Book Blitz & Excerpt: Resisting the Dream + Giveaway

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Resisting the Dream, by Ann Marie James

Book 3 in the Everyone’s Mechanic series

Word Count: 57,607
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 233

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI

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Book Description

Nikolai is the fun-loving, flamboyant cousin of Sergei Barinov. He doesn’t know a lot about cars but is happy working as the desk person at Everyone’s Mechanic while he completes his doctorate in finance and accounting. While his parents never accepted who he was, he at least had Cousin Sergei’s family to love and support him. Comfortable in his own skin, he dresses according to his mood, which could be a skirt and makeup or sweatpants. He has crushed on Brandon since he met him but has never been able to be around him without doing something embarrassing. He would love a chance to show Brandon that he’s not just style without substance.

Brandon began interning with Sergei’s company in college and has since worked his way up to be his right-hand man. He is very regimented, likes his routines and needs to stay focused to complete his many duties for Sergei. Brandon is also balancing secretly raising his now-fifteen-year-old brother. He has watched from afar as Nikolai went from being a gangly, awkward teenager to a stunning adult. Brandon might wish he could take the time to get to know Nikolai better, but he doesn’t feel he can add one more thing to his already-full plate.

When Sergei tasks the pair to work together to plan an LGBTQ youth center, sparks fly. Will they decide to take a chance—or will outside forces ruin the possibility before they can even get started?

Reader advisory: This book makes references to addiction, alcohol, attempted violence and drug use.


Excerpt

 

“You have a bruise on your cheek. What the hell happened?”

“Would you believe I ran into a door?”

Sergei widened his stance and put his hands on his hips, giving Nikolai his sternest stare. Nikolai rushed to explain. “Seriously, I saw Brandon going into your building yesterday afternoon as I was leaving, and I was so busy watching him that I ran right into the doorjamb.” Nikolai grimaced. “Not my finest moment, to be sure.”

Sergei’s stern expression morphed into an amused one and he coughed into his hand while avoiding eye contact with Nikolai. When their gazes met, Sergei lost the fight and laughed until he had tears running down his face and had to lean against the counter to support himself.

Nikolai shook his head in disgust at his cousin’s antics. “Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up. You do realize you probably just got grease on your suit, right?” Working at a garage had its advantages, including the apartment he was able to rent above the business, but spic and span cleanliness was not one of those perks. Oh, the owner, Kirk, ran a tight ship and everything was as clean as possible, but it was still a garage. It was Nikolai’s turn to laugh as Sergei looked down at himself to search for dirt on his custom suit.

Sergei took a swipe at his jacket before shrugging and looking back at Nikolai.

“So, why are you here?”

“I need a favor.”

“I figured.” Nikolai made a rolling hand gesture to try to encourage Sergei to spit it out.

Sergei’s forehead furrowed. “I’m a little concerned, though, that you won’t be able to complete this favor without causing yourself bodily harm.”

“What? Why?”

“I need you to work with Brandon on a project.”

“You need me to work with your personal assistant, Brandon Whitaker, on a project? But he hates me.”

“He doesn’t hate you.”

“Doesn’t know what to do with me then?”

Sergei shrugged one of his massive shoulders as Nikolai wished for the thousandth time that he had gotten some of Sergei’s six-foot-plus height and size. Alas, he was stuck at a measly, svelte five-foot-seven. “I can’t deny that. You confuse him, for sure, but he does respect you. He loves the reports you set up for him while you were interning last summer.”

“He was shocked I could even do spreadsheets and reports, though. He thinks I’m an idiot.”

“Only because you turn into a nervous klutz whenever he is around. A doorjamb? Really?”

“What? There’s something about him that does it for me—brown hair, brown eyes, six feet tall, those broad shoulders… Yum. What’s not to love? I know intellectually that nothing will ever come of it. Have you seen the women who come to meet him for lunch?”

“Yes, I have, and I also know none of them last more than a month.”

“He’s not gay. The number of women he takes out makes that very clear.”

