What Are AmberPax™ Collections?

Simply put, AmberPax™ Collections are groups of five stories centered around a specific theme. Each story within an AmberPax™ is released individually, on the same day as the others, and can be purchased separately, but these five stories can also be purchased as a single unit (the full AmberPax™) at a discount, currently 25%. Generally, an AmberPax™ is similar to an "anthology" of stories, but instead of the titles being released in only a single volume (file), they are also available individually. These AmberPax™ Collections are sold exclusively through our website and only in electronic format.

THIS BLOG is for news about the Pax Collections - follow it to keep up with releases, find early news of the upcoming collections, and share Pax fun and chat with the authors!

All Amber Paxes can be bought at Amber Quill HERE.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Heavy Petting 2 Giveaway Winner

What a week! Thank you to everyone who stopped by and discovered a bit more about all our animal stories. This is always a favorite theme for all our authors, so we're thrilled to be able to offer more for you. Since it's Saturday, it's time to pick our giveaway winner. And the winner is...

Susan!

We've got your email address so expect to hear from us soon!

Don't forget to check back with us in December when General Hospital, our doctors and nurses pax, will be out. See you then!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Pet Rocks, You Say? by J.D. Walker

Barry Dunning is a lonely pet stylist who's been burned badly by an ex-boyfriend who left him with tons of debt, and will take years to pay off. His tiny apartment doesn't allow for pets, so Barry paints them on rocks, instead. The furry little charges at his day job are a balm to his soul with their antics and overly anxious owners. But that can only go so far.

Sheldon Svenson, the owner of the animal shelter where Barry volunteers on weekends, has had his eye on Barry since the day he started. He sees something in Barry—aside from the cute factor with having rocks for pets—that makes him want to get to know him better. Barry, however, is skittish, and their first date is a disaster. 

A little persistence pays off, though, and Sheldon and Barry move beyond emotional barriers to find a place where two lonely hearts can beat together.  

Enjoy an excerpt from Of Paws and Pet Rocks.

*_*_*

“Hey, Barry. How’s it going today?”

Sheldon was my height, with a wider build—tall and brawny. He was quite good-looking and confident—the polar opposite of me. If I were in the market for a guy to date, Sheldon, with his white-blond hair and pale blue eyes, would have been at the top of the list. But I knew better than to indulge in wishful thinking. 

I was sure he had his choice of partners, especially since I’d heard through the grapevine that he’d broken up with his longtime boyfriend, Taye. Most of the male volunteers wanted in his pants, but he either didn’t notice, or didn’t care.

“Fine, boss. I’ll be done in another half hour or so.” I had ten more cages to clean.

“I appreciate that, but I wanted to talk to you about something, if you don’t mind.” His tone made me look up at him.

“Something wrong?” He seemed…pensive, for some reason.

“Nothing’s wrong. I just wanted to ask you a favor, that is, if you’d be interested.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “But before I do, you know… You’re the only volunteer who doesn’t call me by my first name. Why is that? Hell, we’re the same age, and I like to have a friendly, laid-back atmosphere at the shelter. Is it something I’ve done? Have I offended you in any way?”

“No!” I bit my lip. “No,” I said in a softer tone. “You’ve done nothing wrong. I didn’t realize—” Though subconsciously, it may have been an attempt to remind me he was off-limits. “I apologize.”

He waved away my apology. “It’s okay. You’re a big part of what we do here, and I consider you a member of the family. Just…remember in future, okay? Can you do that?”

“Sure thing.” I smiled a little and hoped I was convincing enough. He studied me, then nodded.

“Good. Here’s the thing. I was wondering if you’d be interested in doing a grooming clinic here every once in a while, maybe twice a month? You already groom all the animals here and do a wonderful job, I might add. I just thought it might be something potential or existing owners might find helpful. People could bring their own pets, or groom some of the animals we have boarding here. It could draw more attention to the shelter, bring in donations. What do you think?”

It was a no-brainer. “It’s a wonderful idea! Count me in.”

Sheldon grinned. “Excellent! This is going to be awesome.” He rubbed his hands together. “Could you start next Saturday? I’ll put something in the weekly newsletter and add the info to our website.”

“Sure. How about I do the clinic every other Saturday, from now on?”

“Perfect! I’ll get one of the other volunteers to take over your duties while you do the grooming sessions. This means a lot, Barry. Thanks so much.” He gave me an impulsive hug. But once he realized what he was doing, Sheldon stepped back quickly, a slight blush on his face as he turned and practically ran back to his tiny office on the other side of the building. 

Huh.

*_*_*

Of Paws and Pet Rocks by J.D. Walker is now available at Amber Allure.

If you'd like the chance to win the entire pax collection, just leave a comment on today's post. On Saturday, a winner will be picked at random from all the comments made this week on the blog. Comment on all, and that's multiple chances to win!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Night Hag – A Monster by Any Other Name By A.J. Llewellyn

Actor Boris Karloff once observed, “The monster was my best friend.”

