The Romance Reviews

Friday, January 26, 2018

First chapter Friday #MMromance #gayromance @evernightpub @parr_books The Night Gardener

Chapter One


“Here are the keys, Mr. Lovell. Once I leave tomorrow morning you’ll have the estate to yourself. I’ll lock and shutter the big house, but the grounds are yours to enjoy. There’s a decent fishing rod in the cottage garden shed, if you fish. The river is famous for trout.” Jackson Montgomery placed a sizeable bunch of keys in Dane’s palm with a smile. “You still have my phone number, just in case, eh? Janice stocked the larder and fridge for you?” He glanced around the big kitchen as if he could see into the larder and fridge to assess the contents. Cottage was a misnomer for the place Dane Lovell had rented for the next eight weeks. With two floors and a cellar, plus the fact it stretched the length of just about three ordinary family houses, Dane considered the old place a mansion.

“Yes, thanks. She showed me everything and it’ll probably take me my whole stay to get through the supplies.” He smiled as he followed the caretaker out of the back door and onto the patio.

Jackson turned to him and held out his hand.

Dane shook his hand in goodbye. “Thanks for everything.”

The caretaker gave a nod and was gone, marching along the short, crazy-paved path to the side gate, where with another glance over his shoulder at Dane, he went through it to the neighboring and smaller cottage that was his home.

Dane pushed his hands into his jeans pockets and wandered to the bottom of the garden that adjoined the cottage. He breathed in the cool, reinvigorating air emitted by a thicket of evergreen trees as he took the path that wove through them and led him to the bend in the river rushing past.

His cell phone buzzed in the pocket of his denim gilet.

“Lovell.” He stopped walking to answer.

“Dane, where the hell are you? What happened to our meeting?” His brother’s voice held both annoyance and anxiety.

“Sorry, Emmet, I took off earlier than I expected. I did leave you a message, at your office. Didn’t you get it?”

“Rosie strikes again. I swear I’ll never have another temp from that agency. Okay, well, have a good break. Keep in touch. I guess planning a new project can wait until you’ve recharged your batteries for a few weeks. I wish you’d not gone quite so far away, though, Dane—New England…”

Dane caught the change in his brother’s tone and knew he must be smiling.

“I needed a total change after the incident with Jeremy. It’s been months and I’m still not over it, but thanks, Emmet, I’ll try to have a good break.” He ended the call as he gazed into the flow of water where the weak sun threw its light. Square sparkles dashed by on the water looking like little windows into the river. Dane walked closer to the edge of the bank and watched for a few moments. Immediately below, long slender reeds swayed in huge tangled bunches. Dane turned and walked back to the cottage, hunger forcing him away from the mesmerizing sight.

He’d not eaten since the day before. Dane never ate before late afternoon. In fact, he was never usually out and about until midafternoon. He worked far into the night and usually fell into bed around dawn. Somehow, over the years, this had become his normal pattern of living—Dane was nocturnal. Meetings, such as the one he was to have with Emmet, posed a problem. Although his brother always accommodated him, other people usually wanted them in the morning. On those occasions, Dane forced himself out of slumber and took a cab to the venue, not trusting his sleepy head to drive. Sometimes Dane tried to change this nocturnal pattern, but it never worked. The blanket of night offered him comfort.

He entered the kitchen and made straight for the fridge. Janice, the caretaker’s wife, had left a large roasted chicken for him. He brought it to the table and pulled a loaf of crusty bread from the breadbox on the counter. Dane hummed as he made a sandwich. The complete change of scenery already soothed his soul. Cocooned in stands of trees and circled by sparkling water, Dane breathed a sigh of relief. There were no reminders of Jeremy here.

****

Janice Montgomery handed her husband, Jackson, a beer.

He took it with a grateful smile. “Thanks, sweetheart.” He sat heavily in his armchair and brought his feet up onto the footstool. “It’ll be great to get away. Have you packed?”

She came to sit on the arm of the chair and ran her fingers into his hair, taking it back from his forehead. She planted a kiss there. “I have. Have you finished work? Can we make an early start?”

Jackson caught her hand and kissed her palm. “All done. Let’s leave around six. We’ll miss the business traffic if we get out the other side of town before seven.”

A small frown put a crease between her eyes. “Jackson … have you mentioned Zachary to the guy leasing the cottage?”

Jackson pursed his lips. “Dane Lovell’s the guy’s name, and no I, er, I forgot.”

Janice stood. “I don’t think you forgot. I think you chickened out. Dinner’s ready. I’ll dish up.”

