This post will serve as a linking list for all the Small Press Publisher and Self Published books that I will read in 2011.
In 2010 I had a fantastic time finding new to me authors and really good books from Small press and Self published outlets and I am determined to carry on in 2011.
Some of these books will be reviewed and some I will just add a link to either Goodreads, Shelfari or Libraything (My online Cataloguing system).
It was happening again. Hank could feel the hot breath on the back of his neck and faint weight of a spectral body pressing down on his own. In spite of Hank’s efforts to elude him, the spirit had followed him from Tokyo. Why had he thought that it wouldn’t find him in a shinkansen sleeping car? He hadn’t thought any self-respecting ancient spirit would be riding Japan’s rails, but then again, two weeks ago he hadn’t believed yokai really existed at all.
“Suki desu, Hanku-sensei.” The yokai’s voice was deep and breathy and though masculine, filled with a creepy, almost childish yearning. “Suki desu yo!”
I love you.
The yokai sure had a funny way of showing it.
“I don’t love you,” Hank whispered. His Japanese wasn’t great, but he could hold his own in everyday conversations. “Go away.”
“I only want to be close to you.” The yokai’s long fingers tugged at the blankets. Hank held on firmly. He knew from previous experience that this particular spirit, whom he’d nicknamed “Fingers,” wouldn’t cause him bodily harm, but it got way too personal. “Can I look at your underpants? Are they Calvin Klein like before? I like your Calvin Kleins. Did you get them in Vancouver?”
“I told you, go away. My shorts are none of your business.”
“Do you work out?” Through the darkness Hank could now see the yokai shape floating above him. He wore the same dark suit as he had the previous times Hank had seen him, the same thick aviator glasses. His hands were much longer than normal, and his fingers wriggled like worms.
“As soon as we get to Aomori City, I’m going to find an exorcist and get rid of you.”
The yokai’s mouth turned down in a quivering frown. “But tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I want to give you a present.”
In the bunk above Hank’s, Daisuke Tachibana, the translator his publishing company had assigned to him, shifted.
He hadn’t told Tachibana about his new yokai buddy. He didn’t think any modern Japanese would take him seriously. It was one thing to research indigenous Japanese spirits as folklore, quite another to claim to have met one personally. He might as well claim to have met the Tooth Fairy or any of Santa’s eight reindeer. And somehow Hank found the fact that he’d attracted Fingers embarrassing. If he was going to be attacked by a supernatural force, he wanted it to be one of pure evil, not some creepy pervert with an underwear obsession. The yokai also had a very long tongue, and leaning forward, lips parted, he seemed just on the verge of using it.
Hank lurched sideways, but too late. The tongue slapped against the side of his neck and slid like a hot washcloth up the side of his cheek. Long fingers fumbled at the elastic band of his pajamas. Hank grabbed them. Fingers let out a giggle. “You want to hold hands? There’s a red thread from my pinkie to yours.”
Glancing down Hank saw that this was hideously true. A red line like a laser shone around his own finger. It wound and looped around like a tangled string until it found the yokai’s pale, too-long digit.
“We’re fated to be together.”
Dear God, no! This was going too far. Damn what Tachibana thought -- he was going to come clean.
“Tachibana!” Hank’s voice came out in a harsh whisper. He kicked the bunk above him.
Tachibana gave a snort. “What is it, Mr. Caldwell?” His voice emerged as a sleepy grumble.
Fingers frowned like an angry baby ready to let out a wail; then, like mist it dissipated.
Tachibana’s head popped down from the upper bunk. His dark, shiny hair tousled, pillow marks still creasing his cheek. He was cute, in the kind of harassed, nerdy way that all junior salarymen seemed to be. “Mr. Caldwell?”
All at once, Hank lost his nerve. “You were snoring.”
“Gomen nasai.” Tachibana rolled out of sight, the mattress springs creaking as he resettled himself.
“No worries.” Hank pulled the covers up tight around his neck, peering through the darkness, scanning the tight confines of the car for any sign of Fingers.
Hank Caldwell would never have described himself as a blushing flower of a man. On the contrary, he was a relatively young (thirty-five) relatively fit (worked out at least fifty-two times per year) and relatively intelligent (working on a PhD in folklore at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver).
Compared to the Japanese, Hank seemed especially coarse. He had hairy forearms and the slight swagger that anyone raised in Alberta acquires by osmosis and that years of living away from his native Calgary had failed to diminish. He also had a cowboy hat that he had purchased at the Calgary Stampede that caused virtually everyone he met to assume he was an American. He wore the hat with dogged persistence in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that it forced him to explain his nationality at regular intervals.
Not that he had anything against Americans. He just didn’t want to be mistaken for one. That’s was all.
The hat also served as a kind of disguise since few people associated cowboy hats with homosexuality -- even after Brokeback Mountain. Back home in Canada, the hat conferred a machismo that, as an academic, he might otherwise lack. In Japan the hat served mostly as an icebreaker and conversation starter. The office ladies at his publisher liked to try it on and pose coquettishly for him, unaware that they -- to paraphrase the saying -- barked up the wrong tree.
Now the hat gently levitated approximately six inches above his folded coat.
In the bunk above, Tachibana coughed.
The hat dropped back down to rest atop the shearling.
Hank watched his hat for a long time, but it didn’t move again, and at last he succumbed to sleep.
* * * * *
Tachibana lay in the darkness staring at the ceiling only inches from his face. The gentle rocking of the train car did not soothe him. He knew from the sweat beading Mr. Caldwell’s pale, freckled forehead that the yokai had gotten loose again.
If only Mr. Caldwell hadn’t been a redhead. The yokai had a fascination for the exotic.
Mr. Caldwell was not the first person who had caught the yokai’s attention. Three years before at a company retreat to the hot-springs resorts near Nakakawane, the creature had first appeared, lavishing his affection on Mr. Sato from accounting, cornering the poor man in a toilet stall in order to admire the symmetry of his testicles. Tachibana had discovered Mr. Sato there, curled up into the fetal position, his handsome face distorted by disgust and fear.
“Why the hell do we have to come to the only hot springs with a gay toilet yokai?” he’d wailed. “I hate homos. They’re filth. They should all hurry up and die.”
Up until that point, Tachibana had had a crush on Mr. Sato. Not that he would have ever said so, but at hearing those words, all fondness for the fit accountant evaporated.
The story of the gay yokai had become legendary at the hot springs, even attracting the attention of a local television crew bent on recording the supernatural phenomenon. The resort considered hiring a spiritualist to cleanse the place for the safety of their male customers, but it proved unnecessary. The creature didn’t appear again.
The second time the yokai appeared was at the beach.
Sleepless and lonely, Tachibana had gone down at daybreak to watch the sun rise. Two young surfers had been there, taking advantage of the empty sand and waves. They had been stunning in their wetsuits. Tachibana had been watching them, imagining they were lovers. The way they talked to each other, smiled at each other seemed so beautiful that he had been filled with a yearning to join them. Suddenly, the yokai had come loping down the beach like an excited dog.
“I like you!” he’d roared, tie flapping behind him. “Please have sex with me!”
The surfers had scattered like a couple of chickens before him, abandoning their boards and gear and pelting up the beach toward the concrete pylons where Tachibana sat.
“Look out!” one of them had bellowed. “There’s a crazy homo behind us.”
