Violent Ascension by Giorgia Blake – Spotlight

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Giorgia Blake who is celebrating the release of Violent Ascension, the first book in her Made Men of Chicago Collection.

Taken, I’m bound inside the home of a dangerous man. He may have saved me from his sadistic cousin, but it seems I’ve only traded one monster for another. Fans of The Five Families series by Jill Ramsower will love Violent Ascension by Giorgia Blake, a steamy, enemies-to-lovers, forced marriage, mafia romance.

I’m a Rising Star. A boss. A Real One.

Yet I’m here. Taken and bound inside the home of Alessandro Parisi.

A dangerous man who holds my life and my secrets close to the chest.

He has all the answers but refuses to answer any of my questions.

All he’s told me is that I’m his and the key to his ascension.

He saved me from his sadistic cousin; but it seems I just traded one monster for another.

The first one stalked and taunted me until I was convinced death was around every corner.

This one orders me to cooperate, bend to his touch, and obey.

Too bad obedience isn’t in my nature and sacrifice is my birthright.

We probably won’t make it out of this blood war alive…The likelihood of my heart surviving Alessandro is even less.

Violent Ascension is the first book in the Made Men of Chicago Collection, and can be read as a standalone.It is a forced marriage mafia romance with themes of organized crime, violence, and BDSM. If this is your type of romance, the happily ever after will knock your socks off!

Please read responsibly!

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Why would your sick cousin, if he does indeed exist, want anything to do with me? He doesn’t even know me but I’m supposed to believe he had some plot to kidnap and torture me? Why would he do that? WHY THE FUCK AM I HERE?!”

I scream the latter with as much effort as my weakened voice can carry and tears stream uncontrollably down my face.

I’m making a spectacle of myself. Something my proud Creole mother taught me never to do. I can imagine her strong posture and head held high while reading the letter my father left for her. She was pregnant and alone. Then she found out she was tied to the mafia and its dangerous liaisons. I know she never cowered. Chrisette Augustin never cowered. But my response to Parisi can’t be helped. I’m not as strong as my mother. I never was.
I’m scared shitless.

Parisi leans back on his haunches to examine me. Yet again, I’m the specimen under his microscope. I feel naked inside and out when he fixes his eyes on me and I hate it. He’s digging out all the parts of myself that I hide away from the world. He ogles them to feed a sick fetish. Refusing to be his meal. I turn away and look at the wall, but he simply reaches out and draws my face back to him.

“Look at me Isabella.” His voice is quiet and surprisingly tender; like he’s coaxing a wild and wounded animal out of a trap. Chained to his floor, that’s exactly how I feel. He strokes an errant strand of my curly hair behind my ear and levels me with his attention.

“You will marry me, because that’s the only way to save your life and the lives of many others. You will sacrifice your freedom, to ensure blood doesn’t run down Chicago’s streets. I know you don’t understand any of that now, but you will as you begin to understand Cosa Nostra and your father’s place inside it. You are the key to everything, because he who has you, has your father in the palm of his hand. I can’t let Leonardo have that kind of power. You are just going to have to trust me from this moment on because life as you knew it is over. As a matter of fact, the life you were living was always temporary. At some point, your debt as Matteo’s daughter had to come due. The sooner you accept that; the happier you will be.”

Something inside of me registers what he’s saying as fact. It doesn’t make any logical sense, but I know whether it’s his fault or not, my life as I knew it really is over and I need a release.

So, I slap him.

I slap him like my Creole mother used to slap me whenever my mouth wrote a check my butt couldn’t cash. Parisi’s head jerks to the side and I immediately regret my action. I contract my body to make myself smaller, but I don’t take my eyes off of him.

He’s eerily calm and that scares me more than the rage I thought was sure to come. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a key to unshackle my ankles. I dart my eyes to the cell door, trying to estimate how far I can go before he catches me and his eyes arrest me.

I’m not going anywhere.

About the Author: I’m a contemporary romance author dedicated to the dangerously delicious world of Mafia Romance. Every story will dare you to believe in the power of love, even when there doesn’t seem to be one sane reason to do so!

My stories feature sexy alphas and smart heroines finding love in the most breath stealing of circumstances. If someone can’t die at any moment–it’s not a Giorgia Blake Romance!

Every plot is full of heat, suspense, and steamy passion that would make the Karma Sutra blush.

So come join me on this wild ride…you won’t regret it!

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This promotional event is brought to you by Indie Pen PR.

Violent Ascension by Giorgia Blake – Cover Reveal

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Giorgia Blake who is visiting for the cover reveal of her upcoming book Violent Ascension which releases on March 21. Fans who love mafia romances will sink their teeth into this sexy, enemies-to-lovers, arranged marriage romance. Keep scrolling for more details about this sexy cover.

I’m a Rising Star. A boss. A Real One.

Yet I’m here. Taken and bound inside the home of Alessandro Parisi.

A dangerous man who holds my life and my secrets close to the chest.

He has all the answers but refuses to answer any of my questions.

All he’s told me is that I’m his and the key to his ascension.

He saved me from his sadistic cousin; but it seems I just traded one monster for another.

The first one stalked and taunted me until I was convinced death was around every corner.

This one orders me to cooperate, bend to his touch, and obey.

Too bad obedience isn’t in my nature and sacrifice is my birthright.

We probably won’t make it out of this blood war alive…The likelihood of my heart surviving Alessandro is even less.

Violent Ascension is the first book in the Made Men of Chicago Collection, and can be read as a standalone.It is a forced marriage mafia romance with themes of organized crime, violence, and BDSM. If this is your type of romance, the happily ever after will knock your socks off!

Please read responsibly!

About the Author I’m a contemporary romance author dedicated to the dangerously delicious world of Mafia Romance. Every story will dare you to believe in the power of love, even when there doesn’t seem to be one sane reason to do so!

My stories feature sexy alphas and smart heroines finding love in the most breath stealing of circumstances. If someone can’t die at any moment–it’s not a Giorgia Blake Romance!

Every plot is full of heat, suspense, and steamy passion that would make the Karma Sutra blush.

So come join me on this wild ride…you won’t regret it!

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub | Newsletter | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads

Pre-Order on Amazon.

This promotional event is brought to you by Indie Pen PR

His Perfect Twink by Megan Slayer – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Megan Slayer who is celebrating yesterday’s release of His Perfect Twink. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Can the twink accept the billionaire’s terms and risk his heart?

Demetrius Ford believes he’s not meant to be loved. His wealth tends to bring out the worst in people, so he doesn’t have high hopes when he visits Boys Club. Then he meets Todd and everything changes.

Todd Giddings came to Boys Club to escape the street. He’s young, but he’s been through a lot. He’s world-weary and tired of playing the game at Boys Club. Why play with the crowd when you could have love instead? When he answers Demetrius’ ad, he’s convinced his life will change, but can he accept Demetrius’ terms and risk his heart?

The twink and the billionaire doesn’t seem like it should work, but it might be exactly what they both need…

Reader advisory: This book includes references to sex work, inadequate parenting, and attempted blackmail.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Demetrius wanted affection. Hell, he could buy someone for that, but he’d rather be loved for himself, not his bank account.

Finley Rooker, his friend and drinking buddy, strode into his office. “You look like shit. What’s your problem?”

“Nothing.” Demetrius remained behind his desk. “Is it Wednesday already?” He checked his phone. He had fifteen missed calls, a dozen or so emails and more texts than he cared to handle. “I have people to answer this phone and reply to emails, but they seem to be dropping the ball. Why am I paying them? I just added a dozen people to the payroll.”

“Because they aren’t working fast enough for you and they love to annoy you.” Finley poured himself three fingers of scotch. “At least you’ve got the cabinet stocked.”

“I knew you’d be by.” Eventually. Finley loved scotch as much as he loved sex. Finley was fine-looking, but not Demetrius’ type. He was a former football player, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. He spent too much time in the gym and always worried about how he looked. “How would you like to be my second-in-command?” He trusted his friend and he needed help he could rely on. “The Cleveland office is fine, Detroit is, too, but Pitt needs someone with a firm hand and Cincy just expanded. We’re getting into St. Louis, Indy and Chicago, too. You love to travel. Want the job?”

“I do and you can afford me.” Finley shrugged. “All I’ve gotta do is report to you every so often? I can do that. I’ve been out of the game for too long and I want back in. Yeah, I’ll do it.”

“Good.” That settled that. Demetrius needed to order some more wine and have his penthouse redecorated, but he’d worry about that later. “Have you been to the clubs lately?”

“Too much. Why?” Finley sat across from him. “Do you want to club?”

“I’ve thought about it.” Fuck. Demetrius was forty-five, single, out and needed sex. Where else should he go? It wasn’t like he was meeting guys at work.

“What do you want to do?” Finley sipped the scotch. …
“No.” What did he want? “I want a boy.”


“Yes. Someone who understands commands. Someone who wants to be controlled. You know, can take commands and follow directions. Someone who looks hot and would be good for a night out, but will also cooperate and not see me as just a blank check.”

Finley snorted. “You don’t want much.”

“Is that bad?” Demetrius preferred being up front with his needs.

