Texas Wedding by RJ Scott

The final book in the Texas series which started with The Heart of Texas is out today. Why not join in the giveaway below.

Buylink: http://rjscottauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/texas-wedding-texas-7-blurb-reveal.html

Blurb:
 
Sometimes Riley and Jack have to be the ones to fight other people’s battles and stand up for what is right.
With the life changing prospect of a yes vote from SCOTUS on
the issue of same sex marriage, Riley and Jack realise they have decisions to
make. Add in some distressing family news and the very real possibility that
old secrets may resurface, and this last book in the Texas series pulls
together as many threads as the boys can manage to handle.
But through all the ups and the downs, children, family
events, laughter, and tears, there is nothing as special as the forever love
between these two men.
The full book list:
Book 2 – Texas Winter
Book 3 – Texas Heat
Book 4 – Texas Family
Book 5 – Texas Christmas
Book 6 – Texas Fall
Book 7 – Texas Wedding
Giveaway:
 
Competition to
win $15 Amazon/Are giftcard, and 2 further prizes of RJ Scott e-books – closes
8th October at 00:01 GMT (London)
 
 
OR
DIRECT LINK:
Excerpt
Chapter One
Jack slid his arms around Riley from behind and pressed his
cheek to the space between broad shoulders. He couldn’t stop himself from
moving his hands under the soft T-shirt material and caressing the warm skin.
Touching Riley was an addiction.
“You all done?” he asked.
Riley turned in Jack’s hold, the laundry in his hands
crushing between them.
“It’s like these tiny T-shirts multiply,” Riley groused. “I
turn my back for one minute and suddenly there’s another ten of the damn
things.”
Jack smiled up at his husband, at the narrowing of his
beautiful hazel eyes and the stubborn set of his mouth. Then he released his
hold of his waist and instead cradled his face.
“It was your idea to sort out the twins’ old clothes,” he
reminded Riley.
“I wanted to box it away….”
“We can do it together at the weekend.”
“I want to do it today—”
“It’s a Tuesday.” Jack interrupted Riley’s reasons why. “I
thought you said you had that report to read from Tom?”
Riley huffed a little. “I can’t concentrate.”
“So, you’re sorting clothes?”
“Is that a bad thing?” Riley sounded so defensive.
Jack sighed. “What are you avoiding?”
Riley raised an eyebrow, and Jack couldn’t help but press a
kiss to his lips. After all this time together, he had learned these weird
domestic chores Riley undertook were usually a way of avoiding things he didn’t
want to do. Whether it was Riley’s way of thinking about things, or pure
procrastination, Jack didn’t know.
“I have a shareholder meeting the first week of February.”
Riley finally said.
“I know. I got the same letter, but I wasn’t planning on
going. Why will this be different from any other meeting?” Jack was confused.
Hayes Oil meetings were dry and boring, and he’d survived the only two he’d
attended by slouching back in a chair directly opposite Riley. He would eat as
many of the complimentary mints as he could manage and gently disrupt the
meeting by rustling the wrappers. This never failed to make Riley smile. Mostly
Jack conned Josh into going, or gave Riley his proxy. Still, when he did go, he
loved nothing better than insolently lazing around and being all cowboy in the
room full of suits. Inevitably, this led to hot sex with Riley, who couldn’t
keep his eyes off Jack throughout the entire meeting.
“I have something to admit,” Riley said with a sigh. He
eased himself away from Jack and leaned back against the cabinet. “Dad has
appointed this new manager to the team, and we have a history.”
Jack huffed a laugh. “Riley, you have a history with so many
people, I lost count.”
Riley looked affronted for a second, but that emotion didn’t
slip into a ready smile, so Jack realized this was serious. Jack stood next to
Riley and waited for the man he loved, to admit what the hell was going on. In
fact, Riley had been weird for a few days: less quick to smile, less easy to
poke at, in a hurry to go find a quiet space away from everyone.
“Not like that,” Riley said. “The woman’s name is Charlotte
Harrold, and her dad is Josiah.”
Jack nodded. He and Josiah had their own kind of history, one
where Josiah had tried courting Donna and failed, where Josiah looked down at
Jack, and where Jack refused to give a rat’s ass. The fucker had blocked Hayes
Oil on several occasions and didn’t have a high opinion of Riley, nor of Riley
and Jack. Add to that, Tom, Riley’s right-hand man at work, had unfortunately
had a run-in with Josiah Jr., Charlotte’s brother. Too much history between the
Hayes and Harrold families.
“Why would Jim hire her, then?” Jack paused to think about
what he knew concerning Charlotte. “I remember her being a bitch with daddy
issues.”
Riley shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, I asked him, and he
said she’s good at what she does, and that she’s changed, whatever that means.
Oh, and I should give her as much of a chance as people gave me.”
“Cryptic. So you think she’s going to cause trouble.”
Riley looked at Jack sharply. “Hell no. I know her work, and
she’ll be an asset. It’s only….”
Jack tensed. “You slept with her.”
“Jesus, Jack,” Riley said instantly. “No way. She was Jeff’s.
I mean she and Jeff were having an affair. He called her Charlie, and I damn
