Book Blitz & Excerpt: Blood Omen + Giveaway

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Blood Omen by Kegan Tyler

Book 1 in the Blood Crusades series

Word Count: 34,844
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 142

GENRES:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description


In the dark of the night…

Thomas is a lone shapeshifter living in a world where vampires and lycans are known to man. He has the unique gift of shifting into any living being, but he feels lost and alone.

Then he meets André, the alpha of the Bramwell pack of lycans, who offers him a new life—and a home. Gunter, the pack beta, sees something in Thomas. Their attraction is magnetic and undeniable. Their primal desires take hold and Thomas falls for this beautiful man—hard.

But when a coven of vampires arrives, showing great interest in shapeshifters, Gunter must protect the one he’s grown to love.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of smoking, the discussion of past sexual abuse, the accidental turning of someone into a werewolf, violence, character death, and scenes of sex whilst in a werewolf-shifted state.


Excerpt

Thomas Allen Wright ascended the steps to the front entrance of his apartment building, sopping wet from the relentless rain and craving a cocktail. He realized as he entered the passcode into the security pad that he’d be walking into an empty apartment, and he would spend the night alone for the first time in a week.

His ongoing affair with Jonathan Greer, a corporate snooze with money and a raucous lifestyle, had come to a screeching halt as of late. For a long while, Jonathan had stayed with Thomas in his apartment, and was always there after Thomas’ late shift at the café. Thomas reminisced fondly about the countless nights they’d shared in each other’s company, all the hot lovemaking they’d indulged in. Jonathan liked to call it ‘fucking’ as he was still putting up a straight-acting façade for his black-tie boys in the office, which, much to Thomas’ discomfort, translated into Jonathan’s day-to-day life as well. And, somehow, it translated to the bedroom.

But perhaps that was why Thomas had been so drawn to him. Jonathan’s macho disposition coupled with his impossibly sculpted tan body made him irresistible. So much so that Thomas had found himself in the most ridiculous situations to be at Jonathan’s beck and call. He was too devoted, and for what? A good lay?

All this swirled in his head as he progressed down the hallway and to the elevator at the far end of the building. He slapped the Up button and waited for it to descend. He set his briefcase down on the checker-patterned carpet and ran his fingers through his dark brown hair, wringing out the excess water dribbling down his leather jacket.

Thomas knew deep down that he was an attractive man with his cerulean eyes and timid smile. But he didn’t believe it himself. He’d often stare at his feet when good-looking men walked past him, or when girls smiled and winked at him on the street.

Like his mane of brown hair, his loafers were unkempt—scuffed, scratched and faded—and their age clearly showed. He looked about thirty, but he never disclosed his real age to anyone, not even his closest lover.

He was a shapeshifter. The animal he transformed into most commonly was a wolf, though he could take on many forms at any given moment. He’d once been a panther, which was his second-favorite creature to shift into. He so often chose a werewolf for the obvious reason—if anyone in the area were to see him in his animal form, he’d not be blinked at more than twice. Werewolves were accepted as part of society now, no longer a myth. If anyone had come across him as a panther, he’d be on the local news and, more than likely, a hunt would be called. How unusual it would be to see an exotic animal that was most prominent in the jungle in the Great Lakes. Lycans had been ‘out’ to the world for about ten years at this point, so he figured he’d blend in posing as one.

Perhaps the most useful part of his unique gift was the ability to not just shift into an animal but to shift into another person. He had first discovered this when he was twelve, in the bathroom stall of his middle school. A bully, whose name he’d long since forgotten, had maneuvered him into the girls’ room and was taunting him, shouting obscenities at the top of his lungs and banging on the stall door with his meaty fists. Desperate for an escape, little Thomas had shifted into Becca, a classmate he was friends with, and pranced out of the girls’ room, laughing under his breath at the look on his bully’s face when she exited the stall instead of him.

This became a fun little game in his youth, and it had expanded in adulthood. By now he’d adopted the appearances of some ten or eleven figures, a couple of them celebrities, and he had found it amusing to trick and confuse those around him. He quite enjoyed living someone else’s life now and then.

The result of this special ability was that he had an alter ego. Evan Winston was his name, and he was a British scholar from Edinburgh on visa in the United States to study biology at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh. Or so he told people. A completely fictional character with an appearance Thomas had appropriated from a fashion model in the UK, Evan was blond-haired, blue-eyed, and had a nice large cock which was useful in bed. Thomas’ own was a bit smaller with a modest girth, and this, paired with his prominent ass, meant that he bottomed all the time…in his true form. As Evan, he enjoyed the pleasure of being on top and having a sizable eight-inch cock. What a dream it was to be Mr. Evan Winston.

