Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Unconventional in Kansas City

Kiss Me, Cowboy by Carol Lynne
It isn’t easy to cling to teenage promises when you become one of the forgotten.

For Eli Barron, Jesse Clooney has always been the one. From their first day of kindergarten through their high school graduation, the pair were inseparable. So, when a situation arises that splits the two men apart, it’s up to Eli to keep the home fires burning as Jesse sets off to follow his dreams on the rodeo circuit. But how long can a man continue to stoke the fire before the flames die out?

New Vocations by T.A. Chase
Two men who believe in second chances meet and their lives are never the same again. 

Layne Daly comes to participate in The American Royal. He’s there to show off the abilities of the retired thoroughbreds he adopts straight off the track. He wants people to know these animals can do so much more than race. He has three horses there to do exhibitions in reining, barrel racing and cutting. When his usual groom gets sick, he has to hire someone fast.

Carl Stewartson used to love coming to Kansas City for the rodeo. He’d ride broncs and hang out with his friends. But since his career-ending injury early in the year, Carl has been spinning his wheels, trying to find something to do with his life now that he couldn’t rodeo anymore. He runs into Layne and offers to help him with his horses.

Together, they have to deal with not only the stress of the event, but starting a new relationship. Second chances are what Layne does best and he’s more than willing to give Carl the opportunity.

Stallions and Ice by Stephani Hecht
Sometimes you have to climb a mountain to see the future.

While Brandon loves to go and watch his friend, Nichole, at The American Royal every year, there is no way that he is ever going to climb on a horse. His feet belong on the ground or the ice. As one the of the players of the local minor league team, the Wichita Thunder, all he dreams about is someday moving up to the major leagues. That is, until he meets Nichole’s brother, Brandon.

Brandon grew up in a family that has always been in the rodeo circuit. There was no question that he was ever going to be anything else…until he’s sidelined by seizures and can no longer ride. Then he meets Ethan and he begins to wonder, that maybe, just maybe, his life isn’t over.

Will decades of traditions tear the men apart? Or can they can overcome all their obstacles and be together?

Playing with Fire by Jambrea Jo Jones
Ranch cook against restaurateur—who does it better?

Hayden McGrath has the formal training and know how to run one of the best farm-to-table restaurants in the city. This year he wants to prove his worth by entering the barbecue competition at The American Royal. It has nothing to do with a certain cowboy from the Flying P…

Amos Vasquez has been the ranch cook at the Flying P Retreat since it was an actual ranch. Now it’s a place tourists flock to so they can have a taste of his food. This year he is going to win the barbecue competition and nothing will stand in his way, not even a certain sexy redheaded restaurant owner who has caught his eye.

This will be the BBQ competition to beat all competitions at The American Royal.

Resuscitating Love by Devon Rhodes
If Hill keeps putting cowboys ahead of his marriage, even being a cardiologist won’t help David fix their broken hearts.

Hillard ‘Hill’ Pearson, the new events director of the American Royal, has worked hard to get to where he is. This is his first year as director, and the huge responsibility of the more visible position has taken over his life. Yes, he could be considered a workaholic, but he’s put fifteen years into the event he’s loved since he was a kid, and now is his chance to shine.

When David Weinstein finally convinced his long-time partner, Hill, to marry him, he thought it would bring them closer together. Instead, they’re not even to their first anniversary and their relationship is suffering. David’s finally at a stage in his medical career where he has regular hours, but can’t seem to connect with his husband when he’s free. Now, with the event that he’s sick of hearing about underway, he feels like he’s making all the effort with no return.

Can Hill and David resuscitate their love before David gives up on the promise of forever?

Kiss Me, Cowboy by Carol Lynne
Eli Barron lay on his back, staring at the dusty beamed ceiling of the barn. What extended family he had left had gone back to Wichita after spending three days mourning the death of Eli’s dad, Jonathan. He turned his head to stare at the only person on earth who truly knew him.

The fading bruise under Jesse Clooney’s eye said everything about his fucked up home life. Jesse had spent a lot of time at the Barron ranch over the years in an attempt to distance himself from his abusive father, and, because of that, Jesse felt Jonathan’s death as deeply as any member of the Barron family.

Jesse squeezed Eli’s hand. “You’re not coming with me, are you?”

Eli shook his head. Since the age of fourteen, he and Jesse had made big plans to join the rodeo circuit the minute they graduated. Eli was okay at roping. He’d even managed to place first in the Johnson County Fair’s barrel racing competition the previous August, but he wasn’t near good enough to compete with the professionals. Jesse was good enough, or at least he could be with a few years of practice, but Eli had always planned to tag along with Jesse just to be close to the boy he’d fallen in love with at thirteen.

“I can’t,” Eli finally said. “With Zeb in his first year of veterinary school, it wouldn’t be right for me to ask him to stay home and deal with shit here while I follow you around the country.”

