Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: First Time for Everything


Summary:
There’s nothing like the first time. Whether it’s a first crush, first date, first kiss, or finding tolerance and approval for the first time, for gay, lesbian, bi, and trans teens—or those still exploring and discovering their sexuality and identity—these important firsts can shape the rest of their lives. Gathering the courage to come out to their families, admit their feelings to a friend, or go to school presenting as the people they really are can be a struggle. But with the support of their allies and their own inner strength, the brave young people in these stories take the first steps toward happiness and living on their own terms. From sweet stories of newly discovered love, humorous accounts of awkward dinners and dances, to fights for acceptance and even survival, the teens in this anthology must face new challenges and rise to meet them. These are the first times they’ll never forget.

Stories Included:
Midnight in the Maze by J. Leigh Bailey
A Warrior from a Different Tribe by S.A. Garcia
His World by Eric Gober
Just Right by John Goode
It's In Their Kiss by Kevay Gray
It's Not Our Fault by Charli Green
Courting Billy Roth by Nick Hasse
Dressed to Swim by Renee Hirsch
Beautiful by Ella Lyons
First Date by Nicole McCormick
Step by Step by Emily Moreton
Kissing Scars by Jo Ramsey
Dear Cody by Eric Renner
Dating My Best Friend by Caitlin Ricci
Summer Crush by SR Silcox
When Wolverine Met Taylor by Andrea Speed
Me and My Friend by Emery C. Walters
Kiss and Makeup by Allison Wonderland


Just Right by John Goode 
Summary:
Jordan Miller and his friends want to find significant others over the summer. The only problem is, Jordan is the only one in his group who is gay, and furthermore, he has high standards. So he decides to look for what he wants at the Great Escape, a dance club for gay teens. Despite having to deal with some random jerks at the club, it's a night he'll remember for the rest of his life.


His World by Eric Gober 
Summary:
A.J. dreams of becoming a marine biologist and longs to escape his dreary life as a stable boy on his stepfather’s Arizona ranch. On a trip to LA, his real dad’s new girlfriend introduces A.J. to her nephew, Cory, and A.J. sees the possibility of happiness and an end to his isolation. But A.J. is afraid to come out because of his past, and Cory is just as guarded. If they want a chance together, both young men will have to face their greatest fear.


It's Not Our Fault by Charli Green 
Summary:
Jordan Pond graduated from high school a year early. He didn’t know he’d have three weeks to fill before his first day of classes at the community college. He also didn’t know that during those seemingly endless weeks he’d have an awkward painful experience at Powell’s City of Books that might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to him, even if it causes him to question everything he thought he knew about himself.


Courting Billy Roth by Nick Hasse 
Summary:
Billy Roth is the boy next door and the best friend a guy like Toby could ever hope to have. Toby knows he can trust Billy with anything, and maybe that’s why it’s so easy to fall for him. But maybe it’s also why he’s afraid to risk a lifetime of friendship on the hope for something more. Toby will have to take the chance of a lifetime if he’s going to win the guy of his dreams.


Me and My Friend by Emery C. Walters 
Summary:
Aiden’s family is worried that he doesn’t have any friends, so they challenge him to talk to people at an arts fair. Aiden does his best, with varying degrees of success. Just when things are going well, Aiden is beaten up and robbed. He looks for help in a coffee shop, where the gay barista who comes to his aid might prove his first real friend after all.


Summer Crush by SR Silcox 
Summary:
The onset of the Australian summer means the last days of high school for Jess and her best friend Ben. It’s also Jess's last chance to have her first kiss before school ends. Though Jess is a proud lesbian, she’s afraid to confess her longtime crush to her childhood friend, Ellie Preston, especially now that Ellie’s dating Zac. At the last class bonfire on the beach, Jess must tell Ellie how she feels or lose the opportunity forever.