It’s easy to see why. Monsters are outcasts. Different. Misunderstood. Just like artists, whether they’re writers, actors, musicians or painters. We put ourselves outside of society, observers of human nature.  For some people, this isn’t such a hard task. For others, the yearning to belong is strong.

Mr. Karloff embraced his wounded misfits, making good money and earning a reputation for being an utter gentleman off camera, and for his sensitive portrayals of some of the most famous monsters of fiction and myth. From the moment he donned Frankenstein’s sometimes painful, bulky costume with its four-inch platform shoes, he became someone, something else.

Frankenstein had a lasting legacy that few know about. The makeup process required to transform him contained harmful ingredients and during his acting career, he took out an insurance policy to guard him from prematurely aging.

Playing the monster however, led to a lasting love for the actor. He never begrudged Frankenstein or any of the other frightening creatures he played.

I thought about him a lot as I created my story, Night Hag for the Amber PAX™ Heavy Petting 2 Anthology stories. In this story, my lead character, Gideon has a little girl some might deem a monster. But is she really? And how do we define what makes a monster?

His adopted daughter, Gretchen is different. She’s had a rough start in life but he’s deeply attached to her and wants to give her everything denied her in her short five years on earth. Gideon sees a lot of himself in her. Gretchen is a loving child and forms a bond with a mysterious but charming 175-pound dog named Renaldo. Gideon’s rather taken by Renaldo’s Dad, children’s book illustrator, Jory Wyatt.

Can these four seeming misfits make a family? Can they work it out?

This is a sequel to my previous Heavy Petting story, Bunyip. The bunyip, named Norman makes a return appearance in this tale, but Night Hag can be read as a standalone.

Which monsters of myth do you cherish? Which ones scare you? Please post a comment to qualify to win the entire Five-story collection of Heavy Petting 2.

*_*_*

Night Hag Synopsis:
The sequel to Amber Allure’s Best Seller Bunyip.
In the idyllic seaside town of Half Moon Bay, just outside of San Francisco, Gideon Hunter has just met the man of his dreams in Jory Wyatt. But how can he start something with Jory when Gideon has a monster of a problem? His newly adopted five-year-old daughter has some issues, and Gideon can’t even begin to cope with her little...idiosyncrasies...let alone fall in love. Not only that, but Jory has a few things to deal with himself. Namely his 175-pound dog Renaldo. Unfortunately, Gretchen has become attached to Renaldo, and the big drooling beast seems to have become smitten with her, too.

Jory has waited a long time for somebody as wonderful as Gideon to move to town. But can Gideon be as amazing as he seems? And is it true what their mutual friend Steve Maddox says about Gideon’s cute yet serious daughter? That she’s some kind of actual monster? Steve should know, especially since he has an unusual creature of his own...Norman the bunyip...

Genres: Gay / Dark Fantasy / Witchcraft / Magic / Paranormal / Action / Adventure 
Heat Level: 3 
Length: Novella (25k words)


*_*_*

If you'd like the chance to win the entire pax collection, just leave a comment on today's post. On Saturday, a winner will be picked at random from all the comments made this week on the blog. Comment on all, and that's multiple chances to win!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Animal Crazy by K.M. Mahoney

I’ve been an animal lover all my life. I grew up on what I guess you could call a hobby farm. We had cats, dogs and a couple of donkeys, raised and bred rabbits and chickens (although the latter I never did like, and the feeling was mutual), and I was very involved with horses. Over the years, I’ve pared down until I now have one lone cat. I’m okay with that, because the farm animals are a crazy amount of work. I don’t miss getting up at seven in the morning, wading through snow and frozen mud, to shovel horse manure. Not. At. All. The real test was in college, though. I lived with my cousin while she went to school to be a vet tech. Quizzing her on diseases, helping her wrap up cats in blankets for examination, drawing blood at the kitchen table, and finding stool samples in the refrigerator—if you can survive that, you can call yourself an animal lover! (But believe me, the fridge got a very thorough disinfecting!)

So when the Heavy Petting pax came along, I had to jump in. Most of my family is animal-crazy, but my dad is definitely not. He likes some, tolerates others, and would rather avoid my cat entirely. It got me thinking. What happens when a guy who could care less about having a pet falls for someone who sits firmly on the far side of the animal-crazy spectrum? Or, in the case of Mike and Riley, how does a guy who can’t even keep his nephew’s hamster alive handle a house full of cats? It’s a disaster ready to happen, but like in all the best stories, true love finds a way! I hope you enjoy your time with Mike, Riley, and the cats as much as I did.

