Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday's Series Spotlight:The Art of Murder by Josh Lanyon Part 1

The Mermaid Murders #1
Special Agent Jason West is seconded from the FBI Art Crime Team to temporarily partner with disgraced, legendary “manhunter” Sam Kennedy when it appears that Kennedy’s most famous case, the capture and conviction of a serial killer known as The Huntsman, may actually have been a disastrous failure.

The Huntsman is still out there…and the killing has begun again.

The Monet Murders #2
All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.

Well, here they were.

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants--or needs--is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

The Mermaid Murders #1
Original Review 2016:
Sam Kennedy and Jason West have the potential to be the next Jake Riordan and Adrien English.  I know what you are thinking, "that's one helluva prediction".  Maybe it is, but considering Jake and Adrien are one of the couples I tend to use as a personal rating system when it comes to romantic mysteries, I think it is more than a prediction.  They have the kind of chemistry that ignites your soul to the point that you could care less about the mystery they are actually trying to solve.  Luckily, Sam and Jason don't let that "WOW" feeling get in the way of their job.  The mystery behind The Mermaid Murders may or may not keep you guessing all the way through, that depends on the way your mind works, this reader has been reading/watching murder mysteries since I was 10 years old so very few actually keep my creepy mind stumped.  That right there is what I rate a mystery on, keeping the reader hooked even when they are 99% sure they know who did the deed or deeds and that is why Josh Lanyon's latest thriller is a must read.

The Monet Murders #2
Original Review 2017:
Sam and Jason are back!  Their relationship has been months of phone calls and skyping  but then they find themselves once again on a case together and the relationship that Jason believed they were heading towards is not quite the same page that Sam was reading.

As with book #1, The Mermaid Murders, Sam and Jason are still not quite up to the status of Jake and Adrien from the author's Adrien English Mysteries but for this reader they are definitely giving my favorite detecting odd couple a run for the top notch in my heart.  What can I say about the mystery?  Well, I won't say too much because I don't want to give anything away but I will note that my interest was piqued from the very beginning and not once did it falter.  The Monet Murders may be more relationship driven but the mystery is not forgotten.  The passion between the boys that began in The Mermaid Murders only grows with each page, despite Sam ending it before it really has a chance to begin.

Every time a new Josh Lanyon release pops up in my notifications I know that I am in for a treat and I was not disappointed with The Monet Murders.  I am already looking forward to Sam and Jason's next case.

The Mermaid Murders #1
Chapter One
From out their grottos at evenings beam,
the mermaids swim with locks agleam.
--Walter de la Mare, "Mermaid"

Summer heat shimmered off the blacktop.

In that shivery, humid light, the big, blond man casually leaning against the silver government-issue sedan--and checking his watch--looked a little like a mirage. No such luck. Senior Special Agent Sam Kennedy was not a trick of the light.

Kennedy looked up, spotted Jason, and grimaced. Maybe it was supposed to be a smile. Probably not, given Kennedy's reputation.

"Special Agent West," Kennedy said. His voice was deep, and he spoke with a suggestion of a drawl. "I thought maybe you stopped off to see if you could solve the Gardner Museum heist on your way over here."

Funny guy, Kennedy. Special Agent in Charge Carl Manning had already warned Jason that Kennedy was not thrilled to be partnered again, let alone partnered with an agent seconded from the Art Crime Team. That's what happened when you screwed up your last high-profile investigation to such an extent the governor of Wisconsin denounced you on the nightly news. An agent with less seniority would have been "on the beach" for the foreseeable future, but Kennedy was a legend in the Bureau. One of the great "manhunters." His career would survive, but he was under a cloud, no question. His kind of success earned enemies--and not just from the usual suspects. A successful career wasn't just about closing cases--and Kennedy didn't strike Jason as the tactful type.

"Nice to meet you too," Jason said, reaching the car. Kennedy did not offer his hand, so Jason shoved his own in his pocket. "Just to be clear, I'm supposed to be on vacation. In fact, I busted my ass to get here. I was in Boston about to catch a flight home to L.A."

"Duly noted." Kennedy turned away, going around to the driver's side of the gleaming sedan. "You can throw your bag in the trunk." He reached in and popped the trunk hood.