Dear Cody by Eric Renner 
Summary:
As Sam begins his senior year of high school, he realizes he can no longer hide his romantic feelings for his best friend Cody. But Cody has already left for college, and Sam has no idea how he should tell him—let alone how Cody will react. Sam knows he must put aside his fears and find a way to tell Cody the truth, regardless of the consequences.


Midnight In the Maze by J. Leigh Bailey 
Summary:
Joey misses the dreaded “Sweet Sixteen And Never Been Kissed” stigma by minutes. The night before his birthday, a mysterious boy kisses him in the Halloween corn maze. Thanks to the darkness and shadows, he has no idea who the anonymous kisser is. He whittles the list down to two possibilities. Is it Blake, the maze attendant Joey’s had a crush on for absolutely forever? Or is it Jared, the hot artist who leads the school’s GSA chapter?


Beautiful by Ella Lyons 
Summary:
Duncan Oakes, born into a male body, has identified as a woman for as long as she can remember, but she hasn’t found the courage to discuss transitioning with her parents. Over the summer between high school graduation and college, Duncan asks her supportive best friend Abby for a makeup lesson. Abby helps Duncan see that being who she truly is—Dee-Dee—doesn’t mean the loss of friendship or the love of her family.


Dating My Best Friend by Caitlin Ricci 
Summary:
After coming out as a lesbian to her friends and family, Cassie is a little worried about what will happen next. But she’s most afraid of losing her longtime best friend, Trish. Much to Cassie’s surprise, Trish calls, comes out to Cassie as bisexual, and asks her out. It’s better than Cassie could have hoped for—if only Trish didn’t consider their first date “just practice.”


Dressed to Swim by Renee Hirsch 
Summary:
When shy and friendless high school student Michael Summers is invited to a beach party, he doesn’t want to go. First of all, he can’t swim, and more importantly, he’s never fit in with the other kids—boys or girls. But Michael’s mother insists he tries to have a social life. At the party, a conversation with his classmate Marina gives him the courage to not only enjoy himself, but to explore his identity.


First Date by Nicole McCormick 
Summary:
High school junior Logan is so stressed and excited about his first date with Jason that he needs his mom to help him pick out what to wear. At dinner, though they're both nervous, Logan learns about the disapproval Jason must deal with at home, both for his bisexuality and for going out with Logan. Logan offers Jason support and they connect. Despite the initial awkwardness, their first date might be the beginning of much more.


It's In Their Kiss by Kevay Gray 
Summary:
Emerald M. Platt is sixteen, bisexual, and proud. She’s never done anything halfway, and she isn’t about to start when it comes to her first kiss. She knows what she wants and who she wants it from: her two best friends, Ezekiel and Francesca, one male, one female, and both beautiful. But she doesn’t want to sacrifice their friendship to get what she needs.


Kiss and Makeup by Allison Wonderland 
Summary:
Like any teenager, Gina is petrified of rejection. Not from all her peers, just her fellow queers—specifically those on the Sapphic side. Basically, Gina's spent most of high school being out but never going out. Then she meets Simone, a cosmetics salesgirl at the mall, and develops a crush on the beautiful beautician. Maybe it's finally time for Gina to kiss her insecurities good-bye and make up her mind to go for the girl.


Kissing Scars by Jo Ramsay 
Summary:
Xan has battled PTSD from an assault for years. Now sixteen, she’s recovering from the cutting and panic attacks, but school is still a struggle. When Xan sees popular former cheerleader Alyssa in baggy clothes with bandaged wrists, she recognizes the signs of a survivor. The two girls find they have a lot in common and decide to stand together to battle their demons.


When Wolverine Met Taylor by Andrea Speed 
Summary:
With the support of his best friend Sasha, shy Max builds up the nerve to attend his first comic convention. He even cosplays Wolverine to complement Sasha’s Mohawked Storm. He’s anxious, but his risk pays off when he meets cute fellow fanboy Taylor, a con veteran with good taste in comics and even better taste in guys. Can Max get in touch with his inner Wolverine and make a move?


