Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 28th is Kiss Your Mate Day eBook Giveaway Event


Welcome to April 28th is Kiss Your Mate Day eBook Giveaway Event. Believe it or not, Kiss Your Mate Day is an actual holiday. So pucker up and give that special someone in your life a big fat kiss of love. To recognize this romantic day, a group of talented romance authors has come together to celebrate hugs and kisses, from romantic love to paranormal love to contemporary love. It's all here, a weekend of free eBooks to last you through the spring.

Don't wait to meet your next favorite author and book. The giveaway will only run from April 27th-30th. So be sure to click on the book title, which will take you to a page where you can download your FREE eBook. To learn more about an author, simply click on the author's name.

The Men of Halfway House Series by Jaime Reese

Series: The Men of Halfway House #1-4
Author: Jaime Reese
Genre: M/M Romance

A Better Man #1
Summary:
Matthew Doner is starting over. After a five-year prison term that alters every aspect of his life, he receives a bequest from his aunt with the stipulation that he use the money to make things right. Breaking free of the long-standing role he’s played and inspired by the few who support him, he decides to create a safe place where people like him can find purpose and start a new life.

Julian Capeletti likes challenges. He is confident, brash, stubborn, and just what Matt needs. Desperate for work after a downturn of luck, he accepts the job to renovate Matt’s crumbling building.

Over the course of a year, romance simmers between them as they restore the house. But there’s a bigger renovation that must take place in their hearts. To become better men, they need to learn to trust each other even with secrets and painful memories they fear may rip them apart.


A Hunted Man #2
Summary:
After surviving ten years in prison, Cameron Pierce is attempting to put the past behind him. He tries to adjust to his newfound freedom with a place at the halfway house and a job. But one lesson he learned in prison keeps him guarded: hope is a dangerous thing.

Hunter Donovan, Assistant State Attorney, is a man of justice who loves a challenge. After a lifetime of putting his career first, a milestone brings him to a harsh realization—he's lonely.

Hunter's world changes when he meets Cam. The wary young man intrigues him and awakens a desire unlike anything he's ever experienced. When Cam's past resurfaces and threatens to rip them apart, their budding relationship is challenged and Cam's hope for a future begins to dim.

These outside forces hunting Cam will stop at nothing to send him back to prison. But they'll have to get past Hunter first.

A Restored Man #3
Summary:
Cole Renzo thinks his greatest challenge is to behave for the remainder of his term at Halfway House. Until he meets his new boss, Ty Calloway, a man who ticks off every box on Cole’s list of interests.

A sought-after restorer and customizer of exotic and collectible cars, Ty had enough confidence to command what he wanted in life, until one fateful night changed everything. Almost two years later, he’s slowly rebuilding his life with great control. He’s defied the odds and works tirelessly to be the man he once was—but he still feels broken.

Cole’s candor and unfiltered personality awaken Ty’s barely-remembered desire to greet each new day with a smile, while Ty’s unwavering acceptance of Cole’s quirks and brash humor makes Cole feel as if he fits in for the first time in far too long. When a nemesis threatens Ty’s personal restoration and the things he holds dear, Cole is determined to protect their relationship, even if that means sacrificing everything he’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ty will have to let his guard down, surrender control, and admit he needs Cole first, even if that puts himself at risk of breaking beyond repair.

A Mended Man #4
Summary:
Detective Aidan Calloway is rock-solid strong. He's a man of justice—loyal to his friends, family, and job—even if it requires bending a law…or two. He shields himself behind an abrasive, fearless facade, until a phone call one night chips his armor and throws his perfectly planned, hollow life into a tailspin.

Jessie Vega is the epitome of optimism. His carefully crafted attitude of hope and positivity protects him from a past filled with too much pain. When a ghost from a dark time resurfaces and nearly breaks him, he must tap into his inner strength or risk losing everything he's worked so hard to build.

But Jessie can't do it alone. He must fight to break through Aidan's ironclad defenses to reveal the heart of the man hiding beneath the tough surface and mend his damaged spirit. Only then can they truly heal and become strong enough to battle the demons that haunt them and threaten their chance to finally be together.

⚠ πŸ“— ⚠ This book contains scenes and subject matter some readers may find distressing. ⚠  πŸ“— 

πŸ“˜ πŸ“˜ πŸ“˜Although part of a series, this book can be read as a stand-alone.πŸ“˜ πŸ“˜ πŸ“˜



Author Bio:
Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself. Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired with a little difficulty are more cherished.


