Tag Archives: release day!

New Release! – Complex Dimensions by Brenda Murphy

Title: Complex Dimensions

Series: A Rowan House Novel

Author: Brenda Murphy

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 23, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 65100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Contemporary, BDSM, lesbian, interracial, ex-convict, chauffeur, D/s, butch, sex toys

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Sick of living in her parent’s basement and encountering her ex-girlfriend on a regular basis, former graduate student Veronica Fletcher signs on to manage the stable for Rowan House, Skye’s most exclusive resort for women. After arriving at Rowan house Veronica’s vow to remain celibate is tested when she meets Millie Reid.

Sexy, sweet, and funny, Millie is the woman of Veronica’s dreams. Or is she? When Millie’s past threatens their future together, Veronica is faced with a choice she doesn’t want to make. The butterfly effect has never been more personal.

Excerpt

Complex Dimensions
Brenda Murphy © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Veronica followed her mom through the grocery, navigating the phalanx of Saturday afternoon shoppers. Her thoughts wandered as she trailed behind her mother as she maneuvered their overloaded cart around people staring at the overcrowded shelves, children straying from their parents, and the occasional mobility scooter.

“Ronnie, would you go back and pick up another can of tomato paste? I need two for my sauce. I’m so out of step since they rearranged the store. I don’t understand why…”

Not ready to listen to her mom go on about the changes in the store layout for what must be the hundredth time since she had been released, Veronica interrupted her. “Relax, Mom, I got it.”

She turned and jogged back two aisles and caught sight of a familiar face. Dee stood at the far end of the aisle, her arm draped around the shoulders of Veronica’s ex-friend, Paige. A toddler, her round face and dark brown eyes so much like Dee’s she could have been a clone, sat in the basket of the cart in front of them. Paige pressed a kiss to Dee’s cheek.

Say hello. Don’t act invisible. Get over yourself. So, she’s here with Paige and their baby. Should be me. Should have been us. She looked away and gathered herself. Say something. Be a grown-up. Congratulate them. She looks happy.

Veronica walked down the aisle toward the women, working hard to keep a smile plastered on her face. She lifted her hand in greeting. Dee glanced up and made brief eye contact before a frown crossed her face. She turned her head away from Veronica. Paige looked past Dee and shot Veronica a challenging glare before she pushed their shopping cart briskly away. Fuck. No mistaking the message. She’s moved on. Let it go. She stopped and shoved her hands in her pockets to keep from balling them into fists. She turned away, walked to the main aisle, and followed the overhead labels until she reached the canned vegetable aisle.

She stood in the center of the aisle and groaned inwardly as she studied the shelves. Why do they need twelve different kinds of paste? Damn it. Where the hell is the Bella tomato paste? Mom will flip if it’s not the right brand.

A short woman dressed in a bright red T-shirt and jeans stepped up on the bottom shelf of the section. She extended her arm, her fingers straining shy of the can of tomato sauce she was trying to reach.

Veronica stepped closer. “Hey, let me…” The shelf rocked and teetered. The sharp sound of metal scraping made the hairs on Veronica’s arm stand up as the shelf tilted toward the woman.

“Watch out!” Veronica grabbed the woman around the waist and tugged her out of the way as the entire section of heavy metal shelving crashed to the floor. Cans of vegetables slid off the shelves and filled the aisle. A dented can of stewed tomatoes rolled past her shoe as cans continued to randomly slide from the twisted metal shelves.

“Are you okay?” Veronica let go of the woman’s waist. Other shoppers crowded around them, drawn by the noise.

A store employee arrived. Red faced and wheezing, he pointed to the avalanche of cans. “Is anyone under there?”

“No. I don’t think so.” Veronica leaned away from the stale smell of cigarettes and sweat wafting from the employee.

The woman stared at Veronica, her eyes wide. “You…I would have been under there. I would have…” Her cheeks grew pink. “Thank you.” She ducked her head, pushed through the crowd, and fled.

More store employees showed up and blocked the aisle with warning signs and yellow tape. The crowd filtered away. Veronica stepped back from the chaos.

The dull edge of the can she was still holding dug into her palm. What if my mom hadn’t needed another can of tomato paste? What if Dee had wanted to chat? What if I hadn’t noticed the shelf shift? We both would’ve been under there. A minute. A second. So much can change in a moment. Butterfly effect. Chaos Theory on display.

“Ronnie?” Her mother’s hand squeezed her arm. She turned and stared down the aisle, her lips pressed together in a thin line. “Good Lord, look at that. You’d have been crushed.”

Veronica held up the can in her hand and grinned at her mom. “Got the tomato paste.”

Her mother quirked her mouth, “All right, joker, let’s get the rest of the groceries before anything else falls down.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows, and yes, those are her monkeys. When she is not swilling gallons of hot tea and writing, she wrangles two kids, two dogs, and one unrepentant parrot. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog Writing While Distracted.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Blog

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

New Release! No Good Men by Thea McAlistair

Title: No Good Men

Series: The Caro Mysteries, Book One

Author: Thea McAlistair

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 16, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65100

Genre: Historical, LGBT, 1930s, Age gap, Historical, Gay, Dark, Mystery, Anxiety

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

In 1934, almost everyone struggles to pay the rent, and Alex Dawson is no exception. To support his writing habit, he moonlights with his mentor Donnie as a bodyguard for the mayor. It’s dull work, until the night a handsome, golden-eyed stranger catches his eye–and both his boss and his mentor are killed when his back is turned.

