Jimmy by Megan Slayer – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

I call on the fates to bring my love to me. As I will it, so mote it be…

What if those simple words plus a name on a scroll could guarantee true love? Karey’s determined to find out if the spell, Summon a Bad Boy, works, and she knows just who she’s going to ask for. Jimmy McCreadie. The tattooed man makes her weak in the knees — he’s every naughty desire she’s had come to life. She’s nothing like the women he dates, and far too shy for her own good, but she’s not giving up.

Mix a bad boy with some magic and have faith. Anything’s possible. Karey’s desire just might come true.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“I want a bad boy, but not one that will do me harm. Those guys looked scary — not in a good way.”

“Agreed.” Sarah thumped her spoon on the table. “And I have a suggestion.”

Karey sat up straighter and paid more attention. Instead of their normal grumbling, someone had a plan? Good. “What is it?”

Karey admired her friends. Nikki was the sexy one. She could walk into any establishment and have men falling at her feet. They seemed to love her tall, slender appearance and deep brown eyes. Then there was Mandy. She embodied sweet-natured and cute. At just over five feet tall, Mandy was the sprite of the group. She laughed easily and smiled a lot. Natalie could be moody, but she knew how to play nearly any sport — and usually better than her male counterparts. Karey loved cheering her on at the local baseball games. Sarah was the born leader and the pushiest of the five. Her intelligence could be a hindrance or an asset, depending on how she used it. Most people saw her as pushy, but she could organize and plan like no other.

Karey sometimes wondered how she fit in with these fantastic women. She was smart, but not hyper intelligent. She loved books and observing but tended not to talk much.

“The plan?” Natalie checked her watch. “I’m late for a game.”

“Tonight, we meet at my place. I’ve found a spell that guarantees we’ll find our perfect man within the next seven days.” Sarah smiled and narrowed her eyes in triumph. “All we have to do is write down exactly what we want on a scroll, say the words of the spell, and toss the scroll into the fire. What do you think?”

“It’s guaranteed to work?” Karey didn’t believe it.

“Really?” Mandy toyed with her water glass. “You’ve had can’t-miss plans before that were duds.”

“I know, but this one is really guaranteed.” Sarah nodded. “If you’re in, be at my house at nine. I’ll have the scrolls ready.”

“You’re sure this works?” Karey asked again. “You don’t seem to have all the details.”

“Hey, where I found it says it’s foolproof.” Sarah shrugged and toyed with her scroll. “I might not have all the details, but it’s just a spell. For all we know, it won’t work. Do we really need every last piece of minutia? No.”

“Right.” Karey sighed. What did she have to lose? She lived alone, didn’t go out much, and only met people at the store. If a spell could work, then why not give it a try? If nothing else, she’d have an adventure.

Right?

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 white hot 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 nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM 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. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.

Complicating Roy by Megan Slayer – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Complication doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

Duke Charles needs a break. He’s tired of life on the road and never having a place to settle down. He decides to head to Norville for a rest in his childhood home. Once there, he realizes his life isn’t quite so relaxed—he’s not only inherited the house, but a cat to go with it. When his friend from high school sends him on a date, he finds out how complicated life can be…in a good way.

Roy Mars likes his life as an artist. He paints, sells work and takes his cat, Raphael, for walks through Norville. He channels his emotions into his art…until he goes on a date and meets Duke. His uncomplicated life gets thrown into chaos, not least because Duke has rabid fans who insist on knowing every detail of his life.

Can Roy handle a little complication in the form of Duke, or will he quit before he finds his forever?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Roy sighed. “You’re doing well with your side of the equation. I hear you’re good with your side hustle, too.” He had to ask subtly about getting a date. Unfortunately, he had no subtlety.

“My dating thing.” James laughed again. “Oh, doll, yes. I love when I pair people and it works out, but I do have a sixth sense about it. You know?”

“Yeah.” He hated sounding so withdrawn and sad, but why lie about the truth? “Would you know who to hook up with me?”

“You’re looking for a date? I thought you had a boyfriend. Not Mikael, but Donny? No, was it Bernard? Shit. Who were you dating?” James asked.

“No one. That’s why I’m asking for you to help me. I’ll pay.” He needed to do something to get out of his lonely rut.

James stopped cutting. “I don’t charge. I should, but the matchmaking is me strictly trying to find the right guy for you.”

“Do you have any suggestions?”

“I do.” James resumed styling Roy’s hair. “But I want you to trust me.”

“I do. Completely.”

“Good. I want you to go to Club Jester on Tuesday—in five days if you can’t count—at nine in the evening and go to the Viper suites. All you have to do is say you’re there because James directed it and they’ll let you back. I know Amos and he owes me, so it won’t be a problem.”

“Who am I meeting?” He tamped down his excitement. He hated blind dates, but he couldn’t wait to see who James had picked.

“It’s a surprise, but trust me that this is exactly who you need,” James said. “Think you can do that? I can tell you’re tired of being on your own. I couldn’t name your boyfriend, and I know everyone, so that means you haven’t had one for a while.”

“True.”

James spun him around to look at his reflection. “Well? What do you think?”

He never doubted James would make him look good. The cut and style worked with his face. But the date… Did he trust him? “I think I’m excited to go to Club Jester.”

“Perfect.” James removed the cape. “You’ll love him.”

“I hope so.” He didn’t take many leaps of faith, but this felt right—like he was looking at his future. It sure looked rosy.

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 white hot 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 nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM 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. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.

Newsletter | Website | Blog | Facebook | Amazon Author Page |
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Buy the book at Amazon.

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Falling for Vince by Megan Slayer – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Megan Slayer who is celebrating the recent release of Falling for Vince, the fourth book in the Love Me Do 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.

Are second chances possible when the first chance never really happened?

Vince Rhodes has loved Cody Burrows for years, but he’s never been bold enough to ask him out. This wallflower is ready to make a move, so he enlists the help of James, the resident stylist at Dye Hard Style and unofficial matchmaker, to hook him up with his crush. Vince is betting it all on Cody giving him a chance, but will he?

Cody Burrows has admired Vince since they were both in high school. While he was the solid athlete unable to come out, Vince showed his rainbow proudly. Now they’re both older and wiser…and matched up by James. Will Cody allow himself to be free with Vince and find his heart’s delight or will he keep the barriers around his heart forever?

Maybe falling for Vince is just what Cody needs…

Enjoy an Excerpt

“One more rep. You’ve got it in you.” Cody Burrows spotted for his client Bri. He didn’t want her to overstress herself, but liked how she’d pushed to the next weight level on the machine. “You’ve got this.”

She did another squat on the machine, then placed the weight back in the rack. “Damn, you’re making me work hard today.”

“If you want to make the stage this year, you need to keep up the hard reps.” He handed her a towel. “You’re building great muscle, so you should be pleased with your results. You’ve got your spray tan scheduled, right?”

“I do.” She patted down her face and shoved the stray wisps of her hair out of her eyes. “Should be Monday so it’s set for the competition on Wednesday.”

“Good.” He loved working at Workout! and helping his clients get into shape. Some people around Norville considered him a gym rat and he didn’t care. He liked the way he looked, liked helping people realize their fitness dreams and keeping the town fit.

“I’m excited for the competition. I never thought I’d do a body builder anything.” She grinned and her green eyes glittered. “Paul is so proud of me.”

“He should be. You should be proud of yourself, though. You’ve put in the hours and it shows.” Cody took the towel from her and sighed as her boyfriend crossed the room.

Bri kissed Paul on the lips and seemed to forget Cody was standing there.

Cody tossed the towel in the bin, then left the lovers to their conversation. He tamped down his jealousy along the way. Some men would’ve wanted to be with Bri—she was pretty, smart and took care of herself. But he wasn’t interested in women.

He wasn’t interested in her boyfriend, either. Paul was nice, but too much of a jock. Cody liked the quiet types. The sensitive men who liked to read and could converse with him about music. Most people saw Cody as the muscle-bound guy at the gym or the former high school athlete who’d brought Norville High School awards in cross-country and track. According to some, he had it all, but not what he wanted the most.

