Monday, April 3, 2017

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Hot Off the Range

Riding and herding. Those spurs that jingle-jangle-jingle. What is it about cowboys that so doggedly fires the imagination? Join the Mischief Corner authors as they give you their own unique takes on the cowboy mystique and mythos, from the American West, to Australia, to outer space. The cowboy story will never be the same…

Once A Cowboy by Toni Griffin
It's been six years since Jesse Howard has stepped foot on the Western Hills Cattle Station. Now that he's able, Jesse's returned. The problem is, he's not returning alone. Will Logan Kennedy, the love of his life, listen to Jesse's explanations or will Logan close the door on the future Jesse's dreamed about for so long.

Accounting for the Hero by Silvia Violet
Grant longs for a hero to ride up on his valiant steed and revive his failing ranch, but he hires, Miles, a man with a desperate need for a job and no ranch experience. Miles may know a lot more about bookkeeping than calf-roping, but that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of heroics or of capturing Grant’s heart.

Sock Poacher and the Shower Thief: Tall Tales of Hooper's Town 1 by Freddy MacKay
One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. All things are possible when someone steps outside their door. In Namid's case, he meets the town recluse, Dusty, when he gets attacked by Dusty's porch. And that's only the beginning.

BULL: Corralling Nature 1 by Mathilde Watson
Shy, awkward, and overweight, Roland Paulson wasn’t the kind of man who attracted a lot of amorous attention. His romantic life consisted of a series of short lived flings and one night stands with other men who were just as desperate. When propositioned by a charming cowboy with the body of a god, he expected sex. He never imagined the wild ride that would follow.

From the moment Dodge Bramen set eyes on the adorable red-head he wanted him. And Dodge was a man who gets what he wants. He had no trouble luring the guy into his bed, but keeping him there was a different story. Deep kept secrets and unexpected discoveries could either shatter their bond or break it.

Fear of Frogs: Brimstone 2 by Angel Martinez
While Shax recovers from a near fatality, his shipmates have been busy. He's rather proud of them taking the initiative and finding them a lucrative cargo run. His pride turns to outright horror, though, when he finds out what sort of cargo. Unfortunately, he'll soon discover that a healthy fear of frogs doesn't prevent frog-driven disasters. Time travel has never been so messy.

Once a Cowboy by Toni Griffin
Chapter One
"Fuck, I hope we get some rain soon." Logan Kennedy sighed as he surveyed the dry and dusty land before him. Storm snorted beneath him and shook his head. Logan reached down and patted the gelding's crest, soothing the large animal.

"From your lips to God's ears, my friend," Bluey said from beside him. The older man slapped Logan on the back before he removed his akubra and wiped away the sweat currently beading on his forehead; then he settled his hat once again in place.

Bluey had been a fixture on the Western Hills Cattle Station for as long as Logan could remember. He had the brightest red hair Logan had seen this side of a dye job, but Bluey kept it cut short with a set of clippers. Logan had no idea why guys with red hair were nicknamed Bluey; it was just one of those things, he supposed. He'd never bothered to ask, and really, after all this time it didn't matter. Bluey was Bluey.

"Time to get back to it," Logan announced as he spurred Storm into motion below him. Storm had been named due to the huge thunderstorm he'd been born in the middle of. His damn horse had been so impatient to come into this world he hadn't cared one iota that it wasn't the most convenient of times for Logan and everyone else to be worried about a horse in labour. Thankfully, he had grown out of that impatience at a young age.

Looking out across the land, Logan took it all in. The bright blue skies without a single cloud in sight were not what he wanted to see. The ground was dry and dusty. They needed rain. The wet season usually ran for a good six months of the year, followed by a dry season where they wouldn't see a drop of rain and the temperatures dropped overnight.

By the time the wet was due to roll around again, everything looked as it currently did. Starved for water. Logan knew they had enough water to get them through, even though the last wet wasn't as good as previous years, they weren't in trouble yet. Still, it would be nice to get some rain and see another colour except brown for a change.