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A Restored Man Audio #3

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The Danger With Love by Amanda Siegrist

Title: To Danger with Love
Author: Amanda Siegrist
Genre: Adult Romance
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Summary:
A beautiful wedding. An exquisite dress. A night to remember. If only she were the bride. Sarafina just wants her fairytale ending like all her friends, but she seems doomed to always be the bridesmaid. Until she runs into him—the groomsman walking her down the aisle. She might be attracted to him, but he screams nothing but trouble.

Special Agent Dax Delcroy never wanted this assignment. Being old college roommates with the groom meant the case was his anyway. Get in and get out. Get the information to take down the bride’s father, the most ruthless mobster in the city. It should all be so easy. Except nothing is easy the minute he meets her.


Swiping another glass of champagne from the passing tray, Dax took a deep swig before reminding himself he needed to tone down the drinking. He was supposed to be working, not getting shit-faced drunk.

The thought was appealing, though, especially every time he saw Sarafina’s beautiful face, and he saw it a lot, considering he purposely made a point to seek her out. Unobtrusively, of course. It wouldn’t do well for her to know he was looking at her, or anyone else. Particularly Martin Chilani, or even Travis Chilani.

He didn’t have a full dossier on Travis. But there wasn’t much to report since, as far as they could tell, he wasn’t involved hands-on in the organization. His criminal activity didn’t concern Dax at the moment. No. He wanted to know what his relationship to Sarafina was.

Dancing, laughing, even some kissing had been going on between the two, making him want to break something every time his lips connected with her. Sure, it wasn’t on the actual mouth. A peck on the cheek here, another peck on the cheek there. But his lips anywhere on her for any reason made Dax want to get his gun and shoot him.

He shouldn’t be having this reaction, especially over a woman he just met. Every time his eyes glossed over to her, the protective feelings swarmed inside, begging to be released.

The fact was, Travis Chilani couldn’t be trusted. His last name assured that he couldn’t be trusted and he wanted him nowhere near Sarafina just for that reason.

It wasn’t that easy. He couldn’t waltz up to her and tell her why she should maintain her distance from any member of the Chilani family, Lily included. She would certainly look at him like horns were sticking out of his hair and perhaps a little crazy in the head. Questions would be asked, suspicions would rise, and his cover would be blown.

The best thing he could do was wipe her from his memory. Forget she ever existed. She was merely another female that would complain in his ear that he didn’t talk enough, or that he worked too much, or he didn’t show her enough affection. Just another woman.

His eyes zoomed in on her again as she continued making her rounds around the ballroom, talking, laughing, and enjoying herself with everyone. Most from the Chilani family or connections to the family.

Damn his concern for her. Not only protective-like either. How much knowledge did she have of the family? What if she knew all about their operations? Was she dating Travis, fully aware of what happened behind closed doors? Could he extract all of his intel he needed from her?

Her face lit up with delight as she laughed at what her companion said, a halo of innocence surrounding her.

How could he use her to complete his job? He didn’t want to believe she could be involved or have any knowledge about these people. Pretending ignorance would be best. He wasn’t sure he would have the gumption to slap a pair of handcuffs on her.


Where did the inspiration come from for The Danger With Love?
I’ve always been a fan of Harlequin since I was younger. When I first started to contemplate becoming an author, I stumbled upon Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2014. I didn’t make it into the Top 50, but it taught me one very important thing that I should’ve known. Lol Your first chapter should hook the reader. My first chapter didn’t do that. At. All.  In 2015, I did much better and actually made the Top 55. Best feeling ever! So, for 2016’s contest, I started planning way in advance for a great story. And what happened…they stopped the contest! *chuckles* Well, I’m still not sure what imprint line I would’ve put The Danger With Love in the contest, so I guess it’s okay.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author (marketing/promo, writing, etc)?
Keep at it! As long as you enjoy what you’re doing, then keep at it. It’s not easy sometimes. Marketing takes a lot of hard work, but in the end, it’s worth it all. I’ve met new readers and connected with other amazing authors. And book bloggers—they are the best! I enjoy meeting new people and talking about something I love. Reading and writing! I think it’s okay to think outside the box and try new things. You’re going to hear a lot out there about what you should do (HAVE to do). Personally, I think you should do what YOU want to do. Not what others say. Take advice, listen, think about it, and make a decision that best suits your needs. Follow your gut! I believe that can be beneficial in all aspects of your career—writing, marketing, promoting. If you have that feeling you should do it, then go for it. Learning from your mistakes can be fun. Lol. Trust me, we all make mistakes. *raises hand* I came into this wonderful world of self-publishing not knowing anything. Not one thing. I’m sure there are still tons I don’t know. But I’m having fun, learning, and I enjoy going to ‘work’ every day! People might not consider what I have as success (I’m no bestseller…yet *wink*), but I’m successful. I enjoy what I do, I’m having fun while I’m doing it, and I’m meeting other awesome readers, bloggers, and authors. Success is defined in your own way.