A Warrior From A Different Tribe by S.A. Garcia 
Summary:
Though proud of his heritage, Joe Brown Jr. resents spending his summer taking care of his grandfather. A former Seminole medicine man, Grandpa Sam has been suffering from dementia and keeps wandering off. But at least Joe has his secret boyfriend, outgoing artist Ed Perez, to keep his spirits up. Ed makes it clear he’s willing to go to the ends of the earth to be with Joe, but Joe is terrified of facing rejection if he comes out to the world. Happily, Joe's romantic solution comes from an expected source.


Step by Step by Emily Moreton 
Summary:
Coming out as a trans girl in high school is tough enough without having a crush on the male best friend Jen kissed when she was still presenting as John. Jen's got her art teacher providing sanctuary, though, and her best friend Cam sticking by her. When out lesbian transfer student Katie gets her involved in a mixed gender hockey club alongside Cam, things get both easier and more complicated for both Jen and Cam.

Author Bios:
J. Leigh Bailey
j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of... well, everything...but some habits aren't worth breaking. She's been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She's a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending. 

She wrote her first story at seven, which was, unbeknownst to her at the time, a charming piece of fan-fiction in which Superman battled (and defeated, of course) the nefarious X Luther. She was quite put out to be told, years later, that the character's name was actually Lex. Her second masterpiece should have been a best-seller, but the action-packed tale of rescuing her little brother from an alligator attack in the marshes of Florida collected dust for years under the bed instead of gaining critical acclaim.

Now she writes Young Adult LGBT Romance novels about boys traversing the crazy world of love, relationships and acceptance. 

S.A. Garcia
S.A. Garcia can never decide between red or white. Nor can she decide between creating visual art or word art, so over the decades a career in visual design, music journalism, and technical writing blossomed. Ten years of running an indie music magazine certainly provided plenty of wild characters and curious situations for fiction.
Even when traveling to interview bands, writing fiction always percolated in the background, and writing male romantic fiction ruled above all. Reading Gordon Merrick at age nineteen sounded a wonderful wake-up call. There's thirty years of male/male romance hidden away in her notebooks and on the computer. Now it is time to release the stories into the free air.

When not obsessing over different ways to describe romantic encounters, S.A. enjoys cooking for her beloved of twenty-five years; she endures the endless experiments with grace. Gardening, traveling, arguing politics, and teaching the house bunnies new tricks provide more fun. Unfortunately the furry furies refuse to learn how to type.

Eric Gober
Eric Gober is a fan of quirky characters, family drama, coming-of-age stories, and the angst of good romance. He rolls them into one in his award-winning debut novel, Secrets of the Other Side.

When not writing, he can be found curled up with a good book, seeking inspiration from the big screen, or hanging with great friends. He is an avid runner and enjoys trail running and half marathons.

He grew up in Las Vegas and now makes his home in Los Angeles. He is at work on a new novel set amid California’s marriage-equality battles.

John Goode
John Goode is a member of the class of '88 from Hogwarts school of wizardry, specializing in incantations and spoken spells. At the age of 14 he proudly represented District 13 in the 65th Panem games where he was disqualified for crying uncontrollably before the competition began. After that he moved to Forks, Washington where, against all odds, dated the hot, incredibly approachable werewolf instead of the stuck up jerk of a vampire but was crushed when he found out the werewolf was actually gayer than he was. After that he turned down the mandatory operation everyone must receive at 16 to become pretty citing that everyone pretty were just too stupid to live before moving away for greener pastures. After falling down an oddly large rabbit hole he became huge when his love for cakes combined with his inability to resist what sparsely worded notes commanded and was finally kicked out when he began playing solitaire with the Red Queen's 4th armored division. By 18 he had found the land in the back of his wardrobe but decided that thinly veiled religious allegories where not the neighbors he desired. When last seen he had become obsessed with growing a pair of wings after becoming obsessed with Fang's blog and hasn't been seen since.

