Wednesday, December 27, 2023

New Release-Excerpt & Giveaway: ELEX: SONS OF HECATE Volume I by Mellanie Rourke

Elex: Sons of Hecate Volume I

Author and Publisher: Mellanie Rourke

Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Release Date: December 26, 2023

Genres: Dark Romance, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Tropes: Hurt/Comfort

Themes: Overcoming adversity, rags to riches

Heat Rating:  4 flames     

Length: 92 000 words/320 pages

It is a standalone story and first in a series. The other books will be coming out in 2024. 

It does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US   |  Amazon UK

Alone, they are victims. Together, they may topple an empire.

Blurb

Elex is a slave even though his father is King of Alexandria. Disinherited once his elemental magic developed, he was banished to the Alexandrian Legion to "learn his place" at the non-existent mercies of his new masters. Humiliated and abused, he learns the hard way that he can't always protect the ones he loves.

Now the time of the Machi Thanatos approaches, a deadly competition where Legionnaires must battle their foes and each other for the dubious honor of a lifetime of slavery at the hands of Elusians, Alexandrians with the ability to control Elex and his fellow Mageians by Suppressing their ability to use magic.

Elex will fight to the death to protect himself and those he loves, but during the Machi he meets Helios, a shapeshifting Soma from the rebel country of Illyria.  Helios will fight for what he loves, too, and this savagely fierce little Mageian is quickly adding his name to that list. 

Separately they are two victims of the whims of Alexandrian Elusians. Together, they may discover a secret that could topple an empire.

Excerpt

The moonlight slowly slid across his face, casting his scarred side in shadow. Finally, he spoke.

“What did you want me to ask you that I didn’t?” he asked.

I closed my eyes. F*ck. He’d know if I was lying. In for a penny.

“I wanted you to ask me if you could kiss me,” I whispered finally. He didn’t move at my words, and I suddenly felt like the biggest idiot. How could this beautiful, courageous, kitten-saving man ever want someone like me? Especially after just sharing everything my own blood had done to me.

Feeling suddenly filthy, I was on my feet and pulling away from him without thinking. “Yeah, dumb thing to think, I know. Probably been drinking too much of that vodka.”

“That sentence was a lie,” he whispered. Then without warning he was in front of me. He slowly reached out and cupped the back of my head and drew me close. He was standing so near to me that I could feel his breath on my cheek. “But that first one…”

He swept his thumb over my lips.

“Truth,” he whispered, a small, sad smile forming. He moved even closer, his breath hot on my skin.

“Kataramenos,” he said, drawing my name out. My heart pounded in my chest at his nearness, and my body flushed both hot and cold at the same time.

“Kat. May I kiss you?” he asked, finally.

I swallowed hard, my nerves on fire. I couldn’t believe someone like him might want someone like me. I couldn’t look away from his eyes, which were brighter than the moonlight. I could see my reflection in his gaze. It was almost unrecognizable. It was a person who was strong. Confident. Whole. Someone who deserved something good in his world. Someone I wanted desperately to be.

I nodded, unable to form the words.

He moved forward slowly, just brushing his lips across my own. The zap of our magics built to a vibrating hum as he licked gently across my lips with his tongue. I opened my mouth slowly, savouring the taste of the vodka as he slid into my mouth, the gentle heat of his body pressing against mine.

He held me like I was something…precious. Not fragile, exactly, but something valued. I had fooled around with other Mageia in the past and been used by Elusians against my will. This was completely different from any of that. None of those encounters, even the willing ones, had ever made me feel cherished. Safe. Made me feel like he did.


About the Author 

Mellanie Rourke lives in Akron, Ohio with her spouse and their furry menagerie of 3 young adult roommates (because ‘they aren’t kids anymore’), two dogs, three cats, and five ferrets.

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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: I'M NOT YOUR PET! by Fae Quin

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I'm Not Your Pet!
By Fae Quin

I'm Not Your Pet! Cover

I'M NOT YOUR PET! is an MM #alienromance with language barriers, hurt/comfort, and size difference. It features a hot shark captain named ROARK from the planet Osheania, who has rescued a traumatized little human from a life of servitude on planet F'ukyuu.

When HUGO received a full-ride scholarship to an Ivy league college, the last thing he expected was to wake up on an alien planet a galaxy away. After accidentally proposing to ROARK, he's in for the shock of a life time. HUGO thinks he's a pet but ROARK is confident he's found the mate he's been waiting for all his life. Can it be possible that HUGO's true love is a pink shark, twice his size with fangs and tentacles that have a mind of their own? Or is he destined for disappointment once again?