Jason opened the trunk and slung his brown leather carryall next to Kennedy's black Tumi. That was some serious luggage. The luggage of someone who lived out of his suitcase. Primetime TV notwithstanding, it was rare for agents in the Behavioral Analysis Units to leave Quantico and travel around the country, but Kennedy was the exception that proved the rule.

"We need to hit the road. That girl's been missing over eight hours already." Kennedy threw that comment over his shoulder, before sliding in behind the wheel.

Jason started to answer but restrained himself. SAC Manning had clued him in to a few facts about his new--temporary--partner. And, ostensibly, this urgency to get to the crime scene out in rural Kingsfield was all part of what made Kennedy so good at his job--not to mention the reason they were meeting in a diner parking lot instead of the division office at One Center Plaza.

He slammed shut the trunk, walked around to the passenger side, and climbed in. The car was still cool with air-conditioning, so Kennedy hadn't been waiting long.

Kennedy turned the key in the ignition. More cold air blasted out along with news radio. "So you know the area? Your family used to have a vacation home in Kingsfield?"

"That's right."

"How nice." Kennedy's tone was more like Why am I not surprised? He wore too much aftershave. The fragrance as aggressive as everything else about him. Top note sandalwood, bottom note obnoxious.

"I guess so."

Kennedy threw him a sardonic look as they exited the parking lot. Or at least the twist of his mouth was sardonic. The dark Oakleys he wore concealed his eyes. He looked to be in his mid-forties. Not handsome, but he had the kind of face you didn't forget easily. Although Jason was going to try his best the minute this case was over.

Jason said, "Clarify something for me. The Kingsfield Police Chief asked specifically for you because he thinks he might have a copycat killer on his hands?"

"It's too soon to say, but yeah. That's the concern, of course. No girl is going to go missing in Worcester County ever again that people aren't going to fear it's some kind of copycat crime." Kennedy began to bring Jason up to date on the case.

It was a swift and concise summation, but then the facts were few. Rebecca Madigan, the teenage daughter of wealthy local residents, had disappeared Friday night while hosting a party for friends. Rebecca's parents were out of town. The housekeeper had reported the girl missing. A search had been organized, but so far there was no sign of Rebecca.

"There could be a lot of reasons a teenage girl disappears," Jason pointed out.

"Yep. But like I said, the folks of Worcester County have long memories."

Yes. With good cause. Jason stared out the window at the slideshow of skyscrapers and historic buildings. Parks, playgrounds... ponds. The dazzle of bright sunlight on green water. The echo of a young girl's laughter... He removed his sunglasses, passed a hand across his eyes, and replaced the shades.

Worcester was an old city with a modern attitude. It was only about twenty-four miles from Kingsfield, not much more than a forty-five-minute drive, but it could have been a different planet.

He said, "I remember the original case. You were behind the capture and conviction of Martin Pink."

"I played a role." Kennedy was displaying unexpected--and undue--modesty. There was no question the Kingsfield Killings had stopped thanks to Kennedy's efforts, which was no doubt why the police chief had been so quick to call him in this time. It was a little surprising the Bureau hadn't waited to see how things developed in the Madigan case, but maybe this was as much about putting Kennedy on ice as finding a missing girl. That was certainly the way it had sounded to Jason when SAC Manning had asked him to cancel his vacation.

"What kind of a party was it?" Jason asked.

"What do you mean?"

"It's June. Was it a graduation party? Birthday party? Sweet sixteen? Secret baby shower?"

Kennedy's laugh was without humor. "It was the kind of party you throw when your parents are out of town for the weekend."

"Was everybody invited, or was it private?"

"We don't have the details yet. You know everything I know."

Yeah, probably not. Kennedy was old school, one of these lone-wolf types who no doubt preferred to "play his own hand" or whatever bullshit macho phrase his generation used to excuse not being a team player. It made for good TV, but in real-life law enforcement, not being a team player was how people got hurt.

Sometimes you got hurt even when everyone on the team had their eye on the ball. Jason's shoulder twinged, and he rubbed it absently.

There was a large heart-shaped sign by the side of the road on the outskirts of town. The sign read: IN OUR HEARTS FOREVER Honey Corrigan.

The sign had not been there the last time Jason had driven this road. It was probably familiar to Kennedy. He must have passed it a hundred times that long ago summer.

