Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New Release + Giveaway - In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn

Title: In Vino Veritas
Author: Sydney Blackburn
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: August 13, 2018
Heat Level: 2 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 33200
Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, family drama, gay

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Anthony Beretta inherited the family winery at the tender age of twenty-four. It’s a struggle to keep it up, but he loves it and is determined to make it work even if it kills him. That is, if a motorcyclist doesn’t kill him first. He initially judges the man, attractive as he may be, on the basis of his appearance and apparently limited vocabulary. He soon discovers he’s wrong, but by then Oscar Kennett has already judged Anthony on his appearance.

Oscar thinks Tony Beretta is uptight and snobbish, and Tony’s speech for the charity they’re working on together reinforces that, even when he finds out Tony did it just to push his buttons. His adorable curls and sexy glasses might not be enough to change his mind, but maybe there’s more to Tony than meets the eye.


In Vino Veritas
Sydney Blackburn © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: Beretta Estate Winery
Anthony Beretta hovered in his office, listening to his cousin Katie extol the virtues of their Concord wine.

“It’s a heritage grape,” she was saying, “the kind they make grape juice from.”

Because wine that tasted like commercial grape juice was so popular. Still, there were customers to extol its dubious virtues to, and that was something. Didn’t mean he wanted to meet them, not over the Concord.

“It makes a great spritzer and is the perfect base for a sangria,” she continued. “Not too sweet, but with a full fruity flavour.”

He had to hand it to her. She knew how to sell it. Then again, Katie loved the winery almost as much as he did.

He moved away from his office door and sat behind his desk, looking once more at the open agenda. The winery hosted events, mostly weddings, and provincial regulations had recently changed. He had an appointment with his insurance broker in Bayham in little more than an hour. Which was why he was wearing his suit, instead of the jeans, T-shirt, and heavy cotton button-down he normally wore when he worked at the tasting room. He tugged at the lavender tie that felt like it was strangling him.

After checking the time on his phone once more, Anthony cleared his desk and locked the files away. No one else needed to know how shaky the winery’s finances were. He got to his feet and patted his jacket pocket for his car keys.

There was a mirror beside the door, so one could double-check one’s appearance before going to talk to customers. Anthony gave himself a critical look, pushing his glasses up his nose automatically. The mirror showed him what he was—a rail-thin man just shy of six feet tall, with hair that would never look anything other than dishevelled and dark-framed glasses. At least the glasses went some way towards disguising the shadows under his eyes. He looked like an upended mop, albeit a well-dressed mop.

He scowled. He’d much rather be in his jeans and work boots, out with his stubborn Foch vines. Three years ago, he’d put those bastards in, after his father had the gall to die of a heart attack.

His mouth tightened. He couldn’t think of his father without a sour mix of anger, grief, and guilt.

A discordant jangling let him know the customers had left, and he pushed his door open wider just as Katie rounded the corner. “Ant,” she said, “so glad I caught you. Could you pick up some of that jalapeño sauce from the Mexican store? It really shows off the Viognier. It’s a hard sell on its own.”

He refrained from scowling. Ant was a childhood nickname he’d long outgrown. His name was Anthony. She was right about the Viognier, though.

“Jalapeño sauce. Yes.”

“I don’t suppose you’ve thought about giving me Friday off,” she said, her tone rising at the end of the sentence, but not quite enough to make it a question.

He stifled a sigh. “And you’re not asking Leigh to switch with you because…?”

“Because it’s her wedding shower. Jesus, Ant, pull your head out of your ass once in a while.”

He ground his teeth as he bit back a sharp reply. “Fine. You have Friday off.” It wasn’t like he had anything better to do on a Friday. The tasting room closed at seven. He could catch up on the paperwork while he ate, and on Saturday, he could spend the day in the vineyard, trying to discover why the Foch vines were underproducing.

“You’re a prince,” Katie replied, but her snark had hardly any bite.

Happy employees were long-term employees, his father had always said. Katie really did care about the winery. She just had a social life. He shouldn’t be so hard on her.

And what about my happiness?

As the owner of the winery, there was no one around to see to his happiness. He didn’t even know what would make him happy anymore.

“Sorry, Katie.” He forced a smile. “Do you mind picking out a gift the estate can give her?”

“Yeah, give me a hundred dollars. It can be from the winery, you, Aunt Rosie, and me.”

“Take it from petty cash.”

“There’s no petty cash left, remember?”

He turned to hide his wince. “I’ll take some money from the account while I’m out.”

She hesitated. “The Wine and Song event will go on this year, right?”

“That’s why I’m going to town.”

“I know. It’s just… Is there anything I can do?”