A relationship.

Truth be told, he was jealous of Bri and Paul, but of what they had and how they shared their passion for each other. He hated being alone and missed having someone in his life. Someone to share conversations and his bed. Someone to hold when the nights were chilly or thunderstorms rolled through. He might be forty-one, but he still feared the rolls of thunder and streaks of lightning.

“They’re so full of each other.” Ty, one of the other trainers, joined Cody at the counter. “I’d say get a room, but they’d probably do it.”

“Probably.” He logged the time with Bri on the app, then checked the calendar. He didn’t have another client today, but he’d have to come back to the gym to work the counter at six. One of these days he’d have a full day off.

“Are you working with anyone else today?” Ty asked. “You’re always booked.”

“Not this afternoon. I’m heading to Dye Hard Style to get a haircut, then back here to run the desk.” He shrugged. “Dawson says he can’t get more trainers, but he might if he’d put out a call for help wanted.”

“That’d make sense.” Ty leaned on the counter and folded his arms. “I don’t know why you’re getting a cut already. It’s barely grown out.”

“I like to keep my hair short.” His style was part of his armor. If he looked like the jock, then no one would expect much from him. He could hide behind his façade and stay safe. He’d been hurt too many times by men who thought he wasn’t bright and hated when they found out the opposite.

“You should grow it out a little. Just on top.” Ty frowned, then crossed his ankles. “You might get a date that way.”

“Who says I need a date?” Besides me?

“Me, for one. I hate seeing you so sad. You act like you’re in a good mood, but I see the way you glare at the couples. You’re lonely.”

He hated when Ty was right. “So?”

“You want someone.”

He groaned. “But I never get out of here long enough to meet someone. The guys who come in here think I’m stupid. That I’ve got muscles for brains, not actual brains.” He squeezed his phone. “I tried to date a guy I met while working out and he got upset when I knew about Mozart but not the latest basketball scores.”

“You’re not into basketball. You like football and baseball,” Ty said. “That’s his fault for not knowing what you like.”

“Ah, but that’s the thing. He didn’t take the time to get to know me. All he saw was I had muscles and could get him a cut rate to work out here.” He shook his head. He knew going in that Chad would be a dead-end, but he’d still tried…and failed.

“Chad was a dick.”

He wouldn’t argue that one. “Good thing he’s history.”

“I still think there’s someone out there for you,” Ty said. “Why not ask James at Dye Hard? He’s already cutting your hair and he’s got quite the track record for pairing guys. You could get lucky.”

“I could.” He’d considered asking James, but hesitated. What if James laughed or said no? What if he wasn’t interested in helping? Vince couldn’t handle the rejection.

“You should ask him.” Ty closed the date book on the computer. “Go. You’ll be late and James gets snippy when his clients are late.”

“I know.” He tucked his phone in his pocket, then his keys from the drawer. Since he’d be coming back, he saw no reason to take his gym bag. “I’ll be back by five.”

“Take your time. I’m on the clock until six.” Ty waved. “Go.”

“Thanks.” He hurried out of the gym, then down the two blocks to Dye Hard Style. Ty was right—he didn’t need the haircut, but he wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t connected to his work. He also rather liked the way he looked after a fresh cut. Besides, he enjoyed his conversations with James.

He hustled through the glass doors of Dye Hard Style and marveled at the new movie posters in the lit frames. He appreciated how James had left the theater looking mostly the way it had during its heyday—except now housing a hair salon. The popcorn counter featured rows of hair products and the main lobby had been turned into the guts of the salon. The bright lights added a certain feel to the room that other salons lacked.

A young man with dyed gray hair stood at the turnstile. “You’re on time.”

He should know this man’s name, but James ran through receptionists so fast it was hard to keep up. “I am.” This one knew who he was, so he should know this guy’s name. “Jack?”

“Kyson,” he snapped. “I’m working on breaking a record.”

“Oh?” Cody made his way through the turnstile. “What’s that?”

“Working here for more than a week. James is a taskmaster.” Kyson crinkled his nose. “At least he keeps my color in check. He’s waiting on you. Don’t trip on the dog.”

“I’ll be careful.” He stopped to pet James’ dog on the head. “Hi, Doob.”

James rounded the corner to greet him. “Hi.” He picked up a cape and shook it out. “He likes you. Come on over.”

The black dog swished his tail and allowed Cody to pet him a few more moments, then joined James by the chair. Doob had become a fixture at the salon and a mascot of sorts.

“He likes you, too.” Cody rested on the chair and folded his hands on his lap. “I like how you’ve trimmed him.”

“Oh that.” James draped the covering over him. “Honestly, it was to get the knots out of his fur, but it has made him extra handsome. He’s a well-behaved dog. I don’t know why no one wants to come for him.”

“Maybe they moved and couldn’t take him.” He blinked as James sprayed water on his hair. “Or he ran away and they gave up looking for him.”

“See, I don’t know how anyone would do that. He’s a good dog.” James combed Cody’s hair. “And another thing, why would you leave your dog behind? I get that maybe you can’t take him with you, but find him a home or take him to the shelter. Don’t just leave him.”

“Not everyone thinks the way you and I do.” Cody averted his gaze. He didn’t mind looking at his reflection, but not right now.

“So…we’re doing another buzz or are you willing to let me do something a little different?” James asked. “I’ve got some ideas and I know you’ll like them if you’re willing to change just a little.”

He wanted to protest and demand his usual cut, but what the hell? Why not try something new? “Go for it.”

“You’re serious?” James beamed. “Cody?”

“Why not? I’m tired of looking the same and if you’ve got an idea what to do, then do it. I mean, Jesus. I’m over forty, I’m single and I want people to take me seriously,” Cody said. “While you’re at it, will you help me?” His hands shook. Thank God the cape covered them. He hated being nervous, but this was a huge ask.

“What do you want me to do?” James narrowed his eyes, then rubbed his chin before turning Cody away from the mirror.

“Will you help me find a date?” There. He’d asked. He’d put himself out there.

“You need a date?” James massaged Cody’s scalp. “I don’t believe it.”

“Guys see my muscles and run the other way. They think I’m stupid.” He fought the urge to shake his head and held still for fear he’d mess up whatever James was doing with his hair. “If they remember me from school, they remember when I flubbed the name of the school during my signing day. They remember when I punched Dirk Goggins because he’d given his girlfriend a black eye and I refused to let him hurt her. If they’ve been to Workout! they think I’m foolish for spending so much time in the gym or expect me to spar with someone because I’m a hulk of a man. I can’t win.”

“They’re wrong,” James said. “You’re more than a few mistakes.”

“Why don’t men see that?” He hated sounding so whiny, but all he could think about was Chad giving him a pitiful look before he walked out. “If you’d only use your head instead of your muscles, you’d get somewhere. You’d be dangerous. But you’re not. You’re just walking testosterone.” Chad hadn’t known him at all.

“People see what they want and you know that, but you’ve got to change their perception,” James said.

“Right.”

“Well, you’ve done the first thing, which is asking me for help. Since you’ve asked and I want to accommodate you, what kind of man are you looking for?”

“For a date?”

“I’m already giving you the haircut, so yes, the date,” James said. He ran the comb over Cody’s head.

He had to think about this for a moment. “I’d like someone who is sweet, sensitive, likes to read and listen to music, is caring, handsome and not obsessed with his own ego.”

“So you want the impossible.”

“Probably.”

James stepped around the chair to face Cody. He cocked his hip and folded his arms. “Are you available on Saturday? Like eight-ish?”

“Sure.” He wouldn’t even have to clear his schedule. “I’m not working then.”

“Good. Go to Club Jester at eight and look for a man in a Hawaiian shirt. You’ll wear a dark blue button-down—you’ve got one, right?” James asked.

“I have one, yes,” he replied. “But you’re kidding about the Hawaiian shirt, right?”

“Not a bit. Are you still interested?”

He didn’t have much choice. He wanted to meet someone. “Sure. With you?”

“Nah. I’m chained to this shop. I can’t leave, even if I want to,” James said. “But I do have a man in mind. He’s perfect for you—if you’ll trust me.”