“No.” Finley chuckled. He swirled the amber liquid around his glass. “It means you’ve been around and aren’t falling for bullshit.”

“That’s true.” He’d bought boyfriends, sold them, traded and no one seemed to fit. He’d even tried to get a guy to fake date him, but no dice.

Jesus. He’d made ten million dollars last year and couldn’t get a date. Wouldn’t the press love to know that?

“What if I told you I know a place where you can find the kind of guy you want? It’ll cost you, but it’s worth every dollar.”

“Oh?” He folded his hands on his desk. “I’m listening.” He couldn’t wait to hear what Finley had to say.

“It’s called Boys Club—I didn’t name it so don’t bust my ass. Anyway, you go there, feel it out and see what they have to offer. When you see what you want, you place an ad. Whoever responds, that’s who you pick from. You weed out the ones you don’t like and take the ones you do.”

Finley finished his scotch, then poured another three fingers. “I’ve met a few guys there. If you’re interested, I’ll be your sponsor and get you in. You pay the cover charge and joining fee.”

“Which is?” Demetrius was certainly intrigued.

“Cover charge is a grand because they don’t mess around,” Finley said. “The joining fee is five grand because the idea is that you’re paying to find what you want one time and then you’ll move on.”

“Except that you’re still visiting. You’re still going. Haven’t you found what you want?”

“I can’t decide between a few,” Finley said with a sheepish grin. “I like too many.”

“You do.” He’d never heard of this club, but the fees didn’t scare him. Hell, he made both fees in ten minutes at one of his offices. And if he could find the right guy…then the money would be well spent. “You say you’ll get me in? My name isn’t enough to do that?” He hated using his name for attention. It was too pushy for his tastes.

“You can use your name, but they don’t care. This isn’t about fame or notoriety.” Finley wriggled his brows. “It’s about finding what you need. Besides, you have to know someone to get in. They don’t want just anyone joining.”

“Not at five grand they don’t.”

“True. They cater to men of means.”

“Ah. When can we go?” Demetrius wanted to get his search going as soon as he could. He had a dinner date in a week and didn’t want to attend alone. He hated having to keep showing up at things single.

“How about tonight? I’ve been meaning to go and couldn’t find the time, but I’d go with you.” Finley sipped his replenished scotch. “I could use a good time for the evening. Maybe even a sub.”

“A sub?” He’d known Finley for over twenty years and never pegged him as a Dom. “You play?”

“Have for years—just like you.”

Demetrius didn’t advertise his kinks. “How did you guess?”

“It’s in the way you carry yourself. You’re so polished and pressed. Every detail is correct and you never have a hair out of place. Everything is perfect. You’ve got stick-straight posture and I’ve never seen you with your tie loosened. If there isn’t precision, you’re not happy.” Finley shrugged. “I admire your ability to be rigid. If you’d get rid of those pesky grays at your temples, you’d look twenty years younger. Or is that the deal? You want to be a daddy?”

“Christ, no.” He’d have to take care of the grays. He needed to look just so for his image and business. When he found the right sub, he’d loosen up a bit…but just for him. “I need my regimentation. People expect it from me.”

“And you need it from your sub, too. But since you don’t have one…you’re unhappy.” Finley nodded and left his chair. He held up the glass. “I’ll be by at eight sharp. Join me for the adventure and you won’t regret it. It’ll be a great time.”

“I know it will be.”

“Good. I’ll be around with the car at eight.” Finley finished his drink. “You do have the best booze. Now you just need a boy to serve it.”

“I do.” A twink would be perfect. “See you.”


He waited for the door to shut before he picked up his tablet and researched the club. He found nothing. Not a site, not a mention, nothing.

What was this place? He’d never run into something he couldn’t research, buy and control. If he wanted something, he should be able to take it.

And another thing…why did Finley have to be so observant? Demetrius didn’t wear his desires on his sleeve. He didn’t tell everyone he loved control. No, he needed control. But he hadn’t mentioned to anyone he wanted a sub or a twink. He wanted to look and feel young, sure, and being with the right twink would do that for him, but the person would be the best partner for him, too. That’s what he needed–someone who suited him. He needed the image of youth and vitality, but also to not be alone.

God. He spent too much time left to his own devices. He needed balance in his life. Sure, he had the cash, the status and the lifestyle, but he required the right guy, too.

He shoved the tablet away and leaned back in his seat. He’d find out about the club tonight. Maybe he would find a boy. It couldn’t hurt to look.

Not a bit.

About the Author: Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

First for Romance Author Page | Blog | Amazon Author Page | BookBub Author Page | Instagram | Goodreads

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Voyeur by Ida Brady

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ida Brady as she celebrates the release of Voyeur

Having sampled the forbidden fruits of her online antics, Savannah wants more. Her penchant for voyeurism unlocks a new dimension in her relationship with Arcas, not to mention a boudoir of new thrills…RPGs, corsets and monsters, oh my! With the success of her blog, demands from Savannah’s online fans means she can earn money from strangers and satisfy her curiosity. And all those wicked Regency fantasies offer plenty of material. Namely, what the commanding Duke would do to Emmaline in the confines of the carriage. And the dressing room. And the masquerade ball. Savannah’s imagination knows no bounds, and her appetite for this historical couple is heightened by the arrival of Lady Dewberry and the devilish Lord Walcott. But when Savannah finds herself targeted by zealots, the ugly truth about her childhood begins to emerge. As her relationship with Arcas comes under pressure, Savannah must make a choice: to conceal the past or finally confront her demons. With Arcas’ encouragement, Savannah hovers between two worlds, indulging in her new online career and fantasizing about a fictional one she hasn’t had the pleasure of knowing. Yet.

Enjoy an Excerpt Until she spotted the house. It sprawled out in front of them, stretching across the paved drive and extending out farther than she could see. If the grandiosity of the home wasn’t enough to make her feel nervous, the sheer newness of this experience did. She took her time getting out of the car, smoothing down her dress, admiring the plants and flowers. But she couldn’t hang out in the driveway forever. Savannah straightened her spine as they approached the front door. Arcas waited patiently beside her, giving her a light pat on her butt for encouragement.

A hell of a lot had changed in three months, including the spectacular success of her online sex blog, ‘Sexcapades.’ She was fast building up many sexual experiences, which meant a ton of material to write about, not that she could document everything. Lord knew, she tried.

“You know you have to ring the bell to gain entry, right?”

Savannah turned to her boyfriend. His green eyes were bright with mischief. “I think I’m a little nervous.”

“That’s totally normal.”

“Bec said she’d be coming, right?”

“She did. And that the people who rock up here are legit. It’s exclusive and selective. They know about your blog, and that you’ve got a private channel. It’s all above board.”

The private channel had been created when a few individuals wanted to take her journaling and sexual experiences to a new level. They’d wanted to watch her have sex online. To see her pleasure herself, making requests in the process. After chatting with Arcas about the safety measures they would put in place, she had set up an exclusive, private group. Which meant that if anyone actually wanted to watch her orgasm, they could. If they paid.

And boy did they pay. It had been more popular than she had expected. She was still becoming accustomed to this line of work, not to mention the wonderfully liberating nature of exploring her sexuality with strangers.

Savannah nodded. Drawing in a deep breath, she rang the bell. “It’s orgy time.”

About the Author: Ida Brady writes spicy contemporary and erotic romance that packs all the heat! From humour, to heartbreak, to happily ever after, you’re guaranteed a steamy read with all the tropes. Enemies to lovers, billionaire, virgin, menage…you name it, she writes it! Ida is a lover of chocolate and thunderstorms. When she isn’t trying to tame her intractable curls, she’s running after her little ones, usually with a book in hand.

Ida lives in the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s CBD with her Irish husband and their out of control collection of books. She sometimes daydreams about having a huge library in her home but will settle for stacking novels in the kitchen drawers instead.

In her past life, Ida taught VCE Literature and English to a gaggle of teenagers. While she misses their enthusiasm, she sure as hell doesn’t miss marking papers. You might find her dancing the Argentine tango in her spare time, which isn’t often these days. She loves travelling with her family, observing strangers at cafés and getting lost in a good story.

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The Montgomery Arrangement by Lori Fayre – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Lori Fayre who is celebrating the recent release of The Montgomery Arrangement, the third book in the Summer fling or something more?

Paige Montgomery had never given the future much thought until the opportunity of a lifetime falls into her lap. Confronted with a life-changing path, she decides that a vacation to Miami with her best friends, the Alexanders, will clear her head. However, Bryce Alexander has other ideas.

Bryce proposes an arrangement, something casual and mutually beneficial to help them both relax while they’re away from it all. There are only two conditions—no one can know and absolutely no emotions can be involved. Though he’s seven years younger, Paige thinks there could be merit in his suggestion.

Paige can’t escape the reality of where her life is headed or her long-time friend, Levi, who has his sights set on her. But what do they really mean to each other? And does Bryce mean more? While Bryce tries his hardest to escape the spotlight and his new reputation, Paige has to wrestle with the idea that she could just be a distraction to him. With a years-long friendship on the line, will they take a chance on love?