When Tachibana had looked back, the yokai had vanished.
The third time it happened, Tachibana finally knew that the yokai had been created by him.
He had been at his sister’s wedding reception six months prior, sitting at a table next to his grandmother, watching his sister and her new husband pose for pictures, cut cake, and drink toasts. He’d felt utterly miserable but kept up the appearance of benign happiness, intermittently clapping when the occasion required and making small talk with Grandmother.
His grandmother was four feet nine inches tall and as far as Tachibana could tell had survived on nothing but barley tea and bean jam for the last five years.
“Daisuke.” She beckoned him close
Tachibana stooped to hear her. “What is it?”
“You see that man your sister’s husband’s mother is talking to? Yuki Nogami?”
“Yes.” The man had been very handsome, dressed in clothes Tachibana had last seen on a mannequin in a high-priced Shibuya department store. He wore designer sunglasses on his head, even though it was the middle of fall and overcast. Tachibana suspected they were mainly a device to hold back the man’s light brown dye job. Nogami looked up just in time to see them gawking at him and flashed a winning smile.
Tachibana had immediately averted his gaze and reddened in embarrassment. Grandmother didn’t seem to care.
“I heard from Mrs. Iwasawa that he is a woman hater.” She poked Tachibana with one tiny yet hopelessly gnarled index finger. “You know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t.” But he had. He had known instinctively in that strange way that he often recognized or thought he recognized his own kind. The thought of having another homosexual in the very same room as him, at a wedding when it would be more than permissible for them to talk, filled him with longing and then crushing fear. If Grandmother knew about this guy’s sex life, then everyone else at the wedding probably did too. The thought disappointed him. Now if he, a confirmed bachelor, were to speak in a friendly way with Nogami, there might be speculation.
He did not need speculation. Certain parts of his private life simply could not bear the scrutiny.
He glanced back up and found Nogami looking at him in that assessing way.
His reaction had given him away. Nogami knew.
Safe in the recesses of his mind, he imagined Nogami walking across the room in slow motion, accompanied by a gentle wind that stirred not only the imitation autumn maple leaf table decorations, but also Nogami’s shiny, milk-tea-colored hair. Floating on this ethereal wind, Nogami held out his hand, smiling.
A piercing scream split his daydream.
“Look out!” Grandmother had rasped. “Here comes a yokai.”
The man in the suit was there again, holding Nogami by the lapels, swiping his foot-long tongue over Nogami’s face.
“You are so beautiful.” The yokai slobbered. “I want to taste you.”
“Get off me!” Nogami struggled with the yokai. Getting his face free of the offending tongue for a moment, he cast his eyes pleadingly at another guest, a burly man in the world’s most nondescript navy blue suit, who had been sitting at the adjacent table. “Masanori, please!”
Tachibana, along with nearly everyone else in the room, stared in shock.
With the expression of resignation of a man who has come to some major decision in life, Masanori launched himself out of his plastic chair and seized the yokai in a headlock.
The creature spun its head around all the way to face Masanori. A scream erupted from the crowd of onlookers. Tachibana could see the knowledge that they had a yokai among them rippling across their shocked faces. Oddly, his grandmother hooted with what seemed like girlish excitement. Tachibana wished the earth would swallow him up whole. But it didn’t.
“You want to have a threesome?” The yokai waggled his pink tongue.
“Yuki is mine!” the burly man growled. “Get out.”
“Yours?” The yokai’s expression had gone soft, like that of a sad puppy. “I’m very deeply sorry.” His entire body seemed suddenly to lack a skeleton. He deflated to the floor and then slithered along the ground, out the door.
Everyone at the wedding reception seemed, for a moment, to be paralyzed. Then the burly man, Masanori, reached into his pocket and offered his handkerchief to Nogami, who accepted it. Wiping his face, Nogami had said, “You might as well sit next to me now.”
Masanori nodded gruffly, then sat, glanced around at the circle of gawkers, and said, “Isn’t there any champagne at this wedding?”
This broke the spell and sent relieved laughter spreading throughout the assembled guests. Soon Tachibana’s truly compassionate sister, Tomoko, quietly offered her own handkerchief to Nogami, who was trying to dry his face, even as Nogami apologized for the disruption. Tachibana could not help but notice that Tomoko and her new husband were the only people who even looked at Nogami.
Tachibana, himself, avoided the scene by turning to his grandmother and saying, “Do you really think that was a yokai?”
Grandmother had given him a bewildered look, as if she were reassessing his intelligence.
“What else could it be?” Grandmother shrugged and reached into the sleeve of her kimono for another of the rectangular packets of bean jam she kept stashed there. “The question is, who made it?”
“What do you mean?” Strange guilt prickled just beneath the surface of Tachibana’s skin. Suddenly his collar felt too hot. “If it was, why weren’t you scared?”
“Oh, nothing can scare me. I lived through the war.”
“Did you ever read the Tale of Genji?” Grandmother gave him a sharp look.
“I…did.” Frankly, he didn’t like those old court novels so much. He much preferred informational manga. His strategy for getting through ancient literature had been to remember the salient facts just long enough to pass his exams and then forget everything immediately upon graduation.
“You can’t remember anything about it, can you?”
“Genji gets malaria, doesn’t he?” Tachibana hung his head. “The book wasn’t very interesting to me. I’m sorry.”
“Well, it’s a perfect example of the strong and denied feelings of a person manifesting as a spiritual force. Lady Rokujo wants the courtier Genji, but she can’t have him to herself, so her jealousy forms itself into a demon that kills the girl who took Genji from her.” Grandmother tried unsuccessfully to open the stiff plastic wrapper of her bean jam treat before finally handing it over to Tachibana to deal with. “So some man here created this yokai from his desire, but who?”
“Some disgusting pervert, no doubt.” Tachibana handed the opened packet back to his grandmother
“I don’t think so. It seemed like a harmless enough spirit. Overeager, but he went away right when that Masanori told him to leave. And who would have thought that Masanori was a boy lover? Or do you think he’s more of a woman hater? He’s a bachelor, isn’t he?” Grandmother gave him a shrewd look. “Like you.”
“Nowadays it’s just called gay, Grandmother.” Tomoko and her new husband had arrived at their table. “And I think it’s inspiring.”
“You don’t think it’s bad luck having a yokai appear at your wedding?” Tachibana had asked.
Tomoko’s husband grinned. “Are you kidding? Everyone’s going to talk about my wedding reception for years!”
Since that day he’d avoided his grandmother completely.
Especially after she started sending him paper charms and magazine clippings of articles about supernatural phenomena in the mail.
Not that he hadn’t kept the charms. There was one in his overnight bag right now. But that bag currently resided in the luggage storage compartment at the front of the car, and clearly the spiritual barrier that it formed did not extend as far as their sleeping car.
He should have kept one in his pocket. From here on in, he definitely would.
© Nicole Kimberling
The Red Thread of Forever Love
Author: Nicole Kimberling
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC
Folklore researcher and PhD candidate Hank Caldwell has a problem. He’s come to Japan to get information for his book on supernatural creatures called yokai. Along the way he discovers that yokai are not only real, but one of them is determined to make Hank his forever lover.
