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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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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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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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review 2020-06-24 08:10
New Release Blitz - Dragon Deception

Title: Dragon Deception
Series: Supernatural Consultant, Book Two
Author: Mell Eight
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: June 22, 2020
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 31900
Genre: Paranormal, NineStar Press, LGBTQIA+, YA, dragon shifter, mage, mates, men with children, magical detective agency, shifter rescue, magic-users
 

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Synopsis

 

A life full of children and mysteries to solve doesn’t leave much time for relaxation or each other, something Lumie wants to help fix for Dane and Mercury by way of arranging a picnic. But good intentions and life rarely cooperate, and Dane knows it’s only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose.

Hell turns out to be someone using Quicksilver’s name to destroy buildings, but there’s no way to tell whether the enemy is an impostor or a trap. Hopefully it won’t mean missing the picnic.

 

 

Excerpt

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Dragon Deception
Mell Eight © 2020
All Rights Reserved
 
Chapter One
 
“A picnic?” Dane repeated, looking down at Lumie and Alloy’s eager faces with skepticism and disbelief. These were Mercury’s outlandish kits. Why couldn’t they have waited to ask Mercury when he got home? Daisy, once his part-time housekeeper and more recently his and Mercury’s full-time nanny, was at a parent-teacher conference for her own kids, so she wasn’t a possible savior for at least five more minutes. Dane couldn’t stall that long, and Mercury hadn’t yet gotten home from work. It looked like Dane would have to save himself. “Why a picnic?”
 
“You and Daddy work too much,” Lumie explained solemnly as Alloy nodded in agreement. “You go, relax, and the answer will come to you.”
 
“Like magic!” Alloy chirped eagerly.
 
Lumie and Alloy were in a neck-and-neck race for which kit was Mercury’s strangest. Alloy should win for his looks alone. Unlike most dragons, he had hatched with two powers: fire and water. All other elemental dragons could only use one element, but Alloy was different—and that difference was reflected on the outside too. In human form, he had one red eye and one blue. His hair and his scales when he was in dragon form were an even mixture of the two colors. That the red and blue hadn’t mixed into purple was odd, but Alloy actually enjoyed having two colors.
 
Alloy was the result of a cruel experiment done by humans looking to harness dragon magic for their own selfish use. One day Dane was going to crush those humans, as soon as he could find them, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t love the results. They had made Alloy into something different, something special—but even he wasn’t as special as Lumie.
 
Lumie was also the result of experimentation. He looked normal for a fire elemental dragon. His hair in human form was flame red, as were his eyes. His scales in dragon form were a universal red as well. Whatever had been done to him wasn’t reflected on the outside, but rather with his magic. Lumie had fire magic like all dragons of his kind, but he was also impervious to the magic of others. He could walk through wards that would stop Dane without feeling a twinge and sneak around Dane’s house without Dane knowing he was there. Sometimes Dane wondered if Lumie was prescient as well, but since he didn’t walk around prophesying all the time, Dane couldn’t say for certain.
 
Both boys were five years old, although since Alloy liked to cuddle and play while Lumie had grown to be more aloof, it often felt like there were multiple years between them. They were just two of Mercury’s seven kits, all adopted. Unlike the kits, who were all elemental dragons, Mercury was a bronze precious dragon. His kits were all young dragons he’d rescued from secret government labs. It was unusual for dragons to mix between elements, never mind between elemental and precious, but they somehow made it work. All of the kits—even Lumie and Alloy—were beyond the age most adults would allow them to share territory, but Mercury wasn’t most adults. He, and now Dane, were committed to raising them to full adulthood. Which meant occasionally entertaining the whims of five-year-olds.
 
Dane could tell that Alloy and Lumie were both eager to help, given that they continued to stare expectantly at him, and he found himself unable to say no.
 
“Tomorrow,” Dane said, caving into their wide puppy-dog eyes. “Mercury and I will have a picnic lunch. Will that be okay?”
 
They cheered and smiled. “I have to tell Copper!” Alloy exclaimed, spinning on one heel and dashing out of Dane’s office door. Dane could hear him yelling Copper’s name all the way down the hall.
 
“I’ll make sure you have all the right picnic foods ready,” Lumie said before he followed Alloy at a much more sedate pace. Dane hid his grimace until he was certain Lumie was gone. Lumie and edible foods weren’t exactly synonymous. He liked food with cinnamon in it, the more the better, and he couldn’t quite grasp the fact that other people would throw up and die if they ate as much as he did.
 
