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review 2020-08-26 08:10
New Release Blitz - Dragon Detective

 

Title: Dragon Detective

Series: Supernatural Consultant, Book Four

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 24, 2020

Heat Level: 1 - No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 29700

Genre: Paranormal YA, LGBTQIA+, YA, dragon shifters, mage, magical detective agency, magic-users, dragon family, kitnapping, HFN

 

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Synopsis

 

Nickel might be a water elemental dragon, but even he has limits—and the sudden rain storms, hail, and snow in midsummer are way over the line. Luckily, he works for Dane’s Supernatural Consulting firm and can use those resources to figure out who keeps mucking with the weather and get them to stop. Soon Nickel realizes he isn’t the only one searching for the weather worker: the enemy he has been hunting for ten years has finally reappeared, and it’s a race to see who will reach the weather worker first. Nickel isn’t certain he’ll win, or even survive, the attempt, but he’ll do whatever it takes to save the dragons.

 

Excerpt

 

Dragon Detective

Mell Eight © 2020

All Rights Reserved

 

Chapter One

 

Nickel walked into the office and shut his umbrella with a snap that spattered water droplets all over his pant legs. He grimaced and tossed the umbrella onto the stand by the door with a sigh of disgust.

 

“It’s not that bad, dear,” Becky said cheerfully from her oversized secretary’s desk in the middle of the room. He scowled at her in return, which she ignored with the ease of knowing him for over ten years. Becky looked warm and dry while wearing a nice summer-weight cardigan. The rain hadn’t started until an hour ago, so she had already been safely ensconced on her throne. Nickel, on the other hand, had been out and about getting lunch. He had been lucky to be near a shop selling umbrellas when it had suddenly started pouring, but that hadn’t saved his shoes.

 

Admittedly, Nickel liked rain. He was usually the first one to run outside to play when the skies darkened and thunder rumbled overhead, just not when he was wearing a nice suit. He might be able to save his shoes, but only if the scamp napping on his desk chair moved.

 

“Lumie, scram,” Nickel snapped.

 

Lumie popped one red eye open, saw that Nickel was the one speaking to him, and went right back to sleep. His long red hair flopped over his face as he took ignoring Nickel to another level. Nickel growled and ran a hand through his much shorter blue hair in exasperation. There was no talking to Lumie when he was in one of his moods. Instead of fighting for his chair, Nickel dropped to the floor.

 

His shoes popped off with wet squelching sounds, and his socks left a puddle on the floor. Nickel’s magic fizzled between his fingers for a moment before he directed it to pull on the water, calling it out of his shoes and socks. It was a gradual process. Water moved slowly. It was sticky, according to the science teacher Dane had hired to teach all the kits, and was therefore happier to remain attached to something than not. It was why water always hesitated on the edge of a counter before the push from behind and gravity below finally sent it falling. Of course, once the first drop fell, all the water built up behind it fell too because it was all stuck together. It took some doing before the water obeyed his magic, but once one drop and then another began to coalesce in Nickel’s hand, it wasn’t long before he had a small river flowing from his shoes and socks into his cupped palms.

 

The water was cool and welcoming, just the way Nickel liked it. He continued to call out the water slowly. Easy, routine magic, it was also good practice for when he worked larger spells. Except the water was starting to heat in his hands. First it was only just warm, which happened sometimes when he was being a touch careless, but when bubbles started to form between his hands, Nickel turned to glare at Lumie.

 

“Knock it off!” Nickel snapped. Lumie continued to breathe evenly, as if he really were asleep. Experience told Nickel that Lumie was a dammed good actor, though. The heat continued to rise until the water stopped protecting Nickel’s hands and they began to get uncomfortably hot. His shoes also began to smell. ’Ron had stuck a hairdryer into a pair of sneakers once to try to dry them. The bathroom had reeked of sweaty feet for days when she was done, and the office was quickly taking on the smell of that awful aroma.

 

Nickel tossed the water before it could start burning his hands. It arced beautifully in the air, steaming as it continued to boil, and landed directly on Lumie’s head.

 

Lumie shrieked and jumped out of Nickel’s chair. His red hair was plastered to his face and dripping onto his shirt. He looked like a soaked puppy, especially as he scowled. Nickel couldn’t help grinning at the sight.

