His Valentine by Megan Slayer – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtul book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Megan will be awarding a bracelet made by the author and a signed swag pack to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Brandon Kidd thought he overcame his demons. He thought he’d conquered his addiction to booze and his need to be promiscuous. He thought he’d left his depression behind. Why? He met and is dating Aydin, the man who stokes his muse. But the depression and his insecurity have come back, and he’s also got to pass his annual review for his fine arts program. He’s got to get through the grueling review, open up to Aydin and have the Valentine’s Day he deserves?

Aydin loves Brandon. He sees the changes in his boyfriend and wants to help, but how do you help when you don’t know the problem exactly? To compound the problem, Brandon’s brother, Benson, has started causing trouble. Benson doesn’t want his brother to be gay, let alone in a relationship. Aydin found the strength to admit he wanted to be with Brandon. Aydin’s come into his own. Will he be enough for Brandon or will the crushing outside influence be too much to overcome?

They’ve come together for Valentine’s Day, but can the romance last?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

©2018 Megan Slayer, All Rights Reserved

“It’s Valentine’s Day. What’s on your docket?”

“I’m not sure. Aydin said something about a plan and celebration. I’m the lousy boyfriend this time. I hadn’t gotten him anything and was going to on the way home.” The tips of his ears burned. “I was so worried about the review, I kind of forgot it was Valentine’s Day.”

“You forgot?” she blurted.

“I did.” He walked beside her. “I was going to get him flowers.”

“Flowers?” She stopped in her tracks. “Are you serious?”

“He likes them.”

“Not chocolates?”

“He doesn’t like them. I thought he did, but he just ate the ones I got him for Christmas because he didn’t want them to go to waste.” When she started walking again, he fell into step beside her. “I know what he likes—now.”

“Flowers, eh?” She laughed. “And what else? Some hey-hey?” She elbowed him. “Right?”

He wasn’t about to tell her the other gift would be a blow job.

“Well, good.” She stopped at the classroom door. “I hope you have a good night.” She poked her head into the classroom. “Bye, Aydin. Have a wicked hot night.”

“That’s the plan.” Aydin left his spot on the desk and picked up the portfolio. “Ready?”

Heat slid through Brandon’s body. He couldn’t wait to get home. He’d strip Aydin down and taste every inch of him. “Yeah.”

“Good. Let’s go. I drove, so we can blow this popsicle stand.” Aydin carried the case out of the room. “Goodnight, Georgie. Do you need us to walk you out?”

“Nah, I’m meeting my friend Durand upstairs.” She waved. “Night! Do all the things I can’t do but want to watch.”

“We will,” Aydin called.

Brandon stood rooted to the spot for a second. Do all the things I can’t do but want to watch…holy shit. And Aydin hadn’t batted an eye. Damn. Excitement radiated through Brandon. He had the guy, the grade, and good friends. Now, he’d have a hot Valentine’s Day. Sweet, indeed.

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 Amazon.com.

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.

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Sweet Nothings by T Nielson – Spotlight

Long and Short Reviews welcomes T Nielson who is visiting with us today to celebrate the recent release of her newest book Sweet Nothings.

Will a bitter bite from the past spoil a sweet romance?

Tristan Love, the youngest of seven brothers, is back in his hometown. He’s left the New York food scene and an abusive relationship behind him, but he holds his love of French pastries close to his heart and is determined to put his skills to use in a bakery of his own.

Returning to his childhood home means his meddlesome brother Simon will butt into his business, but before the bakery even opens its doors, Tristan’s delectable creations have the town’s mouths watering, and Jake, a cute mechanic, asks Tristan out. It all seems worthwhile….

That is, until the bakery burns down, Jake’s criminal past comes to light, and Tristan’s nasty ex rears his head where he is decidedly not wanted.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Okay,” Jake said. “Look. Not my business but—” He swallowed. “—your ex sounds kind of like a huge bag of dicks.”

“Not nearly that much fun,” Tristan answered, and then he slapped a hand over his mouth. “Oh my God, I didn’t mean…. I don’t want you to think I talk about my exes like that. I’m not a jerk. I mean, not normally. It’s just all new and…. I guess I’m still mad about stuff.”

Jake gave him a sidelong glance. He broke off a piece of the blueberry tart with his fork and ate it. “Sounds to me like you have reason to be.”

Tristan frowned and shrugged. The thing was, Christopher wasn’t wrong. Tristan loved his baking, and he had a belief that if everyone could just taste a perfect piece of bread, a slice of cake just like grandma used to make, the right cookie or tart, all the bad things in their life would melt away for that moment. It was what had made him want to become a baker. A profession that harmed no one and brought joy to everyone was the pinnacle of existence, as far as he was concerned. And if you put on a few extra pounds, well, so be it. Small price to pay for making the world a better place.

But to Christopher bread was just a thing people needed to work off at the gym. Or, as he never tired of telling Tristan, something he needed to work off at the gym.

Jake chewed and then looked at Tristan again. “Man, I’m hungry. If you don’t want me to eat all four of these, you should tell me now.”

Tristan smiled. Even if Jake was just humoring him, that was fine. “Go for it,” he said. “You’re actually doing me a big favor. I need somebody to taste them before I put them on the menu.”