Or he is this guy who lives in this place and writes stuff he hopes you read.

Kevay Gray
Kevay Gray is a mother of two, whose love of reading at the age of 12 urged her on to write characters finding their own romances. She loves to read, write, game and spend time with her children.

She belongs to Romance Writers of America National, OCC RWA local chapter, Young Adult Chapter RWA online, The Beaumonde online RWA chapter, and Rainbow Writers online RWA chapter.

Charli Green
Charli Green grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars, back when all television was free. Which was a good thing, otherwise she never would’ve seen any of it. She grew up in subsidized housing in the San Francisco Bay Area and since then has worked as a pusher of various (legal) products, arranged a lot of flowers, wrangled many words, and made more sandwiches than any human would dare count—occasionally all in one day, and sometimes even for money.

Charli has survived droughts, earthquakes, floods, and over a decade living in an area affectionately known (in her strange little world) as Portland’s middle finger, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories. Now that she's all grown up on the outside, she's writing the stories she wanted to read in high school, queer fiction that goes beyond the L & G.

Nick Hasse
In the late spring of 2012, I met a crazy, wonderful man on Facebook. He was an author, and I was twenty years old. In my misguided and arrogant attempt to impress, I began to write a short story that I thought might reach ten pages, and I asked my new friend to critique for me, as he had offered in the weeks prior. And he did. He took time away from his own work to read every rough chapter as I finished it, edited and critiqued my work and acted as my muse when I was stuck. That summer, he passed away from a long battle with complications from an accident I hadn’t known he’d had. I was just starting Chapter Five.

I couldn’t even open Danny after that. Instead, his family and loved ones took me under their collective wing as he had, and pushed me to continue and one day finish the story he had been so excited about. It was a long struggle, but eight months later I was staring at the words “The End” and I couldn’t believe it. My ten-page story had grown to its current state, and the one person and reason I had begun this project for would never know the resolution. But he was an author and as the anniversary of his death draws near it seems only fitting to pass this on to you, the reader.

Renee Hirsch
Renee Hirsch has been writing since ey was first taught the alphabet and been making up stories for even longer than that. In addition to being a writer, ey is a linguistics student, an illustrator, a martial artist, and a tea enthusiast. Ey prefers character driven stories rather than plot driven ones. Renee Hirsch writes using a pseudonym, and eir real identity remains hidden, even to emself 

Ella Lyons
Ella Lyons is a tea-drinking, cookie-loving yogi who lives on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, their son, and a retired racing greyhound. Her proudest achievement is mastering the command “Be my little spoon.” She loves reading, writing, hiking, traveling, quilting, and learning.

Nicole McCormick
Nicole lives in Austin with her husband and two rascally kitties. She typically writes m/m romance, but occasionally other stuff manages to sneak in. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading or knitting. If it’s March, you can find her at the rodeo. She’ll be the one wearing the large unicorn necklace.

Emily Moreton
Emily Moreton started writing when she was a young girl, mostly stories featuring her and her sister bravely taking on the world and winning (well, the back garden, anyway). Fortunately, her writing diversified as she got older, though it does still include the occasional bit of saving the world (not by her, though). Emily has had several short stories published, including in a charity anthology to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which was nominated for the Push Cart awards.

She now mostly writes gay and lesbian erotic romance (with very little saving the world) and is hoping to start work on a novel just as soon as that mythical thing known as free-time manifests itself.

Emily lives in Bristol, England, where she currently works four jobs in various community settings, and lives in a rooftop flat by a railway line. Aside from writing, she spends most of her time volunteering at a local theatre, and trying not to break anything important while on ice skates. 