Jonathan did not know Evan, and Thomas intended to keep it that way. As a personal rule, he never used his trickery on those closest to him. Presently, the two people that met that criterion were Jonathan and his best friend Shalese.

One other secret that Thomas carried with himself was that he could never visibly age past where he was. His real age was sixty-two, though every time he shifted back to himself, he looked about thirty. He had the most coveted ability in all human existence—immortality, or at least that’s what he considered it. He had the pleasure of watching the world evolve around him, passing through multiple generations while maintaining an appearance much younger than all he interacted with. He’d see friends age and once they noticed that he looked the same as he did when they first met him, it was time to pack up his life and relocate. He’d traveled from New York City, where he was born, to Sacramento and all places in between. For a brief time, he’d lived on the Mediterranean coast, but had decided that the community was too closely knit. Others looked at him with suspicion, and he suspected that several of the city residents knew what he was. He had lasted five months there.

When Thomas touched a living being, the DNA of that life form would transfer to him, and his body would keep a record of that form at that point in time—the age, the shape… Everything about that being as it was when he touched it, he would transform into. He could shift into a variety of life forms, such as a snake, a dove and a Northern cardinal.

He’d never forget the time he met his childhood crush, Ava Charlotte, in person. A superstar pop icon, she had been much more reserved and humble than he’d imagined. He’d shaken her hand, and she’d given him the warmest smile in passing. She was thirty-four at the time, so whenever he shifted, she looked the same as she was that day. He carried the memory with him fondly and would shift into her physique every now and then to remember it.

He’d seen all kinds of men from all parts of the United States, and he’d gotten pretty good at guessing what their cocks looked like. He estimated he’d slept with close to seven hundred men throughout the country. His favorite were the solid boys with a southern drawl and an appetite for ass. They always had the nicest cocks. It was the Jersey boys and the surfers that had the most obnoxious personalities, and the smallest penises.

Thomas reached his apartment door and dug into his pocket for his keys, brushing against the head of his half-hard cock. He fumbled for the right key and, as he slid it in, it reminded him of the times he’d don Evan Winston and slide into those beautiful country boys. He overheard a conversation between a police officer, Thomas’ landlord and the tenant of apartment five. The man was irate, shouting something about an intruder shattering his balcony door. The officer asked if anything was stolen, to which the man said no, not that he could see. The landlord muttered a comment about not paying for the damages. When the man’s voice raised an octave, Thomas took that as his cue to hide.

He flung the door open and closed it behind him, then shed his clothes, tossing them to the floor. He slumped down onto the black sofa and played with himself, fantasizing about Jonathan and the way he so expertly made Thomas come while giving him oral.

Thomas was aware of the fact that he lived in Jonathan’s shadow, and no amount of pity or self-reliance could change that. His mind was always glued to Jonathan’s body, to his full, pink lips, to his sizable prospect too often concealed behind slim jeans. When he came on himself, he ran his fingers through the fresh hot cum and imagined Jonathan’s sensual hands sliding along his torso. Then he envisioned Jonathan spreading his ass and nuzzling his crevice into Thomas’ face. As he fantasized about licking Jonathan’s tight hole, his eager hand traced his abdomen and reached for his cock again, working it until he came a second time.

In a daze, he rolled off the couch and grabbed his nearby shirt, using it to clean himself off. Then he grabbed his other forgotten clothes and stashed them in his laundry basket just inside the bedroom. He dipped into the bathroom and indulged in a hot shower, all the while letting Jonathan’s hypnotic trance take over him.

After he’d stepped out of the shower and dried off, he wrapped the damp towel around his waist then reached into the pocket of his jeans in the basket for his phone. He looked up Jonathan’s contact and dialed.

Four rings later, he was greeted with a melancholy woman. “Your call has been forwarded to an automated voice message system…” He pressed the End button and tossed the phone onto his bed in a mild fit of annoyance. Of course, whenever he wanted to get ahold of Jonathan, he was never available. But the second Jonathan wanted to get ahold of him, Thomas answered at the first ring.

He knew he was too tied up in this delusion that he and Jonathan were meant to be, or rather that they were good together, which in itself was a fallacy. He knew for a fact that Jonathan couldn’t give a damn about him and what he spent his time doing. He guessed that if Jonathan knew that he thought of him so often, he’d probably either shrug it off or ditch him altogether. This thought ravaged Thomas’ mind as he made himself a vegetable stir-fry.