Translator Daisuke Tachibana knows all about the shadowy figure in a business suit who keeps accosting Mr. Caldwell. He knows the creature must be stopped, but how? Their upcoming research trip to a remote, hot springs resort will be exactly the opening the yokai is looking for. Now if only Tachibana could stop thinking about Mr. Caldwell’s naked, freckled body submerged in steaming water long enough to formulate a plan to keep the amorous creature at bay.
Michael stepped over to the man and touched his arm, leaning down to whisper into his ear.
"Hmm?" The man's voice spoke of pain.
Derek could barely hear the word, the faint question. He had never seen such a large couch. The man, well over six feet tall, lay stretched out to his full height, but still room remained for the overstuffed pillows plumped at either end. Shaking off the distraction caused by the unusual furniture, he looked back to the man. His experience kicking in, Derek walked over and sat with his back against the arm of the couch by the man's head. He leaned over and said, "Shh, relax. Let me help you."
"Can't. Hurts. Michael, honey, what's… oh…" His question ended with a groan. Grasping the man's shoulders, Derek stretched one leg along the back of the couch. The other he set on man's other side, making a warm cocoon for the man's head and shoulders.
"Hey…" His patient tried to sit up, but pain forced him down again. Derek needed to reassure him before he could relieve his pain.
"Michael brought me up here. I've got about half an hour left on my break. I can help you if you'll let me. Shh, relax. My fat Santa suit makes a nice soft pillow, huh? I'm going to try what used to work on my mom's migraines, okay?"
There was no answer, but the man relaxed back into the V of Derek's legs. Softly, Derek put his long fingers to work, starting at the forehead and slowly, gently, stroking the temples. Interpreting the man's quiet acceptance as permission, Derek eased his fingertips further back into the thick, dark blond hair. In the scant light glowing from a partially open door, lines of stress and pain stood out on the man's face.
Meanwhile, Michael sat on the floor beside the couch, his small hand resting on his father's clenched fist. Care and love for his parent radiated from the little boy's face and in his posture.
"Relax your muscles if you can. Unclench your fist and let peace take you. Hold Michael's hand." Derek knew that physical contact helped release tension and pain. Clearly these two shared a strong bond. In response to his son's light touch the man slowly opened his fingers. Michael slipped his hand into the man's much bigger one. The man sighed and Michael's lips curved up in a smile.
Derek began to hum quietly, but not the Christmas carols one might expect from someone dressed as Santa. No, he hummed "Soaked" by Adam Lambert, his latest musical obsession. His mother would have loved the singer with his flamboyance and gorgeous voice. They used to watch American Idol together and rate the singers, most often agreeing on choices. His mom had been pretty cool, Derek thought with a smile. Her response to his being gay had been one of acceptance. She had supported him in every way possible.
He kept his tone low and soft. His fingers never stopped their gentle motions. They moved back to the man's forehead and now drew upwards toward the top of his skull and into his hair. Long minutes passed as he kept up the soft movements and moved on to "Broken Open," keeping to the ballads. He followed that up with a soothing version of "Mad World."
The man relaxed more and more; his body settling and his breathing slowing, and Derek felt happy for the first time in a long while. His life wasn't horrible. It just wasn't filled with joy and good things lately. Well, not for a long time. He leaned further over the man to look more closely at the chiseled features, gauging the degree of pain by the lessening of the tension around his mouth and the tightness bracketing his eyes. Derek knew he'd helped, but a quick glance at his watch told him he would have to hurry and get back into his head gear and become Santa again.
"I'm sorry, but I have to get back to work now. Lots of little kids are waiting to tell me their wishes for a holly jolly Christmas. I hope this helped you." Derek scooted back a few inches.
"No, don't go. I… you… that helped, really. That was nice of you. Who are you?"
"Santa. A little elf brought me to you. I've really got to go now." Derek regretted having to leave, but he'd have to beat feet if he was going to make it back to his big chair in time.
"Michael, can you sit up here with a pillow on your lap and do what I was doing for a little while more? Just be very soft and gentle." Derek stood and helped Michael up from the floor and onto the couch, putting a big pillow on his lap. He helped the man lean up and then back onto the cushion.
"Santa?" The little boy looked up, a worried expression pinching his features.
"I can't sing those songs. I don't know them." Michael sounded like he might cry if he couldn't do it right.
"It doesn't matter what you sing as long as your voice is quiet and soothing. Hum some Christmas carols or anything. I've got to go. Good luck, buddy."
"Yeah, thanks Santa." The man gazed up at him for the first time and Derek almost gasped. The beautiful dark blue-green eyes made him think of jewelry or paint chips. What color were they? Teal. That was it. His mother had loved teal and fuchsia. But no one had teal eyes. They must be contacts.
"Merry Christmas." Derek let himself out the door, closing it gently and heading back to the second floor where the Santa scene was set up.
Whew, that was a trip. Wonder who the man was? It was clear he had the pure love of his son going for him. Well, that and a killer bod with gorgeous eyes, soft hair, and wide shoulders. Okay, enough, Santa, back into the toys, Barbies, and video games mode .
© AKM Miles
Author: AKM Miles
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Derek Campbell is working a couple of jobs to help pay off some debts from his mother’s illness. One job is playing Santa at Martin’s Department Store. On a break he’s alone and lamenting the lack of love in his life and that no one really sees him. A small voice tells him that he sees him. Derek looks down to find an elf beside him. Said elf is in need and Derek helps him out, not knowing that he is going to meet the man of his dreams.
Max Martin is a busy man, CEO of all the Martin’s empire, father to Michael, and in need of help in many areas. Derek steps up to the plate offering help in several of those areas, including one that Max wasn’t aware of. He hadn’t known how badly he needed someone to love him, to make his life whole. There is fun, laughter, romance, jealousy, revenge, heartache, fear, and it’s Christmas, so, a happy ending.
You’re dead, bitch.
More from anger than fear, Dell’s hands shook as she stood before the sink in Angel’s too-bright bathroom. Damn it, how in the hell did Loyal get out? Somebody must have pulled some serious strings to cut him loose. The fact that it took five years to do it just proved how dangerous he was.
She turned on the cold water, bent and splashed some on her overheated face. It didn’t help. She closed her eyes and saw Eddie’s brains blowing out the back of his head. If only she could have gotten to him, warned him somehow...
But Ania had been right. By then he was already gone. Once Loyal Sims marked someone for death, they were dead. Period.
The only way she could survive now was to kill him first. And for that, she needed time.
A knock on the door drew her attention. Maybe that Umekai chick needed the bathroom. She seemed all right, and Dell hated not being able to explain anything to her. But she’d learned the hard way to limit her trust only to those who earned it. She didn’t know this woman yet. Angel, she trusted.
It wasn’t Umekai on the other side of the door. Ania stood there looking like a wartime telegram messenger, and Dell knew she wasn’t going to like whatever her bodyguard had to say. Peering past her, she said, “Where’s the chick?”
“She went downstairs.” Ania slid between her and the door, then stood by the shower and waited until they were closed in. “He’ll find you,” she said in muted tones. “You know what you have to do.”
Nausea rolled through her stomach. “He doesn’t know Angel,” she insisted. “I can just lay low for a while, keep my head down.”
She met Ania’s gaze and sighed.
“Guess you’re right,” she said after a minute. “Me and low profile just don’t mix. All right, sugar, I’ll do it. But unless you want to stop by the house, we’re gonna have to go shoppin’.”
Ania frowned at the enthusiasm behind the word “shopping.” Jerking her head toward the door, she said, “Take some of his.”
