Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Irresistible Attraction by Cat Grant

Priceless #1
"When love's for sale, who really pays?"

Connor Morrison is a 3-D optics pioneer, the star of the UC Berkeley physics department, and a socially inept workaholic. And with his dear friend and business partner, Steve Campbell, handling their investors, he's content to remain in the shadows. That is, until he meets the gorgeous and starry-eyed physics student Wes Martin.

Wes is brilliant but broke. Ever since his scholarship fell victim to the financial crisis, he's had no choice but to sell his body to stay in school. Already half in love with Connor, Wes initially resists Steve's offer to be Connor's thirty-fifth birthday present. But in the end, Wes is too broke--and too smitten--to say no.

Connor has no idea Steve bought Wes's attentions, and he quickly falls under the young man's spell. Yet after one night together, Wes disappears. He can't bear to hook with a man he could so easily grow to love, but he also can't bear to tell him the truth. Besides, if he sleeps with Connor again, there'd be no way to hide the bruises one of his regular johns loves to inflict. Only one thing to do: let Connor go. Walking away is painful, but not nearly as much as building a relationship on lies.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: non-consent.

Interesting story of an older man finding new love with a former student, even though their initial "meeting" is slightly unorthodox. Can love find a way? Wes may have some insecurities that lead him down the wrong path and maybe he should have been able to find better ways to earn his way but hindsight is 20/20.  However, if he had made other choices he may have never met Connor, Fate can definitely be a fickle mistress.


Doubtless #2
Loving your best friend is hard . . . especially when he's marrying someone else.

On the surface, Steve Campbell seems to have it all: a beautiful home, a snazzy car, and a dream job as one of the country’s top 3-D optics researchers. But underneath, he’s restless and dissatisfied, tired of empty encounters with leggy lab assistants and endless evenings alone.

A chance meeting with a handsome escort lifts Steve’s spirits and opens his eyes to his long-repressed attraction to men—and his love for his best friend and business partner, Connor Morrison.

Connor might’ve loved Steve like that once, but now it’s too late for their happily ever after; Connor’s about to ask his boyfriend to marry him. Fortunately, it's never too late to learn about yourself, and maybe Steve can find a happy ending on his own.

More of a "companion" installment as opposed to a sequel to Priceless. This story follows Connor's friend/partner, Steve, as he makes some major realizations about his life and the directions he wants to take, if he's determined to be happy.


Fearless #3
How can you plan for the future when escaping the past seems impossible?

After over a year together, Connor Morrison and Wes Martin decide to tie the knot. But an ethics complaint regarding their deeply non-traditional relationship threatens Connor’s job and Wes’s Ph.D. The fact that Connor tried to keep it from Wes—even with the best of intentions—makes the situation even worse and casts a pall over their plans for a Christmas wedding in New York.

It doesn’t help that Connor still treats Wes like glass, though Wes insists he’s recovered from the brutal assault he suffered a year and a half earlier. Wes may be okay, but Connor isn’t. Memories of taking a battered, terrified Wes to the emergency room that night still haunt him, and he can’t let go of the need to protect Wes from any and everything life might throw at him.

But Wes has had enough. Between the specter of the ethics complaint and Connor’s overprotectiveness, he’s already beginning to question their plans. Add in a family ashamed of and angered by his choices, and Wes might just leave Connor standing at the altar.

This is marked as #3 of 4 but after reading it and reading the description of #4, I'd say it should have been reversed but it doesn't really make a difference. There's a character mentioned in here that is introduced in #4 but that's about it. A very good addition to the tale of Wes and Connor. We find out what happens next in their relationship as well as some family drama on Wes' side.


Flawless #4
Steve Campbell used to be a player, until a mid-life crisis opened his eyes to his long-repressed love for Connor, his soon-to-be-married best friend and business partner. Coming out at thirty-eight means learning how to date all over again, and this time, Steve’s not willing to settle for empty one-night stands. He wants the real thing.

Gil Alvarez has never had it easy, struggling through childhood and rejected by his family for a body that didn’t match who he was inside. A skilled driver and mechanic, he’s working hard to make his auto shop a success. The last thing he needs is a rich white guy in a candy-apple-red Ferrari tempting him, but Steve’s ready smile and easygoing manner prove irresistible.

One brief, intimate encounter leaves them both hungry for more. Gil’s not ashamed of who he is, but he’s terrified that Steve will reject him—or worse—when he discovers what Gil can’t find the courage to tell him.

Personally I think this should be read before Fearless but the truth is it doesn't really have any effect on that story other than learning who Gil is. Gil is the exact type of person that you never seen Steve with and yet at the same time, you know they're perfect for each other from there first meeting at the beach. Steve does have an uncanny ability of foot-in-mouth disease that makes you want to just give a good shake.


Irresistible Attraction Volume 1: Connor and Wes(#1 & #3)
Running a world-class optics lab doesn’t leave Connor Morrison much time for a personal life, but he’s happy with his nose buried in his research until brilliant young student Wes Martin catches his attention. What begins as a simple one-night stand becomes more complicated as feelings enter the mix and Connor discovers that Wes has been selling himself to pay for school. And that’s not even the worst secret Wes has been keeping.

When Connor rescues Wes from an abusive john, their feelings for each other become too strong to deny. Fast-forward eighteen months, and wedding bells are on the horizon . . . until an ethics complaint threatens Connor’s job and Wes’s graduate studies. Worse, Connor’s still haunted by memories of Wes’s brutal assault, and he can’t let go of the need to protect Wes from anything life might throw at him.

But Wes has had enough. Between the ethics complaint and Connor’s overprotectiveness, he’s already beginning to question their plans. Add in a family ashamed of and angered by his choices, and Wes might just leave Connor standing at the altar.

Irresistible Attraction Volume 2: Steve and Gil(#2 & #4)
Steve Campbell seems to have it all: a beautiful home, a snazzy car, and a dream job as one of the country’s top 3-D optics researchers. But underneath, he’s restless and unsatisfied, tired of empty encounters with leggy lab assistants and endless evenings alone.

A chance meeting with a handsome escort opens Steve’s eyes to his long-repressed attraction to men. Coming out at thirty-eight means learning how to date all over again—especially since his feelings for his best friend and long-time business partner are unrequited—and Steve’s at sea in San Francisco’s gay social scene.

Gil Alvarez, a skilled mechanic struggling to make his auto shop a success, just might be the perfect guy for Steve. One brief, intimate encounter leaves them both hungry for more. But while Gil’s not ashamed of who he is, he’s terrified that Steve will reject him—or worse—when he discovers the secret Gil’s afraid to share.

Irresistible Attraction Complete Collection
Professors Connor Morrison and Steve Campbell run one of the busiest 3D optics labs on the West Coast, which doesn't leave them much time for a personal life. Connor's happily buried in his research until brilliant young physics student Wes Martin catches his attention. But what starts as a simple one-night stand becomes more complicated when Connor discovers how Wes has been paying his tuition. After Connor and Wes work through their issues and start planning a future together, Steve realizes that his feelings for Connor run a lot deeper than friendship. Coming out at thirty-eight means learning how to date all over again, and Steve's at sea in San Francisco's gay social scene. Gil Alvarez, a mechanic struggling to make his auto shop a success, just might be the perfect guy for him . . . if they can get past Steve's awkwardness and the secret Gil's afraid to share.