Enjoy an Excerpt

When Paige was working on a painting, time didn’t exist. By the time a piece of art was done, she could hardly remember doing it. The feeling was there, and it was easy to look at one stroke of color and say, “Oh, yeah, I was feeling very sad when I laid that down.” But she couldn’t tell you exactly when it had happened or why. So, when Bryce Alexander assured her that the pieces she’d donated to him were a big hit, she’d had a hard time believing him. Honestly, she couldn’t remember which ones she’d picked from storage to send him.

“I’m not kidding,” Bryce said through the speaker against her ear. “You outsold everyone else here.”

“You know me,” she said, trying her best to play it off. She fiddled with a strand of long blonde hair that had fallen out of her updo. “I’m always happy to help. I’m just glad they went to a good cause.”

“You could say that,” he said. “I’ve been invited to an afterparty—and I don’t mean to brag, but I think some of those girls are really into me.”

Paige rolled her eyes. “Not exactly how I wanted my art to change lives.” Leave it to Bryce to turn a charity event into a prime opportunity to pick up women.

From what he’d told her, Bryce hadn’t wanted to go to the event in the first place. Carlton Alexander, wielding his fatherly authority all the way from Greece, had ordered it. Bryce had been getting into trouble lately—and not the kind that was easy to ignore. Over the past couple of years, the Alexanders had become celebrities. Maybe it was because the behind-the-scenes story of Jade and Spencer’s dramatic engagement period had gotten out, but it had skyrocketed business and put the family under a new kind of spotlight.

“Aren’t you supposed to be cutting back on the partying?” Paige asked, attempting to keep her tone neutral. It wasn’t her place to meddle in Bryce’s affairs, even if he was her friend.

“Daddy dearest isn’t here to enforce that rule,” Bryce argued. “Besides, these are art people. Charity art people, to be exact. How wild could the afterparty get?”

As one of those ‘art people’, Paige knew how wild they could be. Not that he’d listen to her if she warned him… It would only encourage him more. Releasing a sigh, Paige simply said, “Just promise me you’ll behave, okay? And don’t drink too much.”

“Yeah, yeah, of course.” His voice became quiet as he moved the phone away from his face, and she knew that some girl in a flashy dress had probably distracted him. “You know, you could always come with me. I can drop by and pick you up.”

“That sounds amazing, actually.” She leaned against the wall, wishing she could tell him yes. “Maybe some other time, though. I have my showing tonight, and I’ll have to be here at least another two hours.”

“All right,” Bryce said, and she almost thought she could hear disappointment in his voice. “Don’t have too much fun without me.”

“Talk to you later, Bryce.”

“I’ll talk to you later, Paige,” he echoed her words softly.

There was silence before he hung up the phone. Paige sighed again. A night out with Bryce was always a good time, but she had responsibilities. He’d graduated from college only a couple of months earlier, and ever since he’d been free, he’d been an entirely new person. Paige could pick out the signs, the small changes over time, but it was a stark contrast to the Bryce she’d met nearly four years ago. She didn’t mind, but he could get carried away very easily.

Paige slipped her phone into the small handbag around her wrist. The night was not about Bryce. It was about her obligations. She’d tucked herself into a corner of the gallery, near an emergency exit, to take his phone call. Behind her, the sounds of the showing could still be heard—the laughter, the clinking of glasses, the music and the critical whispers as people judged the art they had paid a high price to view. It was the kind of thing she dreamed of, but something wasn’t right.

Paige didn’t feel like herself. Her sleeveless evening gown was expensive, its flowing marbled skirts and cinched waist very stylish without being too eye-catching and flattered her slim figure. Unlike the other artists being featured at Gould’s Gallery, she didn’t want to stand out. They were all either dressed down for the night or wearing the strangest outfits that had to be impossibly uncomfortable. Normally, Paige would have done the same. Something had changed.

Paige turned her attention to the piece hanging on the gallery’s white wall in front of her. It didn’t feel like hers. It didn’t look like hers from afar. But, when she squinted, she recognized every brushstroke. It was one of her abstract paintings—a large canvas covered with varying strokes of paint, all a myriad of colors blocked off by bold black lines. Each day she would approach the canvas with a new mood, new thoughts and ideas, and paint. As she worked, she would take in the previous day’s progress and try to fix it. In the end, it hadn’t turned out the way she’d wanted, but she had been well over her deadline, and it would have to do.

“It’s beautiful work.” Levi Gould materialized beside her. “Though, I don’t think you were entirely happy making it.”

“I’m not entirely happy standing in front of it,” Paige shot back. She smiled, playing it off as humor, but there was mostly truth to it. She had to search hard to find pieces of herself in the paint, and it was a skewed image, blurry like a fogged mirror.

“Are you saying you’d be willing to part with it?”

Paige turned to look at him. Levi was classically handsome with his dark brown skin, neatly trimmed beard and long, thin braids. Like some of the other artists, he was dressed informally, in a T-shirt and blazer, a layered scarf, and white cargo pants with combat boots. His hair was covered with a black fedora, completing his monochromatic ensemble.

They had been friends since college, where they’d taken many of the same classes, but when the time came to choose a career, Paige had stuck with painting while Levi had opened his own gallery. It hadn’t taken long for Gould’s to become the exclusive art hub in New York City, one that all the up-and-coming artists had to be a part of.

Levi quirked an eyebrow at her, his dark brown eyes expectant. Paige realized that she hadn’t spoken for several moments, only stared at Levi.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?” she asked.

“Do you want to keep your painting or not?” Levi asked with a smile.

“I’m clearly not married to it,” she said with a shrug. “You can keep it.”

“I’m flattered that you’d offer, but that’s not what I had in mind. You might not be happy with your stunning work, but a patron is.” He slipped an arm around her shoulders. “Mr. Talles has made a substantial offer, and I would like to graciously accept on your behalf.”

“Hold on. I thought this was just a showing,” Paige said, butterflies fluttering in her stomach.

“It is, darling, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to turn down an influential collector when he offers my friend five figures. Of course, I would get a ten percent commission since it’s my gallery.” He laughed. “You’re doing pretty well for yourself, aren’t you? I think this is the second work of yours that he’s bought.”

Paige could only nod, still struggling to wrap her head around the five figures part. Between this sale and the success of the charity auction, Paige felt a bit of her old confidence creeping back in.

“Is that a yes?” Levi asked. “Because he would like to take it home tonight.”

“He can have it,” Paige said, finally shaking herself from her fog. Levi turned away to speak to an assistant, ushering him away once he was done. Paige watched all of it from the corner of her eye, dividing her concentration between the two men and the painting and wondering why anyone would offer so much for it.

“For someone leaving with a considerable check tonight,” Levi whispered conspiratorially upon his return to her side, “you don’t seem overly thrilled. What is it that has you in such a glum mood?”

Paige smiled at him. “I’m over the moon. I am,” she added. “I’m slow at getting used to all this. I mean, I’m used to showings and people buying my stuff, but this is your gallery. This is Gould’s. And it’s my first time being here during a showing, so forgive me if I seem a little distant.”

“I’m nothing special, Paige Montgomery.” He nudged her shoulder with his. “You know me better than that.”

“You’re special to me.” Paige nodded to one of the women holding a glass of champagne and narrowing her eyes at a neighboring piece. “And you’re special to the critics.”

“I want to show you something,” he said, taking her hand. Paige didn’t argue, but she glanced around to see if anyone would notice them leaving together. The only person who spared them a look was the assistant placing a ‘Sold’ placard underneath her painting.

The upstairs of the gallery was roped off for the night. Not even the artists were allowed up until the next morning. Levi had converted the old loft of the building into an art studio where, for a hefty fee, artists could claim a five-by-five or ten-by-ten-foot square to work on their craft. Along with the space, they were also guaranteed exposure on the walls of the gallery once a month. It was a daring business venture, but it seemed to be doing well. A spot at Gould’s studio had a waiting list a mile long.

Levi lifted the black velvet rope that led to the stairwell, allowing them to duck underneath. The stairs were narrow, and there was no door at the landing. When Levi flipped on the fluorescent lights, Paige let out a gasp. She had toured the place, but that had been when it’d been staged for visitors. She knew how chaotic artists’ spaces could be, since she had to set one up wherever she was staying.

The loft seemed smaller than it had before, what with all the clutter scattered around. Half-painted canvases were propped on easels and along the wall. Wheeled carts jutted into the aisle marked off with duct tape, signifying whose space belonged to whom. The wood floors were stained with paint and streaks of charcoal. The open space was broken up with the occasional industrial column, but those were splattered with paint as well. It was a lived-in space with a view that most renters would kill for. Despite the chaos around her, Paige had never felt more at home in a new place before.

“We keep our kiln and sculpting equipment in the basement,” Levi told her as he led her farther in. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a sculptor rent a spot in here, though.” He took her to the tall windows in the back of the room, where the building opened up to the city. Since they were on the Lower East Side, Paige could see straight to the ocean and the Statue of Liberty.

“This is so different from what I remember,” Paige finally said. “And it’s not at all how it looks in the magazines.”

“Are you overwhelmed or disappointed?” Levi stepped up to the window, his tall silhouette set against the lights of the city.

