Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Giveaway: Budding Attraction by Saxon James

BUDDING ATTRACTIONDivorced Men’s Club – Book Three by Saxon James


Synopsis

Ford

I’ve never thought much about Orson Naples.

He’s a cute guy who I’d seen around town a few times, but then one day he up and left and didn’t reappear until a few years later. No one knows where he went or what he was doing, all this gossipy town knows is that he’s a widower, owns the florist, and is friends with that divorced group that hang out at the Killer Brew all the time.

But then one day I step into his flower shop and go from rarely thinking about him, to him constantly being on my mind.

There’s a restlessness to him that I’m dying to unlock answers to.

And his eyes linger on me a little too long for a straight man …


Orson

Ford Thomas is a pest. A delightful one. A tempting one. But I’m too old for games.

The ones I’ve played in the past have always led me to trouble which is why I vowed to settle down and live a quiet life.

So when Ford walks into my shop all uncontained energy and flirty quips in a pair of heavy work boots, I know I should show him the door.

I don’t need fun. I don’t need experiences.

Especially when those experiences have me questioning things I thought I knew about myself.


Release Date: November 16, 2022

Cover Design: Story Styling Cover Designs

Photo: Wander Aguiar Photography

Model: Rodiney Santiago

Genre: M/M Later-in-Life Romance
Trope: Bi-awakening, small-town


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Excerpt

My tongue swipes over my lips as we head for the truck, and I know I shouldn’t steer the conversation to where I want to steer it, but fuck, I can’t help myself. “You’re straight, but you want to go to a gay bar? You really wouldn’t care about men touching you? A sweaty dude pressed up against you who wants to suck your cock. You … you wouldn’t give a shit?”

“Nope. Been there, done that.”

“But a guy paying for a lap dance is clinical, transactional. Someone doing it because they want to is another thing.”

Orson’s jaw ticks, and then he pushes off the truck. “Prove it.”

“Huh?”

He turns us and backs me into the door, arms boxing me in but not touching. He’s grinning, playful, biting his bottom lip against a laugh. “Touch me because you want to, and I’ll let you know if it’s weird.”

“It’s already weird.”

“Shit. Sorry.” He steps back, but I grab him and flip us, slamming his back into Momma T as I step in closer than he was before. The top of his head reaches my eye level, and I have to look down at him. The familiar curious expression stares back at me.

“You really inviting me to touch you?”

“Do you want to?”

I sneer. “That’s like asking a thirsty man if he wants water.”

Orson blinks up at me, a sweetness shining from his eyes. “Only if you’re comfortable. You’re, uh, I enjoy spending time with you, and I wouldn’t want things to get … you know.”

“’Preciate it, but a sexy guy is offering to let me feel him up, and you will never hear me complain about that.”

“If you’re cool, I’m cool. Just maybe no between the legs action.”

“Ass?”

“It’d be groped on the dance floor, right?”

“Constantly.” “Then go for it.”

I watch him, trying to read if this is for real or if he’s about to freak the fuck out, but he just watches me back, waiting. Looking completely at ease that I’m about to paw him until I have my fill of every one of those muscles his clothes have been hiding from me. I wasn’t lying when I said I’d never complain about touching him.

I swallow roughly and settle my hands on his shoulders.

Orson rolls his lips to hold in his amusement. “Are we going to a club in the 1800s? I didn’t realize gay bars were so polite.”

“Fine, smart-ass.” I let my hands drift from his round shoulders, over his impressive pecs, and along every groove I can feel on his stomach.

“Comfortable now?”

Some of the teasing leaves his face, but he nods. “Totally fine.”

“And now?” My fingers duck beneath the bottom of his T-shirt, and it’s like having pure fucking heat in my hands. Smooth abs, no body hair that I can feel, and skin that’s like silk.

Hoo.” Orson lets out a shaky breath that my cock takes note of. “Wasn’t expecting that. All good though.”

And maybe I should have expected more resilience from someone who used to make a living from showing off his body, but I’m completely fucking gobsmacked that he’s letting me stand here and grope him. My biggest worry right now is that he’ll regret it, or it’ll mess shit up between us, but then his hands cover where mine are resting under his shirt, the thin material separating us. He guides my hands up to his pecs, and I can’t help my thumb flicking over the small bump of his nipple.

I let out a long, slow exhale, trying to ignore the way my cock is thickening.

He swallows, and I swear it’s heavier than usual. “Totally fine.”

“Hmm …” I step in so my body is pressed to his. Toe to toe, thighs pressed close, stomach flush with his abs. My hands are trapped between us, fingers exploring the light hair on his chest. “It’s not only the touch though, is it?”