 

“What was that for?” Lumie shook his head back and forth, deliberately spraying Nickel with more water. The water steamed off Lumie quickly, leaving his hair dry and slightly fluffy.

 

“You know why!” Nickel snapped back, his good mood forgotten with the reminder that Lumie had just tried to boil Nickel’s hands off and destroy the office with a pervasive stench.

 

“Sleeping in your chair is no reason for you to throw water all over me!” Lumie yelled. His eyes flashed with magic, so Nickel prepared himself to block anything Lumie was about to throw at him. “And ugh, what’s that smell anyway?” Lumie asked. He turned his head away from Nickel, the water incident already forgotten as he sniffed the air.

 

“I was just trying to help!” Alloy whined. He poked his head out from underneath the desk. His mixed red-and-blue hair was disheveled, and his eyes—one bright red and the other blue—were wide as he tried to hold back tears. Nickel jumped in surprise and then growled at himself. How had he missed the fact that Alloy was curled underneath the desk? He shouldn’t have. Apparently, the distraction of Lumie taking his chair combined with his wet shoes had been enough for Nickel to miss Alloy. That wasn’t acceptable; Nickel snarled to himself. He had to be better than that. Alloy wasn’t an enemy, but next time Nickel might not be so lucky.

 

Still, yelling at Alloy wouldn’t have any effect. Either Alloy would pretend to be Lumie and conveniently forget the scolding a few minutes later, or he would run to Copper and Copper would smooth over any hard lessons Nickel had tried to impart.

 

“You remember the time ’Ron tried to dry her shoes in the bathroom?” Nickel asked Alloy as calmly as he could. Alloy’s nose wrinkled in disgust so Nickel took that as a yes. “She used the hot air from the hairdryer, and the heat made her shoes stink. That’s why heating up the water in my shoes started to smell bad.”

 

“Oh,” Alloy said slowly as he began to understand the mistake he had made. “I should have helped your water magic, then?” he asked curiously. For any other dragon, what Alloy had said would have been an impossibility. Elemental dragons like them used one element of magic. That was it. Nickel used water, and Lumie used fire. Alloy was the result of a cruel experiment gone wrong and had somehow been born with power over both water and fire.

 

“That would have been better,” Nickel agreed. “But you should always ask first before you interrupt someone’s spell. You could have burned me if I hadn’t gotten Lumie wet instead.” Alloy giggled and Nickel couldn’t help cracking a smile at the memory of Lumie jumping up in surprise.

 

“Shut up,” Lumie grumped. At some point, he had left Nickel’s desk and had wandered over to Becky’s instead. He was busy plundering her candy jar, but he still shot them a disgruntled glare that only faded when he finally found a Cinnamon Bomb. He bounced off into Dane’s empty office with his prize in hand, Nickel and Alloy promptly forgotten.

 

Nickel could only shake his head. Lumie had to grow up eventually, Nickel hoped. Alloy was certainly more mature.

 

“Oh, don’t worry, dears,” Becky said in her best old-lady voice. She looked like one at the moment, although in another minute she might look like someone Nickel’s age or even someone in their thirties. Her outward appearance wasn’t confined by age. “I have enough candy for everyone.”

 

She reached into her plundered candy jar and pulled out a package of red Laffy Taffy. It was cinnamon flavored, but Alloy liked the high sugar content too. For Nickel, she waved a stick of blue rock candy. She had apparently been shopping overnight, because Nickel was certain there hadn’t been any of his favorite candy left yesterday. He had checked.

 

Was it demeaning to allow himself to be bribed by candy? Nickel couldn’t help wondering even as he padded barefoot across the office to take the proffered candy. Alloy looked at his candy and then down at Nickel’s shoes. He whined to himself and plopped down on the ground. Nickel felt the swirl of water magic in the air a moment later. He took Alloy’s candy too and brought it over. Nickel called on his own water magic and sat next to Alloy to help.

 

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Dragon Detective (Supernatural Consultant, #4)Dragon Detective by Mell Eight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book #4 in the Supernatural Consultant series. This book should not be read as a standalone novel. To be understood fully, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this really imaginative series in order.

Nickel is a water elemental dragon. He is now working at the Supernatural Consultant firm. He wants to find out who or what is messing with the current weather. His searches may put him in danger, though.