“Oh, yeah?” Jake speared the tart with his fork and dragged it onto his plate like a cat dragging a prize toy. “Whyzzat?”

Tristan shrugged. “Nothing like word-of-mouth for spreading the news.”

Jake made a noise somewhere between a choke and a laugh. “Don’t I know it,” he said.

It was the perfect segue. Now Tristan could actually say “Speaking of which, I’ve had a couple people tell me you have a past” and make it sound totally natural and normal. Tristan grabbed a chocolate tart and leaned on the work table. “So, I, um…. Look, this is awkward—”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” someone said from the front.

Tristan started, and Jake jolted upright. His fork clattered onto the plate, and they both turned toward the door. A middle-aged man in a salmon-pink dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, black tailored pants, and really shiny shoes stood beside the till. He was blond, the blond softened by the addition of a little gray, and his naturally pale complexion was offset by two splotches of red on his cheeks.

“Two days,” he said as he glared right past Jake at Tristan. Tristan felt as if someone had opened a trap door under his feet. Surprise! He was suddenly falling, stomach where his heart should be, heart in his mouth. “Two days you’ve been in town. You bought a fucking bakery, and you haven’t called Mom? What the hell, Twist? What’s wrong with you?”

“Oh God,” Tristan whispered. He looked helplessly at Jake. “This is Simon,” he said weakly.

“Brother numero uno.” Jake nodded, looking wary.

About the Author: T Neilson writes flirty, silly, contemporary m/m romance featuring recovering addicts, mental health problems, and abuse survivors. Honestly, honestly, the books are silly. I swear.

Okay, maybe they’re also a little angsty in parts. After all, T grew up in the middle of nowhere rural British Columbia, in a family where everything was totally fine and nobody was an alcoholic, so she’s used to living the angsty life. And, yeah, sometimes her books get a little heavy. But her books are also full of good things like mugs of coffee, and hamburgers on the grill, and nights at the beach, and cozy sweaters, and getting mush-mouth in front of a cutie, and his brain betraying him with a freudian slip, and that gorgeous guy he never thought he had a chance with suddenly, whoa, in his arms.

Because, I mean come on. Just because we have heavy stuff to deal with doesn’t mean we can’t get a happy ending too.

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Road Trip Frights by Vicki Reese – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Vicki Reese who is celebrating today’s release of No Tears for Darcy.

Hi! My name is Vicki Reese and I would love to extend my thanks to Marianne and Judy of Long and Short Reviews for hosting me today.

Have you ever been on a road trip and ended up on a road that scared the crap out of you? Or lost your brakes on a steep hill? I’ve been on both – and used these instances in several scenes in my book No Tears for Darcy.

The most scared I’ve ever been in a non-accident situation was on a dirt/stone road (hah!) going up a canyon outside of Wenatchee in Washington. Hubby and I were driving across country from Pennsylvania to meet our newest grandson. When my son said he lived in a canyon, that didn’t mean much of anything to me. Until I got there. The road was one car wide with steep cliff on both sides – one up, one down. And no guardrail. I have to tell you, I was not made for that kind of road trip. When I asked son what they did if one of the other residents was coming the opposite direction, he shrugged and said, “someone backs up”. I couldn’t imagine driving frontward on that road let alone backward!

The other time was as a young teen on a road trip with my parents. I was in the front seat with my dad while Mom and little brother slept in the back. We were coming down out of the mountains of North Carolina into a little town, towing a camper. I noticed my dad pumping the brakes – a lot. But we didn’t seem to be slowing down. In fact, we went faster. He downshifted to the lowest gear, which helped, and did a bunch of other stuff I didn’t understand then (but do now!). We finally drifted into town and Dad pulled into a small shopping mall and got out, leaning down with his hands on his knees. It was only much later (years) that I found out what had happened. Thank goodness my dad was a cop and knew what to do in emergencies. But it was a little touch and go there.

One other scene was loosely based on a combination of Duluth, Minnesota and a small town here in Pennsylvania. In both cases, there is a straight road on a steep hill leading to water. In icy conditions (normal in Duluth!) or without brakes, you have no choice but to end up in the water. Which I’ve seen happen in the small town in Pennsylvania (not naming names).

And people wonder why I don’t like road trips! LOL

Letting love pass them by would be a crime.
Former forensic accountant Cameron’s lost nearly everyone he’s ever loved, and now his vintage clothing shop has been broken into and trashed. When town police chief Will Carson asks an out-of-town cop friend of his for help, Cam takes one look at the dark-haired, blue-eyed detective and knows he’s in real trouble—and it has nothing to do with vandalism or murder.

Pete Minchelli is on leave from his job in Philadelphia due to a gunshot wound, but he figures he can help an academy buddy with some light police work. Plus, he’ll have a chance to experience small-town life. He’s tired of the big city and all its corruption. But he quickly discovers that not all the bad stuff happens in cities. What he doesn’t expect to find is death, treachery—or love.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Although it was barely past eleven, the streets were almost deserted in the small town. He had to smile at the difference. Back in the city, things were just getting started around ten or eleven. Here, even the two bars in town were close to closing for the night.

He slowed to a stop at a red light and noticed that his brakes seemed a bit soft. “Have to get Zeb to check them.”