“What do you mean?” His smooth voice has dropped deeper.

“I mean, physical touch is one thing, but it’s also your mind. It’s knowing the guy with his hands on you wants more.”

“That’s nothing new.”

“It’s knowing his blood is rushing south. His pulse has kicked up a notch. His cock is rock hard in his pants.”

Orson smirks. “Think you’re making me uncomfortable, Ford?”

I lock eyes with him. “It’s knowing the guy’s gut is flipping out with want and excitement. The expectation of where things are heading next.”

“What else?”

Damn, that question almost makes me groan. “It’s knowing that even though you’re together now, he’s already picturing later.” I slide one hand out from under his shirt to run my fingers over his lips. “He’s picturing you on your knees, these pretty lips stretched wide around his cock.”

Air rushes past my fingers as he sucks in a breath.

“He’s picturing you stripped naked, maybe gripping his hair as you drill into his mouth. Maybe he’s bent over for you. Or maybe … maybe he’s got you bent over, sexy ass in the air while he fucks the life out of you.”

Our faces are closer now, his eyes wide, lips wet and parted. “Is that what you’re thinking?”

Holy shit. An exhale bounces from me. My cock is making it hard to think, but I do know that question wasn’t curiosity. I do know the way he’s looking at me is inviting more. But I also know that Orson wasn’t prepared for whatever this situation is doing to us both.

So I give him honesty. “No.” My jaw tightens at his surprise. “Because I won’t fucking let myself.”

I shove away from him, leaving Orson’s shirt askew, a sliver of those delicious abs on display as he reorients himself.

He gives his head a shake and focuses back on me. Then he smiles. “See? Told you I don’t scare easy.”

I’m torn on whether to laugh or cry because no, he certainly doesn’t. And I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not. I give his ass a solid slap. “Get in the truck. We’ve had enough playtime for tonight.”



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Other Titles Within this Series



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About the Author

Saxon James unapologetically writes happy endings for LGBT+ characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI.


Connect with Saxon

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Blog Tour: Review & Excerpt: Sapphire Spring by C. Travis Rice

Sapphire Spring, an all-new heartfelt and touching MM romance in the Sapphire Cove Series from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice writing as C. Travis Rice, is available now!

Review

I enjoyed Sapphire Sunset (book #1), so I was looking forward to returning to Sapphire Cove and getting to know some of the other characters better. I have to say, my return was just as enjoyable as I expected.

I liked getting to know Naser who we meet briefly in book #1 and learning about his background and meeting his family. Bullied through school, those experiences have had an impact on his life and they are memories that have not really faded. I completely understood where Naser was coming from and I really empathised with him on this front. When out of the blue he bumps into one of the men who bullied him he is definitely not happy.

Mason, hmm well his life is a mess, he’s addicted to drugs and alcohol and living a life where he is not happy, dealing with a father who is not a nice person and treats him pretty badly, something that has been happening most of his life, and he is still hanging out with one of the mates he hung with a school. However, he is starting to question why they are still friends.

These two men meeting again sets off a chain reaction that will change both of their lives in more ways than one. I found this a really emotional read, both of these men had been through a lot and dealt with some painful things. They each created to these in different ways, one going off the rails, the other making his life so rigid and controlled there isn’t room for the unexpected. These guys broke my heart and then put it back together again.

I loved the relationship that blossomed unexpectedly between Naser and Mason and I was more than happy to follow along with them on their journey from enemies to lovers to more. There were plenty of steamy scenes and they both get to explore some of their kinkier sides together and also gain an understanding behind those kinks. While at first, it was hard to understand how Naser could put aside his negative feelings and have anything to do with Mason, their chemistry was so strong that neither could deny their feelings, which worked out well because I don’t think either would have been able to heal and move on if they hadn’t connected.

There were once again some great side characters, Mason’s neighbour was a wonderful friend to Mason when he hit rock bottom, and Naser’s workmates were really good support for him while he was trying to work out his feelings. Mason’s dad however was not a nice character, though we do get to uncover why he is the way he is, he has a lot of making up to do for the emotional impact he has had on Mason.

I really enjoy this author’s writing, he does a great job of pulling me into these characters’ lives and becoming fully invested in them. I’m looking forward to book #3.


About the book

Under his new pen name, C. Travis Rice, New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice offers tales of passion, intrigue, and steamy romance between men. The second novel, SAPPHIRE SPRING, once again transports you to a beautiful luxury resort on the sparkling Southern California coast where strong-willed heroes release the shame that blocks their heart’s desires.