As he was about to dish up the food, his cell phone rang. Eagerly, he bolted into the bedroom and answered. The rough, sexy voice on the other end was unmistakable.

“What’s up?”

“Hey, Jonathan,” Thomas said with a sigh. “What are you doing tonight?”

“I just got back from a twelve-hour day,” Jonathan grumbled. He sounded worn. “Mounds of paperwork and bitchy clients. My head fuckin’ hurts.”

“I bet it does,” Thomas sympathized. Then, feeling ballsy, he said, “Would a blow job help?”

Jonathan sighed, and there was a brief pause. Then he said, “Yeah, it would. I’ve been thinking about your ass all day. I want it.”

“Come over. I’m making stir-fry.”

Another sigh. “I can’t drive.”

“Why is that?”

“I’m a little drunk,” Jonathan confessed.

“Already? When did you get home?”

“Yeah, already. About an hour ago. Downed five shots and I’m on my second beer.”

“How about I bring the food over to you?”

“Mmmmh,” Jonathan moaned. Thomas imagined he was biting his lip. “Sex and free food. Sign me up.”

“I can be there in twenty.”

“Make it fifteen.” Click.

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About the Author

Kegan Tyler

Kegan Tyler was born in Pennsylvania in 1993. He has always been a creative—at the age of eight, he created a comic book series, and he wrote his first novel at age fourteen. His love of vampires and werewolves paired with his love of gay erotica resulted in his passion project, The Blood Crusades.

He enjoys pop music, horror flicks, Halloween, science fiction, the works of Stephen King, and video games. In his writing, he strives to represent LGBTQIA+ individuals. You’ll find his works full of LGBTQIA+ characters living their lives passionately and with conviction.

He lives in Wisconsin.


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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Amethyst + Giveaway

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Amethyst by Rebecca Henry

Book 1 in the Ambrosia Hill series

General Release Date: 26th April 2022

Word Count: 31,456
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 117

Genres:

GLBTQI
LESBIAN
PARANORMAL
ROMANCE
YOUNG ADULT

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Book Description


She was sent away because of her feelings for another girl. But what she discovered at her aunts’ lake house was a birthright of magic.

Thirteen-year-old Zinnia is about to turn fourteen when her life is flipped upside down. With her parents on the brink of a divorce, Zinnia is sent to spend the summer with her eccentric great-aunts at their lake house away from her home in Manhattan. Zinnia arrives at her aunts’ massive Victorian house with a heavy heart after a recent falling out with her best friend Charlotte, who betrayed her trust by showing the meanest and most popular girl in school a letter Zinnia wrote confessing her feelings for Charlotte. The aunts rely on practical magic, acceptance and old family friends to help heal their great-niece in more ways than one.

What Zinnia discovers on Ambrosia Hill is more than just her birthright to magic—she meets Billie, a girl who conjures feelings inside Zinnia that she can no longer deny.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of homophobia and mild peril.

Excerpt

“It’s just for the summer.” That’s what my parents told me as I boarded the train to spend three months in the countryside with my great-aunts. The city skyline faded into the distance, replaced by rolling hills that climbed high into the horizon. The gentle rocking of the train lulled me into a trance. Three months in an old house, on top of a tall hill overlooking a silent lake in a sleepy village with nothing to do, was enough to make me lose my mind.

“Great,” I said out loud to myself, my thoughts turning to the city that I was leaving behind. There was always something to do in Manhattan, whether it was going out to eat, going to a skateboard park, catching a movie or going to the mall. By the time the conductor announced Ambrosia Hill, I was the only passenger left. Me, myself, and I, all alone, a ticket for one to the last stop on the line.

I peeked out of the window and saw the glistening ripples of Lake Cauldron. The black turrets of a tall Victorian-style house touched the clouds like a church steeple in an empty town. I could almost see both my aunts sitting on the porch overlooking their enormous garden, drinking freshly squeezed lemonade with their long black dresses, wide-brimmed hats and crimson boots. As the train rolled to a stop, I grabbed my suitcase then left the car. The station was quiet and empty, much like my plans for the summer. I swung my bag over my shoulder and rolled my suitcase to the parking lot.

I took a moment to remind myself that this was just for the summer. My old life would still be waiting for me in September with the same boring school, the same bullying kids and the same depressing apartment with my parents still on the verge of a divorce…but it was my life, and I resented being sent away from it. I brushed my long hair out of my face, wishing I could grow up by September, skip high school and be off to college, or go backward in life to when things were happier and be a little kid again. Anything would be better than being thirteen in the twenty-first century.