Neither of them spoke, and a couple of minutes later they were out of the dense green woodland and into the shady streets of the picturesque and rustic village of Kingsfield. It was classic New England. Pretty and quaint. White clapboard houses surrounded by wide lawns or gardens of old roses, renovated nineteenth century commercial buildings of red and yellow brick, war memorials--that would be the Revolutionary War--white churches with tall steeples, all artfully positioned around the large and lush village green. Nothing like California, that was for sure. But then that had been the point of spending summers here.

It was a quiet little place, but even so it seemed deserted for a Saturday afternoon.

"Just like you remember?" Kennedy's voice jarred Jason out of his thoughts.

"Doesn't seem to have changed much."

And that was the truth. It was almost eerie how untouched by time the village seemed. Talk about back to the future. They passed Beaky's Tavern. Bow windows and a hanging, hand-painted sign featuring a bewigged gentleman with a hooked nose like a hood ornament.

"When was the last time you visited?"

"Years." His parents had sold their vacation home right after Honey had disappeared, and Jason had not been back since. He was not going to share that information with Kennedy--even if Kennedy had been listening.

Which he wasn't. His attention was on the information his GPS provided in crisp, mechanical tones. His large hands moved with easy assurance on the steering wheel, his gaze raked the pretty little shops and cafes.

The police station was located in the center of the village, housed in the former Town Hall building. It was a two-story structure of faded brick, complete with a clock tower. Gray columns supported the front portico. The arched windows had a nice view of the Quaboag River, a blue shadow in the distance.

They parked in the rear beneath a row of maple trees, green leaves so shiny they appeared to be sweating in the heat.

"I'd expect to see a lot more cars here," Jason said, studying the nearly empty lot.

"Everybody is out searching," Kennedy replied.

His tone was neutral, but yes. Of course. Of course the entire town--or at least every able-bodied and available resident--would be out combing the extensive surrounding wilderness areas for the missing girl. This child was one of their own. The fact that hadn't immediately occurred to Jason simply underlined how long it had been since he'd worked a violent crime.
Or at least since he'd worked a crime where there was an expectation of violence. People were always unpredictable. Especially when they felt cornered.

He walked beside Kennedy around the building, feet pounding the pavement in dusty rhythm. The air was hot and humid, scented of warm stone and daylilies. Kennedy didn't say a word from the parking lot to the front portico. It would have been helpful to have some kind of briefing on what they were walking into, but Kennedy was not a chatty guy.

They pushed through the old wood-frame glass doors, passed a long row of bulletin boards papered mostly with flyers and notices for community events, though there were a couple of wanted posters too. A matronly-looking officer was busy answering the phones. She barely glanced at their IDs, indicating with a nod that they should proceed down the dark-paneled hallway and then calmly answering the caller on the other end of the line.

They located the incident room on the main floor. Folding chairs had been set up in neat rows to face the cluster of photographs of a very pretty girl--white, mid-teens, blue eyes, and blonde hair--plastering the front wall. The room was abandoned but for one lone uniformed officer who was erasing something on the large, portable dry-erase whiteboard. Jason's heart sank as he recognized Boyd Boxner.

Hell. Of all the gin joints--or police stations--in all the world...

It had been a long time, but Boxner hadn't changed all that much. Square shoulders, square jaw, square head. Well, maybe his head wasn't square, but his towheaded crew cut gave that impression.

"Kennedy, FBI." Kennedy offered his ID again. "This is Special Agent West."

"We've been expecting you," Boxner said. He glanced at Jason without recognition--nothing like a badge and shades for camouflage--and that was fine with Jason. "Chief Gervase is directing the hunt for Rebecca. He asked me to escort you to the search site."

"Let's get moving," Kennedy said.

Jason threw him a quick, startled look.

"Or," Jason said, "maybe we should set up base here and start reading through the witness statements. There are going to be a lot of eyewitness accounts to sort through, and it's possible there's some overlooked indicator as to why she might walk away voluntarily. Though I'd also like to swing by the girl's house. Take another look around."

A crime scene was a unique and fragile thing. You really only got one chance at it because with each subsequent visit by law enforcement, the scene--and your perception of it--changed, altered.

Kennedy looked as though he'd forgotten Jason was present. He'd removed his sunglasses. His eyes were blue. Arctic blue. A hard and unforgiving color. He turned back to Boxner. "We'll liaise with Chief Gervase."