Platinum is on the run. He has to hide from those mad scientists who have made his life miserable. If only he could get far away fast enough. Little does he know danger is lurking.......

This was the latest installment of one of the most creative series I have had the pleasure to read. The characters all have such unique powers, personalities and names. I enjoyed learning more about some of the more rare dragons in this story. I really cannot wait for the next book!


***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews 

 

 

 

Meet the Author

 

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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text 2020-08-24 08:10
New Release Blitz - The Assistant

 

Title: The Assistant

Author: John Tristan

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 24, 2020

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 52900

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, gay, Japanese-American, trans, interracial, BDSM, D/s, power play, slow burn, personal assistant, disability/ chronic illness, depression, age gap

 

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Synopsis

 

Burned out ex-soldier Nick Kurosawa has drifted from job to job since he lost his family in a car crash. Lately, he’s been working on and off as a bouncer, barely managing to cover his bills; an opportunity for steady, well-paying work is just what he needs to get his life back in order. Jacob Umber, a secretive philanthropist, gives him that opportunity. Umber has fibromyalgia and needs a personal assistant to help him with the tasks of daily living—someone strong, adaptable, and, most of all, willing to let Umber take the lead. It seems a perfect opportunity for Nick. More than anything, he craves guidance and a purpose, and Umber gives him that in spades. When Nick starts craving more, it seems an impossible complication, but even the reserved Umber can’t deny Nick’s talent—and need—for following his orders. But Umber’s shadowy past holds secrets that could undo their fragile new relationship and any hope Nick has of a normal life.

Excerpt

 

The Assistant John Tristan © 2020 All Rights Reserved

 

It was a clear autumn night, with the moon low and yellow above the city. Between its fullness and the lights, only a few stars could be made out, pinpoints in the raw black silk of the night. Nick stood with his fists balled above the man breathing hard in the gutter. A trickle of spilled beer ran into his hair, foaming like shampoo. He smelled sour, of sweat and fear.

 

“Jesus, man!” The man’s companion—a skinny young guy with a circular Band-Aid over one eye, like a discount pirate—crouched beside him. “Somebody call an ambulance! Call the cops!”

 

“By all means,” Nick said. He forced himself to take a step back, unclench his fists. “Let’s call the cops and tell them the whole story.”

 

Discount Pirate slit his eye at him and helped his companion to his feet. The man was dazed but seemed unhurt. Still—he could easily have a concussion.

 

Nick hesitated. “Maybe we should call an ambulance—”

 

“Forget it,” the man said thickly and spat into the gutter. In the neon and moonlight, the blood in his mouth looked black. His eyes met Nick’s, and this was the worst part: they understood each other perfectly. He’d wanted to start a fight, and Nick had taken the bait. Another night, it would have fallen out differently.

 

“Let’s get out of here,” Discount Pirate said, putting a proprietary arm around his companion’s waist and dragging him off into the darkness.

 

Nick let out a shaky breath. The street was empty, now; if he was lucky, this wouldn’t get back to Merritt, who owned the Hellhole. He hadn’t hired Nick to start fights but to stop them as gently as possible—de-escalation, not macho bullshit. The Hellhole was the only gay bar in Westerley, which meant it drew both the occasional snickering asshole and its share of ex-boyfriend drama. Merrick wouldn’t thank him for bad publicity.

 

“Jesus, Nick.”

 

Fuck. This was the last thing he needed. He turned toward the familiar voice. “Hey, Alex.”

 

Alexander Finn—his friend, once-upon-a-time fuck-buddy, and self-appointed social worker—had come up out of the Hellhole at just the wrong time. Sweat was still beaded on his pale forehead, cooling rapidly in the night air. “What happened?”

 

“Didn’t know you were down here tonight,” Nick said, affecting a breezy tone. “Must have been here before my shift started.”

 

Alex rolled his eyes. “I know you’re not jealous, so you’re trying to deflect. What happened?” He took out his cigarette case—silver, engraved—and popped one into his bow-lipped mouth, then offered one to Nick.

 

He reached for it, then hesitated. “Haven’t smoked in months.”

 

Alex gave him a skeptical look. “Come on.”

 

“Vaping doesn’t count.”