Follow Connor and Steve on their respective journeys of self-discovery in this interlinked quartet of sexy, emotional novellas.

Priceless #1

Steve’s front door swung open and Connor’s stomach promptly bounced off the white marble floor tiles. Oh, fuck. Nothing like everyone he knew gaping at him to make him want to dash behind the potted palm in the corner. Not that it’d help, since he towered above the damn thing. For a long moment, he stood there staring at Steve’s wide, cheesy grin and the huge bouquet of silver balloons bobbing in the background, until the urge to flee overtook him.

He’d barely gone two steps before Steve latched onto his arm and dragged him back. “C’mon, Conn, it’s too late to bolt now. Get in here and take it like a man.”

“I’m gonna throttle you,” he hissed at Steve through gritted teeth, pasting on a smile that couldn’t have felt more fake if he’d drawn it on with a red marker. He let Steve lead him over to the bar, his shoulders stiffening and his gut tightening with every slap on the back he got as they maneuvered through the throng. “Make it a double,” he added as Steve poured a glass of Scotch. “It’s the least you can do after pulling this shit.”

Steve tossed him a sour look. “Jesus, quit complaining! You don’t turn thirty-five every day. Just relax for once and celebrate.”

“That’s what I thought we were gonna do—with a couple of steaks and a nice bottle of wine.”

“Like last year, and the year before. Don’t you get bored doing the same damn thing over and over?” Steve handed him his drink. “Don’t bother answering. You worked your ass off this year. We both did. Nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of our labor, right?”

Easy for him to say. Steve had always been the articulate, outgoing one—every bit as good a salesman as he was a physicist. With his easy charisma and blond, tanned good looks, he had no problem charming the pants off potential investors—or women. Of course, his snazzy new penthouse condo and candy-apple red Ferrari didn’t hurt his chances with the latter.

Connor knocked back half his drink, stifling a sigh as he scanned the living room, packed to bursting with the entire UC Berkeley physics department, plus a dozen or so other people crammed around the buffet table. Thank God Steve hadn’t sprung for streamers and funny hats. “Who all did you invite? I don’t recognize half these people.”

“I thought it’d do you some good to meet new people, mix it up a bit. Make a little effort, and you might actually get laid.”

Connor rolled his eyes.

“Stop it,” Steve added. “It won’t kill you to get out there and mingle.”

It might, if Connor’s quickening pulse was any indication. God, he was absolute shit at anything social. Talking to people he’d never met turned his tongue to spaghetti and sent a hot flush up the back of his neck. All he’d wanted was a quiet evening wit¬h Steve, discussing their latest project over too many glasses of Cabernet. Why the fuck was that too much to ask?

He opened his mouth to tell Steve he’d gladly pay him to make everyone leave, but Steve had sidled up to the pretty blonde TA he’d been trying to charm into bed since last semester. Left alone at the bar with weak knees and half a glass of Glenlivet, Connor downed his drink, straightened his glasses, and ventured into the living room with all the joy of a man heading off to his own execution.

The relative peace of Steve’s balcony lay at the far end of the room, but he had to run the gauntlet to get there. Fortunately, he got waylaid only by people he already knew—his department chair and a couple other professors eager to discuss the 3-D optics conference coming up next weekend. After exchanging some obligatory small talk, he managed to slip away, stepping onto the balcony with a grateful sigh.

Blessed peace and quiet washed over him as he lit up a Marlboro and stared over the railing at the twinkling city lights, the sky a gorgeous, deep blue with barely a hint of the ubiquitous San Francisco fog nipping at its edges. It was usually like nuclear winter here even in July, but for the past week or so the weather had been positively balmy. Might as well enjoy it while it lasted.

“Can I bum a smoke?” A voice jolted him from his solitary musings, and he swung around. A young man stood in the doorway. Dark hair, pale skin. Couldn’t have been more than twenty. Smiling, the young man wandered over. Not very tall—in fact, he only came up to Connor’s shoulder. But, God, he’d never seen anyone, male or female, with such perfectly pink lips, or eyes so blue they rivaled the night sky. Where the hell had he come from?

It dawned on him that he was staring. “Um, of course. Here.” His fingers suddenly rubbery, he fumbled in his pocket for his cigarettes and nearly dropped them trying to get one out of the pack. Luckily, the young man hadn’t noticed—or maybe he just had the good grace to pretend not to.

The young man propped the cigarette between those full lips, and Connor lit it for him, watching half-mesmerized as he took his first drag and then exhaled, the smoke issuing from his mouth in a long, steady stream. “Thanks,” he said. “I should probably quit. Everyone keeps telling me it’ll stunt my growth, but I guess it’s a little late for that, huh?” An awkward, silent moment, then he laughed, holding out his hand. “I’m Wes, by the way.”

“Connor Morrison.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Connor’s eyes widened. “You do?”

“Well, you are the guest of honor.”

Wes had a firm grip and small hard calluses at the base of his fingers. Must’ve done a bit of manual labor at some point. Didn’t quite go with that sweet-looking face. Connor rubbed a clammy hand down the front of his shabby old tan corduroy jacket, staring down at his shoes. God, why couldn’t he have worn something a little nicer for a change? At least he’d remembered to shave this morning.

“I’m looking forward to your presentation with Dr. Campbell at the conference next week,” Wes said.

Knocked for a loop twice within five minutes. If he wasn’t careful, he’d end up toppling over the railing. “You’re interested in lens-free optical tomography?”

“Oh, hell yeah. The medical applications alone are staggering. An MRI scanner the size of a cell phone? It’ll revolutionize everything. In fact . . .” Wes took another drag, slower and jerkier this time. Almost as if he was nervous. “I was kind of hoping to work with you. That is, if I get accepted into the doctoral program next year.”

“You’re a senior?”

“Yup. Can’t wait ’til classes start next month.” He grinned. “D’you mind telling me more about your new project? I promise not to breathe a word.”

Tempting. Really tempting. Especially with this charming young man looking at him like he was God, Einstein, and Jonas Salk all rolled into one. Steve would kill him if he spilled any crucial details, but what harm would it do to drop a few hints to an eager student? The whole world would know about it by this time next week anyway.

So he started talking. Caught up in the excitement of describing his work—and the avid interest in Wes’s eyes—his anxiety melted away. It wasn’t until his cigarette almost scorched his fingers that he realized how long he’d droned on. “Sorry.” He dropped the butt and ground it with his heel. “I’ve been babbling, haven’t I?”

“Hey, I like a guy who’s passionate about his work. Usually means he’s passionate about other things, too.” Wes flicked his own cigarette over the railing and stepped closer. Close enough for Connor to feel his breath puffing slow and warm over his skin.

But when Wes reached up to cup his cheek, he froze. “What’re you doing?”

“It’s okay. I pulled the curtain when I came out. Nobody can see us.”