He chuckled. The lights were another difference between a small town and the city. At midnight, all the traffic lights here went on flash so those few individuals on the main drag didn’t have to stop the entire length of town. The cross streets flashed red, turning them to virtual stop signs instead of full red lights.

It was an interesting contrast between the two places. Here, on nice weekends, families and groups picnicked and played at the municipal park. A wide river formed one boundary of the park and gave access to swimming or fishing in the summer and skating in the winter. It was all very idyllic, like something out of a fairy tale. Oh, he knew the small town had its problems—all towns did—but between the two, he thought he preferred the peace and quiet to the noise and bustle of the city.

He got to the intersection where he needed to turn to go to the club and lightly hit his brakes.

There was no responding slowing down. Pete pumped the brakes with the same result. Nothing. The car continued to pick up speed as it traveled down the steep incline that led to the river. Pete downshifted and kept working the brakes. It slowed the car some, but not enough. He turned off the ignition and pulled the emergency brake on. He was still moving in a relentless line for the river and the small fishing dock.

Pete looked around for something cheap to run into that wouldn’t cause too much damage. Buildings and parked cars bounded him on both sides. The park ahead was clear. The tree-shaded picnic areas were too far to the left. He judged his speed and distance. When the car hit the flat grassy area of the park, it slowed more, but again, not enough. He watched as the river grew inexorably closer. With the recent rains, the water was almost as high as the dock.

He judged the speed. With the grass to land on, he could make probably handle a jump. He yanked at the door handle, but nothing happened. The door was stuck. Nor would the window go down. The car reached the edge of the dock and splashed into the muddy water. He dug under his seat for the nightstick he kept there and swung it at the windshield. Water seeped into the car. He kept smashing at the front window as the water crept upward. Outside, it was midway up the windows. Finally the glass shattered and water rushed in. He climbed out over the dash. His shin caught the edge of the window, and he swallowed more than a mouthful of dirty water when he gasped. He was already several dozen yards downstream from the dock in the fast-flowing current. He climbed onto the roof and propelled himself toward the bank.

About the Author:Vicki Reese has been married forever to the one person who accepts that she lives in a fantasy world most of the time. She’s even been seen at the beach building worlds for her stories. In addition to creating suspenseful situations or fantasy worlds, she is very good at boring things like writing procedures manuals and continuity spreadsheets, both of which she actually earned money doing. With a master’s in library science, she likes things organized. Okay, so her family thinks having the spice rack alphabetized is a bit much, but she has no problem finding what she needs when she needs it. And just because her extensive library is catalogued and organized by the Dewey Decimal system doesn’t mean she’s obsessive. Honest!

When not writing, Vicki can be found in the kitchen cooking up gluten free/lactose free/allergy free goodies for her family, or just watching the world go by from her front porch swing.

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Top Five Things to Do When I’m Not Writing by Parker Foye – Guest Blog

 

Hello! And thank you to Long and Short Reviews for hosting the first spot of my tour to celebrate the release of my new novel, Mage of Inconvenience.

Today I’m sharing my top five things I like to do when I’m not writing. They might not be things I get to do super often, but they’re things I try to find time for as much as I can.

 

  1. Swordfighting! I got into HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) when I lived in Vancouver a couple years ago, and I’ve been lucky to find clubs in places I’ve lived since. I mean, yes, I totally started because I wanted to say I can swordfight! But I really enjoy the coupling of physical challenge and research nerdery.
  2. Drinks! … Not like that. When it comes to menus, pass me the beverages every time. Maybe it’s due to the dark days of my barista past, but I’m love trying new drinks. At the moment, I’m all about tea – I brought nearly twenty different types back from my last trip!
  3. Kickboxing! Kickboxing and Muay Thai gyms are way easier to find than HEMA clubs, so I get to do this more often. Some gyms can be intimidating, but once you’ve found ‘your’ gym, they’re super supportive and an amazing workout. Spinning elbow strike, anyone?
  4. Going on adventures! Confession: I’m a sucker for coupon sites. If I go somewhere new, I search for ‘experience days’ and the like. Recently, I’ve had chance to do brewery tours, walk with alpacas, and – personal favourite – husky sledding. In the UK.
  5. Reading! I mean of course, right?

And the best part about this Top Five? Sometimes I manage to convince myself they’re research…

Can they find the magic in a practical union?

West is on the run from his werewolf pack, but if he cannot renew his magical defenses, he won’t get far. What he needs is a mage….

Julian is part of a wealthy and ancient family, and one day, his legacy will include his mother’s vast library of spell books—and the knowledge he needs to correct his past mistakes. But his inheritance comes with a stipulation: he has to be married before he can collect. What he needs is a husband….

West and Julian can help each other, and at first they don’t want anything further. But as they dodge meddling cousins, jealous rivals, and an insidious drug, it becomes clear that their lives are entwined in ways they never imagined—and they’re in greater danger than they thought possible.

 

About the Author: Parker Foye writes speculative-flavored romance under the QUILTBAG umbrella and believes in happily ever after, although sometimes their characters make achieving this difficult.

An education in Classics nurtured a love of heroes, swords, monsters, and beautiful people doing stupid things while wearing only scraps of leather. You’ll find those things in various guises in Parker’s stories, along with kissing (very important) and explosions (very messy). And more shifters than you can shake a stick at.