The day dragged on and as the sun made its way across the sky and started heading for the horizon, Logan and Bluey headed back to the homestead. After a day in the saddle checking on the herds and fences, Logan sighed with relief as he swung down from his horse.

With the cattle station being the size it was, a lot of the work got done using utes and ATVs, but no matter what, Logan loved being on horseback more than anything else. Any opportunity he had, he was in the saddle. The men that worked for Logan knew this, and on the days that he was able to pull himself away from the paperwork and the phone calls it took to run this place, they left the jobs closest to home for Logan.

This land was in his blood. The station had belonged to his daddy and his granddaddy before that. He'd grown up on this land. His blood, sweat and tears had all gone into the earth throughout the years, but Logan wouldn't have it any other way. He couldn't imagine doing anything other than what he did.

Yes, he'd had to sacrifice a few things along the way. His father had died on the land doing what he enjoyed, and as much as he missed his dad, Logan couldn't think of a better way to go. He'd also sacrificed love, but even that hadn't made Logan hate what he did. Jesse Howard was the love of his life, and Logan knew he'd never fall for another like he had for Jesse. They had grown up together, neighbours, had been friends all through school, but unlike Logan, who had been an only child, Jesse was the youngest of five.

Teenage hormones had run rampant through their systems, and one thing had led to another when they were seventeen. Logan could still remember the first time he had crowded Jesse against the side of the barn and swooped in to take his lips in a hard kiss. His heart had beat a mile a minute, scared his friend was going to push him away or worse, slug him. When Jesse had wrapped his arms around Logan's neck and kissed him back, Logan thought he'd died and gone to heaven.

It had been hard, but Logan and Jesse had managed to hide their relationship for five years before someone else found out about them.

Logan shook his head, wondering why all of a sudden he was thinking about things long buried in the past. Jesse was gone, and as much as it hurt, Logan didn't think he'd ever see the other man again.

Accounting for the Hero by Silvia Violet
Chapter One
Grant leaned on the porch railing and looked out across the dry fields. Most of the grass had turned brown after a long summer with almost no rain. The cattle were skinny, and they hung their heads, looking as if they didn't have the energy to move. Grant didn't have the money for extra feed, and no one would buy the animals from him with them looking like that. There had to be a way to turn this mess around, but hell if he could see it.

He took another bite of the chocolate cake his aunt had brought him when she'd visited earlier in the day. He'd given up on slicing it and was now eating directly from the cake plate, pretending he was evening up the edges. Unfortunately, his aunt didn't have any better ideas than he did. She'd told Grant's grandfather to sell and move to town when his health started to fail, but he wouldn't give up the farm, especially not to developers, and now, with Grandma gone too, the land no one wanted was all Grant's.

Real estate had gone belly up several years before, and while everyone kept predicting the slump would turn around, no upswing had materialized. On her deathbed, his grandma told him his grandfather had insisted the farm be passed on to Grant, because he was the only one in the family who might have the balls to keep farming. How the hell had his grandfather known that the family fag, who'd rather spend a night seducing men in a club than a day riding the range (unless it involved men in assless chaps), was the one who would keep the ranch running? But obviously, Grandpa had known something he didn't, because after burying his grandma, Grant had quit his job in Austin and moved forty miles away to the small ranch outside the little town of Trilby.

He hadn't liked anything about his job as a technical writer for chemical company except the steady paycheck. For over a year, he'd been restless and ready for a change, but as much as he'd loved his grandparents' farm as a kid, running a ranch was not the change he'd been imagining. Yet here he was, with skinny cattle, dried-up fields, equipment he barely knew anything about, and only a few horses as companions.

He was out of his fucking mind.

Grant sighed and looked down at the cake plate. If he didn't stop soon, he was going to eat the whole thing. Fortunately, one thing could be said for working on a ranch, it kept you in shape. He'd never been more fit, not even when he was spending several hours a day at the gym.

