Sunday, August 7, 2022

#KickstarterTour...The Khanavai Warriors Alien Bride Games #Books 1-3...#SciFi #Romance #Giveaway

***Check out the Alien Bride Lottery Special Edition Hardback Kickstarter Campaign HERE!****

Alien Bride Lottery, Volume 1

The Khanavai Warriors Alien Bride Games Books 1-3

by Margo Bond Collins

Genre: SciFi Romance

Get the complete first season of the Alien Bride Lottery in this collection!

Entered in the Alien Bride Lottery: There are a million ways to end up in the Alien Bride Lottery. But it takes only one.

Every unmarried female human over the age of 21 gets entered once a year. You can also accept extra entries for legal infractions—instead of paying a parking fine, for example, you can request an extra entry. Lots of women do that. I mean, why not? The chances are astronomical that your name will get chosen to be one of the hundred or so women who get shipped off to space every year.

And even if your name is drawn, the odds are slim that you’ll match up with an alien who’s looking for a mate. Most of the lottery-drawn women come back to Earth every year and resume their lives as if nothing changed. But some don’t. And no matter what, getting drawn in the Lottery means you have to compete in the Bride Games. Guess that's where I'm heading now. I only hope I can avoid catching the eye of one of the giant, rainbow-hued brutes whose mission is to protect Earth—and who can claim me as a mate. All because I was Entered in the Alien Bride Lottery…

Captured for the Alien Bride Lottery: I refused to be in the Bride Lottery—so now I’m a runaway bride.

Somehow, I knew my name was going to be drawn in the Bride Lottery—the hellish agreement that Earth’s leaders had made to sell us to the aliens who protected our planet. I’d grown up with the propaganda. It was our civic duty. Men registered for the draft, women registered for the Bride Lottery.No way in hell was I going to be handed over to some giant man to be brutalized into bearing his children. Instead, I cut out my bio-tracker and walked away from everything. I should have realized they’d send one of those hulking, brightly colored aliens to track me down and bring me back. Never did I expect that he’d be devastatingly attractive. Or that we’d have to go on the run from the evil Horde trying to destroy both our planets. Now that we’re together, can I ever run away again? And could he really hand me over to the Bride Games to be taken by another warrior? Because I think I might be falling in love…

Claimed for the Alien Bride Lottery: I thought I’d escaped being given to an alien warrior. I was wrong.

I was one hour away from washing out of the Alien Bride Games. None of the Khanavai warriors had chosen me, and I was scheduled on the next shuttle off the filming station. But then a bright red alien passed me in a hallway—and the next thing I knew, we were all over each other. Bad enough that my name had been drawn in the Bride Lottery. Now, even though they’re supposedly over, I’m back in the Games. And not the usual ones, either—a whole new set of challenges, just for me. Guess it’ll make for good television back home. I just hope I can resist him long enough to get back to Earth, to the people I love. And that I can keep him from learning my most desperate secret. The odds aren’t looking good, though…

PLUS Christmas for the Alien Bride Lottery:

When Lola graduates from college a semester early, she’s left without a job or even any real prospects. She takes a holiday position working as a Christmas Elf at the local mall, only to learn to loathe all things Christmas.  So when her name is drawn for the Alien Bride Lottery’s new “Holiday Special,” she’s almost relieved. Until she meets Valtin, the Khanavai warrior who has decided to make her his own. He’s fascinated with human holiday traditions, especially Christmas.  Can a cranky Christmas Elf and an overeager alien male find the magic of the season together?

Every book in the Khanavai Warrior Bride Games series is a standalone romance. Join these brides as they find a whole new world of happily ever afters.

***Check out the Alien Bride Lottery Special Edition Hardback Kickstarter Campaign HERE!****

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USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times bestselling author Margo Bond Collins is a former college English professor who, tired of explaining the difference between "hanged" and "hung," turned to writing romance novels instead. She now writes urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction romance. Sometimes her heroines kiss aliens, sometimes they kill monsters. But they always aim for the heart.