“Angel’s?” Dell glanced around the bathroom. “I don’t know,” she said slowly. “He probably wouldn’t mind, but...”
“You trust him?”
“There’s a closet in the living room.”
Dell flashed a melancholy smile. “Nothin’ gets by my foxy lady, does it?” Ignoring the fresh wave of disgust filling her at the thought of what she was about to do, she said, “Okay, then. If there’s a closet, I guess that’s where I’m headed... back in.”
Determined, Dell went out to borrow a few things from Angel.
© S.W. Vaughn
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Author: S.W. Vaughn
Publisher: Lyrical Press
The hunted must become the hunter.
For the past fifteen years, Randall Tyler has lived as Dell Ramone—glamorous transvestite, international smuggler, and leader of House Dionysus, the Queens branch of an organization for underground street fighting. Dell’s constant companion and bodyguard is Ania, whom she rescued from a vicious human slave trader in the process of putting him away for life—or so she thought.
Now the slaver, Loyal Sims, is out of prison and hungry for Dell’s blood. As Loyal tortures and slaughters his way through Dell’s loved ones, she is forced to become Randall once again, and take refuge with Angel—the organization’s newest House leader, and the only one Loyal doesn’t know.
But soon, even Randall isn’t safe any more. With Loyal and the NYPD scouring the city for Dell in any form, male or female, Randall is forced to turn the tables and hunt the hunter—because this time, if he doesn’t bring Loyal down first, everyone he cares for will die.
Warning: Contains violence, torture, and human slavery.
Eventually, I know, it will no longer be enough just to get them to attack me. I know there will soon need to be more of a challenge. The only uncertainty is whether or not they’ll take no for an answer. And, really, that’s out of my control. All I can do is lead them to pussy and then tell them they can’t drink. How they react to that is entirely up to them. And, as hard as it was for me to believe at first, most of them accept it. They’re not happy about it, of course, but they deal with it. It’s certainly not the first time they’ve had to. Not the ones I pick, anyhow. Sure, most of them call me the typical names and maybe even feel like hitting something. But they rarely hit me. Not even the ones who don’t take no for an answer. Which is good. Because I don’t like getting hit. I only want to get fucked.
He puts his finger to his lips and tells me the walls are really thin and Old Lady Mearle next door complains a lot. Mrs. Mearle is watching Wheel of Fortune. I survey his apartment, map the direction back to the front door, make sure there’s nothing to trip over. Mental bread crumbs. He clamps his big hands over my shoulders and bends me over the sofa. I tell him not to, tell him I don’t want to, and he reaches under my skirt and snatches my panties down, leaving them stretched like a hammock between my thighs.
In the bar, I had told him I wanted to fuck him. In his car, I told him I hadn’t sucked a cock that big since eighth grade. And he loved that. But now, I’m pleading with him to stop. And he loves that, too. But just for a moment I’m afraid my protests are too sincere, my act too convincing. But he’s beyond convincing. I struggle to get up but he’s ridiculously stronger. He tells me not to struggle, tells me not to be scared, he promises he won’t hurt me. I’m not scared, and I want to tell him so. He doesn’t scare me. None of them do. And that’s the problem.
He’s surveying me, sizing me up, I can feel it. It doesn’t get much more naked than knowing someone can see your asshole. I hear his belt buckle hit the floor and he takes the suspenders of my garter belt into his fists like reins. Every individual hair on my body bristles. He nudges the head of his cock against my asshole. Inside. He runs it in like a blade, the full weight of his body on me, forcing it all the way in. He hunches over and starts sawing away, his thrusts just fast enough to keep me from getting used to the size. Instinctively I reach behind me and clutch at the empty air, begging him to stop, tip-toeing on that line of too genuine and not genuine enough.
And, like every other time, I inevitably wonder: is this the time the novelty finally wears off? Is this the time I finally get enough? It’s an uncomfortable thought, but I can’t help but think it. I wonder what I can do to bring the excitement back. I wonder if I need him to hurt me. Hold me hostage. Put me in the emergency room.
© P.S. Haven
It Rhymes With Luck
Author: P.S. Haven
Publisher: Excessica Publishing
Perhaps it’s easiest to think of P.S. Haven as the director/producer of low-budget, sexploitation B-movies. He seems to operate under the delusion he’s doing just that. Each is released not on drive-in movie screens or late-night cable television, but rather via the written word, in erotica anthologies, in novels, and on the internet.
Seventeen tales are offered as evidence here in It Rhymes With Luck: The Erotic Fiction of P.S. Haven, including three never-before-published stories. The works in this anthology are sweaty, cramped, and contorted in the backseat. These stories stink of guilt and revenge and 103-octane. They get under your nails like grit and under your skin like regret.
In these tales we’ll escape with a wife streaking across the wide-open desert, wondering if what she’s running toward might be worse than what she’s running from. We’ll wait outside locked doors and listen for sounds we don’t really want to hear on the other side. We’ll watch dirty movies of people with secret identities. We’ll lust after chromed ladies long gone and cloned pin-ups from the future. We’ll get skin-tight with tattooed bad boys. We’ll do it on the hood, in the kitchen, in our big sister’s bedroom. We’ll do it ourselves when we’re not paying someone to do it for us. We’ll fight evil and sometimes let it win. We’ll take it just a little too far. We’ll remember what it was like.
These are stories of men and women obsessed, in the wrong place or the wrong time. And that’s just how they like it. It Rhymes With Luck is about what people do when fantasy and reality lie too far apart.
For the second time in two days, Chase woke and had to pause a moment to take inventory. He hated waking up feeling like this. Wondering things like where was he? Why did his mouth taste like stale beer and pepperoni? What happened last night? More importantly, who was this warm body pressed up against him?
Holy crap! Eyes fully open and brain wide awake now, Chase glanced down at the woman by his side. It didn’t take long for him to recognize the fall of long brown hair splayed across his chest. He breathed a sigh of relief.
Leesa. It all came rushing back to him.
He hadn’t drunk that much last night. At least he didn’t think so. He remembered he hadn’t wanted to get too drunk in front of her. If things had gone anywhere with her, he wanted to be in top shape. More than that, he didn’t trust the other guys around her if he passed out.
Chase had fallen asleep in his jeans and shirt, but he didn’t think he’d passed out from alcohol, just from exhaustion since he hadn’t been totally recovered from the night before. There was the memory of Garret and Skeeter, pretty inebriated themselves, busting through the door, demanding the last two pieces of pizza and then not leaving until Chase did a shot of bourbon with them. Or was it more like two or three shots?
Those two had talked Leesa’s ear off about the competition and how great they’d both ridden, ninety percent of which were exaggerations. She’d listened politely and then even laughed when Skeeter sang the song that had gotten him his nickname.
Leesa had drank the two beers he’d brought her. Then Garret had handed her another cup when he came in for the pizza. That might have had bourbon and coke though, instead of beer in it.
Damn. Chase should have paid closer attention to what he’d given her. Garret could have made it super strong for all Chase knew. He glanced at the sleeping figure next to him. No wonder she still slept so soundly. Poor thing.
After Garret and Skeeter’s intrusion, once he’d finally convinced them to leave, they’d turned on the television for a bit. Leesa had looked tired and had drunk too much for him to let her leave, not that she was trying to go anywhere. She seemed perfectly content to sit in the room with him. Then what? He supposed they’d fallen asleep right there on the bed. The television was off now. Had he turned it off last night? Had she? He didn’t remember.