Find out more in I'M NOT YOUR PET! which is part of the EXTRA! EXTRATERRESTRIAL shared world series with Eryn Hawk, where each book focuses on its own pair and their HEA. While these stories can act as standalones, it is best to read each authors' books in the order of their publication due to world-building.

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About the Author:

Fae is a romance enthusiast and multi-talented artist and writer. With a love for classic monsters, adorable meet-cutes, and contemporary romance, she can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her beloved pet corgi, Champa, by her side. A resident of Utah, Fae is happily married and enjoys collecting squishmallows in her spare time.

Connect with Fae:
www.instagram.com/fae.loves.art
linktr.ee/Faelovesart


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Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: YOU'RE NOT MY KING! by Eryn Hawk

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You're Not My King!
By Eryn Hawk

You're Not My King! Cover

๐—ฌ๐—ข๐—จ'๐—ฅ๐—˜ ๐—ก๐—ข๐—ง ๐— ๐—ฌ ๐—ž๐—œ๐—ก๐—š! ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐— ๐—  ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ด๐˜‚๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€, ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜€. ๐—œ๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ ๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜, ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜ ๐—จ'๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ต๐—ธ, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป, ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ผ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฏ๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป'๐˜€ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ. ๐—ฌ๐—ข๐—จ'๐—ฅ๐—˜ ๐—ก๐—ข๐—ง ๐— ๐—ฌ ๐—ž๐—œ๐—ก๐—š! ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—˜๐—ซ๐—ง๐—ฅ๐—”! ๐—˜๐—ซ๐—ง๐—ฅ๐—”๐—ง๐—˜๐—ฅ๐—ฅ๐—˜๐—ฆ๐—ง๐—ฅ๐—œ๐—”๐—Ÿ ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜„๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—น๐—ฑ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐—™๐—ฎ๐—ฒ ๐—ค๐˜‚๐—ถ๐—ป, ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐˜€๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ป ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ฟ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐—ฟ ๐—›๐—˜๐—”. ๐—ช๐—ต๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜€, ๐—ถ๐˜ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ฎ๐˜‚๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜€' ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐—ฟ ๐—ฝ๐˜‚๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜„๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—น๐—ฑ-๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด.

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To celebrate the Cover Reveal & upcoming release of You're Not My King, Eryn is giving away 2 e-copies of the upcoming release!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!

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About the Author:

Eryn Hawk is a Scottish lass living in England with her three kitties and an endless collection of novelty coffee mugs. She has a fascination with fantasy, myth, and monsters, so her days are mostly spent creating new worlds, where her creatures and their humans can fall hopelessly in love—and lust. When she's not writing or reading spicy paranormal romances, she can be found playing Dragon Age or chilling on the sofa with a period drama on the telly.

Connect with Eryn:
https://linktr.ee/authorerynhawk


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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

New Release-Excerpt & Giveaway: TRUE NORTH by TA Moore (Yule Lads #1)

True North 

(Yule Lads #1)

by TA Moore

Publisher: Rogue Firebird Press

Cover Artist: TA Moore

Release Date: December 15, 2023

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Tropes: Opposites attract, star-crossed, enemies to lovers, fish out of water, work romance…sorta, betrayal, Christmas romance

Themes: Sins of the past, forgiveness, found family.

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length:  40 500 words

It is the first book in the Yule Lads series.

It does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Blurb

Despite what his co-workers say Belling, Montana paramedic Dylan Holly does not hate Christmas.

It’s just that as an ex-foster kid he learned early on that Christmas just didn’t have much relevance to his life. He’s seen no evidence since then that he’s wrong.

That said, if Santa ever delivered a six-foot plus wall of hot muscle under his tree he’d be willing to reconsider. He’s even sourced an available one locally in the taciturn Somerset North and his impossibly blue eyes.

So really, at this point the ball is in Santa’s court.

There’s just one problem. Well, just one to start with anyhow. The battered, dying man someone dumped from a height onto Dylan’s car outside the Just-as-High, Somerset’s bar. He gave Dylan an old, well-worn watch and begged him to keep it safe.

Now Christmas is relevant to Dylan’s life in the worst way. The Winter Court has loosed their Wolves on the world and Dylan is on the run with Somerset North. A man who seems to know a lot more about what is going on than a Montana bar owner with exceptional shoulders should.