KM

*_*_*

Mike isn’t much of an animal lover. His sister, however, insists that every little boy needs a pet, which is how he finds himself sitting in a veterinary office, trying to explain the facts of life to his six-year-old nephew while holding a dead hamster in a shoebox. It’s not one of his finer moments. So of course, it’s just his luck that in walks the cute, shy, and utterly lust-worthy Riley Laytham. But Mike has never been one to let an opportunity pass him by, no matter how awkward the situation might be.

Riley isn’t used to guys flirting with him, and he definitely didn’t expect it to happen at the local vet office. In the kennels, no less, surrounded by dogs and cats, and under the close scrutiny of one overly inquisitive little boy. Riley’s first instinct is to make his excuses and run, but Mike is persistent.

Their first date is a disaster. They have nothing in common, and Riley’s cats seem determined to end the budding relationship before it can get started. For some reason, though, Mike isn’t running. Now Riley just has to decide if he can make it work with a guy who staunchly declares that he doesn’t like cats.

*_*_*

Learning to Love Cats by K.M. Mahoney is now available at Amber Allure.

If you'd like the chance to win the entire pax collection, just leave a comment on today's post. On Saturday, a winner will be picked at random from all the comments made this week on the blog. Comment on all, and that's multiple chances to win!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Another Excerpt of From the Rubble by T.A. Chase

Hey everyone. This is T.A. Chase and my newest book, From the Rubble, is part of the Heavy Petting 2 PAX that came out on Sunday. I thought I’d share the blurb and a small excerpt from it. I hope you get a chance to check it out.

Ever since watching a search and rescue team find his lost sister, Keaton Goodwin has worked and trained to become a SAR handler. He raises the perfect dogs to work with him, and he loves his job. When he’s called to take his dog, Kaiser, to Bogata, Colombia after a devastating earthquake, Keaton heads out not sure what he’ll find.

And what he doesn’t expect to find is Master Sergeant Nodin Standing Bear.

Nodin’s squad has been sent by the Army to help keep the SAR teams safe during the search and rescue part of the operation. He’s done a lot of this kind of work during his twenty-three years of service, yet there’s something different about Keaton, and Nodin knows a disaster area isn’t the best place to start a relationship.

When Keaton disappears, Nodin has to face how much he really cares about the younger man. Will the emotions they feel amongst the rubble be enough of a foundation to build a future?

Excerpt

An insistent ringing broke through Keaton’s dream and he groaned as he rolled over, not even opening his eyes as he grabbed his phone off the nightstand. 

“Goodwin,” he growled into the phone.

“I need you and Kaiser at the airport ASAP. There was an earthquake in Colombia and they need search and rescue there to look for survivors.” His boss, Connor St. Lawrence, ordered him.

“Yes, sir. We’ll be there in thirty minutes.” 

After hanging up, Keaton tossed his phone on the bed then jumped out from under the covers. Kaiser sat in the doorway, staring at him expectantly.

“Yes, we’re going. I have to get dressed. Go get your leash.”

Kaiser barked once before dashing from the room. Keaton smiled at how eager his companion was. They hadn’t gone on a mission for several months and they were both getting a little antsy. He tugged on his jeans and a long sleeve T-shirt before putting on socks. 

As he stalked from his bedroom, he scooped up his phone. He sent a quick text to his sister, Grace, to let her know what was going on and have her come feed the rest of his animals while he was gone. 

Downstairs, Kaiser sat next to the door, leash in his mouth. Keaton chuckled as he took Kaiser’s harness down from where he hung it after their last training session. He stuffed it into the backpack he’d taken from the front hallway closet. The backpack held two dog dishes, treats, and toys Kaiser loved playing with. After grabbing his to-go duffle that held several changes of clothes, his passport, Kaiser’s health records and toothbrushes. Everything he would need for an extended stay. The search and rescue group Keaton worked with would provide food and water for them. 

He took the leash from Kaiser, but didn’t worry about hooking it to Kaiser’s collar. He’d stay with Keaton until ordered otherwise. They went outside to the truck and Keaton motioned for Kaiser to jump in the back. The dog settled on the seat, his bright gold eyes studying Keaton, trying to figure out what was going on by the small changes in Keaton’s expression or voice.

“Don’t worry, boy. It’s not time yet.” He patted Kaiser on the head before tossing their bags onto the floor. 

After he slid behind the steering wheel, he started the engine then backed it out of the driveway. His phone rang as he turned in the direction of the airport. 

*_*_*

From the Rubble by T.A. Chase is now available at Amber Allure.

If you'd like the chance to win the entire pax collection, just leave a comment on today's post. On Saturday, a winner will be picked at random from all the comments made this week on the blog. Comment on all, and that's multiple chances to win!