Charlie was waiting by his old pickup truck. The rusted hubcaps were a deeper shade of orange than the last time he had met me at the station, and I thought a headlight might be out, but overall, the car seemed functional enough. Charlie flashed me a big, fatherly smile. The wrinkles around his eyes traveled down the sides of his face, and for a moment I couldn’t believe how time had caught up to him since my last visit. “Well, look at you, Zinnia! You’ve shot up like a string bean.”

Charlie reached straight for my suitcase and threw it into the truck. His hearty laugh filled the cabin as we both buckled in. “I almost didn’t recognize you there with how you’ve grown.” I looked down at my cramped legs, desperate to stretch out as my knees touched the glove compartment. Charlie patted my back and turned the key inside the ignition, bringing life to the beat-up truck as the engine groaned like an old dog too tired to wake from its nap. “Here we go, String Bean! Off like a herd of turtles at the races.”

I cracked a smile at this, almost by accident, before wiping it away and looking out of the window. I could admit that I liked Ole Charlie. He’d been neighbors with my aunts for over forty years, and I’d known him all my life, so I thought it was safe to say that he was basically family. “Wait till your aunts get a look at you, string bean.”

I rolled my eyes as I tried, and once again failed, to conceal my smile. Every time I visited my aunts, Ole Charlie gave me a new nickname. I suppose my nickname for this summer is going to be string bean. I whispered it to myself for a test drive and annoyingly, it wasn’t so annoying.

“It’s been a few years since you and your mom visited us on Ambrosia Hill.” Charlie looked over at me with his old brown eyes full of affection. “Not ashamed to say we’ve missed you, string bean.”

Mom loved coming to Ambrosia Hill. The aunts had raised her after my grandma became sick and couldn’t take care of my mom anymore. Mom said visiting with Grandma during that time was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do, and it was a sad relief for everyone when Grandma passed away. That was the day Mom packed up a suitcase and moved to the city, where she eventually met my dad and had me. But she never forgot where she came from, and every summer she and I would come up by train to Ambrosia Hill and visit our aunts. At least until my parents started fighting.

I was nine years old when they had their first big fight and I remembered hiding under the kitchen table hugging the wooden leg, hoping that if I stayed hidden, it wouldn’t be real, and everything would go back to the way it was. But that didn’t happen, and the fighting only got worse. Mom was too ashamed to visit the aunts after that. With her marriage on the brink of divorce, she felt like a failure. She’d left home to chase her big-city dreams on Broadway, and instead of achieving that dream, she had gotten a reputable job, one where she could achieve success. But even if she didn’t live her exact dream, at least she was in the city, married and a mother. She’d had a good life before all the fighting began.

I rolled my window down and stuck my head out as we began the long slope up Ambrosia Hill. The village was named after the hill and apparently my aunts’ house was one of the first settlements on Lake Cauldron. Most people with lake houses invested in updating their homes into fancy summer getaways from the city. But not my aunts. They’d lived in their house for the majority of their lives, and they refused to change even a single detail, including their old purple porch.

My great-aunts loved purple and black, from the violet-painted siding to the ebony trimming along every window and doorframe. Even their garden was filled with purple and black flowers mixed amongst the green foliage. The house was the same on the inside, with rich black wood furnishing and purple wallpaper. My room was in the attic when I came to visit and it was a fairytale room hidden from the rest of the massive house. When I was a little girl, we’d painted the ceiling a deep indigo with pale crescent moons and diamond-shaped stars. The walls were papered in pale pink with blue roses. Pink and champagne ceiling lights hung across the attic and warm fairy lights covered every square inch of the room. An old-fashioned canopy bed with four black posts sat in the center.

Growing up, I used to pretend that I was a princess locked in a tower waiting for my one true love to rescue me. But what I didn’t admit to anyone, at least not then, was that I never wanted to be rescued by a prince. I wanted someone else, something different from what the other girls my age wanted in life, and the typical happy ending didn’t feel right to me. Fairy tales screw kids up. It wasn’t who I wanted to rescue me that was the issue—it was the fact I thought I needed to be rescued by anyone. My parents were desperate to understand what I wanted, and when they couldn’t, they started insisting that it was simply a phase, and that I’d grow out of it once I met the right boy. Truthfully, I don’t think they even had the time to worry about me. They were far too busy arguing with each other.