Jobless and emotionally adrift, Alex vows to find the murderer before the corrupt police can pin the blame on him. But he soon discovers he’s in over his head. The golden-eyed stranger turns out to be a mob boss’s cousin, and a suspicious stack of money in Donnie’s dresser leads Alex to discover that his mentor and the mayor were involved in something more crooked than fundraising dinners and campaign speeches. As the death count rises amid corruption, mob politics, and anarchist plots, Alex realizes that the murders aren’t political or even business. This is the work of a spree killer, and Alex and his new boyfriend are the only ones who can stop them.

Excerpt

No Good Men
Thea McAlistair © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Mob money could buy a lot, but apparently it couldn’t buy taste. Every single architectural detail of the Ostia struck me as garish: from the chandeliers dripping crystals to the thick wooden accent panels to the gold-painted cherubs carved into the tops of the columns. But my opinion didn’t matter; I was just hired muscle.

The club had opened the previous December—about two seconds after booze turned legal again—and attracted all sorts of upper-class clientele, including my boss, Mayor Roy Carlisle. They called him the White Knight of Westwick, and he ran on the rather ironic platform of driving various ne’er-do-wells out of the city. But again, not my business. My job was to hover just behind him in case something terrible happened. Nothing ever happened though, no crazed attackers or falling pianos. The worst crisis I’d run into in the ten or so months I’d been working for him was a freak rainstorm at a garden party, and I had to hold my jacket over his wife Emma’s head to protect her hair.

Still, it was a dollar a night to stand around, and that was more than other people were getting. The Depression had wiped everyone out, including me. If I hadn’t taken up bodyguarding, I would’ve been thrown out of my room in the boardinghouse faster than I could say eviction. Writing pulp stories wasn’t a lucrative day job, and even less so at the beginning of a career.

Which was why, despite my thoughts on the decor, I was pleased to be at the Ostia. Everyone said they had the best acts in town, and I couldn’t disagree. That night they opened with a pretty, button-nosed redhead. She was French, or at least she had a good enough grip of the language to sing in it. I didn’t know what she was singing about, but it sounded sultry enough as she made eyes at our table.

Carlisle lapped it up, ignorant or indifferent to Emma turning bright pink beside him. She didn’t say anything though. Maybe she’d taken a lesson from other political wives and learned to swallow her pride or risk becoming divorced and destitute. Not that she didn’t deserve to be proud. She was still pretty at thirty-five—ten years Carlisle’s junior—blonde and delicate with huge blue eyes.

She must have gotten her looks from her mother, because her father had the smashed face of a bulldog and towered over even my own six feet. Seated to his daughter’s left that night, Marc Logan also stewed in silence, his hand alternately crumpling the napkins and patting Emma reassuringly on the knee. His own blue eyes, the haunting color of old ice, bored a hole into the side of Carlisle’s head.

Their dinner guest for the evening, Mrs. Green, likewise noticed his glare and apparently decided the best course of action was distraction. “Emma dear, did you see what Miss Kepler was wearing the other night at the Peterson soiree?” she tittered as she coiled the chain for her hanging glasses around a finger.

“Hmm?” Emma turned her head just enough to keep her husband in her peripheral vision. “I’m sorry; what were you saying about the Kepler girl?”

“Her dress!” exclaimed Mrs. Green. “It was scandalous! So low-cut. Anyone would have thought she was selling herself. Her father should never have let her out of the house like that. Don’t you agree, Mr. Logan?”

Logan blinked slowly, no doubt trying to come to terms with the dullness of a conversation centered on someone else’s clothing. “While I have to agree that she was… improperly dressed for the occasion, it is quite difficult for a man to say no to his daughter once she’s gotten her mind wrapped around something.” He glanced at Emma, who smiled weakly.

Mrs. Green continued along the thread of scandalous attire, but I let my attention slip back to Carlisle. Oblivious to the rest of his table, he continued to stare at the French singer. While such behavior wasn’t unusual for him, that night it was so obvious that even I was becoming uncomfortable. I glanced at my watch and suppressed a groan. It was only half-past ten. Donnie wouldn’t be around for another hour and a half.

“Are you feeling all right, Mr. Dawson?”

My attention snapped to Emma. “Yes, ma’am,” I answered, hoping she hadn’t noticed my boredom.

Her mouth quirked like she was in on some joke I didn’t know the punchline to, but she said nothing else. Instead she turned to her father, placed a hand on his shoulder, and whispered something in his ear. He grunted in response. Carlisle didn’t notice the exchange, or maybe didn’t care. Mrs. Green kept nattering away.

The song stopped, and the French girl took a bow. We all clapped, Carlisle too enthusiastically, and Emma barely at all. The girl swept off the stage to a table off the wing for a break, and she was replaced by a dark-haired woman with too much makeup. The new woman sang with a rough alto voice, occasionally throwing appraising looks at Carlisle, though he didn’t return them. Once the French girl left, his attention had returned to the food. The rest of the table did the same.