well walked in on them once. The wedding photos were still wet at the
printer’s, and there he was, fucking around on Lisa.”
“Oh.”
“Yeah, oh. And we’re going to be in the same room as her.
All I can remember is that Jeff was balls-deep in Charlie, and he had his
hands—” Riley demonstrated with his hands in front of him in a ring. “—around
her neck.”
Jack immediately realized what the problem was. The joined
families, whether Campbell or Hayes, had quietly consigned Jeff and everything
he had done to something never to be talked about. Riley never shared cute
childhood stories where he, Eden, and Jeff were friends; no tales of brotherly
misadventures. To Jack’s mind, Jeff had been born a sadistic bastard, and
likely there were a lot of stories Riley hadn’t told him about the kind of
things Jeff had done to both Riley and Eden.
“Seeing her makes you face what he did,” Jack said. He
reached over and held Riley’s hand, lacing their fingers together and
squeezing. This was what he did best. He was there for Riley, supporting him,
holding him up, knowing as much as he needed to know, and still being there for
the man who was his other half.
Riley sighed and bumped shoulders with Jack. “Yeah,” he
whispered.
“So your dad doesn’t know that Jeff and Charlie were…?”
“No. I’m sure I’m the only one.”
“Lisa didn’t know?”
Riley squeezed back. “She always knew he was unfaithful, but
with Charlie, no, I don’t think so.”
For a second, Jack allowed the words to settle. Lisa was
damaged by much more than physical pain. She had a world of hurt where her dead
husband was concerned, not least of which was the end result of what he did to
her. The secret she carried with her was too awful for Jack to contemplate
knowing how she lived with it.
“We don’t see enough of Lisa and the kids,” he said.
That was true. Lisa hadn’t visited in a while. Although to
be fair, whenever Jack and Riley organized a family gathering of any sort, they
always invited her. She’d moved to San Antonio with her fiancé, Ed, and was
building a place for herself and the kids well away from the life she’d had
here. Luke was sixteen, Annabelle coming up for nineteen. They weren’t at the
ranch as often as Josh’s kids. They had lives of their own, but still, Jack was
all about family.
“We’ll get them over, or maybe we’ll go visit them,” Jack
said. He wasn’t going to let Riley focus on this one thing to distract himself
from the central issue. “Back to the meeting. When you sit there, it will be
all business, and if she comes over to talk to you, you smile, nod, and put on
the best goddamn Riley act you can.”
“You’re not planning on being there.”
“I hate them,” Jack said, then he felt guilty. Riley was
clearly concerned about the meeting, and he should make the effort. “I can
try.”
“Don’t say that.” Riley smiled at Jack. “As much as I like
it when you do that ‘I don’t care, I’m a hot, dusty cowboy’ thing, I seriously
think you should stay away.”
“Yeah?”
Riley looked at him again. This time, the shadows had
disappeared from his eyes. “It’s like torture for you.”
“Tell me more about how you like the cowboy thing,” Jack
growled.
Riley grinned. “When you push the chair back and you kind of
sprawl there, with your thumbs in your belt. You smile and nod when you need to
and all I want to do is crawl over the table and ride you right there in the
meeting.”
Jack’s cock swelled and pressed against his jeans. Riley’s
voice was husky and low and sent every molecule of blood south.
“Jesus, Riley.”
“Sometimes you unwrap those stupid little mints, and you
press one to your lips, and then you suck it in.”
“I like the mints.”
“All I can imagine is my cock in your mouth, and I’m so
freaking hard I can’t concentrate on the numbers.”
Jack wriggled to get comfortable, and he had to press his
free hand to his zip to ease some of the pressure. “Like it’s easy for me,” he
muttered. “You in your suit, and those ties you wear, and all I can imagine is
ripping it all off, tying you down and fucking you into tomorrow. That’s the
only reason I go.”
Riley moved so quickly Jack didn’t have time to draw breath.
He straddled Jack and pushed him back on the bed.
“Carol.” Jack mentioned their nanny’s name with the last
remaining moments of having the presence of mind. “People…,” he added as a
warning, as Riley stole his words with the deepest, dirtiest, messiest kiss
he’d had since the last time they’d been in the barn.
Riley pulled back enough so Jack could look into his eyes.
“Barn,” Riley said. “Now.”
Riley scrambled up and away, unbuttoning his jeans and
adjusting himself. “Now,” he repeated.
With determination, they made it out of the house. Hayley
was at school, Max out with Robbie and the horses, the twins were happy with
Carol, so they had nothing to stop them. It didn’t matter it was ten in the
morning, this was happening.

 

NEW RELEASE: FIRST BY KC WELLS

Blurb:

It’s taken Tommy Newsome a while to get his head around being gay.

Growing up in a small town in Georgia hasn’t prepared him for the more liberal life of a student at the university in Athens. Add to that the teachings of his parents and his church, and you have one shy young man who feels out of his depth. Working on his daddy’s farm hasn’t given him any chance of a social life, certainly not one like the clubs of Atlanta have on offer. Not that Tommy feels comfortable when he gets tosample it—Momma’s lectures still ring loudly inside his head.