He took one last look at the dusty yard and the brown fields. Then with a harsh exhalation, he turned and went into the house. Despite all the problems, the farmhouse kitchen was still a place of refuge for him. When his parents had been fighting a lot right before their divorce, he'd come here often. His grandmother loved for him to sit at the counter while she cooked. She'd let him stay for supper any night he wanted to. Sometimes he stayed overnight, and she drove him to school so he didn't have to sleep in a house filled with anger. When he was a teenager, he came out to a cold reception from his dad—his mom was long gone by then—but his grandma was there with pie, coffee, and a big, warm hug. She didn't care who Grant loved, and she told her son off for being an ass. Eventually, he came around and things got better between him and Grant, but even when Grant came home from college, he was most comfortable at the farmhouse, sitting on one of his grandma's kitchen stools.

He set the cake plate down, grabbed his tablet from the counter, and clicked on his favorite internet radio station, an eighties mix he'd been perfecting for years. Grant was only twenty-six. He'd barely been born in the eighties, but his brother was ten years older and he'd instilled a love for eighties music that Grant had never shaken. He'd been a regular at eighties night at his favorite club in Austin, Day-Glo pants and all. He sighed, remembering those days and thinking how some of the boys he'd taken home would laugh to see him now.

Once the music was going, he started washing dishes. The first song was a slow tune he only vaguely remembered hearing, but when it ended, "Holding Out for a Hero" started to play and soon he was dancing and singing like he was part of the cast of Footloose himself.

As he finished up cleaning the kitchen, Grant let himself fantasize about being saved by a hero, a big muscular man who came riding up on the requisite white horse, a muscular man with plenty of money and lots of ranching know-how, one who'd enjoy fucking him as much as he'd enjoy saving the ranch. Now that would be a dream come true, but no one was going to save Grant. Unless…

Sock Poacher and the Shower Thief: Tall Tales of Hooper's Town 1 by Freddy MacKay
Chapter One
The crickets stopped chirping the moment they heard a scrape along the dirt driveway. Namid wasn't trying to be quiet, so he'd expected the noise to stop. The absolute vacuum that replaced their song disconcerted him, though. He came to a halt and glanced around. The place looked like a building out of one of those ghost town tourist traps out west.

The simple, small ranch house had a wraparound porch with precarious steps. The shingles had seen better days, the paint was faded and peeling, and the shutters looked like they were about to drop off if the wind blew hard enough.

Maybe no one actually lived there anymore.

But Namid had seen the clothesline from the field across the street, and different length articles hung off it, flapping in the breeze. He really didn't get a good look at them considering how far away he was. Rags could be strung up and he wouldn't be any wiser.

A part of Namid wanted to check around back to make sure he hadn't been seeing things, but he didn't want to get accused of trespassing if someone happened by, or if the homeowner was actually home. Pissed-off homeowners were not fun. People did own guns in these parts.

Big ones.

Namid debated for a moment, trying to decide whether to knock on the front door. A gust of wind made the decision for him. He trembled, cold, feet frozen. Namid started back up the drive. He hoped whoever lived at the haunted house was friendly. It'd be a long walk home if they weren't. He hadn't brought his cell phone so he couldn't call anyone. Not that he knew anyone in the small Dakota town anyway.

He should've grabbed a pair of shoes before leaving his place, but he'd been so caught up in the sunny afternoon and exploring his new yard, he didn't stop to think about footwear. Once he got to the back of his yard, the town gazebo looked interesting.

When he was done checking out the Hooper's Square, Namid noticed the old school playground and went down the metal slide, and next thing he knew Namid was on the edge of town, and the fields looked so pretty. Namid couldn't help himself, he just kept going. Then suddenly, dark orange and red rays were crossing the sky, the sun setting. Fall air cooled quickly without anything to heat it.

This was why Namid found himself walking up a dirt driveway to a house that would be easier to tear down than to fix, a creepy house he could probably push over with one hand. He really didn't want to knock on the door, nor did he want to find out who would willingly live in such a place. Though, sometimes, people had no other choice.

An image of an old cat lady with no teeth popped in Namid's head just as he raised his hand to knock. He burst out laughing, so hard that he turned away from the door and worked to compose himself.

What an awful prejudice to have. It wasn't right and completely unfair.