 

He laughed softly. “I’ll give you that one.” He snapped the case closed and tucked it away. “Talk.”

 

“I don’t know.” Nick ran his hands through his hair. “The guy just. Got under my skin. It’s like he knew how to push my buttons.”

 

“You’re not supposed to have buttons while you’re on the door.”

 

“Fuck you. Give me a cigarette.”

 

He did; they smoked together in the neon-lit dark.

 

“This job…” Alex chewed on his thoughts for a moment. “It’s not good for you. This isn’t the first time you’ve let someone…push your buttons.”

 

Alex was right—he’d never let himself take it this far before, but there were more than a few times over the last few weeks when a sneer or a snicker or a muttered insult had gotten under his skin and launched him right in someone’s face, teeth bared, eyes glittering. His fuse frayed shorter every week he was out here. He took a long, slow draw from the cigarette and laughed bitterly. “Well. I still need the rent paid.”

 

“How long until your shift is over?”

 

Nick grinned sideways at Alex. “Why, you want to take me home?”

 

He sighed and shook his head, but it had raised a smile. “Just think you could do with a good night’s sleep. After that…” Alex hesitated a moment. “Can you take the next few days off?”

 

“I’m not back on shift until Monday evening.”

 

Alex nodded and took a card out of his pocket—his business card, Nick recognized—and then fished out a pen. “Turn around,” he said.

 

Nick did. Alex leaned on him, using his back as a desk to write on. He could feel the scratch of the pen through his shirt.

 

When Alex was done, he handed him the card. Nick frowned at it. There was an address on it, a place in the financial district, and a name: Jacob Umber. “What’s this?”

 

“Someone—someone I know is looking to hire. I thought…well, you already have a job, and I had someone else lined up, but—”

 

“You always have someone lined up for something, don’t you?” There was a slight edge of bitterness to Nick’s words. Alex networked—he always had a side hustle lined up for someone, for the washouts and burnouts, the ex-cops and ex-military, the bikers and drifters he seemed to draw into his orbit. His type: like Nick. “Is this meant to be charity? Because you can pass it on to one of your other tricks. I don’t need it.”

 

“Call it what you will. And you’re not a trick, Nicholas.” Alex leaned in to kiss him on the cheek, chastely. “You’re my friend.”

 

Nick swallowed a sudden lump in his throat and stuffed the card in the back pocket of his jeans. “Yeah, all right, fine. There’s no number on the card—am I meant to just show up?”

 

“I wrote hours on there,” Alex said. “Nine to three. Weekdays.”

 

“Right.”

 

“Nick…” He seemed to be struggling with his words. “This isn’t a guaranteed job. I can get you a way in, but you’ll have to impress.”

 

“Come on, Alex.” Nick flashed a smile. “Don’t you think I can pull out the stops when I need to?”

 

He laughed and shook his head. “I know you can. Good luck, Nick.”

 

“Thanks. No, really…thank you.”

 

He nodded and left him on the empty street. Nick took his vape out of his pocket and sucked down a nicotine cloud; he noticed his hands were shaking. There was a subtle ache in his knuckles, where they’d collided with the man’s cheekbone. He felt a tiredness deeper than exhaustion, something like lead in his bones, and on top of that, a thin hot skin of queasy arousal. He didn’t know if he wanted to sleep for a year or get fucked up against the wall of the nearest alley. Well, he told himself, right now it’s going to be neither. He smoked until his hands stopped shaking and then waited for the sky to lighten—for his shift to be over—so he could go home.

 

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

 

 

Meet the Author

John Tristan is a multinational gay nerd, currently living in Manchester, UK. When he’s not writing, he works in the voluntary sector; when he’s not doing either, he’s probably playing video games or tabletop RPGs. After his mother banned books at the table during mealtimes, he read the backs of sauce bottles. His stories are sometimes romantic, sometimes erotic, often speculative, and always queer.

Website | Twitter

 

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text 2020-08-17 08:05
Cover Reveal - Everything Changes

 

Everything Changes by Melanie Hansen

Cover Created by : Natasha Snow

Release Date: September 14, 2020

 

Available to Pre-Order at Amazon

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A childhood in foster care taught Carey Everett to hold tight to what he has. Enlisting in the Marines gave him purpose, but a life-threatening injury ended his career—and took his leg. Now fully recovered, Carey’s happier than he’s ever been. He has a fulfilling job, a chosen family and, best of all, a cherished friendship with Jase DeSantis, the platoon medic who saved his life.