Still, my dad was persistent that time away with my aunts would clear my head and eventually I’d forget all about the girl from my class. The girl with the red hair and freckles who had stabbed me in the back. The girl who had been yanked out of St. Hope and enrolled into another school the second her parents discovered the letter I had written to her. A letter that had gone around my entire middle school and had labeled me forever. It had hurt at first, knowing that kids in school slapped me with a label like I was different from them. I wasn’t different—I was just me and I deserved to be myself like everybody else in the world. I wouldn’t allow some meddling bullies to affect me. I would not let them win by showing them how they’d hurt me.

As the truck stopped outside the garden gate, Aunt Stella and Aunt Luna jumped up from their rickety porch chairs and ran down the driveway to greet me. Aunt Luna was carrying a black kitten in her arms, and Aunt Stella was holding on to the top of her wide-brimmed hat, which shielded her eyes from the glaring sun. Almost unconsciously, I ran to meet them, flying into their arms. The tears that I had been holding back rushed out of me like a waterfall. They burned my flushed face as I clung to my aunts. They comforted and cuddled me like momma birds.

“It’s all right now, my darling girl. You’re with us. No one will hurt you.” I looked into Aunt Stella’s loving eyes. There with them on Ambrosia Hill, I could be me. I didn’t have to wear a mask or pretend to be strong—I could allow my tears to flow freely.

“You are our little love and always will be.” Aunt Luna cupped my face in her chubby hand, and I reached for her like a child hugging a teddy bear.

“Come now. I know exactly what you need,” piped up Aunt Stella.

“Yes, yes, yes!” clucked Aunt Luna as she handed me the black kitten. “A glass of chocolate almond milk with a chocolate chip cookie is just the thing for this occasion.” Both aunts turned on their heels and shuffled back to the house.

“Come along, dear!” called Aunt Stella. I turned and waved goodbye to Ole Charlie, who tipped his cap at me with a wink before getting back in his truck and driving away.

The purple and black walls swelled when I walked inside the dark house, then surrounded me like a giant hug and for a moment, it felt like the house was alive and greeting me with love. Nothing had changed in the three years since I had last visited. Black candles sat inside tall iron holders. Old dusty books decorated the built-in bookshelves along the far wall. Dried herbs hung from every rafter and exposed beam. Inside the large wood-burning fireplace were towers of quartz crystals. Branches of eucalyptus draped around the mantel, trailing to the floor. Wicker baskets littered the house, filled with yarn, empty glass jars and pouches of dried herbs.

I inhaled, breathing in the scent of my summer home, my other life…a part of me I had almost forgotten existed. Suddenly, I was overcome with the realization I had forgotten my true self. Standing amongst my aunts’ collection of tarot cards, pentagrams and spell books, I remembered the inner strength I had inside me. There is another identity to the Fern women, an identity my mother tried to hide from the world. Only in Ambrosia Hill were we free to be who we truly were—a lineage of magical women.

My aunts scurried back from the kitchen with Aunt Luna carrying a tray of homemade cookies and three glasses of chocolate almond milk. Aunt Stella caught me eyeballing the clutter surrounding me and placed a hand upon her hip.

“Darling girl, a clean house is a sign of a misspent life.” She raised her eyebrows to support her statement.

“Come along, dear. We have something important to do,” Aunt Luna said as she skipped past me, stopping to kiss the kitten, which was, by then, curled up like a baby in the crook of my arm.

“You won’t want to miss it, dear!” added in Aunt Stella as she raced up behind me, shoving me back out the front door and onto the porch. A tote bag was draped over her shoulder.

The aunts placed the tote bag and tray of treats onto the porch table as they chirped back and forth to one another in playful banter. “She forgot what day it is! Why, this used to be her favorite day of the summer. Apart from her birthday, that is.” Aunt Luna laughed.

Aunt Stella nodded, positioning a stack of card paper neatly on the table. “She’s been inhaling too much smog in that city. The fresh air will do her lungs some good, she’ll remember any moment now,” she replied. Her heeled boot tapped against the weathered wood floor. I sat down between them, setting the kitten on the table next to a vase of purple orchids and some black candles.

“What am I supposed to be remembering?” I could feel the creases in my forehead grow deeper as I desperately tried to recall what special day it was. My aunts both looked at me with their eyebrows raised gesturing at the random items scattered on the table in front of them. I shrugged in apology, still not grasping the significance of the day.

“It’s the summer solstice!” they sang in union.

I turned my wrist up and caught the date on my smartwatch. “Oh, my gosh, it’s June twenty-first.”