Jackson gazed after her. He heaved a sigh. Zachary…

****
A TV sat on a shelf in a breakfast nook at the end of the kitchen. Dane ate his sandwich as he caught the evening news. He made coffee as he listened to the weather report, and then he brought his laptop to the big pine table in the main part of the kitchen, and booted it.

Dane opened the folder on the desktop marked Emmet and clicked on the file. His architectural design software opened it. He scrutinized the drawing for a few moments.

The design was finished. He could email it to Emmet. That way he could concentrate on his other project, his secret passion. He closed the file and opened his email program. Wi-Fi included was one of the attractions listed for the cottage. He emailed the file with a short note for Emmet to go ahead and take over the deal.

Dane loved designing buildings, but although architecture was his first love, it wasn’t his only love. Dane wrote. He wrote mystery novels under a pen name. A few months ago, Dane’s ideas dried up. At first, he didn’t worry, thinking the break-up was to blame, and then as time galloped by with not a word written, he admitted to himself that he had a real problem. He figured a total change of scenery might help both his melancholy and his writers’ block.

The email sent, Dane closed the mail application and sat back in the chair to stare at the screen. He waited for words to perform magic in his head the way they used to, but it didn’t happen. Instead, lovely houses built in his imagination. He pushed away from the table. The chair scraped on the flagstone floor. A sigh escaped him as he stood to get another cup of coffee.

He shivered in the cool evening breeze that entered through the open window over the kitchen sink. With a fresh cup of coffee on the table, he went to the bedroom he’d chosen to sleep in and found a sweater. He picked up his favorite sketchbook and pencils as the need to draw filled him…

Dawn filtered through the slim gaps at the sides of the blinds. Birds sang their morning song. Dane stretched and considered the drawings he’d worked on all night.

“Time to snatch a little sleep,” he told himself. He stripped off the sweater and left it on a chair as he passed on his way to take a shower.

Copyright E.D.Parr 2017 Evernight Publishing 
The Night Gardener

Architect, Dane Lovell takes an off-season vacation in an old New England mansion. One night, the sound of the back door smashing open in the wind and rain shocks Dane from his work.
Spooky, gorgeous, and enigmatic Zachary Yarrow has brought logs for the fire. He brings with him not just passion and a love affair for Dane, but a strange, spine-tingling mystery.

Find other E.D.Parr stories








Wednesday, January 17, 2018

After a heady night of love, Josh is devastated when Will turns out to be a millionaire. #MMromance #midweektease

This week's #midweektease #MWTease excerpt is from
A Forever Kind of Thing

Businessman Will has hoped to meet musician Josh for so long, he’s astonished and elated when Josh finally notices and pursues him at one of the band’s gigs.
After a heady night of love, Josh is devastated when Will turns out to be a millionaire. He’s not a hustler. He couldn’t take and he couldn’t compete. He retreats into his music.
Will is sure they could have something special and tries to prove his love for Josh in the only way he knows how. Trouble is—it’s the wrong way.
Josh is shocked to discover he can’t forget Will.
They want each other. Their chemistry is scorching. Their encounters erotic.
But Josh is running in the opposite direction as Will longs to love him.
Can love triumph?


Read the teaser
The server arrived at the table.

Will waited for Joshua to order what appeared to be a favorite because he didn’t even look at the menu. Will asked for the same as Joshua. He could eat a burger any day.

Joshua grinned at him as the server walked away.

“Sorry, the food probably isn’t what you’re used to.”

Amused, Will laughed. “Hey, I wasn’t born wealthy. I love burgers. I don’t do fine dining that often, in fact.”

“Tell me how long it took you to make it ... really make it, so that money wasn’t a worry any more.”

Will considered his answer to Joshua’s question for a few moments. He moved his water glass around on the table as he wondered if he should mention having lost track of Joshua and sunk his unhappiness into work during that time. He decided against it. Joshua already knew he’d attended almost every gig the band played. 

“I was lucky. Just at the right time, I had my idea for a sports shoe. The design needed a special sole and shape. I knew a science graduate and we teamed up to make the prototype. His dad knew a couple of big name sports stars, having grown up around their families, and they tried out the shoes for us. Their endorsement got us funding from the banks. We’d had financial help from my friend’s dad before that. Then suddenly we were in business, and everything just went ahead.
Success was like a runaway train zooming along no matter what we did. We’d what you might call, ‘made it,’ within a year. I worked hard, though, and still do. We both did, but a lot of it was initial luck—the right product at the right time. Life smiled on us.” He pushed his hand across the table toward Joshua’s arm as Josh rested there listening. The desire to touch Joshua burned in him. A sigh escaped him as he stopped with his fingertips not even brushing Josh’s shirtsleeve.

