived after lunch, right about the time Charlie usually turned in for a nap. He gave them the once over as they got out of the car, nodded to me with raised eyebrows, and ambled back toward the house. I guess he figured he’d meet them sometime, probably sooner rather than later, so he didn’t have to knock himself out now. It was the siesta part of his day.
After the kids tumbled from the car and jumped on Rick, he pointed at my open garage and waved at me. I waved back, and they galloped across the street.
“Hi, I’m McKinsey! You can call me Mack.” The red-haired boy danced in front of me. His hair blazed in the sun and was as bright as his green eyes and freckles. He didn’t look anything like his uncle. “So these are all the bikes I can ride? Can I try them out first?”
“Yeah, but don’t go very far. I’ve got an app keeping an eye on them.”
He didn’t wait for me to explain further, but ran toward the racks so fast that I thought he would barrel into them. A small hand on my arm stopped me from chasing after him.
“Don’t worry. He’s careful. He won’t hurt the bikes. We won’t go far because of mom.” Since I wasn’t worried about the bicycles, I looked down into brown eyes, a solemn face, and curly sable hair. “I’m Leslie. Everyone calls me Lee. My brother throws himself into his activities. I don’t. Can we choose any of the bicycles?”
I glanced up at their uncle who shrugged at me. The small hand let go of my arm, so I looked down at Lee again.
“Yes. You have three choices. One, you can select a bike and ride it the entire time you’re here. Two, you could come back to the garage and pick another one to ride for the day, the half-day, the hour, or however long you want it. That means if you wanted, you could ride every bike in this place in one day. Or your third choice, you could stay at the bakery and not go bike riding at all.” I winked at her. “I would choose the bakery except then I’d look like a human lead balloon if I did.”
She giggled and put her hand on my arm again.
“I like you, Mr. Dan. I think we’ll get along fine.” She nodded and gave me a long assessing once over. “Don’t worry. You don’t look like a balloon at all. Not at all.”
If she’d been in her teens, I would have thought she was flirting. But Lee seemed as if she was merely making an observation.
I liked both kids and their approaches to life. I’d be willing to bet Charlie would like them too when he got up from his nap and met them.
Unlike her brother, Lee sauntered over to the bikes, many of which were now askew thanks to Mack’s unsorting process. She carefully started to right those tossed aside. She stopped at a turquoise bicycle, hopped on, and waved to me and her uncle as she sped away. Her brother was long gone. The bike rack still needed straightening which would give me something to do while Charlie snoozed.
I started toward it. Rick had surged across the street and was striding up to me.
“Here. I’ll help.” He stood staring down at the mishmash of bikes. “If you show me how to untangle them without making things worse."
“I don’t get it. Aren’t you afraid people will just take off with your bikes and you’ll never see them again?”
I watched him bend over to pick up one on the ground. My groin tightened at the sight. We were going out to dinner. Together. Soon. My heart and d*ck lifted as my mind piled up image after image of dinner and afterward. It was about time for me to get back in the saddle as it were.
ReviewIf you're looking for a relatively angst-free read with a touch of family drama, you'll find that here in Heart of the Holidays. Dan and Rick's relationship develops slowly in terms of time, if not pages. There's really no obstacles for them being together, and the bit of drama to be found comes from an ex and Rick's parents.
You do get more than one holiday in this story since the book covers from summertime through the New Year, with each holiday having it's own bit of drama along the way.
This is a pretty quick read, and I was able to finish in a couple of hours. While the writing style is not quite to my taste, I was actually glad there wasn't any real craziness on the way to these two finding their HEA.
About the Author
Pat Henshaw, born and raised in Nebraska, has lived on the U S's three coasts, in Texas, Virginia, and now California.
Before she retired, she held a number of jobs, including theatrical costumer, newspaper features reporter and movie reviewer, librarian, junior college English instructor, and publicist.
She also loves to travel and has visited Canada, Mexico, Europe, Egypt, Thailand, and Central America as well as almost all fifty US states.
Now retired, she enjoys reading and writing as well as visiting her older daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren on the East Coast and playing havoc with her younger daughter's life in NorCal.
She thanks you for reading her books and wants you to remember that every day is a good day for romance.
Pat is giving away two $10 JMS Books gift cards with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Audiobook Review & Excerpt: BOY SHATTERED by Eli Easton, narrated by Tristan Josiah - Includes Giveaway!
by Eli Easton
Narrated by Tristan Josiah
You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything—school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall,the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I saw at school that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the man of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.
“Help. Help me.”
The words were low, and they snapped me out of the fog. I looked around. Over by the water fountain was a guy lying on his side on the floor. He was looking at me. He said it again. “Help me. Please.”
A fresh wave of adrenaline and sorrow washed through me. Oh God. It was Brian Marshall. Yesterday, he’d been the picture of youth and glowing health. Now he lay on his side, trying to raise his head off the floor to look at me. His bloody hands clutched his shirt. His face was white, so damn white, and a red pool was growing from his body like an oil spill.
I pushed myself up and staggered over to him. I fell to my knees beside him and put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m here. Can you lie back? Let me help you.”
Brian rolled onto his back with a groan of pain. But he looked up at me with his dark blue eyes filled with so much relief and trust. Like he just didn’t want to be alone.