All that changes when he goes to his first gay bar and sets eyes on Mike Scott.

When Mike’s not behind the bar at Woofs, he’s busy with his life as adult entertainer Scott Masters. Twenty years in the industry and the times, they are a-changing. Mike’s not had much luck in the relationship department, but as his mom is fond of telling him, you keep fishing in the same pond, you’re gonna reel in the same kind of fish. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Excerpt:

TOMMY NEWSOME regarded the exterior of Jungle, his stomach clenched. “I’m not so sure ’bout this, Ben.” The place looked huge, and judging by the number of guys going in there, it was going to be packed. He could already hear the steady pulse of disco music, and that was enough to make his heart beat out a military tattoo in his chest. Dancing… gay guys…. Hell, this was way out of his comfort zone.

 

His roommate laughed. “Don’t tell me you wanna chicken out already? I swear, you must’ve spent your entire first year sitting in your room every night.” He peered intently at Tommy. “Geez. I’m right, aren’t I?”

 

Tommy knew his cheeks were burning. His throat tightened, and the words wouldn’t come.

 

Ben’s laughter died, and he moved closer. “Look, it’s just a club, okay?” He patted Tommy’s arm. “And don’t think for a moment that I don’t know what’s going on in that head of yours. You’re thinking ’bout what your momma would say.”

 

Shit. Tommy’s stomach did a slow roll. “No,” he protested weakly, but he knew it was a lie. Momma’s voice was sounding off in his head, all right. Loud and clear.

 

Ben’s expression grew serious. “Well, your momma isn’t here, and all we’re talking ’bout is spending a night dancing.” His eyes sparkled, and there was a hint of a grin. “Loud disco music and cute boys—what’s not to like about that?”

 

Tommy shook his head. He’d known Benson Cardiff Wellington III since that day back in October of last year when Ben had struck up a conversation in their dorm. There was no way Tommy would’ve had the nerve to make the first move. Ben was everything he wasn’t. Ben’s upper-class upbringing was evident in his clothes and his manner, so far removed from Tommy’s humble origins that they might as well have been born on different planets. Once he’d gotten to know Ben a little, it was clear there were other things about him that were outside of Tommy’s sphere of experience. When Ben had revealed he was bisexual, Tommy had been stunned into silence. As far as he knew, no one in Americus was bi. They wouldn’t dare.

 

“Are we going in or what?”

 

Tommy sighed. Ben had no idea how difficult this was for him. Places like the Jungle were “the Devil’s playground” according to his parents. It wasn’t easy to go against everything he’d been taught his whole life. His momma had always lectured him on the evils of dancing and alcohol. Heaven knew what she’d say about a gay club—his ears would probably bleed after her pontificating.

 

“I promise you, God is not gonna send down a bolt of lightning to smite you the minute you set foot inside, okay?”

 

Ben’s words were laced with humor, but Tommy knew his roommate well enough to know they were uttered with kindness.

 

Enough procrastinating. “Okay.” Tommy took a deep breath and stepped through the door into the lion’s den, Ben leading the way.

 

It wasn’t quite what he’d imagined—it was much, much worse.

 

Music thrummed through the floor, and Tommy hated it. The lighting was low, with colored lights that played over the club’s occupants. Oh yeah—add to that the sight of all those guys, some half dressed, for God’s sake, pressed together on the dance floor. And there were so freakin’ many of them! The place was the size of a warehouse inside, and everywhere he looked, there were bodies: tight T-shirts, bare chests, so much skin on display.

 

“Isn’t this great?” Ben beamed at him.

 

“Yeah,” Tommy lied. It was so far from great it was unreal, but he didn’t want to let Ben down. It had been Ben’s idea to come to the Jungle, and Tommy hadn’t been able to say no. Part of him had been dying of curiosity of course, but now that he was there? Yeah, he’d had enough already.

 

Ben waved to a group of guys on the dance floor who waved back immediately, beckoning him to join them with wide smiles. Ben turned to Tommy. “How ’bout you get us a drink from the bar? I’ll have a bottle of water, okay?” And with that he thrust a rolled up magazine into Tommy’s hand and plunged into the crowd, which swallowed him up in a sea of flesh.

 

Tommy stared at him in astonishment, left standing at the edge of the dancing and feeling more out of place than ever. He didn’t give the small magazine in his hand a second glance but looked around, located the bar, and joined the throng of clubbers who stood waiting to be served. Damn, this place was loud. Tommy had never even heard such music ’til he’d come to college. There’d been nothing like that played on the radio at home, that was for sure. He hadn’t stayed in his room that first year because he’d been feeling antisocial—he just couldn’t cope with the culture shock.

 

Finally he got their drinks and retreated to a corner as far away from the bar and the dance floor as he could get. His senses were overloaded. He sipped his Cherry Coke and tried to relax, but it so wasn’t happening. This just wasn’t him. He watched as Ben cavorted on the dance floor, surrounded by beautiful boys—lean, smooth, and flexible. In spite of his heightened nervous state, Tommy smiled to himself. Ben was in his element.