You can learn more about her books at www.MargoBondCollins.net

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Friday, August 5, 2022

#BookTour...Somnolence #Book 1...#Raiden #PNR #Rockstar

Raiden

Somnolence Book 1

by Ali Lucia Sky

Genre: Paranormal Rockstar Romance

I never expected to see my favorite rock band standing in the office of my high school getting their schedules. Kids my age aren’t known for touring the world and making music for the masses, but Somnolence is.

They welcome me. Raiden takes me in, loves me… it’s like a dream. Until darker forces, nightmares, and their own dark appetites come for me.

This title is in the mature New Adult genre and meant for an audience of 18+ due to triggering situations such as domestic violence and assault, PTSD, reference to sexual assault, sexual situations including MF, MFM, light MM & light FF, profanity and substance abuse.

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Ali Lucia Sky is the author of The Powers That Be series. She lives in Southern California with her husband and a house full of kitty cats and a yard full of crows.

She loves laughing, drinking good coffee, vegan food, and supporting animal rescues.

When she isn’t writing or dreaming of new stories, she can be found planning her next vacation because traveling is life.

If you encounter her in the wild, don’t be offended if she should run away. She’s timid with strangers, but can be plied with shiny things and pictures of your cat or dog.

She’s a weirdo like that.

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Thursday, August 4, 2022

#AudioBookTour #Giveaway...Exile's Quest...#Epic #Fantasy

Exile's Quest

Assassins of Landria Book 4

by Gail Z. Martin

Narrated by Samuel Roukin

Genre: Epic Fantasy

The fourth in the Assassins of Landria series from the award-winning, bestselling author of Scourge: A Novel of Darkhurst and the Chronicles of the Necromancer.

A vacant throne. A dark mystic intent on the crown. Two fugitive assassins risking everything to save the kingdom that exiled them.

Rule-breaking, unconventional assassins Joel “Ridge” Breckenridge and Garrett “Rett” Kennar are caught between dangerous allies and deadly enemies as the future of Landria hangs in the balance. The council of regents controlled by the Witch Lord threatens the succession after King Kristoph’s murder. Rett escaped his brutal captors scarred in body and mind. Now he’s struggling to control the untested powers unleashed by his ordeal and dream walks to a hidden cloister full of forbidden magic. Falsely accused of treason, Ridge hunts the mage who damaged Rett and uncovers a terrifying new threat.

Can a desperate gamble by outlaws and exiles avenge the king and save the crown?

Exile’s Quest is an action-packed epic adventure filled with loyal friends, honorable fugitives, secret sanctuaries, hidden magic, and unexpected explosions.

Audible * Goodreads

Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy, steampunk and more for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria.

Together with Larry N. Martin, she is the co-author of Iron & Blood, Storm & Fury (both Steampunk/alternate history), the Spells Salt and Steel comedic horror series, the Roaring Twenties monster hunter Joe Mack Shadow Council series, and the Wasteland Marshals near-future post-apocalyptic series. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance, with the Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow series. Gail is also a con-runner for ConTinual, the online, ongoing multi-genre convention that never ends.

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#BookTour...The Urban Boys #Book 1...#DiscoveryoftheFiveSenses #YA #UF #Mystery #Adventure #Thriller

Discovery of the Five Senses

The Urban Boys Book 1

by K.N. Smith

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy Mystery Adventure Thriller

Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.

"A captivating and poetic tale of mystery, fantasy, and reality tied together by action!" 5-stars, Lars Jackson, Amazon Customer

A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, can the boys defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late? Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.

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K.N. Smith, winner of the “Best of” in the category of “Outstanding Young Adult Novel” at the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards, is an author and passionate advocate of literacy and arts programs throughout the world. Her lyrical flair sweeps across pages that twist and grind through action-adventure and urban fantasy in edge-of-your-seat narratives. K.N. has over twenty-five years’ experience in communications and creative design as an award-winning consultant. Reading is still her foremost hobby. K.N. inspires people of all ages to reach their highest potential in their creative, educational, and life pursuits. Visit K.N. Smith at www.knsmith.com.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and TWO giveaways!