Used to living out of a suitcase, Parker is currently of fixed abode in the UK but still travels regularly via planes, trains, and an ever-growing library.

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The Year My Mother Let Me Read Romances by Sarah Black – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Sarah Black who is celebrating today’s release of American Road Trip. You can read our review of it here.

The Year My Mother Let Me Read Romances

In 1972, my dad was transferred down to Key West to go to Submarine School. We moved halfway through the school year, and I was sent off to St Mary’s for the rest of sixth grade. I was happy to be out of Pascagoula, Mississippi. I didn’t fit in. I thought Key West was right up my alley. I tried to read some Ernest Hemingway to get ready but nothing he wrote made any sense. Mother was reading Tennessee Williams.

It turned out the nuns at St Mary’s were not as free spirited in regards to uniform regulations as I was hoping. They did not appreciate my rainbow knee socks, the ones I wore to honor Janis Joplin. In fact, they pulled me out of class and made me sit on a bench outside the office until my mother could pick me up.

On the plus side, we could wear our Girl Scout uniforms on Wednesdays. My next opportunity I rolled up the hem and taped it to a reasonable 1972 level with Scotch tape. Then I climbed a tree on the playground and waited for an interesting boy to show up. One did, and he had red hair and a cigarette lifted from his dad. The nuns were not amused at this, either, and called Mother to come get me again.

Mother might have been on their side regarding the taped hem, but the nuns had made a couple of mistakes. First, she overheard the office staff referring to us as “transients” when we were enrolling. That did not sit well. Then the nuns gave me a group of placement tests, and I scored off their charts. So they asked me if I had been cheating, and did I need to go to confession? No, I did not, and I told them I did not need to cheat because I was smart and their tests were easy. They called my mother and reported both the tree and Girl Scout uniform incident, and told her I had been caught cheating. And she said she didn’t believe it. I didn’t need to cheat, because I was smart, and a reader.

Then they made their second mistake. A nun laughed at the idea that I was smart, and a reader. So my mother brought my library list to the office. I was back on the bench outside, my usual spot. My mother must have been working on her speech as she drove to the school, because she lit in the moment she hit the office door. She didn’t speak to me; just pointed a finger that I took to mean ‘don’t move.’ She described the history of my reading life, the libraries in which I owned a card, my current books from the local library, and the books the family owned, at great expense, including a set of Great Books that had been saved when a hurricane blew our house down because they had been wrapped in plastic and put up high because the Great Books, and all books, were more valuable to us that anything else.

It was a great speech, and unfortunately the nuns were then able to hit back regarding the tree and the red headed boy and the cigarette. Mother was game, though. She said she would deal with it, because she was the parent, and they were never again to misunderstand that they had a reading prodigy in their midst.

In the car on the way home, her fingers were white on the steering wheel, and she avoided looking at the taped hem on my Girl Scout uniform. She asked me if I was starting to be interested in boys. I said yes. She asked if I had any questions. At this point, I was worried she was going to snap the steering wheel in two. I wondered when I could start dating, and she said she would let me know. She said in the meantime, she thought it would be okay if I started reading some romances. There were several Victoria Holt books she had read, and I might like to read The Mistress of Mellyn or The Bride of Pendorric.

American Road Trip, out March 16 from Dreamspinner. A free epilogue, Tino Takes the Cake, will be available free on the Dreamspinner blog on release day!

A single moment—or a single mistake—can change everything.

When Captain James Lee Hooker and his lover, Sergeant Easy Jacobs, were in the Army, they made a mistake that got a young soldier hurt. Three years later, they’re civilians again, living far apart, haunted by what they lost. Now that young soldier needs their help.

With his grandmother’s one-eyed Chihuahua riding shotgun, James Lee climbs into Easy’s pickup for a trip across the American Southwest. They set out to rescue a friend, but their journey transforms them with the power of forgiveness.

About the Author: Sarah Black is a writer, a reader, an artist, a veteran, and a mom. She has been a Lambda finanlist and nominated for a Pushcart.

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Where My Stories Come From by Andrew Grey – Guest Blog


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Andrew Grey who is visiting with us to celebrate the recent release of Running to You, an M/M contemporary romance from Dreamspinner Press.

I get asked a lot where I get my stories from and the best answer I can give is that I have some kind of well of them deep in my soul and they bubble up through it. I know it sounds enigmatic, but it’s the best answer I have. Usually when I’m working on a story and as I draw to the end, another set of characters begins pushing their way forward in my head. I can actually see them putting their hands up sometimes saying, “its my turn now.” I love it when that happens because it means that all is right with the world and my head is ready to flow from one story to the next. That doesn’t always happen and there are times when I have a sot back, take a few days, talk to Dominic a lot, and find something that will spark an idea. Running to You was one of those stories that took a little searching for, but once it found me, Billy Ray and Carlos really bowled me over completely and took my breath away. Love truly can bloom in the depths of winter.

Home, love, and possibilities he never imagined are waiting for Billy Joe to claim them. But first he needs to escape the horrors of his past.
A twisted act of cruelty and prejudice drives Billy Joe from his Mississippi home, and he makes it as far as Pennsylvania—where his car breaks down just as the year’s first snowstorm blows in. Fortunately, Carlos is there to lend a hand.