How do you make sure your characters are unique from book to book (their own voices, distinct personalities)?
This is always hard to do. I hope I’m doing it. Lol. My writing technique is probably just as unique as the next author. I don’t plot. At all. I’m a pantser, all the way. An idea comes to me and I sit down and just start writing. I’m not lying when I say I have a thought in my head how a scene will go and suddenly I’m writing something completely opposite of what I thought. That’s my character taking control, telling me how it’s gonna be. They just know. Yes. The voices talk to me. *giggles* I always try to give each of them their own little quirk. Like in The Danger With Love, Sarafina never swears. Ever. She loves to say jeepers and darnation instead of just saying damn it! No characters in my other books say that. It’s just little things like that that make each character stand out and unique in their own way.

Where do your story ideas come from?
Anywhere and everywhere. Honestly, I’m not too sure. Lol. I never plot, so sometimes I don’t know how a story is going to go until it’s flying out as I’m typing like a mad woman. The Danger With Love was created when I participated in a weekend writing challenge with Harlequin. They asked for a short scene where a bridesmaid meets the groomsman, who will be walking her down the aisle, for the first time. And there Sarafina and Dax was born! Based on that short scene, I had a generalized idea of what was going to happen and decided to make it into a full story. Usually about half way through I do get a small idea how I want it to end. Then sometimes, I don’t know until I’m almost finished. What can I say? I really have no rhyme or reason with my ideas. They just come and go.

How do you choose the names of your characters? 
Google is my best friend. Lol. No joke! I try not to use the same name from a previous book, unless it’s a minor, minor character, then I don’t mind so much. I also don’t generally like to use names of people I know. It might happen on occasion, but never for a main character. I want my character to have their own uniqueness and if I used the name of someone I know it wouldn’t feel unique to me. Sarafina and Dax just popped in my head. There was no googling with them. Actually, Dax’s full name is Daxton. I just love that name so much! Don’t ask me why. Lol I have no idea why.

Writer’s block, does it ever plague you?
I have to say no. I haven’t really had this happen to me. Sometimes the middle goes a little slow, the scenes taking me longer than I like, but I’ve never been stumped where I couldn’t keep writing. It’s not necessarily writer’s block, but I’ve had times where I don’t feel like writing. That’s usually when I’ve taken a break (due to vacation or life getting in the way) and can’t seem to find the energy to pull the computer out. I try really hard not to let that happen. Even if I sit down and write 100 words, I’ve accomplished something. I love to say, one word written is better than none. Always keep that in mind! You can do it!

Any last thoughts?
I’d like to thank you for having me on your blog! It’s always a pleasure to share my thoughts and meet new people. Writing is a passion of mine. It’s so much fun to sit down, create a story, and share it with others. Expect many more stories from me! Have a wonderful day.

Author Bio:
I love anything that has to do with romance. As long as there's a happy ending, I'm a happy camper. I love baseball (Go Twins!) and creating awesome crafts. I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice, working in that field for several years before I became a stay-at-home mom. When I'm not hanging out with my wonderful family, I'm writing a sweet contemporary romance or a romantic suspense that keeps you guessing until the end. I have a few more amazing stories in the works. If you would like to connect with me or see important news, head to my website. Or you can also check out my Facebook Page or follow me on Twitter (@amanda_siegrist). Thanks for reading!


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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Adrian's Library by Hollis Shiloh

Summary:
One night at a masquerade party, rakish Adrian Knowles kisses the wrong man by mistake and meets Oliver Windham. Feisty yet wary and broken, Ollie desperately needs a friend. Almost against his will, Adrian finds himself playing the hero… and falling in love.

Adrian hires Ollie to set his library to rights—after having his servants put all the books out of order. He promises himself he’ll treat Ollie only as a friend, but Ollie quickly becomes the only man he wants.

A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.


Hollis Shiloh once again brings us a lovely historical tale of friendship and romance.  I should mention that as part of Dreamspinner Press' Timeless Dreams line that may not strictly adhere to the feelings of the era.  Personally, I prefer a historical to be more true to the time but I will say that with Adrian's Library, not too much has been altered or glossed over.