His answering smile was forced. “Be careful what you volunteer for, cuz. Keep your fingers crossed the insurance hasn’t gone up too much.”

Reviewed by Stephanie


I'm not even sure what made me agree to review this book, reading the blurb, it almost sounds like every other contemporary book out there. Maybe it was the adorable curls and sexy glasses, I'm a sucker for both. Regardless, I'm so glad I took the time to read my very first Sydney Blackburn story. 

The snarky banter and the "accidental" judgements are pretty funny and creates one helluvah sexual chemistry. When Ox (Oscar) first meets Tony (Anthony) he's wearing a nice suit as he had been at an important insurance meeting. Ox automatically assumes Tony is a stuffy rich guy. Anthony knows he's not, he HATES wearing suits, but just to get under Ox's skin, he plays the part up. Meanwhile, Tony assumes Ox is just some idiot punk biker, until he Google's him. So while Ox is trying to play up his ripped jeans and t-shirt bad boy persona, Tony knows the truth and also uses that, along with his stuck up fancy pants persona, to crawl further under Oscar's skin. 

I really liked this book from beginning to end. The story flowed nicely and I fell in love with ALL the characters, well, except Ren of course. There was chemistry and humor and low on drama for the most part. Well, except when the ex-bf shows up and is a total douchebag, but that problem gets solved pretty quickly. 

I think this story also packs enough into it for the length it is. It's not too short and it's not too long and holds just enough of everything in it. It's very sweet and I think people will really love Anthony and Oscar.


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Meet the Author

Sydney Blackburn is a binary star system. Always a voracious reader, she began to write when she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read. She likes candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach… Oh wait, wrong profile. She’s a snarky introvert and admits to having a past full of casual sex and dubious hookups, which she uses for her stories.

She likes word play and puns and science-y things. And green curry.

Her dislikes include talking on the phone, people trying to talk to her before she’s had coffee, and filling out the “about me” fields in social media.

Besides writing, she also designs book covers for poor people.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

New Release + #Giveaway- Irresistible by Andrew J. Peters

Title: Irresistible
Author: Andrew J. Peters
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: August 13, 2018
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 79100
Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, humorous, romantic comedy, rich man/poor man, action/adventure, abduction/kidnapping, criminals, Greece

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Brendan Thackeray-Prentiss is an Ivy League-educated trust-funder who Gotham Magazine named the most eligible gay bachelor in New York City. He lives for finding his soulmate, but after walking in on his boyfriend of three transcendent months soaping up in the shower with an older female publicist, he’s on a steady diet of scotch, benzodiazepines, and compulsive yoga. Men are completely off the menu.

Callisthenes Panagopoulos has a problem most guys dream of. With the body and face of a European soccer heartthrob, the vigorous blond hair of a Mormon missionary, and a smile that makes traffic cops stuff their ticket books back in their utility belts, he’s irresistible to everyone. But being a constant guy-magnet comes with its discontents, like an ex-boyfriend who tried to drive his Smart car through Cal’s front door. It makes him wonder if he’s been cursed when it comes to love.

When Brendan and Cal meet, the attraction is meteoric, and they go from date to mates at the speed of time-lapse photography. But to stay together, they’ll have to overcome Cal’s jealous BFF, Romanian mobsters, hermit widowers, and a dictatorship on the brink of revolution during a dream wedding in the Greek isles that becomes a madcap odyssey.

A gay romantic comedy of errors based on Chariton’s Callirhoe, the world’s oldest extant romance novel.


Andrew J. Peters © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Brendan Thackeray-Prentiss was not interested in finding a boyfriend.

He reminded himself of this whenever he passed by an attractive young man on the Upper East Side streets, or when this or that friend took to social media to proclaim a change in their relationship status, or when he clicked through an especially earnest e-mail driving for donations to help gay couples maintain their legal status in the Deep South Bible Belt, and most of all when people asked him, “How is it possible the most eligible gay bachelor in New York City is still single?”

Brendan had made a vow, and it had received the endorsement of his therapist, Dr. Clotilde Trapp. He was taking time off from sex and dating in order to clear his head, and to renew, and to rise up from the ashes like a phoenix, if he wanted to be dramatic about it, which he truly had earned the right to be.

Thiago, a model and an erstwhile compulsory homosexual, had thoroughly shattered Brendan’s belief he knew anything about love. After three full months of practically living together—including traveling together to St. Barts for the most we-belong-together weekend ever experienced by two sexually attracted, socially, intellectually, politically and morally compatible people in the universe—the fantasy had dissolved to black and been unveiled as a waking terror when Brendan returned to his apartment one afternoon and walked in on Thiago and a fortysomething, obscenely nippled fashion publicist in the shower. Thiago’s only words— “You can join us if you want.”