 

Jase knows how to take care of the people he loves. As the oldest of seven, and then a Navy corpsman, it’s what he was born to do. Still, he’s haunted by his actions overseas. Playing music with his band keeps the demons at bay, but it’s a battle he’s starting to lose.

 

After a week of sun and fun in San Diego, Jase and Carey’s connection takes an unexpected turn. With change comes a new set of challenges. For Jase, it means letting someone else into his deepest pain. For Carey, it’s realizing love doesn’t always equal loss. In order to make their relationship work, they’ll each have to come to terms with their pasts…

 

…or risk walking away from each other for good.

 

Pre-Order Your Copy on Amazon Today!

 

 

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text 2020-08-09 08:10
New Release Blitz - Wild Warrior
 
Title: Wild Warrior
Series: The Weavers Circle #2
Author: Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott
Publisher: Drake & Elliott Publishing LLC
Release Date: August 7, 2020
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 106,000
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
 

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Synopsis

 

Baer Manning
 
What happens when Baer spills his big secret about monsters and magic to a total stranger?
 
Chaos.
 
In Baer’s defense, he really thought Wiley was a lost brother.
 
This case of mistaken identity forces the cute artist to stay at the plantation house for his own protection while they search for a way to take down a witch.
 
Wiley Stuart
 
He never should have gotten in Baer’s Jeep.
 
But in Wiley’s defense, Baer is really sexy. And funny. And so sweet. And did he mention sexy?
 
All his life he’d dreamed of superheroes and a life of action. He just never expected to find himself swept up into a world filled with monsters and goddesses.
 
Wiley will do anything to stay with this magical band of brothers and help them with their fight. He just wished he could be Baer’s soul mate.
 
Wild Warrior is the second book in the Weavers Circle series. It includes fast-paced action, running through Savannah, secrets, swimming pool fun, shapeshifting, an elephant, sexy times, lots of snakes, insecurity, three crazy old ladies, and magic!
 

Excerpt

 

There were about five people ahead of Baer in line—all of them staring at their phones or the shiny glass case of a tantalizing rainbow of doughnuts and pastries. Including the sexy blond Mini Cooper owner who was right in front of Baer in line. While Baer was a relatively average height of five ten, the blond was at least a delicate five seven or maybe five eight. The guy looked up from his phone as Baer stepped up behind him, and he flashed a nervous smile.
 
“Hey,” he greeted in a slightly husky voice and then flushed some more.
 
Yeah, this guy was all kinds of adorable.
 
“Mornin’,” Baer replied. “You ever been here before?”
 
The man shook his head, shoving his phone into his pocket. “No. It was recommended to me recently. When I woke up this morning, I just had to have doughnuts.” He gave a nervous little laugh. “I guess that’s the result of nonstop marketing at its best. It’s fall, so we’ve all gotta eat pumpkin-flavored everything for the next month.”
 
Blondie had the sexiest southern drawl. It wasn’t too thick. Probably a local, but he’d spent some time out of the area. Just enough to lose some of its natural thickness, but those lilting drawls still mesmerized Baer when he spoke, leaving him wondering how his lips and tongue wrapped around each vowel and consonant.
 
Good grief.  He really did need to grab Grey for a boys’ night out in Savannah if he was going to start fantasizing about a nerdy twink’s mouth. Soul mates and forever sounded great, but it was clear that he needed to get laid. And what better time was there? Things were quiet. They weren’t running and fighting for their lives.
 
Pumpkin doughnuts and sex could do a growing boy good.
 
The bell hanging from the front door announced the arrival of another customer. Baer was about to ask the man’s name when the heavy scent of rotting flesh rolled through the room, overpowering the delicious miasma of frosting and fried dough.
 
Fuck.
 
He didn’t even need to turn around to know that behind him, pestilents had stepped into the bakery. It wasn’t enough that the alien race was attempting to steal the power of the earth to save their own dying planet while killing all Weavers in the process, but they had to interrupt his attempts at flirting as well? Just not cool.
 