Also, what were the chances that Lumie actually knew what foods belonged in a picnic? Pretty low, dammit. Maybe Dane could order a pizza and sneak it to the picnic spot without Lumie noticing. That way Mercury and Dane would be able to eat something and Lumie would still be happy.
 
It would take some finagling to get a pizza past Lumie, since he noticed everything, but Dane wasn’t the son of a god for nothing. He would find a way or, knowing Lumie, die trying. Mercury would need to be warned, too, Dane reminded himself. Still, that was a problem for tomorrow. Dane had a lead on his current case that he wasn’t about to let grow cold.
 
Two weeks ago, a mother dragon and her three very young kits had been attacked. She managed to get safely away with all three kits, but her mate was badly injured. He sent word to Dane, since Dane had made it widely known over the past five years that he was very interested in helping any dragon in need. The enemy had left the father dragon for dead, uninterested in a full-grown dragon when they had three kits to snatch. Dane needed to find the kits and their mother before the enemy did and get them to safety with the still-healing mate.
 
Dane’s newest lead was from a werewolf who’d stopped by Dane’s office to tell Dane about the strange bag lady he’d run into two nights previously. It had been the full moon, so some of what he had seen was a little shaky in his memory, but he clearly recalled a harried-looking woman wearing what looked like two dresses and three coats pushing a shopping cart through the woods where he and his pack were hunting. He remembered three children in the cart, he told Dane, but none of them had smelled like prey, so he and the pack had moved on.
 
Either that was the mother dragon ineffectively trying to hide by wearing human clothing, following customs that she didn’t quite understand—she was a wild dragon from the forest, not one taken in as a kit by humans like Mercury had been—or Dane had a lamia hunting in his territory. A lamia would need to be destroyed at once before she started eating children, so it was imperative Dane locate whoever the werewolf had seen.
 
Dane pushed his chair away from his desk and stood. He couldn’t do anything more from home, and his kits were in Daisy’s care. The answer was somewhere in that forest. Dane had already done one grid search of the area, but this time he would widen his search. It was impossible to keep three young dragons corralled for long. Dane knew that from experience; Lumie and Alloy hadn’t been easy to deal with when they were only a few months out of the egg, not that they were any easier five years later. The missing kits would have caused a mess somewhere that their mother couldn’t hide. Dane just had to find it, especially before the enemy did. Dane heard Daisy talking in the kitchen, so he knew the kits were being supervised and he could leave to continue his search.
 
Magic came to his call easily, and as Dane walked forward, he let it pull him away. The first step was on the hard floor of his home office, but a second later his feet crunched on leaves as he walked into the forest. The trees above were showing off their autumn colors of red, orange, and yellow, while the leaves on the ground were turning an ugly shade of brown. They hid the paw prints from the werewolf pack that Dane remembered from his last time here a day ago, but autumn was really starting to progress now and many of the tracks he had followed before were obscured. Dane hoped fervently there would be new tracks now.
 
He directed his magic to send feelers out around him, allowing him to sense more than his eyes could see alone. The magic delved up into the trees and down hills. Dane used it to dig underneath large piles of leaves so he wouldn’t have to search them by hand. He wasn’t searching for dragons like Lumie, who had been experimented on and therefore had the ability to hide from magic at will. These were ordinary, wild elemental dragons. When Dane got near them, he would know. He would also know if he found a lamia: their magic was even more distinct than a dragon’s and always felt slightly warped to Dane. Any creature that did something as vile as eat children pinged wrongly on his magical radar.
 
The sun was setting earlier and earlier as winter approached. Soon it was difficult to see the difference between a pile of leaves and other debris and what was simply a shadow thrown by the trees. It was even more difficult thanks to the irregular shapes of the trees overhead. Some of them still had all of their leaves while others were nearly bare. The worst were the trees that had only lost half their leaves; they threw both bulky and barren shadows, their strangeness catching Dane’s eye.
 
He spent two hours walking a large grid, back and forth through the forest, while his magic swept an even larger grid around him. There was plenty of evidence of the werewolf pack. Fallen leaves hid the visible evidence of footprints and claw marks, but Dane could sense lingering pack magic around the trees. Anyone with a hint of magic would be able to sense that the woods were owned and know to stay away. Which would tell a dragon with territorial urges to pass through quickly and quietly, of course.
 