Brendan was on a detox from the gays (and those who styled themselves as “gay-adjacent”) for at least thirty days. His hookup and dating media had been deactivated. His libido had been psychically stowed up in bubble wrap and locked away in storage. No flirting with the coffee shop barista when he purchased his daily macchiato. Eyes on his own business in the locker room at the tennis and racquet club. No “what-if” conversations with himself about a new guy in the neighborhood who kept the same schedule for picking up his groceries. Brendan was entirely committed to an asexual lifestyle, drawing on the same well of discipline that had seen him through his presummer purge of sugar, bread, and alcohol.

That was until he opened the tinkling bell door of The Golden Fleece Antiques and Curio Shop on Lexington Avenue, and a young man at the cashier’s desk looked up at him with the buoyancy of a hand-raised golden retriever.

“Hi!” the clerk said.

He had a preternaturally handsome face of Mediterranean origins and the vigorous, cherubic hair of a Mormon missionary. He wore a teal, graphic T-shirt, which augmented the stunning aquamarine color of his eyes. The T-shirt rode up his upper arms, which were well defined like an Olympic diver or a god of Mount Olympus for that matter. The shirt was emblazoned with a triple-scoop ice cream cone and a question: “Want a lick?”

Brendan’s mouth hung open. He couldn’t produce a word or even budge. Helpfully, the shop clerk didn’t act like he was a mentally impaired patient run free of his caretakers.

“Sorry to startle you. I guess I overdid it with the welcome. I haven’t had a customer all morning. Take a look around and don’t mind me. Or go ahead and mind me if you need any help.”

Brendan smiled, nodded, and took a stumbling step toward the nearest display of bric-a-brac.

The shop felt like a cage in which he’d been ensnared. Brendan tried to fix his attention on the chintz teacup sets and art deco tumblers, but his awareness of the clerk was too much. Was he supposed to pretend he wasn’t sharing the same space with the most deathly adorable creature he had ever seen in his entire life? Brendan’s heartbeat accelerated to the range of near cardiac arrest, and he was reasonably sure he was sweating through the armpits of his burgundy gingham shirt.

He drifted discreetly behind a shelf of African fetishes to consider his options. He could make a sprint for the door and fast-track down the street, never to step within ten blocks of the shop, praying to never run into the clerk again. The alternative was to have to face that otherworldly, beautiful man as a garbling, awestruck lunatic.

Brendan clamped down on his panic. He was twenty-eight years old, far removed from his scarring teenage years at boarding school, charting out routes through campus to avoid running into his torturous crush—Jacob Chandler, captain of the lacrosse team, who used to punch his shoulder and call him “Brendawg,” which sent him into a withering, red-faced fits of aphasia. Brendan now held his own with men. He had no reason to feel inferior. He kept his body in shape. He wasn’t too modest to acknowledge his WASPy good looks claimed attention at times. Gotham Magazine had named him the most eligible gay bachelor of 2018.

For all he knew, the clerk was one of those oblivious heterosexual types who didn’t notice when other men took an interest in them. It made no difference anyway. Brendan had sworn off sex and dating. Even if the clerk was amused or offended by his shrinking, girlish behavior, they were nothing but passing strangers.

A reasonable plan came together. Brendan would grab the first thing in reach, pay for it at the counter, and exit the store with the dignity of having conducted himself like a normal customer.

“Looking for anything in particular?”

Brendan seized up like a jailbird caught in searchlights. That friendly, innocent voice. A hint of a lazy, Upstate accent? A cool wash of awareness passed over Brendan. Was he really plotting schemes to rush out on a stranger whose shop he’d entered quite willfully? Brendan came around the shelf, holding it together for the moment.

“My grandmother’s birthday,” he said. “She collects cameos. I’ve been buying them for her since I was a kid.” Brendan tried something breezy. “I saw the name of your store and thought I might be in luck.”

The clerk set down a leather-bound book he’d been reading. “We’re Greek, but we don’t have any cameos that old. I mean, the store’s Greek. My uncle owns it. My great-uncle actually. I’m only half Greek. The other side’s Polish and German. But we do have some Victorian cameos in the cabinet.” He stood up from his chair and waved Brendan over to a glass-enclosed jewelry case.

Ornamental pins and pendants swam in Brendan’s vision. His gaze bobbed stubbornly up to the clerk on the other side of the cabinet. He was as adorable as a puppy. Barely out of college, Brendan guessed. Was he a cuddly puppy in bed? Christ. Brendan’s imagination had burst free from its hinges, and he couldn’t stop himself from stealing glances at the clerk. His pectorals filling out his T-shirt. The golden hairs on his anatomically perfect forearms. The flecks of sun on his long, broad nose. His supple, berry-brown lips. “Want a lick?” Yes, please. At the crook of the clerk’s neck, and his armpit, and his nipples, and every blessed place between his legs. A smoldering image blew up in Brendan’s mind’s eye. The clerk’s mouth opening wide to swathe his tongue around a triple-scoop ice cream cone.