Monday, 17 November 2014

More about Crazy Cat Guy by Heidi Champa

Crazy Cat Guy, is, believe it or not, based on a true story. When I heard the tale told to me by a close friend, I knew it would make a fantastic story. With a few tweaks, it became one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written. I love how truth is often stranger than fiction. In this case, it made for such a wonderfully fun and rich story. I hope you enjoy inviting Jacob and his seven cats into your life. Lord knows I enjoyed creating their world a great deal. Here is a bonus excerpt. If you do enjoy the story, please let me know! Oh, and be sure to tell a friend. 


Excerpt

“Sounds like your cats are getting a bit restless.”

I shifted a bit and sat up, even though breaking the contact was the last thing I wanted to do.

“Yeah, they’re not used to being locked up for so long. I…uh, I hadn’t planned on you staying this long.”

He looked up at me and smiled, before leaving his reclined position.

“You can let them out if you want. I should be going anyway. Busy day tomorrow.”

Owen stood and started to dress, and I could tell by looking at him that something had changed. Whatever had brought us back together that evening had disappeared, the room back to awkward silence. I slipped on my jeans and padded down the hall to let the cats out. Once the door opened, they started wandering out, going about their usual routine. Owen was slipping his jacket on when I returned to the living room and had his tie balled up in his hand. He looked at me, his smile stiff and forced.

“So where do we go from here, Owen?” I asked.

He cleared his throat, his face like granite. I would have given anything for him to smile or at least look less mortified.

“Um…well, honestly, I don’t know. I guess I hadn’t really thought about it.”

“Well, we’re running out of time.”

Confusion clouded his eyes as he picked up his briefcase.

“Wait…what?”

“The cats. What do we do next? We didn’t really talk about it.”

He let out a breath and his shoulders dropped an inch. “Oh, right. The cats.”

I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms over my chest.

“Of course the cats. What did you think I was talking about?”

He started mumbling, heading for the door as Hawk and Domsy nosed around his feet.

“Nothing. Anyway, I’m all over this township thing, man. Don’t worry. ”

Stevie picked that moment to meow loudly and plop on the floor in front of me. I sidestepped him, closing the gap between Owen and me.

“What does that mean?”

“Well, I think I’ve found a loophole for you, Jake. One that’ll make this whole thing disappear with the magic of two forms.”

I eyed him, his confidence making me uneasy. “Again, what does that mean?”

He gave his chin a scratch and glanced at his watch.

“It means I’ve done a bit of digging and according to state law, ordinances like this are illegal. Of course, it’s a law no one knows or cares about. But I have a feeling when I bring it to the township’s attention, it’ll be more than enough to end this little charade. I file some paperwork and it’s done.”

He gave me a smug grin before opening the door. A flash of excitement went through me, but it was short-lived.

“And if that doesn’t work?”

“It will.”

“But what if it doesn’t?”

Owen put a hand to my shoulder, and I tried not to freak out.

“You worry too much, Jake.”

As much as part of me wanted to keep the contact, I moved away from his touch.

“Well, I’m the one with something to worry about. If this little game of yours fails, I’m the one in trouble. It’s really easy for you to say ‘don’t worry,’ but I can’t help it.”

His smile disappeared, his whole demeanor changing quickly. “Jesus, Jake, I’m going to take care of this. You need to trust me.”

I started pacing, suddenly overwhelmed with nervous energy.

“I want to, but…”

The next words wouldn’t come out of my mouth, but Owen had no such trouble.

“But you don’t. You don’t trust me.”

I nodded, my eyes on the floor.

“It’s hard to trust someone who broke your heart,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper.

Owen put a finger under my chin and lifted until our eyes met. “I broke your heart? That’s funny because I remember it a bit differently.”

*_*_*

Crazy Cat Guy by Heidi Champa is now available at Amber Allure.

If you'd like the chance to win the entire pax collection, just leave a comment on today's post. On Saturday, a winner will be picked at random from all the comments made this week on the blog. Comment on all, and that's multiple chances to win!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

LATEST PAX RELEASE - Heavy Petting 2

Genres: Gay (M/M) Erotic Romance

The titles listed below comprise the Heavy Petting 2 AmberPax™ Collection. Buy all five together and receive a 35% discount! To purchase any of the titles individually, click on the covers below to go to the books' separate pages. 

Crazy Cat Guy
Crazy Cat Guy
by Heidi Champa
Extended Amber Kiss
(Gay)
From the Rubble
From the Rubble
by T.A. Chase
Novella
(Gay)
Learning to Love Cats
Learning to Love Cats
by K.M. Mahoney
Extended Amber Kiss
(Gay)
Night Hag
Night Hag
by A.J. Llewellyn
Novella
(Gay)
Of Paws and Pet Rocks
Of Paws and Pet Rocks
by J.D. Walker
Extended Amber Kiss
(Gay)

 
In conjunction with our newest release, we will be having a giveaway! Any comment made from today throughout the week (11/16-11/22) will be eligible to win the entire pax collection. A winner will be picked at random on Saturday from all comments received.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Of Paws and Pet Rocks by J.D. Walker

Barry Dunning is a gifted yet lonely pet groomer, fierce animal lover, and the painter of pet rocks, thanks to the lease on his tiny apartment that does not allow for actual pets. He’s been burned badly by an ex-boyfriend who left him with tons of debt, which will take years to pay off, and has built a wall around his wounded heart.