The realization that he’d be left behind hurt nearly as much as his dad’s death, but he couldn’t be selfish. Not only did he have two younger sisters, but his mom didn’t deserve to shoulder the burden of the Barron family ranch on her own.

Jesse rolled to his side and rested his head on Eli’s bare chest. “I can’t stay here.”

Eli wrapped his arms around Jesse. “I know.”

Eli had always known Jesse was better than the life he’d been handed. He still wasn’t sure why Jesse’s mom continued to stay with her abusive husband, but she’d made it clear during Jesse’s last beating that she wouldn’t go against her husband, even if it was to save her own son.

“Maybe once you get everything settled, you can join me,” Jesse said.

New Vocations by TA Chase
Layne took his time pulling into the Hale Arena parking lot. Driving a four-horse trailer through downtown Kansas City was nerve-wracking enough, but having to back his trailer up to the doors and off-load his horses challenged even his expertise.

A whistle caught his attention. Looking into the side mirror, he saw a man motioning and he realized he was guiding him. Layne waved then eased down on the pedal to keep moving. Another whistle let him know he was close enough.

Once he’d turned the truck off, he tugged the keys out of the ignition then jumped from the cab. He jogged to the back of the trailer, getting there just as a hoof hit the inside wall. The stranger jumped and Layne chuckled.

“Thanks for the help,” he said, holding out his hand. “I’m Layne Daly.”

“Carl Stewartson. Glad to help. I’ve driven vehicles like this before, so I know how difficult they are to back up.” Carl shook his hand.

Layne wondered if he’d imagined Carl holding his hand a little longer than necessary. He gave himself a mental shake. Didn’t matter if the man had or not. Layne didn’t have time for a hook-up. Not right then anyway. He needed to get the horses settled in their stalls. He checked his watch and grimaced.

“Got somewhere you need to be?” Carl tilted his head toward Layne’s wrist.

“No. Just wondering where my groom is. He was supposed to be driving over from the ranch earlier and have everything set up so I could get the horses in right away. But Quinn hasn’t showed up yet.” He pulled out his phone. Both of them jumped when another kick landed on the wall closest to him.

Carl snorted. “Sounds like they’re getting impatient.”

Layne nodded. “Tigger hates being trailered anywhere. Thank God Boom and Snack are so laid-back, or I’d have a riot on my hands.” He brought up Quinn’s number then hit the send button. “I’m going to chew his ass out about not being here.”

“Well, if you need any help, just let me know. I’ll be around.” Carl started to walk off, but Layne reached out to grab his arm.

Stallions and Ice by Stephani Hecht
As soon as Brandon walked into the arena, inhaled the dust-filled air and saw the numerous horses and bulls running around, he knew he was far away from home. He was used to the harsh smell of ice and the sharp sounds of blades slicing and caressing the smooth surface.

There was one thing that both places had in common—men. While in hockey, the men tended to be bundled up a bit more with safety gear, it didn’t take away from their looks. Out here at the rodeo, all they wore were leather, denim and tight shirts…oh, and hats. He couldn’t forget about those. They were the best part of all.

Brandon leaned against a nearby fence and watched as one guy in particular mounted a horse. The well-practiced grace with which he did it showed that he’d done this activity a thousand times in his life—no doubt since the moment he could walk. That was something that Brandon could relate to. From the moment he was able to stand on his own, his father had slapped a pair of hockey skates on his feet, geared him up and shoved him onto the ice.

It hadn’t mattered that all Brandon could do was stand out there, deer-in-headlights. He was on his way to being a player—that’s all that had counted in his father’s book. When Brandon had first made his way onto a team and had been put on offense, he’d been a dismal failure. He hadn’t been able to keep up with the other players and never could find the puck. Not one to give up, dear old Dad had switched him to defense.

That had been an even worse nightmare. Not only had they plowed him over, but they had laughed at him, too. Even their parents had made fun of him. His own teammates had hated him and had begged the coach to not play him, despite the rule that all players got equal playing time.

Then, one magical miracle of a day, their goalie had come down with mono. Now, there was no way that anybody with any common sense would strap on all that extra equipment and let the other players hurl very hard pucks at them. But, then again, no one ever said Brandon had any sense at all, common or not, so he’d raised his hand, volunteering himself. That had brought a huge commotion in the locker room until it was decided he couldn’t do any worse damage there. It wasn’t as though their last goalie had been the next Patrick Roy or anything.

Playing with Fire by Jambrea Jo Jones
“Amos Vasquez was just seated.”

“Fuck! You tell his server we’re out of barbecue.” Hayden McGrath pointed at Sheldon, his manager.

“What?” Sheldon seemed confused and Hayden didn’t blame him.

“He isn’t getting any hints as to what I’m going to be doing at the American Royal.” Hayden got out of his chair and headed to the kitchen. He needed out of the office anyway—paperwork was driving him nuts…not like he had a long way to go, as he was proving with the conversation.

“You can’t be serious. He’s eaten here before. He had your barbecue just last week.”