You can't help but love and feel for Oliver, Adrian too has a way of worming his way in to your heart.  I think that for me Adrian's Library could have been better had it been longer but I still enjoyed the journey.  It's pretty obvious that Oliver has found his way into Adrian's heart early on but Adrian determination to keep their connection as close to friendship as possible, at least for the time being, is heartwarming.

Adrian's Library is a lovely read that warmed my heart, put a smile on my face, and though it could have been a bit better had it been longer it made my afternoon brighter.

RATING:


Chapter 1
THE dark, domino-masked figure crept from the ballroom with a secret smile. He passed loverly and gigglish trysts, teasing and playful shouts, women smacking men with fans, and a great deal of kissing. He paid them barely any mind, intent on his destination, his own appointment. Down a quieter path he went and drew nigh the gazebo at its end.

There. Ahead, the unmistakable figure of a man, also in a domino, waiting. He stood looking out over the railing, his back to the path. To all appearances, he was waiting for someone, at his ease and casual. Not at all as if he were about to engage in something clandestine, and quite illegal, in a near-public place.

Adrian’s steps lengthened, and his smile spread broadly across his face. He spread his arms, took the steps in a single leap, and wrapped the other man in his embrace, muffled and close.

The figure stiffened and twisted around in his arms—just as if they really were strangers—his mouth opening to protest. Adrian bent and kissed him, a very encompassing kiss that left both men without breath for a moment. Soft curls brushed against his face. The slender body was firm and so very alive in his arms.

But the kiss was a strange one: tingling with pleasure, and at the same time, tasting of a mouth completely foreign, an inexperienced and utterly surprised mouth. After a moment, Adrian drew back, his body singing with pleasure but his mind overruling it for the moment.

“I’m afraid I don’t perfectly understand. Who are you?”

“I might ask, ‘Who are you?’” croaked an affronted, scared-sounding young man, pushing against Adrian. “I’ve never seen so much nerve!” He sounded perilously close to tears, his voice cracking.

Realizing he was definitely not the intended man, and was in fact quite younger than Adrian had expected, he released the young man immediately. “I was supposed to meet—” He stopped, realizing the inadvisability of naming names in such a situation. “—a friend,” he finished awkwardly.

“Well, you haven’t!” This was followed by a loud sniff, and Adrian realized even in the dim moonlight that the young man’s hand trembled as he reached for his pocket.

“Here,” said Adrian, never at a loss, kindly extending his own handkerchief. “I am very sorry. You needn’t be upset. I can’t imagine what happened to—”

“Your ‘friend’, yes,” said the young man bitterly. He yanked off his mask irritably, stuffed it in his pocket, and blew his nose vehemently. Adrian blinked at the noise. Even without the mask, it was too dark to see the young man very clearly. “If one must engage in such k-kisses, I cannot think your friends are particularly blessed.”

“Ah, but that’s not all they engage in!” said Adrian, giving in to a burst of wickedness. “Indeed not!”

The young man had stiffened, and now he straightened to his full, slim height—about the same as Adrian’s. “I shall take my leave of you, sir. I shan’t wish you good day or g-good evening.” And in a rush, he started past him and from the gazebo.

“Wait.” Adrian caught his arm and swung him round, then released him immediately. The iron tension in that slim arm warned him of danger and the young man’s fear. “I shan’t hurt you. May I have my handkerchief back?” he asked meekly.

This was handed over with a pugnacious reluctance. The young man maintained a dignified, offended silence.

“I am sorry,” said Adrian. “What a mix-up! Some men… that is to say, it was not at all your fault.”

“Oh no, indeed!” he said bitterly. He gave a hoarse, angry-sounding laugh. “Never my fault, is it? And yet somehow I keep—” He cut off with a bitter, hopeless laugh.

Adrian blinked, attuned to something in that voice: hopelessness, despair, something that transcended the awkwardness of the moment and the young man’s offended dignity. “Are you in trouble?”

He peered closer. In the moonlight, it was difficult to see features. The young man was slim and straight of build, with a narrow waist and broad shoulders. His limbs were slender but well muscled. His curly hair, slightly longer than the usual, looked soft in the moonlight. Adrian stood very still, not moving toward him. “You can tell me, if you wish. I have been on the town long enough—I might give you some good advice.”

“If only someone could.” The young man plopped to one of the gazebo’s seats with every sign of dejected lethargy.