Naser Kazemi has never met a problem a good spending plan couldn’t fix. But working as the chief accountant for his best friend’s resort isn’t turning out to be the dream job he’d hoped for. It doesn’t help that his fashion designer sister is planning an event that just might bring Sapphire Cove crashing down all around them. When the wild party unexpectedly reunites him with Mason Worther, the gorgeous former jock who made his high school experience a living hell, things go from bad to seductive.

The former golden boy’s adult life is a mess, and he knows it’s time to reform his hard partying ways. But for Mason, cleaning up his act means cleaning up his prior misdeeds. And he plans to start with Naser, by submitting to whatever the man demands of him to make things right. The offer ignites an all-consuming passion both men have denied for years. But can they confront their painful past without losing each other in the process?


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Excerpt

“I won’t be here long. I’ve got to get to work.” Naser set the papers in front of Mason and gestured for him to read. Mason skimmed, recognizing the bare bones of an investment agreement. Some of the language seemed boilerplate, and some of it seemed pure Naser. Once he had the gist of it, Mason set the contract down. “I thought your sister didn’t need investors.”

Naser smiled. “Far be it from me to deny a man a chance at redemption.”

“As far as we are from Saturday morning, apparently. No offense, but this is one of the worst investment agreements I’ve ever seen, Naser. The rate of return is basically zero. And the dollar amounts and schedule are both blank.”

Naser smiled and sank into the chair he’d declined a moment before. “The investor in question knows nothing about the fashion industry and has not expressed a desire to learn. In light of that, giving the investor any sort of creative control over the business in question would be a grievous mistake for all involved. Further, the investor’s motives for investing lie far outside any concerns that could be considered…businesslike.”

“The investor is sitting right here, and he doesn’t remember making any of these statements. Also, I think it’s cute that you start sentences with further out loud and not just in emails.”

Naser raised one eyebrow. “The investor is known to have a spotty memory. And there are suggestions he has issues with reliability and consistency as well, so any proposed payment schedule should be…dramatically shortened.”

“The investor has questions,” Mason said.

Naser spread his hands in a welcoming gesture.

“Did you reconsider my offer because you got more info about the state of your sister’s business after you left my house?”

“Are you bisexual?”

Mason flinched. Naser’s stony expression said that had been his intention—and that his sister most certainly did need new investors. “How are those two questions related?”

“We’re only sitting here because for three years you and your buddies subjected me to a form of sexual harassment that’s still considered semi-acceptable in most secondary school settings.”

Mason took a deep breath. The door was still closed. And locked.

“Yes. I’m bisexual.”

Naser seemed startled by the direct answer. He nodded slowly, his tongue making a lump under his upper lip. As if this whole thing would have been easier for him if Mason had deflected or lied, and now he was having to reassess.

“So Fareena wasn’t just busting my balls. Your sister really needs money, doesn’t she?”

Naser smoothed invisible lint off the thighs of his slacks. “I knew you were bisexual,” he muttered.

“Then why did you ask?”

“I don’t know, maybe you were gay and closeted. But Fareena’s Fareena. She’s not going to waste time on a guy that doesn’t have a genuine attraction to her.”

“So I repeat, why did you—”

“Do your buddies know?” Naser was staring at him, eyes blazing with anger.

The question knocked Mason back in his chair an inch. “Tim’s been dead five years.”

Naser looked to the carpet. “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t need to be. He was terrible to you. The Coach Harris email was all his idea.”

Naser drew a deep breath. “Thanks for letting me off the hook, I guess. How did he pass away?”

“Pills. He always said they were for a sports injury from USC, but he warmed the bench the whole time, so that story never made sense. I think he really liked pills. We’re not sure if it was deliberate or if he overshot the mark. There wasn’t a note, but his life wasn’t in a great place.”

Remembering those last few visits with Tim now that he was trying to get sober was more painful than he’d anticipated. Back then, Mason had thought he’d had his shit together, and by comparison to his old friend, who’d dropped out of college and was working odd handyman jobs for his uncle’s contracting company, it had certainly seemed that way. He and Chadwick had even talked about hauling Tim into a rehab—over beers.

Naser nodded, and a silence fell. A silence that, like everything else between them, seemed to bend the laws of time.

“And Chadwick Brody?” Naser’s voice was drawstring tight, but his gaze was steady and penetrating, full of the unspoken recognition that Chadwick had always been the worst out of the three.

“He’s still around.”