“But—” Wes’s lips on his stifled Connor’s protest. Soft lips that felt every bit as sensual and lush as they looked, his moist, velvety tongue sweeping inside Connor’s mouth. He hadn’t been kissed like this—or at all—in ages. Weaving on his feet, he staggered back to grab hold of the railing. Wes followed, refusing to break their lip-lock until Connor pushed him away. “Jesus, give me a chance to breathe!”

“Sorry.” Wes smiled, arm looping around Connor’s waist. “Can’t blame me for a little enthusiasm, right? I’ve been thinking about this ever since you walked in.”

Connor gaped at him. “You mean, you came out here intending to . . .”

“What can I say? I’ve got a thing for brilliant ginger-haired guys with glasses.” Wes’s other hand skimmed down Connor’s torso to his crotch, Connor’s rising erection cradled in his palm. A tiny squeeze, and Connor’s hot flush rose from his collar to his hairline.

When Wes began fumbling with his fly, Connor almost leaned back and let him do it. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt someone else’s hand on his cock—and, God help him, the thought of those pink, pink lips swallowing him down nearly made him come on the spot—but no, he couldn’t. This kid was younger than most of his students, for Christ’s sake.

“Stop it!” He slapped Wes’s hands away, then yanked his zipper back up. “I don’t know what made you think I wanted this, but . . . I don’t.” Liar, his mind—and his still-hard cock—shouted, though Wes’s mortified expression served as a pretty damn effective bucket of ice over his head.

“Sorry,” Wes murmured, stepping back. “I mean, he said you . . .”

“He? What the hell are you talking about?”

“No one. I made a mistake. I’ll go.” He practically sprinted for the door.

Hands trembling, Connor lit another cigarette and inhaled slowly until his erection subsided and the night air stuck a chilly finger down the back of his collar. Shivering, he went back inside. He scanned the room for Wes, heart sinking when he didn’t see him. Not that he’d expected him to stick around after what’d happened.

Might as well have another drink or three. It was the only way he’d make it through the rest of this crappy evening.

Doubtless #2
Double scotch in hand, Steve pasted on a smile and ventured out into Connor’s crowded living room. Mingling and making small talk didn’t usually bother him—hell, it was what he did best—but tonight, it took a monumental effort to keep his attention focused. Same dull stuff as every end-of-school-year party—everyone droning on about budget cuts and next year’s curriculum, when all he really wanted was to go home and conk out on the couch watching ESPN.

Just like every other night. Why couldn’t he learn to live a little?

He started heading toward the patio door, until Dr. Richardson, the head of the physics department, waved him over. Great. Now he couldn’t avoid saying hello. He walked across the room, barely stifling a grimace as Richardson promptly dug his plump fingers into Steve’s arm. “How are you, Campbell? We haven’t spoken in ages.” Smiling, Richardson nodded at another passing colleague before turning his attention back to Steve. “Any exciting summer plans? A trip to Hawaii, or Europe perhaps, with all that money burning a hole in your bank account?”

Was it his imagination, or did Richardson seem a bit jealous? Okay, more than a bit—it radiated from his watery brown eyes like a searchlight. Another bitter, second-rate academic stuck making his career in administration rather than science.

There but for the grace of God . . . “Afraid not,” Steve said, forcing a chuckle. “Connor and I have a full slate of new projects, plus there’s the optics conference in July to prepare for.”

“Ah, yes,” Richardson sniffed. “No doubt you and Dr. Morrison will have the most talked-about presentation again this year.”

Irritation did a slow crawl up Steve’s neck, settling into his shoulders like lead. Still, he laughed it off. “Here’s hoping.” He upended his drink and cocked his head toward the bar. “Care for another?”

“No, thank you. Some of us need to keep our wits about us.”

Unlike you at last year’s Christmas party hung unspoken in the air, but Steve merely flashed his widest grin—the one usually reserved for investors and beautiful women—and made a beeline for the nearest bottle of single malt.

Another half hour, and a pleasant, alcohol-drenched haze set in. He stood staring at the Wyeth print above Connor’s battered old leather couch until that cute blonde lab assistant walked by. He swung around and trailed after her.

“Hey, Pamela,” he called, stopping dead as she pivoted, the smile sliding off her face. “Um, how’ve you been?” Oh, smooth move. Could he sound any lamer?

“It’s Patricia,” she snapped. God, now he remembered. They’d gone out a couple weekends ago, and . . . well, the evening hadn’t exactly ended on a high note. “I guess that explains why you haven’t called me.”

Ouch. And he’d meant to call her, too, if for no other reason than to apologize. “Sorry about that, it’s just been crazy lately—”

She raised a hand, cutting him off. “I don’t even know why you’re bothering. It’s pretty clear you weren’t attracted to me.” Her gaze dropped to his crotch.

Face burning, he glanced around, expecting to find the entire room staring at them. But no one was listening to their little exchange, or else they just didn’t care. “No, no, you’re lovely. And I’m sorry our date was so . . . disappointing.” He gave her his best smile—or at least, the best he could summon under the circumstances. “I’ve been under a lot of stress, and probably had too much to drink.” Now her gaze settled on the scotch in his hand, lips tightening into a scowl. Jesus, woman, give me a break. I’m trying here. “If you’d like to give it another go, I’d be happy to make it up to you.”

The anger seemed to drain from her face, replaced by a tiny not-quite smile and a slightly warmer expression in her eyes that looked a lot like . . . sympathy?

No, pity.

“Look, you’re a nice enough guy,” she said slowly—and down came the boom, right on schedule—“but honestly, I just didn’t feel a spark. Sorry.” She spun on her four-inch heels and strode off.

Steve stood there watching her walk away, a half-dozen heartfelt apologies popping into his head the moment she was out of earshot. Sighing, he knocked back another mouthful of scotch. What was wrong with him? He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so off his game.

He’d just started eyeing the front door when Connor came over, brow knit with concern over his wire-rimmed glasses. How did he manage to look more put-together in jeans and a plain white dress shirt with the collar open and sleeves rolled up than all their stuffy colleagues decked out in sports coats or three-piece suits? “What’s the matter? I’m usually the one looking for a quick exit at these soirees.”

True, though in the last few months, Connor had finally managed to pull his head out of his books and become more social. No doubt he had Wes, his new boyfriend, to thank for that. Steve had never seen Connor so happy. And, well, he wanted to be happy for him, he really did, even if it meant he and Connor hardly saw each other anymore outside the lab. No more late-night brainstorming sessions over a bottle of red. Their usual Saturday morning beach volleyball sessions had dwindled to once or twice a month—although, judging from Connor’s still whipcord-lean frame, Wes was making sure he got plenty of indoor exercise.

Steve took another sip of his scotch, trying to tamp down a sharp pang of, what? Unease? Nervousness? “Post–school year exhaustion setting in, I guess. It’s been a rough semester.”

“I know, I know, and I’m sorry,” Connor said. “Between Wes and I moving in together, and classes, and buying the house, and trying to get the Noriyuki project finished, I left a lot of work on your plate. Next fall everything’ll be back to normal, I promise.”

“Jesus, Conn, stop apologizing. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t have half a dozen patents.” Okay, that came out way harsher than he’d intended. After all, Connor might be the better scientist (oh, who are you kidding? He’s brilliant), but Steve was the one in charge of wining and dining potential investors and buyers—and more often than not coming away with a nice fat check. “And you wouldn’t have this amazing house,” he added with a smile.