“Neither,” she told him. “But I can certainly see why people are fighting for a spot here. I can feel the creative energy.”

“You should see it when we’re full,” Levi said. “It’s loud and messy, but it’s the best place to get work done. Though, we do argue about the music from time to time.” He motioned for her to join him, and she took slow steps to his side. There was something about him that night, something about the look in his eyes and the way that he spoke. If Paige didn’t know any better, she might think he was coming on to her.

“I’d like to see it one day,” she said. “I’ve thought about putting my name on the list, but I don’t know if I’ll be here when a spot opens up. I don’t know where I’ll go next, but I’ve been in New York too long. I’m starting to feel restless.”

“What if you could skip the wait?” he asked. “What if someone were to jump you to the front of the line? Do you think that would be worth sticking around for?”

Paige crossed her arms, focusing on the torch in Lady Liberty’s hand. “What did you have in mind?”

“One of my artists is going overseas.” He said it so casually, as though he weren’t trying to offer her a coveted spot at Gould’s that could skyrocket her career even farther. “There will be an open easel here if you want it.”

Paige turned to him with wide eyes. “I don’t think that would be fair to everyone else.”

“Being the owner comes with perks, love,” he told her. “And I know a good investment when I see one.”

Heat rushed to Paige’s face as she got the distinct impression that he wasn’t talking about her art anymore. “It’s a tempting offer,” she started, “but, I’ve been in a creative slump lately, and I don’t know if I could make anything worth being on display.” She chewed on her thumbnail as she thought. “The one down there must have been a fluke. I don’t want to take the spot and not produce anything,”

“It doesn’t matter if anyone thinks that it’s good enough,” Levi said, taking her free hand. Paige could do nothing but watch him as he pulled her closer. “It’s the curator’s discretion to show what he thinks is worth it. And you’re talking to a curator who sees beauty in all that you do, Paige.” He surprised her then by raising her hand to his lips and kissing it softly.

So, she wasn’t imagining things. Over the past couple of years, what with Jade and Clint in their own separate honeymoon phases, Paige had been spending more time with Levi. And, sure, there had been flirtations, but they were always playful, silly and when they were around other people. It was never something she had taken seriously, but the look in his dark brown eyes warned her that it was time to start.

“Can I have some time to think about it?” she asked, her voice coming out breathless.

Levi smiled kindly at her. “Of course, you can,” he told her. “I wouldn’t expect you to have an answer for me as early as tonight. How about you get back to me within ten days?”

“Ten days?” Paige balked. “Is that all you can give me?”

He laughed, a low rumbling sound that came from deep in his chest. “I want this for you, Paige, but it’s the best I can do. Like you said, there are a lot of people vying for this spot, and it wouldn’t be fair to make them wait for long.”

Off the top of her head, Paige could think of several reasons to say no. If she worked for Levi Gould, there would always be interviews to attend, photo ops and PR to deal with. And while all of it was good for business, it wasn’t her style. Paige liked to travel and see new things. While she would revisit places, she rarely stayed for long.

“New York is beautiful, but I’m not sure if it’s the place for me.” Having to rent an apartment in the city and take a taxi to work every day… Paige was unsure about a lot, but she knew that anything resembling a nine-to-five wasn’t in her future. She smiled at Levi to reassure him. “I’ll think about it and let you know, okay?”

“Works for me.” He gave her hand a small squeeze and turned back to the window.

Paige took a deep breath. She had ten days to decide if she was going to take a dream job and relocate her entire life to New York. The thing was, she wasn’t sure if it was her dream—or if it was just what she thought she wanted.

About the AuthorLori Fayre was born and raised in a small South Georgia town. An obsessive consumer of romance throughout all media, she knew that it was the only genre she could ever write. Love should always be full of passion and adventure, and Lori proves as much in her novels that span multiple genres and pairings. When she’s not writing love stories, she enjoys reading, sketching, and spending time with her husband and Yorkie.

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Sanctuary for a Surgeon by Jason Wrench – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Jason Wrench, who is celebrating today’s release of Sanctuary for a Surgeon, the third book in the Up on the Farm series. Enter the rafflecopter at the end of the post for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Finding love in the sanctuary of nature and another man’s arms.

Darrin Betancourt is a trauma surgeon in his early thirties living in New York City. His world gets thrown upside down after his husband dies in a car accident. Can Darrin get his act together and learn to love again before his life spirals out of control? His friends convince him to attend an all-gay retreat outside Woodstock. Begrudgingly, Darrin agrees to spend a weekend in nature, out of the city.

Jordan Floyd is a twenty-four-year-old farmhand who works for Devereux Farms Upstate just outside Woodstock. Jordan gets permission from his bosses to attend Camp Namast-Gay at the Woodstock Esoteric Sanctuary.

Darrin and Jordan end up in adjacent cabins. Can the two men take their friendship to a whole new level before the weekend is over? Or will disaster strike, derailing both of their lives and their burgeoning love?

Reader advisory: This book contains public sex and voyeurism.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The last six-and-a-half months had been a living nightmare. There had been funeral arrangements and memorial services to organize and attend. Then there had been the months of pitying stares. I had become a recluse. I hadn’t wanted to deal with friends and coworkers. I had gone to work then gone home. When I ran out of excuses to avoid their offers, I had occasional meals with them. My life had shattered. Richard had recommended therapy on more than one occasion because I was clearly depressed. Of course I was depressed. The man I loved had died.

Chance had been one of three people who had been directly in the vehicle’s path when it had run through the crowd. After the NYPD investigation, it was ruled an accident. The car’s tire had blown after hitting a metal object in the street, which had caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle. She had tried to regain it but couldn’t. I heard through the grapevine that she was now being treated at an inpatient psychiatric facility upstate after she had attempted suicide. The woman hadn’t been ready for the media scrutiny and the accident’s fallout in her life. Part of me was glad she’d had a mental breakdown, but that was the evil, vindictive side. Another part was sorry for her. As horrible as it was, accidents happened. I saw accidents every day. Some were preventable. Some were not.

I had agreed to another Sunday brunch with Bryce and Richard. I hadn’t wanted to go, but I found myself at their door with a bottle of wine. I plastered on my best fake smile and knocked.

“Just a second,” Richard’s voice rang from the other side. A few seconds later, the door opened. “Darrin, we’re so glad you could make it. Brunch is almost ready.” He ushered me inside the townhouse as he kept talking. “We’re having a quiche I whipped up from scratch. It has a smattering of vegetables with sausage and bacon. I also threw together a mixed green salad and a raspberry tart for dessert.” I handed him the bottle of wine. Richard inspected it and nodded before saying, “Good choice.”

Bryce came from the backroom. “How are you doing?” he asked me.

“I’m doing…” I left the phrase hanging in the air.

“Well,” Bryce said without acknowledging the ambiguity of my statement, “at least you’re up and moving around.”

I forced a smile and followed Bryce and Richard into the small dining room. The table was set for three. As usual, Richard had set an immaculate table that would make Emily Post jealous. Bryce motioned to a chair, and I took a seat as Richard left.

“So, how are things in your world?” I asked, breaking the silence.

“Richard and I are doing well. We’ve been looking into surrogacy again. I think Richard’s biological clock is ticking. He wants a baby.”

“I heard that,” Richard’s voice echoed from the kitchen next to the dining room. Richard walked in with the salad and placed it in the middle of the table. “And don’t let this one fool you,” he said, sticking his thumb in Bryce’s direction. “He wants to be a doting father as much as I do. We have a lot of love to give a little one.”

“Why not adopt?” I asked.

“We talked about that,” Bryce acknowledged, “but ultimately we want to have a little baby. We have thought about having one through surrogacy, then adopting her or him a little brother or sister.”

“Two kids?” I asked.

“Don’t be so shocked,” Richard said, returning to the dining room with the quiche. “I’m doing more and more of my work from home. After the pandemic, the firm has embraced remote work, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect.”

Richard set about serving up the quiche. We spent the next hour talking about a range of topics deemed ‘safe’ by the group.

After an appropriate amount of time once we’d all eaten, I looked at Bryce and Richard and said, “Well, I need to get to the gym before taking a nap. I’m working the ten-to-ten shift tonight.”

“Let me put together a to-go box for you,” Richard said. “I worry that you’re not getting enough home-cooked food.”

Sadly, he was right. Most nights I grabbed takeout or heated something from a box in the microwave. “Thanks,” I said. “It would be much appreciated. You can only eat takeout Chinese so many days in a row.”

When Richard left the dining room, Bryce turned and stared at me. For the first time that day, he put on his serious face.

“I’m worried about you,” Bryce said. “I know it’s only been six months, but you’ve almost completely shut down.”

“I’m still grieving. Is there an appropriate amount of time one should grieve?”

“No, there’s not,” Bryce said hesitantly. “But I worry that you’re not making progress toward getting healthy. Have you reconsidered Richard’s suggestion about therapy?”

“I don’t need a shrink… I need time.” I blinked back tears that had started to swell in my eyes. “I need him back.” I was amazed when the words came out of my mouth.