Finally able to get his case of the giggles under control, Namid faced the door again and rapped on the worn wood. He took a step back and waited. No sound or movement came from the house. Namid tried again, and was met with the same 'this is awkward' feeling.

Welp. Maybe it really was a ghost house. That sucked.

Namid began down the steps, readying himself for the long walk home when he hit something. A sharp twinge raced up his foot to his ankle.

"Ouch!" Namid sat, clutching his throbbing toe. "Fuck."

Inspecting the damage, Namid cringed. Blood gushed from his big toe, the nail broken in half. The skin had been torn open.

Namid frowned. He needed to get home so he could examine it better. Stitches looked necessary.

What had he knocked into? Namid checked around him on the stairs, inspecting for the offending object that attacked him. A splintered piece of wood stuck out from the steps.

That answered that. What it didn't answer was how he'd get home with a weeping hole in his person.

Walking back to the clinic on a bloody foot was a bad idea. Namid didn't want to chance the wound getting worse. He'd have to do something.

Namid pulled at his t-shirt. He could wrap it, but he'd freeze on the way back. Well, it was better than nothing. Namid tugged his top over his head.

He already had it halfway off when he remembered the clothesline behind the house. Even rags were better than freezing his nipples off. Hopefully they were clean. It had rained recently. The sun had been out. One could wish.

Standing with care, Namid checked to see how well he could put weight on his injury.

"Ooph! Ow." Namid inhaled deep. "No way."

This sucked on so many levels.


It really did.


Okay, now he felt a little better. Maybe that absurd study had been right about how swearing made people feel better when they're hurt. It deserved more than an Ig Nobel Award. Swearing certainly did wonders for Namid. Every. Fucking. Time.

Once his breathing was back under control, Namid took a tentative step. Okay. He could do this. He could walk. Even if it did feel like a thousand sharp needles were impaling him.

Namid shuffled around the back, working with care to keep his toe pointed up. A cramp developed in his arch, but Namid kept at it. If he was lucky, he could wash it off in the yard. With what he had no clue, but resourcefulness came second nature to him. Namid would figure out something.

Once he made it around the house, Namid was happy he'd been right. The clothesline was in fact a clothesline. Clothes were hanging off it. Well-laundered, good-smelling clothes.

So someone does live in the crappy house.

In fact, on closer inspection, the stuff hung on the line wasn't cat-lady attire. They were men's garments.

Thank the spirits. Namid nearly danced in place. Nearly. His foot fucking hurt.

Namid did not need to be walking around with a blouse tied around his foot. Total weirdness would fuck with his head on that one. Not to mention he'd feel guilty about taking clothes from a little old lady. He'd return to pay for ruining whatever he borrowed, he'd been raised right after all, but a fair amount of older women—like his nookomis, grandma—had unnatural attachments to what they bought.

Guys were another story. Most, especially country boys, didn't have huge sentimental attachments to their clothes. At least their general everyday wear. Chaps, hats, belts, and gear were another story all together. And buckles. Especially the rodeo boys. Never get between a broncin' buck and his buckle. Namid cringed at one particular memory, then quickly redirected himself by focusing on the different garments hung up.

There had to be something he could… Yes!

Luck was on his side. Namid spotted several pairs of socks on the line. Those were easy enough to borrow. Who cared about socks? The damn things sprung holes with every turn and disappeared like cockroaches when the lights switched on. He'd come back with some new ones and a note later, thanking whatever poor soul lived out here.

For now, he just wanted to get back home. His foot ached, and Namid was cold. He didn't want to show up for his first official day of work sick.

Namid wobbled over to the socks and pulled them off. After another thorough inspection of his foot, Namid decided one pair wouldn't be enough. He needed to cushion the wound and stem the bleeding. He yanked a few more pairs off the line before sitting down.

Carefully, and with much consideration to the amount of blood gushing from his toe, Namid eased a sock around the ball of his foot, breathing through the pain. Red immediately stained the pure white cotton. So eww. If it had been a patient's blood, Namid would've had no problem, but this was his. It'd become personal.