It turns out that Santa is missing, presumed dead. And the key to the hotly disputed succession crisis is a foster kid who never celebrated the season.

Excerpt

TWENTY YEARS SINCE Somerset had tried to tap the power of his old position. Now he had done it twice in one night. He would never admit it, but as the wind blew up into his armpits, he wasn’t sure the magic he’d set aside would answer.

Apparently though, there were no hard feelings.

Cold filled his chest and soaked out into his body. It spilled out of his mouth on white fog and turned his marrow into frost. The only heat in him came from the prickle of pain as a dozen tiny fractures crazed along the bones of his arms and legs. The threads of the North Wind surged up around him and thickened under his feet. His boots skidded on the slick, snow-vapor surface at first. It was solid, but not still. The wind blew and eddied under his weight. It made for unsteady footing.

The weight of Dylan as he swung awkwardly from Somerset’s grip didn’t help. Somerset briefly indulged the thought of letting him drop. He was not a sentimental man at the best of times, that wasn’t what his kind had been made to be, and the chill of Winter magic in his bones reduced the idea of logic and odds.

Mostly.

Dylan didn’t scream or thrash. He gripped Somerset’s wrist with white-knuckled fingers and kept his eyes closed so he didn’t give in and look down. Somerset had always liked that quality about the wiry paramedic. No matter what happened around him, Dylan was always the calm at the heart of the storm. It made him… pleasant… to be around.

Something in Somerset’s chest, buried down deep under permafrosted meat and organs, felt warm. The rest of him was too Winter-numb to put his finger on what the feeling was. Guilt maybe. Or something stupider.

Either way, as he remembered the knack to riding the storm, he dragged Dylan into his arms. The other man resisted at first—Somerset didn’t take it personally—but the only other option was to fall. It wasn’t a hard choice to make. Dylan pressed against Somerset’s chest, arms wrapped around him so tightly that Somerset could feel knuckly fists dug into the small of his back.

Somerset enjoyed the feeling of the warm, lean body pressed against him for a moment, then he had to focus on what he was doing.

“You can fly?” Dylan asked, his voice ragged and his breath warm against Somerset as it seeped through the cotton T-shirt. When Dylan laughed, it was a thin, nervous sound. “Explains what happened to my car.”

Somerset hesitated as he narrowed his eyes. He could see the snow caught in his lashes. Dylan was right; that probably had been what happened.

As many questions as that answered, though, it raised more. Wolves couldn’t walk the storm, so who’d brought Gull down? Had he already been injured?

The wind took advantage of Somerset’s distraction and tried to drop from under him. He stumbled, caught himself, and did his best to ignore the way Dylan’s arms tightened around him.

About the Author

TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide.

Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.

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Monday, December 18, 2023

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: RED FLAGGED by Elle Keaton (Reclaimed Hearts #3)

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Red Flagged
By Elle Keaton

Red Flagged - Elle Keaton - E-Cover

Reclaimed Hearts, Book 3

Ex-US Marshal turned Cooper Springs Chief of Police, Andre Dear isn’t looking for love. He’s too busy hunting a killer.

The last person Andre expected to see in Cooper Springs was Dante Castone. He left Dante and the rest of his old life behind him when he moved to Washington State and what he thought would be a quiet job in a small town by the ocean.

Dante Brown went into WITSEC for his sister’s kid--sort of.

In reality, Dante's DIYing it; he isn’t the trusting sort. Daniella was the only witness to her mom’s brutal murder and needs both protection and anonymity--plus as normal a life as possible. It's just a bonus that Cooper Springs has Andre Dear too.

He and Andre have a history, and Dante wants to see if they might have a future. Someone is gunning for Andre and, like it or not, Dante is going to protect him. And yeah, feed him too. Does the man never eat?

Andre needs Dante’s help even if he doesn’t want to accept it. Dante's ready to settle down but he’s going to have to prove himself before Andre lets him in again.

Together, they need to catch a killer and maybe find each other in the process.

Red Flagged is book three in the Reclaimed Hearts series. A second-chance, older-lovers redemption story and thrilling romantic suspense set in the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula.

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Excerpt

Andrรฉ’s evening reading was interrupted by a banging against his front door. The hammering was loud, purposeful, and, in Andrรฉ’s opinion, full of false promise. He briefly contemplated not answering. The reverberation alone told him who was on the other side.

He had a choice to make.

For f*ck’s sake, the thundering knock hadn’t even startled him.