Jo Ramsey
Jo Ramsey started writing when she was five years old and hasn't stopped since. Between ages 12 and 20, she wrote twenty book-length manuscripts, longhand in spiral notebooks which now dwell in the bottom drawer of her filing cabinet. Jo's first YA novel, Reality Shift 1: Connection, was published in January 2010, followed in October 2010 by book 2: Filtration System. Jo lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her husband, and two cats, one of whom occasionally tries to help her type.

Eric Renner
Eric Renner finds that his favorite fictional stories often have a solid basis in reality. He follows the same path in his own writing, drawing on his real-life experiences to act as a springboard into a great story.

Caitlin Ricci
Caitlin was fortunate growing up to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading. She has always been a voracious reader and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. If she isn't writing, she can usually be found studying as she works toward her counseling degree. She comes from a military family and the men and women of the armed forces are close to her heart. She also enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies where she calls home with her wonderful fiance and their dog. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories.

SR Silcox
SR Silcox grew up in small-town Australia. A child of the 80s and a teen of the 90s, it was a multi-coloured, fun-filled time of hypercolour T-shirts, Slip’n’Slides, outrageously teased fringes, MC Hammer and Dunlop Volleys. She played cricket in the summer and soccer in the winter, all while wearing shorts and T-shirts with a cap glued firmly to her head.

She loves team sports, barracks for the underdog, and believes that everyone makes the right choices given the right set of circumstances. Most of all she believes that re-making movies from the 1980s should be made illegal.

A lesbian herself, she’s passionate about the importance of diversity in fiction and the media, especially for LGBT+ teens.
A voracious and eclectic reader, among her favourite authors are JK Rowling, John Green, Hugh Howey , and Malinda Lo.

A former accountant, SR Silcox left her job in 2012 to write full time. She lives in the ‘out west’ of Queensland with her partner and two dogs, and writes young adult fiction with lesbian main characters.

Andrea Speed
Andrea Speed may or may not be the cloned remnant of an adventurer lost in a time tunnel disguised as a Herfy's in downtown Twisp. Seattle born and currently Tacoma based, she thanks you for reading this, as it is incredibly awkward to write a biography in this tone of voice. It helps if you imagine Peter Graves saying this. If you enjoy her jackassery, make sure to check out CxPulp.com, JoeBobBriggs.com, and andreaspeed.com . Know that each reader is loved and appreciated, and gets a free online hug. (Note: Not redeemable in person, or Tennessee, where they don't go for that girly stuff.) Oh, and Infected: Freefall won a 2012 Rainbow Award. Woohoo!

Emery C. Walters
Emery C. Walters was born in 1943 and named Carol Forde, a name he soon knew didn't fit the boy inside himself. Transition wasn't thinkable back then; so it was only after marriage and raising four children on his own that Emery told Carol to step aside. Once married to his wife, herself raised as a boy, Emery's writing spilled over. 

His 2010 first novel, 'Last Year's Leaves' is an intense story of recovery from abuse, finding love, living through loss, and coming out whole. For all the intensity, the book is laced with his trademark humor. Each of his later novels is less intense but still filled with the challenges of coming of age when some form of family or other angst is present. But not all family is blood-related; help and love come with many faces, including a several-hundred-year-old pirate named Drystan the Dire, who appears with regularity -- not always at the best time. 

Emery's two BecHavn Publishing books of short stories, 'Out Is In' and 'Boots, Dogs, and the Sea', are young coming of age stories and are full of hope and humor. 'Ghosties and Girlies' is a children's story that even adults will enjoy. 'A Gay Old Pirate's Tale' is his only book with absolutely zero socially redeeming features; it is a pure fun farce.

Emery has also begun publishing short stories in the ezine venue, and they are finding their way to Amazon electronic bookshelves.

Allison Wonderland
Allison Wonderland is one L of a girl. Her lesbian literature appears in Best Lesbian Romance 2013 and 2014, IRIS: A Magazine of New LGBTQ+ Writing for Young Adults, Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry, and Visible: A Femmethology. Besides being a Sapphic storyteller, Allison is a reader of stories Sapphics tell, and enjoys everything from pulp fiction to teen fiction to historical fiction.