With my charges occupied, I took the chance to look over the room again. Nothing out of the ordinary. Diners, waiters, a glossy bar at the back. The maître-de waving through a man who had just entered… I realized I knew the man weaving his way between tables. Donnie was terribly noticeable with a thick, out-of-fashion beard and pocket-watch chain draped across his waistcoat. I looked at my own watch again. It was only eleven.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Thea McAlistair is the pseudonym of an otherwise terribly boring office worker from New Jersey. She studied archaeology, anthropology, history, architecture, and public policy, but none of those panned out, so she decided to go back to an early love – writing. She can often be found muttering to herself about her latest draft at completely inappropriate times.

Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

New Release ! Time Turns by C.B. Lewis

Title: Time Turns
Series: Out of Time, Book Four
Author: C.B. Lewis
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: September 16, 2019
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 123500
Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, science fiction, gay, transgender, British, anxiety attacks, time travel, super nerdy Scottish genius

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

As a consultant analyst for the most technologically advanced firms in the country, Danny Ferguson knows he’s seen a lot of crazy stuff, but nothing comes close to his newest position at the Temporal Research Institute, the world’s foremost time travel organisation.

The corrupted piece of code Ferguson found on the TRI’s closed network is a serious concern for Lysander O’Donohue, the director of the TRI. Unable to trust his own people—any one of whom might be the source—he’s forced to put all his trust in Danny to solve the mystery of the corrupt code and find the identity of the enemy within.

But when an unexpected temporal gate opens, a straightforward code analysis becomes something a lot more complicated.

Excerpt

Time Turns
C.B. Lewis © 2019
All Rights Reserved

They said the veins of Danny Ferguson ran with coffee.

He told them to sod off as he downed his second espresso.

Cassandra snickered as she poured some milk into her own cup of tea. “Well, when you over-caffeinate and give yourself a heart attack and die, don’t come crying to me.”

“Ha!” Danny struck a dramatic pose, gazing into the distance. “I’m immortal!”

“You’re a knob,” Shiv said with a snort.

Danny ran his finger around the inside of his cup, catching the dregs, and licked them off. “Jealousy doesn’t suit you, Shiv.” He rinsed out the cup and set it down to dry. “Catch you at lunch.”

“One day,” Cassandra called after him as he headed towards the canteen door, “you’ll take your full tea break like a normal human being.”

Danny spun around. “And one day, you’ll beat my stats and get my bonus!” he called back and then widened his eyes in mock shock. “And one day, pigs’ll fly!”

“Knob!” Shiv repeated.

Danny grinned as he headed out into the hall.

The caffeine had kicked in already, giving him a nice buzz. He didn’t need it, but sometimes, a jump-start didn’t hurt when he was stuck on monitoring all day. It was the dullest part of the job, but he could hardly be on coding every day. It was only fair to give everyone else a chance to catch up.

He’d been working with IDD—International Digital Development—for nearly a decade, straight out of his PhD. They needed people with a good eye for coding and anomalies and had gotten his attention with a stupidly high salary that had exceeded all expectations.

Still, they couldn’t say he wasn’t amazing at his job.

He stopped at the door and waited for the scan to sweep his face, then held his fingertips over the sensor, tapping the pattern for the week. The door slid open, and he wandered into the sprawling office he shared with three other coders.

“What’d I miss?”

Ravi glanced up through the projection in front of him, raising his eyebrows. “In the ten minutes you were gone?”

“Rav farted,” Ekaterina said, pausing her own screen. “So much excitement.”

Ravi rolled his eyes at her. “Nothing. You missed nothing.”

Danny wasn’t surprised.

Monitoring could be bloody tedious. His quad had the week’s rotation on monitoring: a full day’s shift of sitting and auditing code for external clients, assessing for glitches and anomalies overlooked by the computers. Sometimes, there could be minor problems. Once in a while, it was a bug that could—if left alone—start a chain reaction and break everything. Mostly, it meant sitting on your arse all day, admiring the amazingly complex codes some of their clients had come up with.

He settled in his seat, reclining the chair back as far as he could.

The chair had been one of his greatest triumphs.

When he started working at IDD, he had one of the usual workstations with a standard ergonomic monstrosity of a seat—the ‘in’ thing for any office. Maybe they were scientifically good for you, but Danny hated it. He’d end up on his feet all day, pacing as he scanned the code, and, apparently, distracting people.

He had to sit, his manager had insisted because everyone else needed to concentrate too. Danny had agreed, and he’d ordered a better chair, paid for by himself. The fact that he chose the biggest, comfiest reclining armchair in the building was a minor technicality.

His boss had hit the roof about it, but Danny cheerfully argued the semantics. It ensured he worked his best; his numbers had shot up since he’d gotten it; no one was being distracted; and he’d paid for it out of his own pocket, so no harm done. He ended up winning the right to keep the chair.

Thus began a long and glorious rivalry with his line manager.

He pulled the projection of his latest project up in front of him, wrapped it around the front of the chair, and set it scrolling. This particular vast batch came from some anonymous external client. He’d worked with their stuff before. Once you were familiar with a particular style of code, you didn’t easily forget it.

Sometimes, they were told who the clients were.

Most of the time, they were left in the dark.

They could make guesses, but it was anyone’s money because unless some big news story broke as a result of something they’d uncovered, the likelihood of finding out the client’s identity fell somewhere between slim and nil.

Danny put on some Rachmaninoff in his headphones and settled back to focus on the code whirling around him. Beautiful, complex, and intricate with layer upon layer folded into it, whoever had written it had to be doing some incredibly hi-tech stuff.