He really had to quit drinking, because he was pretty tired of piecing together the night before the next morning. All he was sure of now was that there hadn’t been any more than those two kisses right before the pizza came. If there had been more, he would remember it without a doubt.
Leesa still breathed with the steady, deep rhythm of sleep. Not wanting to disturb her, he slipped his body out from beneath her. She let out a little moan and rolled over, snuggling into the pillow. He regretted getting out of bed more than he could have imagined, but nature called. Maybe he could slip back into bed when he was done without waking her. That was a really nice idea.
He touched his head. Not so bad. No headache. No hangover. Yeah, he was tired and a little groggy, but that could be the early hour. Judging by the grey light filtering through the curtains, the sun had barely risen. Then again, this was Las Vegas. That glow coming through the window could be caused by neon, not nature.
Chase shook his head as he stumbled toward the bathroom. He’d be happy to get back to his family’s farm. This life was exciting. Travel. A different city every week. But he’d be happy to have his mama’s home cooking every day, and be able to cleanse his system of all the junk food and alcohol he’d indulged in lately. He’d work out daily at home and come back next season leaner and meaner and ready to win.
That resolution made, Chase took care of what he had to in the bathroom, including a quick shower. He decided it was best to be clean in case Leesa woke up feeling amorous. You never know, and it didn’t hurt to be prepared.
After brushing his teeth, Chase eased open the bathroom door.
She was still asleep. Good. He could creep back into bed and she’d never know he was gone. Even if they hadn’t had sex, he still liked waking up next to her. It felt nice.
With one of the hotel’s white towels wrapped around his waist, Chase tiptoed into the room. They’d fallen asleep last night with the lights on, so he’d have no problem finding a pair of shorts in the clean clothes piled in his duffle bag. He would put those on instead of getting back into his jeans. Might as well be comfortable, and as far as access in case Leesa was a morning person, shorts were far better than jeans. Hell, a man could dream, couldn’t he?
Chase found a pair of boxer shorts, but decided that was too intimate. He had a feeling she might not like waking up to find him in underwear in bed with her. It would make him seem damn presumptuous. In spite of the fact they’d done stuff together at the club, he wasn’t about to assume anything because of it.
She was different here, off work. Besides, the strip club and that lap dance had been part of her job. Chase didn’t want to be a job. He wanted her to like him, to want him, to be with him because she wanted to, not because someone paid her to.
He dug farther into the jumbled heap, looking for a pair of his workout shorts to wear. Unfortunately, with home just a day away, most of his clothes were dirty. He’d gotten lazy and figured he could bring his laundry there and wash it more easily than locate a laundromat.
This was Vegas. There were far better ways to spend his time than to sit and watch his clothes spin in circles. One such way was snoring lightly in his bed. That thought made him smile, and he dug with more enthusiasm than before. Hell, if he had to, he’d grab a pair of Garret’s shorts. The guy had more clothes than most girls.
Chase turned toward Garret’s side of the room intent on pilfering some shorts when something shiny caught his eye. On the dresser, right in front of the mirror and below the lamp sat two gold rings.
“What the hell?” Chase moved closer and picked one up, then the second. One was tiny, the other large enough to fit on his finger. Then he spied the pieces of paper lying beneath the rings. He picked up the smaller one. It was a receipt for one wedding ceremony and two gold bands, paid for in cash with yesterday’s date.
Swallowing hard, Chase picked up the larger, more decorative piece of paper. Across the top, in fancy printing was written Certificate of Marriage. Below that, under the word groom was—holy crap—his name printed in block letters.
© Cat Johnson
Studs in Spurs, Book 3
Author: Cat Johnson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
What happens in Vegas…sometimes follows you home.
Pro bull rider Chase Reese knew things move faster than an eight-second ride in Las Vegas. He just never expected to be driving home with a national championship under his belt and a wedding band on his left hand with no clue how it got there.
Yet he can’t complain about the stripper bride beside him. From the moment his buddies bought him a lap dance from her, her trembles told him there was more to her than stiletto heels.
Leesa Santiago has met the perfect guy. Her timing couldn’t be worse though. If it was just their explosive sex, she could walk away. But from the moment her lap dance brought her this close to his baby blues, she was hooked. She can’t lie that she couldn’t be happier to bear his name—or guiltier that she’s using it and his Oklahoma farm to hide out from mob hit men.
That’s before Chase’s family gets involved. And his determination to do the right thing pushes her to do the one thing that will keep him safe. Break his heart.
Do cowboy boots mix with stripper heels? And can a love that started out on the wrong foot end up on the right one? That’s the risk you take waking up in Vegas.
Warning: Contains one happy-ending lap dance that will make you squirm, some pretty hot sex between two strangers who also happen to be married to each other, and a huge surprise conclusion.
Daniel looked at his sleeping Uncle and felt sad. His sight became blurry and tears welled up in his eyes then slowly ran down his cheeks. He sniffled and wiped quickly at his face and blinked furiously to keep more from falling. He didn't want his Uncle Josh to wake up and notice him crying and being a big baby. The past year had been a difficult one for both of them. Ever since his parents went to Heaven, he'd been living with his uncle, and things had never been the same again.
This was their second Thanksgiving together. His uncle tried his best to make their holidays good, but things always seemed to go wrong. Even today, when Uncle Josh tried to cook a delicious meal, nothing went like they wanted them to. The turkey was dry and the stuffing so bad they ended up eating TV dinners while watching the Thanksgiving parade on television. Uncle Josh tried to keep conversation fun but it fell short somehow, and the holiday ended up being filled with a lot of silence and awkward moments.
Not like life before his parents went to heaven.
Daniel missed the bedtime stories and the loving hugs his mother gave him. He didn't get to toss the ball in the front yard or go on Saturday fishing trips with his dad. The laughter and happiness he remembered having every day of his life were gone. In their place were lots of quiet nights eating supper with his uncle while they watched television; or he was alone in his room, reliving every joyful memory he had with his parents.
He got used to being alone. He knew Uncle Josh loved him, but for some reason they just couldn't bridge the gap between them. So many times it looked like Uncle Josh wanted to say something, but for some reason or another a sad look would gleam in his uncle's eyes, and the moment would be lost.
Daniel so wanted to know what Uncle Josh had to say.
Daniel gently eased off of the couch and silently made his way over to the front door. He quietly opened it and stepped out onto the front porch. The cold November wind blew right through him and Daniel wrapped his arms around himself to try to keep warm. Even though it was past ten at night, he could see the heavy snowfall on the ground, covering it with a sparkling pureness that glimmered like diamonds in the darkness.
Daniel knew he should be excited. After all, it was the first snow of the season. Uncle Josh had even mentioned it was rare for Charlestown to get snowfall this early in the year. Daniel couldn't ever remember it snowing this early before. In his mind's eye he could remember his parents making snow angels and building a lopsided snowman with him in the few weeks before they went to Heaven. They had laughed and played together, and after they all felt frozen, his mother warmed him up with homemade chicken noodle soup and wrapped warm blankets around him until he was snug and content.
He'd felt happy. He'd felt loved.
He figured Uncle Josh would be too busy to play with him in the snow. His uncle always worked, and when he didn't, a lot of the time he was tired. Daniel missed how safe and loved he had when his parents were alive. His heart craved the closeness of having a happy family again.
