“Out of the Shade” by S.A. McAuley

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The hardest battle is the fight to be yourself….

Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy–a cocky sports fan capable of drinking more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy–a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.

Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography–documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.

When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through–coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.

Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.

Reader Advisory: Out of the Shade is a standalone novel with an HEA that carries the following warnings–alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting.

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“Adam Only” by Roe Horvat

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On stage, Adam lets his passion drive him. All his secret desires, everything nasty, dirty, and beautiful flows freely through him, for once in harmony. His soul thrives when his body moves, but only on stage. Adam’s passionate nature makes him a great dancer…and a failure at life. He’s a lonely, emotional mess. Going home with a man far out of his reach is the last thing Adam should do. Christoffer represents everything Adam isn’t: strong, independent, educated, and rich. His kind eyes, at odds with his brutish form, make Adam’s knees and restraint buckle.

Once Christoffer sees Adam dancing, he’s lost. The young man is mesmerizing, otherworldly, and unpredictable. Whatever might happen between them, it will be transient, and Christoffer will most likely get hurt. The temptation is too great, however, and the sex explosive. He might as well enjoy every moment he’s given, even if it’s just one day, maybe two. If Christoffer treads carefully, Adam might stay until Monday.

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“Wounded Soul” by Annabelle Jacobs

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One night can change everything…

Jesse Sykes has lived far longer than his youthful appearance suggests. Becoming a vampire after tragedy struck seemed the only option when his soul was shattered, after all he’s no stranger to having to hide what he is from the rest of the world. But eternal life isn’t without problems or heartache.

With a good job and great friends, Ian Moreton’s life would be almost perfect—if only he wasn’t in love with his best friend. His feelings are unrequited, and in an effort to move on, he takes a chance on a one-night stand with the handsome stranger he meets in a bar.

Jesse knows the risks of becoming attached to a human, but with neither of them looking for anything serious, where’s the harm? At least, that’s what Jesse thinks until his chemistry with Ian proves off the charts.

A second hook-up solidifies their connection…and brings Jesse to his senses. He scrambles to protect Ian from danger, but it’s already too late. With Ian unwittingly drawn into a world he knows nothing about, events are set in motion that will change both of their lives forever, and it’s up to Jesse to steer them safely through it.
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“A Taste for Poison” by Aleksandr Voinov

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Even the hand of a king is stung when it reaches for the scorpion.

After barely surviving an assassination attempt, King Adrastes is a changed man—one who mistrusts even his allies and friends. He readies his empire for war against an enigmatic enemy, the Elder of Vededrin, but not everyone approves. While courtiers dare only to whisper dissent, an outrider called Death foments rebellion in the mountains, aided by a prophecy that promises he’ll stop the Black King.

Kendras—former lover to Adrastes and leader of the Scorpions—is sent with his elite mercenary force to bring Death to justice. But when Kendras learns who’s hiding behind the mask, he must choose between his lover Graukar, newly appointed general to the king—and King Adrastes himself.

With no man to call master, the Scorpions could flee the danger and intrigue. But Kendras cannot abandon the man he once loved—or the man he’s growing to love—without first uncovering the real threat to the Empire. 

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“Lying with Scorpions” by Aleksandr Voinov

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If you lie with scorpions, you’d better have a taste for poison.

Now that Kendras’s lover Adrastes has claimed the throne of Dalman, Kendras is tangled deeper than ever in politics and intrigue. As the new leader of the Scorpions and Adrastes’s one true friend, he and his men stand between Adrastes and those who wish him dead.

And many do. Adrastes openly challenges the ocean priesthood for power while establishing himself at court and brokering with the realm’s various factions. He means for the Scorpions to become a fearsome legion again, but Kendras must first learn how to be a good officer and recruit to replace the fallen. His choices will determine the future of a group steeped in hundreds of years of history and tradition.

As both Kendras and Adrastes settle old scores, a new enemy arises in Commander Graukar, a war hero loyal to the old order. In his formidable mountain fortress, Graukar may hold the balance of power. But while Adrastes aims to either rule or destroy Graukar, Kendras finds himself doubting Adrastes for the first time, and sharing more with Graukar than he ever thought possible.

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“Mud & Lace” by Jay Northcote

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When Wicksy falls for drag queen Charlie, they discover that both sexuality and gender can be fluid.

Simon Wicks—Wicksy to his rugby teammates—has only ever been interested in women. But when he sets eyes on Lady Gogo, a drag queen who performs at Rainbow Place, he can’t stop thinking about her. He knows there’s a guy behind the fishnets and make-up, but he’s ready to explore his fantasies, and Lady Gogo is game for making them come true.