J. Leigh Bailey
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S.A. Garcia
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EMAIL: writearts2@verizon.net

Eric Gober
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EMAIL: eric@ericgober.com

John Goode
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Kevay Gray
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EMAIL: kevaygray@writeme.com

Charli Green
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Nick Hasse
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EMAIL: lassiter.fallenangel710@gmail.com

Renee Hirsch
EMAIL: thequeerdeer@outlook.com

Ella Lyons
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Nicole McCormick
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EMAIL: mccormnj@gmail.com

Emily Moreton


Jo Ramsey
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EMAIL: joramsey34@hotmail.com

Eric Renner
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Caitlin Ricci
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EMAIL: authorcaitlinricci@gmail.com

SR Silcox
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Andrea Speed
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Emery C. Walters
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Allison Wonderland
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Release Day Blitz: Jesse by Jo Raven

Title: Jesse
Author: Jo Raven
Series: Damage Control #2
Genre: New Adult contemporary romance
Release Date: July 20, 2015
Cover Design: Jo Raven
Model: Francis Clément
Photographer: Sara Eirew
Summary:
Returning to Madison hurts. I thought I’d left my past behind, but the past goes on living. I carry it inside of me, it’s a piece of me. People have marked me in indelible ways and I drag the shreds of my soul behind me, trying to put my pieces back together. I’m not the Amber I used to be. I fly under the radar, try to be invisible.

It doesn't always work. Drawing attention scares me. It always spells trouble. Returning to my home town is a last ditch effort to lay my demons to rest and start anew, for good this time.

Meeting Jesse Lee wasn’t in the plan. Yet here he is with his heart-stopping, sexy grin, handsome like a god, shining bright. He’s full of life, full of heat, packing the energy of a thousand suns in his gaze and muscular body. Jesse burns, and the pain of being near him is sweet.

But he’s foiling my plans. It’s hard to remain a ghost when he’s around. Hard to avoid his attention, to remain invisible. He sees me, really sees me, and behind his bright radiance, I can see shadows from his own past crowding in. He’s swimming hard to stay afloat even as he reaches for me.

What is he afraid of? And how can he save me from drowning when he can’t even save himself?

Standalone novel. No cliffhanger.

*Warning: this book contains graphic language, sex, and violence. Mature readers only. Not intended for young readers.*


     “Embers?” He lifts a dark brow, and I try to unstick my tongue from the roof of my mouth.
     Kind of hard with all that muscled, male, inked flesh in full display in front of me. He’s shirtless, and oh God, his nipples are pierced. Silver hoops pass through the small brown nubs, gleaming. His bare chest is sculpted and hard, from his pecs to the cut abs and the fine dark trail of hairs leading into the waistband of his gray jogging pants.
     Sweat glistens on his skin, on the colorful ink covering his arm, the swirls and lines dipping from his left shoulder down to a defined pec. A demon is tattooed there, stylized wings and a monstrous head, fading into the purple and blue of other, older-looking tats. And then of course there’s the cobra I noticed on his arm the other day.
     “Hey,” I say vaguely, my brain on shut-down. I swallow hard, try again. “What does the cobra stand for?”
     Both his brows arch now, eyes wide, their green-blue irises crystalline in the morning light. He glances down at his arm, then back at me. “What?”
     “What does the snake stand for?” I wave in his direction, wondering if I should cut my losses, turn about and run away right frigging now. Being antisocial is one thing – seeing it in action is another.
     As I’m about to turn and run, one corner of his mouth curls up.
     “You’re funny,” he says, and it stops me in my tracks.
     “No, I’m not.”
     “Yes, you are, trust me.” He grins. “How about we start again. Good morning, Embers.”
     If flames jump from my cheeks, it won’t surprise me. “Morning.”
     “Would you like to come inside?” he says, that sexy grin      lingering on his full lips. “There might be coffee.”
     “No, thanks.” The need to flee is worse than ever, only I’m caught in his spell and can’t move. He’s staring at me, giving me a lazy, slow once-over, from the top of my head to my toes curling in my sandals.
     “What, no pet name for me today?”
     Oh God, what am I doing here? “Cut it out, Jesse. Don’t be an ass.”
     I expect a witty comeback, but instead something shutters behind his bright eyes, and strangely, I feel guilt wash over me. He rubs a hand over his face and slumps against the doorframe, muscles rolling in his arms.
     “This is who I am, Embers,” he drawls, closing his eyes. “What you see is what you get. I told you that you’d get tired of me soon.”
     But for the first time, I’m not so sure about that.