“I’ll show you what we’ve got.”

Brendan buried his gaze in the floor while the clerk unlocked the cabinet. A blush seared his face. He felt like a pervert and never more happily so.

The clerk brought out a double cameo silver hair comb and two cameo brooches and set them neatly on the glass counter. Brendan awakened to the world of the antique shop. Grandmum’s birthday. Focus Brendan. He looked over the jewelry. A gold-framed brooch with a cherub carved on its oval plaque caught his eye. His grandmother had an extensive collection of ladies’ silhouettes. The cherub was special.

“I like that one too,” the clerk said, looking from the brooch to Brendan with a grin.

“It’s gorgeous,” Brendan said.

“Is your grandmother romantic?”

Brendan smirked. “I suppose. She’s been married three times.”

“It’s Eros. The god of love. That’s why I asked.”

Was there a defensive tone in the clerk’s voice? Had Brendan been too brusque? The thought of hurting his feelings shamed him. “It’s really exceptional,” he said.

“She’s lucky to have a grandson like you.”

Brendan shifted this way and that like a bashful boy.

“I mean, a lot of people, when their grandparents get old, they hardly pay any attention to them at all.” The clerk said it like he was sharing shocking news from an investigative report. So sweet and unpretentious. Brendan’s insides turned to goo.

He came back together. “Oh. My grandmother and I are very close. She practically raised me. I’m closer to her than my mother and father.”

Their glances met for a breath and then darted away.

“You know, you’re a really sweet guy,” the clerk said.

Brendan ventured a glance at him. “You barely know me.”

“I think you are. I mean, how many guys take off from work in the middle of the day to buy birthday presents for their grandmother?” The clerk tucked his hands into the pockets of his jeans and rocked back on his heels. His face darkened, and he looked askance with a self-reproachful snigger. “I shouldn’t have said that. Probably made you uncomfortable. Never mind me. I’m always going on too much, talking to the customers.”

Brendan shook his head. “I don’t mind at all.”

“So what’ll it be? Is that the one?” he asked, giving Brendan a playful shrug of his blond eyebrows.


The clerk grinned. “I’ll get it wrapped up for you.”

Brendan followed him to the cashier counter, where he brought out tissue paper and cellophane tape. With the impending termination of their transaction, a sorrowful ache worked through Brendan. His glance pivoted around. It was only lust. In which he was not permitted to indulge. But what if the clerk was “the one” he was meant to be with? What if fate had conspired to introduce him to his soul mate while he’d marked off a blackout period in his dating life? He had to take these things into consideration.

He noticed the leather-bound journal on the counter. Lettres de Jean-Arthur Rimbaud. The clerk was reading love poems by the most notorious, iconic homosexual who had ever lived? This was encouraging.

“You like Rimbaud?” Brendan asked.

The clerk looked up from his wrapping. “Yeah. I thought I’d try to read his work in the original French this summer.”

“I minored in French literature,” Brendan blurted out.

This earned him a smile of gleaming, white teeth. “I was a classical studies major.”

“I minored in that too.” Brendan tried to explain without sounding pretentious or mentally unbalanced. “I was an English major, but I couldn’t really decide what I wanted to do. I ended up triple minoring in French lit, classical studies, and art history. With a certificate in dramaturgy.”

“That’s amazing. What do you do now?”

“Um, my family has a business. It’s not anything related to my degree.”


NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Andrew J. Peters has been writing fiction since his elementary school principal let him read excerpts from his mystery novel over the PA system during lunch period, an early brush with notoriety, which quite possibly may have been the height of his literary celebrity. Since then, he has studied to be a veterinarian, worked as a social worker for LGBTQ youth, and settled into university administration, while keeping late hours at his home computer writing stories. He is the author of eight books, including the award-winning The City of Seven Gods (2017 Best Horror/Fantasy Novel at the Silver Falchion awards) and the popular Werecat series (2016 Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice awards finalist). Andrew lives in New York City with his husband Genaro and their cat Chloë. When he’s not writing, he enjoys travelling, Broadway shows, movies, and thinking up ways to subvert heteronormative narratives.

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New Release + Giveaway - In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn

Title : In Vino Veritas Author : Sydney Blackburn Publisher : NineStar Press Release Date : August 13, 2018 Heat Level : 2 ...