Namid wrapped another sock around the tip of his foot as tight as he could, then stuffed his foot through two more. Now it just looked like the Stay-Puft marshmallow man attacked him. He also felt lopsided. It was odd not to have socks on both feet.

Namid glanced at the socks next to him.

Another one couldn't hurt.

He pulled one on his other foot, which left three in the pile. Namid couldn't stand the thought of unmatching socks, so he stuck one more on to even things out. He stood slowly, holding the remaining socks in hand, keeping his weight on his right foot.

A cursory glance showed he'd gotten the leftover socks dirty. He cringed. It'd be even ruder to put the unclean stuff back on the line. Of course, if he left them on the porch, they might get missed…along with the three other pairs Namid was currently borrowing.

What to do?

Behind him, the distinctive sound of a shotgun being cocked interrupted Namid's musings, and a man spoke, "You have ten seconds to explain why you're on my property."

BULL: Corralling Nature 1 by Mathilde Watson
Chapter One
"Hey, are you the manager? I need to talk to the manager, right now!"

A man's shrill, angry voice echoed throughout the hotel lobby, causing the picture frames on the wall inside Roland's office to shake and rattle. Roland closed his eyes and took a deep breath, conjuring up his most pleasant smile before getting up and stepping out of his office to rescue the poor clerk behind the check-in desk.

"Excuse me, sir, how can I help you?" Roland could see the receptionist's posture relax, the relief evident on his young face. This had been a week for screw-ups, and judging from their new friend's hostile manner, they had another one on their hands.

"Are you the manager?"

The guest glared over at him with a doubtful scowl. Roland resisted the urge to roll his eyes. The nametag on his vest clearly stated who he was, as did the sign above the door he'd just walked through. Still, he often got responses like this. Even at twenty-nine, his unmanageable red hair and an overabundance of freckles made it difficult for him to pull off a professional look. Roland held out his hand and offered the guest a confident smile.

"Yes. I'm Roland Paulson. What seems to be the problem, sir?"

"This!" Instead of shaking Roland's hand, the man threw a worn and dusty duffel bag down on the counter between them. "I just flew all the way in from L.A., a four-hour flight! Then I rode over here in your hotel's shuttle, which shook and bounced the entire way! It was awful. Then I get here, and my luggage was supposed to be waiting for me in my suite when I checked in…"

"And it wasn't?"

"No. But this was!" He unzipped the bag, pulling out of it a length of rope and…a whip? "Tell me, do I look like the sort of man who travels with…with"—the guy glanced quickly around the lobby and then lowered his voice to a theatrical whisper—"bondage equipment?"

Roland blinked with surprise and bit his tongue, barely managing to hold his composure as he imagined the paunchy, balding man in front of him decked out in leather and wielding the whip he showed such disdain for. Damn, that mental image would probably haunt him for days now.

"I, uh…apologize for the inconvenience, sir. Clearly there has been some sort of mix-up. If I could just get your name I'd be more than happy to look into this for you." Roland stepped behind one of the computers and typed in his login information, waiting patiently for a response.

"Braden, Sam Braden from New Orleans. My law firm booked my reservation, Braden and Cromp."

"Thank you, Mr. Braden. Give me just one moment." Roland pulled up Mr. Braden's information. Everything seemed to be in order. One of the longtime housekeepers, Kelly Black, marked the luggage as delivered half an hour ago, no complications noted. Roland sighed and pulled his walkie-talkie from his belt.

"Kelly Black, please call the reception desk."

"Well?" Mr. Braden impatiently tapped the desk with the handle of the whip he still clutched in his hand. He fiddled with the length of leather, wrapping it around his fingers and then unwrapping it. He had the rope draped over his arm, half of it puddled on the floor by his feet.

"Hey, mister! Could you please not do that? You stretch that leather and I'll not be able to get a proper crack out of it."

Roland's head shot up at the sound of the deep, rich voice, and when he saw the body it belonged to, he almost swallowed his tongue. Broad shoulders topped a finely muscled torso, clearly outlined under a thin white t-shirt. A pair of tight black jeans barely contained a set of tree-trunk thighs. Roland couldn't do anything but stare and pray he wasn't drooling. Now this man belonged in leather.