“I don’t think he’s as straight as he pretends to be.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean he watches you when you aren’t looking.”

Nikolai waved his hand in the air. “He’s just trying to figure me out. As you said, I confuse him. He’s not a man who likes to be confused. He’s the man with a plan for everything.”

“Exactly my point—and I don’t think he planned for you.”

“Whatever. What is it you needed me to work on with Brandon?”

“I would like you guys to work on plans for an LGBTQ center—a place where teens can come to either hang out or to get help, counseling, the whole nine yards. I want to offer classes as well—financial ones like budgeting and checkbook balancing as well as cooking and other basics. Maybe you can talk to some of the instructors at that dojo you go to and see if they would teach some self-defense classes too. The statistics for homeless youth—especially gay homeless youth—are scary, and I want to do something about it. It will be open to all but mainly to support the community.”

Nikolai was getting excited about the project. The center was something that was desperately needed there in Raleigh and elsewhere. He felt a slight twinge at Sergei’s casual dismissal of his time spent at the dojo. He wasn’t sure what his family thought he did there three-to-five days a week, but obviously it wasn’t learning any of the skills they taught, but that was partly his fault as he’d never told them when he’d received his different color belts. It was something private for him.

He was snapped out of his ponderings by the ding of the door sensor as someone else came in. He opened his eyes wide when he realized it was Brandon. He went to stand, the chair slipped back too fast and he almost fell, catching himself with a hand on the desk, just in time. Nikolai flushed with mortification as his cheeks got hot and he ducked his head, pretending to search for something on his desk in a sad attempt to seem like he had everything under control. Snagging a pencil, Nikolai pulled his long, wavy blond hair up in a messy bun on top of his head, and shoved the pencil in to secure it.

He glanced up after a moment to find Sergei staring at him in exasperation then turning to greet Brandon. “Hey, Brandon, thanks for giving me a minute with Nikolai before coming in. Nikolai is really excited about the project.”

Nikolai took a deep breath to compose himself then turned to face Brandon. “Nice to see you again, Brandon. This should be an interesting project. I look forward to working with you on it.” There. That wasn’t too psycho.

“Yeah. It will be a challenge, but I think we can come up with something great. I know you’re pretty busy with school and here, so when do you think we can meet to get started?”

“Well, I’ve already successfully defended my thesis, so my load at school is pretty light. I’m just waiting on graduation now.”

Sergei’s gaze snapped back to Nikolai. “Wait! When did that happen?”

“A couple of weeks ago,” Nikolai said with a shrug.

“Why didn’t you say anything? We should have celebrated.”

“Well, first you were in London at that big conference, then you hibernated with your hubby for the weekend and didn’t come to family dinner. It just kind of got lost in the shuffle.”

“Did your family go to your thesis defense, at least?” Sergei asked, frowning.

Nikolai couldn’t quite hide his grimace. “Um, your parents and Sasha came. My parents couldn’t make it. It wasn’t a big deal.” Nikolai didn’t even believe himself, so he knew Sergei didn’t.

“We’ll discuss this later.”

“Nothing to discuss.”

Sergei scowled at him. “There’s a lot to discuss, but first, do you definitely want in on this project?”

“Of course, I’m in. It’s important.”

“Agreed. So, when are you available to meet on it?”

“I have sessions at the dojo tonight and tomorrow morning, but I’m free after that. I know tomorrow’s Saturday, so we can postpone to next week if you guys need to.”

“Saturday afternoon works for me. What about you Brandon?”

“Yep. That works. I have somewhere to be in the morning as well, but I will be free about noon.”

“Great. How about we meet at my house then? I’ll feed you all lunch.”

“Sounds good,” Brandon and Nikolai answered together. Nikolai could only shake his head at himself after the bolt of arousal that went through his system when he made brief eye contact with Brandon’s brown-eyed gaze. He hazarded a small smile at the man, but Brandon didn’t respond, instead breaking the connection and turning toward Sergei. “Okay. Glad that’s settled. We need to get moving. We have that meeting at two o’clock with the planning commissioner about your new property on Fayette Street.” Brandon then turned and walked out of the door after a head nod to Nikolai.