“And all you’ve seen is the living room. C’mon, let me show you around.”

It was one of those great old craftsman houses in the Berkeley hills, all hardwood floors and sculpted wainscoting. The buzz of a dozen different conversations faded as they climbed the creaky staircase. Three bedrooms, the two smaller ones converted into offices for Connor and Wes. A bathroom with what appeared to be the place’s original blue and white floor tiles, porcelain sink and claw-foot tub. Freshly painted, with heavy wood furniture and plush throw rugs—a far cry from Connor’s ratty old one-bedroom in the physics apartment building near campus.

“Looks like we’ve both moved up in the world,” Steve commented, sidestepping as Connor tried to show him the master bedroom, then heading down the hall to peer out a window that overlooked the backyard. It looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland, with a huge live oak spreading its branches above a perfectly manicured lawn and garden. Guests milled around the small fountain in the far corner of the yard, chatting and puffing on cigarettes. He and Connor being two of UC Berkeley’s resident superstars—not to mention the country’s most sought-after innovators in 3-D optics— had paid off handsomely for them both. “It’s a gorgeous place. Hard to believe you’ve only lived here a few months.”

“Hard to believe you’ve never come by before.” Connor leaned against the wall, raking a hand through his ginger curls. “I was starting to think I’d have to throw you in my trunk and bring you over here by force.”

Oh, for another double scotch. “I, um . . . wasn’t sure how Wes would feel about it.”

“I wouldn’t have asked you if he wasn’t okay with it.”

“I know, but . . .”

“Just come downstairs and say hello. It’s his graduation party, after all. You can’t leave without congratulating the guest of honor.”

And he couldn’t escape by jumping out the window, either. So he stood there clinking the ice in his glass until Connor came over and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Steve’s spine went instantly stiff, a lightning bolt of surprise and strange euphoria zinging through him. “The past is past, okay? Besides, if it weren’t for you, Wes and I would’ve never met.”

No elaboration on how that had happened, thank God. Steve let out a shaky chuckle. Buying the kid for Connor as a birthday gift hadn’t been one of his more inspired ideas, but luckily for everyone, it’d turned out well.

They headed back downstairs, then down a short hallway to the kitchen, where Wes and a few of his classmates were hanging out, bottles of Bud in hand. Wes’s huge blue eyes locked on Connor, then flicked over to Steve with a touch of, what? Surprise? Apprehension?

What the hell did you say to a guy whose dick you’ve sucked? Granted, it was before Wes and Connor had met, and Wes had been peddling his ass for tuition at the time, but still . . . awkward.

Looked like it was up to Steve to break the ice. “I hear congratulations are in order, Mr. Summa Cum Laude,” he said, flashing that fake smile again. Was it his imagination, or was Wes blushing? Made him look about twelve years old, despite the stubble dusting his cheeks and chin. No wonder Connor had gone head over heels for this kid—he was absolutely adorable.

And a genius to boot. Just like Connor.

Wes’s buddies were slapping him on the back, but he just grinned and shook them off. “Thanks, Dr. Campbell. Connor and I are glad you dropped by tonight.”

Spoken like he’d rehearsed it a gazillion times. “Looking forward to seeing you back on campus this fall. Though I’ll warn you, grad school’s nothing like the cake walk you just finished.”

Polite laughter.

Great. He’d done his duty. Now he could go. “Enjoy your summer, Wes.” He set his glass in the sink and nodded at Connor. “I’ll see you at the lab tomorrow.”

He headed back down the hallway, and finally—mercifully—out the front door. Took him about thirty seconds to find his car, a candy-apple red Ferrari sticking out like a teenager’s hard-on among all the Priuses and Volvos parked on the street. Made it to the freeway in record time, though he was halfway across the Bay Bridge before he realized he was nowhere near drunk enough to face his empty penthouse.

* * * * *

A couple more drinks, and the foggy view of San Francisco Bay from Steve’s balcony started going blurry. He half-staggered back inside, through his living room and down the hall to the bedroom. Didn’t even bother flicking on the light, just wrestled himself out of his clothes and fell face-first into his pillow.

His alarm jolted him conscious promptly at seven, awakening a throb over his right eye at the same time. He hit the snooze button and lay there another five minutes until it beeped again. He was half-tempted to call in sick—after all, a headache (even a self-induced one) was a perfectly good excuse, right?

But there was that conference call with the Noriyuki people scheduled, and it wouldn’t be fair to make Connor handle it solo. Plus, he needed to get back to the gym. He’d been slacking off the past few weeks, what with his usual hectic end-of-school-year schedule, and he’d already noticed a few extra pounds around his equator.

C’mon, lazy ass—you want everybody to start calling you a fat, four-eyed freak again?

Never mind that he’d dropped fifty pounds and switched to contacts twenty years ago. Painful memories died hard. “All right, all right,” he muttered, rolling onto his back, and his morning wood popped up, tenting the front of his boxers. Oh, sure, now it decided to salute, when he couldn’t get it to do a damn thing with what’s-her-name?

He rolled out of bed and headed into the bathroom, cringing as his bare feet slapped the cold tile. Kicked off his boxers and climbed in the shower, stuck his head under the hot spray, and let it blast away his lingering wooziness. Of course, now his dick was practically screaming, “Hey, remember me?” So he soaped up his hand and started stroking, that tiny old twinge of guilt creeping in at the back of his mind. To hell with that—he wasn’t a pimply-faced teenager in Catholic school anymore, and touching himself wasn’t dirty and shameful. It felt good. So good he wanted it to last . . .

He slumped back against the tile and closed his eyes, his mind drifting. Sifted through the usual collection of faces and bodies in his erotic solo-dex, trying to zero in on the perfect get-off-free card, but it just wasn’t working. His erection started to flag, until suddenly an image of Connor popped into his head, smiling and relaxed, in that plain white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, those amazing well-muscled forearms sprinkled with ginger hair, that triangle of pale, freckled skin at his throat—

His orgasm flattened him like a bus, leaving him shaking, grabbing blindly for the shower rail to keep from falling on his face. God, he’d come so hard he’d splattered the glass door . . .

Guilt washed over him again, sending every drop of blood formerly in his dick to flood into his face.

Jesus Christ . . . Connor? What the hell?

Fearless #3
Wes swung into the driveway, frowning at the sight of Connor’s car. It wasn’t often that Connor got home before he did, and he normally pulled his Lexus into the garage instead of letting its pristine white paint job get splattered in the December downpour.

Shivering, he grabbed his backpack and climbed out of his battered Kia, pulling up his rain slicker’s hood as he sprinted for the front door. It was chilly inside too. Goose bumps crawled all over him, under his jacket and thick sweater. What the hell? Connor had never forgotten to turn on the heat before. Wes went over to the thermostat do it himself, rubbing his hands together as he waited for the ancient furnace to stop groaning and hum to life.