Carlos is no stranger to hardship. His family rejected him for being gay, but with determination, he put himself through school and became a librarian. Carlos sees the same willpower in Billy, and he wants to help Billy and his son succeed in a new life that is very different from the one they left behind. With his support, they start to adjust, and before long, both men want more than encouragement from each other. They want the chance for a future together, but their families have other ideas… and Billy’s will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Enjoy an Excerpt

As they passed into Pennsylvania, the snow began coming down faster. The day was growing to an end, the light fading fast. He checked the map at a rest area and intended to make it to Harrisburg before stopping. It was maybe an hour away, and he knew he’d be able to find a place to stay. Tyler was hungry, so Billy Joe passed him a few crackers and a bottle with a little juice inside, and kept going.

The snow grew thicker, reminding Billy Joe of how unfamiliar he was with driving on roads like this. At home, the few times it had snowed, everyone just stayed inside until the sun melted it away again and then went on with their business. This snow didn’t seem like it was going to behave that way.

He saw the sign for Shippensburg and got off the highway, traveling very slowly. He drove into a business area and pulled into the Walmart parking lot. Billy Joe wrapped Tyler in a blanket and carried him into the store, where he found the section for winter wear and bought them each a warm coat. Then he got them something to eat, and they returned to the car. He made it back to the freeway, intending to continue the last little bit for the night, when the car lurched and then cut out.

Billy Joe coasted to the side of the road and pulled to a stop as all the lights inside the car went dark. The wipers stopped and snow built up on the windshield and back window, the cold creeping in as the heat ceased blowing in.

“I’m cold,” Tyler said after a few minutes.

“I know, honey.” He got the blanket and put it over him, trying to figure out what to do. He needed to get help and had his phone, but who did he call? Billy Joe was well away from anyone he might know, which was good and bad. He didn’t want to call the auto club in case his parents could trace him. He was just about to give up and call anyway when headlights appeared behind him, coming to stop.

About the Author:Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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Top 5 Things I Wished I’d Known by Laura Lascarso – Guest Blog and Giveaway


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Laura Lascarso who is visiting with us to celebrate the recent release of When Everything is Blue. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Top 5 Things I wished I’d known before I was published and one bonus!

1. There be rejection. I had been warned going into publishing that rejection is a part of the process, but I was continually surprised at both the volume of rejections and the range of reasons why my work was getting rejected. I’ve since moved from mainstream to indie publishing, which has significantly improved my spirits, but in the meantime it never hurts to build up a thick skin.

2. Grow your readership. I was fortunate to be published by mainstream fairly early on in my career, but I didn’t do much to cultivate a readership, thinking the majority of the marketing would fall on the publisher. Unfortunately, when my debut novel didn’t take off, my publisher wasn’t all that invested in growing my readership, which meant I had to start all over.

3. There will always be someone prettier than you. Yeah, so jealousy is a thing as much as we wish we were all so far above it. It’s hard sometimes to see others’ success and not ask yourself what you are doing wrong (or what they are doing right). I’ve learned that it’s best to focus on what I can control, which is the quality of my storytelling, and that if I work hard enough, one day my prince will come.

4. Celebrate your successes, aka treat yo’self. This is a really important thing for writers to do for each other and for themselves. Publishing books can mean long hours (after your regular day job) for not a lot of monetary reward, so whenever something goes your way, take a moment to pat yourself on the back and thank whomever helped you achieve it.

5. Take time off. As much as I wished at times I was a machine, I am not, and in order to sharpen the saw, it is necessary to let my creative fields lie fallow in order to reap the benefits of next season’s harvest. Did I fit enough clichés in there? It must be time for me to take a vacation!

6. (Bonus) If you build it they will come. Stay focused on your craft and the story you want to tell. Everyone has their own style, preference and rules that they follow. Be true to your vision and who you are as an artist, and your work will find its readership.

Sometimes the people we need most aren’t bonded by blood but by something deeper.

When they were kids, golden boy Chris Mitcham rescued dweeby Theo Wooten from the neighborhood bullies and taught him how to “be cool.” Now, years later, Theo’s developed feelings for his best friend that “arise” at the most inopportune times. Theo hates lying to Chris, but in coming out, he might lose the one person who understands him best, a risk he’s not willing to take.

When a relationship with another young man goes south, Theo is forced to confront his own sexuality along with his growing attraction to Chris and the stunted, tenuous relationship Theo has with his father. Will Chris abandon Theo when he learns the truth, or will he stand by him in this tumultuous season of self-discovery? In this quirky coming-of-age romance, Theo’s path to manhood is fraught with several awkward firsts, a few haters, but also the tender comfort of an unexpected lover.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Be Cool

Being horny and almost sixteen is the absolute worst.

Take it from me, Theodore Wooten III, resident expert in the spontaneous boner. The cause of my lovesickness: Christian Mitcham. The cure: hell if I know.

With his sun-bleached hair, warm brown eyes, and devil-may-care attitude, people gravitate to Chris like sugar ants on a soda can, me included. He’s been my best friend since sixth grade when some neighborhood punks held me down on the sidewalk and tried to spit in my eyes. Chris called them off and threatened to beat their asses even though he was outnumbered and outgunned. I guess they believed in his conviction. I know I did.