Charlie adores performing in drag. It allows him to indulge in his love of cross-dressing while earning some extra cash. Fooling around with a mostly straight guy in secret seems like a fun diversion, and gives him the chance to explore his feminine side. He feels safe wearing the mask of his confident alter ego, because the real Charlie is hidden from view.

When Wicksy sees more of the guy behind the make-up and glitter, his attraction to Charlie persists, and he realises he’s bisexual. In turn, Charlie begins to understand and accept his gender fluidity. As their mutual journey of self-discovery brings them closer, the secrecy becomes increasingly hard to deal with. If they’re going to have a future together, they both need to find the courage to show people who they really are.

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“Play Hard” by Avery Cockburn

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“I’ll always want more of you.”

Robert McKenzie lives to work. He’s fresh out of university as a video-game entrepreneur, and his new app could actually save lives. But burning the candle at both ends means missing out on the best parts of his own life—including his boyfriend, Liam.

Liam Carroll works to live. His job as a bartender pays the rent—if not always the heating bill—and that’s plenty for now. But Robert’s workaholism reminds Liam his own life is going nowhere, and his own dreams are scaring the pants off him.

To jolt them out of their ruts, Robert invents a new game: He and Liam are to take turns offering each other sexy new challenges with irresistible rewards.

Of course, Robert gets more than he bargained for, as Liam takes their game in one surprising direction after another. Whether it’s in the bedroom, on the football pitch, or at the pub (or even the supermarket?), the things they learn about each other—and themselves—could change their lives forever.

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“Copper Creek” by Cate Ashwood

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Frankie:

My life sucks.
After spending a year jobless and on the edge of becoming homeless, I’d officially reached a level of desperation that, even if I wasn’t completely broke, retail therapy couldn’t fix.
While Sawyer’s Ferry, Alaska, is the last place on earth I’d ever want to visit, when my best friend, Holden, begs me to fly out and plan his wedding, I can’t say no. What I didn’t expect was to stumble into the administrative chaos at Copper Creek Brewing—or its too-hot-to-be-legal owner.
Clearly the man needs my help, and I’m willing to go above and beyond.
Way beyond.

Barrett:
I am screwed.
Six months after my assistant up and quit, I’m not any closer to finding a replacement, and things at the brewery are starting to fall apart.
And then in walks Frankie. He’s not the typical guy you’d find in these parts, and he brings with him a world of confusion. Because as much as I need his help, I can’t seem to keep my eyes—or hands—off him.
He’s supposed to be getting my life in order, but instead there’s a chance he could turn everything upside down.

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“Jude” by Garrett Leigh

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Isha has spent the last year watching his BFF get his happily-ever-after. He’s proud of Dom, but…it hurts to see him so free while Isha’s love life is still on lockdown. Only Isha’s ex-wife knows the secret that he’s kept caged for so long—that he’s queer too, and he’s lonely.

Jude’s too chained to his work to notice what he’s missing by being terminally single, but a new face in the village soon catches his attention. City boy Isha is gorgeous, and when he starts to haunt Jude’s reptile shop as well as the hook-up app on his phone, he’s a welcome distraction from Jude’s business problems.

For a control freak like Isha, letting Jude under his skin is an existential meltdown, but Jude’s not in the market to be anyone’s queer crisis, not when he’s facing troubles of his own. Unlocking their lives could push both men apart forever, but it might be a risk worth taking if sharing is the key to their happy future.

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“Bitten by Fate” by Annabelle Jacobs

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Daryl plays with fire and gets burned by fate…

Former Primrose Pack member Jason Black happily accepted his role as beta in the new Regent’s Hill pack, knowing that merging the two was the best decision for everyone involved. Daryl Easton is loyal and honest but wary of change. The joining of the two packs wasn’t his preferred outcome, and he’s struggling to see all the newcomers as pack, including those now working alongside him.

When the alpha council proposes a two-week pack-building course to help improve troubled relationships, Jason and Daryl are sent along as backup. It soon becomes clear that the unit members and their betas won’t be the only ones taking part in tasks—Daryl and Jason will have challenges of their own to complete.

With the full moon adding to the rising tension, emotions are volatile, and tempers flare among the unit members. Jason and Daryl become closer than either of them expected, but with such opposing views on relationships, a messy outcome seems inevitable unless Daryl can let go of the past.

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