Clear enough. Kennedy was the senior on this investigation. This was not Jason's field of expertise. By the same token, he wasn't only there to fill a second suit. He wasn't trying to challenge Kennedy's authority, but Kennedy was assuming the local police had already done the groundwork investigation. Jason didn't like to assume anything.

He also didn't like getting smacked down in public.

He said, matching Kennedy's blank face and tone, "Why? Are they short of volunteers? Isn't the point of our being here to look at the case from an objective and impartial viewpoint?"
Kennedy stared at him for a long, silent moment. It was not a friendly look. Nor the look of someone considering another viewpoint.

"You want me to leave you two to work it out?" Boxner was examining Jason more closely now.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to have a word with my colleague," Kennedy said with ominous calm.

"Right. I'll bring the car around." Boxner was clearly in no doubt as to who would win this round. The old floorboards squeaked as he departed with the air of someone tiptoeing away from a bomb site.

Kennedy didn't say a word until Boxner had vanished down the hall. He turned to Jason.

"Okay, pretty boy. Let's get something straight." His tone was cold and clipped. "We both know your role here is to run interference between me and everybody else. All you need to do is stay out of my way and smooth the feathers when needed. And in return you'll be the guy who gets to pose in front of the cameras with Chief Gervase. Fair enough?"

"The hell," Jason said. "I've been asked to try and make sure you don't step in it again, sure, but I'm not here to hold your cape, Batman. I'm your partner on this case whether either of us likes it or not. And, for the record, I don't like it--any more than you do."

"Then make it easy on both of us," Kennedy said. "You stay out of my murder investigation, and I'll let you know if I hear about any paintings getting stolen."

He didn't wait for Jason's answer. He turned and followed Boxner down the hallway.

The Monet Murders #2
For a time he was occupied in playing shuffleboard with the buses and delivery trucks and taxis clogging the crowded streets, but inevitably his thoughts circled back to the passenger in the seat beside him.

Given how irate Jason had been at being conscripted into Kennedy’s investigation, it was odd that what he mostly felt now was a sense of letdown, even disappointment, that Kennedy would not be returning.

But wasn’t it normal that his feelings should be confused? The situation was just…so strange. All those months. And when they finally did get together…


Worse than nothing. It was like they had never met. Never made lov— Oh, hell no. Not that. Never had sex. That’s what he meant.

His anger faded, leaving him depressed, disheartened. What the hell had happened to change everything? He just couldn’t understand it. He was baffled.

Yeah. Baffled.

The traffic lurched to a sudden standstill. Jason’s phone vibrated. He ignored it. Around them, a few impatient drivers vented their frustration with honks, but the seconds continued to tick by. Pedestrians in every size, shape, and color crowded the sidewalk beside them, darting around the cones and sawhorses and hoses of the workmen tearing up the pavement with jackhammers. The pound of the pneumatic drills was not as loud as the silence stretching between himself and Kennedy.

In disbelief, Jason heard his own voice—hesitant, slightly strained—break the silence.

“Look. Did I…do something?”

“No,” Kennedy said at once. And that was a relief. A relief that Kennedy did him the courtesy of not pretending he didn’t understand. In fact, it was as if he had been sitting there thinking the same thing as Jason. “It isn’t you. It’s nothing you’ve done or didn’t do.”

He didn’t elaborate, though, so Jason—who already felt like he was out on a very flimsy limb—had to stretch still further.

“Because I don’t understand.” Excruciating to have to put this into words. His face felt hot, and his heart was pounding as though this was a high-risk situation. He was not used to it. Not used to…caring so much. It wasn’t that he’d never been turned down before or even been dumped. It always stung, but it hadn’t hurt. Not really. Not like this.

Kennedy didn’t answer immediately, and Jason couldn’t bear the silence.

“Is it the promotion? Are you thinking that I would somehow trade on our friendship? Or that other people might think I was trading on our friendship?”

“No,” Kennedy said, again adamant. “I don’t think that. And I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks.”

So what the hell was it? Because he was not wrong, not imagining things. Kennedy was confirming it was over. But he wasn’t telling him why, and that really was the part Jason needed to understand. They’d talked two weeks ago, and there had been no hint that everything was not…

Was not what?