No sign of Connor in the living room or kitchen, though the telltale creaking of floorboards overhead signaled he was in his office. Wes stopped to plug in the tree, smiling at the tiny blue and white flickering lights. A fake tree this year, since they wouldn’t be home on the actual holiday. Still, it wouldn’t be Christmas without one, or without the stockings hanging under the framed Wyeth print they’d bought to celebrate moving in last February.

His smile widening into a grin, he charged upstairs. “Hey, you big goof, next time remember to turn on the heater when—”

He stopped dead in front of Connor’s closed office door. Connor rarely shut his door unless he was on some insane deadline or dictating notes. Either way, Wes knew better than to enter without knocking.

He lifted his hand to do just that, but then he heard Connor’s voice. “It’s been a year and a half, for God’s sake. I don’t understand why they’re making such a stink about it now . . . No, of course not, but Steve, I can’t just . . .” Wes leaned in closer, practically gluing his ear to the door, but all he heard was the muffled tick of the clock on Connor’s bookshelf. Then came a gusty sigh, followed by, “All right, all right, let me talk to him. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

The squeaky old rollers on Connor’s chair made Wes backpedal with a start. What was going on? It wasn’t like Connor to be so secretive. And he’d be pissed if he knew Wes had been eavesdropping . . .

Another groaning floorboard on the other side of the door was all it took to send him bolting back downstairs. A fresh chill shot through him, and no wonder—he still had on his damp, dripping slicker. He’d just stashed his jacket and backpack in the closet by the kitchen door when he heard Connor’s footsteps on the stairs.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” Connor said, going over to start a fresh pot of coffee.

That’s it? No hug, no kiss, no “How was your day?” Okay, so they’d been together awhile now. They were settled. They’d bought a house. Did that mean seeing each other was nothing special anymore?

“Just a few minutes ago.” Wes toed off his wet sneakers and socks and left them on the mat near the furnace grate, then went over to the cabinet to grab a couple of mugs. “I told you my last tutorial was over at four, didn’t I?”

“Oh. Yeah, you did. Must’ve slipped my mind.”

Typical Connor—he didn’t know what day it was half the time. Kind of sweet, even if it didn’t excuse the fact that Connor still hadn’t looked him in the eye. Time to take care of that. Wes set the mugs next to the coffee pot, then leaned his head on Connor’s shoulder. It felt like a hunk of granite under his cheek. “Relax, okay?” Wes murmured. “The semester’s over.”

Connor exhaled softly, his arm sliding around Wes’s waist and pulling him close. Finally. Wes’s eyes drifted shut as he drank in Connor’s fresh cotton and coffee smell, carded his fingers through Connor’s ginger curls. Now if he’d just let loose the tension in those long, lean limbs of his.

“Sorry I’ve been so absentminded lately,” Connor whispered, pressing a stubbly kiss to Wes’s throat. He’d left the house before Wes had gotten up this morning, obviously in such a hurry he’d skipped shaving, not that Wes minded one bit. “These last few weeks have been . . .”

“Brutal? Yeah, I’ve noticed.” Still nothing about the closed door or the weird phone call, but it was probably none of his business. Connor’s lab had landed some defense contracts this past year, and he wasn’t allowed to talk about them. “But now we’ve got a whole month to decompress and catch up.” He rubbed his thumb over the smooth, warm platinum band Connor had given him when he’d proposed last summer. An honest-to-God engagement ring. “And go to New York to make this official.”

As if that wasn’t enough to make them both grin like idiots, the pot chose that moment to chime its bouncy “coffee’s ready!” fanfare. But then Connor pressed his forehead to Wes’s, his happy expression fading. “Let’s go sit in the living room. There’s something we need to talk about.”

Not none of his business, then. “Trouble at the lab?”

Connor gave a start. “Um . . . yes and no.”

Well, that was informative. “What’s the matter? You and Steve fighting over those defense contracts again?”

He sighed. “I wish.”

God, what could be worse than that? Connor and Steve hardly ever disagreed about business—or at least, not long enough for it to become an issue—but last time they’d come close to severing their partnership. Stomach tightening, Wes grabbed his mug and trailed Connor to the couch. Connor’s gaze lingered on the tree, but the cheery lights failed to wipe the anxious look off his face. “I, um . . . well, there’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just spit it out. I’ve been put on probation for a code of ethical conduct violation.”

Wes’s hands—hell, his entire body—went so cold he could’ve sworn the furnace had gone off. “You, you mean, because of us?”

Connor nodded.

“But we’ve been living together over a year. Nobody’s said a word about it before.” In fact, the entire physics department had come to their house for his graduation party last May. There’d been some tut-tutting from one of the stodgy old emeritus professors about him and Connor living together openly, but no one had paid the man any attention. “Why the big deal about it now?”

“Apparently, someone’s lodged a complaint with the chancellor’s office.” Connor’s fingers trembled as he pulled off his glasses. “And no, they wouldn’t tell me who it was. Only that they’ve threatened to alert the media unless the situation’s dealt with.”

“Dealt with?” Wes echoed. “What does that mean? Are they going to fire you?”

“I’ve hired an attorney to look into my options. Hopefully we can work something out.”

“What’s there to work out? The university’d be crazy to let you go, what with all the patents and grants and prestige you’ve brought them. You’re one of the biggest draws the 3-D optics department’s got.”

Connor cracked a tiny smile and reached for Wes’s hand. “That’s very flattering, but sadly, it doesn’t cancel out the ethics issue.”

“But, but we’re not doing anything wrong! You’re not supervising my thesis. I’m not taking any of your classes—”

“The administration’s well aware. But evidently, adhering to the letter of the law doesn’t matter. The chancellor feels we’ve violated the spirit of it, which means I’ll probably have to take a leave of absence while they iron out the legalities.”

And if this actually made it into the news, Connor would have no choice but to resign. That would kill his business and make it nearly impossible for him to find a position at another university.

Wes clutched his belly, wincing at the hollow ache swelling inside. All this grief, all because of him. “Would it be easier if I just left?”

Connor’s eyebrows arched. “When you just started grad school last semester? That won’t look good on your transcripts. Besides, it’s way too soon for that kind of talk.”

“Too soon?” A shocked jolt nearly sent him springing off the couch. “School starts up again in a month!”

“Let’s wait and see what my attorney says, all right? I should be hearing back from him after the holidays.”

Two more weeks. The soft tick of the clock on the mantel sounded like a bomb counting down. “That’s cutting it pretty close, isn’t it?”

“Even if I end up sitting out next semester, it’s not the end of the world. More like an extended vacation.” He gave Wes’s fingers a gentle squeeze. “I know it’s a lot to process, but—”

“But if I go, they might ease up on you. It’d show them we’re willing to do whatever’s necessary to resolve the conflict.”

“And put your degree on hold?” Connor leaned forward and set his mug down on the coffee table. “You do realize you’d have to wait until next fall to start at another school?”

Actually, he hadn’t thought that far ahead, but it was still better than Connor getting kicked out. “If that’s what it takes, I’m okay with it. I’m sure Professor Redmond will keep me on as his research assistant.”

“Not if you’re not currently enrolled. Those jobs are earmarked for Berkeley grad students.”