Damn.

Annoyed, he set his mystery novel—a British cozy he’d been half paying attention to while listening to the rain pound against the roof—face down on the arm of the couch and rose to his feet. Traitorous anticipation bloomed slowly, languorously, alongside the growing exasperation in the pit of his stomach, rising like the steam from a freshly brewed cup of tea.

“Dear, I know you’re in there. Answer the f*cking door. It’s pissing down out here.”

Wasn’t forty-five too old for a booty call? Was it a booty call when the ass in question showed up unannounced and, well, uncalled?

Andrรฉ didn’t have time to answer any of that in the short distance between his couch and the front door. Reaching out, he flipped the lock open and then twisted the handle, his hand shaking slightly.

This would be the last time.

Seconds later, Andrรฉ was slammed back against the living room wall, his hands automatically slipping under Dante’s leather jacket and cotton t-shirt, his fingertips sliding against Dante’s chilled, damp, skin. Dante murmured something and then his mouth was on Andrรฉ’s, claiming him as he always did.

Always. But never forever.

Within minutes, they were mostly naked and stumbling into Andrรฉ’s bedroom. A trail of clothing was strewn behind them, much like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of breadcrumbs so they could find their way back out of the wicked forest.

Andrรฉ felt his personal forest was much more complicated than Hansel and Gretel’s, but he’d finally found a way out of it.

This was the last time they were doing this.

At least this time, they made it to the bed and hadn’t just ended up on the couch like so many nights before. Falling onto the mattress, Andrรฉ had landed on his back and currently was gazing down his body, watching an equally naked Dante press his nose into Andrรฉ’s crotch. He liked it.

God, he liked it.

His c*ck did too. His c*ck was a fan of everything Dante. But it needed to stop. It had to. A relationship that consisted of late-night knocks on the door (followed up by the best sex Andrรฉ had ever experienced) and an empty spot next to him in the morning was not what he wanted.

The sex was incredible but what happened afterward made him intensely lonely.

As ridiculous as it was for a man of his age and profession—a U.S. Marshal, for godsakes—Andrรฉ wanted a partner. A real partner.

Dante Castone, an undercover operator for the DEA, was not the man for the job.

He wanted someone who’d stand by his side through good and bad times and vice versa. Dante was not that man. No matter how f*cking incredible his lips felt as they closed around Andrรฉ’s c*ck.

“Jesus,” Andrรฉ groaned, arching his back.

Since a partner didn’t seem to be in the cards for Andrรฉ at this late stage in the game, he’d decided to settle for a job that wasn’t actively trying to kill him. He wanted to head into his twilight years like a cop on The Andy Griffith Show or Mayberry R.F.D., giving advice to innocent kids and chatting with senior citizens who would end up having the answer to everything.

“You’re distracted tonight,” Dante rumbled as he let Andrรฉ’s c*ck slip from between his lips so he could begin licking his way up Andrรฉ’s body. He was heading toward Andrรฉ’s neck, which seemed to be a favorite place of his.

“Don’t leave marks,” Andrรฉ complained, his hips jerking as Dante nibbled on a sensitive nipple. “I don’t want to have to explain anything to my coworkers.”

“So many rules. You know I love breaking rules.”

Dante did love breaking rules—Andrรฉ’s rules, at any rate.

“Quit thinking so hard.” Dante punctuated his demand by biting and then sucking hard on Andrรฉ’s nipple, tracing around the nub with his hot tongue.

“F*ck.” Andrรฉ’s c*ck throbbed with anticipation of what was to come—himself and Dante—and he writhed desperately underneath Dante’s pleasantly heavy, muscular body, needing more contact, more of everything.

Tomorrow he’d tell Dante they couldn’t do this anymore. No more rule breaking.

Red Flagged Teaser 3

Carra's Review

This is definitely my favorite book of this series so far.  I love Andre and Dante together, their story is an attention-getter, and I was completely invested in these two from start to finish.  Also, I’m not normally a fan of kids in my stories, but Daniella fits perfectly especially since much of her part is solidly tied into the drama and suspense of the story.


I will recommend that you read this series in order.  While each story could stand on its own in regards to each couple’s romance, there is an underlying plot that continues from one to the next as the mystery central to the series keeps on building.  You’ll want to hear the stories of the other couples anyway once you meet them in their supporting roles here in this book.