Okay? Fine? Normal? None of that applied. They’d had a long-distance relationship that was more like phone tag. In other words, they’d had nothing.

And kudos to Kennedy for recognizing that fact and breaking it off.

Although this was more like passive resistance than breaking it off. But whatever. Over. Done. Finito. Let it go, West. It only gets more embarrassing from here.

A couple of excruciatingly long seconds passed while he tried to think of a way to change the subject, scrabble to the solid ground of…anything, for the love of God. How about them Cubs?

The traffic ahead of them crept forward, and Jason eased off the brake, letting the Dodge roll a couple of inches.

Because I care about you, Jason. More than I thought I could.

His eyes blurred.

Jesus Fucking Christ. Was he about to cr—tear up over this? No way. And sure as hell not when Kennedy was sitting right beside him. For God’s sake.

Kennedy said suddenly, “I…like you. Nothing has changed.”

Right. Except everything.

Jason made a sound in the back of his throat that was supposed to be…not what it sounded like. Which made him angry and enabled him to get out a terse, “Right.”

“But it isn’t…practical to try to…” Kennedy was picking words as painstakingly as somebody gathering shards of glass. “It’s not enough to…build on.”

Wow. Maybe he was misremembering, but getting shot three times hadn’t hurt this much. And anyway, what the hell did that mean? It’s not like Jason had been pushing for more. He had accepted Sam’s terms. Not that Sam had really given him terms.

He wanted to say something to the effect of what he had said in Kingsfield: Whatever. It was just supposed to be a fucking date.

But of course it wasn’t just a date. Not anymore. Somehow they had managed to move beyond that never-to-be date to something more. Something deeper. And yet less concrete than even a date.

It made no sense for him to sit here like his heart was breaking when they didn’t even know each other. It was ridiculous. Pathetic.

“It’s okay,” he said flatly. “You’re right.”

He felt Kennedy look at him, but he kept staring straight ahead. He shrugged.

“I should have told you sooner,” Kennedy said. “Made my position clear.” Had it been anyone but Sam Kennedy, Jason would have said there was guilt—regret?—in his tone. “But I like talking to you.”

“Yeah. Well.” He was relieved his voice had steadied again, because inside he was a churning mess of confused emotion. Mostly pain. “I liked talking to you too.”

Neither of them had anything to say after that, and the nearby crush and crash of broken cement filled the distance between them.

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


The Mermaid Murders #1

The Monet Murders #2

Release Blitz: The Cowboy’s Runaway Bride by Laurie LeClair

Title: The Cowboy's Runaway Bride
Author: Laurie LeClair
Series: The McCall Brothers #3
Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: August 24, 2017
Publisher: Tule Publishing
When Dallas society bride Elizabeth Eve Barrington discovers her intended’s financial ulterior motives for marriage, she hightails it out of the church in her wedding gown and hops in the back of a parked and beat-up pickup truck.

Happy to leave the big city, sexy cowboy Connor McCall jumps in his truck, revs up his engine, and then heads home to Honor, Texas with the goal of saving his family’s failing ranch. Hours later and miles down country roads, Connor discovers the stowaway bride, and he’s pretty sure she’s feigning amnesia.

What’s a cowboy to do? Cowboy up, of course. He takes Eve home, determined to solve her mystery. What he discovers is a lot of smoke–and where there’s smoke, there’s fire, with the heat generating between them hot enough to burn. Will Connor be damned if he falls for the beautiful runaway bride or will he be damned if he doesn’t?

“Look at that, Gramps. Another sucker getting hitched.” Conner McCall sat behind the wheel of his old truck in the thick, Saturday Dallas traffic.

He nodded to the long line of sleek, black limos clogging the opposite side of the lane as they inched down the busy city street.

Horns honked at the entourage taking up nearly a block and not allowing anyone to pull in or out. A few colorful shouts peppered the warm, summer air. People on the sidewalks stopped and stared.

“Pretty fancy stuff, if you ask me.” Gramps, with one hand securely on his sleeping pet miniature horse, Sweet Potato, craned his neck to see. “Maybe that will be you soon. Following in the footsteps of Cody and Caleb.”

“Oh, no. My brothers may have succumbed, but not me. Not yet. I have a long, long way to go before I settle down.” If ever. “First, we make it through this season and then we get the McCall ranch secure for the future.”