Dane froze in place and called himself eighty different kinds of stupid. How had he missed something so obvious? He shouldn’t be trusted with helping an old lady get her cat out of a tree, let alone saving dragons from an unknown enemy. Hell, Dane shouldn’t even be allowed to leave the house if he kept making stupid mistakes.
 
Two days of exhausting work wasted, all because Dane hadn’t bothered to think.
 
Elemental dragons, like the mother and kits he was searching for, would immediately know they had encroached on someone else’s territory. When Dane’s werewolf contact had seen her on the last full moon, she was probably trying to get out of the werewolves’ hunting ground as fast as possible. And Dane, in his idiocy, had confined his search to the hunting ground. Dane would have been amazingly, impossibly lucky to find the tracks of a shopping cart underneath all the leaves, but he had kept up with his wild goose chase for far too long. The dragons were an additional two days ahead of him, and Dane doubted the enemy had made the same stupid mistake he had.
 
Dane needed a map and he needed to begin figuring out where he should have been searching. He strode forward and let his magic pull him away again. Dane reappeared at home in his office and hurried over to his desk where his laptop sat waiting for him.
 
He almost sat on Lumie before Dane noticed he was sleeping in Dane’s desk chair. Lumie was upside down, his messy red hair flopping toward the ground while his feet were hooked over one of the armrests. His thumb was firmly planted in his mouth. Lumie had grown a lot in the five years Dane had known him, but Dane knew the one thing about Lumie that would never change was how strange he was. He was odd even for a dragon, but that honestly only made him more loveable. It also made him one of the more annoying kits living under Dane’s roof, but it was an annoyance Dane was happy to live with.
 
Instead of waking him, Dane took his laptop and left his office. All the wards that kept everyone else out were still up and running. Dane double-checked them as he softly closed the door behind him and stepped into the hall. An ominous crash sounded from downstairs before Dane could move more than a few feet down the hall toward the bedroom he shared with Mercury. He rushed into the bedroom and dropped his laptop onto the sitting table by the fireplace in the corner, then turned around and quickly retraced his steps until he reached the stairs.
 
No one was screaming and Dane didn’t smell smoke, but that didn’t always mean much in his household. Dane reached the kitchen and Daisy wordlessly pointed to the set of double doors that led to the dining room. He followed her directions and pushed through the doors. The centerpiece of the room was a massive sixteen-seater oak table. It had been flipped over, and the sixteen chairs had been scattered around the room. Dane sent his magic toward the table and lifted it in one swift motion, hoping he didn’t find a squashed kit underneath. When Dane didn’t see blood, he rotated the table and put it back where it belonged. He sent his magic after the chairs too. As Dane flipped the last chair into place, he found Alloy clinging to the cushion.
 
The room had looked like a giant gust of wind had blown through it, which meant Zinc, the lone air dragon living under Dane’s roof, was the culprit. Alloy would have to serve as Dane’s witness.
 
“Alloy, what happened?” Dane asked, kneeling on the floor next to him. “Are you okay?”
 
Alloy popped his blue eye open, saw who was talking to him, and opened his red eye too. “Are Zinc and Copper done yelling at each other?” he asked.
 
“For the moment,” Dane replied with an inward sigh. Their flirting had been cute when they were eight years old. Now that they were thirteen and hormones were making them even stupider about it… Dane didn’t understand how Mercury could laugh over the sheer amount of destruction they caused. Dane was really glad Copper hadn’t been the one to lose this round. Instead of flipping the table, he would have set it on fire.
 
Since Dane couldn’t hear anything else getting smashed around the house, he felt it was safe to assume that Copper and Zinc had concluded this particular fight. Or they had taken it outside and were busy destroying his lawn. That was also possible.
 
Alloy sighed in relief and climbed off the chair. “Okay. It’s time for dinner anyway.” He grinned and wandered off in the direction of the kitchen. Dane followed. There was research to do, but leaving Daisy alone with all the kits when he didn’t have to was cruel. She usually left right after cooking dinner so she could spend the evening with her own family, but was staying later tonight because she had started work today after her kids’ parent-teacher conferences.
 
Daisy had set plates along the kitchen island where Dane had bought high stools for the kits to sit on. Lumie, ’Ron, and Chrome were already seated and waiting eagerly for dinner to be served. Alloy climbed onto his stool next to Lumie. Copper’s stool was still empty, but he would be joining them soon, as would Zinc and Nickel.
 