Sheldon Svenson, the handsome owner of the animal shelter where Barry volunteers on weekends, asks him out on a date. Barry—for once taking his sister’s advice—accepts. Dinner starts out well, but when the discussion turns to Barry’s past relationships, he panics and runs away.

Undaunted, Sheldon pursues Barry. But can Sheldon convince the man to risk losing his heart and to give their budding relationship a chance, despite his fears?

Genres: Gay/Contemporary
Heat Level: 2
Length: Extended Amber Kiss (12k words) 


Read a short excerpt...


...“So did you always want to run a shelter?” I asked Sheldon.

“Initially, no. But it turned out to be the perfect thing for me after leaving the messy corporate world behind.”

“Burn out?”

“Maybe. I got tired of the drama. Everybody’s a leg-humper on his way up the ladder. It got old.” He dipped a chip in salsa. “I got out, did some research and decided to open a shelter. It’s something I love and believe in, and it provides a place for animals that wouldn’t have anywhere else to go. And they never judge you, unless they’re cats. That just goes with the territory.”

I smirked. “Yeah, cats are like that. We’re here to serve them, after all.” I drank more of my margarita, then had some chips myself. The more I learned about the man, the more I liked. He was content with his place in the world, and that was attractive to me.

“What about you?” he asked. “Have you always enjoyed grooming animals? Is it your dream job?”

“I don’t know if it’s my dream job, but I’ve always been drawn to them. My sister and I also had pets growing up. In fact, you might even remember Trixie. She came by the shelter a while ago and adopted a beagle—Macy’s her name.”

“I remember Macy. Smart dog. As for your sister…short brown hair, golden brown eyes, lots of personality?”

“That’s her.”

“She had a baby in a stroller—”

“My nephew, Timothy. He’s a year old now.”

“Right. So you’ve always loved animals. How did you become a groomer?”

“I started out on the floor at the pet store when I was nineteen, and became interested in grooming. I got certified and the rest is history.”

“Boyfriends?” he asked, tentatively.

Before I could answer, our food came. I waited until we’d settled in a bit before I continued.

“Until a few years ago, I had infrequent encounters, nothing lasting. My heart probably wasn’t into that scene, anyway. I prefer something more stable, solid. I probably broadcast that vibe everywhere I go, which sends men running in the opposite direction, leaving me dateless.” I took a sip of water. “And then, there was Winslow.”

“Would Winslow be the one who broke your heart?”

“That would be he.” It still hurt to think about it.

“What happened, if I can ask?”

The moment of truth.

“Not much to tell. I fell for his charm and fancied myself in love for the first time, ever. He was the one, I thought to myself. So handsome and attentive, so insistent on having everything in both our names. I was a fool. I should have known it was too good to be true. I mean, how dumb was I?”

Sheldon put down his fork and reached over to lightly touch my hand. “You’re not dumb, Barry. He took advantage of you, your sweet nature. It’s not your fault.”

“That’s kind of you to say, but it is my fault. I was na├»ve. He saw a sucker—a guy desperate for any form of affection—and I bought it all.” I set aside my fork, all appetite gone. “Now, I’m left with debt it will take me years to pay off. The real estate market is shit, too, so the house just sits on the ‘for sale’ listings like a lump.”

“You’ve been through hell, haven’t you?” Sheldon scrutinized me with what seemed dangerously close to pity. Great way to impress your first date in years, Barry...

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Night Hag by A.J. Llewellyn

The sequel to Amber Allure’s Best Seller Bunyip...

In the idyllic seaside town of Half Moon Bay, just outside of San Francisco, Gideon Hunter has just met the man of his dreams in Jory Wyatt. But how can he start something with Jory when Gideon has a monster of a problem? His newly adopted five-year-old daughter has some issues, and Gideon can’t even begin to cope with her little...idiosyncrasies...let alone fall in love. Not only that, but Jory has a few things to deal with himself. Namely his 175-pound dog Renaldo. Unfortunately, Gretchen has become attached to Renaldo, and the big drooling beast seems to have become smitten with her, too.

Jory has waited a long time for somebody as wonderful as Gideon to move to town. But can Gideon be as amazing as he seems? And is it true what their mutual friend Steve Maddox says about Gideon’s cute yet serious daughter? That she’s some kind of actual monster? Steve should know, especially since he has an unusual creature of his own...Norman the bunyip...

Note: Although this story is a sequel to Bunyip, it can be read as a stand-alone story.