“I know. We all miss him,” Bryce said. He looked at me for a second, and I could tell he was trying to plan what to say next. “I don’t know how I would react if Richard died, so I won’t presume to tell you how you’re supposed to behave. I won’t. But I will say I’m worried.”

“Thanks…” He meant well. Part of me wanted to come back with a snarky comment, but I held my tongue. “Each day is a little better,” I lied.

“Here’s your to-go box,” Richard said, breezing back into the dining room. He took one look at the serious faces in the room. “Did I miss something?”

“Not at all,” I said, using the break in the conversation to my advantage. “Thank you for an amazing meal and lovely company, but I must get to the gym.”

Bryce looked like he wanted to say something, but he kept his words to himself, which suited me just fine. I said goodbyes and hugged both men before going home to change and head off to the gym.

About the Author Jason Wrench is a professor in the Department of Communication at SUNY New Paltz and has authored/edited 15+ books and over 35 academic research articles. He is also an avid reader and regularly reviews books for publishers in a wide number of genres. This book marks his first full-length work of fiction.

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Remaking a Man by Amy Craig – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Amy Craig, who is celebrating the upcoming release of Remaking a Man, the second book in the Sun Valley Mafia series. Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

A one-night stand turns serious…

Nina’s neighbor sets her up on a blind date with a handsome insurance salesman. After a candlelit dinner, Nina hooks up with him in a posh New York hotel room, but she writes off the date as a one-night stand. Returning home, she discovers her neighbor’s death, her dog’s abduction and the salesman’s possible involvement.

Traipsing across the city with her date in tow, she realizes he’s a quarrelsome billionaire and that her dog may never return. Grieving her losses, she accompanies her date to a ‘billionaire summer camp’ in Sun Valley, Idaho, but the idyllic setting revolves around his whims—and the person who took her dog follows them.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and murder.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Standing on the marble front step of her family’s Miami mansion, Gisella tapped her designer footwear, adjusted her sunglasses and blocked out the bright spring day. She breathed deeply and shuffled the bags hanging from her toned arms.

At the end of the driveway, her brother Antonio revved his red convertible’s souped-up engine and pounded the dashboard in time to blaring rock music. Miami traffic streamed past the estate. People stared.

Why can’t he just leave? She marveled at his arrogance, but she kept her expression neutral and her phone in her pocket. He was the youngest of her two siblings, and he had the stocky, tan physique her male family members prized. He also had a propensity to wear outlandish suits, a revolving door of girlfriends and a sophomoric sense of humor. If he caught her taking a selfie in front of the house, he would turn it into a meme, but her account depended on dance stills and teasing hints of glamour. The minute he left the estate, she would take the picture while her hair looked good.

Flexing her toes, she rifled through the bags on her arms. One duffle held her ballet kit, another tote functioned as a purse and the bags from her morning shopping spree hiked her credit card bill. Instead of feeling guilty for the extravagance, she admired her long, lean legs.

Her form allowed her to excel as a professional ballerina, but she worried she had the coltish naivety to match her legs. When would she work up the nerve to demand a driver’s license and stop relying on Antonio for transportation? Every time she talked about her license, her father pouted and asked what more he could do to ensure her comfort.

If her mother had lived, Gisella’s life might be so different.

A car horn honked. A woman blew kisses. “Antonio!!”

He ignored the entreaty, let the engine rumble and scanned the beachside traffic. His muscled forearm hung over the door, and he tapped his fingers against the expensive paint job. Milky fingerprints marred the convertible’s finish.

A second Miami driver slowed to gawk at the handsome, moneyed mobster. A trailing car smashed the vehicle’s lights. Horns blared and doors flew open.

Releasing the engine’s pent-up energy, Antonio took advantage of the distraction and roared across two lanes of traffic.

Gisella rolled her eyes and snapped the picture she needed, but she doubted her high-gloss smile was worth the price of the photograph.

Riding home with her brother from dance rehearsals and a shopping spree, she had stared out of the window and listened to him complain about women and their fickle ways. His problems never changed, but the consistency soothed her. If he spent more time listening to the women, he would have fewer problems with them.

For instance, she had wanted to close her eyes and rest, but Antonio couldn’t take a hint. As soon as she made Principal Dancer, she could move out of her father’s house and make rent, but she would have to stop shopping like a mafia princess.

Squaring her shoulders, she faced her father’s front door. Most Miami residents painted their doors to ward off humidity’s warping effects. Papà imported Cocobolo heartwood and exposed the precious wood to the elements. His house could grace the cover of Architectural Digest, but his acceptance in local society depended on discretion. Biscayne Bay would freeze over before he opened the mansion’s doors to gawking strangers.

Every piece of furniture came with a decorator’s commission, authenticity papers and a cataloged serial number. The insurance company knew the exact cost of her father’s investment, and if the house burned, they’d be wise to pay up.

She appreciated the wealth, but its origins bothered her. Her sweet Papà, Gregorio Vitella, ran drugs from South America up the Eastern shoreline. She feared that enjoying the proceeds made her complicit in his crimes.

Pressed by a tipsy ballet friend, she’d admitted the concession that let her sleep at night. Her father’s legitimate insurance company probably covered her bills, but how could a person separate good money from bad people—and where did that distinction place her?

Pushing open the door, she scanned the marble foyer and dropped her bags, but a green potted palm, a black concert piano and an excruciatingly expensive console table provided little company. The console table rested on acrobatic loops of brass. Beneath a glass top, python skin gleamed with a subtle sheen, and she wondered if the piece’s black crystal pulls would make an interesting jewelry set. Opening a drawer, she checked for mail and flipped through the family correspondence. “Come stai, Papà?”

Her question echoed.

Raising her head, she set down the mail and waited.

A hidden white paneled door opened. Martin, the butler, emerged, wearing the formal black suit and crisp white shirt required for his service. He’d perfected the practiced, subservient gaze on his own. She’d grown to like him, but she wondered how long he would last in the household.

“Signorina Gisella, your father is in his study.”

Keeping a bright smile on her face, she handed Martin her shopping bags and kept her purse on her shoulder. “Thanks. I’ll freshen up and join him.”

“Yes, Signorina.”

The man couldn’t speak ten words of Italian. As soon as staff members picked up a basic understanding of the language, her father fired them. Smart members played dumb. Gisella found her allies among them, but she’d learned to mind her comments, too.

Ducking into the gilt-papered bathroom off the foyer, she pinched her cheeks, added lipstick and prepared to act like a dutiful daughter. Her life revolved around the Miami Ballet Company, beachside runs and formal dinners, but in her father’s house, she would forever be ‘Gigi’.

Bracing her hands on the sink, she tilted her head. Her loving father owned Florida’s biggest commercial real estate company, Cosmica Insurance Holdings, but he also ran the Florida branch of the Italian mob.

He wore a suit to school functions, but when business soured at home, he rolled up his shirtsleeves, and the gentlemanly look faded. When she had been ten, she’d witnessed the reality of his business dealings through a crack in the study door. She’d never seen his victim again, and she’d kept her observations to herself—but she listened.

When classmates at her parochial school asked what her father did for work, she parroted the company line. “CIH offers property insurance, casualty insurance and value-added insurance services across twenty southeastern states.”

They looked impressed.

Why shouldn’t they? Every new homeowner in Florida received a direct mailing touting CIH’s low rates and friendly staff. The mailings glossed over the company’s potential money laundering credentials, but who read the fine print?

Leaving the bathroom, she made her way to the back of the house and to her father’s study. The caviar-black masculine room had views of the pool and heavy leather furniture. Despite a sparking oasis waiting beyond the windows, the room looked like a cave.

Last fall, her father’s interior designer Lisette had joined the family before Sunday dinner. Wearing a pantsuit, she’d sipped a dirty martini and made vague references to former clients. “I prefer to create a visual impact by mixing wood species and texture. That movie star I mentioned”—she sipped her drink—“had a thing for ebony.”

Gisella had wanted to like the woman, but her influence on the house’s décor leaned toward gilt and Hollywood glamour. Having a thing for ebony shocked her as much as Lisette’s cosmetic surgery bill. Once a woman immersed herself in wealth, keeping life entertaining required novelty and a steady flow of cash. “How do you plan to tackle the study?”

Lisette had wrinkled her surgically enhanced nose. “The hospitality industry uses black to create glamour, drama and intimacy. Everyone’s doing it.”

Gisella had sipped her wine and assumed Lisette was doing her father.

Walking across the room, Gisella admitted the study’s black walls created drama, but if her father wanted to scare his minions into compliance, he could pull out the handgun he kept in the desk’s top drawer. To keep her in line, he deployed guilt. ‘What would your mother think?’

She wrinkled her nose.

Walking around the polished walnut desk, she leaned down and pressed a kiss to his cheek. He smelled of black tea, Damascus rose, tobacco and leather. At sixty-five years old, he looked ten years younger. Faint silver streaks threaded his black hair. He could wear chinos and he would still smell like old manners and aged wine caves. “Come è andato il lavoro, Papà?”

“It is what it is.” Continuing in Italian, he set aside his papers. “How was your shopping trip?”