“Come, that’s doing it too brown!” Adrian sat beside him, not too close. He was aware of long, slender legs and that fascinating soft hair. In this light, he could not see his companion’s face well, but the shadows that made up the face were fascinating. “How can you know I can’t help if you don’t give me the chance to try? I certainly owe you the attempt—to make up for my abominable kiss.” He said this last with a teasing, rather flirting laugh beneath his words, but the young man did not appear to notice.

“Yes, that’s true,” he said thoughtfully, still sunk in gloom.

“I thank you.”

“What? Oh no. You see, m-my guardian—”

This was as far as he got. Up the stairs trotted another domino-clad figure saying “Oh, hello! Have I kept you waiting lo—” He stopped, abruptly, and looked down at them both, stiffening. “I see I have not,” he said in quite another voice. “Excuse me!” So saying, he whirled and strode back down the path, anger and offended dignity in his every step.

“Wait! It’s not—!” called Adrian after him. “Oh damn,” he said beneath his breath.

He heard a hoarse gurgle of laughter beside him and turned in astonishment to see a bright, shining white grin, easily reflecting what little moonlight there was. “Your ‘friend’?” asked the young man.

“Well, he was,” said Adrian ruefully. “I suppose I had better go after him?”

“I suppose you had.”

There was silence. They both remained seated. Nearby, they heard the sound of insects; voices raised in teasing; a rather drunken laugh; horse’s hooves on a street somewhere not far away, and in the distance, laughter, tinkling glasses, and the faint strains of music.

“I don’t suppose you’d care to dance?” asked Adrian. An inelegant snort greeted him. “No, I thought not,” he said ruefully. “Very well. Tell me your problem, and I shall be a learned uncle to you, all sympathy and good advice.” He stretched one elegant leg over the other and turned toward his companion with a patient air. “I shall be terribly well behaved!”

“And not kiss anyone else while I tell you, you mean?”

“Yes, that too.” He could not quite help it: he reached out and tweaked one of the curls. They were so very soft. The boy twitched away from his touch, hand rising to fend him off. Adrian sank back, an unstoppable grin plastered on his face and a warm feeling beating in his chest.

“You said you would behave,” said a reproachful voice.

“And I shall—if you start telling me what you wished to. Otherwise I can’t promise my mind won’t… wander.”

“In that case I can’t promise my feet won’t wander—to the nearest constable!” snapped the young man.

Adrian blinked. “You have such teeth, little one?” he inquired mildly.

“Who are you calling—?” With an angry expulsion of breath, he subsided back to his seat. “No, I wouldn’t do that. I know it w-was a mistake. You wouldn’t have kissed me on purpose.”

“On the contrary, I am quite beginning to think I would.”

“Oh, shut up,” said the boy with weary patience. “And just listen for a change, would you?”

“I am all agog. Speak on.” Crossing his arms, he stared at the young man, studying his profile while he listened.

The young man took a quick breath. “You’ve no notion what it is t-to grow up far too handsome for your own good.”

“Oh, I believe I have. A sore trial to you, is it?”

The boy grimaced, his face twisting, visible even in the darkness. “Oh, it can’t be a problem for you, because you no doubt have money and can do as you wish! I-I haven’t. My parents died when I was ten, and I was thrust on the good graces of my uncle. Only he hasn’t any. If I had been an ugly, dull lad he might have liked me the better for it, for I wouldn’t have shown up h-his sons. But I wasn’t, and I’m also quick-tempered—”

“I’d never have guessed,” said Adrian blandly.

“Bastard,” said the young man, torn between outrage and half a laugh.

“If you wish. Do, pray, continue.” He waved one elegant hand condescendingly.

“You are a bastard, I know you are, and I shall regret telling you.” He took a quick breath. “But I haven’t anyone else to tell, and I’ll likely never see you again anyway!” His words were nearly a sob, full of desperation and despair.

“I collect you are not entirely happy under your uncle’s roof.”

“No! No, indeed! Only I’m not under his roof anymore, am I? He caught the… that is to say, I… there was a—a disgrace, and he sent me away. I am t-to be trained as a singer now, because that’s all I’m worth, you see. He said my morals are fit for no better.”

“A singer. That should be a fascinating career. Have you a voice?”

“No, but that doesn’t matter,” said the young man with astounding bitterness. “Because it’s not really singing they’re after, is it? I may as well be sold to the highest bidder.”

Adrian blinked. “You—”

“You’re a dunderhead,” said the young man bitterly. “I may as well be auctioned off as a molly-boy.”