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#NewReleaseBlitz...Guarded By a Hero...#ActionAndAdventure #Billionaire #Contemporary #MenInUniform #ThrillersAndSuspense

Sometimes, a hero is the worst and best man for a girl to fall in love with…

Guarded by a Hero by Aurora Russell

Book 3 in the Anywhere and Always series

Word Count:  61,105
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 232

GENRES:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
BILLIONAIRE
CONTEMPORARY
CRIME
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MEN IN UNIFORM
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

Besides being the lovely only sister among the wealthy, powerful and famous Gaspard siblings, Clothilde Gaspard has had a life that’s been anything but charmed. She has recently gone through a break-up from hell, survived a serious car accident and multiple other attacks. The only constant has been her heroic former-military bodyguard, Marc, until he leaves abruptly the morning after giving her the greatest pleasure of her life, and she vows never to let him get too close again.

Marc Constantin’s entire life has been about duty, honor and service—and it’s this service that leads him to be stationed undercover, posing as a security guard with the Gaspard family as he tracks a criminal mastermind. He tries not to let his relationship with Clothilde become personal, but he can’t help but admire the strong, smart and gorgeous woman who hides her fiery nature behind an Ice Queen persona. When he’s ordered to stay away from her, it tears him up to leave, but he has no choice.

When a new, unknown threat to Clothilde emerges, the pair must set aside their past to work together. As they retreat from glittering society parties to a remote island lighthouse in Maine, passions and tempers flare, and old family secrets might just hold the key to catching the deadly criminal, the Chimère. In order to protect Clothilde, Marc must put his career, his honor and his life on the line, but can he prove that he’s not just the hero who guards her, but also the hero who loves her?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of attempted murder, drugging, references to past domestic abuse and past sexual aggression.

Excerpt

The fête was truly lovely, a great mix of elegance and charm, and Clothilde might have been enjoying herself if her hip, leg and back hadn’t ached so damn much. She knew she shouldn’t have stayed so long—and she particularly should have found a way to avoid dancing—but she’d wanted to ensure that Rémy’s friend, Annelise, had a good time. She used the term ‘friend’ liberally, since her brother’s relationship with the young American event planner was obviously much more romantic and complex than mere friendship. To help Rémy, she’d needed to draw Charles Pinkston, Annelise’s boss, away.

Without conceit, she knew that she was a woman who men considered to be very beautiful, and it seemed that even the pain she’d suffered since the accident hadn’t lessened her appeal too much. And so, to give Rémy and Annelise more time together without the older man’s kindly interference, she had danced with Charles twice, as well as completing several circuits of the ballroom with him. Later, she’d made an additional full tour of the party with Annelise alone, introducing the American to some of Montreal’s young elite. Luckily, a number of her close friends had been in attendance, including Pauline Cartouchel and Élodie Carillon. Both women would be excellent for Annelise to claim as acquaintances in Montreal society.

Now Clothilde’s feet weren’t thanking her but were aching in their stylish, strappy heels, shoes which she would have worn without a second thought only a year ago. Worse, though, putting her body under the strain of wearing heels and staying active for so long had made her newly healed muscles and bones positively throb with pain, like a hot flame was crawling up from the balls of her feet into her left leg, hip and now along her spine.

She tried to hide a grimace under a flirtatious smile, and she must have succeeded, because Charles Pinkston finally, blessedly, said a charming good evening to her, kissing her hand. He was such a sweet man, who obviously missed his late wife terribly. She held herself still for a moment as she watched him walk toward the door before allowing her shoulders to droop just a little bit to ease some of the stiffness that she knew she was going to pay hell for over the next several days. She froze as she swore she could almost feel the heat of disapproval from behind her. Marc Constantin.

She felt his approach more than heard him, like a big predator, stalking on silent feet.

“You’d better sit down before you fall down, Duchess.” His tone was hard and angry, but there was an underlying tenderness. Or maybe I just wish there was—which she knew was ridiculous, since as her bodyguard, it was his job to watch out for her. Literally, taking care of her physical well-being was in the job description. Yet she felt goosebumps rise on the wealth of bare skin on her chest, arms and back, exposed by the daring cut of the dress. When she turned her head to look at him, his dark blue eyes blazed with some strong emotion.

“I’m fine,” she answered, her tone clipped.