Coming from a historical line of green witches, the summer solstice had always been a significant day with an important purpose for the Fern women. Every June twenty-first, my aunts wrote about the things they wanted to let go of in their lives, things that no longer served a purpose. After they wrote their messages in gold ink, they folded the paper into a tiny boat and placed a tealight inside it. When the crescent moon appeared in the night sky, they lit the candle and released the boats into Lake Cauldron. It was a symbol of new beginnings and a chance for positive self-growth. I shook my head, amazed that I had forgotten about the summer solstice.

Both my great aunts had lived their entire lives as green witches, just as their mother and her mother before her had done, going back three hundred years. My aunts had educated me at an early age on how to be a green witch. The very essence of a green witch was to be a naturalist, someone who connected with nature on a personal and powerful level. Green witches were wise women, herbalists and healers who helped those around them by using the properties of nature. We may never use magic to harm others or for personal gain. I was a green witch by birth rite, and fourteen was a significant year for a teenage witch. I hadn’t identified as a practicing witch before. I’d never cast spells on my own. Any spells I had done were guided by my aunts. However, at fourteen, Fern witches developed individual traits and branched out into our own magic. I could feel a change coming. One that would redirect my path forever.

“Ha! She remembers! I told you she would. You worry too much, that’s your problem, Luna.”

Aunt Luna placed her hands on her round hips with her head cocked defiantly to the side. “I do not. You’re the one who worries.”

Aunt Stella waved her hand in the air. “Pish-posh. I am as calm as a cucumber, but you could worry the horns off a billy goat.”

I giggled, breaking up their banter. I reached for the gold pen and a piece of black cardstock. I stared at the paper, unable to find the words I needed to write. I could feel them stirring inside me and I could see them take form in the shape of her face.

Aunt Luna reached for my hand, understanding my internal struggle. Aunt Luna was the maternal one of the two sisters. She lived to nurture those around her, and her maternal instincts were fierce when it came to me. Although Aunt Stella was stern, she had an intense love that ran deeper than any river marked on a map, and I could feel that love surrounding me as I stared at the pen in my hand. It baffled me why neither she nor Aunt Luna ever had children of their own. I made a mental note to ask them someday.

“Draw, dear,” whispered Aunt Luna. “A picture can be just as powerful as words. If your artistic expression helps you, then draw whatever you need to let go of.”

Before I could respond, my hand moved involuntarily, sketching the outline of her face. Of all their faces, everyone who had hurt me.

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About the Author

Rebecca Henry

Rebecca Henry is an American author living abroad in England. She is a devoted vegan who gardens, practices yoga, crafts, travels the world, and bakes. Rebecca’s favorite holiday is Halloween, and she is obsessed with anything and everything witchy! Besides writing fiction, Rebecca is also the author of her vegan holiday cookbook collection. Her love for animals, baking with her family, having a plant-based diet and cruelty-free food all came together in her holiday cookbook collection.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Karma’s Kiss + Giveaway

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Karma’s Kiss by M.C. Roth

General Release Date: 26th April 2022

Word Count: 63,879
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 230

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description


Karma isn’t the worst curse to have after all.

Zack is running from his family, his past and a curse that has tainted his life since childhood. Fleeing his temporary home for the sake of his ex-boyfriend, Zack becomes stranded in a snow drift in the middle of nowhere, wearing nothing more than a spring jacket and an old pair of running shoes. Resigning himself to freezing to death, he is rescued by Eric, an irresistible man who treads the line between kindness and discourtesy.

Zack quickly realises that Eric’s home is a different kind of frozen hell. There is no electricity in the tiny one-room cabin, no running water and definitely no Wi-Fi.

But Eric is more than just a man. He is the only one who seems to be immune to Zack’s curse, and he has secrets of his own. Eric may be more dangerous than anything Zack has ever seen before.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and the death of a secondary character.

Excerpt

“No. No. No,” said Zack as he pushed the gas pedal all the way to the floor. The ancient car responded sluggishly, a full second passing before the engine vibrated with a purr that made his foot go numb. The bald tyres spun, trapped in a sheet of ice and snow that coated the road and the lone vehicle.

The storm sagged against the windshield as the wipers tried lethargically to keep up, leaving large, frosted streaks with every swipe. With each pass, the ice crystals grew denser, coating the wipers with budding globs of ice.

Another burst of wind battered the side of the car, fluttering against the door and buffeting the tiny cracks in the vehicle. A trickle of cold air brushed against his chilled knuckles, and a shiver cascaded though his body.

The vehicle lurched closer to the ditch that had disappeared into the blizzard’s cloud. The tyres caught, edging sideways in a frozen rut. He jerked at the steering wheel, but there was no response as he was buried deeper in the drifts.