"Here, give me those." The newcomer snatched the whip and rope out of Mr. Braden's hands and Roland watched, mesmerized, as he deftly wrapped the length of rope around his hand and elbow. When he finished, he shoved it back in the bag and picked up the whip, extending his arm out into the empty lobby. With one quick flick of his wrist, the man set the whip in motion, sailing out and up into the air, then falling with a loud crack.

Startled, Roland finally looked up at the man's face. Words failed him. A shaggy mane of black hair framed a severe face. A thick brow seemed to stretch across his entire forehead and a neatly trimmed black beard, peppered with grey, covered a square jaw. An angry scowl turned down his thin lips. He had a large, crooked nose set a little off center, like it had been broken a time or two, and his deep, rich caramel skin highlighted the lines beside his eyes. Eyes that were dark and fiery both at once. Completely mesmerizing.

No one would think to call this man handsome, but in Roland's opinion, his rugged, perfect physique more than made up for his unfortunate face. His stormy eyes held a hint of danger and mystery, and his sculpted body ignited lust, a heady combination that no doubt insured he never had to sleep alone if he didn't want to. It certainly wouldn't take much more than a word or a touch to compel Roland into his bed.

"So, uh…anyone mind telling me why my gear is down here on display, being waved about and handled by complete strangers?"

"Your dirty, filthy…gear was in my suite! In my room!" Mr. Braden sputtered and pointed an accusing finger at the stranger's dusty duffel bag.

The newcomer raised his brow. "Well, sir, I can see how that would be unsettling. However, personally, I didn't need to open the matching three piece luggage set waiting in my room to determine it wasn't mine."

Fear of Frogs: Brimstone 2 by Angel Martinez
Chapter One
The decking lurched again. Shax put a hand out to stay upright andturned it into what he hoped was a fetching pose against the wall.

"Need to check the internal stabilizers. How long have we been having problems with the habitat gravity?"

"We're not." Ness's soft voice held a tinge of exasperation. He took Shax under the elbow and wrapped a wing around him protectively as he coaxed him down the corridor. "Stop trying to pretend so hard. You're a little wobbly still."

"Am not," Shax offered in witty rejoinder and most definitely did not wobble into Ness on his next step. He was merely leaning in, getting closer to his delicious angel.

All right, fine, so I'm not doing so hot yet. It was, he reminded himself, his first time out of bed since having his heart sliced open by an archangel's sword. No one back home in Hell would have believed the wound had been inflicted while he was defending an angel, but they had never known Ness, sweet, beautiful Ness.

He still struggled with the whole suspension of disbelief thing himself.

"I could carry you," Ness offered.

"Leave me a little dignity, cupcake. I think I've lost close to two thirds of my swashbuckler points these last few weeks."

"I'm sorry." The dove-gray wing around his shoulders drooped.

"Joke. That was a joke. Haha."

"It wasn't one of your better ones."

For half a heartbeat, Shax considered apologizing though he wasn't certain why. Ness was obviously a little stressed. Of course he was. Things would be easier now, though. Everything was going to run smooth as silk without violence or run-ins with scary people trying to kill them. The Brimstone's crew, all three of them, were going to work together constructively. They were going to start making better choices, safer, saner choices.

Mostly. Except in the acquisition of pretties. One had to make allowances for such things.

Ness steered him into the galley, their little kitchen space and common room. The automatic benches slid out from under the single long table, and Shax dropped gratefully onto the nearest one.

The cheerful snark of the ship's computer greeted him. "Hey, Hot Stuff! Good to see you up and around. Even though you shouldn't be."

"I'm grateful that you care, Ms. Ivana. Coffee would be even better. Now, please."

"Decaf," the CG-drag queen added with his prissiest sniff.

"Hell, no. It's just brown water then."

"Your heart can't handle it now, Captain Beefcake."

Shax leaned his head on his hand and managed a tired growl. "I'm the Captain. You're not supposed to argue with me." The growl dissolved into a purr when Ness started to rub his back.