“I do.”

James removed the cape, then turned him to face the mirror. “What do you think? I trimmed the sides quite close, but left the top a bit longer. It gives some length to your face and the dark of your hair sets off your eyes. It gives you more of an updated look, too. What do you think?”

He’d become so used to seeing himself in the buzz cut that he wasn’t ready for the slight change. He swept his gaze over his reflection and resisted the urge to demand his usual cut. James was right. The slight length made his eyes stand out and brought out the angularity of his face. “I like it.”

“Do you?” James rested his hands on Cody’s shoulders. “You don’t look convinced.”

“I’m getting used to it.” He tipped his head to admire himself from a few more angles. “It’s good. What do I owe you?”

“Nothing. This one’s on the house since you’ve been here every week for the last three months,” James said. “You won’t have to come back right away. Give yourself a week off.”

“You’d lose revenue.” He left the chair. “I don’t want to cheat you.”

“Honey, if you go on the date and it works out, then that’s plenty of payment. I want you to be happy.” James grinned and flicked his hand. “You’d better tell me how it goes, though. I want to know all the lurid details, doll. I don’t just pair up anyone, and I know this will be good for you if you’re willing to try.”

“I am.” He placed a ten-dollar bill on James’ counter, then shook hands with him. “Thank you.” He wouldn’t have asked for the haircut on his own, but the more he looked at himself, the more he liked the style.

“Welcome.”

“Bye, Doob.” He patted the dog on the head once more, then walked out of the salon. He had a date. Excitement slid through his veins, then switched to fear. A date. Holy fucking shit. What if the guy wasn’t his type? What if he was, but wasn’t interested? What if he made a fool of himself in front of the man? His stomach lurched and his nerves got the better of him for a moment. No, he’d asked for this help and would see the date through.

But the idea of wearing a button-down shirt irked him. He’d grown so accustomed to wearing his sports gear that he’d forgotten how to dress like a regular guy. Did he even know how to any longer? He wore shorts and sleeveless tees even in the winter. Would his sleeved shirts even fit? At least he had two days to sort out his wardrobe. Maybe Ty would have something he could borrow if nothing in his closet fit.

Or he could back out.

No. He didn’t want to let James down by not showing up.

He shook his head and walked back to Workout!

The date might not be what he wanted, but he had the feeling it would be just what he needed.

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.

Find out more about Megan on her website, and sign up for the newsletter here. You can also check out her Blog, Amazon Author Page, Bookbub and Instagram.

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Spade’s Choice by L.A. Day – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes L.A. Day who is celebrating the recent release of Spade’s Choice, the first book in the Inclusion MC series. Enter the rafflecopter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

He turned his back on his brothers for the man he loved.

Spade is a bisexual biker struggling with his sexual identity when he meets Cyrus, his new neighbor. An instant attraction is formed and he wastes little time in getting to know Cy. Spade has never had a relationship he couldn’t easily walk away from but this time might be different. As his feelings deepen, he must choose between Cyrus and his club.

Cyrus is intimidated and intrigued by the big biker next door. Cyrus has never explored his sexual feelings for a man until he meets Spade. When Spade makes advances, he willingly surrenders to him. He wants to experience everything with Spade because he knows the dominant biker will soon tire of him.

Spade quickly realizes he must give up the club even if it means losing his best friend, Snake, because he can’t part from Cyrus. When Snake discovers his secret, they almost come to blows, but Cyrus helps to negotiate peace between the two friends.

Spade’s choice means giving up the biker lifestyle he loves but it could be the beginning of something even better.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The midday sun blasted Spade’s back as he cranked the nut on the rear axle of his motorcycle. He’d returned home from a long run over the weekend and noticed the sprocket teeth were worn. He would have preferred to have done this in the garage at the club but he was avoiding the drama. A couple of the members’ ol’ ladies were in a snit about a new club chick hitting on their men. So he was steering clear of the club until that shit got shut down. If it were his ol’ lady, he’d have laid some leather to her ass. Maybe that’s why I’m single. He chuckled to himself then cursed when the wrench slipped and he busted his knuckles.

A slamming door drew his attention and he stood to see a guy on the back porch of the adjacent house. He shared a double-wide driveway with the other home. He’d seen the car in the driveway late last night when he’d finally ridden in. At the time, he’d been too tired to give it a thought. The house had sat empty for a few months. Recently he’d heard it had sold to a single guy. He was glad there wouldn’t be children running around. He didn’t dislike kids, however he didn’t want to deal with parents complaining about the sound of his bike or the way he looked. The guy jogged down the steps into his backyard and out of view behind his privacy fence. From what Spade had seen, he was a couple years younger than his own thirty. Crouching down, he went back to tightening the nuts, making sure they were snug and even.

An hour later, his bike roared to life as he took it for a test drive. He had other things to get done today so he rode a few blocks, grabbed some beer and returned. He bent to examine his work. Finding everything in order, he patted his leather seat and stood to find his new neighbor standing on the drive. He blinked, startled by his unheard approach.

“Sup?” Spade gave a nod to the younger guy, who eyed him anxiously. The deer in the headlights look wasn’t a surprise. He’d been told he was intimidating as f***. The motorcycle and cut alone caused trepidation but he stood six-foot-three with a substantial build and more ink showing than skin.

“Hello,” the man finally answered with a slight nod.

“Name’s Spade,” he said. He took a couple steps and stretched out his hand.

“Cyrus,” he replied. A smooth, soft hand gripped Spade’s firmly.

“Live alone?” Spade asked.

Cyrus glanced around nervously before answering, “Yeah.”

“Me too.” Spade couldn’t help smirking at the other man’s unease. “Beer is getting warm so I better head in.” Glancing over his shoulder as he headed for his door, Spade was rewarded with a glimpse of a nice ass in a tight pair of pants. Spade chuckled. Cyrus really would be nervous if he knew what he was thinking about that ass.

At the door, Spade cocked his head as something on the corner of Cyrus’ bumper caught his eye. He made a quick detour across the driveway to investigate. A gay pride rainbow sticker curled just around the edge. “Sweet.” Spade whistled as he headed back to the door. Soon, he would give Cyrus the ride of his life.

About the Author L.A. Day is a multi-published author of erotic romances. Her heroes might be bikers, shifters, vampires, aliens, time-travelers, barbarians, billionaires, or CEO’s but they are always strong, assertive men! Her heroines might be tough or submissive but they are always sassy, funny, and sarcastic. In real life, Laura is a wife, mother, and dog lover. She loves to collect pottery and you can often find her at antique and resale shops. Her friends are often SHOCKED that their seemingly sweet friend writes dirty books.

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Buy the book at your favorite online venue or First for Romance.

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Loving Summer Rain by Megan Slayer – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Megan will award a randomly drawn winner a handcrafted necklace and bracelet. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A match made in heaven? More like a match made in Norville and made to last.

Arthur Burton wants a lover and partner, but no man seems to want to be with the local insurance agent. He’s not the bland two-dimensional man on the billboards, but he hasn’t been given the chance to show his colors.

Summer Rain Davis embodies the bohemian lifestyle. He loves his arts and crafts. He’s always had a thing for the buttoned-up professional types and when he’s set up with Arthur, sparks fly.

Love is possible in a small town if Arthur and Summer Rain are willing to give their romance a try.

Can these two men, seemingly total opposites, find common ground and love to last a lifetime? Or will their differences keep them apart?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

James plunged the comb into the blue solution and his scissors into the sink. He wiped his hands. “About your dating situation…go to Club Jester on Friday at nine. Dress like you, but be casual. I want you to meet my friend, Summer Rain.”

“A girl?” He’d never heard of anyone named Summer Rain.

“No, he’s a guy.” James removed the cape. “A great guy who ticks your boxes.”

“Named Summer Rain?” It seemed like an odd moniker for a man.

“Yes, and trust me. I have the golden touch.” James picked up a tablet. “Do you want a two-month appointment or six weeks?”

“Six weeks.” He set up his next slot with James, then offered his credit card to pay. “You said nine on Friday night?”

