Sunday, August 14, 2016

Don't Look Back by Josh Lanyon

He was chuckling, a deep, sexy sound as he pushed Peter back on the satiny cushions. Was this for real? Was he going to go through with it? Peter blinked up as his tie was unfastened, tossed aside, his shirt unbuttoned, laid wide. The evening breeze -- scented of smog and jasmine -- felt cool against his overheated skin, like the lightest breath...

Peter Killian, curator at Constantine House in Los Angeles, wakes in the hospital to find himself accused of stealing a tenth century Chinese sculpture. Peter knows he’s not a thief -- but that’s all he knows. Why is hot and handsome Detective Mike Griffin so sure he’s guilty -- and so hell-bent on seeing Peter arrested?

And why is Peter having these weird dreams about an unseen lover who somehow reminds him uncomfortably of Michael Griffin?

I originally read this back in 2014 but for some reason I never reviewed it, as a matter of fact I never even switched it from my "currently reading" to "read" shelf on my Goodreads page.  So, I decided to re-read it and I still loved it.  As we learn more and more about Peter's life even if he doesn't remember certain facts because of the amnesia, you realize he was hurting.  At the same time, you begin to understand Michael's reluctance to believe the amnesia angle.  All together, this is a great little story with a perfect blend of romance and mystery.  I recall loving it two years ago and I loved it again now.


The second time was the real awakening. He opened his eyes with a start. There was another nurse at his bedside, and she said something to him, something calming, something reassuring. He responded. Things got a little fuzzy and then sharpened again. His room seemed full of people, and a doctor was there asking him questions.

It was…confusing. Tiring. His head ached. A lot.

"What happened to me?" he mumbled.

"You've got a concussion, Mr. Killian."

He thought that over. It wasn't an answer, was it? Or was it? "How?" he asked.

"You were injured during a robbery."

A robbery. Like…a mugging? He couldn't seem to remember, although it didn't seem like the kind of thing one would forget. It was all very bewildering. He wanted to go back to sleep.

"I don't remember," he said, and his eyelids drifted shut.

The next time he opened his eyes, the bull -- the cop -- was back.
The thin mouth curled into an unfriendly smile. "Well, Peter, we meet again."

"Yes," Peter said, trying to focus. His vision was off. "Do I know you?"

There was silence. The gray-blue eyes -- which looked more gray than blue -- narrowed. "Are you saying you don't?"

Peter's heart began to pound. "No."


"I don't know you."

Another silence. Another smile -- a rather cynical one. "Is that so?"
"Should I?" Peter managed. His temples were now starting to pound in time with his heart. All at once he felt very ill.

"What do you remember?"

"I…" Peter stopped. He had the sensation of sand sucking away beneath his feet. "Who are you?" His voice sounded faint and faraway even to himself.

The other laughed, and then the dark face re-formed itself in a sneer. "Honest to God. You've got to be kidding. You're not seriously going to try and pull that?"

Peter stared at him; he couldn't think of anything to say even if he could have forced words out over his rising panic. This couldn't be happening. This… Something was wrong. And he could not let this guy, whoever he was, know how very wrong things were -- that much he knew instinctively.

"I think you should go," he said.

"Oh, you do?" Unimpressed, the cool eyes studied him. "Why? If you don't know who I am?"

Peter said honestly, "Because I don't like you."

Another one of those hard laughs. "I see you do remember something. What else do you remember?"

Peter opened his mouth. Nothing came to him. This was impossible.
Wait. He knew…the nurse had called him "Mr. Killian" and this asshole had called him "Peter." And the doctor had said…something about a mugging.

"It's… I know who I am. But…some…details are…vague."

"How convenient." Unfriendly mockery. "Well, let me refresh your memory. I'm Detective Michael Griffin. LAPD Robbery and Homicide Division." Griffin pulled a flat wallet-looking thing out of his jacket and flashed a very large, very official-looking badge in front of Peter's nose.

Peter narrowed his eyes. This made sense up to a point. He had been knocked out -- in a robbery -- so it was reasonable that the police would interview him. Right? But Detective Griffin was acting like Peter was the criminal, and clearly they had some kind of history.
And that was very hard to believe. Peter doubtfully studied Griffin's face. Peter was a law-abiding person. He knew that about himself. He had no doubt whatsoever on that score. Maybe he couldn't remember everything, but he knew he was not the kind of person who got into trouble with the law.