Daniel understood his parents were gone and would never be back. But in his heart, he knew they still watched over him and did their best to take care of him, even though they were in Heaven. He smiled, visualizing them popping popcorn, singing songs, and playing games like freeze tag and hide and go seek with God and all of the other guardian angels. He'd bet that when God was 'it' he'd easily find wherever his parents and all of the other angels were hidden. It was probably one of the advantages of seeing all and knowing everything that was going on with everyone.
He hoped that his parents and God were looking down at him now.
As Daniel gazed out into the shimmering snow, he took a deep breath, closed his eyes and began to pray.
"Hi, God, it's me. I know you're taking good care of my parents and you're probably in the middle of playing a game or something, but I wanted to ask you a favor. I know you missed Mom and Dad and you had to have them with you instead of them being down here with me, and I understand that. After all, Mom and Dad are fun to be around. But, I wondered if there was any way you could send someone here with Uncle Josh and me. Uncle Josh works hard and he's a good guy, but it would be really cool if we had someone here that could take care of us. Sometimes Uncle Josh forgets things. He can't help it, and I know he's busy, so I'm not complaining. I just wish we had someone here to take care of us, love us and make us both happy again."
Daniel looked out into the cold, snowy night and suddenly saw a bright star flicker in the winter sky. His cold body became warm and it reminded him of when his parents would sandwich him between them so they all could have a three-way hug.
Knowing God and his parents would grant his Christmas wish, he suddenly felt a peace within his heart and big smile formed on his face
© Andi Anderson
His Christmas Wish
Author: Andi Anderson
Publisher: Silver publishing
For most children, all they want for Christmas is the latest video game or the most popular toy, but that’s not what Daniel wants.
He wants to be a family again. Since his parents were killed in a horrific car accident over a year ago, Daniel had been living with his beloved Uncle Josh. Even though Daniel knows his Uncle does his best to make him happy, Daniel still longs for the contentment and secure feeling he felt when his parents were alive. He wants a family, and on the first magical snow of the season, he wishes to have a family again.
When Nick is interviewed by Joshua Thomas to be a live in nanny, he is immediately drawn to the young boy and his Uncle Josh. Even though both of them obviously love each other, there is something missing between them. When Nick gets the job, he becomes determined to bring laughter and happiness back into both of their lives. As Christmas quickly approaches, Nick decides to do whatever it takes to bring them together as a happy family forever.
"I don’t know why you’re pouting," Brandon spat a few minutes later. "She didn’t tell us to hit the road, she just told us to wait out here until she dressed in private."
"I guess I was hoping for an explicit expression of gratitude."
Brandon pointed toward the mantle. "Don’t forget. She probably has a boyfriend."
Quinn ignored him and eyed the bookcase. "The boyfriend isn’t what I’ve been thinking about. What I’m wondering is why she has so many of those Carla Carrington books."
Julie strolled in the kitchen like a breath of fresh air. She lit up the place with an easy smile and a refreshing stroke of confidence. "Carla Carrington is my pseudonym."
"Do huh?" Brandon asked, chin dropping.
"Your pseudonym?" Quinn asked for clarification.
"Yeah," Julie said. "I’m a writer."
Brandon felt like something was stuck in his chest. She wasn’t just a writer. She was the best selling, award-winning author of scorching hot books often made into explicit after-dark television movies. She’d been on the lips of quite a few talk show hosts who openly covered the demise of morals in today’s world. Carla Carrington wrote the kind of books that Brandon wouldn’t have let his daughter read—assuming he had a daughter, which he didn’t. On the other hand, if he had a wife, Carla’s books would’ve been mandatory reading.
"You said you’re a writer," Brandon began, clearing his throat. "But Carla Carrington is..."
"I’m Carla," she interrupted. "I write under a couple of pseudonyms."
Quinn looked around the small cottage. He was probably thinking the same thing Brandon was. Why did she live in such a small house if she was really Carla Carrington? Carla should’ve been living in an oceanfront mansion with a full crew doting on her, bringing her chocolate covered mints and arranging social events.
The woman behind the world’s most scandalous writing should not have been dressed in hide-tight blue jeans, a low-cut fitted sweater, and have her hair tossed up in a clumsy ponytail. A woman writing explicit scenes like the one Brandon had read earlier should not have looked like an adorable barely legal girl!
Brandon was suddenly uncomfortable. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "How old are you?"
"Just curious. That’s all." He was also amazed he could speak.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" Quinn blurted out.
Way to fucking go! Brandon set his jaw and watched the color drain from Julie’s cheeks. Brandon shot Quinn a cold stare. "You can quit foaming at the mouth anytime now."
Quinn didn’t say anything. Brandon braced for fighting words. The cold glare he received raked over him about as deliberately as a verbal retaliation.
Brandon decided what the hell. Quinn started this. "Do you have a boyfriend?" He’d die right there if she said she had a husband.
"No, I do not." She marched across the kitchen, opened the pantry, and retrieved two jars of her homemade soup, setting them on the small island in the kitchen’s center. "Anyone hungry?"
Brandon grinned, staring at her ass. "Honey, I’m practically starving."
© Destiny Blaine
Cowboys for Christmas
Author: Destiny Blaine
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Genre: Erotic Western Romance /Ménage
Julie Kensworth opens her door to more than a blizzard and greets two wayward cowboys. She realizes right away she’s headed straight for the eye of the storm.
Brandon Blake and Quinn Stewart are a long way from home. They’re looking for a warm place to hang their hats while they try to wait out the snow and ice, which continues to gain momentum.
Julie is an author and she’s not just the average writer, she’s one of the most notorious writers in the world. When Quinn and Blake figure out Julie is an erotic romance author, well, needless to say, their minds churn with all sorts of ideas, most of them geared toward how they can heat up the cold winter nights ahead.
I don’t want to call it goals or even resolution as I am rubbish at stuff like that… Mood swings rules my day and I have kids so my time is not my own until I can suitably kick them out of the house and change the locks…
But as the new year approaches it is only natural to catalogue that list of things that I would like to get through. I am not one for these larger than life goals – I like to treasure the little things, I love to be surprised by the everyday mundane stuff so I make realistic goals, so I am not pushed for time to get them done and miss out on that adventure in my life or the little things that pass through mine and my kids day. That said, there are some things that I would like to do this coming year, hope to do or even make a concerted effort to get done in a timely manner this 2011.
Sort out my online book shelf – Honestly if I was just a little bit more consistent and organized about this it would save me a whole lot of bother when it comes to book I buy and series I follow. One of the draw back with eBooks for me is, once read it kinda goes onto the hard drive of doom where I never catalogue and I just treat it like a dumping ground.
With a big portion of my time spend online, if I sort out my Goodreads and my Shelfari shelves that would be at least 70% of the battle done.
Schedule reviews.. For the a long while after I started blogging I was so good at scheduling post especially reviews, but I think there just comes a time when interest wanes or the need to review every book one reads is not vitally important as actually reading the books themselves.
However in the big scheme of thing I must never forget that my blog/site is not just there for book pimping, shout outs, giveaways etc, but it is about the reviews – no mater how short or how long and I really need to get back to that.
Get back to using my library more. I am a huge fan of the library – not online library, the brick and mortar place we go to, to get books and then take them home and never read them sometimes.