Andre came to Cooper Springs hoping to settle into a quiet town after the faster paced life he had as a US Marshal.  He’s settled in pretty well, but definitely wasn’t expecting Dante to show up in town.  The two have a not-too-distant past together that was primarily physical—something that they were VERY good at together.


Dante is trying to protect his niece, and believes the little town of Cooper Springs is a good place for them to keep themselves off the radar of some very bad people.  For Dante, it is also a chance to try and make a go of things with Andre again…if he can convince Andre of that.


The two of them are really good together, not just physically, and they also work good together in trying to figure out who is coming after Andre and also keeping Daniella safe.  The mystery and suspense are intriguing and not to be clichรฉ, but I was glued to the pages with this one.  That suspense continues to build throughout the story, ratcheting up the excitement level until the main conflict scene near the end.


Red Flagged was a great read and is getting 4.5 stars from me.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the series, and would highly recommend this book and full series to any M/M romantic suspense fans.  This story is meant for mature readers for adult language and sexual content.

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To celebrate the release of Red Flagged, Elle is giveaway away a signed paperback of the winner's choice (Open Internationally)!
 
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About the Author:

Do you love inclusive, swoony, and often suspenseful small-town romances featuring complex characters and a unique sense of place? I do too! My characters start out broken and, maybe, they’re still a tad banged up by the end, but they find the other half of their hearts and ALWAYS get their happily ever after.

In 2017 I pressed the Publish button for the first time and have never looked back—making this the longest period of time I've stuck with a job in my entire life.

Currently, there are over thirty Elle Keaton books available for you to read or listen to. I love cats and dogs. Star Wars and Star Trek. Pineapple on pizza, and have a cribbage habit my husband encourages.

Connecting with readers is very important to me. If you are so inclined, join The Highway to Elle newsletter, and keep up to date with everything Elle-related (or join my Ream page and get in on the novels early plus swag and extras). Random topics Include, but not limited to, ‘where are Elle's glasses?' and, ‘why are there cats?’. I can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and occasionally TikTok.

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Saturday, December 16, 2023

Spotlight-Excerpt: THE NORTHERN ROUTE by Walter Robinson

 

The Northern Route

by Walter Robinson


Release Date: Tuesday, August 1 2023


Cover Artist: Phillip Dannels

Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Science Fiction

Word Count: 174,000

LGBTQ+ Identities: Gay, lesbian

Keywords/Categories: interstellar mystery, whirlwind romance, complex characters, political revolution, evolution of civilizations, combat, gay, lesbian, galactic empire,new release, announcement, gay, lesbian, sci-fi, science fiction, outer space, novel, epic novel



Blurb


In the distant star cluster Messier 4, the vast and stagnant civilization of the Apeilous sits on the verge of its next great expansion. Several massive corporations have merged to start the Endeavor, the most far-reaching economic and humanitarian effort in history. 


Vesta Amore leads a small team of private security specializing in the protection of whistleblowers and corporate defectors. She has no interest in the Endeavor until she is swept off her feet by the suave leader of the Fortuna Corp, an equal partner in the Endeavor. Balancing her altruism with the realities of power, Vesta joins the Fortuna as they work to establish a supply route along the contested northern border.


Cal Sunn is a career detective looking forward to retirement. When the Maressellya Corp backs out of joining the Endeavor, they hear rumors of a defector in their ranks and put Cal on the case. What starts as a simple assignment becomes a fight for survival as he works to untangle a shadowy conspiracy that threatens the Apeilous. With the Fortuna’s backing, he and his crew rush to uncover the plot.


Warnings: Combat violence, "off-screen" sexual assault, large scale loss of life


Buy Link


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Excerpt


Context:


Main character Vesta and her best friend Jak spend Act 3 forging ties between the Fortuna Corporation and the leadership of the independent planet Atayuma. Keen to make connections outside of the autocratic government, Vesta and Jak engage in a bit of old-fashioned diplomacy with group of mid-level army and navy personnel at the most popular bar in town. By this point in the story, Vesta and Jak have already made friends of several revolution-sympathizers in the armed forces.


Fun fact, the song in this excerpt was adapted with permission from the artist, Jason Webley!


Excerpt from Chapter 29, God Save the King:


Rau’s Taphouse
Capital City, Atayuma (ISY-AT) 


Three musicians sat in the corner of the room belting out drinking songs on a tuba, a drum set, and an accordion. The accordionist sang loudly, yet his voice barely rose over the short beats of the instruments and the din of the bar. 