Silently, Baer cursed himself and his luck. They’d all grown a little complacent over the past couple of months. They’d even started venturing away from the protection of the plantation without backup because the pestilents had stopped attacking.
 
Apparently they’d gathered enough numbers to make another go at the Weavers, and he’d not been paying enough attention to his surroundings to check to make sure there were no pestilents close. Instead of checking in with the animals in the area that there were no pestilents around, he’d let himself get distracted by big chestnut-brown eyes and a sweet smile.
 
Twisting around to glance over his shoulder, Baer swore under his breath to find a male and female pestilent standing in front of the door. Humans wouldn’t notice anything different about them, but Weavers could. The air wavered around them as if they radiated heat. And, of course, there was the godawful stench. Pestilents were not meant for this world, and their bodies started rotting from the moment they arrived. Their time in this place was limited, but what time they had was spent trying to kill the Weavers.
 
The pestilent woman wore a pair of ragged jeans, and her brown hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, making her angular features seem that much sharper. A feral grin pulled across her thin lips when she spotted him. She lifted the shotgun in her hands to her shoulder and pointed it straight at his chest.
 
Baer sucked in a breath. Was she really going to open fire in a small building crowded with people? Everyone was going to be killed or injured. Not only one fucking Weaver.
 
Pivoting on the balls of his feet, Baer wrapped an arm around Blondie’s slender waist and dove over the closest table. A shocked yelp left the man’s lips, but he didn’t fight Baer as they tumbled to the floor. With his free hand, Baer grabbed the edge of the table, pulling it onto its side. They landed with the surprisingly thick wooden barrier at their backs just as the shotgun exploded in the room, slamming into the far side of the table and a scattering of chairs.

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Get both in the Series

 

 

Meet the Authors

Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott have teamed up to combine their evil genius to create intense gay romantic suspense stories that have car chases, shoot outs, explosions, scorching hot love scenes, and tender, tear-jerking moments. Their first joint books are in the Unbreakable Bonds series.  

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review 2020-07-07 08:10
New Release Blitz - Drifter
 
Title: Drifter
Author: Eden Winters
Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books
Release Date: 7/7/20
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 238
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Rocker

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Synopsis

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Some legends never die.
 
Killian Desmond met his end in the fiery crash that killed his band, or so the newspapers say. Now a nameless drifter, he plays one pick-up gig after another in a haze of pain and regret, moving on the minute someone says, “You sound like that guy from Trickster.”
 
Getting outed cost Mike Rose his musical family. A bassist without a band, he’ll play any kind of music to earn a paycheck, but Trickster’s music provides light during the darkest moments of his life.
 
A chance meeting brings together two lost souls who spark enough heat to set their guitars on fire. Their chemistry, both onstage and off, feels like something written in the words of a song and gives them courage to face life again.
 
But to seize their future, they have to confront their past.
 
 

Excerpt

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The throbbing beat blended with screams from the crowd; a crowd hidden by bright lights. Sweat and cologne and beer filled Killian Desmond’s nose. Familiar sounds. Familiar scents.
 
Home.
 
Did he love this life or hate it? Who cared, he’d never known another. Back to back with his brother Elliot, he shredded his electric acoustic guitar, improvising for the fans. The strings bent to his callused fingertips, note after note falling from his guitar.
 
Elliot kept up. Elliot always kept up. Others might get lost in Killy’s musical fantasies, but El gauged Killy’s intentions by the way he moved, held his shoulders, or gestures, like pausing to flip his sweat-dampened hair out of his eyes.
 
The drummer and keyboardist faded away, letting El set the tone with a deep bass beat.
 
Killy strutted to the front of the stage. Hot lights illuminated him from behind, shining on sweat-soaked skin. “What you wanna hear?” He didn’t need the words to know they’d be sticking to their prearranged lineup. At their manager’s urging, he’d saved the best for last.
 
Highway!” roared through the arena.
 
He grinned and cupped a hand to one ear. “What’s that? I can’t hear you.”
 
Highway!” roughly six thousand voices cried out in unison, louder this time.
 
“Aw, c’mon, now,” Killy teased. “We’ll play whatever you want, but you gotta tell us.”
 
The thunderous chant of  “Highway! Highway! Highway!” threatened to blow the roof off the building.
 