“Plan to stay after the meeting to continue our discussion about your thesis defense.”

“It really wasn’t a big deal, Sergei. You know my family doesn’t understand or approve of me and my ways.” Nikolai put air quotes around the ‘my ways’, as it was a common phrase from his mother. His mother and father were not the warm and supportive parents that Sergei’s were. Nikolai’s father was very much about toxic masculinity and a woman knowing her place in the world. Nikolai did not fit his father’s definition of a good son at all, so he was ignored—and that was fine with him. It really was, but Sergei never understood, mainly because Nikolai’s father was always on his best behavior whenever Sergei was around, thinking he could use his connection with Sergei for his own needs in some way.

The truth was—and one his father would never admit—that Nikolai’s father was both scared and jealous in equal parts of Sergei’s power. He felt that as the older Barinov male, he should have been the one to have the influence and wealth that Sergei had accumulated and that Sergei should seek his council like he was smarter, because of his age. Sergei was actually one of the most intelligent people Nikolai knew, and that was saying something because Nikolai had been going to school forever.

Sergei was also one of the hardest-working people he knew, with Brandon being right up there with him. Brandon was truly Sergei’s right-hand man, and Nikolai wasn’t saying that because he had a major crush on the man either. Part of the reason he had such a crush on him was because he worked so hard and was so dedicated to Sergei. Nikolai’s father was lazy and dedicated only to himself. Sad, but true.

Sergei interrupted his thoughts, and Nikolai scrambled to remember what they were talking about. “Not. The. Point. I don’t care how your parents feel about things. This is about communication between you and me. We will discuss it Saturday. Da?”

“Da, Sergei,” Nikolai conceded grudgingly.

“Good. I will see you tomorrow.” Sergei then followed Brandon out of the door.

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About the Author

Ann Marie James

Ann Marie James is fluent in two languages, English and sarcasm. She believes that you will never learn anything new if you don’t read as much as you can, and/or talk to every stranger you meet. She always looks for the best in people and to treat people the way she wants to be treated. Above all Ann Marie believes in love, whatever form it takes. Relationships are hard, love is the glue that keeps it together.

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Notice:

This competition ends on 5TH October 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group

Spotlight & Excerpt: Starting Over in Cedarwood + Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Megan Slayer will be awarding a prize pack featuring a necklace made by the author to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Starting Over in Cedarwood
By Megan Slayer
Genre: Contemporary LGBTQ Erotic Romance

Starting over might just bring them the love they deserve.

Shaun Fallows came to Cedarwood to start over. He wants to be done with dating, but the moment he sees Kevin, the sparks are off the charts. He can’t get the sexy man off his mind. So much for not wanting to get involved. Kevin is the man of his dreams. Can he convince Kevin to give him a try or will the romance end before it gets the chance to begin?

Besides, there’s the small issue of Kevin’s cat…

Kevin Keiser did the dating thing and ended up burned. One of the few bright spots in his life is his cat, Leo. The animal might be a bit prickly, but he’s been a good meter for who Kevin should date and who he should avoid. He wants a boyfriend who isn’t put off by his pet. Shaun sure seems to fit the bill. Is he just another man or the love Kevin’s been waiting for?

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Read an Excerpt

©2021 MeganSlayer All Rights Reserved

“Excuse me. Do you have soggy buns, too?”

Shaun froze, then looked at Cara, who’d gone pale. She hadn’t been the one to ask the question and the speaker didn’t sound like Warrick. Shaun turned his attention to the one who had spoken. Kevin. Shaun’s breath lodged in his throat. The man was even more handsome up close. Shaun noted the sprinkling of hairs on Kevin’s cheeks and the lines crinkling at the corners of his eyes. Were those flecks of silver at his temples, too?

Kevin cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. The other table is complaining about the buns being subpar. Are your dining choices up to your standards?”

“Uh…” Shaun had to sound intelligent, not silly, but he couldn’t manage to form a normal sentence.