 

The circular was still in his hand, along with Ben’s bottle of water. Tommy placed his drink and the bottle on the ledge that ran along the wall, and unrolled the circular, glancing at the front cover in surprise at the images of Atlanta Pride. It was a free gay magazine, David Atlanta. Curious, he leafed through it. It seemed innocuous enough: articles and ads for gay businesses in Atlanta. Tommy took his time; he’d never read a gay publication before. He stared at the photos, heart pounding. Suddenly everything seemed that little bit more real. He took a moment to breathe, trying to inject a bit of calm.

 

I’m really in a gay club. He’d fantasized enough about stepping out of his tight little closet. Actually doing it was scary as hell. But he’d done it. He’d finally done it. The thought brought a shiver to his spine, and he quickly gulped some more Cherry Coke before going back to his perusal of the magazine. When he got to the section advertising gay bars, he scanned the page. He stared at the ad for a gay sports bar, Woofs, within spitting distance of his present location. A gay sports bar?

 

His heart raced. He couldn’t walk into a gay bar alone—could he? The mere thought made him break out in a cold sweat, yet that didn’t stop the tingle of anticipation that trickled up and down his back. Do it. Justdo it. Don’t even think about it.

 

“God, you look like you’re having a heart attack. Is it that bad here?” Ben’s wry chuckle brought him swiftly into the present. “I wondered where you’d gotten to. What you doing hiding out over here?” He grabbed the bottle of water next to Tommy’s glass on the ledge and downed half of it in long swallows.

 

Tommy held up the magazine. “Thought I might go see what this place is like,” he said, more calmly than he felt. Inside he was a mess.

 

Ben arched his eyebrows. “Well, good for you, Tommy! Want me to come with, to hold your hand?” He winked.

 

Tommy laughed, the sound false to his ears. “Nah, I’ll be okay.” He was a big boy; he could handle it. Then he had to smile. He was a very big boy.

 

Ben nodded in approval. “Well, you got your ID, right?” Tommy nodded. “Then don’t get too drunk—you’ve got the truck, remember?” He glanced at Tommy’s glass and grinned. “But I guess I don’t have to worry ’bout that, huh?”

 

Shit. Tommy had clean forgotten about that. “How you gonna get back to your place?”

 

Ben waved his hand. “Hey, don’t you go worrying your head about me. I’m sure I’ll manage. And you got a key, right? Besides, who knows where my night will end—or in whose bed.” He waggled his eyebrows. “There’s this one dude over by the bar who is seriously hung.” Ben licked his lips.

 

Heat bloomed in Tommy’s face. He so didn’t want to go there. It was bad enough that he knew Ben went through guys—and girls—like a starving man who’d just come off a strict diet. He didn’t need any images of Ben cluttering up his head. Where was brain bleach when you needed it?

 

“Have a good night.” He patted Ben on the arm and made his way through the tightly packed crowd toward the main door. Once outside he breathed deeply.

 

C’mon, pull yourself together. He took a moment to collect himself and then headed in the direction of his truck. Woofs was only a short drive away. He drove up Piedmont Road, his heart still doing a dance behind his ribs. It had taken him his entire first year at the University of Georgia just to catch up with the rest of his classmates in terms of fitting in. Talk about a fish out of water. Tommy wasn’t sure he’d changed that much from the farm boy who’d arrived just over a year ago, so green, so innocent.

 

Not so innocent now, he mused as he pulled up outside the bar. He took his worn baseball cap from his jacket pocket and put it on. Inside he could hear roars and cheers. There was obviously a game on TV. He stood on the threshold, hands clenched tightly at his sides, knees feeling decidedly wobbly. How long he remained there he had no idea, but the sound of a truck pulling up beside his forced him into action. He pressed his hand against the white door, pushed, and then he was inside.

 

The bar was full of guys standing around little tables or at the bar, and there were several TV screens on the walls. His first thought was that he’d made a mistake. Everyone looked… ordinary, just guys hanging out, watching a football game, yelling at the screens and cheering. He edged his way through the crowded bar that was laid out in a U shape until he got to the far side where there were booths, all occupied. Miraculously, there was an empty stool at the end of the bar near the tabletop video games, and he slid onto it, pulse racing as he looked around. No one gave him a second glance, and he took the opportunity to take in his surroundings, his heartbeat returning to normal.

 

There were three bartenders, one of whom was circulating, taking and delivering orders, and chatting with other customers. One bartender in particular made Tommy’s heart pound a bit harder. He was maybe in his late thirties or early forties, about five nine, and wide across the chest, his upper arms thick with muscle. His hair was cut short, almost a buzz cut, and he had a beard, a little gray showing there. Glasses didn’t hide a pair of blue eyes that were intense, even at a distance. Just looking at him made Tommy’s dick hard.

 

“Hey, you gonna order or what?”

 

With a start, Tommy pulled himself back from his reverie and looked up at the bartender standing in front of him. He was tall, with a Mohawk and tattoos everywhere, a bruiser of a guy with rainbow-colored ear gauges.

 

The bartender smirked. “You back with us?”

 

Tommy’s cheeks were on fire. “A Cherry Coke, please.”

 

One eyebrow lifted. “A Cherry Coke.” He peered at Tommy. “You got ID, honey?” He gave him a flirtatious wink.