“Ah. The situation distresses you, does it? Then why do you not run away? Surely you are young enough to find some other career, with all that quick wit and sharp intelligence you hinted at.”

The teasing did not rally the young man to another show of spirit. Instead, he lowered his head to rest in his hands. “Because it doesn’t matter, does it?” he asked hopelessly, a little catch in his voice. “I am ruined. There is something wrong with me, so it doesn’t bloody matter.”

“Ruined? I find that difficult to believe,” said Adrian gently. He hesitated and then touched the young man’s shoulder. “Won’t you tell me your name?”

“O-Ollie. That is, Oliver,” he said, sniffing and swiping at his nose again.

“Would you like my handkerchief back?”

“N-no.”

“Well, use it anyway. There. More comfortable?” Seated by now quite close to Oliver, he put an arm around him and patted his side. “Relax and tell me all about it. I collect from this ‘disgrace’ and talk about morals from your uncle that something happened. Was it very bad?”

“W-well, it was bad enough, sir,” said Oliver, seeming a bit daunted, both by the kind, avuncular air and the closeness.

Adrian removed his arm. “Shall I release you? There. That’s better. You mustn’t feel constrained. Nor talk about it, if you don’t wish.” Oliver seemed such a charming innocent; surely no one had forced him? Adrian was not adept at guessing ages; but he would never have attempted to seduce someone seemingly so young. The despair and talk of “ruin” made him feel unaccountably concerned for the boy. Being forced would be a dreadful way to experience sex for the first time, to be sure.

“No, I do wish to talk about it. There’s no one else I can tell, is there?” He sniffed again and blew his nose quite loudly. “I was in the schoolroom. I’m too old for the schoolroom, of course, but my uncle was unwilling to send me to any school, so I was obliged to take my learning where I could, to be guided in my reading by the tutor a-and stay with the children till such time as suitable employment could be found for me.”

You are practically a child yourself, thought Adrian. He said nothing, hoping his silence was sympathetic and encouraging.

“Only he’s terribly lazy, and he never even really bothered to look for a position for me, and I’ve no money or connections of my own. I think… well, he wanted me there to look after his younger children. My oldest cousin is off at school, but the younger ones are quite rowdy and can’t keep from chasing off governesses. So I looked after them. Then my uncle didn’t have to keep hiring anyone, and the children still stayed out of his hair. He said it was because I hadn’t learned enough from the tutor, Morley, to be ready for a job, though.

“Well, I did learn, but sometimes I argued with Augustus Morley—because he wasn’t half so learned as he p-pretended to be, a-and besides, he was dreadfully inflexible. Surely a thinking man cannot believe something just because he is told to? But if you questioned any of his theories, or c-countered with something else you had read, he had nothing for it but you w-were disrespectful and didn’t know your place. Well, I never have,” he added, “so I didn’t mind him saying that, but I did, very much, mind him deciding to ‘tame’ me.” He hiccupped and twisted Adrian’s handkerchief on his lap.

“I don’t need tamed,” he said at last. “I sh-shouldn’t like it. At any rate, the things he m-meant were—were hurting one, not a proper taming. If you tamed someone, you w-would be kind to them, wouldn’t you? You would be gentle, the way you must be with a cat, or it won’t trust you. A person is m-more like a cat than a horse like that. Only I d-don’t think it’s right with horses either. To beat them until they accept the saddle. They’ll never trust you again, and why should they?” There was more than half a sob in his voice.

Adrian drew him against his shoulder, making comforting sounds, and patted his head awkwardly. A lover’s gentleness he could manage; but this, to comfort an awkward, grieving half man, half boy, was nearly beyond him. “Shh,” he said again, smoothing back the luxuriant curls, and at length, the lad did. His tears ceased, his shoulders stopped their trembling, and he leaned against Adrian as if he’d spent the last of his energy and didn’t care if he ever moved again.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Adrian stroked his head again, thinking of Oliver’s cat metaphor and how singularly apt it actually was. “You’re right, you know. No one deserves that.”

It was no good asking for details; they weren’t the most important thing, and Oliver didn’t seem to wish to share them. Whether he’d been harassed, threatened, forced sexually, or something in between, it had left him humiliated and broken inside. And then his uncle had looked on him in disgust and thrown him away like so much refuse.