Naser was staring at him, waiting for him to say something further. Sensing, it seemed, that Mason’s answer hadn’t been complete or entirely truthful. But maybe expressing hesitation or shame around the topic of Chadwick was what Naser needed to see.

“And no, he doesn’t know that I’m bi. And yes, if you were to walk out of here right now and share this information with the world, you could really screw up my already screwed-up life. Especially with the man down the hall.”

“I’d never do that.”

“I wouldn’t blame you if you did.”

For a second, Mason thought the guy might soften toward him.

“I know what it feels like to be outed before you’re ready,” Naser said. “I’d never inflict that on someone else.”

“We didn’t out you. Everything we did was wrong, but it wasn’t like we knew for sure that you were gay.”

“Yes, you did. You knew every time I looked at you. That’s why you did it.”

Was Naser admitting to having been as hot for Mason as Mason had been for him?

Maybe so, because Naser looked away before Mason did.

Mason picked up the contract. He did some quick math in his head, quick enough that he couldn’t think too long and hard about the consequences of what he was about to do.

He wrote down a figure, followed by a schedule, then he flipped to the signature page and signed his name. Pari Kazemi, he saw, had yet to add her own.

When he handed the contract back to Naser, the guy read Mason’s additions and went stone still.

“A lump sum payment of one hundred grand on signing?” Naser sounded winded. Mason nodded. “You don’t have to buy my silence, Mason.”

“I’m not trying to buy anything. I’m trying to make this right.”

Naser swallowed and looked to the paper again as if he thought his eyes were deceiving him. “Okay, well, obviously nothing’s final until my sister countersigns.”

“I’ll be here if anyone has questions.”

“Proof of funds would be nice.”

“You saw the house.”

Naser stood. “It’s not your house. I did a title check.”

Mason laughed breathily. “Well, you’re good at your job. I can have proof of funds to you by the end of the week.”

“Good. I’m not saying a word to her until after then. I don’t want to get her hopes up.”

Naser turned and headed for the door. Mason figured his speed was an effort to conceal any evidence of his gratitude.

“Naser.”

He stopped, fingers resting on the knob. They both seemed frozen by the knowledge that if Naser opened the door even a crack before they were done talking, he might let some of Mason’s secrets spill out into the world.

“What was the worst thing we did?” Mason asked as gently as he could.

Mason prepared himself for another verbal strike. But when Naser turned to him, head slightly bowed, he saw the man was struggling to swim through a sea of painful memories, struggling to get his arms around one without drowning, and the twist in Mason’s gut felt almost as bad as a hangover.


About C. Travis Rice

C. Travis Rice is the pseudonym New York Times bestselling novelist Christopher Rice devotes to steamy tales of romance between men. Christopher has published multiple bestselling books in multiple genres and been the recipient of a Lambda Literary Award. With his mother, Anne Rice, he is an executive producer on the AMC Studios adaptations of her novels The Vampire Chronicles and The Lives of the Mayfair Witches. Together with his best friend and producing partner, New York Times bestselling novelist, Eric Shaw Quinn, he runs the production company Dinner Partners. Among other projects, they produce the podcast and video network, TDPS, which you can find at http://www.TheDinnerPartyShow.com.


Connect with C. Travis Rice Website / Facebook / Twitter

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Excerpt Reveal & Giveaway: Cracks in the Ice by Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood

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CRACKS IN THE ICE

by Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood


Synopsis

How can they trust love not to hurt them again?

Benny

I’ll never fall in love again.

I had my chance, and I was the happiest man you can imagine. One day, it all came to an end. The only thing left was playing hockey, but it wasn’t enough, and I became my own worst enemy.

When my old school offered me a lifeline, I took it. As a coach, I could at least be miserable in a different place.

But when I arrived, there he was—bright and warm, like sunshine. I’d lived in the dark for so long my soul was frozen, but he thawed me out. I started feeling things again, wanting things. For the first time since the dark times began, I wondered if there was a chance. I’d never thought about being with another man, but so what? Could I be lucky enough to find love twice?


Cole

I was done. No. More. Men.

I’d always made the worst possible dating choices, and one guy after another took advantage of me. Invariably, I thought I was falling in love. Once I told them, they’d show their true colors and run.

Worn out and unable to stand another heartbreak, I swore off love. I almost had my master’s degree, and playing the piano was a much safer route to happiness.

No sooner had I made up my mind than there he was—hot as a forest fire, yet very sad. When I found out why, I understood. Someday, he’d love again, but there was no reason I shouldn’t be a friend.