And anything else was out of the question.

Ah. So that was an additional something he now knew about himself. He liked guys. He was…gay. And comfortable with the idea.

But maybe Griffin didn't like guys who liked guys? Maybe that was the problem with Michael Griffin. Although how would he know about Peter's sexual preferences? Peter couldn't imagine him confiding such a thing to…well, really to anyone. Nor did Griffin seem like the kind of guy anyone would want to confide in. Even had he been Peter's type. Which he wasn't. Even if Peter couldn't quite remember what his type was, he was quite sure Griffin was not it.

"Is your memory coming back?" Griffin inquired.

"I was knocked out."

"Oh right. And now you have amnesia. That's the story?"

Griffin did not like him either. That was clear. And Peter did not feel well enough to deal with it. He closed his eyes. Opened them. Said, "Can we…talk about it later?"

"You're not curious about what happened to you? I'd think you'd be very curious…since you can't remember anything, right?"

Peter watched him. "I was mugged?"

"Try again."

Peter tried again. "I was…robbed." Griffin was from robbery and homicide, so that was a safe bet.

His thinking processes must have been transparent, because Griffin said slowly, "You're guessing. Or you're pretending to guess."

God. This asshole was too much. Peter closed his eyes. He couldn't deal with this right now.


When the silence stretched -- when Griffin didn't go away -- Peter opened his eyes and surprised an odd expression on the detective's face. Mostly suspicion, or maybe wariness, but there was some other emotion that Peter couldn't read. It vanished the moment Griffin saw that Peter's eyes were open.

"Why don't I help you out with a few points? Your name's Peter Killian. You don't like to be called `Pete.' You're thirty-five years old, unmarried, a native Angeleno. You're the curator at Constantine House. Is this ringing any bells?"

Peter licked his lips. There was a horrible taste in his mouth and his head was pounding sickly. He knew he didn't want to hear anything more. He knew he needed to.

"You've been curator there for a little over three years -- during which time the museum has lost slightly over a hundred thousand dollars worth of antiquities and art objects."

Griffin paused politely. Peter moved his head in slight negation. He couldn't have spoken even if he'd known what to say. His heart was thudding as though he'd found himself cornered by an attack dog -- which was kind of how he felt. Griffin wasn't quite baring his teeth, but somehow the effect was the same.

"Two nights ago, for reasons known only to you, you went down to the grotto in the back of the museum garden and, to all appearances, surprised thieves in the process of removing a priceless, tenth-century painted mural."

Tenth century. A very bad year -- all one hundred of them.

The "Leaden Century" as described by Cardinal Baronius. The darkest of the Dark Ages.

"What was a priceless artifact doing in a grotto in the back of a garden?"

Griffin ignored that feeble protest. "Apparently, you were struck over the head and left unconscious while the thieves made off with the wall painting -- at which point you regained consciousness, made your way back to the museum, and triggered the alarms by not disarming the security system when you let yourself inside the back door."

As Griffin spoke, Peter had a dizzying and fleeting impression of images. A small cave…flashing shadows…voices echoing in argument…the delicate lines and muted colors of a painting…two riders on horseback…Chinese, yes. A tomb painting…yes. He did remember…

He remembered…something.

It took a few seconds to absorb the implications of Griffin's flat pronouncement.

"You don't think that's what happened?"

"I think it's convenient. Like your amnesia."

Peter let that sink in too. He had the disconcerting sensation of trying to feel his way through the smoke.

"You think I was involved in the robbery?" he managed at last.
"Were you?"

"No! Of course not."

"I thought you couldn't remember?"

Peter tried to sit up. Not a good idea. Quite a bad idea, actually. Despite the railing, he nearly overturned right out of the narrow hospital bed. His stomach overturned too as his brain seemed to slam the roof of his skull. Dimly, he was aware of Griffin grabbing him and putting him back against the pillows. Griffin said something to him, but he couldn't make it out. Maybe Griffin rang for help, because he could hear a buzzer going off. Peter felt sick and woozy and cold all the way through. He needed to make Griffin understand, needed to convince him, and he already knew that was going to be a hopeless cause. Griffin's mind was made up. He believed Peter was guilty.