She sat opposite him and crossed her legs. “Fruitful.”

He laughed.

Pulling a stack of receipts from her purse, she slid them across the desk. “The rest will come by email.”

Shrugging, he leaned back in his chair and left the crumpled slips on the table. “Gigi, you’re old enough to drink and old enough to marry.”

She picked at her nails. “Is that so?”

“More than old enough. In the home country…”

Looking up, she tilted her head. “We’re not in the home country.”

He held up a hand. “But if we were, you’d be a bride, and I’d be a grandpa.”

“Ursula is older.”

“Your sister wants to be a nun.”

“So she says.” Looking past his full head of hair, she regretted her outburst and second-guessed her decision to come home after rehearsal. If she’d stayed out and shared a drink with Antonio, she’d have to listen to his stories and give up her evening run. She couldn’t hide from her father. He financed her life and provided patronage for her art. Looking at him, she softened her expression and recalled the sunlit days he’d spent with her and Ursula. “You’re too young to be a grandpa.”

about the AuthorAmy Craig lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA with her family and a small menagerie of pets. She writes women’s fiction and contemporary romances with intelligent and empathetic heroines. She can’t always vouch for the men. She has worked as an engineer, project manager, and incompetent waitress. In her spare time, she plays tennis and expands her husband’s honey-do list.

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Painted Bare by Hayden West – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Hayden West who is celebrating the recent release of Painted Bare, the fourth book in the City of Fountains series. Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

The canvas never lies.

Anthony Henson doesn’t do people. He prefers to be left alone with his paint, brushes and canvas. A world that allows his mind to be at ease, without the struggle to do what is right by societal dictates. His quiet universe is sent spinning, however, when a string of recent thefts brings a tall Irish detective into his circle.

Detective Liam Rourke has a hard, firm policy on not intermingling work and pleasure. Until now, it’s not been an issue to uphold it. Enter one painter and all he wants to do is spend more time around him. The lines between professional and personal are blurred.

When everything settles, what will happen to the straight-laced detective and the man whose own messy life doesn’t matter to him?

Reader advisory: This book contains instances of bullying, as well as mention of homophobia, adultery, and family/domestic verbal/emotional abuse.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“There’s a Detective Rourke here to see you, Anthony.”

Anthony Henson sighed, instantly agitated, and spun on the stool, away from the current painting he worked on. With a flick of his wrist as he got to his feet, he covered it. No one would see it until the time was right.

“Thanks, Marshall.”

The words were the correct ones, even if the last thing he felt like he should be doing was entertaining another prick of a badge. Pressing the heel of his palm into his upper thigh, he sighed as he tried to work out the stiffness. When he finished on that side, he worked out the stiffness in his other leg. A sure sign he’d been immobile far too long without taking a break.

Supposedly this can be a good thing. I am getting up and moving around. This will serve as my break.

Truth was, he didn’t give a f*** if it was a good thing or not. He didn’t care. He had painting to do. The other things were naught but irritating intrusions of his time.

Marshall vanished without another word and in mere seconds, with his suit impeccable. While Anthony himself, on the other hand, looked like a day laborer. Paint staining his fingers, shirt, pants. Even his shoes.


Damnit. I forgot my shoes. Where did I leave them? In the back room? Beneath my stool?

There were two options. Go back and get them, assuming he could remember where he’d discarded them, or continue on like he was to this meeting.

It’s not like I called the cops to come out here. He’s interrupting my day. Why do I care if I’m wearing shoes? Why should I care? He may not even be a he. I suppose women can be detectives.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he should care. That would be the proper thing to do. Quite honestly, he didn’t give a f*** about social niceties. That’s what Marshall was for.

Pushing his hands into his pockets, he walked through the back of the studio to the front. Marshall pointed one finger off to his left and Anthony followed.

The man, and it was a man, stood before one of his favorite pieces. A scene in Italy, a seashore.

“Why are you here?”

Beside him, Marshall cleared his throat, softly. Anthony knew what it was, a reminder to be better behaved. Be polite. Sociable.

The man didn’t start, just slowly turned toward him, expression composed. Sharp green eyes lasered out from angular features. Deep red hair with a smattering of gray at the temples. The clothing was typical detective wear—a suit.

“Anthony Henson?”

His voice rolled from him like a slow-moving wave, not anything to knock you over but you sure as hell knew it had been there.

“That’s who you asked to see. Why else would I be standing here?”

Marshall stepped between them. “I’m sorry, Detective. Yes, this is Anthony Henson. Anthony, this is Detective Liam Rourke.”

There was a look in Marshall’s gaze. It took him a moment before it clicked. Marshall was reminding him not to be so short.

“How can I help you?”

It grated he had to ask that, but Marshall smiled at him and that made it worth it. Being able to make Marshall smile and relax was something Anthony enjoyed doing. He didn’t have a lot of friends. There were people, acquaintances who pretended to like him because of who he was and his wealth and of course his connections, or at least those they thought would help them. But he wasn’t stupid, no matter what those same people said behind his back. He knew they were trying to use him.

The bottom line was, he didn’t give a f*** about them. But Marshall…he was different. The man had been his friend since they’d first met. He’d taken beatings standing up for Anthony and never got offended when Andrew’s bluntness had things falling from his mouth that should have been withheld.

So, no matter how he didn’t want to do something, if Marshall asked him, he would do it. He hid a smirk and tried to give the visitor his attention. It wasn’t easy. This detective was handsome.

“I’m here with a couple of questions about burglaries that have been going on at some of the local galleries.”

Anthony watched and waited, bare toes curling on the cool floor. The eyes held him. That shade of green wasn’t something he’d seen before.

He wanted to paint it.

I want to paint him.

Detective Rourke gave a small nod and pulled out a flip steno pad. “Has there been any trouble here? Any people in here that may be casing the joint under the pretense of looking at the art?”

With any movement, Anthony waited. As did the detective. The man didn’t speak, just held his gaze.

About the Author: Hayden West lives in the Pacific Northwest, enjoys being outdoors, and hanging out with friends when not working on the next novella to be released.

Find Hayden at their website and blog.

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Griffin Days and Pixie Nights by Bailey Bradford – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Bailey Bradford, who is celebrating the recent release of Griffin Days and Pixie Nights, the third book in the Fire & Flutter series. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

The kingdom’s most focused griffin shifter and its slackest pixie. It’s a match made in what the hell?

Gage is the most dedicated of the kingdom’s powerful griffin shifter Guardians. He’ll do anything to close a case…even if his commander says not to. Now Gage is fuming. Being reassigned to the World Magic Convention is bad enough. Babysitting the keynote speaker is worse. But the absolute pits? He has to work with a good-for-nothing pixie!

Daire the pixie is a lazy ne’er-do-well chancer…one who’s failed to charm his green-eyed, pointed-eared way out of trouble this time and is on his last chance. Being given community service is crap. Doing it as local liaison at some stupid convention is even crappier. But the crappiest of all? He has to work with a stick-up-his-ass griffin!

Sparks blaze, the pair get into a heated fight…and have the hottest sex ever. And that’s just their first meeting. Morning brings not just shock and remorse, but the loss of the VIP they were guarding, kidnapped while they were…busy. Hells! But Gage has never failed on a mission yet, and Daire doesn’t want a prison stretch, so there’s only one thing to do.

Form the unlikeliest partnership ever and solve the case themselves.

And try not to have sex or kill each other along the way…

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of slightly off-page body piercing, med fet, and the use of hypnosis and spells.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Sir!” The guard on duty outside the two-room suite in the Griffin Guardians HQ sprang to attention at Captain Gage’s approach. He snapped out a smart salute, but his hand fell when Gage didn’t march past but instead stood waiting in the corridor. “Sir…?” he repeated, uncertainly.

“As you were.” Gage jerked his head to one side, illustrating how he wanted the corporal—returned to his position in between the doors and not in front of one of them.

The guard took a quick glance at the sheet of parchment paper pinned to the board on the wall. “Captain, you’re not listed as—”

“Stand aside, Corporal.” Gage added a raised eyebrow to the emphasis he placed on the last word and the junior officer recoiled.

Some officers might have raised their voice, or tapped their uniform badges, drawing the corporal’s attention to the greater number of feathers displayed. That would have reminded the junior who was of a higher rank in the Griffin Guardians, the kingdom’s elite federal law enforcement agency that griffin shifters ran and dedicated their lives to.

Gage never wanted or needed to pull rank, either here inside the HQ or outside. His height and breadth, coupled with his implacable, unflinching manner did it for him. Now was no different—the corporal not only scuttled to one side, but opened the door for him and saluted again. Gage murmured his thanks. While he liked how the junior officer had assessed and regrouped, he didn’t like that a situation demanding such a response existed.

The list displayed outside in the corridor was a symbol of all that was going the wrong way in the Guardians, in Gage’s opinion. This bureaucratic keeping account of which griffin shifter was assigned to which aspect of which case in which room at which time was getting out of claw.

What had Colm said last week? “Pretty soon admin will be assigning us times for bathroom breaks, and probably make us sign in and out of the stall if we take a dump.” It had been a joke, but Gage hadn’t laughed. Not many of them had.