“They’re great,” Cara said. “Thank you.”

“Are you sure? We’re here to provide a fine dining experience,” Kevin said. “At decent prices.”

“You sound like you’re a walking advertisement,” Shaun managed. He balled his hand on his thigh under the table and drew in a deep breath to center himself. He’d never had problems talking to guys before now. “I don’t think our buns are soggy.” He smiled and met Kevin’s gaze. “But I would like to ask you a question.” Christ. Confidence, don’t fail me now.

“Do you need more ketchup? Some of the bottles are low.” Kevin shook his head, then reached across the table to retrieve the bottle. “I let Buzz handle it and he only filled about half of them.”

“No.” Shaun touched Kevin’s forearm, stopping him. The move also sent tingles along Shaun’s nerve endings. His synapses stood at full alert. “I… Would you like to grab a beer sometime?”

“Oh.” Kevin froze and confusion clouded his eyes. “You want to go out with me?”

“I do.” Shaun mustered his confidence. “I know it’s a strange time to ask you that, but I wasn’t sure if I’d get to see you again. It’s just beers or coffee, but I’d like to go out sometime with you.” Christ. He’d managed to stumble over everything he’d just said.

“Uh, sure.” Kevin stood at his full height and clasped his hands together. “But you’re sure you’re happy with the food?”

“Very.” Shaun scrawled his number on a piece of paper. “Call me when you’re free. I’d like to buy you that beer or coffee.”

Kevin tipped his head and a slight smile curled on his lips. A crooked smile. “I will.”

When Kevin walked away, Shaun considered what he’d done. “I asked him out.”


About the Author:

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and white hot themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM and Best Anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.

Find out more about Megan on her website, and sign up for the newsletter here. You can also check out her Blog, Amazon Author Page, Bookbub and Instagram.

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Mountain of Flame + Giveaway

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On Tour with Prism Book Tours
We’re celebrating the release of the third book in the Gems of Fire series, Mountain of Flame! Today, the author shares an excerpt from the third book Mountain of Flame. If you missed her character interview with Anna, you can read that HERE. She also shared an excerpt from the second book Valley of Bones HERE. Plus, there’s a giveaway to enter below. Enjoy!

Gems of Fire
(Gems of Fire #1)
By Diane E. Samson
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback, ebook & audiobook, 276 Pages
November 6, 2018 by Clean Reads

Palace of Sunderland. Paradise to the peasants. Prison to sixteen-year-old Anna, daughter of the king. She can never escape the castle’s cold walls and scorning disapproval of her father and his brute royal counsel, Seamus. She’ll always live in the shadow of her late mother, the queen. Will they ever see her for who she really is?

A riding accident lands Anna in the hands of traders who sell her as a slave in distant Kasdod to none other than her father’s enemy, Lord Anwar. After overhearing a dangerous plot to conquer Sunderland and kill the royal family, Anna must escape and warn her father, even if it means facing her greatest enemy.

With the doom looming over her, Anna is approached by a dangerous man in the dark. He claims to want to help her, but can she trust him with her secrets? The perils of the journey ahead will push Anna to the limit and answer the one question that has always plagued her…

Will she ever be enough?

Praise for the Book

“What an exciting book to read. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The characters were very well developed, and it made me cheer for them all the way through. The cover is very dramatic and fits very well with the story. Great read.” – Goodreads Reviewer

“One Tough Princess…A princess who despite great suffering never gives up. I really loved Anna’s determination and heart. You’ll find adventure, high stakes and romance in the midst of such horrible circumstances. A solid plot with a story that stayed with me.” – Amazon Reviewer

“A breathtaking journey into royal courts, slavery, escape, war, and love. This book has it all…” – Amazon Reviewer

 

(Affiliate links included.)

Valley of Bones
(Gems of Fire #2)
By Diane E. Samson
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 370 Pages
February 13, 2021 by Diane E. Samson

 

Princess Anna is left to rule Sunderland as regent when her father, brother and her presumed fiancé Jack ride to battle devouring creatures in Jack’s home kingdom of Oclen. She must establish herself as a strong leader with the Sunderland council and a neighboring king who brings along two handsome princes to negotiate an alliance.