Vesta and Jak sat at a table for six, joined by three captains from the Royal Navy. The sixth member of their gathering was Captain Ernesto of the army division Aline had selected for the coming monsoon. While Vesta had spent the fore of the evening chatting and getting to know them, her efforts were stymied by a raucous sing-along song about storms and angels. Then the music struck a somber tone. The singer had his bandmates restart the intro, seemingly to get the crowd’s full attention. He sang the first verse softly. 

“To the old, cracked screen,

Of my mother’s voice,

I still cry when I hear her sing.

The clock struck twelve,

The voice I love so well,

Was eaten up by the machine, 

It was eaten up by the machine!”
Vesta wondered what exactly he meant by the machine. Maybe he’s talking about the mines. Every voice in the bar joined in the second verse.

“When the glass is full,

Drink up! Drink up!

This maybe the last time

We see this cup.

If angels wanted us sober,

They’d knock the glass over,

So while it is full, we drink up!” 

Just as Vesta started to tap her toes to the beat, the drum and tuba quieted, and the individual taps on the accordion’s keyboard became clear. The singer glanced at her with a kind smile and sang softly, twisting the next verse into something unknown to the crowd. 

“A toast to our guests,

A girl from the stars,

I hear the king courts her,

But all of this cheer,

And maybe the beer,

Has brought her back here,

So let’s help her drink the place dry,

Yes, let’s drink the damn place dry!” 

The crowd cheered, and many raised their glasses toward Vesta before downing them. Jak slapped her on the shoulder with a little too much force, and the singer repeated the verse. A few people joined in. Then the rest shouted along for the last three lines. The standard verses followed, and the discordant singing continued. Vesta could only sit and sway to the beat. Jak had other ideas, rising to his feet to join a line of people dancing forward and backward with their arms on the shoulders of those next to them. Ernesto joined too, shouting with the dance line that now snaked clear across the length of the bar. 

The music crescendoed upward, and the singing grew louder for the last verse. 

“...knock the glass over.”

“So while it is full drink up!” the crowd screamed. People clapped, some tossed coins and banknotes at the band members, and others spilled their drinks as they tried to toast with their neighbors at the bar. The joyous frenetic atmosphere remained past the end of the music, but there was a clear shift in tone and a color shift for Vesta’s deeper vision. A calm contentment filled the minds of the patrons closing out their tabs and shuffling out the front door. Many said goodbye to their friends for the night, clasping each other’s hands in front of their chests with a tense shake. Eager to return to the palace, Vesta cut off Jak’s animated conversation with one of the navy captains, handed the bartender enough money to cover the table, and started toward the door. 

A crowd of eager-eyed Atayumans stood outside Rau’s. They all bubbled with joy as Vesta stepped onto the street. She took Jak’s hand, smiled, and moved through them, trying not to flinch as every person attempted to touch her shoulders. Countless glowing Atayuman eyes met hers before they reached the edge of the gathering. 

A raindrop landed on her hand. She reached up and felt that the top of her headscarf was damp. She pulled her hood up and activated her wrist computer, nearly blinding herself with its white light. Navigating to the archaic weather app that the Atayumans operated, she looked at the radar map of the incoming weather formation. It was predicted to be light and move past the city shortly after sunrise. 

“God damn, I love diplomacy,” Jak said, words soft despite their volume. “If only the [Vesta’s ethnicity] weren’t so uptight, we could’ve been doing this on [Vesta’s home planet]!” 

“Jak, please,” she said sharply. With a bit of tugging and pushing, she guided him up the sweeping main road toward the palace gates. Some distance from the royal guards, Vesta tensed her jaw and held her breath to redden her face. 

“Are you doing that thing?” Jak asked, taking a series of tiny steps to steady himself. 

“Yes,” she huffed, shooting him a sideways look.

“Why don’t you just think about those photos you had me take—” 

“Jak!” she said loudly, playfully pushing him, then grabbing his shirt to keep him from falling over. 

“You know, the ones for Piata—” 

“Yes, I know!” she said, feeling her cheeks burn. Embarrassed, she channeled her shy charisma and played a nervous flirty drunk. The four guards at the gate seemed none-the-wiser and cleared the way for them. 




About the Author



Walter Robinson is a speculative fiction author based in Western PA.


A classically trained engineer with experience in product development and advanced materials manufacturing, he has a passion for telling the human stories that are fundamental to the built world. When he isn’t writing or drawing, Walter spends his time designing and fabricating.


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