“Yes. Club Jester. His name is Summer Rain. It’ll be great.” James swiped the card. “If you don’t hit it off, then the next appointment is on me.”

He had nothing to lose. “Okay.”

“You’ll be meeting your destiny.” James handed him back the card. “Plus, you look fierce. Any man would be nuts to pass you up.”

He wasn’t sure he believed James, but why not? “You’re right.”

“I know I am.” James winked. “Feel better?”

“I do.” Almost like he could conquer the world. He handed James a twenty as a tip.

“Then there we go. Thank you and I’ll see you in six weeks.” James grinned. “Maybe I’ll have named the dog by then.”

“I’ll bet you do.” Maybe he’d find love by then, too. It couldn’t hurt to try.

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 white hot 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 nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM 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. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.

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Drifting by J. Calamy – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes J. Calamy who is celebrating the recent release of Drifting, the first book in the Diving In 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.

Two men starting over, and the discovery that could shatter their worlds.

Artist and antiquities expert Cole Hadley is in a good place. Assistant Cultural Attaché to the US Embassy, Cairo, he’s over his divorce, rebuilding his confidence after years of fat-shaming and misery and checking off the first of his bucket-list items, SCUBA diving in the Red Sea.

Hank Ashton, bearded, built, the best—and meanest—divemaster on the Sea, is stranded in the dying town of Al’Shahin. He owes a local gangster a pile of money and is stuck teaching basic classes at a failing hotel to pay the debt, the dream of his own dive shop slipping further away every year.

Cole’s joy and wonder at Hank’s world cracks his carefully constructed shell, forcing him to realize how lucky he is. In turn, Hank’s lust for Cole’s body and care for his happiness go miles toward healing Cole’s bruised heart. Their shared passion for the marvels of the undersea world spills over into a sizzling affair…one they both know has an expiration date.

Until, in exploring the sea, they make the discovery of the century, one that could change both their lives. But their very different plans reveal just how little they know each other. Cole and Hank have to decide exactly what’s important to them and be brave enough to get it, if they’re to have any hope of resurfacing together.

Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of bullying including fat-shaming and homophobia, as well as reference to gangster activities.

Enjoy an Excerpt

It wasn’t fair to be this cold on the shores of the Sahara. Despite the broiling heat trying to claw its way through the cracks under the doors, the air conditioning of the Hotel Grande Al’Shahin was arctic, setting Cole’s teeth chattering and chilling his clammy shirt to his back. Hugging himself, he didn’t catch the concierge’s spiel.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Our pool has a dance show every night at six o’clock.” She pressed a stack of brochures into Cole’s hands then glanced at his belly…again. He managed not to tug at his shirt this time as her voice dropped into a conspiratorial murmur. “We have the best in-house gym, and the spa has an amazing detox wrap. Takes inches off. Incredible results.”

How delightful. Cole couldn’t muster a single response, his mind clicking like a car with a dead battery. None of his canned responses, perfected over the last two years, were coming. Only his therapist’s “You don’t always have to educate people. Sometimes it’s okay to ignore them.”

“I’m more interested in diving lessons,” Cole said, trying not to clench his teeth. “But thank you.”

Her face went blank, but not before assuming a brief look of incredulity that didn’t help with the teeth clenching at all. “Diving? We have a full-service dive shop,” she said. “They do intro classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and twice on Saturday. If you…know how to swim?”

“Sounds great,” Cole said, sliding away. That was enough BS for one day. The flight from Cairo had been short but brutal—he didn’t need this on top.

Despite his grand-sounding title—and the State Department loved titles—as the Assistant Cultural Attaché to the United States Embassy, Cairo, Cole had flown in a middle seat. On the return flight I’m upgrading. Never letting the morale office book me a flight again. He’d pretended to be asleep to avoid seeing the faces of his row-mates. Legs and arms clenched tight, seatbelt cutting his hips despite the extension, Cole had barely breathed the whole flight.

The heat and salt marsh air of Al’Shahin had slapped him the moment he’d staggered off the plane onto the shimmering tarmac. Clean air, to be sure, but also hot. Broiling, unbelievably hot. And humid! Trapped against the Sinai, Al’Shahin stewed in the evaporation off the Red Sea. Less than a year in Egypt, and he thought he had mastered the heat. Humidity had not even occurred to him.

Neither had freezing to death in a hotel lobby. It was eleven a.m., and he was exhausted. A backhanded insult about his weight wasn’t the welcome he’d imagined. Three years ago, he would have broken down in tears. A year ago, he would have given her a lecture. But present-day Cole shrugged it off, making for the doors. They always mean well, don’t they? And maybe I’ll get the f****** wrap anyway. Maybe I wanted to before she even said anything. So there.

He took a deep breath before pushing out onto the patio. The heat clawed him with greedy fingers, sun blazing cheerfully away overhead. Three steps, and he could feel the heat in his mouth. Five, and he could sense it through the soles of his shoes. The back of his neck burned, and he looked around, trying to shake off the feeling of being watched. Stared at. You are being paranoid. It’s just the heat.

The pool shimmered, a mirage of blue. Darker sunglasses, they were first on the shopping list. Christ, and he thought Cairo was hot? Still feeling eyes on him, he tried to walk quickly but not too quickly, ignoring the rattle of his suitcase wheels over the pebbled walk. The sweat on his lower back itched. A shower. A shower and a nap then I can reassess. Hands slick, he bobbled his phone, dropped it and his sunglasses both. Someone laughed. Cole flinched, even as his brain registered the sound was happy, flirtatious laughter. Not look at that loser laughter.

“You are not a loser,” he muttered, gripping his phone and straightening his sunglasses. He gave his shirt a sharp tug over his belly. “You have never been a loser. Those were Donnie’s words.” He hadn’t needed that mantra in a while. Cairo was…good. Busy, interesting, professionally validating and really fricking good. Living in a cramped Cairo apartment? Not so much. But who cared? It was Cairo! The geography and antiquities nerd dream.

But now here he was, thinking of his ex, feeling eyes watching him, hurt and slipping into intrusive thoughts. Why? Just because people were laughing?

“All right, all right, quit messing around,” a rough voice barked out, making Cole fumble his phone again. The happy laughter cut off in a chorus of groans. “I don’t care how tired you are! You clean your gear, then you can relax.”

A small building squatted on the far side of the pool, with a thatch roof and an open central arcade, shaded and tiled in blue. The dive shop. The sign over the opening was faded, a shark curled dimly under the Grande logo. One of the million old pickup trucks littering Africa was backed up to the arcade, and a group of young people passed equipment back and forth like hurrying ants.

The bark belonged to a tall, scowling man standing in the bed of the truck with his hands on his hips and glaring straight at Cole from behind a pair of mirrored aviators.

Tanned from the sun, with wide shoulders, he wore a wetsuit unzipped to the waist and hanging around his legs. He had a shaved head and short scruffy beard, brown heavily threaded with gray. The harsh lines of his face made art deco angles with his jaw as he shouted at the divers scrambling around the truck. Whoever this pissed-off jerk thought he was, he was staring at Cole.

Taking a slow deep-oven-hot breath, Cole straightened his sunglasses, glancing back over out of the corner of his eye. His championship record of making a fool of himself in front of hot straight men made him cautious, but he didn’t miss the way the guy in the truck glanced his way again. Busted.

“It ain’t complicated, doll.” The divemaster sneered at a pretty blonde girl with her hands on her hips. “You rinse the salt off your gear, you hang it up, and then you can eat.”

About the Author J Calamy is a queer, disabled veteran and foreign service wonk who spends a good part of the year bouncing down dirt roads in the back of range rovers with men with guns. Coffee, romance novels, and embassy scuttlebutt are her last remaining vices.

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The Hardest Part of Writing by Tanith Davenport – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tanith Davenport will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The hardest part about writing is… the beginning and the end

I could argue that every part of writing has its own challenges, but there are two in particular that I always dread. Starting a new story and, of course, writing the synopsis afterwards.