Adrian soothed the lad’s hair back again, enjoying the feel of the warm, trusting body tucked against his own, even if he could never now think of trying to seduce this young man into offering him more. He was very glad he had met him, nonetheless, and his sympathies were engaged: perhaps, after all, life would be less utterly dull if he had a protΓ©gΓ© to help out of trouble. Oliver certainly could qualify, and Oliver needed someone.

“And now, I gather, you have no wish to be on the, er, less-than-marriage mart,” he said into the silence when Oliver showed no inclination to move, or indeed, to speak.

“Hm? Oh yes. Well put.” The young man moved away from him, straightening and rubbing his eyes surreptitiously. He did not quite yawn and stretch, but Adrian was under the distinct impression he had been nearly asleep on Adrian’s shoulder. He was sorry to have recalled him.

“Yes, that is to say, I’m—I’m under someone’s ‘protection’, and he is seeking a—a… ‘protector’ for me.”

“I see.” Adrian wished with all his might for that warmth against his side again, but he had to be content without it. “And if you could do something else, without the risk to your… virtue—” He managed to say the word seriously, not mockingly, for once. “—what would it be?” He could not resist reaching out to lightly touch the young man’s hair again, finding it a marvel of springy softness, something that made him feel quite tender and awed inside—a rare feeling indeed for Adrian.

“Oh, I—I suppose I’d like to do something with books, sir.” He had gone dreadfully shy again.

“Please don’t worry about calling me ‘sir’. My name is Adrian.”

“Pleased to meet you, Adrian,” said Oliver, still with that shy sound to his voice. “I—I am sorry to have imposed.”

You are the sweetest thing, thought Adrian, trying to ignore the stirring in his loins and to be what he had promised to the lad, without other motives.

“Well, from all I have seen and heard of you, I suspect you would be eminently suited to such a job,” said Adrian in hearty, rallying tones. “I suspect a job as a bookkeeper or some such will no doubt make itself known to you. Don’t give up, nor settle for what they wish for you, if you don’t wish it for yourself.”

“But….” Oliver’s voice held a great deal of doubt. “I don’t see how I am to find such a post. I’ve no references, no place in society. My uncle has disowned me, and… I’ve no one.”

The things Adrian could say went through his mind. Don’t you know who I am? I am not without connections. No, scratch that. I will hire you myself.

He took a deep breath. “I find, when I am in a scrape, that it’s important not to lose hope. If you do, when the opportunity comes to get out of it, you might well miss it. Stay ready and jump at your chance.” So saying, he gave Oliver a brisk pat on the knee. “Now, will you tell me why you were alone tonight, just here? I am all agog to know.”

“Well, I—I was here with him, you know,” said Oliver. “My keeper. To—to meet some… possible… you know.” He nearly choked on the words, his repugnance for the clientele obvious in his delicacy of speech. The handkerchief was twisted again. “But I couldn’t bear to! I couldn’t bear to pretend, or to—to be rushed along as if I had no feelings of my own in the matter. So I gave them the dodge. I—I slipped away and came out here for—for some air, so I could think. Only I didn’t get very far because you interrupted,” he added, nudging Adrian with his shoulder. His quick, engaging grin shone again in the moonlight, and Adrian thought how wicked it had been for anyone to hurt or frighten this sweet and trusting young man.

He reached up and ruffled Oliver’s hair, smiling in return. He wanted to ask for more details, but he had no wish to see the young man bristle up like a porcupine again, after they had been getting along so well. He also dearly wished to kiss him again, but that pleasure was to be denied him, both by his own decision and by the new arrival.

Footsteps stumped into the gazebo. “Oliver, I declare I have never seen such a disobliging boy—” The haranguing voice stopped, as did the footsteps, at the sight of Oliver and Adrian in a tΓͺte-Γ -tΓͺte. The tone became immediately silky and buttery, with a nauseating touch of wheedling. “Ah, sir, and have you met my young cousin?” The heavy, stooped man had a false, high-pitched laugh and a distinctive, waddling walk. “I declare, he’s the naughtiest young thing! Getting acquainted, were you, Oliver? Well, we must be about our night. He gets dreadful fatigued, does Oliver. He’s quite a young lad, so much to learn…!”

So saying, he reached forward and plucked at Oliver’s sleeve, not very gently. The young man had stiffened at his first arrival. Thereafter, Adrian had felt, as if it were his own, his companion’s mix of disgust and humiliation. For himself, he was struggling not to laugh at the guardian’s manners, at the same time feeling angry on his young friend’s behalf.

He rose as Oliver did, and the three faced one another at equidistance in the darkness under the gazebo roof. Adrian said, “Yes, a charming lad. We have just had the most interesting conversation.” He spoke in his laziest tones.