Then the room was full of people. There seemed to be a lot of noise and activity. Somewhere behind the wall of sound, he could hear Detective Griffin protesting -- and being overridden. Peter put a hand to his head, touching some kind of bandage; his skull felt like it was about to split in half. Someone leaned over him; there was pinch in his arm, and suddenly the commotion faded out.

It was quiet again. Warm. Dark. There was black tide rushing toward him and he stepped out to meet it.

Author Bio:
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.



Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: Sugar Daddies by Jade West

A sugar daddy website doesn’t seem a sound basis for an A1 life plan, but I’m a small town girl with big dreams, and there’s this one advert, this one crazy advert I can’t stop thinking about…

Two hot guys seeking their Little Miss Right.

Someone who can entertain them, amuse them, fit in with their corporate schedule.

And sex. They want sex.
Lots of sex.
Bonus, right? One major dose of epic win.

Of course, guys like Carl and Rick have their conditions. One being that they come together, or not at all.

Hell, I can live with that.

And there are no skeletons in their designer closet, none that I can find.

Just two hot sugar daddies, with particular tastes, nothing to worry about.

Until Carl and Rick spill the big one, the one that sends the girls running. A whole string of them before me, running to the hills without so much as a backward glance.

Maybe I should run, too. Thanks but no thanks, see you around, guys, nice knowing you.
But I’m already in way too deep for that.

Warning – as with every other Jade West book, reader discretion is highly advised. This novel contains vivid depictions of MMF / MM relationships, and Jade’s characters, as always, have very filthy mouths. Mature readers only, please.

Author Bio:
Jade West is as dirty bad wrong in real life as you would expect from her books. Dirty Bad Wrong is her first full-length erotic novel, but she cut her teeth writing filth on Live Journal.

Her dirty mouth was developed through her natural interest in filth, and refined through a year-long stint as a sex chatline operator. Writing books isn't the first time she's made a living from horny talk, except this time she's bringing it to a wider audience.

Jade is a real-life submissive, with a healthy interest in pornography, men in suits and taking a decent beating with a cane.

Outside of all things dirty, she enjoys reading, plotting world domination and the odd spot of knitting.


This is Me CE Wilson

Title: This is Me
Author: CE Wilson
Genre: New Adult Romance, Science Fiction
Release Date: August 11, 2016

Anthropomorphic Sentient Individualized Servile uniT

Rogan is a robot. More specifically, he is an Asist – a personalized humanoid servant that provides protection, assistance, and companionship for a lonely young woman living on her own in the city. Chloe is trying to get her big break, singing at bars and clubs all over the city at night while she pays the bills as a substitute teacher during the day. Ever since she activated him many months ago, Rogan has been her beautiful, dependable, obedient, dead-eyed security blanket.

One morning she is shocked when he disobeys a direct command in an attempt to please her and his dull artificial eyes flash a hint of something new. Is this the result of the adaptive Asist servility programming or is Rogan actually thinking? Can a robot think? Can a robot feel?

As Chloe struggles with these thoughts she is blindsided by the singular Niven Adams, a handsome, confident man with the voice of an angel who is everything she’s ever wanted in a boyfriend. He’s the perfect guy for her, except for one problem. Niven doesn’t approve of Asists and takes an immediate dislike to Rogan. As Niven charms his way deeper and deeper into Chloe’s heart, Rogan tries to convince her that he is more than a mass-produced disposable servant.

With Rogan doing everything in his power to prove that his thoughts and feelings are real and Niven trying to persuade her to abandon her robot and have a normal human relationship, Chloe is trapped between the two things that mean the most to her. Does she embrace her relationship with the blond newcomer, or face that her Asist’s feelings may be more than features of his programming?

What really makes a person a person?

Is it a ticking muscle inside their chest, or is it something more?

Author Bio:
C.E. Wilson is 32 years old, grew up in Millersville, Pennsylvania, and has been living in Pittsburgh since 2009. For the first few years living in Pittsburgh, she was an English teacher. Her first book, "Oath of Servitude," was published in 2012. In 2013, she quit teaching to be a full time author and hasn't looked back since. She loves spending time with her daughter and husband.


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