"Ms. Ivana's right. Decaf would be better."

"Beset on all sides." Shax shot his best wounded look at Ness and was met with steely angel resolve. "Traitor." Then his eyes narrowed in serious irritation when their pilot, Shax's business partner, sauntered in. "Speaking of traitors."

Verin stopped short of the table, steam curling out of his nostrils as he tossed his curled ram's horns. "What?"

"I don't want him here."

"Got a problem?"

"Yes." Shax leaned back against the supporting wall of Ness behind him. Not that he needed protection, though the combination of Verin and lost temper tended to result in violence and pain for someone. "I blame you. For all of this. For my current condition, for the possibility that we're banned in certain ports, for the loss of Ness's beautiful golden wings."

Exaggeration for effect, he knew that. Ness still had his wings. They were simply a soft dove gray instead of shining gold since his fall from angelic grace. Shax missed the gold, but in his black little heart, he conceded grudgingly that he would have missed Ness more.

Verin's steam curls enlarged to thick spires. "You can blame me all you want, dickhead. You always were a drama queen."

"Wouldn't have happened if you hadn't blurted out what you did with Ness standing right there. He loves me, and the suggestion that I was using him nearly broke his heart." Shax drummed his fingers on the table. He ventured onto dangerous ground, perhaps even where angels feared to tread, but he finally had the energy to be mad.

"He's a big boy!" Verin gestured angrily at the angel in question.

"He didn't have to run off in a hissy fit. You didn't have to chase after him. You're deluding yourself if you think an angel can love you, bonehead. And there's no way you can blame me for you being a complete moron and stepping in front of a flaming sword!"
Shax started to rise from his bench. "If you hadn't—"

"Stop! Be still!"

The angelic Voice of Doom echoed through the galley, vibrating the deck plates, a voice so huge and awe-inspiring, it made felons want to crawl under something, preferably a thick planetary crust. Shax sat hard, blinking in shock. Verin's head jerked back and he snapped his mouth shut.

"Thank you." Ness resumed his normal, soft mode of speech.

Toni Griffin
Toni Griffin lives in Darwin, the smallest of Australia’s capital cities. Born and raised in the state she’s a Territorian through and through. Growing up Toni hated English with a passion (as her editors can probably attest to) and found her strength lies with numbers.

Now, though, she loves escaping to the worlds she creates and hopes to continue to do so for many years to come. She’s a single mother of one and works full time. When she’s not writing you can just about guarantee that she will be reading one of the many MM authors she loves.

Silvia Violet
Silvia Violet writes fun, sexy stories that will leave you smiling and satisfied. She has a thing for characters who are in need of comfort and enjoys helping them surrender to love even when they doubt it exists. Silvia's stories include sizzling contemporaries, paranormals, and historicals. When she needs a break from listening to the voices in her head, she spends time baking, taking long walks, and curling up with her favorite books. Keep up with her latest ventures by signing up for her newsletter.

Freddy MacKay
Freddy grew up in the Midwest, playing sports and running around outside. And honestly, that much has not changed since Freddy was small and throwing worms at other kids, expect worm throwing has been replaced with a healthy geocaching addiction. Freddy enjoys traveling and holds the view a person should continually to learn about new things and people whenever possible.

Freddy's contemporary LGBTQ book, Incubation: Finding Peace 2, won 3rd Place - Best Gay Erotic Fiction in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. In 2013, Freddy's story, Internment, tied for 3rd Place - Best Gay Fantasy in the Rainbow Awards. Freddy's steampunk/SF story, Feel Me, was a finalist and honorable mention in the 2014 Rainbow Awards for SF.

Mathilde Watson
What can I say about me? I am a work in progress. I don't much resemble the girl I was ten years ago. And ten years from now I guarantee I'll be somebody else again. I'm okay with that and wouldn't have it any other way.

Angel Martinez
Angel Martinez currently lives part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head. She has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

Angel's alter ego writes the all-ages science fiction - Sandra Stixrude.