Then he kissed me, and everything turned on a dime. I needed to protect myself from getting pulled in again, but the harder I tried, the more I believed in him. Was I making another horrible mistake? Would this time be different, or was I setting myself up for the biggest letdown of all?

Cracks in the Ice is a gay sports romance featuring hurt/comfort, sensitive men, unexpected connections, first times, an age gap, faculty/student romance, explosive chemistry, hard-earned happiness, and a very satisfying HEA.

Content warnings for partner deaths, traumatic accidents, and alcohol abuse. While these issues happened in the past, they may still be difficult for some.

Release Date: September 14, 2022

Cover Design: Cate Ashwood Designs

Genre: M/M Sports Romance
Trope: Age-gap, opposites attract, instant connection, second chance at love, first time, hurt/comfort


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Excerpt

I didn’t know if I’d ever find anyone to love again, or if Cole was even interested in me, but there was only one way to find out.

“Benny?”

“Yeah?”

He eyed me curiously. “Are you all right? I called your name a couple of times.”

I relaxed into a smile. “Good. I’m really good.”

“Diana said she’ll call you later. Her mom needed something, and she had to run.”

When I remained quiet, Cole’s eyes darted to the side and he said, “I’m sorry.”

I focused on his plump, rosy lips again. Not to mention his pink cheeks, blue eyes, and silky, golden hair. “Sorry for what?”

“For what I almost let happen before. I don’t know what came over me, but…”

A hum started in my chest, radiating tingles around my body. “I’m the one who started it. I liked it.”

He blinked rapidly. “You did?”

My stomach flipped at how his voice squeaked.

“I did.” The humming and tingling grew stronger, and I stepped forward until I was standing in front of him. “I do.”

“Oh.” His chest rose and fell quickly, and he whispered, “Me too.”

I was tempted to back away, but fuck that. Reaching out, I stroked his chin with a thumb. My heart knocked against my ribs as I leaned over. He inclined his head, moving it toward mine. With only a hair’s breadth separating us, we caressed the space between us with our lips. Who made the final move, I’ll never know, but powerful, almost forgotten sensations washed over me—soft, warm lips against mine; electrifying surges of emotion; an overwhelming desire to hold him.

We wrapped our arms around each other, and gentle brushes of our lips led to a real kiss. I hadn’t remembered how sweet it could be, how right it could feel, how it was somehow the most intimate thing two could share.

Cole withdrew enough to lick the corners of my mouth before pressing his lips against mine again. We went back and forth, kissing lips and stubbly cheeks and jutting chins. It was a new experience for me. I loved how Cole purred when I kissed along his cheekbone. He didn’t have much of a beard, but as we moved, his short whiskers caught against mine. Even holding him was a new experience—his body firm where I’d been used to soft, defined in a different way. The moment was perfect as we returned to each other’s mouths time and again, huffing air through our noses when we had to breathe. We held each other close, and I hoped we’d never have to move again.

Time was lost, and when we eventually parted, he panted at me through swollen lips. “Oh, Benny. That was…”

“Yeah.” I gulped, already wanting to kiss him again. “It was.”

He drew his eyebrows together. “Did you mean it? Why did you do it?”

“Because I had to. I meant it more than I have anything in a long time.”

He took my hands while a grin spread across his face. “Me too, but…”

A jolt of anxiety had my heart taking off again. “What? Did I do something wrong? I never kissed a guy before.”

He erupted in a short, maniacal laugh. “Wrong? Did you do something wrong?” He sighed and laid his hand over his chest. “It was the best kiss I ever had. You did everything right.”

“Thank God.” My breath considered returning to normal. “Because it blew me away.”

Moving his hand from his chest, he trailed his fingers along my cheek. “It was the first time you’ve kissed a guy? Really?”

I nodded.

“Do you feel okay about that part of it?”

“I was nervous, to be honest, but I feel incredible. I’m hoping we can do it again.”

He tilted his head and quirked an eyebrow. “Does that mean you’ll stick around this afternoon?”

I grinned, hoping I didn’t look too dopey. “If you’ll let me.”

“Oh, I’ll let you. I have to admit, though—I never saw that one coming, Benny Caldwell.”


© CRACKS IN THE ICE by Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood. All rights reserved.



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About the Authors

Ryan Taylor met his husband and co-author, Joshua Harwood, in law school. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and share their home with a big, cuddly German shepherd. Ryan and Josh love to travel. In addition, Ryan also enjoys swimming, and Josh likes to putter in the garden whenever he can. They began writing to celebrate the romance they were so lucky to find with each other, and the sharing soon developed into a passion for telling stories about love between out and proud men.

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