Something else he should’ve realized, but hadn’t. He shifted on the couch, absently stroking its nubby wool upholstery. “Then I’ll get a regular job and keep up with my reading in my spare time.”

“Or you can stay where you are and let me handle it.”

Frustration and anger rose inside him, his free hand curling so tight his nails cut into his palm. Why wouldn’t Connor listen to him? “But I want to help. There’s no reason you have to take the fall for both of us.”

“Take the fall? You make it sound like we’re on trial.” Connor sighed. “Look, this isn’t your fault. And you leaving won’t make any difference in what they decide to do about me. What’s important here is that we do what’s best for your education.”

“Which means three or four more years at Berkeley without you, and you’re the reason I wanted to come here in the first place. Besides, I can just imagine all the dirty looks I’ll get when my classmates hear you’ve been forced to resign for my sake.”

“Let’s stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, all right? It won’t do either of us a damn bit of good.”

Maybe if we’d thought about that—and everything else—sooner, we wouldn’t be in this mess. The words danced on the edge of Wes’s tongue, but he bit them back. Connor was already upset; the last thing they needed was to start yelling at each other.

Still, this was all too much, too fast. Wes stared down at his ring, the clock’s ticking echoing inside his skull like a struck bell. He couldn’t believe this. Everything he’d been looking forward to—hell, his and Connor’s entire lives—had been thrown into turmoil. But did that mean . . . “Um, would you rather postpone the wedding until this is all settled?”

“No, of course not! Look, Wes . . .” Connor scooted close, putting his arm around Wes’s shoulder. Always so gentle, as if he were afraid he’d break him. “This doesn’t change anything. I still want to marry you. I wanted us to run off to New York last summer, remember? You’re the one who said we should put it off until Christmas so we could invite your family.”

And how many times since last June had he kicked himself for insisting on waiting? How many mornings had he opened his eyes to find Connor lying next to him, and felt certain he’d wandered into a wonderful dream that wouldn’t—couldn’t—last?

But it was easy to forget all that when Connor wrapped his arms around him and kissed him softly on the lips. Easy to watch the tree’s twinkling lights and listen to the rain coming down in sheets outside, and let himself be content in this warm, peaceful moment.

“Shall I get dinner started?” Connor asked at last.

Wes nodded. He usually helped with the cooking, but tonight he wasn’t in the mood. Instead, he sat watching the tree and listening to Connor bustle about in the kitchen, while he tried very hard to think of another solution.

Flawless #4
October 2012
“Oof!” Steve made a mad dive for Connor’s latest spike, grazing the ball with his fingertips before sprawling hard in the sand.

“You all right?” Connor called, concern and a hint of bemusement in his tone. “That’s the third time you’ve face-planted this morning.”

As if you haven’t been driving it hard to the right on purpose, you jerk. Steve spat out a gritty mouthful and climbed to his feet, grimacing at the throbbing in his right shoulder. Shit. Must’ve tweaked his rotator cuff. “I’m done for today, Conn. Sorry.”

He snagged his gym bag and water bottle and limped to a nearby bench. The ankle he’d twisted a month ago was still giving him trouble, too. He should’ve known it was too soon to get out playing again, but there wouldn’t be many of these warm, sunny days left. Two, three weeks at the outside before this last gasp of summer gave way to six months of the usual San Francisco rain and fog.

There was already a prickly chill in the breeze wafting over Ocean Beach, enough to make Steve shiver and pull on his sweatshirt, grunting as he worked it carefully over his sore arm.

“You sure you’re okay?” Connor plopped down beside him, eyebrows lifting over the wire rims of his glasses. Except for a pair of bright pink spots on his cheeks and some sweat dampening his ginger curls, he looked none the worse for an hour and a half of vigorous exercise. Damn him. “I should’ve taken it easy on those last couple of volleys.”

“Don’t worry about it. Nothing a shower and a heating pad can’t fix.” And a handful of ibuprofen washed down with scotch, followed by conking out to whatever game he had on his DVR. A typical Saturday night for him these days; not that he was complaining. His newfound solitude was much more satisfying than another empty pickup at the Hyatt Regency bar.

Throat parched from the sand and salt air, he downed a long sip of water and slouched against the bench, smothering another grunt.

“You should see a doctor about that shoulder.” Connor shot him a crooked grin. “You know what they say about old men and their brittle bones.”

“Oh, fuck you,” Steve retorted. “I’ve only got a couple years on you. Even if you are in better shape.”

And no wonder, with Steve spending most of his days stuck behind a desk, tackling paperwork and fielding calls from clients. Over the summer, he’d managed to drag himself to the gym on a semi-regular basis, but since the fall semester at Berkeley had started—and deadlines on their new projects loomed—he and Connor had gone back to working through lunch, and often well into the evening. Running a busy lab didn’t leave time for much else.

“Only because Wes lets me chase him around the bed,” Connor said, his grin widening.

Steve smiled. It’d been ages since they’d kidded around like this. Only a little while ago, he would’ve found it too painful, for . . . well, any number of reasons.

Two tanned, twentyish guys came up to the net he and Connor had just abandoned and started hitting their ball back and forth with a fluid, coltish grace. The ball flew out of bounds, rolling to the sand a few inches from Steve’s feet. He picked it up with his non-gimpy hand and tossed it to the closest guy, a cute blond with a smile that belonged in an ad for whitening strips. “Thanks,” the guy chirped with a wink, then went back to playing.

“I think he likes you,” Connor said. “Why don’t you go say hello?”

Steve rolled his eyes. “Give me a break. They’re still playing.”

“Never stopped you before.”

Well, that was then. “You don’t need to help find me dates. I do fine on my own.”

“Really? When was the last time you went out?”

“It’ll happen when it happens.” He shrugged. “I’ll know when I meet the right person.”

Connor laughed. “I recall someone telling me I’d never meet the right person sitting home alone all the time.”

Remind me never to give you advice again.

“Sitting home alone won’t kill me.” He stood and picked up his gym bag, wincing at his aching body. “I’ve had my fill of one-night stands.”

Connor made a show of adjusting his glasses. “Who are you, and what have you done with my best friend?”

Steve flipped him off. Connor laughed and punched him on his good arm as they headed off toward the parking lot.

Connor’s shiny white Lexus was parked closest. He threw his bag in the trunk before turning back to Steve, his forehead crinkling. “Listen, about those defense contracts . . .”

Steve stifled a sigh. Couldn’t they get through one lousy morning without that subject rearing up? Bad enough they’d already had a number of strained—hell, well-nigh heated—discussions about it at the office. Now it was invading their off-work hours, too?

“Let’s table it ’til next week, okay?” Connor opened his mouth as if to press the issue, but Steve shook his head. “See you Monday. Say hi to Wes for me.”

He headed for his own car, a candy-apple red Ferrari parked in the far right corner of the lot. He fished out his remote to unlock the door. Then, with a huge, goofy grin spreading across his lips—God, he loved this part—he hit the remote’s “engine start” button.

Except the engine didn’t start. Didn’t sputter and conk out. Didn’t make a damn sound.

He hit the button again, and again. Still nothing.

“Shit.” He climbed inside and punched the starter button on the steering wheel, which didn’t work either. He peered at the collection of gauges on the dash, none of them giving him the slightest clue to the problem.