 

Nodding, Tommy reached into his pocket for his wallet and handed over the fake ID Ben had procured for him. He tried to keep calm. This was the first time he’d had occasion to use it. He held himself still and kept his eyes on the TV screen, ignoring the bartender while he inspected the card with a smile. When it was handed back to him, Tommy had to fight hard to hide his relief, even though it was plain the bartender’s perusal had been more playful than serious.

 

“Sorry, hon, but you know how fierce they are in this town about underage drinking. I have to askeveryone,” he said with an exaggerated sigh. “I’m sure you’re used to it by now.”

 

“Sure,” Tommy lied, nodding, like this really wasn’t his first time in a bar.

 

“One Cherry Coke, coming up.” The bartender gave him a nod and grabbed a glass. Tommy sagged onto the stool and breathed more evenly. He could deal with this.

 

Until he watched the gorgeous bartender lean across the bar and kiss the customer in front of him squarely on the mouth, then go back to his task of pouring out a beer, grinning, like kissing a guy was nothing out of the ordinary.

 

Shit shit shit…. Just like that, Tommy’s heart was doing its little dance all over again.

 

Then he began to notice things. The guy near the bar who had his arm around another guy’s waist. The third bartender, shorter than the other two and nowhere near as muscular, whose manner was a good deal more effeminate. More guys with their arms around each other. Kisses, just pecks on the cheeks or lips, but yeah, there was definitely kissing going on. He’d been too out of it at the club to notice if there’d been any of that going on, but at such close quarters, it was hard to miss.

 

That was when it really hit home. Tommy was in a gay bar.

 

“Here you go.” The Mohawk guy was back, placing a paper napkin and a tall glass of Cherry Coke in front of him. “You wanna pay for it or set up a tab?”

 

Tommy fumbled clumsily with his wallet, all thumbs, taking out three dollars and handing them over. Mohawk guy nodded and went over to the till. Tommy sipped at the drink, loaded with ice, letting its coolness take away some of the heat from his face. He pulled the cap bill over his eyes and leaned on the bar, observing his fellow customers. More than once his gaze drifted back to the bespectacled bartender, who was laughing and joking with his customers. Now and again he’d raise his eyes to watch the game, joining in the roars and groans of those around him.

 

Who was he trying to kid? Tommy couldn’t take his eyes off him. The man was sex on legs: those muscles, those eyes, that sexy beard…. Then he caught Tommy looking and flashed him a quick grin and a wink.

 

The hair stood up on the back of Tommy’s neck, and his breathing quickened. He felt light-headed, shivery, and hot, all at the same time. What made it worse? The bartender noticed. That grin widened and those intense eyes sparkled.

 

“Hey, Mike, can you check the pump for Blue Moon?” Mohawk guy said to Mr. Sex on Legs. Glugging noises issued from the tap as beer spattered into the glass he was trying to fill.

 

“Sure thing.” Mike gave Tommy a last glance before disappearing behind the bar. Tommy breathed in deeply and took a long swig of Cherry Coke. His physical reaction to Mike had been… powerful, not something he’d ever experienced before. He was still trembling, for God’s sake.

 

Well, if I’d had any doubts about me bein’ gay, that sure blew them all to hell. There’d been no mistaking the lump of stone behind his jeans zipper or the tingle in his balls. Not that he was gonna do anything: Tommy was more than content to sit in the bar ’til they closed, sipping Cherry Coke and enjoying the view.

 

Yeah, acknowledging he was gay was one thing—doing anything with that knowledge was something else entirely. And Tommy wasn’t ready to go down that road just yet. In fact, not for a long while yet.

Available now from Dreamspinner (and in paperback!), Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk and ARe

COMING SOON: SUMMER SEASON BY REBECCA COHEN

Summer Season is now on Dreamspinner’s Coming Soon page

with a lovely new cover by Paul Richmond

SummerSeasonFS

Buylink: Dreamspinner

Blurb: 

A trip down to Cornwall is just what Ryan Penniford needs to recover from the daily grind of London life. Ryan and his amateur dramatics society, the Sarky Players, are traveling to Porthcurno to perform at the stunning Minack Theatre.

Stuart Box has returned to Cornwall after earning his PhD, and is killing time as he looks for a job back in London. Spending time with Ryan from the Sarky Players is a great way to take his mind off things.

During their first meeting, sparks fly, but not in a good way, and they must work to get past their initial hostilities to discover they have great off-stage chemistry. Stuart soon learns Ryan is not the superficial man people assume he is, and Stuart likes what he sees. The feeling is entirely mutual.

Pity Ryan is only visiting for two weeks, but both men want to see where this holiday romance might take them.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

STUART SPLUTTERED as he took a deep breath of sea air. He must’ve been away from Cornwall for too long if the once restorative powers of the sea made him sound like he had bronchitis. He lifted his heavy rucksack into a more comfortable position and set off down the coastal path and away from where he’d asked his friend to drop him.