“From your lips to God’s ears. About the ol’ homestead, that is. But, you. I want for you what your Grams and I had and what your brothers found.”

“Not likely.” Conner had strong doubts their small town of Honor, Texas could provide the love of his life. Most likely he’d never find her. A little pang hit his ribs.

How many girls did he know who wanted to work and toil away on a ranch for decades to come? None he knew. And you can’t separate a cowboy from his horse, either. Not this one, at least.

Some had tried. None had succeeded. And never would.

He’d come dang close once, though, three years ago. Somewhere along the line, Conner finally figured out he’d always be her second best. Not getting stomped on again by some girl who fancies herself a cowboy for a rebound romance.

Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be for him. The love part. Somewhere deep inside, he worried he’d end up falling head over heels and losing her—like Gramps did with Grams. Conner didn’t think he could stand the crushing pain. Better to not even go there…

“Miss Peaches is single.”

His grandfather’s suggestion made him laugh. “She’s older than you, Gramps.”

“Her sister Clementine?”

Conner shook his head at his grandfather’s antics. “Not of child bearing age, may I remind you. No great-grands there.”

They shared a chuckle.

“Scratch them off the list.” Gramps grabbed an invisible pencil from behind his ear and made a horizontal line in the air.

“No matchmaking, understand?”

“Me? Why I let Cody and Caleb make up their minds, didn’t I?”

“Not that you didn’t help their romances along.”

“Now, I didn’t say that.” He admitted what they’d all known.

“Gramps, you’re a romantic at heart. Do me a favor and don’t butt in when it comes to me.” Pestering him about finding someone might just be on the top of Gramps’s list now that Conner’s brothers had tied the knot recently.

“If you say so, Conn.” Gramps sighed.

“We’ve got better things to concentrate on. I think we need to get an in with the biggest grocery store chain in Texas. We get a contract and a decent price, we can hold on to the ranch. It’s a guaranteed future income. Maybe even stop talking and start doing that more resilient breed of cattle you’ve always wanted.”

“You’re talking my language there. I like that. No exclusives, though. We need some options open. Plus, we don’t want to stop supplying the local restaurants in our own hometown. That breeding thing will take some time, though.”

The heat of the early afternoon drifted in through the open windows. And the heavy scent of fumes came with the breeze. Give Conner the country any day. “I’ve got the time and I can learn.”

“Son, hurt me something fierce when you had to drop out of college when Grams got sick.”

“Don’t dwell, Gramps. I’m working right where I want to be. The McCall ranch.” Taking care of his beloved grandfather, too, was right where Conner wanted to be.

“Light changed. They’re on the move. Uh, lookee there, must be the bride’s veil peeking out the window of the first one.”

Conner glanced in the side mirror. A gust of wind caught the sheer, white veil and sent it flying. He watched it float in the air. It landed in the crook between his truck and mirror. The lace-edged, delicate fabric fluttered and lifted.

Without thinking, he reached out, snatched it up, and then rolled it in a loose ball.

“Good catch, son.”

“I guess she’ll be wanting this back.” Conner shoved the gear in park and then undid his seat belt. “Be right back.”

In seconds, he popped open the door and then half ran down the street to catch the vehicle. His boots hit the asphalt with heavy thuds. The veil unfurled, streaming behind him. He gripped the bunched-up fabric he still held tighter. The red tail lights came on, sending a shot of relief through him.

This cowboy isn’t about to trot a mile though Dallas trailing her limo. That would be a sight to see.

He caught up to the shiny car and shoved the delicate material through the half open rear window. A feminine hand appeared at the same time, grabbed for it, and accidentally brushed her fingers along his wrist.

A current of electricity rushed through him.

Conner heard her loud gasp. She withdrew her hand instantly, along with the veil, reeling in the long fabric.

“Thank you.” Her soft voice whispered over him.

Low. Seductive. Or was the last just his imagination?

He could barely make out several shadowy figures in the dark interior before the power window rose. It shut with a smooth click.

Now, he only saw his wide eyes and slack jaw staring back at him in the reflection. He tipped his cowboy hat back and stepped away. The limo took off. The others followed.

Whoa! What the hell was that? He’d run into an electric fence with less charge than that and that was saying something.