Joshua’s eyes filled with tenderness as he saw Will’s gesture. He looked away and gazed out across the river for a few moments before he spoke again.
 “Music isn’t so easy. It’s the visibility. Like all art, it’s hard to locate your audience, and their regard is always subjective. Fans sometimes turn on you, because you’ve tried a new way of arranging or tried a different music genre.”

Will wished he could help. It was on the tip of his tongue to offer something, but he bit it back, knowing that Joshua might spook. Instead, he remembered the box sitting on the chair next to him. “Joshua, I brought something for you.” He picked up the box and stood to put it on the table in front of Joshua.

Will hadn’t even sat down again when Joshua’s exclamation unnerved him.

“Will, you can’t do this.” Joshua held up one of the sports shoes that he’d taken from the box. “You can’t give me things...”

Sadness rose in Will as he watched Joshua stuff the shoe back in amongst the brightly colored tissue and jam the lid back on the box.
“They’re your size. I looked when we were together. It’s just a pair of shoes ... the new style going in stores this week. I’m sorry...” He trailed away as Joshua sat resolute across the table.

“I can’t take them. How would you like it if I turned up with a gift today?”

Will gazed at the shoe box and then into Joshua’s eyes. “I wouldn’t have minded. I’d think you loved me. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

Joshua’s voice softened, but he pushed the box toward Will. “I can’t take them,” he repeated.

Will had to put it back on the chair quickly as their order arrived. He sighed heavily as he stared at the burger, bursting with salad. He didn’t feel hungry now. He cast a glance at Joshua.

“Will, I have nothing to give you in return.”

Will slumped as the words hit home. He couldn’t believe how little Joshua thought of himself. “Your presence, your time, your love ... it’s all so much, so perfect, so good. The song you wrote and sang to me ... being with you, it’s the best gift I’ve ever had. I saw the stacks of shoe samples in an office today and it was just a little thought ... ‘I’ll take some to Joshua.’”

Without warning Joshua stood.

Will thought he was leaving, and sadness fell like a stone in his chest, but Joshua pulled his chair to sit beside Will. He didn’t touch Will, but his head was close as he spoke.

“I’m sorry. I guess I’m just prickly about how wealthy you are, and I don’t want anyone ever saying I’m with you for your money.”

Will turned his face to Joshua’s. His heartbeat sped up. Joshua’s breath whispered over Will’s lips, he was so close. I could kiss him. Will looked away as the temptation nearly took over. “Okay.” He had no idea what else to say. He wanted to say, ‘Does that mean eventually we’ll be able to tell people we’re a couple ... does that mean that one day we can be open and shout to the world that we love each other?’

Copyright Elodie Parkes  Encompass Ink
HOP to the next #MWTease

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hell, Chris, I’ve thought about being with you like this so many times, wished for it, and now I have my wish, I’m desperate. #midweektease #MMromance

For #MWTease #midweekteaser a sexy shower scene from MM romance 
Hawk v Falcon

Chris Falconer receives an email from his lost high school friend, Justin, ten years after he last saw him, Chris is overjoyed. The two boys had shared kisses and sworn love for each other, but before their love could be tested, Justin’s mother abruptly took Justin out of school, and they disappeared.
Multi-talented and handsome Chris has never forgotten Justin—turns out Justin has never forgotten Chris either.
On a modeling assignment in New York, Justin sees Chris in a café and can’t help contacting him, but his ex, Todd, who doesn’t want Justin but doesn’t want Chris to have him either, has plans to throw their reunion into disarray.

So begins a love story full of emotion. Will Todd succeed? Or this time, will Justin and Chris have the happy ending and delicious love they deserve?