“Have you?” The gaze behind the oversized domino was sharp indeed. Adrian was absolutely certain the man recognized him, as he indeed recognized the procurer; certain personages were difficult to entirely conceal, even at a masquerade. As for such a figure as Mr. Felton Wilburn! For his part, Adrian was far from a nobody; and the two had met before.

“Yes, indeed we have,” said Adrian firmly. “This and that. I am sure he’s a credit to you.” So saying, he gently steered his new friend back toward Wilburn. Oliver went rather unwillingly, but he went.

“Goodnight, Mr.—Adrian,” said Oliver, with an awkwardness and wistfulness combined. He could not have sounded sweeter if he’d tried; and if he had tried, it would have taken away from it.

“Goodnight, Mr.—Ollie,” said Adrian, with a teasing laugh in his voice. He longed again to kiss that sweet, full mouth. The desire doubled when that smile flashed, glad and chagrined.

“Oh very well,” said Oliver, and for a moment, Adrian wondered if he meant to give in to Adrian’s secret wish. But he simply seemed to be giving up the battle to the victor, for he turned and walked from the gazebo with steps quick enough to almost count as a dash.

Adrian and Mr. Wilburn spoke for perhaps thirty seconds; then Wilburn followed his young charge, calling after him, his voice a mix of wheedling and annoyance.

Adrian leaned in the doorway to the gazebo and grinned, completely satisfied with his masquerade experience.

Author Bio:
Hollis Shiloh writes love stories about men, also called gay romance or m/m romance, with the preferred genres of contemporary, historical, and fantasy. Hollis's stories tend towards the sweet rather than the spicy. When not writing, the author enjoys reading, retro music, and being around animals.


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EMAIL: hollis.shiloh@gmail.com



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Well-Tailored by Silvia Violet

Title: Well-Tailored
Author: Silvia Violet
Series: Companion to Thorne & Dash
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Cover Design: LC Chase
Summary:
Marc longs for a grand romance, but he doubts he’ll ever be that lucky. Then he meets Darius, an arrogant tailor who pushes all his buttons. When Darius offers him a job, Marc hesitates—he needs a direction for the future, not another man who doesn’t believe in relationships.

Darius lives by a few unbreakable rules: never sleep with employees, fashion should be simple, and romance is for fools. Marc, with his shimmery-sweaters collection, makes him want to break every single one.

They quickly give in to desire, but Darius wants to protect himself and Marc refuses to repeat past mistakes. It’s only when they let go of assumptions, that love has a chance to take hold.

Well-Tailored is a companion novel to the Thorne and Dash series. It can be read as a standalone.




Author Bio:
Silvia Violet writes fun, sexy stories that will leave you smiling and satisfied. She has a thing for characters who are in need of comfort and enjoys helping them surrender to love even when they doubt it exists. Silvia's stories include sizzling contemporaries, paranormals, and historicals. When she needs a break from listening to the voices in her head, she spends time baking, taking long walks, and curling up with her favorite books. Keep up with her latest ventures by signing up for her newsletter.

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EMAIL: silviaviolet@gmail.com



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Debutante by Marie Silk

Title: Debutante
Author: Marie Silk
Series: Davenport House Prequel
Genre: Young Adult Historical
Release Date: April 21, 2017

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Summary:
The family saga begins in Debutante, a prequel to the best-selling Davenport House series. A life of luxury for the Davenports means drudgery for the servants on the grand country estate. This is their story in 1909 America, six years prior to the events of book one.

While her father is away on business, sixteen-year-old Mary Davenport feels confined and alone, despite her privileged life at the family’s mansion. As the day of Mary’s debutante ball draws near, the servants are conflicted by instructions from Mary’s mother to starve her until she fits into a gown that was made too small. Mary is also under pressure to act the part of society while being forbidden from seeing her only friend, the servant boy who works in the stable.

In a shantytown hours away, a young girl called Abigail is hired to sew a gown for a dressmaker’s wealthy patron. Abigail gives up her education in order to provide for her impoverished family. Neither she nor Mary is aware of how connected their futures are destined to become.





Author Bio:
Marie Silk has enjoyed writing stories and plays since childhood. She lives with her family in the United States and travels the globe as often as life permits. She is an admirer of history, antiques, and architecture. Marie is the author of the best selling Davenport House family saga.


EMAIL: mariesilkpublishing@gmail.com



Debutante - Prequel
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