“Chris is back.”

My twin sister, Tabitha, rushes into my room, even though the door was mostly closed. When we moved into this apartment, the owner paid a contractor to split the master bedroom into two bedrooms, so that we could each have our own room. Tabs got the en suite bathroom, and I got the window. Considering the view overlooks Chris’s property, where he can often be found strutting around shirtless in the wild, it now seems like a fair trade.

“You’re supposed to knock,” I grumble. My gut is a brew of excitement and nerves at the knowledge that Chris is back. My feelings toward my best friend have become more complicated over the past year or so. I’d hoped a summer apart would simplify things.

“I did knock, Theo. You just didn’t hear me,” says Tabs, she of the last word.

I was watching some skate videos online with my cans on. The music was loud, but not that loud. I toss my tablet on the bed, stand, and stretch, delaying the inevitable.

“Oooh, he looks good,” Tabs says as she opens my window, piquing my interest even more. “Buff and tan. He’s been working out.”

“Probably just surfing.” A cloud of swampy Florida air envelops me as I steal a glance over her shoulder. She’s right. He’s even more godly than two months ago. Lucky bastard doesn’t even need to try. Ever since Chris turned thirteen, his muscles have been bursting out like microwave popcorn. He lifts a burger to his mouth and sprouts biceps, sits up in bed and boom, there are his abs. Meanwhile, I grow taller and lankier and have to deal with my mom telling me to stand up straight or I’m going to get scoliosis, which I’m pretty sure isn’t how that disease works, but it’s hard to argue with my mom when she thinks she’s right.

My sister calls down to Chris. He’s carrying a new surfboard—midnight blue, probably a gift from his dad. He glances up and lifts his free hand in a friendly wave.

My gut twists in a nausea-inducing way. The feelings are still there, the sharp knife of longing that slices down my sternum and scrambles my guts. I lift one hand in greeting and hope I’m far enough away so he can’t see anything unusual on my face.

“Come down,” Chris calls. “Bring your suits.”

I’m already wearing my board shorts and a T-shirt. Standard summer attire. We live close enough to the beach that I can bike or skate there, even though my mom hates me going through all the traffic. Sometimes I just go to skate along the sea wall and smell the ocean. It reminds me of Chris.

The twist in my stomach coils into a hard knot of anxiety at the thought of our reunion, but it’ll be weird if my sister goes and I don’t. Plus, I’ve missed him like crazy. I got so bored this summer, I was finally able to nail a nightmare flip on my skateboard. Something to add to my college applications.

“Be right down,” Tabs calls to Chris, then bounces out of my room like a happy Pikachu. My sister’s always been the cheerful, outgoing one. I’m slightly sour.

I glance back out the window to find Chris still looking up at me. Of course I’ll be down. As if there was ever a question. I always do what Chris tells me. And until recently, I’ve been happy to do it. I trust him to know what to do in just about any situation.

Me, not so much.

I trail behind Tabs across our driveways and through the gate into his backyard. He’s laid out on a lawn chair, shirtless of course. His hair’s gotten longer. He likes it that way, so he can tuck it behind his ears. He’s got a deep summer tan, and his abs are even more ripped than when he left for summer a couple of months ago. His sunglasses are reflective so I can’t see his eyes. I worry he can tell I’m checking him out, so I stare at the shrubbery instead.

“What is this, a race?” Chris rises from the lawn chair to give me our usual bro-hug. He means my height. I must have grown two inches over summer, but I didn’t realize the difference until I have to lean down a little to embrace him. I catch a whiff of his hair—a mixture of sunshine, salt spray, and coconut shampoo. His skin is warm and feels good in my palms—dangerously good.

Chris hugs my sister too and asks her if she highlighted her hair. She did. He tells her he likes it, and my sister’s smile cracks wide open. We have good teeth, my sister and I, bright white and straight thanks to orthodontia. Our dad’s a dentist and our mom’s a dental hygienist. Our smiles are the one trait people say we have in common, though they probably see a lot more of Tabs’s teeth than my own.

“I wish my hair was your color naturally.” Tabs tugs at Chris’s golden locks playfully, which draws another deep chuckle from him. I study the flecks of quartz in the concrete and try to ignore the fact that my sister is flirting with my best friend. And she’s doing a really good job of it.

About the Author: Laura Lascarso wants you to stay up way past your bedtime reading her stories. She aims to inspire more questions than answers in her fiction and believes in the power of storytelling to heal and transform a society. When not writing, Laura can be found screaming “finish” on the soccer fields, rewatching Veronica Mars, and trying to convince politicians that climate change is real. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband and two kids. She loves hearing from readers, and she’d be delighted to hear from you.

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My Five Top Movies by S.E. Harmon – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes S.E. Harmon who is celebrating today’s release of The Blueprint. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of three paperback copies of the book.

Hi all! Thanks to Long and Short Reviews for having me and helping me celebrate the release of The Blueprint. Coming up with a list of top 5 favorite anything was more challenging than I thought it would be! I didn’t want to get too random, so I decided to share my top five movies. This list is in no particular order because there’s no way I could pick a favorite (I’m lucky I was able to narrow the list down from 100).