Read the teaser 18+

Justin gazed after Chris as the bathroom door closed. He sat on the end of the bed and stared at the ensuite entrance. Knowing Chris was in there naked did something to Justin’s insides. He pressed a finger to his lips, the memory of their kiss teasing him as desire to hold Chris close raced through him. He stood and paced to the window. Pale streaks of dawn filtered through the leaves of a huge tree. Will he think it’s too soon if I go in there? I need him. I’m going in there.
Justin dragged off his clothes and turned the ensuite door handle slowly. Steam obscured his vision of Chris except for a tantalizing view of his muscular ass as Chris turned in the shower sprinkles. Justin opened the shower stall door. The thought of being naked with Chris had thickened his cock. His stomach clenched as Chris saw him and opened his arms.
Justin stepped close. There were no words. He rammed his body on Chris’s as water streamed over his head and back. He swept his hands along Chris’s back and up to grab his shoulders as he kissed Chris.
Water ran in soft rivers over their noses and by the sides of their mouths.
Justin shifted and pushed a hand between their bodies to touch Chris. The half-erection that met his fingertips, jerked into a huge, hard column. Justin gripped the delicious cock and a soft moan escaped him as he broke contact with Chris’s lips to whisper.
“I want you bad. I need you. I want to taste your cum. Hell, Chris, I’ve thought about being like this with you so many times, wished for it, and now I have my wish, I’m desperate.”
Chris grabbed his head and kissed him hard.
Justin opened his mouth and slid his tongue into Chris’s mouth. His cock ached and throbbed. The underside of his balls felt melted, and then as Chris grabbed his dick and pumped slowly, his balls tightened and he sighed against Chris’s lips.
Chris let him go and a frown of loss leapt between his eyes, but Chris’s hands were only gone for moments, and then were all over him slipping and sliding with soap.
The sensation made him groan.
Chris took his cock in one strong hand.
Justin leaned into Chris, his head on Chris’s shoulder as the pumping, and sliding took him into a spiral of desire. Justin’s cock pulsed and his balls hardened. Chris slid an arm around Justin holding him in an iron embrace as he worked Justin’s cock, his own rock hard column pressed against Justin’s hip adding to the deep pleasure that burned over Justin. He gasped and thrust his hips with every pull from Chris’s lathered fingers.
Justin groaned and pressed his mouth against Chris’s neck. In a huge wave of completely delicious sensation, Justin’s cum spurted high. His body rocked. His stomach clenched and he moaned onto Chris’s skin. The throbs of orgasm went on for a long time. His thighs weakened and he nuzzled Chris on the jaw, water filling his mouth and leaking down his chest. “Chris, let me make you come, too. I want that so much.”
Chris rammed his erection against the side of Justin’s body. He still held Justin’s cock and slowly let go to stroke Justin’s balls and stomach.
A huge pulse went through Justin’s shrinking erection. The pleasure made him gasp.
He pulled the soap from the dish inserted in the shower stall wall and lathered his hands. He grabbed Chris’s muscled thighs and slid his fingertips around to tease at the crack of Chris’s ass. He whispered against Chris’s lips. “Later when you don’t taste of soap I’m going to suck the cum out of you, but right now I want your cock in my hands.” He felt Chris’s intake of breath at his words and pressed his mouth to Chris’s wet lips in a kiss, and then he jerked Chris off.
He gripped and pumped, the lather from the soap making his hand slide to the end and then to the hilt of Chris’s huge cock. He pressed his forehead to Chris’s muscled chest. He bent to watch as he pumped, until Chris moaned and gripped Justin’s back, his hips jerking to the pull and slide of Justin’s hand.
Justin smiled as Chris orgasmed with such force, he slammed his cock up, making Justin lose his grip. Chris’s pulsing cock rammed on Justin’s stomach and slipped along, trailing cum and soft soap lather. Justin lifted his head and kissed along Chris’s neck, waiting for Chris to catch his breath.
“Fucking hell. That felt ... so good. I’m shaking. Come here.” Chris grabbed Justin’s head and kissed him, his lips in a hungry onslaught on Justin’s. His fingers tunneling in Justin’s wet hair, he thrust his body slowly on Justin’s.
Justin’s eyes closed with pure lust. He grasped Chris’s ass and dragged him further against his own body until they crushed together, kissing and thrusting their tongues on each other’s with low murmurs. 
©Elodie Parkes 2016 Encompass Ink

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The seeds of passion are sown, but just who has ignited Tom’s passion? #MWtease #midweektease #MMromance

#midweektease comes to you this week from 
Love Unmasked
Handsome Tom Wells sets lonely Scott Palmer’s heart racing as he watches Tom come and go from his apartment across the street. Scott longs to meet Tom, and when he scores a new job delivering goods for a local distributor, fate hands him the opportunity. 
Tom works in a nightclub—the Candy Apple, and in the sultry environs, a masked stranger seduces Tom. The seeds of passion are sown, but just who has ignited Tom’s passion? 
Scott’s longing to know Tom leads him to join the elite nightclub. On his first visit, the club holds a masquerade event. 
Who is kissing who? Who’s under the black velvet mask?
An erotic MM romance, with a twist of fun and HEA. 