Genres: Gay/Dark Fantasy/Witchcraft/Magic/Paranormal/Action/Adventure
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (25k words) 


Read a short excerpt...


...Gideon knew that Gretchen would drift away in no time. He allowed her to watch the movies he’d already seen with her, and which soothed her. Anything with dogs or cats were her favorite, especially if the animals overcame a boo-hiss villain.

When he first took custody of her, she’d been afraid of everything. Frankly, when he learned what he now knew about her, he’d been afraid, too.

“Okay,” he said, as Mary drew forward his favorite rocking chair. He kissed his daughter’s cheek. “I’m just in the living room if you need me, sweetie.”

“I love you, Daddy.”

“Love you, too.” He bent and kissed her again, as Mary leaned back into her chair. She was exhausted, he could tell. He left Gretchen alone with her babysitters and went back to the living room. All conversation seemed to stop. Everybody looked at him.

“Care for a scorpion?” Jory asked him. He sounded strained. “They’re supposed to be drinks that are shared.” Jory rose from his chair by the fireplace and joined Gideon. “But I figured none of us feel cozy enough to share…yet.” He gave Gideon a wink and handed him a cocktail glass. Gideon sipped at it.

“Delicious.” He found himself a seat near Jory, beside Louis, who was practically licking his near-empty glass.

Gideon felt the lethal cocktail hit him in a pleasant way. Maybe he shouldn’t drink, in case the police showed up to arrest the Browns.

“Man,” Alun suddenly said. “I thought I had an unusual pet. Is what Steve told us true, Gideon?”

Gideon froze, his glass at his lips. The hairs on the back of his neck bristled. What the hell had Steve been telling them? He was aware of everybody’s gaze on him, and locked glances with Jory, who gave him a sympathetic smile.

“I don’t know.” Gideon hoped he’d been able to disguise his fury. “What did Steve tell you?”

Louis Brown looked like an excited rabbit, his nose twitching a little. Oh, God. What the hell had Steve done?

Steve flapped his hand. “Sweetie, I was just telling them that I think you’re a little bit in denial about Gretchen.”

“Denial? Who me?” Gideon was desperate enough to attempt a pathetic joke. “Isn’t that a river in Egypt?”

“Oh, God.” Steve shook his head. “You need to face facts. You have to admit what she is.”

Gideon shook his head. This was worse than the time his Aunt Marie outed him at his sister’s sweet sixteen birthday party.

“You have to admit what she is,” Steve repeated.

Have another scorpion, Steve. Sheesh. Gideon tried to avoid the avid stares of every man in the room. Harriet looked mesmerized.

“Well, you said she isn’t an animal, and she’s not human, so what is she?” asked Hugh, lifting his head from the scorpion that sloshed over the rim of his glass, through his fingers, and onto the hardwood floor.

“She’s a monster, that’s what she is.” Steve nodded vigorously. “She’s a little monster...”

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Learning to Love Cats by K.M. Mahoney

Mike isn’t much of an animal lover. His sister, however, insists that every little boy needs a pet, which is how he finds himself sitting in a veterinary office, trying to explain the facts of life to his six-year-old nephew while holding a dead hamster in a shoebox. It’s not one of his finer moments. So of course, it’s just his luck that in walks the cute, shy, and utterly lust-worthy Riley Laytham. But Mike has never been one to let an opportunity pass him by, no matter how awkward the situation might be.

Riley isn’t used to guys flirting with him, and he definitely didn’t expect it to happen at the local vet office. In the kennels, no less, surrounded by dogs and cats, and under the close scrutiny of one overly inquisitive little boy. Riley’s first instinct is to make his excuses and run, but Mike is persistent.

Their first date is a disaster. They have nothing in common, and Riley’s cats seem determined to end the budding relationship before it can get started. For some reason, though, Mike isn’t running. Now Riley just has to decide if he can make it work with a guy who staunchly declares that he doesn’t like cats.

Genres: Gay/Contemporary
Heat Level: 2
Length: Extended Amber Kiss (16k words) 


Read a short excerpt...


...Mike turned the business card over between his fingers, tapping the edge on the top of his desk with each rotation. He didn’t need to look at the numbers printed in tiny black script. For some unknown reason, he’d memorized them.

“You’re being ridiculous,” he scolded himself sternly. The sudden sound of his voice was loud in the deserted room and Mike glanced around warily. The rest of the guys had gone home already, though.

The small contracting business Mike ran only employed a handful of guys, but they all took great delight in teasing their boss. He was glad they weren’t around anymore to hear him talking to himself in the empty trailer that served as his office.

Ever since that visit to the vet, Mike hadn’t been able to get Riley out of his head. There wasn’t anything overtly special about him. Average height, brown hair and eyes. Kind of skinny. But he had been appealing in a strange way, despite being shy and sweet, which was normally not Mike’s type. The messy hair had begged to be touched, and Mike couldn’t stop wondering what the dark eyes would look like lit with laughter.