Like he didn’t want to die alone.
Hot, sour anger rose up in me again. This shouldn’t be happening. Not to Brian, not to any of them. But anger wouldn’t help right now. I had to get it together. I had to help him. My eyes stung.
“It’s okay. You’re gonna be all right.” I tried to sound confident, but my voice broke.
He was clutching his stomach on the lower left side, his hands bloody and shaking like crazy. Fresh, dark red blood oozed through his fingers.
I gently pulled his hands away and lifted the bloody shirt. I had to fight not to retch. He’d been shot in the left side, above the visible curve of his hip bone. There was a blown-out area the size of a ping-pong ball. Through the gore I saw a glimpse of something shiny and tubular. Internal organs.
Oh my God.
Don’t look. Don’t think about it. Just help him.
I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know much about gut wounds except that he probably had internal bleeding and that it could be fatal. But he wasn’t shot in the heart or lungs, so he had a chance. Except for the bleeding. There was way too much blood.
I wished I’d taken a more extensive first-aid class. I wished I knew exactly what to do to save him. I remembered, from the cop shows my mom loved, that they always put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. I looked around but didn’t see anything close by, so I tore my T-shirt over my head, rolled it into a ball, and pressed it to Brian’s wound.
He cried out in pain and tried to double up. But he didn’t push my hand away.
“Sorry, I’m so sorry,” I said. “But I have to stop the bleeding.”
“Yeah,” Brian grunted, giving a growl of agony. He made himself relax back to the floor, breathing hard through his mouth. “I think it’s coming out the back too.” His teeth chattered.
“Right.” If the bullet went all the way through him, there’d be two wounds. I didn’t have anything left to use, but a few feet away there was a soft-looking pink purse. With silent apologies to the owner, who I hoped was still alive, I left him long enough to grab it. I pushed it under him, hoping it would stop the blood, and went back to pressing my T-shirt into his stomach with both hands.
“You’re gonna be all right, I swear to God.” My voice was firmer now. Resolute.
Brian looked up at me, his eyes full of pain and fear. Of doubt.
“Screw that, Brian. You are gonna make it,” I told him in a bossy tone, rage giving it an edge. “Don’t you hear the sirens? They’re already on their way.”
It was weird because I hadn’t been consciously aware of sirens, but as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized they were true. I heard sirens. They were coming.
“Cops, ambulances, fire department—they’re gonna be here in just a minute. You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.”
I pressed the wound with both hands, leaning close. But Brian didn’t respond. His eyes were getting a little glassy, and he looked over my shoulder at nothing.
He blinked and focused on my face.
When you have a topic like school shootings the focus of a story, it can be tough for many people to read. The subject matter is disturbing on so many levels, and for some readers pushes buttons that they don’t ever want to be pushed. For me, living just under 15 miles from the school where the Parkland shooting took place, it’s common to see #MSDStrong bumper stickers and magnets on cars, or people wearing t-shirts in support of the school that’s right here in our community. While I may not have children of my own, I do have some in my family—and the thought that this could happen to one of them is terrifying.
In Boy Shattered, the author puts you right in the thick of things with a depiction that goes beyond eerie, and might have you thinking twice about not just the possibilities in other schools, but in ANY setting where you don’t have total control of your own surroundings. Going through that from both Landon and Brian’s points of view (especially Brian’s) made for a highly emotional read—not just regarding the shooting itself, but also how it affects them both afterward.
There’s a strong line of tension running through the book until close to the end since resolution is not immediate for the victims, something that is a powerful factor in Brian’s recovery. There’s even more drama added in the form of conflict with Brian’s father and his beliefs (the word that comes to my mind is “infuriating”. But alongside all that is the friendship and eventually romantic relationship that develops between Brian and Landon, and there’s an intensity between them that is supercharged thanks to the event that brought them together.
You cannot read this book and come away from it unaffected. The subject matter is relevant and unfortunately ongoing in our lives today, and for some readers it may hit too close to home to be comfortable. Be prepared for a brutal, uncensored eyewitness look at one of the horrors of our current society…but also know that the author shows hope and strength in the midst of it all.
5 stars, full stop. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language, sexual content, and scenes of a graphic and disturbing nature depicting a school shooting. This is a heavy read, just know that going in (and you’ll probably want to have something light and fluffy queued up to read next after it).
The narration: I really enjoyed listening to Tristan Josiah’s narration of this book. The emotions were spot-on, and there was good differentiation in the character voices. I felt just as much emotion from the events as they occurred in the story when listening to the audio version as I did when reading the ebook. 5 stars for the narration!
Enter the Giveaway:
To celebrate the audio release of Boy Shattered, Eli is giving away an Audible Code for her other YA Story, Superhero.
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!
About the Author:
Coming from a background in computer game design, Eli has written over 35 books in m/m romance since 2013. The Mating of Michael (2014) and A Second Harvest (2016) both won The William Neale Award for Best Gay Contemporary Romance, and Eli’s books have won many awards from the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Reader’s Choice Awards. She is best known for her Christmas romances, the Howl at the Moon series of rom coms featuring dog shifters, and her Sex in Seattle series, which revolves around a sex clinic in Seattle.
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