Beginning a new story is always a nightmare for me. Not only do I need to introduce the characters in a way that will grab people, I also have to come up with an introductory scene that works as a good hook. Do I open with dialogue? Description? A surprise? And I have never liked finding a way to physically describe my heroine. We’ve all seen the cliché where the heroine looks at herself in a mirror – I try to avoid that, but always struggle to find a decent opening for it.

And then there’s the synopsis. Blurbs are fine – they’re designed to sell the story quickly and without ruining the plot – but the whole point of a synopsis is that it gives the whole plot and yet still has to grab the reader. Sometimes I feel like the synopsis takes more preparation than the entire story. It can be a humbling experience, as you try to prune your story down to its basic components and then instantly convince yourself that it sounds like crap.

Fortunately the fun part – writing the rest of the story – usually makes up for the bookended suffering. And for me it’s all worth it when I get to see my new cover art. There’s nothing quite like seeing an amazing cover for your new book, and luckily Totally Bound have a great cover art team.

Maybe next time I’ll start the book in the middle and write the beginning later.

Amber Blake is fleeing a terrible betrayal in her past by touring with rock band Puppetmaster as a make-up artist with her best friend Elyse. Knowing the band is struggling, she hopes to use her make-up skills to reinvent their image, but when a member of the crew drops out, Amber finds herself asked to contribute in a different way – in the form of heated sexual conversations with hot lead singer Cassian Marsh to put him in top form before every concert.

Despite her past, Amber is unable to resist Cassian’s charm and raw energy, and enjoys knowing she can drive him wild with just her voice – but their increasingly passionate meetings leave her longing for more. Can she move past the betrayal she suffered – and can she convince a man as commitment-phobic as Cassian to break his no-dating rule and let her into his heart?

enjoy an Excerpt

The music changed to a darker, heavier track and Amber felt goosebumps rise on her skin. If You’re Cold. This was one of their best ones.

Watching Cassian perform was definitely the best part of her job. During the day she never allowed her gaze to linger on him—at night was a different matter. At night she could hide in the shadows, no longer having to deal with the masks they wore every day.

Cassian behind his mask was just so…real.

But she had had enough musician boyfriends to know getting involved with another would be a bad idea, even if the men of Puppetmaster hadn’t been perpetually unavailable. Nate’s relationship with Elyse was considered a blip. Cassian hadn’t had a girlfriend in years.

And Cassian, she knew, was well out of reach.

But, God, was he worth looking at.

His lean, muscular arms exposed by his leather waistcoat, his slim hips, the tattoos that decorated his taut stomach, tempting her to follow their lines with her tongue. The way his sweat glistened on his skin as he moved, catching her eye with every motion.

But Amber knew, even if it were possible, it would be a very, very bad idea.

And she had had enough bad ideas to last a lifetime.

About the Author Tanith Davenport began writing erotica at the age of 27 by way of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. Her debut novel “The Hand He Dealt” was released by Totally Bound in June 2011 and was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for 2012.

Tanith has had short stories published by Naughty Nights Press and House of Erotica. She loves to travel and dreams of one day taking a driving tour of the United States, preferably in a classic 1950s pink Cadillac Eldorado.

Tanith’s idea of heaven is an Indian head massage with a Mojito at her side.

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(Not)Normal by Katy Hunter – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Katy Hunter who is celebrating the recent release of (Not)Normal, the second book in the Mixed Emotions series. Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Falling in love with Elijah Booth was never Milly’s plan, but the warm Texas summer, two adorable aunts and a horse called Smoky might just change her mind.

Milly Parker, a British singer, has packed her bags and is heading to her aunts’ house in Austin. Sally and Carrie run the best coffee shop in town, and Milly is about to become their newest barista.

She’s also about to meet some of Sally’s best customers. From nine to ninety-nine, they come in all ages, shapes and sizes. One in particular, Elijah Booth, catches her eye, but he is not like the boys she left behind.

Elijah, like almost every other single person in town, has made a vow of celibacy—not even a kiss before marriage.

Can Milly adjust to her new life in a new country and the new rules that come with it—or will she start to wonder if her new normal is even normal at all?

Reader advisory: This book contains mention of domestic abuse, using alcohol for avoidance, and a surprise pregnancy.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Sal taps on the steering wheel to the beat of the country music blasting out of the radio. The windows are wound down to the max, and the tires are speeding along the road a little fast for my liking.

“Is it far?” I’d quite like it not to be far. My legs are sticking to the fake leather seats. That’s going to pinch.

“No. Twenty minutes or so.”

It’s already been twenty-five minutes. How big is this place? Ever since we left Austin, all I’ve seen is the occasional red barn or auto shop and one or two shooting ranges. Otherwise, it’s flat, dry countryside as far as the eye can see.

I’m about to discover my new normal.

Normal. I hate that word. It packs people up in neat little boxes. My mum likes to use it when referring to anybody who isn’t exactly like her.

Me, for example.

“It’s not normal, Milly.” She’d brought it out when I’d run off at sixteen to be a popstar, when I’d given that up to go to college and again when I’d refused to bring any boyfriends home, because, well, none of them were going to last long enough for her to get attached. She might have brought it up once or twice when a video of me breaking my ex-boyfriend’s heart went viral. Then this… Flying across the world to Austin to help Sal run her coffee shop. Carrie is sick, like really sick, and Sal needs help.

And I really need to get away.

Mum thinks people should stay in one place. She’s always lived in the town she grew up in. She met and married my dad there, bought a home there. It’s like she got everything she needed with two minutes’ walk of the town center, cemented her feet to the floor and never moved again.

I will never cement my feet anywhere. You can quote me on that.

I can’t think of anything worse. How can you not want to see the world? Experience all the things? Taste all those delicious mouths that are just waiting to be kissed?

I’ve seen what marriage does to people, how it numbs their sense of adventure. I want to feel.

“Do you have to go in today?” I ask.

She turns to me and smiles, looking exactly like my dad for a split second. Luckily for her, that’s one of the very few things they have in common. “No, honey, you’ve got me all to yourself until tomorrow. Carrie’s got it covered.” Carrie is Sal’s ‘close friend’. I’m pretty sure she’s a lot more than that, but Sal has never been one to share things like that with our side of the family. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

“And when do I start?” I lean down and grab my bag. Thinking about Carrie reminds me that I should call Mum and Dad, tell them I got here okay. I fiddle with my phone while Sal explains how the shift system works.

“So, it’s basically part-time. You start straight away, but we’ll ease you in.” Good. I’m no barista. Sal’s coffee shop is supposedly the best in town, and I’m not ready for that kind of responsibility yet.

Sal packed her bags at eighteen and ran away to America in search of Melrose Place. I don’t know where that is, but she told my dad that it had to be better than home. She met Carrie shortly afterward and they moved to a little town a few miles out of Austin, set up their business and never looked back.

I’ve never quite worked out how moving across the world, settling down and working in the same place for your whole life is any different from what she would have done had she stayed at home, but I guess it’s warmer—a lot warmer. The trails of sweat trickling down my back right now can attest to this fact.

Eventually, love makes everybody cement their feet to the floor.

I twist and turn the ancient buttons in front of me. One of them falls off into my hand. “Doesn’t this car have air conditioning?”

She chuckles. “The air conditioning hasn’t worked on this old thing for years. I keep telling Carrie we need to get a new car but goddammit that woman loves her Pontiac more than me.”

Unbuttoning my blouse in an attempt to get some kind of respite, I lean out of the window, letting my arm catch the gusts of wind as we race on down the road. Being blasted by hot air is slightly more pleasant than wallowing in it.

Precisely seventeen minutes later we draw up in front of their beautiful home. Admittedly you have to drive down the bumpiest, dustiest lane to get there, but it’s totally worth losing all the feeling in your bum.

“Her grandmother left her the land, and we built on it. Six acres.” Sal grabs my suitcase from the boot of the car and stands beside me, admiring her massive house.

Sal and Carrie have the kind of place that I could only ever dream of owning. It’s a mansion compared to what I left behind. Back home, houses are small and stuck together. If you strike lucky, you get an end of terrace with an alleyway that goes down the side. This place has a front porch, a double garage and a garden five times bigger than itself.