Mike had wanted to ask the vet about Riley, but had managed to refrain. He was pretty certain there had been interest in Riley’s eyes, and he would swear that those same eyes had strayed a couple of times to Mike’s ass. Anyway, even if Mike had misread the signals, he had a completely legitimate reason for calling. Transparent though it might be.

The business card in his hand displayed more than a phone number. Above the words in fancy script was written “Orchard Meadows Cattery” and underneath that, the font barely large enough to read, the card said “Norwegian Forest Cat Registered Breeder.” The word “cattery” brought to mind some really strange images, and Mike didn’t have the slightest clue what a Norwegian Forest Cat was.

Before Mike could drive himself any further along the road to insanity, he snagged his cell phone and typed in the number.

“Orchard Meadows.”

“Riley?” Damn, that voice was as sexy as Mike had remembered. He hadn’t thought that was possible. “This is Mike. We met—”

“At the vet, sure.” Was it Mike’s imagination, or did Riley’s voice warm with welcome? “What can I do for you?”

“It looks like I’m in the market for a cat.”

“Don’t sound so enthusiastic about the prospect.” Riley laughed, the rich sound sending a deep tug through Mike’s groin.

“Sorry. I’m not real fond of fuzzy critters.” Mike wondered briefly if he should have admitted that to a guy who raised cats, then forged ahead. “My sister thinks all little boys should have pets. I’m apparently not responsible enough for a hamster, so a cat it is.”

“Not that I want to discourage an interested buy,” Riley said, “but you’d probably be better off going down to the nearest shelter. Purebred cats don’t come cheap, especially the uncommon ones like my Norwegians.”

How expensive could a cat be? “I’d like to come out and take a look, anyway, if that’s possible.”

“Sure.” Something in the tone of Riley’s voice told Mike he wasn’t fooling anyone. Wanting to see Riley again had very little to do with cats. “I’m free this afternoon. Got a pen?...”

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

From the Rubble by T.A. Chase

Ever since watching a search and rescue team find his lost sister, Keaton Goodwin has worked and trained to become a SAR handler. He raises the perfect dogs to work with him, and he loves his job. When he’s called to take his dog, Kaiser, to Bogata, Colombia after a devastating earthquake, Keaton heads out not sure what he’ll find.

And what he doesn’t expect to find is Master Sergeant Nodin Standing Bear.

Nodin’s squad has been sent by the Army to help keep the SAR teams safe during the search and rescue part of the operation. He’s done a lot of this kind of work during his twenty-three years of service, yet there’s something different about Keaton, and Nodin knows a disaster area isn’t the best place to start a relationship.

When Keaton disappears, Nodin has to face how much he really cares about the younger man. Will the emotions they feel amongst the rubble be enough of a foundation to build a future?

Genres: Gay/Contemporary/Action/Adventure
Heat Level: 2
Length: Novella (23k words) 


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...“Master Sergeant Standing Bear.”

“Yes, sir.” Nodin saluted as his platoon commander approached him.

“We’ll be going wheels up in ten to fly to Colombia. Get your men on the plane and secure.” Adamson looked grim, and Nodin knew that whatever had happened in Colombia was serious. “I’ll brief everyone once we’re in the air.”

“Yes, sir.”

Nodin waited until Adamson had moved on before addressing his squad. “Let’s get on the plane and secure our packs.”

“Do you know what’s going on, Sarge?” Hernandez asked.

He shook his head. “No, I don’t. We’ll find out once we’re airborne.”

His men knew better than to ask him again, so they grabbed their rucks and climbed aboard the plane. They all settled in their spots after securing their packs for the flight. Nodin watched as the other squads came aboard and took their places. Once everyone was settled, Adamson gestured for all the NCOs to come forward to where he stood.

“Bogota has been devastated by a seven-point-eight earthquake an hour ago. The US is sending several units to help support the Colombian military. Our job will be to safeguard the SAR teams flying in to search the rubble for survivors. We all know how dangerous this can be. Not only are the cartels going to try shit, but once we get beyond a certain point in time, the civilians will become desperate as well.” Adamson grimaced. “We have to make sure the people and their dogs aren’t kidnapped or killed. We’re to keep them safe.”

Nodin nodded. His squad had done this kind of protection detail before in other emergencies around the world, but he had to admit this might be one of the most dangerous ones. The cartels weren’t frightened of the military, and their presence wouldn’t mean as much in Colombia as it did elsewhere in the world. Yet he and his men would do their best to keep the SAR teams safe.

“Once we land and get oriented, we’ll go to the temporary base. After all the SAR teams arrive, I’ll talk with their boss to work out the teams and grid searches,” Adamson informed them. “Now get buckled in and we’ll take off. This is going to be a hard mission, men, and we have to make sure everyone gets home alive and unhurt.”