So what was it? Spark plugs? The damn fuel injector?

He kept pressing buttons and flipping switches. Still no luck. Cold sweat prickling through his pores, he popped the hood and got out to take a look. He stared blankly at the convertible’s innards, encased in sleek red-enameled chrome emblazoned with the Ferrari logo. Couldn’t smell anything burning. No apparent leaks. Great. Now he’d be stuck cooling his heels here for another hour or two waiting for a tow truck.

Kicking the fender made him feel a little better—until a hot bullet of agony shot up his leg. “Overpriced piece of shit! I should trade you in for a fucking Volkswagen—”

“Can I help?” A low-pitched voice startled him. Steve swung around, his gaze falling on a slender, dark-haired guy in jeans and a black muscle shirt.

“You know anything about Ferraris?”

He cracked a smile. “Just enough to be dangerous.” A cute smile, too—soft, with a hint of humor. He jerked his chin toward the driver’s seat. “Mind if I give it a try?”

What did he have to lose? Nodding, Steve limped to the driver’s side as the guy climbed in, gave the gauges a quick glance, and reached for a pair of chrome flippers behind the wheel. He pulled the flippers forward for a couple of seconds, until the “N” on the gear indicator lit up. Then he turned the mode switch on the right-hand side of the wheel from “sport” to “CST” and hit the starter.

The engine roared to life.

“Jesus Christ,” Steve breathed. “How’d you know what to do?”

“Experience.” Grinning, he rolled to his feet—all five-foot-seven or eight of him—and pulled a card from his back pocket.

Alvarez Automotive. Gil Alvarez, Proprietor. Italian cars a specialty.

“You’re Gil, I take it?”

“Guilty.” He had a spark in his dark eyes that complemented his flirty demeanor, and a tempting hint of scruff on his chin. Steve’s knuckles itched to brush across it—maybe even slide the tip of his thumb between those soft pink lips.

Easy, tiger. You don’t even know if he’s gay.

“Well, um, thanks, Gil. I appreciate your help. Here, let me give you something for your trouble . . .” But when he went for his wallet, Gil shook his head.

“No charge. Just keep me in mind if you need anything in the future. My shop’s an authorized Ferrari service center.”

“Sure thing.” With those sleek, muscular arms and shoulders, Steve would’ve never pegged him for a mechanic. He’d obviously done some powerlifting in the past. There was a tattoo on his right shoulder and biceps. Looked like a dragon—no, a bird rising from the flames, framed by Japanese kanji characters. “Beautiful tattoo. What’s it mean?”

Gil just smiled and stepped toward the sidewalk. “Lots of things.”

Author Bio:
Award-winning author Cat Grant's been scribbling naughty stories since she was knee-high to a bug. She lives by the sea in beautiful Monterey, California with one persnickety feline and entirely too many books and DVDs.

If you're looking for epic sci-fi, fantasy, or historicals, that's not me. Contemporary all the way, baby!

However, if you're looking for down to earth, complicated characters dealing with real-world problems (and the occasional comfort read!), I might just fit the bill.


Priceless #1

Doubtless #2

Fearless #3

Flawless #4

Irresistible Attraction Volume 1: Connor and Wes

Irresistible Attraction Volume 2: Steve and Gil

Irresistible Attraction Complete Collection

Sale Blitz: Ink Series by Jude Ouvrard

Series: Ink
Author: Jude Ouvrard
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: K23 Photography and Design

Body, Ink, & Soul #1
Phoenix Silverstone more commonly known as Nix, is a twenty-one year old that has finally discovered her freedom. After living under the strict rules and protection of her mother, Nix moved out with her two best friends in a quaint little Seattle apartment. For the first time Nix is finally able to spread her wings and breathe. Together, they get a job working at a bar and for the first time everything is perfect.

Freedom, friendships, a great job and fantastic man on the verge of becoming hers. Tristan is the suave, intelligent, not to mention gorgeous law student that Nix has her eyes and heart set on. For the first time, she has her life together; that is, until her path crosses with Levi. The charming, tattooed and downright sexy bad boy that Nix knows she needs to avoid.

But when one of her friends moves out she is shocked to find that her new roommate is none other than Levi. Flirting. Desire. Undeniable temptations. Nix can’t deny the chemistry surging between them but she can’t forget her mother’s extreme hate towards bad boys.

Will Nix have the strength to listen to her heart? Or will her mother’s rules cost her everything?

Music, Ink, & Love #2
Levi Munroe’s life consists of his friends Tyler and Kyle, a lot of ink and having a good time, but most importantly, his heart only has one reason to beat, Nix. 

Phoenix Silverstone came into his life and put him through an emotional roller coaster. No one knows what they sign up for when they fall in love, and Levi is no exception. Dealing with his girlfriend’s negligent biological father, and her old demons returning to tempt her, Levi has way more on his plate than he bargained for. It can break them or make them stronger. 

Both getting to know each other more, they fall deeper in love and are ready to take on the next step. With their wedding approaching, Levi wants what is best for her. A time apart turns out to be exactly what Nix needs but in Levi’s world, it means moping around missing the girl of his dreams. 

More love, more ink, more Kyle and definitely a whole lot more of Levi. Can Nix and Levi survive the reality of their life together or will it break them apart?

Body, Ink, & Soul #1
The entire mass of guys sitting around my station flocked to Val’s, giving me some time to clean up. I looked up to find only one left, and he was watching me intently. It was the same guy Ty had greeted so enthusiastically earlier.

''Can I get you anything?'' I asked, taking empty glasses off the counter.

''A smile. Give me one and I guarantee you’ll get the biggest tip tonight.'' The slow seductive tone rolling from his shapely lips told me he wasn’t just fooling around. His green eyes stared at me like I was dessert. This guy was hot and he knew it. He was looking me up and down, biting on his lips. He was clearly not afraid to show me how much he liked what he saw. Me. His confidence and determination were fierce. The way his tousled light brown hair went every which way, hanging down across his forehead, told me right away he didn’t care about his looks. He didn’t have to.

He wanted a smile? I shook my head. ''You don’t want a drink? Just water, maybe?''

''No, just a smile. You're the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and it's just a smile I want.'' He brushed his hand through his hair, making it even more tousled.

Music, Ink, & Love #2
Tonight, Nix had planned on taking me out on a date for my birthday. She made reservations in a nice restaurant downtown and I planned on giving her the design of her next tattoo. I had been working on it since she spoke about getting new ink. That had some sort of a super power effect on me. She nearly drove me nuts. That night, sex had been way more intense than before. The thought only gave me goose bumps.

Okay, whipped man, get your ass back to work.

I had done two designs, one in color and one in black and grey. They were pretty much the same thing. She said she wanted some more flowers, and two hummingbirds, old school style. I kept her demands and I added more details to it like water droplets on the flowers and more water in the background. It looked neat. I preferred the color filled one but the choice was hers, not mine.

“What do you think, K?”

“It’s a nice one, Levi. The colors are fucking amazing. The flowers almost look alive and the water is impressive too.” He punched my shoulder.

“What was that for, punk?”