The two first lieutenants on duty in the observation room sprang to their feet, shooting puzzled looks at each other when Gage marched in, but both sat when Gage waved them down.

“Don’t worry. I’m not here to supervise how you’re implementing some new directive that came into force five minutes ago or check if you’re reaching your latest performance targets,” he told them, trying to sound lighter than he felt.

He made straight for the mirror-pane that divided this small room from the equally small but brighter room beyond.

It was a light-mirror, meaning that he couldn’t use it to see his reflection, but he wasn’t there to do that. He knew his uniform would be clean and crisp—Guardians’ uniforms were designed that way—just as his blond hair, short back and sides and longer on top, was regulation length and cut. He bet his face bore the same narrow-eyed, focused look it always did. What he wanted was to look through the light-mirror to its other side.

But what he didn’t expect was that the moment his gaze found the prisoner in the interrogation room, the prisoner would raise his head and stare back at him through the glass.

“The hells?” First Lieutenant Antonin exclaimed. His chair scraped on the floor behind him as he joined Gage. “He can’t see through the glass?”

“He’s a mage,” Gage reminded his fellow officers, spitting the words out. “Who knows what these magic users can do?” His revulsion left a sour taste in his mouth as he continued, “His powers have been dampened, yes?”

“As much as the regs allow, Sir.” First Lieutenant Sandrine joined them at the mirror, giving a choked-off exclamation when the prisoner sent a mocking finger-wave her way.

Gage swore. “This tricky bastard needs neutralizing, stat.”

“I’m afraid we can’t, Sir. Not until the request’s been approved and stamped by two duty officers and the prisoner’s been examined and cleared by the HQ physician.” Antonin tucked his chair back into the table.

“New regulations, Sir,” Sandrine added.

Both Antonin and Sandrine sounded apologetic, but it wasn’t their fault, nor were they telling Gage anything he didn’t know. Neither of those things made the information easier to hear, or the situation any easier to bear, however. Gage’s hand had formed into a fist, and he exhaled as he opened it flat again, wishing he could huff away all the irritation and frustration he was feeling as easily.

Few people could say, their hand on their heart, that they loved their job, and Gage would never say that either, because being a Griffin Guardian was more than a job to him. The corps was his life, and he took pride in the knowledge that he’d given the organization his all since joining the Guardians thirty years ago. That’s good…isn’t it? Laudable? Because lately he’d begun to feel that, well, perhaps it wasn’t.

He hauled in those stray thoughts. If he was feeling that there could perhaps be more to his life, it was because every moon-cycle seemed to bring with it new guidelines and directives, most of them aimed at giving what Gage still thought of as the lesser beings ‘representation’ or ‘a voice’ and making sure the higher beings—sorry, winged beings—didn’t abuse what was becoming increasingly seen as their position of privilege.

Gage wasn’t political or even very aware of interspecies politics. All he knew was that the new social climate made it increasingly hard for him to perform his duties, thanks to the ‘accountability’ and ‘visibility’ and every other hells-be-damned ‘ility’ the Equality Awareness Office dreamed up, and hamstrung the entire corps with, from its five-feathered general down to its lowliest private.

“Rules are one thing,” he muttered. He liked rules. Lived by rules. Wished all the species did, that they followed the same ones as the griffin kingdom did. The griffins’ codes of conduct and honor were revered throughout the plane, as was their ability to impose order, making them the natural choice for a federal law enforcement species. A mission undertaken is a mission accomplished. It was no coincidence that this was the Guardians’ motto. “Rules keep things safe.”

“I’m so sorry about Captain Colm, Sir,” Sandrine said, perhaps catching Gage’s last words.

Gage gave her a brusque nod in acknowledgment. He was sorry too. He’d had Colm as partner for the last ten years of his three decades in the Griffin Guardians, and they worked together well. Colm was as reliable and committed to getting the job done as Gage could want. There were always risks, in the job they did, of course, but to think that that contemptuous bastard sitting there—

“It was an accident. And I have no idea why he was chasing me. Why either of them were, these winged shifter beasts, whatever they were. Dragons, right?”

The mage’s voice held defiance and there was triumph in the gaze he leveled at Gage through the glass as he spoke. But when he added a derisive kiss to the end of his sentence, Gage was out of the observation room and into the one next door almost before he was aware of moving or that he’d had all he could take. He had an assignment and he would do what it took to see it through. That was the way he operated. How he saw the world.

“Out,” he ordered the second lieutenant in the interrogation room before the officer had gotten out the S of Sir. “Now!” he snapped. He rounded on the prisoner the second the door was closed, his eyes narrowed. “So. It’s just you and me now, scum.”

“I’m a mage,” the prisoner snarked. “Which means that I’m—”

“Oh, excuse me. Mage scum,” Gage snapped. “A mage scum con artist who used his ‘magic’ to rob money-vaults and businesses, having found a way around the thief protections. One who I came to question, which, for the record, is why you tried to run, and in your escape, you injured my partner.” He let the fury he felt show.

“What? I did that? Well, that was wrong of me. I made a mistake there.” The mage looked down at the desk in front of him for a few seconds. When he looked up again, his eyes grew darker as he turned his head slowly toward Gage. By the time he stared full force at him, his eyes were completely black, with no white to them at all. The effect was unnerving and the revealed strength of his powers worrying. Gage braced himself.

“Because I was aiming for the both of you.” The mage got to his feet, his movements swift and jerky. Snakelike, almost. “You’re stronger than your partner, though. Colm, wasn’t it? Or isn’t it, if he’s still alive? Pity. A two-for-one hit-and-destroy would have saved me time and effort.”

“Like you’ve saved us time and effort?” Gage kept his voice quiet when he wanted to yell at this piece of troll shit. “By confessing?” He smirked.

“Oh, if only anyone had witnessed it, either visually or audibly.” The mage pulled a pitying face. “If only the mirror-glass hadn’t silvered, and the listening holes hadn’t all blocked.” He gave Gage time to take in his meaning.

What—? Gage took his eyes off the prisoner to throw a glance at the light-mirror and the conduit holes below it.

“Because without a record of this, it’s like I was never here, griffin. And that being the case, I think I’ll be off.” The mage moved.

Instantly, Gage took a step forward to block him. “Oh, we just let you walk out of here, do we?” he scoffed.

The mage shrugged, as if he didn’t care, then brought his hands up at lightning speed and weaved his fingers in a quick, complex pattern. “A state of balance or a lack of motion,” he began, his voice low, and his eyes glowing a molten silver. Before Gage understood or could make him cease, he continued, his volume getting louder with each word, “A slowing or stoppage of a flow.”

He brought his hands together on the last word, the clap loud, and the stasis spell he’d cast hit Gage like a punch to the stomach. It didn’t have him staggering backward or knock him onto his ass like a physical blow would, though. Instead, it trapped him in place, unable to move. With a caw of triumph, the prisoner thumbed his nose at Gage, opened the door and walked out.

No. No no no! We should have neutered him, regulations be damned! Gage heaved in a breath, fighting with all his strength. That troll-dung mage had said Gage was stronger than his partner, which was true, but not true enough. Gage was stronger than any Griffin Guardian currently in the corps or in its records. He trained and honed the strength and resistance in his muscles and sinews and mind and spirit, increasing year-on-year what he could battle—and defeat.

Fighting the spell cast on him was like pulling himself along a too-narrow corridor whose walls were lined with broken glass, but he ignored the jagged shards ripping into him and actually—he saw, glancing down—rending his uniform and cutting his flesh. The pain barely registered and any spots of blood staining the gray tunic and pants vanished, just as rips in the fabric disappeared.

With one final almighty heave Gage was free. Panting, he shook off the remains of the stasis bind to hurl himself to the door. The mage was at the end of the corridor by now, and there was enough of his residual power left dusted on Gage for Gage to see the outline of the shield spell the prisoner had cloaked himself in.

The pull of the magic used snapped from its victim to its caster, the rogue mage who stopped in his tracks and turned around. The drop of the prisoner’s jaw on seeing Gage free was the only amusing thing about the situation. The mage whipped around again and broke into a run.

“Stop!” Gage yelled, and the command in his voice had everyone freezing…everyone except the one he wanted to, the one who was making for the large window at the end of the corridor.

The mage ran faster, gathering speed and power. If that didn’t give a hint about his escape plan, the hissed incantation and his hand outstretched toward the window did. A crack and the glass was gone. It hadn’t shattered, but vanished, leaving the window frame gaping empty. The mage had already demonstrated an affinity with glass, but Gage had no intention of letting the bastard use it as an exit route. He sped up too.

“Captain, you can’t!” Second Lieutenant Ralnd yelled behind him.

Oh, but Gage could. This was his case and he was doing whatever it took to close it.

Whatever it took.

About the Author A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn’t happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey’s brain demanding to be let out.

Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey’s office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey’s presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.

First for Romance Author Page | Goodreads

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The Earl’s Spark by Aliyah Burke – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Aliyah Burke, author of The Earl’s Spark, the third book in the Heart’s Compass series, which released today. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

One spark can set the world ablaze.