I’m not jealous. There’s nothing more stifling than buying a house. But if I did want one, it would probably need to look like this.

“And she doesn’t mind me staying?” I have fond memories of the few times I’ve met her. She would play board games with me when I was little and take me to the park, but I don’t know a lot about Carrie from an adult’s point of view, other than the fact that she is my aunt’s partner.

“Are you joking? You’re the daughter we never had. Prepare to be smothered.” I haven’t been filled in on the intricacies of Carrie’s illness, but I know it’s bad. Bad enough for my dad to shed a tear, and he never cries. Another member of the household is going to be a burden on the two of them, no matter how much they love me.

I grab my auntie and pull her in for a spontaneous hug. The woman is skin and bones. She works too hard and, as I’m beginning to understand, worries too hard, too. “I missed you, Auntie Sally. Can we go see Carrie right now? I need more hugs.” Carrie is the opposite of Sal. She’s all boobs and bum. The two of them are polar opposites, and yet it works. It has for twenty-five years.

We drag my suitcase into the front hall.

“Do you want a glass of water or something?” Bright, modern paintings adorn every wall, interspersed with landscapes and portraits. The house is open plan, light and bright—and hospital-level clean. There is not a speck of dust in the place.

Are they really going to want me living here? I’m twenty-one on the outside, but those who have had the misfortune to share a house with me might suggest that I stopped maturing at around age seventeen.

I gulp down my water as we close up the house and head off to the coffee shop, and I place the pristine crystal glass on a side-table by the front door as we leave. My disruption to their perfect home has begun, and it’s only the first day.

I’m more than exhausted but too excited to sleep. Leaning in to check myself in the car’s side-view mirror, I’m horrified by what I see before me. There are bags under my eyes big enough to have paid the extra baggage allowance. I look too much like I’ve been on a packed plane for fourteen of the last sixteen hours. Then again, when did I ever look fancy?

About the Author Katy Hunter lives on a mountain in France with her husband, kids and two dogs.

When she’s not writing you can find her curled up in front of the fire, book in one hand and a glass of chardonnay in the other.

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Snap Me Up by Landra Graf – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Landra Graf who is celebrating the recent release of Snap Me Up, the first book in the Full Throttle Cyborgs series. Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

For this mechanic, anything is fair game.

Snapper Rodriguez never met a woman or a racer he didn’t like, until Gina Morales shows up. She’s butting her head under every hood, moving his tools and plain annoying. He’d rather fall down a mine shaft and lose his other limb than put up with her any longer.

Gina Morales is still trying to figure out what it means to be human, and as the first AI with a body in existence, she’s eager to find her maker. A racing garage like Full Throttle seems like a great place to start, though the head mechanic is an ass and she can’t help but get involved when their latest racing engine fails.

When Snapper and Gina are forced to work together to create a new engine and steal parts from competing racing gangs, the thrill of the job and the close quarters bring unwanted attraction. Too bad Snapper still wants her gone and will do anything to make that happen, even promise her tastes of human connection that she’s never experienced before. As things heat up, the threat to Gina’s synthetic heart grows, along with her confusion. They’ll have to decide if love is worth the risk or if this is a finish line they can’t cross.

Reader advisory: This book contains references to theft, cyborgs, and the major injury of a minor character.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Wrench to the left to loosen. Wrench to the right to tighten. Gina Morales found the process interesting, like everything else human.

Who came up with the idea to tighten clockwise or loosen counterclockwise? Who came up with a clock?

Of course, she could answer these questions with her big AI brain, though completing the actions, experiencing them, meant far more than simply knowing.

A loud winding noise started at the opposite end of the bay and Gina didn’t even bother to look. No, she’d tried to tell that idiot Snapper the engine wouldn’t work, but he, like most male humans, believed he knew more than a woman did.

All right, that may be unfair. He believes he knows more than me. Stubborn through and through.

A small explosive blast erupted at the opposite end of the bay, the air wafting the scents of combustion and melting metal. Then the fire exhaust compression tanks hissed. This brought a different smell. Gina sniffed and got a good hint of ozone, crisp and clean, before the fans kicked in to clear out any possible toxic chemical reactions.

“Fuck!” Snapper’s exclamation brought a smile to her face.

Since the first day Gina had stepped into the Full Throttle mechanics bay, Snapper had acted suspicious and rude. Though she half admired his cautious nature, it got a little old when he questioned every move she made.

Sure, she was lying to his face, but that was for her safety and security. No one could know she was the first-ever synthetic. Her AI brain had once been the primary software component of a ship named after her, but she’d evolved, and six months prior had discovered a madman from Earth’s moon had worked with someone on Mars to create synthetic bodies. It was her chance to exceed her parameters and prove her worth to her creator.

Though becoming human had opened a whole new universe for her.

It’s all new.

Snapper swore again and threw something. Gina set her wrench down and leaned up, squaring her shoulders as she approached him.

“It wouldn’t have done that if you—”

“Don’t say it, Gina.” Snapper brought his hand up and massaged his temples, rubbing black slick all over his tan skin.

The dirt marring his face bothered her. The lack of attention to cleanliness—she itched to take care of it. Problem-solving was a natural reaction to her root programming, as it had been for more than twelve years.

“You have—”

He whirled around to face her, blue eyes blazing. “Are you finished with the engine tune-up on that hauler?”

A shit job he’d given her for daring to make a suggestion the last time. As an AI, she should have learned her lesson, and she had, but being human meant trying again. At least, Sampson had always told her that.

“I’m almost done. Just tightening the last few bolts.”

“Then maybe stick to it and let me worry about the engine.”

She took a deep breath. “I would be happy to, though you should know that if you added an extra row of plugs, it would be able to distribute the load more evenly.”

“You’re a racing engineer now, are you? Your skills were slip drives and trolling motors when you showed up. Best stick to haulers, drifters and ships, and leave the racers to us.”

Gina clenched her jaw. “Snapper—”

“Gina, how about you finish your assignment and let me deal with ’ol grumpy ass here.” The voice beside her belonged to Drag, the newly appointed leader of Frog Lick and the Full Throttle gang. This town and the gang had once belonged to the Smiths, but they were long gone now, moved on or arrested. What was left was a blend of Smiths, others from another gang called Macintosh and some stragglers from non-affiliated gangs who had earned a place with Full Throttle.

Drag had been the one to give her a chance, while his buddy Snapper wanted to give her a hard time. Where Drag was all blond hair, straight-cut and slicked-back, with a solid build and trimmed goatee, Snapper was dark, curly hair and untamed beard. Like a wild man fitting into the uncivilized stereotypes often used to describe Mars men on the Upper Planets.

“Aye, aye, cap…er, boss.” She caught herself but didn’t miss how Drag’s blond eyebrow raised a fraction.

Instead of doubling down with more words that might give herself away, or cause more questions, she pivoted on her foot and went right back to the hauler. Her wrench waited for her, and she grabbed it, though her curiosity couldn’t be helped. She’d always been more of a listener anyway, from her years possessing an inanimate object.

“I don’t like her, Drag.”

She wrenched with a little more force than planned, and the damn bolt squeaked. Her grip eased up as the conversation continued.

“You could at least hear her out. She might have a good idea or two.”

Gina liked Drag. Liked him a lot. He was logical, smart, thoughtful, and he was constantly attempting to improve the gang-town, in more ways than others did. Starting with equality for women and men… Prior to Drag taking over as gang leader, women weren’t allowed to work in the mechanics bay or any areas of ship building and mining.

Snapper growled. “Maybe, but I don’t have time for ideas right now. We needed this racer ready to start testing. We’re pushing it as things are. Now, I got nothing.”

“You got a body, just not an engine. It’s all right, we have time and you go back to the drawing board. We’ll get thoughts from others at the town meeting tonight. Many heads are better than one.”

Funny how Gina had tried to tell Snapper the same thing a couple of days ago and he’d shot her down. Drag, on the other hand, was able to get through. At least, Snapper’s weary sigh implied most of his fight was gone.