I used the library this year 2010 for my graphic novel challenge and I will admit I did find some treasure along the way over the year – but as a source for my main reading material, it just doesn’t work – as there is normally a queue to get a recently released book.
But as life goes if you don't use something it is prone to being scrapped or phased out and that will happen to my little library if I don’t support it – so I really must come up with a system to support my library more this coming year..
Expand my vocabulary – This one I definately blame on my kids – I find the older they get, I use words like “use it, move it, tidy up” too much.
I really need adult conversation in my daily diet. Probably the library will help in that department.. Let’s see how the year pans out in regards to this area.
Leaving comments – Over the past couple of months I have really dragged my feet on commenting, both on my blog and other places. I need to address this post haste, although I read a huge volume of blogs during the day - I rarely comment, sometimes I am just so tired by the time I get in and other times it’s all been said already – but guess what, it really does take all of us to make this community work and I am certainly not doing my bit…
So I am pulling my sock up and flexing my fingers – so you’ll be seeing me on comments more - soon..
Using my RSS reader. I am not sure how you guys keep up to date with blog roll – but it is super hard for me and I find I visit the regular set everyday and “A” good bunch get missed.
I am starting to use the Feedly thing as it does an automatic refresh when I hit the page which is good, as I can see which blog has updated and I can just pop along and see what was posted. Now just to remember to check it morning and evening or else I will be inundated with post and I get really overwhelmed and just feel the need to press “read all” when that happens..
Those are just the stuff that relates to the blog..
There’s still !!!!
Connecting with friends
Brave up and try my first cup of coffee
Touch a snake
Find that elusive fruit salad that works for me
Figure out how to keep the cats out of my lavender bushes
Any plans on your agenda for 2011?
A weekly event hosted by Sheila - Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week
Books I completed last week
Bailey Bradford - Something Shattered
Tressie Lockwood - Rein in the Night
A.R. Moler - Hell Dogs Squadron 1 - Touch and Go
AR Moler - Hell Dogs Squadron 2- Angle of Attack
AR Moler - Hell Dogs Squadron 3 - Cut Pass
Shawn Lane - Sutters Bay 2 - Twice in a Lifetime
Rowan Speedwell - Hopes and Fears
AR Moler - Re-Ignition
Claire Thompson - The Cowboy Poet
Mary Calmes - His Hearth
Mary Calmes – Tooth and Nail
AR Mole - And Hell Itself Breathes Out
Author: Tara Taylor quinn
Book one in the Scrolls of Vengeance Series
What if there was a parallel dimension in which magic was a real and necessary part of keeping the political and economic balance - and someone was now stealing that magic?
Elryk Muyd’omir is the most powerful lightning wizard born on Tah’Nut in two hundred years and a pacifist. When he refuses to co-operate with the illegally ruling Xoh’kas family they torture and kill his lover. Rather than risking the death of thousands by losing control over his lightning magic in his rage, he flees to Earth - a place without magic. When the gateway that connects Tah’Nut to other worlds opens Elryk knows that the Law Forces have found him. It is time to either face cruel punishment or fight.
Kaythan Vs'urr is a Law Force Commander who is sent to retrieve the criminal wizard Elryk. He is expected to return him to Tah'Nut for ‘reprogramming’. Secretly disgusted with the Xoh'kas' lack of determination to stop the magic thieves, he has decided to win Elryk for his plan of defeating them. All they need to do is find the fabled Magic Shield to prevent further thievery.
Can Elryk trust the gorgeous Law Commander who wants his help? Will the two men be able to work together to defeat the Xoh’kas and eliminate the magic thieves?
Up next on the reading deck
Ring of Lies
Ring of Lies is what I like to call a, “cozy romantic suspense” because, while danger and suspense follow my heroine, she is surrounded by quirky characters and unusual situations that provide much needed levity amidst the chaos invading her well ordered world.
My heroine, Ivy Michaels, craves normality after a childhood lived by hook or by crook with a free spirited and eccentric aunt. A neo hippy chef, Ivy’s Cosmic Café is slated to open in the historic district of Savannah, Georgia just weeks before the annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities deluge the city with partying tourists. Her life is on track, all her ducks are marching in unison; music to a control freak’s heart. Until someone changes the beat.
Ivy’s aunt is found floating in the Savannah River. As executor of her aunt’s estate, such as it is, Ivy delves into the past and uncovers a mystery that leads her into the arms of a sexy ex-cop and a head on collision with a stone cold killer.
I moved to Savannah a few years ago and found my muse. Our Live Oak lined avenues dripping with ghostly tendrils of Spanish moss, cobblestoned streets, and darkened alleys along the river front make Savannah a perfect backdrop for tales of suspense. As one of the nation’s oldest cities we have plenty of long buried secrets and probably a ghost or two; we aren’t called America’s Most Haunted City for nothing! Coexisting with the historic houses, horse drawn carriages, and ghost tours is a vibrant and eclectic art and music scene, some of which has made its way into Ring of Lies. As if that weren’t enough, Savannah is a great place to eat! As a former caterer I have made it my duty to sample our local eateries and proclaim their delicacies to the visiting public … the sacrifice is great but hey, we’ve all got to do our part ;)!
I love my city and the coastal areas that surround her so it was only natural that I set my stories here. I love the local lore and am always seeking new tales; historic and supernatural. I share these legends and ghost stories on my blog and the sights, sounds, and occasionally the recipes of the region on my website. So, as our famous resident Paula Deen chef would say, “Ya’ll come see us, ya hear?”
© Rachel Lynne
Ring of Lies
Author: Rachel Lynne
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Romance Suspense
A café owner and an ex-cop must unravel the mystery surrounding a hot blue diamond in order to stop a cold blooded killer.
After a childhood lived on the road with a free-spirited Aunt, all café owner Ivy Michaels wants is a normal and uneventful life but when her Aunt is found floating in the Savannah River Ivy inherits an heirloom blue diamond and a killer bent on keeping the past buried.
Dom Riordan is an ex-cop obsessed with finding his mother's killer. A chance meeting, and a glimpse of evidence he's been seeking, convinces him that Ivy Michaels is the key to solving the crime. Dom devises a plan to date Ivy and ferret out the truth but he didn't count on losing his heart. As a ruthless killer closes in on Ivy, Dom will risk everything to keep her safe.
Rachel Lynne is an avid reader of all romance genres. Over the years she tried her hand at penning a novel or two but it wasn't until she moved to the beautiful and historic city of Savannah, Georgia that she found her muse.
Her contemporary romantic suspense novels are filled with the history and atmosphere that is unique to the coastal environment she calls home. When not plotting her latest action packed story she can be found meandering the live oak lined streets of Savannah looking for inspiration or people watching at a local side walk café.
Welcome to the world of publishing Rachel and I wish you every success.…..
Family stomping feet at the door
we’re all here, wait, here comes more,
Scents of cooking in the air',
Pies to lovingly prepare,
Joyous children’s laughter,
Noisy play follows after
Bright red flowers on display,
Cold winter seems warm today.
Songs of the ancients fill each heart,
Holidays are a work of art.
© Cassandra Endora
Author: Cat Grant
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
You can call me Mike—or Diva Michelle on the weekends, when I perform at the Icon, a bar I own with my good friend Cameron. But just because I strut onstage in an evening gown and high heels doesn’t make me a sissy. I’ve still got a man’s body, feelings and desires. I’m also a man who knows what he wants—and that would be Ryan.