Hayden knew Sheldon was trying to calm him down, but it wasn’t working because the crazy train was leaving the station.

“Not the new one we’re trying out tonight.” Hayden crossed his arms over his chest.

“Hayden, the team is ready. We’ve got this. There is no need to get all…insane.” Sheldon threw his hands in the air.

It was too late. Hayden rushed out of the kitchen so he could spot where Amos had been seated. And there he was, talking to a group of guys as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Damn it, why did he have to look so good? He was tall, dark and handsome with the dark scruff around his face that had scratched when they’d kissed. The tattoo on his forearm was on display. The rest of his tats were hidden where, once upon a time, Hayden had had full access and used it to his advantage. Amos had his flannel shirt rolled up to his elbows, as was his usual style—something Hayden shouldn’t have even noticed. He was over the cowboy. Totally over him.

He has such nice strong hands.

But enough of that. The cowboy was probably sleeping with one of those twinks at the table. It was infuriating to see the man looking so happy. He should be sad, pining for what he could never have again.

Resuscitating Love by Devon Rhodes
“Thanks for coming, everyone. Make sure to send daily overviews on action items from here on out, otherwise, that’s really it for now.”

Everyone chuckled, and he smiled, relieved that the meeting had gone well. He’d been asked to stand in for his boss, J.T., who was missing that day, and lead the meeting of his peers. It was simultaneously an honor and a stressor. Some days he still felt like an imposter, playing at being a respectable businessman instead of a horse wrangler. “Have a good evening.” His words were almost drowned out by the sudden spike of noise as everyone stood and gathered their stuff.

Hill closed down his laptop and swore under his breath when he saw the time. The meeting of directors had run over, and the rest of the people quickly clearing the conference room would probably blame Hill for that. However, less than a week from the start of the two and a half month long American Royal, it was necessary for them to come together one last time and make sure everything was prepared.

He was well behind where he wanted to be in his workday now, and that was going to put him into the heart of rush hour traffic. Hill sighed. Might as well stick around the office and get a few more things done before heading home. Better use of time than sitting in his car…

His car…which was at the dealership getting an airbag recall fix he’d been putting off. David had finally just scheduled the repair himself over Hill’s protests that it wasn’t good timing with the Royal right around the corner.

“Nothing’s ever good timing these days. But come on—get your priorities straight. Better inconvenienced than dead, Hill.” A sigh. “I have office hours until five, so I’ll pick you up around five-thirty…”

“Oh fuck.” Knowing his excessively punctual husband, Hill figured David had probably been sitting down in the parking lot since quarter past five…and it was well after six.

He scrambled to scoop the rest of his things off the conference table, wedged them into the case with his laptop, then headed to his office. Ten minutes later, Hill closed the door behind him and waited impatiently for the elevator. He could finish up whatever else he needed to do that couldn’t wait until morning at home this evening.

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Author Bios:
Carol Lynne
An avid reader for years, one day Carol Lynne decided to write her own brand of erotic romance. Carol juggles between being a full-time mother and a full-time writer. These days, you can usually find Carol either cleaning jelly out of the carpet or nestled in her favourite chair writing steamy love scenes.

TA Chase
There is beauty in every kind of love, so why not live a life without boundaries? Experiencing everything the world offers fascinates me and writing about the things that make each of us unique is how I share those insights. I live in the Midwest with a wonderful partner of thirteen years. When not writing, I’m watching movies, reading and living life to the fullest.

Stephani Hecht
Stephani Hecht is a happily married mother of two. Born and raised in Michigan, she loves all things about the state, from the frigid winters to the Detroit Red Wings hockey team. Go Wings! You can usually find her snuggled up to her laptop, creating her next book or gorging on caffeine at her favorite coffee shop.

When she’s not running around like crazy, trying to get her kids to their various activities, she’s currently working on numerous projects. In the coming months, she has several books coming out with eXtasy Books in both The Lost Shifter Series and Drone Vampire Chronicles, plus a few additional projects that are still in the development stages.

Jambrea Jo Jones
Jambrea wanted to be the youngest romance author published, but life impeded the dreams. She put her writing aside and went to college briefly, then enlisted in the Air Force. After serving in the military, she returned home to Indiana to start her family. A few years later, she discovered yahoo groups and book reviews. There was no turning back. She was bit by the writing bug.

She enjoys spending time with her son when not writing and loves to receive reader feedback. She’s addicted to the internet so feel free to email her anytime.

Devon Rhodes
From top dog in business to out-of-control mom, I've been at home raising my girls for over a decade. And during that time, I've rediscovered--quite accidentally--the art of romance, specifically erotic romance. One day my muse whispered an idea in my ear, and I sat down at the laptop to try to do it justice. As they say, the rest is history!

Carol Lynne
AMAZON  /  iTUNES  /  B&N  /  ARe

TA Chase

Stephani Hecht

Jambrea Jo Jones

Devon Rhodes


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