Purchase Links

NineStar Press.
| Amazon
| Smashwords
| Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

C.B. Lewis is small, Scottish and writes pretty much anywhere, any time. She loves to travel and tends to bring home at least four new plot bunnies from every trip she goes on. She’s very excited to continue the adventures of the Out of Time series.

Facebook
| Tumblr

Giveaway –

One lucky winner will receive a $10.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!

Rafflecopter Embed Code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/555033ec626/?widget_template=589504cd4f3bedde0b6e64c2

Guest Post – Grace R. Duncan – Overcoming Fear

 

Four things I learned in the re-release of Overcoming Fear

 
I hope Jana doesn’t mind that I went with four things instead of five, but hey, Overcoming Fear is a short story! We’ll go with that, right? 😉

It’s harder to edit an old story than I expected it to be. When I thought about rereleasing Overcoming Fear, it never occurred to me that it would be even remotely difficult to go back through it, tweak it and get it ready for publication. But five minutes in, I found myself second-guessing pretty much everything! It took a lot of effort to keep myself from completely rewriting the whole thing—the exact opposite of what I was trying to do—and simply focus on editing.

It’s intimidating when you’ve been out of the loop for so long. This is more about the release/publicity side of things, but I found myself super-nervous just asking people for help with promo and cover reveals. It felt a little like I had forgotten what the publication process was even like. Oops?

There is a ridiculous number of phrases particular to a US region and anyone outside of those seems to think you’re batshit when you try to explain them. Overcoming Fear uses a phrase I remember hearing for as long I’ve lived—“Hello the house (http://historicalhoney.com/hello-house/)”—though I have no idea where I learned it. It was just something I’d remembered as a way people announced their presence back before doorbells were a thing. I figured that since people didn’t get normal visitors anymore in the Pandemus world, then they weren’t likely to feel safe just knocking on a door. Thus, “Hello the house” seemed like a reasonable option. When I originally published OF, at least one of the editors had never heard of it and this time, at least two of my proofreaders hadn’t heard of it. I ended up having to link to a video (https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/cc04cb1a-39b8-4d3c-a4a6-3e6a5cec4034) for the editor to not question me.

Memory only goes so far when finding the setting. Google maps is a godsend for this. I grew up in the area that Healing and Overcoming Fear were set in. I spent my high school around the lake Mark and Duncan end up on. Yet, despite very clear pictures in my head, it took an astounding amount of time to remember where any of that stuff was. I still ended up having to take generous liberty with the area, and next time, I think I’ll just not count on my memory.

Thanks again to Jana for giving me some space today! You can find Overcoming Fear at Amazon and it is also available on Kindle Unlimited.

 

noh8About Grace:

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Website FacebookTwitterYoutubeGoodreads

New Release – Blood Is Forever

Title: Blood Is Forever

Author: Asta Idonea

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 3, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 74500

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, fantasy, Fae, vampires, witches, half-breed, demons, homicide, law enforcement

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

As a fae-vampire hybrid, scorned by all, Holden’s life has never been easy. The one bright spot is his job testing blood at supernatural crime scenes. It’s routine work, until the day he finds a victim he can’t read.

When one murder becomes two, and then three, it’s clear there’s a serial killer on the loose—one with a penchant for collecting hearts. Finding the bad guy could cement Holden’s career, but he’s drawing a blank. And it doesn’t help that the expert his boss calls in to assist him is the man Holden’s been crushing on for years.

With lives hanging in the balance, Holden and Val must solve the case before the killer strikes again. But will they come out with their hearts still intact?

Excerpt

Blood Is Forever
Asta Idonea © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“What’s a filthy halfen doing here?”

Holden heard the comment. He could scarce avoid doing so, seeing as he possessed enhanced hearing and the speaker had made no attempt to lower his voice. The fae onlooker didn’t know the half of it. Clearly he based his judgment of Holden’s heritage solely on Holden’s less-than-regal stature—a good few inches shorter than most fae—rather than having recognised him outright. That was a rare occurrence. Had he known the truth about Holden’s lineage, the remark would have been all the more scathing.

Halfens—fae half-breeds—were considered the lowest of the low, ranked even below shifters in the supernatural community. Most halfens were fae-human hybrids. As a fae-vampire, Holden was as much of a social outcast as it was possible to be. The fae were notoriously snooty. For one of them to have had a liaison with a human was bad enough, but a vampire… It still amazed Holden that his father had committed such an act.

Cadeyrn was an important figure in the community—a leader in every sense of the word—and socially conscious in the extreme. Still, rumour had it Holden’s mother had been a rare beauty. Holden couldn’t confirm that. She’d died giving birth to him. Fae children were generally larger than vampire offspring, and her spine had snapped under the pressure of his delivery. With her passing, Cadeyrn had effectively shaken off the stigma attached to their brief encounter. The residue had stuck to Holden instead.

The fae who’d noted his presence spat on the ground near his feet as he passed, and a familiar icy fist closed around Holden’s heart. Nevertheless, he acted as he always did in such situations: he made no response, pretending he hadn’t heard anything, thankful for the dark sunglasses hiding his eyes. If he’d learned anything over the years, it was that he needed to maintain a thick skin, or at least the semblance of it. Such pretence wasn’t his forte, however. So, keeping his gaze fixed on his destination, he forged as speedy a path as possible through the small crowd gathered around the gate and approached the house.