1. The Princess Bride- What can you say about this film? I refuse to believe someone out there hasn’t seen this yet. It’s a classic. The end. Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

2. The Avengers- I’m a Marvel universe fan-girl, so really you could put any of their superhero movies in this category. I love superheroes and no one does it better than Marvel. They also manage to insert a little tongue-in-cheek humor in their script, which I really appreciate. Tony Stark delivers the best lines.

3. Jurassic Park- You can’t really match the movie theater majesty of seeing those dinos for the first time. Who’s going to be served with A-1 sauce? What will those pesky raptors learn how to do next? How many times can one freaking T-rex save the day? And once again, there was that tongue-in-cheek humor in the dialogue that I love. Favorite line? “Yeah, but, John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”

4. The Sound of Music
Because…Julie Andrews. I also love to sing and yes, I do know the words to all the songs. I do a pretty good goatherd if I do say so myself. And if Christopher Plummer singing Eidelweiss doesn’t make you sigh a little, you’re a bot and must be destroyed.

5. Rambo
You don’t want to watch the first three Rambo movies with me—I can (and do) quote them all. He’s damaged and lethal and has a big heart. If you’re stuck in some sort of enemy prison, he’s the guy you want on your side. My favorite is undeniably the first one—what seems like just a simple shoot-em-up movie is really a commentary on how America treated their soldiers (at the time), and the mental damage of vets who return from war. And a special shout out to Richard Crenna, who made a fabulous Colonel Trautman.

So there it is. Everything you never wanted to know about my movie likes. Do we have some of the same favorites?

Kelly Cannon is generally satisfied with his life—he has a great job that he loves, friends, and a wonderful family. But his love life has reached a new level of pitiful. Why? Well, his heart decided to break all the rules. Don’t fall in love with a straight guy. And definitely don’t fall in love with your best friend.

NFL standout Britton “Blue” Montgomery has pressure coming at him from all sides. From his father, who’s only interested in Blue’s football career. From his coaches, who just want him to play without getting injured again. The fans. His agent. His mother, who popped back up on the radar after leaving his family years ago. Now his relationship with Kelly is on shaky ground, and that frightens Blue more than anything.

When Kelly admits he’s in love with Blue, bonds are tested, and Blue has to decide what’s really important. He doesn’t want to lose the number one person in his life, but the cost to keep Kelly close might be more than he’s willing to pay.

It’s a good thing his nickname is the Blueprint—it’s time to draft a new set of plans.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I glanced down at my phone again. No missed calls, no missed texts. There was no point in redialing until Kelly was forced to get a restraining order against me. Nothing would budge him when he was being stubborn.

I wouldn’t stop by after we docked.

No matter how much I wanted to.

I was trying to give him his precious space. I scowled. Although why I was suddenly supposed to give Kelly, my best friend for practically most of my fucking life, space was beyond me. All I knew was that, a couple weeks earlier, he gave me some rambling speech about “finding himself” and “figuring some things out.” He needed time to figure out where his life was going.
I was doing my best to comply. But like most things you didn’t realize you were addicted to, staying away was easier said than done.

I would stay away. But if he didn’t answer in a couple of days, I’d track him down—in person. I sent him a text to that effect, using the word motherfucker quite liberally, and put my phone back in my pocket.

As far as threats went, two hundred and fifty pounds of irritated tight end on your doorstep was usually pretty effective.

About the Author: S.E. Harmon has had a lifelong love affair with writing. It’s been both wonderful and rocky (they’ve divorced several times), but they always manage to come back together. She’s a native Floridian with a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Fine Arts, and now splits her days between voraciously reading romance novels and squirreling away someplace to write them. Her current beta reader is a nosy American Eskimo who begrudgingly accepts payment in the form of dog biscuits.

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Captured by Ashland by Tara Lain – Guest Blog and Giveaway


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tara Lain who is celebrating the recent release of Rome and Jules. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the page for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Captured by Ashland!

Hi and welcome. I’m Tara Lain and today I’m happy dancing over the release of my new paranormal romance, Rome and Jules. Long and Short Reviews asked me to share a little about myself and specifically suggested I might tell you a favorite vacation destination. Well, that gives me an excuse to share with you a huge, impending change in my life.

You might know that I love plays and theater, and a number of years ago, I heard about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. OSF takes place in the beautiful Oregon town of Ashland, and my hubby and I planned a trip to spend several days immersed in plays. The theater is quite a big deal. It runs 9 months a year in five theaters including an outdoor Elizabethan stage, and tackles many more things than Shakespeare. We loved our trip. The theater was first rate and the town is totally charming. It’s southern Oregon, so not so rainy as the north, but it’s hilly and packed with trees. The town hosts a university and of course the OSF, so while the base population is small, it accommodates many, many tourists and students every year and provides the services that tourists like – wonderful restaurants, adorable shops – things I personally like a lot.

We went back to Ashland a few times, once taking my husband’s father. He loved the town too. There’s a beautiful creek that runs through it, a gorgeous park, not much traffic, its near an airport, and altogether support life as we like it. Though we had no idea then, when we started casting around for areas where we might make a retirement type move (he’s retiring, not me!!) we settled on Ashland. As I write this, we’ve sold our house in California, my husband is in Ashland looking at a property we like, and we’ll be Oregon residents in less than 60 days! It seems appropriate that Rome and Jules is based on Shakespeare, because old Will will be playing a very important role in my next phase of life.