One look at our new employee, with his hot physique and boy-next-door face, and I was lost—falling hard and fast. It broke my heart each time he rejected me…until the night he finally fell into my arms, desperate for the comfort only I could provide.
Each night our passion burns up the sheets, but Ryan’s holding something back. He’s been hurt in the past, leaving him scarred both inside and out. He won’t let me reach that secret part of him. I’d be willing to give him anything, but if he can’t trust me with the pain of his past, is there hope for a future?
Sequel to THE FIRST REAL THING
Ryan spent Saturday afternoon dropping off flyers for that night’s show at every shop and restaurant within a five-block radius, then rushed back to help Cameron with final preparations behind the bar. Business started to pick up around seven. By eight thirty, there was a line trailing out the door. He and Cam could barely keep up with all the drink orders.
“What the hell happened?” he wondered aloud, shooting Cam a bewildered glance as he topped off the fifth pitcher of beer he’d sold in as many minutes. “I didn’t think we’d get this kind of a turnout.”
“Word’s probably gotten out about last night’s floor show. I’ll bet they’re hoping for a repeat performance.”
“Something tells me they’re gonna be disappointed.”
Cameron grinned. “Not when they see what Mike’s wearing tonight. It might just cause another riot.”
His curiosity now cranked into overdrive, Ryan slipped away a few minutes before show time and poked his head in the office door. He couldn’t see Mike’s face from this angle, but he caught a glimpse of something white and billowy in the bathroom mirror. Something making a soft, rustling sound.
It was too damn tantalizing. He couldn’t resist. Ducking inside, he tiptoed a few steps closer until the mirror came into view. One peek, then he’d go.
But he hadn’t counted on his breath being stolen away. He had no idea who was standing not five feet away from him, but it wasn’t Mike. It couldn’t be. It was a woman. The most gorgeous woman he’d ever seen.
She wore a white halter dress and strappy white sandals with bright red polish on her toes. Matching lipstick. Platinum blonde wig. The dress ended right below the knee, showing off nice, shapely calves. Really nice. So nice Ryan couldn’t stop staring.
The skirt flared out as she twirled from side to side, inspecting herself. She adjusted a bra strap, smoothed down an imaginary bulge. Then she swung all the way around—and stopped short the moment she saw Ryan, letting out a gasp.
“God, sugar, don’t sneak up on me like that! You just took five years off my life!”
“Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to…” Jesus, now he was out of breath—or rather, he was still out of breath. It was starting to make him lightheaded. “I-I just wanted to get a sneak preview of your new outfit.”
Working all hours of the day and night to keep a business going is never easy, but for Cameron and Mike making the Icon theirs was a decision that they made knowingly but unsuspecting if the amount of work and sheer stress that is involved in keeping said business running smoothly and staying fresh recently was anything to go by.
While Cameron did his thing behind the bar, Mike otherwise known as Diva Michelle is the act that gets the weekend going and hopefully also gets the customers so pumped up that they would drain the joint dry before they go home. Things are good on one hand for the guys – the building is standing and the crowd is consistent if nothing else but other things are not so good – more fisticuffs are happening, Diva Michelle is having more ripped dresses rather than rip roaring success on the stage recently and then there is Ryan. He skirts around the edges of the Icon, jumps if Mike looks at him a second too long but despite that he is totally hot - and also off limits as he is an employee.
Things had to come to a head eventually, Ryan is barely making ends meet as he also has his own set of trials and tribulations both physically and mentally that he has to work through. However it’s not Cameron nor Mike that makes Ryan crack a smile but Diva Michelle and before long he is doing up zippers and actually getting along with the flirty personality that seems to take Mike over when he becomes the crooning Diva.
Mike has always been smitten by Ryan and he is only too willing and fantastically pleased when he finds himself in a position to help him and be there for him as much or as little as he needs. Ryan on the the other hand is not as comfortable in his skin as he should be, with alot of uncertainty with his future and too much memories of his past, he doesn’t trust easily and this more than anything else hurts Mike – because if their is one thing Mikes hates, it’s not knowing.
What I liked
Cover – Love it ( I know those models are becoming a bit over-use but which model isn’t). But I like the pose and the backdrop..
The Blurb - I have always been a sucker for pieces that are personalised and this blurb coming after reading THE FIRST REAL THING was nice touch I thought.
The characters – There were more or less three main player in this book,
I liked the pace of this book, it had the making of insta-love production but it wasn’t as I thought there was a pretty decent build up and gaining of confidences before any of the relationship sort of stuff got in the way.
One of the main story line in this book was about trust and confidences. I thought both Cameron’s “do it himself and deal with his own things sort of attitude” as well as Ryan's “bury his head in the sand mindset” lends itself perfectly to this story line. The big misunderstanding of course made an appearance between the main protags but I thought it only aided the characters in finding out more about themselves as well as their working relationship with each other.
I have always liked Ms Grant style of incorporating more of the everyday struggles into her books and it was no different in this one. From Ryan’s fall from grace from his lucrative hotel job to showing his decline into the hell that he now finds himself in – I do know and see how that could easily happen and it was all realistically describe and also showed a whole lot more to Ryan’s character.
While the backdrop to this book is mostly the Icon, the book does move around a bit, from Ryan’s humble hovel to Mike 70’s digs and I even got a chance to revisit Cameron's uber posh flat. I also got a good feel of the surrounding neighbourhood from the goings and the comings of the men as well.
The connection between Mike and Ryan was sweet to watch, I personally was good with the low keys sort of sex that existed in this book, it suited the place were Ryan was at in his life and it also showed up Mikes more than generous side.
Most of the niggles for me with this book lies in more admin areas, predictables and my own bloodthirsty need for a good feud to be just that good and lengthy.
APPEARING NIGHTLY is the follow up book to THE FIRST REAL THING and I am a little put out that this is not promoted as such on the publishers site. Reading the first book is really essential to understanding at least one of the main protags in this book.
Despite the cover of this book, it is not erotica. The scenes while descriptive and sweet are no where in the ball park of erotica. This was a really sweet romance and I enjoyed it as such.
I love a good huff, cold shoulder, fuss , feud – whatever the hell you want to call it between lovers. I am all for the make up sex, so I wanted something suitably bloodthirsty or at the least totally embarrassing to make up for hurt and heartache. I thought the make up between Mike and Ryan was too predictable, I knew they would get back together but me being me wanted a little begging and all that…
APPEARING NIGHTLY was a book I was not expecting to be written as the prequel was wonderful on it’s own and I liked where I had left everyone, however after reading APPEARING NIGHTLY it now feels like I got the all round package.
While I had a few niggles here and there with this book overall, I must admit they were not enough to put on a damper on how much I really enjoyed this offering.
Ms Grant voice is one I love,there are some author that just click with me and this is one. I liked that she explored so many sides to all the characters, the fact that this was also a drag queen book where the alter ego also had a “voice” of her own was a really nice touch as well I thought.
Fans of Ms Grants work, this is a great book to end the year with and you should have on excuse for not having it yet. New readers, if you are looking for a set of book that is different, something that makes you think and ultimately enjoy go ahead and pick up APPEARING NIGHTLY and it’s prequel THE FIRST REAL THING .