He raised one pale eyebrow, his skepticism obvious.

“Right. Is that why, when you think no one’s watching, you look like one strong puff of air would make you topple over?”

She turned fully toward him, drawing her annoyance around her like a cape.

“I’m having a wonderful time,” she insisted, even as her joints burned with protest. “Didn’t anyone tell you? I’m a total social butterfly, the darling of Montreal society. That’s what all the gossip sites say.” She didn’t know what about Marc Constantin made her so desperate to goad him, but she couldn’t help herself. Regardless of her bright tone, though, her left leg and hip, the side that had taken the brunt of her car accident six months earlier, began to tremble, in spite of her best efforts. She hoped that the tremors were so subtle that Marc wouldn’t notice, but she should have known better.

“Screw this. I’m calling for the car and we’re sitting down now,” he pronounced and took her elbow with a growl, leading her toward one of the quiet alcoves in the tastefully decorated hallway just outside the ballroom. Anyone looking at them would have seen a well-dressed security guard very properly escorting a beautiful young woman in an evening gown, albeit perhaps a little closely. But while Marc’s grip wasn’t painful, it was firm and unrelenting, with no give at all. Much like the man himself, she mused. She was too damn tired to fight his hold, anyway, considering she’d been dreaming of sitting down on one of the cushioned benches herself for at least the past hour.

The relief from the pressure on her joints was instant and profound as he settled her on the thickly padded bench, and she had to stifle a groan of pleasure. Surprising her, he slid in next to her, so close she could feel the heat that he continually seemed to give off. Surreptitiously, she inhaled his rich, fresh masculine scent. He always smelled like he had just come in from outdoors, even when she knew he’d been inside for hours. He turned the focus of his angry gaze on her again.

“Why do you let them tell you how to act?” he asked, but it sounded more like a demand.

Clothilde narrowed her eyes.

“That question is totally inappropriate,” she huffed.

He looked unrepentant. “I notice you didn’t deny it.”

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First For Romance

About the Author. . .

Aurora Russell

Aurora is originally from the frozen tundra of the upper-Midwest (ok, not frozen all the time!) but now loves living in New England with her real-life hero/husband, two wonderfully silly sons, and one of the most extraordinary cats she has ever had the pleasure to meet. But she still goes back to the Midwest to visit, just never in January.

She doesn’t remember a time that she didn’t love to read, and has been writing stories since she learned how to hold a pencil. She has always liked the romantic scenes best in every book, story, and movie, so one day she decided to try her hand at writing her own romantic fiction, which changed her life in all the best ways.

You can find out more about Aurora at her website here.


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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

#BookTour...The Fated Mates...#ViciousLove #RH #PNR #Giveaway

Vicious Love

A Fated Mates RH PNR

by Romy Lockhart

Genre: Reverse Harem Academy Paranormal Romance

Cheryl is stunned when she finds out she has to go to a shifter academy. A witch with severe limitations to her magic, she's horrified to learn her fate is to be enslaved as a witch to a pack of wolves.

She sets about finding a way out of this fate, determined to escape it. When she starts to feel something for the wolves who are insistent that she's their true mate, her destiny suddenly doesn't seem quite so awful.

Can a witch really find love in the arms of her biggest enemies? Or are the wolves just playing with her heart?

Vicious Love is a standalone new adult shifter academy reverse harem romance with college-aged characters, serious steam and an HEA.

**Get it FREE until Aug 5th!!**

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Romy Lockhart writes paranormal reverse harem and M/F contemporary romance. All of her books contain steamy scenes between consenting adults. All of her reverse harems have harem ever afters, and all of her romance novels have happy endings.

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#BookBlitz...Lunar Uprising, #Book 4...#Dracus #SciFi #Romance #BookNerds

Lunar Uprising, Book 4

 Sci-fi Romance

Date Published: July 18, 2022

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Can a war-weary commander win the heart of his independent mate before the Pylorians silence her forever?

Dracus has known nothing but war. With Morax hostilities escalating and a rebellion brewing among his own troops, he doesn’t see that changing any time soon. Then Addison visits Lunar Prime. Now he is in the grip of bonding fever and all he can think about is claiming his mate. She is stubborn and independent. Good thing he thrives on challenge.