Strolling over a few paces and throwing an arm around his brother, Killy said, “Well, I reckon we better do as they say.”
 
“Since when have you ever taken orders?” Elliot shot back.
 
Faster than most could follow, Killy slung his guitar back into place and launched into their best-known riff.
 
The screaming nearly deafened him. He tried again. On his sixth attempt the crowd settled enough to begin.
 
He grinned. Adoration and energy flowed from the crowd, straight into his veins, to gather strength and escape through his fingers and his voice.
 
His deep growl purred through the arena, pouring out the melody he’d written in a single night in a hotel room God knew where. High on life, cheap vodka, and the rush of their first big show, he’d settled onto the bed in the dark, except for the flickering image of a black and white movie on the TV, sound turned down, and began strumming.
 
The words flowed out of him unbidden, leaving him raw, shaken, and in possession of a number one hit.
 
He didn’t sing or play Highway—the melody made him its bitch, possessing him, demanding release into the world.
 
Who was he to refuse?
 
“Some were born to sand and wind, on the sea they make their home
 
Some may live a hermit’s life, on a mountain all alone
 
Or in a glass and metal cage, high up in the sky
 
Packed in tight with a thousand souls, all trying to get by
 
Nine to five may work for some, but that don’t work for me
 
Saddled to day in day out, no, I need to be free
 
Living a life all on my own, free of family, lover or friend
 
On the highway I was born, it’s there I’ll meet my end.”
 
Alone, just him and the highway, until the chorus.
 
“On the highway I was born, it’s there I’ll meet my end.”
 
Elliot’s sweet tenor wrapped around Killy’s pack-a-day growl, blending together seamlessly.
 
The audience joined in, chanting, “Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!”
 
Rob kept pace on the drums, a musician not really worthy of the band they’d become, and Ace, a friend and one hell of a musician, wound his way through the twists and turns on his keyboards.
 
“The only home I’ll ever know stretches from sea to sea
 
No start, no end, no in between, just miles of road and me
 
Living a life all on my own free of family, lover or friend
 
On the highway I was born, it’s there I’ll meet my end
 
Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!
 
Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!
 
Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!”
 
The mass of humanity might have started chanting again for all Killy knew. His world boiled down to this moment, the music, his brother, his friend, and the life laid out for him long ago, the first time his mother brought him and Elliot onstage.
 
They’d stayed. She’d gone.
 
Here they still stood, though she didn’t.
 
Never would again.
 
Nope, no bad thoughts. Just the music.
 
Note after note poured from him like rain, blocking thought and feeling.
 
He crashed to his knees, striking a chord and letting his guitar speak for him. Caught in the spotlight, he leaned back in a signature move his manager made him practice, making his shirt ride up to show some skin, while his hair fell back, glittering like gold in a strategically placed spotlight.
 
The blue streak, his own addition, voiced his defiance at being a commodity.
 
He should’ve been exhausted after the show they’d put on, but in that moment, he swore he could go all night.
 
He jumped to his feet, racing across the stage and running through part of the guitar solo for those seated to the left of the stage, then reversed course to the right, repeating the solo.
 
Arms reached for him, a thousand voices calling his name.
 
Rejoining Elliot centerstage, he launched into the chorus and let the others join him.
 
After extending the song by two more choruses, he finally wound down.
 
An announcer stepped up on stage, to catcalls, whistles and ear-splitting shouts. “Let’s hear it for Trickster!”
 

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DrifterDrifter by Eden Winters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Killian has already lost so much. After tragedy, you look for the little things that mean a lot. He decides the music means the most. Until he meets someone who gives him a reason to have hope.

Mike too has lost so much. He is excited to find someone who he actually has so much in common. Is it worth it to get your hopes up? Maybe there is a future with another lost soul who knows how it feels to lose.

This story felt to me like the epitome of a slow burn. Slower than I actually preferred, but the build was worth it as the backstory pays off as you read. Such sad lives until they come together and you know it is meant to be. Great book for a good cry, and two truly realistic characters that make you feel in such a genuine way for them.


***This copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

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Meet the Author

 

 

 

You will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!
 
Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit.
 
She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written twenty gay romance novels, has won Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.
 
When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist.
 
Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and on the backs of motorcycles.
 

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