Read the teaser 


Tom sank his head onto Scott’s shoulder. He slipped his hand onto Scott’s thigh.
“I want to know you. I want that mask off. I want to see you. Who are you, because you’re not the guy I thought you were originally. It wasn’t you who sucked me off on the night of the first masquerade party.”
Scott’s stomach lurched. Just as he feared, someone did have sex with Tom. That’s what Tom had meant with all the references to “this time” when they’d been in the storeroom. His jealousy spiked and made his tone harsh as he answered. “I think the sex is hot because you don’t know me—because of the masks.” He didn’t mean it. It was just something to say.
Tom lifted his head and slid his hand along Scott’s jaw. He brought Scott’s face to his, kissed him, and whispered. “I’m not wearing a mask.”
Scott didn’t answer. He returned Tom’s kiss. The meaning in Tom’s words thrilled him.
Tom tunneled his fingers into Scott’s hair and gazed into his eyes. “How did you know who was under the mask at the last event, so that you could arrange this? There are other male servers.”
Worry spiked down Scott’s spine. “No one looks like you. Your body, the way you move, it’s unmistakable.”
Tom smiled and ran his hand up and down Scott’s side. “Yeah, I like you, too.”
Scott didn’t know how to carry on. He looked away.
Tom held his hand. “Hey, wait for me to finish my shift. Come home with me. We could fuck, talk, and have breakfast together. Time to unmask because we have obvious sexual chemistry and there’s tenderness in your kiss, don’t deny it.”
Scott couldn’t do it. He wondered about the first masquerade party and the guy who’d sucked Tom off then. It was suddenly clear that Tom had approached him the night he’d been at the second masquerade party because Tom thought the other man had returned.
“Did you have chemistry with the first guy?”
Tom gave Scott a look that bordered on hurt. “I don’t think so … no, no I didn’t. He was out to get me. I succumbed because I needed the sex. I work long hours and honestly, I don’t get much sex. I thought you were him because you wore the same mask, but not now.”
Scott stroked Tom’s wrist and arm. He shifted so that he could bring Tom into his embrace. “I didn’t mean…”
Tom cut him off. “The other guy, he’s not all that great in reality. I saw him again here in the club with a girl, and he was unpleasant when I spoke to him. It made me feel bad about … about things, but it also made me realize there was someone else. You, in fact…”
Scott kissed him softly. He breathed in the slight woody scent of Tom’s cologne. He soaked up the feel of Tom’s skin and rubbed his jaw on Tom’s shade of stubble.
“I’ve kept you away from work long enough. Better dress.”
He stood and dressed as fast as he could.
Tom dressed quickly, too.
He held Scott’s waist. “I mean it. Wait for me. Just stand at the end of the bar where I first saw you, around two a.m. and tell me, tell me you’re there for me, although I’d know your body anywhere now, and those lips ... yeah...” He grinned.
Scott’s stomach dipped. He couldn’t speak a lie, but he gave a tiny nod, knowing he wouldn’t do it, but not wanting to tell Tom. Exactly why he couldn’t rip off the mask and let Tom know his identity was a mystery to him then. He took Tom to the door and showed him out with a kiss.
Scott had never used a room like this before. He tried to remember the process for vacating it that Charlie had told him when he joined. He made sure he’d not dropped anything and went to the door. It was only then he noticed the surveillance dials on the wall. Too late to turn anything down or off ... oh well… Alongside was a small printed sign. It displayed the instructions for leaving the room.
He flicked the small catch across on the inside of the door, checked that the words, ‘Ready for Cleaning,’ showed in the space on the outside, and let the door swing shut. Scott pondered how the green light changed to red for occupied or needing cleaning as he made his way along the corridor to the main room. Must be on some sort of automatic switch or maybe it’s linked to the surveillance or the door catch... Music became louder. Scott gave up thinking about it. He slipped the mask off and stuffed it into his jacket pocket. He half-expected Tom to be lurking at the corridor entrance to catch him sneaking away, but only a man and woman leaned on the wall there making out.

Scott walked quickly to the exit and out into the night air. The sunny day had given way to a crystal clear night, cool and sparkling. Scott admitted to himself that he was already so emotionally invested in Tom that he needed to take courage and tell Tom who he was. How could a half-mask make any real difference to my appearance? He asked himself as he drove home. Scott sat in his parked car outside his apartment block deep in thought. What am I afraid of? I don’t know. Tom already wants to see me without the mask. Maybe it’s because I just couldn’t take it if he didn’t love me, because I think I love him. Yeah, I’m in love with him. Fuck, that’s so dangerous. The best thing I can do, now I know he’s gay, is make some kind of pass at him as myself, when I deliver to the club. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll ask him out.
Copyright Elodie Parkes , Encompass Ink