Author Bio:
Jo Raven writes New Adult contemporary romance. She loves sexy bad boys and strong-willed heroines, and divides her time between writing and reading. When not cooking up plots, she putters in her cluttered kitchen and dreams of travelling.


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Jesse #2
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Micah #1
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Love & Happiness by Ben Burgess, Jr

Title: Love & Happiness
Author: Ben Burgess, Jr
Genre: African American Fiction/ Urban Fiction
Release Date: April 24, 2015
Cover Design: Leah Friday
Summary:
Karen has it all: a handsome husband, beautiful twin daughters, a lovely home and a great job. Karen also has a secret; she’s cheating on her husband, with not one man, but two. On the outside her life seems perfect, but on the inside Karen feels neglected, bored and unappreciated. Yearning for affection and excitement, she falls into the arms of first Raheem and then Tyrell. Out of fear of losing her husband and breaking up her family, Karen ends the affairs but things don’t turn out how she planned. When Karen’s dirty secrets are revealed she must fight to keep her family together. Chris is doing all he can to hold his marriage together. He loves Karen but she grows more distant every day. When she starts coming home later and later, he suspects she is being unfaithful. When Chris accidentally takes her cell phone what he finds changes their lives forever. When tragedy strikes, Karen must decide if she should sacrifice her happiness for her husband’s love, and Chris wonders if he should stay with Karen because he still loves her despite her infidelity. But if they do stay together, will they ever find love and happiness again? Sexy and relatable, insightful and inspiring, Love and Happiness shows us both sides of Chris and Karen's story, and reminds us that sometimes to have it all, you must first lose it all.


     “Goodbye, Raheem.”
     “Don’t go like this,” he pleaded.
     “We can’t do this anymore.”
     I walked out of the room. I got in my car and cried the entire ride home. When I pulled into the driveway, I dried my eyes and gathered my composure. Chris was sitting in the living room watching the news. I walked up to him and kissed him passionately. I started to take off his clothes.
     “Damn babe, what’s got you hot like this?”
     “I need you... Now.”
     The girls were already in bed, so I fucked him right there in the living room. I needed to be penetrated by Chris. Every stroke felt like I was letting go, releasing the hold and feelings Tyrell and Raheem had on my heart. I kept picturing Tyrell and Raheem instead of Chris. I felt ashamed of myself for thinking of other men when my husband was making love to me. Chris was swelling inside me. I knew he was close. As much as I enjoyed having raw sex with him, we couldn’t risk having more kids. I pulled him out of me, maneuvering myself, so his manhood was directly in front of my face. I palmed his ass and pushed his hips forward taking him in my mouth. I sucked and sucked and sucked. His orgasm spewed into my mouth. I milked his dick and swallowed every drop. I felt guilty; my eyes filled with tears. Chris noticed.
     “You okay, babe?”
     Chris looked concerned.
     “Yeah... It was just so intense.”
     “I loved it.”
     I forced myself to smile and rushed upstairs to shower. I turned the hot water on until the steam fogged up all of the mirrors. I didn’t want to see myself. I adjusted the water temperature, took off my clothes and stepped inside.
     In the shower, I cried until my throat was sore. I felt disgusting. I felt horrible. All the guilt from cheating crashed down on me all at once. I had no one to talk to. I always showed my friends my strength. I never let them see me during troubled times because I tried to portray myself as a strong woman that had her shit together. But I was falling apart at the seams.