Addison is brought to Lunar Prime when her life is threatened, but secrets draw her back to Earth. Her attraction to Dracus is instant and powerful. Still, she is not willing to redefine her life to please a male. Even one as tempting as Dracus.

Note to Readers: This book contains detailed descriptions of sizzling passion only suitable for mature readers.

 

About the Author. . .


Passionate Sci-Fi with a touch of danger and a whole lot of sass. Cyndi has rock stars, vampires, and cat shifters among her characters, but she seems happiest writing about alien warriors and their feisty human mates. Her stories are fun, fast-paced, and seriously hot. Her books have made the USA Today Top 100, and frequently land on Amazon Best Seller lists. She is currently working on Lunar Uprising, a new series set in the near future.

 




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RABT Book Tours & PR

#BlogTour...Again: Fox Hollow Zodiac #Novel 2...#MM #Shifter #Romance #Suspense #Giveaway

BLOG TOUR

The fast, furry, and furious! A lynx shifter, pursued by a cryptid trophy hunter. A wolf shifter desperate to rescue a lover who's not just his fated mate—but his one true pairing across past lives. And a love that transcends time.

Book Title: Again: Fox Hollow Zodiac Novel 2–MM Shifter Romance Suspense

Author: Morgan Brice

Publisher: Darkwind Press

Cover Artist: Adrijus Guscia, cover wrap by Natania Barron

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Genres: Urban fantasy, MM shifter romance suspense

Tropes: Shifters, one true pairing (OTP), reincarnation, fated mates, mating bites, psychics, magic, curses, hurt/comfort, found family, 

Themes: Long-distance relationship, having faith in each other, knowing you can depend on each other, navigating a new relationship

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 247 pages

It is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 


The fast, furry, and furious! A lynx shifter, pursued by a cryptid trophy hunter. A wolf shifter desperate to rescue a lover who's not just his fated mate—but his one true pairing across past lives. And a love that transcends time.

Lynx shifter Noah Wilson narrowly escaped being captured by the Huntsman. While recuperating in Fox Hollow, he meets his fated mate, wolf shifter Drew Lowe.

Noah has to return to Canada to finish filming his TV projects, so he and Drew visit when they can and come up with creative solutions to their long-distance relationship. Noah and Drew are sure they're meant for each other and start making plans.

Drew's dreams make him wonder if he and Noah are more than fated mates—could they be a true pairing, destined to find each other lifetime after lifetime?

Then Noah accidentally records a murder, and the killer is on his trail. Can he elude a master tracker and reach the safety of Fox Hollow, or will he and Drew have to wait to find happiness in another life?

Again is a thrill-packed MM shifter romance adventure full of sexy shifters, hurt/comfort, one true pairing, reincarnation, sincere psychics, hunky mechanics, first responders, a sexy wildlife photographer, found family, and fated mates.

“I wish you could see this view in person—except for how cold it is.” Noah snapped a photo that didn’t do the colors of dawn justice, and sent it with his text to Drew.

He waited for a reply and realized Drew probably wasn’t awake yet. No one in their right mind is up at this hour.

He’d made the best of the cramped hotel room, knowing from experience to bring an extra blanket, good pillow, books, and power strips. Hotels never had enough outlets to charge his cameras. Fortunately, travel wasn’t a constant, but staying overnight to get the right light or have time to set up cameras happened fairly often.

Will that be a problem with Drew? Will he resent my photography? It’s a demanding job.

Noah cleaned his lenses and checked his batteries as he packed his day bag. Travel made it easy to find overnight company without entanglement, and he’d long ago grown tired of waking up alone. He’d had a serious relationship back in film school, which fizzled after graduation. There were a few boyfriends who lasted more than a month or two, but his irregular hours always ended up being more than anyone wanted to deal with for long.

Can it be different with Drew? We felt such an immediate bond—I’ve never had a connection like that with anyone. It’s like we’ve known each other forever.

“Of course. We’re fated mates,” his lynx reminded him, as if Noah could forget.