Upon reaching the front door, he nodded to the officer stationed by the entrance, whipped out his credentials, and waved the plastic ID card under the man’s nose. The fae officer scanned them in silence, before raising the invisible strip of tape blocking the doorway, granting Holden access to the building.

From the outside, the Victorian terrace had no distinguishing features. A standard exemplar of its era, it sat in the middle of a long row of identical properties—former middle-class family homes long since converted into small inner-city apartments, for which young professionals had to pay top dollar. This particular example officially consisted of four flats. In truth, there were five.

Holden headed straight for the stairs and ascended to the third floor. To human eyes, this was the last living area, with only roof space above, but Holden could see the shimmer in the wall that indicated a hidden doorway. He passed through the gap, shaking off the tingle the magical barrier sent dancing over his skin, and mounted the small flight of steps to the fifth apartment. The door at the top stood open, and when Holden crossed the threshold, he entered a room bustling with activity.

Fae and witches hurried back and forth. Some wore full protective suits. Others were dressed normally, save for their softly scrunching shoe covers. Two photographers snapped away, their constant camera flashes blinding in their intensity. Meanwhile, several of their colleagues deposited a variety of items into plastic evidence bags, then whisked said bags away. Three witches were casting a spell to search surfaces for any latent fingerprints not belonging to the apartment’s owner, while one of the fae glided behind them, retrieving and cataloguing those found. All in all, it was a pretty standard crime scene.

Holden removed his sunglasses and stowed them in his jacket pocket. Then he grabbed some shoe covers from the box near the door and tugged them over his worn trainers. Now suitably attired, he looked for his superior amidst the organised chaos. In the end, Owens spotted him first.

“Holden!”

Her bark cut through the noise, and everyone paused. They looked at Owens and then at Holden. Most swiftly returned to their respective tasks, but a few pairs of eyes lingered on him. He didn’t recognise the faces attached to those keen gazes, but he could sense these strangers assessing him, judging him…and finding him wanting.

“Holden Fay, quit daydreaming and get your arse over here.”

At the command, Holden squared his shoulders and marched across the room, pretending, as best he could, not to notice those who still observed him.

Owens pursed her dark-berry-coloured lips as he approached, hands planted firmly on her ample hips. “What the hell took you so fucking long? I summoned you forty minutes ago. We had to hold the scene for you.”

“I’m sorry, Captain, but it’s peak hour. You know London traffic.” Actually, he’d had a pretty good run, all things considered, and after parking three streets down, he’d used a supernatural burst of speed to sprint the rest of the way—an action that always took a lot out of him.

“Oh yes. I’d forgotten about your…that you can’t use portals.” Owens had the decency to look momentarily abashed at having brought up one of Holden’s numerous defects. “Anyway, you’re here now.” She chose to move swiftly past the elephant in the room, for which Holden was grateful, and he hastened to follow suit.

“What do we have?”

“Come see for yourself.”

Holden trailed Owens through the lounge and into the bedroom. The sight that met his eyes there threatened to turn his stomach. However, he steeled himself and swallowed back the bile. This was his job, after all, and with his background and disadvantages, he was lucky to have any form of employment. He couldn’t afford to lose his position with the Fellowship’s Investigations Team because of a little blood. Not that the blood was the issue. He’d visited plenty of gory scenes, and being part vampire, spilled blood was liable to make him hungry rather than nauseated. No, it was the precision, the clear intent, which made this tableau so gruelling.

The body lay upon the bed, atop the sheets. Despite the look of terror permanently burned into his eyes, the victim otherwise projected a semblance of calm. There was minimal creasing to the sheets beneath him, suggesting there hadn’t been a struggle. No one had forced him onto the bed. No one had thrown him there. It appeared as if he’d lain down of his own volition. His arms rested neat and straight by his sides, and there was no sign of any defensive action, which was strange, given the gaping hole in his chest.

“He’s a witch?”

Holden waited for Owens’s nod, but he didn’t really need the clarification. What else could the victim be? His appearance ruled out him being fae, and a vampire would have turned to dust, or at least a pile of bones. That only left a human or a witch, and a human wouldn’t know of this room’s existence. They couldn’t even detect the flow of the earth’s energy through their own bodies, let alone recognise focused magic.

He moved closer and assessed the damage. The heart was gone. It was a clean job though. He was tempted to call it clinical. That, in itself, was unusual. When Owens called him to murder scenes, it tended to be a blood bath. He was used to that; it made sense. Maybe a newly turned vampire had lost control while feeding. Or someone had crossed paths with a shifter turned feral. Those deaths were understandable—a case of instinct outweighing control. A momentary madness. A mistake. This, on the other hand, had a worrisome aura of premeditation about it.

“Coven clash?” he postulated. It was an odd way for a witch to kill one of their fellow practitioners, but he could see no other obvious explanation.

Owens approached and studied the victim over Holden’s shoulder. Although she seemed cool and collected on the outside, Holden could hear her elevated pulse. She, too, was on edge.

“Not as far as we can tell. I spoke on the phone to all nine coven leaders while I waited for you. None reported any particular tensions, aside from the normal intercoven rivalries. They certainly knew of nothing that would prompt anyone to commit murder.” She stepped back. “Can you get anything from the blood? That’s why we called you here, after all. We can do the standard detective work on our own.”