Toni Griffin

Silvia Violet

Freddy MacKay

Mathilde Watson

Angel Martinez

The Rainbow Clause by Beth Bolden

Title: The Rainbow Clause
Author: Beth Bolden
Genre: M/M Sports Romance
Release Date: April 3, 2017
Heisman winner. Member of the National Championship team. NFL Rookie of the Year. Quarterback Colin O’Connor knows he’s become the ultimate romance novel cliché: all the success he’s ever dreamed of but nobody to share it with. Too bad it’s not as simple as asking out the next girl who intrigues him – because the next girl to intrigue him probably won’t be a girl at all.

Unexpectedly, the solution comes in one neat package: Nick Wheeler, lead journalist for a leading sports and pop culture blog. Hired by Colin’s team, Nick comes to Miami to shine a spotlight on the NFL’s most private quarterback.

The heat in Miami rises when Nick discovers that Colin is nothing like the hollow personality he pretends to be in interviews and he’s even hotter in person than on his Sports Illustrated cover. Nick knows this is the story of his career, and after spending his teenage years as a bullied, closeted teen, it hits very close to home. What he needs is to help Colin share his story while keeping their growing relationship from boiling over in the press, but what he wants is to tell the world.

Author Bio:
Beth Bolden lives in Portland, Oregon with her supportive husband and their beloved cat. She wholly believes in Keeping Portland Weird, but wishes she didn’t have to make the yearly pilgrimage up to Seattle to watch her Boston Red Sox play baseball. She’s a fan of fandoms, and spends too much of her free time on tumblr.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published two novels, The Lucky Charm and Getting Lucky, and a short story, Eye of the Storm. Her next novel, Summer Attractions, will be released in August 2016.


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Shopping for a Billionaire's Fiancée by Julia Kent

Title: Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancée
Author: Julia Kent 
Series: Shopping for a Billionaire #6
Genres: Comedy, New Adult, Romance
Release Date: February 26, 2015

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All of our best dates end up in the emergency room….

I planned the perfect proposal. Plenty of lobster, caviar, champagne and–her favorite–tiramisu. The perfect setting. The perfect woman. The perfect everything.

Dad gave me my late mother’s engagement ring, platinum and diamonds galore. Shannon wouldn’t care if I slid a giant hard-candy ring on her finger instead of a three-carat diamond designed to impress. But my future mother-in-law, Marie, will pass out when she sets eyes on that rock, which will give us two minutes of blessed silence. That woman talks more than Kim Kardashian flashes her naked backside on the internet.

I was going to make it perfect, from the color of the tablecloth to the freshness of the roses. And it was perfect.

Until Shannon swallowed the ring.

* * * * *

Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancée gives near-billionaire Declan McCormick the chance to tell his story in this continuation of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shopping for a Billionaire series.

The Proposal...

Le Portmanteau is designed to make you feel just a little bit like a country bumpkin, even if you’re a Parisian sophisticate with a world palate and the budget of a sheik.

That’s why it’s Jessica Coffin’s favorite restaurant, if you believe her Twitter feed.

Not that I read her feed. That’s Grace’s job. I just get executive briefings now.

Grace made sure Jessica is not here tonight. Having her make a sudden appearance the night I propose to Shannon would not just be catastrophic, it might land my future fiancée in a jail cell for a night.

Which would put a slight damper on our celebration.

Self-preservation has many incarnations.

While I had already cleared my day well in advance, knowing and preparing the perfect proposal, Shannon is running late. I’m standing here in the waiting area tapping my toes like a kid at his first formal dance with a date who’s about to stand him up, but he doesn’t know it yet.

But Shannon won’t no-show.


Of course not. Women don’t wake you up like that in the morning and then leave you hanging twelve hours later.

Besides, four syllables guarantee she’s coming:


Author Bio:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent turned to writing contemporary romance after deciding that life is too short not to have fun. She writes romantic comedy with an edge, and new adult books that push contemporary boundaries. From billionaires to BBWs to rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every book she writes, but unlike Trevor from Random Acts of Crazy, she has never kissed a chicken.


Shopping for a Billionaire's Fiancee #6
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