He smiled, thinking of their conversation that ended only a few hours ago. It wasn’t just the sex—although that was combustible in a way Noah had never experienced before. Everything took on a different light when it involved Drew. Talking about the trivial activities of the day wasn’t boring. Sharing a movie or even reading the same book and talking about their reactions now felt satisfying and fun.

I’m a Cancer—we’re protective and defend our family. Except I don’t really have any. 

Noah didn’t have many living relatives. His father had vanished when he was young, and his mother died two years ago from a bad heart. He had a brother and sister, but they drifted apart, and Noah hadn’t heard from them in years. He wasn’t sure he even had valid addresses for them. 

Drew is my mate. He’s my family now. And he has Russ and Liam and their friends. A pack. Someday, they’ll be my pack.

Clowder, his lynx sniffed. Lynxes have a clowder, not a pack.

Sounds like soup.

Clowder is not chowder, silly human. But we could vote to let Drew be an honorary lynx and join.

Vote? Who—you and me? 

We are the only ones in our clowder now. It would be nice to add our mate—even if he is a dog.

Wolf.

Canine.

I’ve fallen hard. And it should scare me. But it doesn’t. When I worry that he might not feel the same, I can’t breathe

About the Author. . .

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.

Series include Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

Author Links

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

#BookBlitz...Just An Ordinary Love Story...#Erotic #Romance

Erotic Romance

Date Published: July 2022

Publisher: Changeling Press

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How likely is it that studious coed Melissa will fall for Richard -- former campus jerk and serial womanizer -- who’s trying to mend his ways and win her heart? Not very, since, having made it to the “friend zone,” he’s afraid to tell her how he feels. It’s even less likely because Richard doesn’t know Melissa’s already married to her childhood sweetheart, Sam -- who’s really Samantha.

However… it’s not impossible. Melissa is bisexual, she’s developing feelings for Richard, and her wife is supportive of her quest to discover what her bisexuality means. What does HEA look like for a loving, blended trio?

 Excerpt

Chapter One

“WOW! That was one punishing hit on Harrison. Smashed high from the left! Slammed low from the right! No wonder he did a full three-sixty before hitting the ground. I bet it knocked the wind out of him. Wait a minute! He’s not moving, and his leg is bent out at a really troubling angle. The EMTs are rushing onto the field with a stretcher. Let’s hope it’s not as bad as it looks. It won’t matter in this game. Harrison has given his team a twenty-one-point lead with just a quarter to play. But this young man is supposed to be headed to the NFL!”

When Richard regained consciousness, he was in a fog. He fought to clear his head but failed. He opened his eyes, but everything was out of focus.

“He’s awake.” It was his mother’s voice -- but with a serious measure of worry. “How are you feeling, honey?”

He hurt everywhere, and his mouth was so dry he had trouble forming any words. “Mo- Mom? Wha- What’s g- What’s going on?” he finally got out.

 * * *



Ten months later

The young man tried to hurry up the stairs, but he was still having trouble using crutches. When he pushed open the classroom door, his backpack swung around and pulled him off balance. He let go of his aluminum aids to stop from falling, and the metallic clatter as they crashed against the floor drew everyone’s attention.

Every face looked his way. Few showed sympathy. Most wore thinly veiled smirks. Some openly displayed glee. He wasn’t surprised. He deserved it, and he knew it. A distinguished woman in a lab coat walked over and picked up his crutches. “Classes began a week ago, Mr. Harrison” -- she handed the crutches to him --”for everyone,” she added sternly. “And we begin on time.”

“I understand, Professor. There were complications with my surgery. I’m sorry. I thought this building had an elevator. It won’t happen again.”

She nodded. “Come with me.”

They walked to the farthest corner of the lab where a plain looking young woman was adding something to a beaker sitting on a blue flame. She was staring intently through her large protective glasses to see what kind of reaction it would produce. “Miss Teaberry,” her teacher interrupted, “this is Richard Harrison, your new lab partner. I know you wanted to work alone, but we don’t have enough stations. However, if you decide this partnership won’t work, I’ll respect that.” She looked at Richard seriously. “If so, Mr. Harrison will have to accept the consequences of his actions.”

“It’s fine, Professor. I promise to pull my weight.”