The sound of his horn beeping over and over brought Conner back to the realization he stood in the middle of the street with moving cars charging by in front of him. Turning, he rushed back to Gramps and his truck, hopped in, slammed the door shut, and then shoved it into drive to keep up with the moving traffic.

His hand burned. He shook it, trying to rid himself of that feeling.

“You okay, Conn? About gave me a heart attack when they started up again.” Gramps calmed Sweet Potato, coming awake and rearing his head up. “Easy, little fella.”

Blowing out a breath, Conner shot his grandfather a grin, trying to smooth out the fresh worry lines gathered on the older man’s face. “Harder than dodging our charging cattle, Gramps. City folks. Never mind that, let’s get us some good barbecue before heading back home.”

“Now you’re talking. Just up ahead two blocks.” He smacked his lips. “Don’t tell your Uncle Jeb this place’s brisket is almost as good as his.”

“Not on your life. Aunt Sissy would have both our hides.”

Gramps chuckled along with him. “I appreciate you letting me ride along, son. Gives me some more time with you before you head out to the base camp tomorrow.”

“Good company. Long drive in the early hours. Picked up the part we needed—a little later and a little more than we wanted.” Conner cringed inwardly at that.

The ranch barely survived at the moment. If this season didn’t go well, they’d lose it all. Dread sat deep in his belly every time he thought about how they lived on the edge this last year. With his Grams dying, it rocked their world, especially Gramps, who kept too much from his three grandsons until it was almost too late.

Now, Caleb, Cody and he were doing everything in their power to save the family homestead and their legacy.

“Thought we’d have some daylight left to start fixing the trannie on the old rust bucket.” Conner shrugged and then quickly checked on the loose corner rope holding down the tarp covering the transmission. Tighten that baby up before we head out.

The last-minute repair on the ranch truck took more than a little coaxing this time. No, the part needed replacing and the closest place they could find the vintage model in Texas was Dallas.

Conner had volunteered since his two older brothers and their new brides either had second jobs outside the McCall ranch or were out on the range helping with the cattle. And their foreman and crew were too busy this time of year. Single, biding his time with packing up the last of the supplies to ride out on his horse tomorrow, he’d been the obvious choice.

“Should be home in time tonight to tuck in this little fella, though.” His voice held a smile. Gramps treated the miniature horse like a pet instead of a ranch animal.

“Don’t you be going and making wisecracks, too, Conn. I get enough of that from the others. He adopted me, not the other way around. You hear?”

“Loud and clear.”

“Just so we’re square and all.”

“Got it.”

The cars ahead stopped at the quick light. Connor braked. He glanced to the side mirror, half hoping to catch a glimpse of that limo and the mystery bride. No such luck. Nothing but trucks, cars, and SUVs chugged along—brakes squealing and exhaust coughing out the tail pipes.

She was gone.

A tiny rope of disappointment went through him.

You’re sick, McCall. She’s a bride on her wedding day. Her groom is waiting for her. Or she may have even gotten married already and he’s sitting beside her.

But he couldn’t forget the sound of her sharp intake of breath.

And the current that rushed through him…

Author Bio:
Bestselling author Laurie LeClair writes romantic comedies, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. Laurie has a not-so-secret love for characters who make her laugh, cry, and who linger in her mind long after the story ends. Laurie’s habit of daydreaming has gotten her into a few scrapes and launched her to take up her dream of writing. Finally, she can put all those stories in her head to rest as she brings them to life on the page.

Laurie loves to write, read, bake, travel, and discover new adventures. She considers herself a New Texan (New England born and raised and now living in Texas). She lives in Central Texas with her husband, Jim. Laurie loves to hear from her readers.


The Cowboy's Runaway Bride #3


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Release Blitz: Memories by Ruby Moone

Title: Memories
Author: Ruby Moone
Genre: M/M Romance, Historical, Adult
Release Date: August 26, 2017
Publisher: JMS Books
Will Marsden is a man on the run from his memories and his past. Steward of Denton Manor was a good position until Captain Dearne, the owner, lost the manor on the turn of a card. When the feckless Dearne is dumped unconscious and near death on his doorstep, Will grudgingly accepts an enormous sum of money to care for him.

Dearne regains consciousness but has no memories of how he came to be in the bed of a dark-haired, angry, but gorgeous man or how he came to be so badly injured.