No one had thought to tell the weather it was meant to be high summer—the gray sky threatened rain. The strong, warm wind buffeted Stuart, despite him being weighed down with the possessions from his now ex-house share. July in Cornwall could be amazing, but not today. The weather gods must be suffering from a hangover and were taking out their annoyance on the inhabitants of Porthcurno. Stuart stepped to one side to let a family of five pass by, the little boy taking great delight in antagonizing his two older sisters with a constant barrage of whys.

He should have asked to be dropped closer to the service road to his mum’s cottage, but he’d been away from the sea for so long and jumped at the chance for a twenty-minute walk following the coast. He hadn’t factored in the heavy rucksack on his back or the way the straps might dig into his shoulders. When would he learn not to romanticize the mundaneness of daily life? Maybe if he’d got his head out of the clouds, he’d have a job rather than be slinking back home to do his job-hunting. His PhD in molecular developmental biology was all very well and good, but it didn’t help his temporary employment chances in the Cornish tourist industry while he looked farther afield for an academic position.

As he approached the bar gate across the path to a small collection of cottages, he saw Malcolm leaning against the gate. “Back again, I see. Big Smoke too smoky for you?”

Malcolm had been a fixture of the village for as long as Stuart could remember. The only thing that seemed to change was the extent of the gray hair on his head and in his beard.

“Not exactly. But it’s always nice to be back by the sea.”

“I dare say you couldn’t have picked a uni farther from the sea if you tried.”

“London’s not quite that bad, Malcolm.”

“Well, your mum’ll be glad to see you. Talks about you all the time.”

“She’s always been one to bore the neighbors.”

Malcolm patted him on the shoulder and opened the gate. Walking toward the cottage brought back a flood of memories from growing up there and playing with Malcolm’s cheeky Tibetan terrier. Shirley, Malcolm’s wife, used to spoil him rotten, making Stuart chocolate chip cookies during their frequent babysitting stints.

“Your mum’s not sent me deaf yet, lad. Even after living next to her for all these years. Speak of the devil, ’ere she comes.”

Moments later Stuart was engulfed, not really caring that some people would consider him too old to be hugged by his mum.

Malcolm chuckled. “Careful there, Fi. You’ll break the lad.”

Fiona pulled away, and Stuart was powerless to stop her pressing a wet kiss to his cheek. “Nonsense, my little man’s made of sterner stuff. He won’t break from a mama cuddle.”

Stuart wiped away the bright pink lipstick, knowing complaining would result in a matching smear on the other cheek. Malcolm waved a good-bye as he headed for his own cottage. Stuart let Fiona lead him inside.

“It’s so lovely to have you home, Stuart. Even the cat’s missed you.”

“If Sprocket’s missed me, then it’s only because she had one less minion to open her food.”

Stuart unbuckled his rucksack, shrugged it off his back, and set it down to rest against the kitchen table leg. The sense of nostalgia hit him hard as he saw nothing in the large kitchen had really changed from his last visit home; a mixture of cooking paraphernalia and the odds and sods that made up Fiona’s craft supplies still cluttered the surfaces. The only difference since his visit last Christmas was a new oil painting above the inglenook fireplace.

“That’s new.”

Fiona glanced over her shoulder as she filled the kettle at the sink. “Oh, that. It was an early birthday present from a friend.”

“Your birthday’s not until September.”

“It’s a good job he gave it me when he did, since we’re not that sort of friends anymore.”

Stuart groaned, opened a cupboard, and grabbed the biscuit barrel before sitting at the table. “He was one of those friends.”

“Yes, if you must know.” Fiona busied herself making a cup of tea. “Nice chap. Bit too clingy at the end.”

“Not another one mistaking a holiday fling for finding his true love?”

“It’s not my fault, Stuart. I can’t help being friendly.”

As long as she was careful, he didn’t mind her being a free spirit. He’d had a long line of “uncles” while growing up, and the majority of them had tried to bribe their way into his affections to get into his mum’s good books, as his extensive Lego collection could testify.

“I know, just be careful.”

“Anyone would think you were the parent, not the other way around.” She laughed as she placed a cup of tea on the table in front of him and ruffled his hair. “Y’know, I’m not exactly a mumsy mum.”

“Who said I wanted one of them?”

“Good job too.”

Stuart knew that Fiona Box had been accused of a lot of things in her time, several of them not so pleasant, but being mumsy wasn’t one of them. She tottered around the kitchen in her high-heeled slingbacks and tight jeans, wearing a long top cinched at the waist by a wide belt. They’d had a blazing row over her dress sense two days after his sixteenth birthday, Stuart embarrassed at having a mum younger than everyone else’s and dressing like it too. One very painful month of seeing her miserable in shapeless cardigans and sensible black trousers made him feel such an arse that he’d apologized. She’d cried, and never again would he ask her to change for his benefit.

Fiona pulled a saucepan out of a cupboard. “Right, what you want to eat? I could do orange dinner?”

“I see your cooking skills haven’t got any better?”

“Nothing wrong with fish fingers, chips, and baked beans… hardly stunted your growth, did it? I thought at one point if you were going to grow any taller, I’d have to have the doors altered.”

“That serves you right for bringing me up in a hobbit’s hole.”

Her mobile vibrated on the table, and she checked it and frowned. “Arse.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I was hoping to give my tickets for tonight to Mel, but she can’t go.”