The young woman looked suspiciously at her new partner. “I’m Melissa.”

He gave her his best smile and extended his hand. “Sorry to mess things up for you. I’m Richard.”

After looking at his hand for a few seconds, she grimaced and shook it. She turned her attention back at the beaker. “I know who you are,” she added frostily. “You’re Dick Harrison. Let’s just get to work.”

He groaned inside. There was no question what she meant. Please don’t let this be a girl I slept with and have completely forgotten. I know I was bad. But that bad? He studied her face closely. “We haven’t met before, have we?”

She turned to face him. “No. But you dated my first-year roommate, Alicia Monti.” The accusing look told him everything he needed to know.

He winced. She was kind to say he’d “dated” her roommate. He looked straight back at her. “For what it’s worth, you have every right to be angry with me. I was a jerk to her -- and to more people than I want to admit. But life has kicked the shit out of me in return. Once I figure out how to get around with these” -- he held up one of his crutches – “I will apologize to Alicia -- and the others. They may not forgive me. But I at least want to try to do the right thing. In this class, I only want to be a good lab partner and not flunk out. Just tell me what to do.”

Melissa raised her eyebrow, eyeing him uneasily. “Are you being straight with me? This isn’t some sort of con?”

His face was somber. “No. I mean it.” His tone was repentant. “I know you have no reason to believe me. I also know that a week from now you’ll want to ask the professor to get rid of me. And not because I’m not doing my share, but because I’m rubbish when it comes to chemistry. Which will make me a pain in the ass as a lab partner. But this was the only science class with an opening. I need it to graduate, so I will do everything you want me to do. I promise I will work like crazy not to let you down. My fate is in your hands.”

Melissa pushed her glasses up her nose, silently eyed him for a while, and frowned. “Let’s see. You’re telling me I shouldn’t believe you and you’ll be nothing but a burden who will jeopardize my grade. That’s supposed to win me over?”

“I’m turning over a new leaf,” he replied seriously. “I’ve been told honesty and humility weren’t my strong suits. All I’m asking for is a chance.”

She examined the beaker again, then looked back at him. “OK. For this experiment, I want you to stir the liquid until I tell you to stop.”

“Done.” He settled on the stool in front of the beaker, took the glass rod she handed him, and began stirring the blue liquid.

Melissa neatened up their lab area, returned some chemicals to the storage closet, and came back with more. She jotted down some notes, then read in her textbook. A couple of times, the professor came by and asked, “Ready?”

When Melissa replied, “Not yet,” the teacher seemed puzzled. All the while, Richard stirred. He noticed that no one else in the class seemed to be stirring their beakers. Also, when the professor checked out their work, she told them they could leave. When one hand got tired, he switched to the other.

He and Melissa ended up being the last pair in the classroom. The professor came by one more time and glanced at the beaker. “Everything looks fine, Miss Teaberry. I need to leave. Is there a problem?”

“Not at all, professor. We’re just being extra diligent.”

She nodded. “Very well. See you next time. Be sure to clean up before you go.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

After the teacher headed out, Richard looked at Melissa as he kept stirring. “I assume I keep going.”

She didn’t even look up from her book. She simply pursed her lips tightly, looked at the page, and made a stirring motion with her hand.

Thirty minutes later she closed her book. “OK. You can stop.”

He rubbed his hands together to loosen them up. He’d been stirring for more than an hour straight. “What next?”

“Next?” Her eyebrows arched in surprise. “You’re willing to keep going?”

“If you want me to. Yes. I’ll even stay here alone and do stuff if you want. I know this was a test on your part. I have to prove myself to you. If you want me to keep going, I’m OK with that.”

Her look wasn’t altogether hostile. “How’d you know?”

“It wasn’t hard,” he said with a laugh. “Everyone else stirred for about thirty seconds. The prof checked their work. They left. I assume you’d already done the stirring before I got here. The only explanation was that you needed to see if I meant what I said. You were giving me a chance, and I want to thank you for that.”

She narrowed her eyes. Was he playing her? He seemed sincere. But didn’t guys like him know how to fake it so you’d believe them until it was too late?

“So, how’d I do, boss? Will you let me be your partner?”