“I hate when you do something better than I can.” He admitted.

Author Bio:
Jude Ouvrard is an author who writes from the heart, and reads with passion and devotion. Jude enjoys stories of drama, true love, tattoos, and everything in between. While writing is her therapy, reading is her solace. Life doesn't get better than books and chocolate, and maybe a little bit of shopping.

A romance lover, Jude writes about love, pain, heartbreak and matters that will challenge your heart. A book can tell an unexpected story, no matter which directions it takes. Jude embraces words that have haunted her for years.

Jude is a working mom who dedicates her time to a law firm and writing books. She has an energetic five-year old superhero son, and a supportive boyfriend of thirteen years. Her family is her rock; she could not survive without them. Born a country girl, she transformed into a city woman who now lives in Montreal, Canada. Although French is her first language, Jude decided to write in English because she liked the challenge.

Jude Ouvrard is the author of two novellas, "Under the Sun" and "Wonderland", and three novels, “Lost Dreams”, “Body, Ink, and Soul,” and “Ophelia.” She is currently working on sequels to her novels and a new project.


Body, Ink, & Soul #1

Music, Ink, & Love #2

Brought to you by:

Her Dream Lover by Siren Allen

Title: Her Dream Lover
Author: Siren Allen
Series: Darkest Legion #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: October 21, 2015
Publisher: Driven Independent Media
Editor: Gina Fiserova
Cover Design: Classy Designs
Every time she closes her eyes, he’s there…waiting for her.

Working night shift at a mental hospital was never Brandi Connelly’s dream job, but in order to pay her grandmother’s medical bills she’s willing to do whatever she has to. Her new job seems like a piece of cake, there is only one thing keeping her from enjoying it – Draken Barrand, a patient.

Thoughts of her patient haunt her night and day and she’s too embarrassed to tell anyone about the strange dreams she’s having about him. Partly because she’s afraid they will think she’s crazy…mostly because the things that go on while she’s sleeping make her blush.

As the nightly visions become all too real she’s afraid they’re not dreams at all. If these nightly fantasies are real, that means everything her dream lover has told her is real, which means that the little mating ritual she so excitedly participated in was real. Soon she will change into a demon and there’s nothing she can do about it.

Claimed and marked, she now belongs to a creature of the night. There’s just one upside to this – he’s trapped behind the walls of a mental institution. That means she has time to figure out a way to stop the change… well, she would’ve had time, if her mate hadn’t broken out of his cell.

He’s tired of being alone.

Draken Barrand is determined to claim his mate. There’s just one problem - he’s unlawfully trapped behind the walls of a mental institution. The only way he can reach her is through her dreams, where he claims her and marks her as his own. But his mate’s life is threatened when the Leader of his Legion finds out about his unlawful mating.

Will Draken be able to break free of his cell in time to save his woman? If he does, will she finally accept him as the man of her dreams and her reality?

“Brandi Connelly, I fear you have stolen my heart right from my chest.” He was so close to her she could feel his breath on her lips. “From this day forward I will never be the same.”

Neither would she. With her eyes still closed Brandi felt a lone tear escape from her eyes and travel down her cheek.

Draken wiped it away. “I am yours forever,” he whispered and he sounded so sincere.

Opening her eyes she stared up at him while he caressed her cheek and stared down at her with an expression of amazement on his face.

“Wish I’d found you sooner,” he told her. “Before I became the broken being I am today.”

Though his demon couldn’t fully emerge, Draken still pulled back and stared down at his woman. She blinked up at him. The lust she felt showed in her expression. He wanted to satisfy her, wanted to slate her lust then tease her body until it returned.

“Why did you stop? I didn’t want you to stop.”

Both man and beast growled with pleasure. She didn’t want him to stop. Her confession made his confidence soar. It was a miracle he hadn’t scared her away with his inexperience. If he did it right, maybe she wouldn’t notice that this was his first time.

Taking a deep breath, he silently begged his beast to be patient. There was something he wanted to do to her, something he’d dreamed of doing since he first smelled her scent. He would do it now, before he lost the nerve.

“Lie down on the pillows,” he told her. “I want to taste the rest of you.”

“Mine, forever,” he groaned before licking her neck where he’d just bitten her. “Feel so good.” He lifted her hands above her head and stared into her eyes as he pounded her body. Draken pushed deeper. She could tell he loved the way she tightened around him as he pulled out. It was as if she never wanted him to leave her body. Draken slammed into her again, giving her what she wanted and what he needed.

She couldn’t help but stare at him in awe. Never in her life had she felt anything as good as this. She loved the way he ravaged her. Her body had never been sexed so thoroughly in her twenty-four years on this earth. The harder he dove into her, the deeper she dug her nails into his back.

“Tell me you’re mine forever,” Draken told her.

“I’m yours forever,” Brandi gasped unable to think straight.

Draken pulled out and drove into her again. Brandi felt it to her core. There was no going back from this. She would never be the same again.

“I’m yours also,” Draken told her. “I’ll never touch another, only you. No one will ever replace you, in my life, in my heart, in my bed.”

Brandi couldn’t control the tears that poured from her eyes. She’d never experienced sex like this before. Even though he was rough, it was nothing her body couldn’t handle. Her body wanted it, craved it.

Draken Barrand:
Trapped in a mental institution, Draken has never experienced the outside world. There's been no first kiss for him, no first job, no first crush. The poor demon hasn't even tasted chocolate before. All of that changes when he meets Brandi. With new sensations coursing through his body, he's determined to claim her. First, he has to break out of the psych ward. Second, he has to learn to calm his inner beast. Both man and beast want a taste of Brandi. They refuse to let an annoying thing like cell bars and demonic rules keep them away from her.

Brandi Connelly:
Curvy with a hint of sass, Brandi has spent most of her life hiding in the shadows. Picked on as a kid because she was a little heavier than the popular girls, Brandi believed she would never meet a man who would appreciate her, curves and all. To her surprise, she finds that and more in Draken Barrand. Too bad he's a patient in the psych ward. Oh yeah, and he's a demon. Go figure. Did I mention she's his mate?

Josphe Barrand: 
He's the Leader of the Legion. He doesn't have time for love, friends or even family. The only thing on his mind is getting the job done. He's willing to kill to make sure he achieves his goal. The only thing in his way is his cousin Draken and Draken's new mate. But they won't be in his way for long. Killing them will be easy. Or so he thinks...

Author Bio:
Siren Allen is a writer and lover of all things erotic and romantic. She resides in southern Mississippi where she writes steamy romances that are guaranteed to make you blush. When she’s not listening to the characters in her head and jotting down their adventures, she’s busy working as a Clinical Laboratory Technician.

Her weekends are spent writing and having sleepover’s for her wonderful nieces and nephews. She loves to travel, preferably with her husband, so he can do all of the driving. She enjoys time with her family, who are just as silly as she is. She doesn’t have any children…yet!

Her hobbies are reading, writing and shopping, though she hates trying on clothing. If she wasn’t a writer or a Laboratory Professional, she swears she would be a Secret Agent. But that’s the beauty of being a writer; you can create your own world and be whoever you want to be. In her imaginary world she is Queen and her siblings are her minions.


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