Stuart fished around in the biscuit barrel in the hope of finding another chocolate digestive. “Why aren’t you going? I thought you went to see all the plays?”

“You’re home. I can’t leave you when you’ve just got back.”

“Bollocks to that.” He claimed the last chocolate biscuit hiding under a garibaldi. “I don’t need a babysitter. I’m sure whoever your date is will be disappointed if you cancel.”

“Cheeky bugger! So you know, I haven’t got a date. I bought those tickets months ago. I’d hate to see them both go to waste.”

“I could come with you… just as long as it’s not a Chekov.”

“Really? I thought you’d have better things to do than want to be seen with your old mum.”

Stuart shrugged. It wasn’t as if he minded going out with his mum, and he hardly knew anyone around Porthcurno anymore. Most of his friends had escaped Cornwall and not come back, except for obligatory family visits. “Since when’s forty-one old?”

“If you’re sure….”

“As I said, as long as it isn’t Chekov…. I couldn’t bear another bloody awful version of The Cherry Orchard.”

“Never fear. It’s Rebecca.”

“That settles it. I’m a good Cornish boy; I like a bit of Du Maurier. And it’ll give me the chance to speak to Mike. I’m hoping that while I’m here for the summer, I’ll be able to volunteer at the theater like I used to. I can’t spend every minute filling in application forms.”

“Lovely.” Fiona beamed. “Oh, will Tim be coming to visit?”

“Subtle, Mum. Real subtle. I told you we weren’t together together.”

“He sounded so nice on the phone.”

Stuart huffed. “He was nice, really sweet, but he was always planning to head off overseas with Médecins Sans Frontières and we were just killing time.”

“Oh. You all right about it, love?”

He’d also come to the conclusion years ago that he had a much more open relationship with his mum than anyone else he knew. She’d bought him his first pack of condoms and tube of lube when he’d told her he was gay. A little early for a fourteen-year-old, but still, her heart was in the right place. At least she waited until he was seventeen to buy him the Gay Kama Sutra.

“Yeah, fine. Tim was never going to be Mr. Forever. I’m happy enough being single for a while. He was probably a bit too nice for me.”

“No such thing as too nice a man.”

“If you say so. Let’s just leave it at he didn’t push my buttons, all right?”

She wrinkled her nose as if deciding whether to continue digging or not. Much to Stuart’s relief, on this occasion she seemed satisfied to leave it be. “Fine. Take your bag upstairs. We’ll head out after dinner… and don’t forget to bring a cushion.”

Stuart drained his mug—the tea was at the perfect temperature to be dealt with in a few gulps—got up, and grabbed his bag. “I’ve been going to the Minack every summer for as long as I can remember. Do you really think I’d pull a rookie mistake like not bringing a cushion?”

ORANGE DINNER always tasted better when cooked by his mum, and he had it as a welcome-home meal every time he returned from university, or when he was younger and having problems at school, or to celebrate the end of exams. True, it was one of the best things she could cook, as the rest of her edible repertoire was usually accompanied by the words “pierce film several times” and gave the time for an eight-hundred-watt model. As Stuart finished dinner, Fiona raced off to redo her makeup. By the time she returned downstairs, he’d washed and was waiting to go, cushion in hand.

“Ready?” she asked, threading hooped earrings into place.

Stuart spotted the stilettos. “You can’t wear those shoes—you’ll break your bloody neck.”

“They’ll be fine.”

“No. I’m not carrying you down the steps when you decide you’ve made a mistake. Put your flats on.”

She grumbled under her breath but didn’t argue, and finally, five minutes later, they were on their way to the theater, and Stuart felt more confident that they wouldn’t have a visit to A & E in their immediate future.

The weather had made a dramatic improvement, the clouds having given way to a clear blue sky. Turning off the path and crossing the car park made Stuart travel back in time to the rose-tinted summers of his childhood, when he was allowed to stay up late because he was going to the theater. Depending on the weather, he’d be decked out in shorts and a thin T-shirt or in full rain gear, but the excitement never waned. He’d tried to explain the Minack to people in London, his enthusiasm possibly more off-putting than inclusive. Only when he’d come across a theater buff or a lucky soul who’d experienced the place themselves did someone understand where he was coming from.

The audience began to file in, making him realize it was later than he’d thought. His mum dug through her huge handbag and handed over their tickets at the entrance. They moved to the left and waited to start the descent of the steep steps to the amphitheater carved out of the cliff face. Stuart was glad of the chance to enjoy the great view of the open-air theater and the Atlantic Ocean stretching out almost endlessly before them.

Fiona stopped dead. “Do you want a choc ice?”

“Don’t stop there, keep going.” He gave her a gentle shove. “I’ll get you an ice cream in the interval.”

People shuffled along the rows of seats, which were nothing more than blocks of stone with a grassy top. Stuart sniggered to himself as he spotted the first-timers, already squirming in their seats, who were ill prepared and would regret the lack of a cushion by the end of the evening. It’d be much worse in a couple of hours when they would have to climb back to the entrance with numb bottoms.