“Fine, I’ll be at the meeting, though I was hoping to skip it.”

“No,” Drag replied. “I need you there. You and Rune are my right hands. We need to show a united front, more than ever.”

Gina tightened the last bolt in place and slammed the engine cover down, doing her best to give the impression that she wasn’t hanging on every word…except the pair had gone silent. She glanced over and saw Snapper’s pensive expression. Those fingers were back to massaging engine grease into his skin.

She rubbed her own fingertips together. The presence of grease there made her stomach turn a bit. Dirt, grime—she’d been a ship, knew the feel of such things, yet even now she ached to clean her hands.

“They turned us down, didn’t they?”

Snapper’s question was met by Drag’s nod of agreement. Not good at all.

She gathered her tools and dropped them in the box against the wall. Another quick look—Drag and Snapper were now talking to their driver, Hemi. She took that moment to slip away to the sink and contemplate her next move.

The water and soap were a mash of odd sensations that she’d never gotten used to, though less overwhelming than the baths with the full immersion into the liquid. She’d almost frozen in fear the first time she’d cleaned herself, her experience limited to the ion showers on the ships. No water, no waste. Though here, everything was recycled, filtered and re-used.

Soapy suds were swept clean by droplets of liquid—the same liquid that powered humanity. Seventy percent of their bodies was composed of this life-giving nectar.

Gina dried her hands on a towel then took another peek around the corner—with Drag and Snapper sidetracked, she could log her progress on the hauler in the computer and potentially access the other files. It wouldn’t take long, and this was her best chance, while the system was unlocked and available.

She hadn’t dared let the machine log her as getting in after hours or attempting to erase the evidence. In other circumstances, a little light hacking might work, but one never knew when a tech might discover her digital fingerprints and cause her trouble.

Snapper’s attitude toward her increased her desire to take the risk. She was tired of waiting, taking it slow, per Sampson’s suggestion. Hell, Sampson didn’t even know she wanted to find her maker.

Maybe Sampson didn’t fix my morality and ethics subroutines from when I was hacked eight years ago.

She logged the information then let her fingers fly. Her eyes scanned everything as fast as she could. Access to the Smiths’ old files, the visitors, the mechanics, the software developers and ship builders… The name imprinted on her mind, Torrent, never appeared anywhere.

Clicking out of the last file took her back to the main screen.

“I see you watching him. Best not to get any ideas.” Snapper’s deep timbre washed over her, a low rumble like when she’d be caught in the edge of a current floating through space and trying to get her bearings.

She froze. “What do you mean?”

“You watching Drag, getting that admiring look in your eyes like he invented Marsanium or something.”

Turning slowly, Gina found little to no space between them. Two steps max, but they were eye-to-eye. The big difference between her and most of the other women in Frog Lick—they had to look up to him. Maybe she did intimidate him. Sampson had suggested as much on their last holo-call.

“He didn’t invent Marsanium. The discovery was made by Jangles McKinney in 2292.”

Snapper shook his head and muttered under his breath, “You’re just a little walking encyclopedia and I know that, Gina. It was a comparison.”

“A figurative method of speech? I’m afraid I don’t see the reference clearly as I don’t admire the invention of Marsanium, though I do admire Drag. He is a good leader.” Hopefully, complimenting his best friend would deflect him away from noticing her inability to react to his figurative language. Fatch.

Snapper shook his head. “What are you working on here?”

“Just updating the maintenance records on the hauler and listing the parts and supplies I used.” She crossed her arms behind her back and stood up as straight as possible, prepared to handle whatever attitude he responded with. She suspected more vitriol.

“A lot of open files to be logging basic information,” he replied with a frown.

“I forgot where things were.”

Snapper stepped closer. “Then allow me to show you again, though maybe you should spend less time reading books and memorizing facts about my planet and focus more on your job?”

Gina stood her ground. “I found everything, and I’ll do better. See you at the meeting?”

She could smell his sweat, mixed with a citrusy flavor that reminded her of the lime grove on the planet Eden. Sharp and bitter, much like him. Scents were another gift humans took for granted. She enjoyed the smell of new things, along with trying to determine which ones appealed to her.

This close she could also glimpse the hairs on his chin, as curly and wild as the ones on his head. Though they weren’t all the same color—dark brown, ginger, even a couple of gray strands graced his face. Her exploration of his features meandered on to the Grecian nose, a near Romanesque style like the old books of Earth displayed. Bluest eyes with a smattering of wrinkles around the edges…and the indention between his brows that grew more pronounced every time he was frustrated.

“Gina, why are you looking at me like that?”

She reached into her back pocket and pulled out the towel there. Every mechanic kept one, though she didn’t sweat like the others and rarely had a use for it. Now she reached up and rubbed the grease away from his temples, one by one.

He took in a sharp breath, almost a hiss. There a was creak and groan of metal at her side as he clenched his cyborg fist tightly. Another difference… He, like Drag and a couple of the others, was enhanced with cybernetic parts. While she possessed more strength than the average human, there was a good chance Snapper could give back as good as she gave. Another thing we have in common, but I can’t tell him that.

She froze, and slowly pulled her arm back. “There. Clean.”

Her fingers still tingled from the limited contact with his skin. So much sensation, three thousand touch receptors in a fingertip. How do you humans not go into overload from a fleeting touch?

Snapper growled, that indentation between his brows back again. “Next time, Gina, ask for permission before you touch someone.”

She dropped the cloth at his feet. “Excuse me?”

“Leave Drag alone too. He doesn’t need you trying to moon after him.”

“What does that mean? I don’t moon after anything. You’re implying a moon can move outside of its orbit?” She cocked her head to the side as he took a step back.

“And pick up that cloth.”

He walked off without answering her question, on top of treating her like some Mars adolescent or a cleaning robot. She wasn’t a damn robot anymore, and high time she showed him, too.

About the Author:Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Website | Amazon Author Page | Pinterest | First for Romance | Goodreads

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Karma’s Kiss by M.C. Roth – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes M.C. Roth who is celebrating the recent release of Karma’s Kiss. Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Karma isn’t the worst curse to have after all.

Zack is running from his family, his past and a curse that has tainted his life since childhood. Fleeing his temporary home for the sake of his ex-boyfriend, Zack becomes stranded in a snow drift in the middle of nowhere, wearing nothing more than a spring jacket and an old pair of running shoes. Resigning himself to freezing to death, he is rescued by Eric, an irresistible man who treads the line between kindness and discourtesy.

Zack quickly realises that Eric’s home is a different kind of frozen hell. There is no electricity in the tiny one-room cabin, no running water and definitely no Wi-Fi.

But Eric is more than just a man. He is the only one who seems to be immune to Zack’s curse, and he has secrets of his own. Eric may be more dangerous than anything Zack has ever seen before.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and the death of a secondary character.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“No. No. No,” said Zack as he pushed the gas pedal all the way to the floor. The ancient car responded sluggishly, a full second passing before the engine vibrated with a purr that made his foot go numb. The bald tyres spun, trapped in a sheet of ice and snow that coated the road and the lone vehicle.

The storm sagged against the windshield as the wipers tried lethargically to keep up, leaving large, frosted streaks with every swipe. With each pass, the ice crystals grew denser, coating the wipers with budding globs of ice.

Another burst of wind battered the side of the car, fluttering against the door and buffeting the tiny cracks in the vehicle. A trickle of cold air brushed against his chilled knuckles, and a shiver cascaded though his body.

The vehicle lurched closer to the ditch that had disappeared into the blizzard’s cloud. The tyres caught, edging sideways in a frozen rut. He jerked at the steering wheel, but there was no response as he was buried deeper in the drifts.

Zack’s heart pounded as he lost control of the wheel and the engine sputtered. But he barely noticed as the car lurched into a stall or as the air got even colder through the flimsy heating vents. The storm was the furthest thing from his mind.

It had happened again. And, of course, it had chosen the moment when the biggest snowstorm of the decade was blowing its way across the lakes. The radar had probably gone from red to purple then black while he’d driven with no destination in mind.