When nightmares drive Dearne into Will’s arms every night, the attraction between them explodes. As Dearne battles with lost memories, he is forced to accept the fact that someone in his family wants him dead, and Will is forced to confront his past head on. Will the revelations uncovered tear them apart?

Will returned with a bag and pulled out the salve and some more linen. He quickly washed and dried his hands, and then busied himself with unwrapping him, eyes firmly fixed on his thigh, although his hands felt a little unsteady. Dearne adjusted his shirt when his cock twitched at his gentle touch. Any budding arousal was swiftly truncated though when Will pulled off the pad of gauze, sending red hot agony through his entire body and Dearne couldn’t stifle yet another high-pitched shriek.

“Sorry, sorry…” Will put his hand on Dearne’s arm and held on tight whilst he brought his breath under control. He hardly dared look at his leg.

“It’s not too bad,” Will said, so he peeled open one eye and squinted down. It was healing well. He presumed the pain was simply from dislodging the scabs. He breathed more evenly as Will dipped a cloth in the warm water that had been left in the rooms for them and bathed him. He relaxed fractionally.

“It is healing well,” Will said, drying him and then smoothing the salve over the wound. He replaced the old pad with a new one, then wound the makeshift bandage back around. “We could see if there is a physician in the town? Perhaps you should see someone who knows best how to deal with injuries.”

Dearne shook his head. “It is doing just fine. No need to involve anyone else in our escapade.”

Will smiled at that. “We have a couple of hours before we eat. Why don’t you sleep.” Dearne watched Will fold the old bandages and then wash his hands again. When he turned around and looked at him, lying on the bed with no breeches or smalls, he felt oddly exposed and for some reason, that excited him. Beneath his hand his cock hardened. He let himself relax against the pillow and watched Will’s jaw tighten and his eyes become fixed to his groin where he still cupped himself beneath his shirt. His whole body flushed as a surge of need tightened his skin. Will felt it too, judging by the bulge in his breeches.

“Will…” His voice was low, husky.

“Don’t.” Will closed his eyes and swallowed. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

Will opened his eyes, those beautiful dark eyes, and Dearne was shocked to see misery in them. “You know what I mean.”

Dearne looked pointedly at Will’s groin. “Why?”

“Because it’s wrong.”


“Yes, wrong. I can’t go through all that again. I can’t.” He turned away and picked up his bag. “I’ll see you for dinner.”


He paused momentarily by the door as if he would respond, but then yanked it open and left. Dearne flopped back on the bed and groaned.

* * * * *

Will sat on the edge of his bed. His whole body trembled. He held his hands before him and watched them shake before jamming them under his armpits and rocking. His heart was pounding as though it might burst out of his chest and fierce longing made his entire body ache. He screwed his eyes closed and willed the need to go away, tried to think of sad things, horrid things, the pain, the shame, but all he could see was Dearne laid on the bed, hand on his cock. Those long, strong legs finely dusted with hair, that watchful smile that crept out at odd moments, and his eyes. Christ, his eyes. Ever since the morning they had woken and, half asleep, he had kissed Dearne’s shoulder, run his tongue over those freckles that sat like gold dust on his skin and he had begged him for more, all he could taste was Dearne’s mouth. All he could feel now was Dearne’s mouth. All he wanted was Dearne’s mouth.

He wrapped his arms around his middle and bent over until his head almost touched his knees and barely recognised the keening sound that came from his mouth as everything threatened to spiral out of control.

He didn’t hear the door open, he didn’t hear Dearne until he sat beside him and put an arm around his shoulders. And try as he might, he didn’t resist when Dearne pulled him into his arms. They sat, side by side, with Dearne holding him awkwardly, and Will pressing his head onto Dearne’s shoulder and gradually the trembling subsided.

“I don’t suppose you want to talk about it?” Dearne said.

“God, no.” Will shuddered.

“Thank Christ.”

Will glanced up and Dearne offered him a crooked smile.

Author Bio:
My name is Ruby Moone and I love books. All kinds of books. My weakness is for romance, and that can be any kind, but I am particularly fond of historical and paranormal. I decided to write gay romance after reading some fantastic books and falling in love with the genre, so am really thrilled to have my work published here. The day job takes up a lot of my time, but every other spare moment finds me writing or reading. I live in the north west of England with my husband who thinks that I live in two worlds. The real world and in the world in my head...he probably has a point!


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