Holden was glad he had his back to Owens, because he flinched at the slight.

Technically, he was only on the Fellowship’s payroll as a subcontractor. There were no regular hours or weekly paycheques. They simply called him as and when they needed him. That was fine, but he yearned for more. He wanted to be a proper member of the team. He wanted to be a detective and see a case through from start to finish. Although he didn’t possess the full abilities of either fae or vampire, there were things he could do, and given the opportunity, he’d work his arse off. However, he knew it was a pipe dream. With his genetic heritage, most people wanted nothing to do with him, and those who tolerated his presence only did so out of respect for his father. In all his thirty-four years, he’d known only two exceptions, and one of those was Owens.

Of all the members of the Investigations Team, Owens treated him the best. He would even go so far as to say she liked him. However, that only made her occasional, unintentional slips hurt all the more. He knew he wouldn’t have been her first choice for this job, for example. Given the option, she’d have called Drake, Claude, or even Samuel, rather than him, considering the unexpected nature of the crime. But blood work was extremely time sensitive, and since the pure-blood vampires wouldn’t rise for at least another three hours, she had to make do with him. So, he’d better get to work.

The blood had dripped down the man’s sides and pooled beneath his torso. Holden reached out and dipped his index finger into it. It was already congealing, but he collected a good enough sample for his purposes and raised the reddened digit to his lips. At first contact, he screwed up his face. No vampire liked the taste of dead blood. It wasn’t dangerous in small quantities like this, but it was far from pleasant. Nevertheless, Holden brushed aside his disgust and closed his eyes, focusing on his task.

Blood was a powerful tool in the right hands. It held memories—flashes of the life of the one in whose veins it had dwelt. Those memories faded after a time, though, once the heart stopped beating. Hence the need for a swift assessment. Holden rolled the blood on his tongue, seeking a connection. At this point, images usually bombarded him, coming so thick and fast it took concentration and practice to sort through them, separating ancient memories from recent events, picking out the important details from amidst the mundane. It was a skill, and he was adept. But on this occasion, there was nothing but blackness.

He opened his eyes and shook his head. “I’m sorry, Captain. There’s nothing there. We’re too late.”

“But Philips estimated the time of death as two hours ago. Even with your delayed arrival, the blood should still be good.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.” He shuffled, forcing himself to maintain eye contact despite his strong inclination to hang his head and look away. “The memories weren’t even faint. They weren’t there at all.”

It was not the first time this had happened to him, and it wouldn’t be the last. If the blood was too old, it was too old. There was nothing he could do about it. Nonetheless, Holden hated these failures. Neither Drake nor Claude could have extracted anything more from the sample, yet he had the greater need to prove himself. Lack of success clung more persistently to him than it did to them.

Owens swore loudly and virulently. “Very well. If you can’t do anything to help, you may as well go. We’ll wrap up the scene and head back to the office.”

She turned and barked orders at the rest of her staff, completing the abrupt dismissal, and Holden finally allowed himself to sink into the slumped-shoulder posture that had been pressing down upon him for several minutes.

Although free to leave, and keen to extract himself from under the sea of condemning gazes, Holden hovered a moment longer and looked back down at the body. Aside from the lack of a struggle and the surgical precision of the cuts, there was something else odd about the scene. If he could just put his finger on it…

The body retrieval crew shoved past, and their jostling broke Holden’s concentration. While they set about preparing the body for transportation, Holden spun on his heel and left. No one stopped his egress. No one called out a goodbye. He knew he was likely being paranoid, but he could have sworn he felt a wave of relief wash over the room when he rid the apartment of his presence.

Outside, the crowd from earlier had dispersed. Either they’d grown bored at the lack of action or members of the Investigations Team had moved them along, anxious to avoid drawing human attention. It was none of his concern either way.

The summer sunlight seemed at odds with the macabre scene he’d witnessed, and following the gloom indoors, its brightness hurt his sensitive eyes, so he whipped out his sunglasses. At the same time, he noticed he was still wearing the shoe covers. These he toed off, kicking them into the air and catching them. Not wanting to return indoors to dispose of them, he shoved them into the back pocket of his jeans.

A glance at his watch revealed that barely half an hour had passed since his arrival. Before Owens’s call, he’d planned on enjoying a quiet night at home, curled up with a good book, but now he had other ideas. A drink was in order—preferably three or four. With his vampiric metabolism, it took at least that many to feel even the faintest buzz. Alcohol alone was never sufficient, however. There was something else he needed too.

Holden retrieved his phone and knocked out a text message as he mooched back to his car. It was still too early in the day to expect an answer, but he didn’t doubt a favourable response when one finally came. Raoul had never once let him down. He would not be spending the night alone.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!

As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theater, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing. She is never found too far from her much-loved library/music room.

Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

New Release A Vampire’s Redemption

Title: A Vampire’s Redemption

Series: The Inquisition Trilogy, Book Two

Author: Casey Wolfe

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 3, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 108700

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, vampires, werewolves, were-creatures, mages, witches, elves, centaurs, alternate universe, dark, magic, fluff, low angst, hurt/comfort, PTSD, humor, friendship, political, fantasy, paranormal, romance, gay, pansexual, mates, mating, mate bonds

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Marcus was likely dead, killed by the Inquisition, or so it was believed. Then the vampire was found, broken beyond words, in an isolated prison fortress. Marcus had never expected to see daylight again, let alone be rescued by his mate. Now he worries he’ll drag Caleb into his darkness.