Their seats were quite close to the stage, thanks to Fiona being a Friend of the Minack. As she made small talk with a few people Stuart vaguely recognized, he flicked through the flimsy program, the blurb from an amateur dramatics group somehow hypnotically fascinating—especially as he didn’t want to get embroiled in a conversation about a local petition doing the rounds to complain to the council about the color the rubbish bins in the village had been painted.

Fiona elbowed him. “Are you listening to me?”

“Eh?”

She shook her head. “I said Tanya here knows Mike needs a few extra people to help on Saturday and Sunday if you’re not busy.”

“Oh, sorry, Tanya. I didn’t see you there.” He gave Tanya—who was Mike the theater manager’s sister—his best sheepish smile. “Needs help with a bulky get-in?”

“You know this place too well, Stuart. Always good to have a few people who know their way around during the get-in, particularly for a group new to the Minack.”

“Fresh meat… now there’s a surprise.”

“Cheeky! I know it feels like the same groups come time after time, but we’ve a lot of new ones. The next lot are from Greenwich. Which explains the silly name, I suppose.”

“Oh come, it can’t be as bad as the Norfolk lot… something like the Singing Tractor Men and Women of the Broads.”

“True, but the Sarky Players is a daft name if you ask me.”

Fiona snorted. “After the Cutty Sark, I suppose.”

Her supposition was neither confirmed nor denied, as the rest of the audience fell silent at the cue that the play was about to start. Unfortunately the opening lines were lost on most of the playgoers as a pod of dolphins were spotted in the distance.

NEW RELEASE: TO LOVE A TRAITOR BY JL MERROW

Blurb:

Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal.

When solicitor’s clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it’s with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother his life.

Yet as he gets to know Matthew—an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn’t dimmed his smile—George begins to lose sight of his mission.

As Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding a secret of his own. His true identity—and an act of conscience that shamed his family.

But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George’s desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent—even if it means losing the man he’s come to love.

This is a novel-length expansion of previously published novella.

Available now from SamhainAmazon.comAmazon.co.uk and ARe

NEW RELEASE: TRUST BY SARAH MASTERS

Blurb:

Sometimes, trusting your instincts leads to happiness and love.

After coming out, life took a turn for the worse. I knew people would view me differently, of course I did, but… See, here’s the thing. How does a person cope when a few of their work colleagues play such a cruel trick that it leaves them wondering if they’ll ever trust anyone again? It happened to me, and trusting isn’t something I do easily now.

Until James came along. He’s a work colleague too, but my issue is, I keep thinking he’s playing another trick. You know, reeling me in, making me think he’s a good bloke.

He’s asked me to go out with him, and, although I should maybe get to know him a bit better first, I’ve said I’ll go. I need to get back out there, live a little. And if I get hurt? Well, I’ll just have to deal with it. Again.

But maybe he won’t hurt me. Break my heart and all that. Please God.

Available now at Pride PublishingAmazon.comAmazon.co.uk and ARe

COMING SOON: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DOM IN 5 EASY STEPS BY JOSEPHINE MYLES

Blurb:

Sometimes the little head really does know best.

Jeff White’s needs are simple. All he wants is a submissive to help him explore the dominant side that his ex-girlfriend couldn’t handle. Problem is, inexperience in both dating and domming has resulted in a string of rejections.

What he needs is an experienced sub willing to show him the ins and outs of controlling a scene. Unfortunately, the only one willing to take him on is male, and Jeff is straight. One hundred percent, never-gonna-happen straight.

Easygoing painslut Eddie Powell doesn’t care that Jeff is younger, working class, and shorter. Eddie likes a bit of rough, and Jeff fits the bill perfectly. The trick will be convincing him to follow Eddie’s five-step training programme—which would be easy if Eddie wasn’t starting to have feelings for the rough-around-the-edges landscaper.

Once Jeff lays his hands on Eddie, things definitely get out of hand. But it’ll take more than hot, sweaty, kinky sex to persuade him to come out of the closet—especially to himself.

Available for pre-order now at Samhain

NEW RELEASE (PAPERBACK): FRANKIE & FRIENDS BY SUE BROWN

Blurb:

Frankie’s Series Collection
Frankie & Al

Dumped by his boyfriend, Frankie Mason gets totally trashed and ends his night by falling in front of a taxi. He’s rescued by a man with beautiful green eyes who takes care of him until he’s put into an ambulance, but Frankie fails to get the man’s number. A few days later, he’s dragged out to a club only to be saved by Green Eyes again. This time, he isn’t letting the man go.

Ed & Marchant

Ed is miserable in life and at work, until he meets Marchant Belarus. Marchant, the owner of a BDSM club, realizes Ed is a closeted sub. Marchant tries to draw Ed out of his shell, but nothing helps until he discovers Ed’s secret love of dancing—a forbidden passion that might be the key to unlocking the confident, secure man Ed could be.

Anthony & Leo

Tony is unhappy at not having found a Dom of his own. He thinks he’s too big, too old, and too hairy—until he meets funny, toppy Leo, who also sells sex toys. When tragedy strikes and Leo offers his support, Tony believes Leo is the Dom he’s been looking for… until he catches him kissing another man.

Available now from Dreamspinner