She looked at him seriously. “As long as you do what you’re told and don’t blow anything up, I guess we should be OK.”

He nodded and smiled. “Not exactly high praise, but I’ll take it. Thanks. I mean it.”

After they cleaned up their lab space, she showed him where the elevator was. As they exited the building, he stumbled again on his crutches. She looked concerned. “Are you OK?”

“I’ll get used to them. I’ll see you in class.”

As Richard left the building and headed toward his dorm, he heard a shout. “Dude! Wait up.”

The tall, muscular young man came up and gave him a hard slap on the back. “Yo, dude! I heard you were back. Great to see you again.”

“You too, Alex.”

“I was afraid you were gone for good.”

“Having my career end was bad enough. I had to take time off for the operations, but I wasn’t going to completely ruin my life by dropping out.”

His friend looked at the crutches. “Sorry about the sticks, man. But I bet they’ll work great with the babes. A bunch of us from the team are taking the T to the Square to hit the bars. Come with. We’ll find some hottie to throw you a sympathy fuck. It’ll be like old times.”

“Thanks. But you and I both know the only reason the other guys from the team would be glad to see me is to rub it in.”

“No way, man. Everybody loves you.”

Richard snorted.

“Well, maybe you weren’t the easiest guy to love.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’ve got to study. No more ‘athletic A’s’ for me.”

“Right. That sucks. Man, school’s going to be a drag for you. Word is you even got saddled with some nerd as a lab partner. Is she hot at least? Any chance of hitting that?”

Richard winced inside. His tone became serious.

“It’s not going to be like that. I did a lot of thinking in the hospital. I’m done being a jerk who’s just looking to get laid. I’m not going to say nonstop sex wasn’t fun, but I’m not heading to the NFL anymore. I need a new game plan. A different life. I need to be a different person. I need to grow up. Besides, Melissa’s pre-med, not a party girl.”

“Wait! ‘Melissa’ as in Melissa Teaberry?” Alex laughed. “In that case, you don’t even have to worry about being tempted. The Ice Queen herself! I hear if your junk gets within a foot of her pussy, it’ll quick-freeze and snap off. You be careful how close you stand beside her.” He chuckled and poked Richard in the chest.

“C’mon, dude.” He frowned. “Not cool. She’s being fair to me. And we both know I don’t deserve it.”

“Sorry, man. Just having fun.” Alex slapped him on the arm, then gestured in the direction of his friends. “One last chance. You sure I can’t lead you astray with some drunken debauchery? It’ll be like old times. Fuck ‘em and dump ‘em.”

“Nah. I’m good. New leaf, remember?”

Alex narrowed his eyes as he looked at him. “New leaf? You? We’ll see. When you come to your senses, you know where to find me -- balls-deep in some luscious pussy. Later, dude.”

“Later, bro.”

Richard watched Alex as he walked away. He sat on the bench in front of the reflecting pool and looked into the waters. A profound sense of shame washed over him. A year ago, he’d prided himself on being a man-whore. I can’t believe I used to be that guy. I was such an asshole.

He also knew that his former teammates had absolutely no interest in seeing him. They had tolerated his arrogance because they had to. For years he’d been told how gifted he was as a quarterback. He was going to the NFL. As far as he was concerned, he was doing them a favor by winning so many games for them. They rode on his coattails. He’d be one of the greats. They would be sentenced to boring jobs. He walked with a swagger and was conceited and condescending.

He shivered with disgust. No more. You’re getting a second chance. Don’t blow it.

* * *

 About the Author. . .

Originally from the East Coast, Jane is married and has returned to Massachusetts after living in California for a while. She's written a few nonfiction books in connection with her current job, and has decided to transition to erotic romance as her next career.

Jane writes fun, upbeat stories. No dark, brooding, broken, tortured guys who need fixing. Just great, handsome, smart, sexy, "real men" whose only weakness is being unable to resist the women she pairs them with. She especially wants her heroines to be as sexy and passionate as they desire. She likes her heroes to be their equal -- sexy, devoted, and romantic. No matter what, you can count on the fact that her couples end up in love and having great sex! OK, maybe they have the sex first!


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