Zack’s heart pounded as he lost control of the wheel and the engine sputtered. But he barely noticed as the car lurched into a stall or as the air got even colder through the flimsy heating vents. The storm was the furthest thing from his mind.

It had happened again. And, of course, it had chosen the moment when the biggest snowstorm of the decade was blowing its way across the lakes. The radar had probably gone from red to purple then black while he’d driven with no destination in mind.

The roads had been relatively clear a few hours before, when he had fled to his car, putting it straight into second gear before he even had his seat belt on. He had hit the highway, flipping a virtual coin to choose the exit he’d take before the heavy flakes had started drifting down from the grey sky.

He shuddered. His darkness—his curse—the thing had haunted him for as long as he could remember… It always seemed to choose the worst moments to rear its ugly, jealous head. This had to be one of the top five of all time, though.

He had tried to keep moving. He’d tried to leave before he could put anyone else at risk.

But he’d been sucked in by another pair of sweet blue eyes and a soft voice that had promised him a good night. That night had turned into a stream of great weeks and gentle touches that had him coming more consistently than he ever had.

The sex had been fantastic, if not a little bit soft, more often ending in his mouth or his hand—and not somewhere better, tighter and hotter. His nights hadn’t been cold in an empty hotel bed or on a couch that he had claimed during a stranger’s party. He had started to look forwards to waking up in the morning and seeing someone other than himself in his bed.

Then it had all gone wrong. One word and a spurned rejection, and his past had caught up with him with the force of a starving tiger. He’d staggered as he’d felt the blood drain from his face.

He had fled before anything could happen to the man who he had almost started to like. If he’d had the opportunity, he could have developed full-blown feelings, which were more dangerous than his curse.

He’d grabbed everything in sight that belonged to him, leaving more behind than he’d taken. His socks and underwear were lost beneath the bed and in the basket of laundry, but he hadn’t had the time to retrieve them. They weren’t the worst things that he’d ever left behind.

He’d had run to his ancient Honda, breathing hard by the time he had tugged the door open. As he’d sped away, he’d left another chunk of his past behind him, the sweet memories tainted by his bitter curse. The traffic had steadily thinned, until he was the only car in the midst of a forest that seconded as a snowy hell.

His trusty Honda was only five years younger than him and had more problems than he did, which was saying a lot. Its most recent issue was that it apparently couldn’t drive through more than two centimetres of fresh snow.

He fumbled with the key, glancing out into the bleak stretch of swirling snow as he tried to start the engine yet again. Stomping on the gas, he waited for the RPMs to climb into the red zone before popping the clutch and putting the car directly into second gear. First gear didn’t exactly work, and on ice, it was its own death trap.

There was a shuddering jerk that had relief flooding his gut, until the car rocked once and stalled back into silence. The dials dropped and the fuzzy radio station faded until the barest hint of the country song vanished under the sound of the wind.

“Shit,” he said as he slammed his hand against the steering wheel. It shuddered, barely holding on to its rigging after his repeated abuse. He could imagine the wheel finally tumbling off as he merged lanes on a highway doing one-hundred-and-thirty-five kilometres per hour. I’m lucky like that.

His palm ached from the hit and the cold that was steadily seeping into the car, but it didn’t stop him from slamming the wheel a second time. His thumb caught the edge of the horn, but the blaring sound was swept away on the wind.

The temperature inside the car noticeably dropped another few degrees, and his breath turned into a misty fog that coated everything it touched. The car’s heater was lukewarm at best, and without a working defrost, ice had started to crust on even the inside of the windshield.

He turned the key again as he popped the car back into neutral and pushed the clutch to the floor. He shivered as another gust of wind cut into the Honda. His thin jacket was best suited for balmy fall days, but it was the only one that had been in sight as he’d scrambled to leave. His toes were numb in his sneakers, and his hands? Well, he was afraid to look at them, because he wouldn’t be surprised if a few fingers were already missing. His gloves had been one of the many things that he had left behind, and his hands had been aching since the snow had started.

The car key turned under his hand, jingling with the other attached keys and mementos that he had picked up on his travels. There was a tiny metal sandal that he’d picked up in a beach town and an iron sun from a gift shop that he’d found in the middle of nowhere. The rest were worn, their edges smooth from their constant motion. He kept them close, so he wouldn’t have to look back and remember.

The key turned, with the promise of escape and a hint of heat. Silence. Not even a putter from the flooded engine. His gut churned as a shiver racked his body. It was so freaking cold, and according to the last clear announcement on the radio, the storm was just getting started.