1.  What is the biggest influence/interest that brought you to this genre?
When I was in 8th grade, I read Richard Wright’s “Native Son” When I read that book, I felt that it was life changing for me. I knew that I wanted to one day write something that could have the same effect on people. While in 8th grade, my English teacher Mrs. Marcus gave the class a poetry assignment. My poem was on basketball. I don't remember what I wrote, but I remember my teacher was blown away by it. She encouraged me to keep writing. She was one of my most influential teachers, and I promised her if I ever wrote a book, I would write a poem about the Holocaust for her. (She was Jewish and had family that were survivors.) My dream was to publish a book. I continued to write throughout high school and college. My college professors told me I had talent as a poet and writer, so I decided to go to lounges that had open mics to perform my poetry. Hearing people cheer for me and appreciate my words, inspired me to keep writing. My first published book was a poetry book titled “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange.” I wrote a poem for Mrs. Marcus titled “Holocaust”, keeping my promise. The poem “Ugly” from “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange”, is the poem that inspired me to write my first novel “Monster.” I reflected on my life and felt it would be a good story that would teach and possible change people’s lives the way Richard Wright’s “Native Son” had done for me.

2. When writing a book, what is your favorite part of the creative process (outline, plot, character names, editing, etc.)?
My favorite part of the creative process is being in the middle of writing a novel. I love when I see the thoughts in my head coming together and materializing into something beautiful.

3. When reading a book, what genre do you find most interesting/intriguing?
Since I write African American Fiction/Urban Fiction, that is also the genre I find most interesting and intriguing. I enjoy reading realistic dramas.

4. If you could co-author with any author, past or present, who would you choose?
If I could co-author a novel with another author, I would write one with Eric Jerome Dickey. To me, it would be like working with my idol. I love his work ethic and the fact that he constantly evolves with his work to keep it from being derivative. I try to do the same with each of my novels.

5. Have you always wanted to write or did it come to you ʺlater in lifeʺ?
I’ve always enjoyed writing from a young age, but I can honestly say that the desire to take it seriously and to pursue a career with it, came later on in life because I needed to develop the strength and listen to the encouragement of my teachers, fans, and friends, to feel like I was good enough to be successful with it.

Author Bio:
Ben Burgess Jr is the author of the award winning novels "Monster", "Wounded", the poetry book "Times Have Changed and Life is Strange" and the new novel "Love and Happiness" He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben Burgess Jr uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in, and to never give up on their dreams. His poetry book "Times Have Changed and Life is Strange" and his novel "Monster" are currently used in schools on the lower east side of Manhattan. Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management, and a MA degree in Educational Leadership. He is the proud father of his daughter Jaelynn and is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.


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Release Day Blitz: Raw Trust by RJ Rollins

Title: Raw Trust
Author: RJ Rollins
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Date: July 20, 2015
Summary:
It's always better when you shouldn't be doing it....

I started my senior year of college intending to have fun before being steamrolled by the demands of adult life. Recently single, I was looking for excitement, distraction, nothing serious. Guys do it, why shouldn't girls?

When I meet him, our mutual attraction is undeniable, intense, way more than anything I had expected. He's unlike any other guy I've ever known—confident, cocky, a shameless dirty talker, and he stops at nothing to get what he wants.

When I find out who he really is, I know this shouldn't be happening. He knows it too. But we can't stop. The risk of getting caught fuels our secret forbidden relationship.

When it all starts to unravel, when people find out and our futures are threatened, I wonder: is he everything I was looking for or everything I should avoid?




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