’Ron and Chrome were both earth elemental dragons. They were nine years old and they shared the same brown hair and eyes, but the similarities ended there. ’Ron had embraced being a girl from the very first moment Daisy had introduced her to dresses, and now ’Ron was looking forward to puberty so she could start filling out. Chrome had decided to embrace being a boy instead. He wore ratty shirts and played every sport he could, and ’Ron avoided him like the plague, something Mercury insisted meant that he and ’Ron were eventually going to have a lot of kits of their own together. Mercury said that a lot, though, and Dane wasn’t entirely certain he believed him. Then again, dragons were a bit odd when it came to finding their mates. If Mercury thought that ’Ron and Chrome would realize they had that connection after puberty, Dane knew Mercury would encourage them to be happy together. It wouldn’t matter to them or to Mercury that they were being raised as siblings. They weren’t related by blood, and the mating bond trumped adoptive family ties.
 
Nickel was the most serious of Mercury’s kits. He was a water dragon with blue hair and eyes, and he had made it his mission to personally rescue the dragons. Nickel was Dane’s assistant at Dane’s consulting firm, and he worked there every day instead of staying behind to play with Copper and Zinc, who were both his age.
 
Daisy clicked her tongue unhappily at the empty seats, but she started serving food to the kits that were present. Her green skin was bright and vibrant, which meant the parent-teacher conference had gone well. Her own kids were a handful, too, which only meant that she was experienced enough to handle Dane’s. He had doubled her salary when he invited Mercury and the kits to live with him permanently, and she had obligingly doubled her work hours.
 
“Lumie, are ya done in the kitchen tonight?” Daisy asked once everyone present had been served, Dane included. Dane usually waited for Mercury to get home to eat on the few nights he had to work past dinnertime, but it was nice to eat with the kits on occasion too.
 
Lumie nodded. “I made everything for the picnic,” he insisted. “I’ll put it in the basket tomorrow.” Lumie had done the cooking? Dane suppressed a wince and a groan. He was five years old, for Pete’s sake. What the hell was he doing cooking a picnic for Mercury and Dane? And how horrible would it taste? Ordering a pizza to eat instead of Lumie’s picnic was sounding like a better idea every minute.
 
Nickel strolled into the kitchen just moments after the food was served. He was reading from a packet of papers, either schoolwork or, more likely, casework from Dane’s firm as he took his stool. Daisy frowned pointedly at him, and Nickel tucked the papers away and let ’Ron draw him into conversation. Copper and Zinc slunk in moments later. They wouldn’t look at each other, and their stools were on opposite sides of the kitchen island. Copper immediately started grilling Alloy about his day. Copper was essentially the one raising Alloy, not Mercury or Dane, and he took being Alloy’s big brother very seriously. Zinc pulled her long white hair away from her face and joined ’Ron and Nickel’s conversation.
 
Daisy had been trying to teach the kits table manners, but even though they all managed to use a fork and knife to eat, they stuffed their faces quickly and dashed off.
 
“Bath time!” Daisy yelled after Lumie and Chrome, who both ran out of the kitchen pretending they hadn’t heard her. Daisy sighed, but collected dishes from the counter. “I’ll catch up with the scamps,” she insisted when Dane stood and began helping gather the dirty plates. “I’m sure ya still have work to do.”
 
“I don’t know what I would do without you,” Dane told her seriously. With both Mercury and Dane working, there was no way they could have raised all the kits without Daisy’s help. “How were your parent-teacher conferences?”
 
Daisy sighed. “Good. My brats are passing middle school, although Jeremy wants to take up football.” Dane winced, thinking about her rambunctious kids running around learning to tackle people. It would only be worse if Chrome were the one who wanted to play. Dane made a promise to himself to never let Chrome even try. Although Dane couldn’t get any of his kits into school at all.
 
Nickel had heard just how long the school day was, asked Dane how he was supposed to get any work done when he was stuck in a horrible classroom all day, then informed Dane that he wouldn’t be attending. Luckily Dane had gotten a compromise out of Nickel that he would study for three hours every day with a tutor Dane had hired for him and spend at least one hour every night on homework. Once the other kits had learned that Nickel wouldn’t be attending school, they had also refused, but thanks to Nickel’s compromise, they spent the better part of the day in a classroom. When Mercury, the tutor, or Dane could catch them first, of course. Dane was going to make certain that they would all get their GEDs at the very least.
 