He grappled with the horn, pushing the button as hard as he could. There had to be someone close by who would come to his rescue if they heard him honking. People in the city might not have looked twice, but he was pretty far into the wilderness, on the only road that probably ever saw a plough in winter. People were different out here—lonelier.

The button clicked under his palm as the battery finally gave out. The same battery had lasted him twenty years, so, of course, it would choose to fail him when he was about to lose his toes.

Zack took a shuddering breath as his vision blurred and his heart sank. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to keep the warmth from escaping. Perhaps everything was finally catching up with him. Freezing to death wouldn’t be the worst way to go. He’d seen worse before—so much worse. His stomach clenched as memories fluttered to the surface of his mind. He tried to push them away before he could retch.

“Look at the snow. Just look at the snow,” he said, holding himself tighter as he tried to focus on an individual flake in the whirling mass—anything to leave the flashes of his past behind.

Beyond the window he could see bits of the forest through the gaps in the gathering ice on the windshield. The road was nearly invisible, with no tyre tracks except his own behind him. Even those were almost gone now.

A green bough fluttered in the wind, dumping its heavy load onto the ground below it. A bird fluttered from the branch, battling against the wind as it took off. For a moment, it looked like it would lose the fight and be tossed into the nearest tree trunk. It pumped its wings faster, finally triumphing over the storm.

There were no hydro lines along the road or lamp posts that would guide a traveller along at night. It was a tourist’s nightmare. He cursed himself, wondering if he should’ve taken the other fork in the road that had probably led along a path that was closer to the city.

A smudge of colour caught his eye as it flashed along the very edge of the trees. The trunks grew close together, dark and foreboding within the mass, and their limbs danced and swayed in the wind, dumping the snow back to the earth with each pass. There was so much movement that he wondered if he had imagined the blur.

He squinted and leaned closer to the window, trying to make sense of it through the fluttering snow. It could have been a deer. He’d already seen a few along the way, looking ready to jump out at his car and double his insurance. Or it could have been a bear, given how far he’d come, although he’d only ever seen them on television. The dark beacon had looked too small to be the creature he’d seen on Planet Earth.

He spotted it again as the wind stilled and the blizzard cleared for a moment. It moved through the snow with a fluid grace that could only belong to an animal who could survive a harsh winter. Nothing battered or beaten lived in this cold, and no predator could thrive without hunting in the perpetual storm that was February.

It grew closer with every loping step, until it seemed larger than what he imagined a bear would be. It was fast, too, cutting through the drifts as if it weighed nothing. Zack knew how hard it was to walk through snow that deep, which was why he usually avoided it at all costs. That, and he really didn’t want to get his too-tight jeans wet.

Zack scrubbed the inside of the window with his nails, bits of ice stinging his numb fingertips. His breath frosted it over again, until everything blurred.

It could have been a dog with how dark the colouring was, but he’d never seen a dog that big. A bear would definitely make more sense, but according to the television, bears hibernated in the winter.

The ice on the window thickened into an opaque crystal as he pressed his forehead against it, desperate to see what was coming. It was running at a pace that was hardly possible over the covered ground, gliding over the snow without seeming to disturb it at all.

A bubble of fear simmered in his gut as he pictured a bear breaking through his window with its massive, clawed paws. He was small enough that he wouldn’t be able to put up much of a fight, but there was still enough meat on him to make a decent meal, he supposed.

He took a deep breath, closing his eyes to try to ground himself. The wind around him paused, the car going suddenly still and silent. He snapped his eyes back open, looking through the tiny gaps from his fingertips. There was nothing but the dark tree trunks capped with pure white.

The seat creaked as he freed himself from the seatbelt and lifted himself to his knees, pressing against a strip of clear glass. He blinked, rubbing his eyes to remove the imagined fog, but nothing appeared. The snow was undisturbed, except for the partially covered ruts from his own tyres. There were no footprints, and no animal was out in the wind.

I’m officially losing my mind.

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About the Author

M.C. Roth

M.C. Roth lives in Canada and loves every season, even the dreaded Canadian winter. She graduated with honours from the Associate Diploma Program in Veterinary Technology at the University of Guelph before choosing a different career path.

Between caring for her young son, spending time with her husband, and feeding treats to her menagerie of animals, she still spends every spare second devoted to her passion for writing.

She loves growing peppers that are hot enough to make grown men cry, but she doesn’t like spicy food herself. Her favourite thing, other than writing of course, is to find a quiet place in the wilderness and listen to the birds while dreaming about the gorgeous men in her head.

Find out more about M.C. Roth at her website.

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