The roads had been relatively clear a few hours before, when he had fled to his car, putting it straight into second gear before he even had his seat belt on. He had hit the highway, flipping a virtual coin to choose the exit he’d take before the heavy flakes had started drifting down from the grey sky.

He shuddered. His darkness—his curse—the thing had haunted him for as long as he could remember… It always seemed to choose the worst moments to rear its ugly, jealous head. This had to be one of the top five of all time, though.

He had tried to keep moving. He’d tried to leave before he could put anyone else at risk. ***

Then it had all gone wrong. One word and a spurned rejection, and his past had caught up with him with the force of a starving tiger. He’d staggered as he’d felt the blood drain from his face.

He had fled before anything could happen to the man who he had almost started to like. If he’d had the opportunity, he could have developed full-blown feelings, which were more dangerous than his curse.

He’d grabbed everything in sight that belonged to him, leaving more behind than he’d taken. His socks and underwear were lost beneath the bed and in the basket of laundry, but he hadn’t had the time to retrieve them. They weren’t the worst things that he’d ever left behind.

He’d had run to his ancient Honda, breathing hard by the time he had tugged the door open. As he’d sped away, he’d left another chunk of his past behind him, the sweet memories tainted by his bitter curse. The traffic had steadily thinned, until he was the only car in the midst of a forest that seconded as a snowy hell.

His trusty Honda was only five years younger than him and had more problems than he did, which was saying a lot. Its most recent issue was that it apparently couldn’t drive through more than two centimetres of fresh snow.

He fumbled with the key, glancing out into the bleak stretch of swirling snow as he tried to start the engine yet again. Stomping on the gas, he waited for the RPMs to climb into the red zone before popping the clutch and putting the car directly into second gear. First gear didn’t exactly work, and on ice, it was its own death trap.

There was a shuddering jerk that had relief flooding his gut, until the car rocked once and stalled back into silence. The dials dropped and the fuzzy radio station faded until the barest hint of the country song vanished under the sound of the wind.

“Shit,” he said as he slammed his hand against the steering wheel. It shuddered, barely holding on to its rigging after his repeated abuse. He could imagine the wheel finally tumbling off as he merged lanes on a highway doing one-hundred-and-thirty-five kilometres per hour. I’m lucky like that.

His palm ached from the hit and the cold that was steadily seeping into the car, but it didn’t stop him from slamming the wheel a second time. His thumb caught the edge of the horn, but the blaring sound was swept away on the wind.

The temperature inside the car noticeably dropped another few degrees, and his breath turned into a misty fog that coated everything it touched. The car’s heater was lukewarm at best, and without a working defrost, ice had started to crust on even the inside of the windshield.

He turned the key again as he popped the car back into neutral and pushed the clutch to the floor. He shivered as another gust of wind cut into the Honda. His thin jacket was best suited for balmy fall days, but it was the only one that had been in sight as he’d scrambled to leave. His toes were numb in his sneakers, and his hands? Well, he was afraid to look at them, because he wouldn’t be surprised if a few fingers were already missing. His gloves had been one of the many things that he had left behind, and his hands had been aching since the snow had started.

The car key turned under his hand, jingling with the other attached keys and mementos that he had picked up on his travels. There was a tiny metal sandal that he’d picked up in a beach town and an iron sun from a gift shop that he’d found in the middle of nowhere. The rest were worn, their edges smooth from their constant motion. He kept them close, so he wouldn’t have to look back and remember.

The key turned, with the promise of escape and a hint of heat. Silence. Not even a putter from the flooded engine. His gut churned as a shiver racked his body. It was so freaking cold, and according to the last clear announcement on the radio, the storm was just getting started.

He grappled with the horn, pushing the button as hard as he could. There had to be someone close by who would come to his rescue if they heard him honking. People in the city might not have looked twice, but he was pretty far into the wilderness, on the only road that probably ever saw a plough in winter. People were different out here—lonelier.

The button clicked under his palm as the battery finally gave out. The same battery had lasted him twenty years, so, of course, it would choose to fail him when he was about to lose his toes.

Zack took a shuddering breath as his vision blurred and his heart sank. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to keep the warmth from escaping. Perhaps everything was finally catching up with him. Freezing to death wouldn’t be the worst way to go. He’d seen worse before—so much worse. His stomach clenched as memories fluttered to the surface of his mind. He tried to push them away before he could retch.

“Look at the snow. Just look at the snow,” he said, holding himself tighter as he tried to focus on an individual flake in the whirling mass—anything to leave the flashes of his past behind.

Beyond the window he could see bits of the forest through the gaps in the gathering ice on the windshield. The road was nearly invisible, with no tyre tracks except his own behind him. Even those were almost gone now.

A green bough fluttered in the wind, dumping its heavy load onto the ground below it. A bird fluttered from the branch, battling against the wind as it took off. For a moment, it looked like it would lose the fight and be tossed into the nearest tree trunk. It pumped its wings faster, finally triumphing over the storm.

There were no hydro lines along the road or lamp posts that would guide a traveller along at night. It was a tourist’s nightmare. He cursed himself, wondering if he should’ve taken the other fork in the road that had probably led along a path that was closer to the city.

A smudge of colour caught his eye as it flashed along the very edge of the trees. The trunks grew close together, dark and foreboding within the mass, and their limbs danced and swayed in the wind, dumping the snow back to the earth with each pass. There was so much movement that he wondered if he had imagined the blur.

He squinted and leaned closer to the window, trying to make sense of it through the fluttering snow. It could have been a deer. He’d already seen a few along the way, looking ready to jump out at his car and double his insurance. Or it could have been a bear, given how far he’d come, although he’d only ever seen them on television. The dark beacon had looked too small to be the creature he’d seen on Planet Earth.

He spotted it again as the wind stilled and the blizzard cleared for a moment. It moved through the snow with a fluid grace that could only belong to an animal who could survive a harsh winter. Nothing battered or beaten lived in this cold, and no predator could thrive without hunting in the perpetual storm that was February.

It grew closer with every loping step, until it seemed larger than what he imagined a bear would be. It was fast, too, cutting through the drifts as if it weighed nothing. Zack knew how hard it was to walk through snow that deep, which was why he usually avoided it at all costs. That, and he really didn’t want to get his too-tight jeans wet.

Zack scrubbed the inside of the window with his nails, bits of ice stinging his numb fingertips. His breath frosted it over again, until everything blurred.

It could have been a dog with how dark the colouring was, but he’d never seen a dog that big. A bear would definitely make more sense, but according to the television, bears hibernated in the winter.

The ice on the window thickened into an opaque crystal as he pressed his forehead against it, desperate to see what was coming. It was running at a pace that was hardly possible over the covered ground, gliding over the snow without seeming to disturb it at all.

A bubble of fear simmered in his gut as he pictured a bear breaking through his window with its massive, clawed paws. He was small enough that he wouldn’t be able to put up much of a fight, but there was still enough meat on him to make a decent meal, he supposed.

He took a deep breath, closing his eyes to try to ground himself. The wind around him paused, the car going suddenly still and silent. He snapped his eyes back open, looking through the tiny gaps from his fingertips. There was nothing but the dark tree trunks capped with pure white.

The seat creaked as he freed himself from the seatbelt and lifted himself to his knees, pressing against a strip of clear glass. He blinked, rubbing his eyes to remove the imagined fog, but nothing appeared. The snow was undisturbed, except for the partially covered ruts from his own tyres. There were no footprints, and no animal was out in the wind.

I’m officially losing my mind.

About the Author
M.C. Roth lives in Canada and loves every season, even the dreaded Canadian winter. She graduated with honours from the Associate Diploma Program in Veterinary Technology at the University of Guelph before choosing a different career path.

Between caring for her young son, spending time with her husband, and feeding treats to her menagerie of animals, she still spends every spare second devoted to her passion for writing.

She loves growing peppers that are hot enough to make grown men cry, but she doesn’t like spicy food herself. Her favourite thing, other than writing of course, is to find a quiet place in the wilderness and listen to the birds while dreaming about the gorgeous men in her head.

Website | Goodreads | First for Romance

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