“Yeah, it’s a mess,” Daisy finished, echoing Dane’s own thoughts closely, “but I’ll figure it out. Now, ya git. We’ve both got stuff that needs doing.” She was smiling as she made shooing motions, so Dane allowed himself to be pushed from the kitchen.
 
He walked up the stairs and turned toward his bedroom where he had left his laptop. Dane could hear splashing from one of the bathrooms down the other wing of the house, so at least someone was obeying Daisy. Probably ’Ron or Zinc. Nickel would finish his work first while Copper would avoid the water for as long as Daisy let him. Daisy would have to catch Lumie and force him into the water, and Alloy’s bath depended on whether he was embracing his fire or water half that day.
 
Dane left them to it and headed into his bedroom. His computer was where he had left it, so he settled into one of the armchairs, popped it open, and called up a map of the Great Appalachian Valley. It stretched from Alabama all the way up into Newfoundland. Dane’s territory was a small part of that. He controlled from north of the Mason-Dixon line—although his territory did stretch down the Chesapeake Bay into Maryland in a few places, so that wasn’t exactly an accurate description—and ended at the Canadian border. Dane watched over the Northeast primarily, the boundary of which depended on which map he looked at. Some said the Northeast began in Virginia and followed the coast to Maine; others said it began in Pennsylvania; and yet more insisted it was everything east of New York, which was essentially New England. Regardless, in Dane’s opinion, north of the portions of Maryland that he controlled was all his.
 
The werewolf’s pack territory was in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. The mother dragon wouldn’t have traveled south or west, as an extremely territorial Minotaur had set up his maze in the mountains there. She couldn’t have gone east because she would have run into human civilization, the very creature she was running from. Which only left north. Given the amount of time she had been on the run and the distance Dane calculated she could have traveled with three kits in tow, she must be in the Hudson or the Mohawk Valley in New York. It was a large geographic area, but aside from the lone cat shifters setting up small territories throughout, there wasn’t anything to keep her from feeling safe. Therefore, this was the most logical area for Dane to resume searching. He would start walking a grid in the Hudson Valley, keeping away from the suburbs of New York City, and head toward Albany. She and her kits had to be somewhere in between the two big cities.
 
First thing tomorrow, Dane would start walking through the valleys.
 
“Almost done?” Mercury asked, leaning over Dane’s shoulder to look at what he was researching. Mercury’s long bronze hair brushed Dane’s arm as he settled his chin on Dane’s shoulder. Dane loved the way Mercury looked with his full lips, small and pert nose, and his thick lashes over his bronze-colored eyes. Mercury’s hair was also a beautiful bronze color that echoed the large scales that covered most of his body.
 
“Yeah,” Dane sighed. He had his starting point, so he didn’t need to keep looking at maps. Going out searching in the dark in those mountainous woods was dangerous. Dane had to at least wait for first light.
 
“Good,” Mercury breathed. He tilted his head and took the point of Dane’s ear in his teeth. “Because Daisy has Lumie in the tub right now. She’s running the water faster than he can evaporate it, but they’ll still be a while.”
 
Which meant that they didn’t have to worry about Lumie walking through the wards and locked bedroom door and seeing something he shouldn’t. Dane grinned and shut his laptop, then turned his head to take Mercury’s mouth in a proper kiss. Sometimes it was awkward finding time to be together, but Daisy had informed Dane that he was only living the hell of any parent. In a way, it made the time they did find together more special.
 
Dane loved Mercury, and it was nice to know Mercury loved Dane too, even after five years together.

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Dragon Deception (Supernatural Consultant Book 2)Dragon Deception by Mell Eight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book #2, in the Supernatural Consultant series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. To avoid spoilers, and to understand the series, I recommend reading this series in order.

Dane is trying to find a family who is on the run. He needs to try and figure out where they might be before danger finds them first. It distracts him, but he still makes time for the eight other dragons who demand his attention.

Mercury, meanwhile, has a new partner at work. She is tough as nails and seems to want to drive the investigation. They are looking for what they hope is a copycat and not a greater problem.

The story goes at a fast pace. Characters that have all kinds of personalities pepper the book. I love the mystery weaved throughout. Plenty of humor is dashed inside as well. This is such a great read and well worth the time I spent reading it.


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

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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.

 

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