Trouble erupts as outlining Sunderland villages are attacked by pillaging marauders and the council loses confidence in Anna’s leadership. As Anna waits in trepidation for word from her father’s army, all she hears is silence. Her scouts never return. When the reports of a coming horror reach Anna, she forges an unlikely alliance and forgoes her father’s long-standing policies against gems of power. She trains Sunderland’s remaining soldiers to fight with gems. She’ll lead them to battle to rescue her family and the one she loves.

But first she must survive the treachery brewing in her own court.

(Affiliate links included.)


 

Mountain of Flame
(Gems of Fire #3)
By Diane E. Samson
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 450 Pages

August 4, 2021 by Diane E. Samson

Reeling from Jack becoming king of Oclen, Princess Anna returns home as Sunderland’s Defender. Earning her title was a hard-fought honor, but Anna can’t escape the guilt of leaving Jack alone in that cursed, starving place.

When Jack comes to Sunderland seeking aid from Anna’s father, she must decide whether to return with him and help defeat the curse plaguing the cold northern land. If she remains Sunderland’s Defender, she knows her heart would never forgive her for abandoning Jack to rebuild a crushed kingdom.

Can Anna leave what she loves to become queen of a people suspicious of her and the gems? Joining Jack would mean battling an evil greater than anything she’s ever faced, for the curse’s roots grow deep. But if she doesn’t, Oclen will likely fall and Anna will lose Jack forever.

(Affiliate links included.)

Excerpt from Mountain of Flame

A group of soldiers on the slope ahead halted their horses, their hands flying to their swords. Anna used her last ounce of strength to stop Farley before he ran right into them, the reins tearing through her water-softened hands. He half-reared and skidded to a stop, puffing and blowing. Anna patted his foam-flecked neck. Her arms and back trembled with exhaustion, and her side screamed in pain.

Zac launched over the hill behind her. “Anna!” He pulled up next to her. “Are you all right?”

She gave him an apologetic glance. Her breath hitched in her chest.

Twelve men in Oclen uniforms shifted their horses into a tight triangle formation. Two horses stood at the point and five horses down each side. Zac’s hand twitched to his sword as he moved his horse closer to Anna. She was faintly aware that Bart and Gavriella rode up behind them.

“Greetings,” Anna called, as she let the reins slide through her fingers. Farley strode forward a few steps before she halted him again, cringing at the pain in her hands. He chomped on the bit and tossed his head. She searched for Jack’s chestnut horse to no avail. “What news do you bring from Oclen? Is your king well?” Her heart hammered against her ribs. None of the men looked familiar.

“At ease,” the one voice Anna wanted to hear most spoke from the rear. The soldiers’ formation split as Jack’s chestnut horse, Avery, moved up the center of the triangle and halted in front of her. Farley nickered. Jack looked so different—thin with deep, purple circles under his eyes and pale, sunken cheeks. “The king is alive, at least.”

Excerpted from Mountain of Flame by Diane E. Samson, Copyright © 2021 by Diane E. Samson. Published by Diane E. Samson.


About the Author

Diane E. Samson grew up on acreage just north of Kansas City, Missouri, with horses and dogs in the backyard. She later pursued her love of words and earned a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After graduation she worked as a reporter, managing editor, freelance writer and in public relations. After moving around the country, she’s recently returned to the Kansas City area where she lives with her husband, children and golden retriever.

She’s written fiction off and on her whole life and is the author of the YA fantasy Gems of Fire series including Gems of Fire, Valley of Bones and Mountain of Flame. The series centers on a girl traveling a journey of self-discovery in a world of powerful gems, supernatural forces, epic battles and of course, handsome heroes.

Tour Giveaway

Print copies of Gems of Fire and Valley of Bones by Diane E. Samson, a $25 Amazon gift card, three gem necklaces, and bookmarks (US only)

Ends September 19, 2021


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