Caleb was the one who pulled Marcus out of his prison cell, and he’s determined to drag him from the nightmares of his mind as well. After all, that’s what mates are for, and Caleb had lost hope at finding his. And if he can help destroy the entire Inquisition? Well, all the better.

Dealing with Marcus’s physical and mental healing from his trauma is difficult enough, but Inquisition holdouts are causing chaos everywhere, and sinister plots are rampant. Marcus and Caleb have no choice but to fight back. It’s a good thing they are not alone.

Excerpt

A Vampire’s Redemption
Casey Wolfe © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
Caleb ushered the prisoners from their holding cells, encouraging them to escape. A naiad, shivering and pale, was carried by a collared were-creature. A dwarf asked for some assistance getting an injured elf to her feet, a pair of fellow prisoners stopping to lend aid in getting her out.

He continued to move as quickly as possible until he reached solitary confinement at the back of the block.

Only one cell was occupied. The prisoner was curled on his side, groaning as he attempted to right himself. “Hold on,” Caleb said. “Lemme help.”

He was met with a hiss and flash of fangs. Vampire. Caleb shied back to the threshold of the cell, dropping into a crouch. “Whoa, whoa, I’m not gonna hurt ya, man. We’re here to free you guys.”

The vampire blinked a few times before his hackles lowered. His body sagged, the rest of his energy going with it.

Caleb scented the air—filth, sweat, excrement; all of which was expected. Then he smelled blood and infected flesh. As the vampire used all his remaining strength to push himself into a seated position with only one arm, the source was made obvious. “They took your arm?” Caleb snarled. “Fucking bastards.”

Letting out a humorless laugh, the vampire looked at him. “They wanted to know if it would grow back.”

There was no helping Caleb’s growl. Were-creatures and vampires had accelerated healing, a trait of their particular races. But even they had their limits. Growing a new limb? These people were madder than he originally thought.

“Gonna get you out of here,” Caleb said, tempering his anger with an awareness of the situation he was in. He inched inside the cell, moving slowly so he didn’t startle the wounded vampire again. “It’ll be alright now.” He soothed him with the voice he used on Kyle and the other pups when they got scared or needed help with a shift. “You’ll be okay. I promise.”

“I’m so tired,” he murmured, eyes closing as his head fell back against the cell wall. “Don’t even think I can walk out of here.”

“I’ll help you. We’ll do it together, okay?”

“I can’t.” The vampire’s face scrunched in pain, the words forced out.

“We can.” Caleb offered his hand, even though the vampire’s eyes were still closed. “Come on. I’ll carry you if I have to.”

The vampire looked at him, lips curled in mirth. “Yeah? Just you there, small fry?”

Geez, he can manage to joke at a time like this? Caleb thought, though he was amused all the same. This one was most likely a sassy bastard when he was in top form. Something about that thought made Caleb want to see him at his best.

“Up you go,” Caleb encouraged, wiggling his fingers. When the vampire took hold, Caleb hauled him up in one quick motion before the vampire could try to lift himself.

“Shit,” he cursed, balance lost in the process, and falling against Caleb.

Catching him easily enough, Caleb prepared to make a smart comment when he smelled it. Closer now, the scent of honeysuckle wafted under his nose, and every place their skin touched was tingling with static. It couldn’t really be…

“Mate.” The word was said with such awe and reverence, Caleb’s chest clenched.

Caleb looked up to meet eyes the color of sea glass. He licked his lips, mouth suddenly dry. “Yeah,” Caleb agreed. “Mates.” He pulled the vampire closer, both supporting him and fulfilling his wolf’s selfish need to keep him near. “I’ll get you out of here.” If the statement was filled with more conviction than before, then nobody could blame him.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

“Everyone deserves a Happily Ever After.”

History nerd, film buff, avid gamer, and full-time geek; all of these things describe Casey Wolfe. They prefer being lost in the world of fiction—wandering through fantasy realms, traveling the outer reaches of space, or delving into historical time periods. Casey is non-binary and ace, living with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, all of which informs their writing in various ways. Happily married, Casey and their partner live in the middle-of-nowhere, Ohio with their furry, four-legged children.

Website | Facebook | Tumblr

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

New Release – The Scarecrow by Mia Kerick

Title: The Scarecrow & George C

Author: Mia Kerick

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 3, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 65700

Genre: Contemporary New Adult, LGBT, contemporary, new adult, hurt/comfort, family drama

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

High school senior Van Liss is barely human. He thinks of himself as a scarecrow—ragged and unnerving, stuck and destined to spend his life cold and alone. If he ever had feelings, they were stomped out long ago by his selfish mother and her lecherous boyfriend. All he’s been left with is bitter contempt, to which he clings.

With a rough exterior long used to keep the world at bay, Van spooks George Curaco, the handsome new fry cook at the diner where he works. But George C senses there is more to the untouchable Van and refuses to stop staring, fascinated by his eccentricity. When Van learns that George C is even more cold, alone, and frightened than himself, Van welcomes him to his empty home. And ends up finding his heart.