Phillip Vallence, Earl of Edais, has moved to the island of Eden to personally oversee his new plantation. When he learns that his books were being done by the mysterious Fyre, he demands a meeting, and discovers the meticulous keeper is a woman.

Gwen “Fyre” Parker loves numbers. She works at several jobs in her small town to help support her brother’s family. Upon meeting the new earl, she is pulled into working for him further.

Fleeting glances become more. Their time spent together grows and mutual feelings deepen.

Phillip wants her to choose him because she can no longer deny her feelings for him, not because of his position on the island. When she has a falling out with her brother, Phillip steps in, determined to protect her, regardless of her decision. And when he discovers there is a plot to harm people on the island he is fast considering his, he will do what it takes to protect Fyre, the island and her people. But what will be the cost?

Will he have the chance to give this woman everything she deserves and more?

Reader advisory: This book contains instances of racism, infidelity, sexism, domestic abuse, racist language, assault, murder, misogyny, prostitution, and adultery.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Phillip Vallence, Earl of Edais and current owner of the sugar and tobacco plantation Hawk’s Cove, stared at the books on the large mahogany desk he sat behind. The desk was massive even by his standards, and he loved the intricate work on the edges, along with the stamped brass ornamentation.

He sighed and pushed a hand through his hair, curling up his lip at the ever-present feel of sweat on his skin. Something that hadn’t been much of an issue most days in England. Blowing out a breath, he tore his attention from everything else that it found and placed it back onto what he needed to focus on.

The books.




All of it was boring to him. He had a man in England he’d entrusted with his estates there, but here he didn’t have anyone of his own yet. Right now he waited to go over the numbers when the man he’d summoned to look over them with him showed up.

This was a working plantation, but he didn’t have slaves. He paid a wage to every worker here and was going to continue to do so. More of a wage if he could figure out how to make sense out of the other man’s style of ledger keeping.

Otherwise, it looked like he would have to continue to pay the man to keep his books. He’d spoken to shops in the small nearby town and had confirmed he was in good standing with them all. In fact, all he’d heard was praise on how his accounts were never late.

The knock came and he bade them enter without looking away from the intricately neat printing of numbers. Phillip didn’t think his London-based steward would be on board for coming down here. Even though the weather was sublime and he had quickly fallen for the allure of this island. The sweat was something he’d had to get used to, still was in some respects, and knowing his man back home, he wouldn’t be interested in moving here.

“You requested my presence, my lord?”

He reached for his drink and sipped as he took his time gazing over Elonne. Not overly tall, his dark skin also had a sheen. The man was fit and his clothing had seen better days.

“Come in and sit down. Elonne, was it? Can I call you Elonne?”

“You can call me what you wish, my lord.”

Despite the tone and the smooth way the response fell, Phillip felt the undercurrent of tension in the words. He understood it—well, as much as a man of his station and position in life could.

His visitor remained perched on the edge of the chair as if he expected it to move back so he landed on the floor.

Phillip nudged the books toward him, the three of them that were chock full of lines overflowing with numbers and calculations that made his own head spin.

“Your books, my lord.” A slow blink as the gaze moved from him down to the books, where it hovered a moment, and back up. Not so much with fear, but with confusion as to what reason he’d had to be summoned. “Is there a problem?”

“No problem. I would just like to learn the method you used to do these so I can follow along without having to ask you to explain it all.”

“You’re not… I mean, of course, sir. I can come by tomorrow and tell you.”

His nose itched. Always had when he smelled a lie or an untruth. Leaning back in his chair, he steepled his fingers.

“Now works best for me.” He made sure to hold Elonne’s gaze when he spoke.

The man glanced down for a moment, his lips moving before he lifted his head once more. “I’m sorry, my lord. I cannot.”

He didn’t like being had. Phillip moved his fingertips so they tapped against one another. “Cannot?” he asked silkily. “Or will not?”

Knowing full well he baited the man, who seemed much more concerned than when he had first entered the room, Phillip waited. No longer the rash younger man, he’d grown a lot, partially on his own and partially because he’d had to in order to maintain his friendships. The ones that meant a damn to him.

Elonne held his gaze. The man had that much going for him at least. There wasn’t any squirming or hemming and hawing to try to buy some additional time. “Cannot, my lord.”

“Then I was misinformed when I was advised that you were the one who takes care of the estate’s books?” A layer of honey to bring him in closer.

“No, my lord.”

He flattened his lips together. “Explain this to me then.” His tone had gotten hard and carried the same ‘I am above you because of my station in life’ character that he had used on a daily basis in England. “I would really like to know how the man I had been led to believe took care of the books on my newest purchase suddenly is informing me he does not know how to teach me his method.”

“My sibling Fyre does the books. I needed to spend more time out in the fields to get the harvest in. Fyre took over and added in this new way to keep those who would come and snoop from being able to read your profits.”

Who is trying to find out about my business here?

Elonne got to his feet and approached the desk. He reached one hand out to the books but paused before there was actual touching. “May I, my lord?”

“By all means.” He waved a hand and continued leaning back in the chair. Phillip had to admit, he was intrigued. And impressed. This man was still working in the fields when he was fairly certain what he would be earning as one who took care of the books should provide him with enough.

The man turned one book toward him and placed the tip of a blunt finger along a line.

“I know that this means you are flush, my lord. This symbol means that, but I cannot tell you all the profits from sugar, tobacco or other items that are grown here. I can tell you that when we started growing and selling other items, more people came around to see how much money was being made. The book change came when we found a few visitors snooping around.”

“Snooping around.” That, he wasn’t a fan of hearing. The hardness in his gut took root and grew. It took an effort to keep his sneer contained but he did, waiting to hear what else he would be enlightened about.

There was a way out of this. He could, and would, figure it out. The directionless emotion pouring through him pissed him off. That feeling had been part of the reason he had left England. He wanted to do more. Be more.

Make something of himself, even if that wasn’t a typical urge for a member of the peerage. His friends had, and while he was still included in the circle, he was now the outlier. The one without a woman, without a cause, without any direction.

Something he wanted desperately to change.

“Where is Fyre now?”

Unease hit the man’s expression. He clearly worked hard to contain his frown, causing his forehead to wrinkle. “In town, working.”

“So there is not enough work doing the books here to keep him busy? He is also in town working?”

Something akin to shame kicked free over his features. “The books were my job, my lord. Fyre works at a few other places. I was the one who asked for the assistance in keeping your books. Fyre would never speak of what was seen here.”

Phillip thought about this discussion. He knew this island had a different mentality than some of the others he’d visited on his way here. The dynamic wasn’t just slave and owner. There were Blacks who had businesses in the port town and some, he had been told, had small farms of their own. That alone had marked this island as one of the odd ones out and he fully expected in the future there might be trouble from the other plantation owners on surrounding islands who still had slaves and were looking to always increase their own holdings.

Right now, he had to figure out this puzzle of his steward’s bookkeeping.

“Where is Fyre now?” He repeated his question.

“In town, my lord.” The answer hadn’t changed and was given without so much as a slight hesitation.

Wouldn’t divulge a location. Interesting. “And how soon will he be made available?”

“I am unsure, my lord. There are long hours to be kept.”

Regret slashed over Elonne’s face the second the words escaped. Phillip let it go. There were times and places for every battle. This wasn’t one of them. At least not for the moment.

“Very well then, we shall ride into town.”

He’d expected more of a fuss from Elonne, and was both surprised and pleased when the immediate agreement came.

Phillip sent one of his footmen to get their mounts ready and Elonne accompanied him. Once again alone in his study, he stared down at that handwriting. Neat. Precise.

He was sure Fyre kept great books, he just needed to know how to interpret them for himself. Given how scattered this place had been when he’d taken over, he wasn’t about to let any portion of this plantation not be overseen by him.

With a heavy sigh, his thoughts turned back to England and the people he’d left there. Friends? Two to three, and they were blissful in their wedded state. When he’d come here to help out a friend of his friends, he had not expected to fall in love with the island. Or her people.

All of them.

The island hummed and vibrated with a life one never saw in London. Or anywhere he’d been in England. Sure, the heat had taken a bit to get used to, but the problem of sleeping with one sheet or none seemed better to him than hoping his heating stones wouldn’t die out through the night and he would have to wake someone to tend his fire.

“My lord, your horse is ready.”

He looked up to see one of the maids standing in the doorway.

Standing, he nodded. “Very good.” He shoved the ledgers into a bag then slung it over his shoulder.

As his feet hit the wood of the veranda, he found Elonne standing by two horses, holding their reins. The worry on his face was unmistakable. No doubt in Phillip’s mind that there was a story there, but he would find out soon enough.

Stowing the books behind the saddle, he looked back at his new home while his fingers tied the bag with deft strokes. There was still work to be done, quite a bit, but for the first time in years, he had a thrum of excitement in his chest. A chance here was what had appealed to him, called to him. A chance to prove he was more than just a title.

About the Author Aliyah Burke is an avid reader and is never far from pen and paper (or the computer). She is happily married to a career military man. They are owned by six Borzoi. She spends her days at the day job, writing, and working with her dogs. She loves to hear from her readers and can be reached here. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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