“Yes, sir,” they said, before rejoining their squads.

After taking his seat, Nodin got situated, then touched the bear claw that hung around his neck. He said a silent prayer to the Higher Being he believed in to keep everyone—the victims and the rescue workers—safe in the weeks to come.

There would be aftershocks for months after the main event, and he only hoped they wouldn’t be big ones. Those could cause as much damage as the original quake did, and he knew there would be a lot of unstable buildings needing to be shored up or demolished, depending on the amount of damage done.

His phone vibrated, causing him to pull it out to check it. He smiled when he saw it was a text from his sister. He slid his finger across the screen before typing in his password to unlock it. Scrolling through the texts he’d gotten, he found the new one from his sister.

Will take Harper home with me. Be safe and call if/when you can.

Relaxing slightly at the knowledge his cat would be taken care of, Nodin sent a quick thank you back to her before turning his phone off. There wasn’t any point in having it on while in Colombia. First of all, he didn’t have international service on it. Second of all, cell service and coverage had probably been interrupted by from the disaster.

“Sarge, are they sending in some of the US SAR teams?” one of his men asked as the pilot started to fire up the engines.

“I’m sure they are. We’ll find out more when we get there.”

The man nodded, and Nodin checked over the other guys in his squad before pulling his earbuds out of his pocket and popping them in. He turned on his iPod, letting the music flow into his mind. The noise and vibration of the plane grew louder as they got ready to take off. He was used to the traveling, though the few times he’d gotten to fly commercial, Nodin had enjoyed the comfort...

Monday, 10 November 2014

Crazy Cat Guy by Heidi Champa

Jacob Danby loves cats. He makes room in his home and heart for seven of them, all strays and rescues. Unfortunately, his lawyer ex-boyfriend, Owen, didn’t share the same affinity for the pitter-patter of cat paws. When Owen presented Jacob with an ultimatum, the cats or their relationship, Jacob had no choice but to pick his pets.

When Jacob finds out that having so many cats puts him in violation of a town ordinance, he reluctantly turns to Owen for legal help. Can Jacob find a way to trust Owen again, or will his pride cost him more than just his beloved cats?

Genres: Gay/Contemporary
Heat Level: 3
Length: Extended Amber Kiss (13k words) 


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...Owen’s smile turned my heart over and I had to look away. My eyes fixed on the television, which I’d forgotten to turn off. It was muted, but it gave me something to focus on that wasn’t my ex-boyfriend.

“One of the things I love about you, Jake. Your sense of humor.”

His words were like salt on my wounds, yet another reminder of all I’d been forced to give up. I had to change the subject…and fast. Shuffling a few inches away from him, I tried to get back to business. Picking up the paper he’d given me, I pretended to study it to give me something to do.

“Right. Anyway, so what’s the next step?”

Owen grabbed the sheet from me and set it aside.

“This,” he said.

And, before I could say another word, he kissed me. All good sense left me and I didn’t do the right thing. I didn’t stop him. As much as I knew I should, I just couldn’t. I missed him too much and it felt too good. My rational mind only returned when I felt something brush against my leg. My attention was stolen and when I looked, Hawk was staring up at me, his tail swaying slowly. I looked at Owen, expecting a scowl, but instead he reached down and gave Hawk a scratch behind the ears.

“I’m sorry, Owen. I have no idea how he got out, but the others won’t be far behind. I’ll be right back.”

I stood, but he yanked me by the wrist, his lips back on mine.

“Hurry back,” he said, his thumb tracing gently over my cheek.

I scooped up Hawk and by the time I got to the hall, as I suspected, the rest of the brood was starting to emerge. Getting them back inside took longer than it should have. They all thought it was some kind of game, running past me so I had to chase after them. Part of me was happy for the distraction, taking my time getting each of the cats back into the spare room. The situation in the living room was far more complicated than herding cats. I shut the door and when I turned around, Owen was standing there.

“I thought I’d see if you needed any help,” he said, as he leaned on the wall.

“No, I’m good. It’s all under control. I have no idea how they did that. God help me if they’ve learned to use doorknobs. I’m already outnumbered. I can’t have them being smarter than me, too.”

Owen chuckled before grabbing the front of my shirt and pulling me close.

“They always were so good at interrupting us. Some things never change, I guess.”

“Owen, I think—”

The rest of my sentence was stolen by his kiss, my back hitting the wall as he pressed against me. His fingers went to my buttons, getting two open before I stopped him, clutching his hands in mine.

“What’s wrong, Jake?”

My confusion rendered me silent for a few moments before I found the right words.

“Um, I guess I’m wondering what we’re doing?”

His fingers went back to work, and despite my logical brain screaming for me to see reason, I let him do it. After he was done with mine, he opened his crisp white shirt and pulled me to him.

“We’re kissing...”