Their road to trust is rocky and, at times, even dangerous. And looming evil threatens to keep them apart forever.

Fair warning: You may want to strap in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Excerpt

The Scarecrow & George C
Mia Kerick © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Do us both a favor: check this out before you read
If you’re looking to read a story about a sassy teenage gay boy who refuses to behave until he meets Mr. Wonderful in Senior Honors Physics, and then is dazzled into improved conduct and future monogamy, I highly doubt this is the book for you. Believe me when I say you should close the book right now—drop it into a recycling bin if you’re all about keeping the earth green—and walk away. To this point, my life hasn’t run according to a predictable romantic formula. I don’t see a reason for this status to change.

Maybe you think you’re into something darker, so an unconventional story will suit your offbeat mood. News flash, reader: loners spend significant time in bookstores. I’m aware of the kind of books that consider themselves dark, at least in a carnal sense, and many are categorized as “New Adult,” just like this one. Between lewd front and back covers featuring tits, tats, and torsos, a threadbare plot is woven into a heavy fabric of inspired sex. You’re not likely to find that shit in here, either—but don’t I wish?

By now, you’ve probably noticed I possess a flair for the dramatic. Well, I look at it like this: creating drama staves off boredom. Not that I need to justify myself. But if you’re still with me, you’ve earned a shred of my respect. So on second thought, maybe you should keep reading.

Stick along for the ride if it pops your cork…

Friday
I towel myself off after my second, extremely necessary, shower of the morning. Mom’s cast-off pale pink towel is history thanks to unsightly smudges of black dye. Whatever. I did what I had to do, even if it was messy.

This morning, you see, I woke up and dyed my roots black. The urge to do it had been gathering steam for a few days—ever since the new kid started working at the diner. I picked up the dye on a rather compelling whim at the 24-hour pharmacy on the corner of Depot and Wilder Streets after work on Tuesday night. The rest is well-planned history.

I had to refer to a YouTube video so my roots would appear intentional, rather than a result of lazy grooming. And you may think I seem like a hot mess, but my crime against hair color has been done by careful design. Don’t delude yourself—I wasn’t going for the chic ombré look. Believe me, there’s nothing trendy about me. I want bold black roots with zero transition to the rest of my white-blond hair.

I glance in the mirror over the bathroom sink and see the male reverse of Cruella DeVil. And I smile, having achieved the “what the fuck’s up with his hair?” vibe I desire.

I suppose you want to know why I did it. That’s an easy one, and I think you’re going to appreciate my total candor. Drumroll, please: It’s because even if I’m a loner, I’m not heartless. I’m different, and I flaunt it, which is my way of keeping it real with the world. FYI: “Different” is my PC way of letting the public know I’m strange, frightening, and maybe even slightly dangerous. So, it’s better if that kid at the diner, and everybody else, looks away.

And you know what, boys and girls? I can help with that…

Here’s how: I dress like a Halloween scarecrow. Yeah, yeah… You’re wondering what, exactly, constitutes “scarecrow attire”? Go ahead, bookworm, google it. I did—I’m a visual sort of guy. You’ll see images of rigid figures, some stuffed with hay, others skinny as the barn boards they’re made of, clad in an unfortunate variety of secondhand clothing. I wear plaid flannel button-downs and overalls—yes, even to the wedding of a random second cousin last summer—peplum shirts of coarse fabric, and baggy, worn-out jeans, cinched at the waist by knotted burlap belts. Countless patches, Western bandanas, and an antique, oversized top hat finishes my retro cast-off style.

I laugh as I pull on today’s hokey duds. I’m not what you’d call the picture of fashion. In fact, I’d wager guys rarely fantasize about their boyfriends sporting dirty, patched overalls and a hat like Abraham Lincoln’s. But even if I take the hat off, you’ll see my new jet-black roots—hard as hell to appreciate on a bleached blond. Dedicate the hair color upgrade to that guy at work who won’t look away.

He probably considers himself eclectic and likes to think he appreciates life’s more unusual things. Or maybe he’s merely a Halloween maniac who is turned on by scarecrows with hair like straw. Incidentally, when I stripped my hair of color, I hoped it would further shock those around me into keeping their distance, but it seems to attract a certain fry cook.

I have fifteen minutes before I have to leave for the torture chamber most people refer to as high school, so I kneel in front of the coffee maker and brew a pot. I’ll check over my take-home Euro History quiz while it brews. No, I’m not a nerd, but I want better options for the future than I’ve had in the past.

Before you ask, I have my reasons for wanting to appear shocking to the point of repellant. And for the most part, I’ve gotten my wish. Teachers and students at school, coworkers and customers at the diner, not to mention Mom and Jake downstairs, all glance at the floor when I walk by. But this guy fixes his gaze on me. Maybe my unnatural black roots will scare him off, the way a good scarecrow stuck in a vast cornfield scares away so many crows.

I just don’t understand why he can’t see how frightening I am.

You can see it, can’t you?

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—one in law school, another at a dance conservatory, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She has published more than twenty books of LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-five years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. She has a great affinity for the tortured hero in literature, and as a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of tortured heroes and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to NineStar Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Her books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine, and have won Rainbow Awards for Best Transgender Contemporary Romance and Best YA Lesbian Fiction, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.

Mia Kerick is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology. Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com or visit at http://www.miakerickya.com to see what is going on in Mia’s world.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2