Two werewolf households, both alike in dignity….

Rome Siracusa, youngest son of the alpha of the nouveau-riche Siracusa pack, wants to be a faithful son and pack member, but he’s got two big secrets. One, he’s blessed with enhanced hearing, vision, strength, and the ability to shift at will. Second, he’s gay, a fact he can’t admit to his deadly homophobic father.

Rome crashes a party at the mansion of his pack’s greatest enemy, the ancient, pure-blooded Havillands. Jules, the gay son of the drunkard alpha, is being married off to a rich entrepreneur. Smitten and moved by the beautiful male’s plight, Rome tries to find a way to save Jules—while digging himself deeper into pack politics and navigating his own arranged marriage. Secrets climb out of the caves as the werewolf gods speak through the mouths of their children, and the two great families clash, suffocating the hopes of star-crossed lovers.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Excerpt 2 – Rome and Jules by Tara Lain

Crawling through the balcony window wasn’t exactly nonconfrontational. He plopped on the grass and pressed his back against the trunk of a tree. Maybe pebbles on the window? And if it’s not his room, dumbass? It made sense he’d have the one balcony on this side of the house. Do I risk it? He’s probably still out with Asshole Anderson. Man, that idea nauseated him. He closed his eyes and bumped the back of his head against the scratchy bark.

Lights shone against his closed lids, and he flicked his eyes open. Somebody’s in that room. He rolled up to a crouch and stared at the french doors. Like he willed it, one of them opened and out walked Jules.

Whoa. Rome sucked a breath, and his alpha-advantage eyes focused clearly on the scene, even though he was many feet away. Jules’s fair hair hung onto his shoulders, shimmering in the moonlight. He’d left his shirt open, and the white fabric barely contrasted with his pale chest—the chest that showed off those surprising muscles. He leaned on the parapet and sighed. Though hardly a whisper, Rome heard it clearly. He slipped a step closer.

Jules’s head snapped up. “Is there someone there?”

Wow. Could he hear that? Think fast. “But soft. What light through yonder window breaks?” Rome stepped out from under the tree branches and stopped. If Jules was going to scream, he needed a head start on the pursuers.

Instead, Jules gave that head cock, full of curiosity and unselfconscious charm. “I’ve always liked the sun.”

Rome let his smile break free. “I thought when I saw you that your hair looks like a great fall of sunlight.”

“How poetic.”

Rome walked slowly to the foot of the balcony and gazed up at Jules. Wild overgrown vines grew on trellises, some of them hanging away from the wall with the weight of the unkempt greenery. Rome pointed toward the window in front of him. “Is there someone sleeping inside?”

“No. There’s no one else in my end of the wing on either floor.”

“How nice.”

Jules rested his forearms on the balcony rail and leaned his chin on them. “When you broke in the other night—and I still don’t know how you did that—you said you wanted to be my friend and that you were worried about me being a pawn in a political game.”

“Yes. That’s all true.”

“Umm. But I don’t have any friends who recite Shakespeare to me. At least not Romeo and Juliet.” He smiled ever so slightly.

Rome’s heart beat hard. “And what does that suggest to you?”

“That the youngest son of the rich, powerful, and very homophobic Siracusa clan… is gay.”

About the Author:
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in gay romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 40. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, Best Romantic Suspense, and more. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

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My Favorite New Mexican Slang by BA Tortuga – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes BA Tortuga who is here to celebrate the recent release of Cowboy in the Crosshairs, a Turquoise, New Mexico Story.

My Favorite New Mexican Slang

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and new New Mexican.

So, y’all know that I’m a Texan, right? Well, I’ve been in New Mexico for five years almost and I’m starting to blend in.

Seriously.

I am going out of my mind with joy with all my new colloquialisms.

OUT OF MY MIND.

I know, right? – I say this a thousand times a day now. As in: “Miranda Lambert’s all pretty, huh?” “I know, right?”

A la ve – Damn!

Chale – same as dude 😉

Red or green? – The state question. My answer is always Christmas.

Eee a la! – Wow!

Sangwich – Sandwich (or for the Texans, sammich)

Umbers! – you’re in trouble!

Mahalpyou? – May I help you?

All (insert word) – See ‘I know, right?’. All is the supreme adjective. It’s all good and all badass.

Or no? – Right? As in: You want this shirt folded or no?

Much love, y’all!

BA

***

Once upon a time, a prince lived in a magical kingdom called Turquoise, New Mexico.

Well, really, TJ is a small-town police chief. Every Friday he holds court in the diner with the local holy roller, the art colonists, and the horsey people. But the Benes, who own the rodeo company, keep to themselves. TJ knows, because he was once hot and heavy with the oldest Bene son.

When Wacey Bene gets trampled by a remuda and comes home to heal, he’s none too happy to run into TJ, or his two little boys and their momma. The story might end there—if it wasn’t for some pesky bastard trying to kill Wacey.

The law steps in, and the townsfolk are cross about somebody messing with one of their own.

But once the bad guy is put away, can TJ and Wacey make their place in this wild and eccentric town a permanent one?

About the Author: Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.

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