Category Archives: Cover Reveal

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Cinnamon Blade: Knife In Shining Armor by Shira Glassman!

Always lovely to have Shira Glassman on the site, especially when she’s sharing exciting new book stuff! Today it’s a cover reveal for Cinnamon Blade: Knife in Shining Armor, a spicy f/f romance starring a bi Jewish superheroine, releasing May 7!


Here’s the story:

Every time Cinnamon Blade, crime fighter making up for a bad past, rescues the sweet and nerdy Soledad Castillo from bad guys, the two women’s chemistry grows stronger. Now that she’s finally asked Soledad out, sparks fly — but is a normal date even possible in a city threatened by aliens and vampires on a regular basis?

Preorder it now!

And here’s the gorgeous cover, with art by Jane Dominguez!


Here’s a little more from Glassman:

In 2017 I wrote a fluffy contemporary f/f romance about knitting, art, and healing. Those of you who read Knit One, Girl Two might remember that Clara and Danielle bond, among other things, over a femslash ship on a superhero show I made up for the story. One of them mentions being into the “bad girl/good girl vibe” between reformed cat burglar/present-day superhero Cinnamon Blade and the nerdy sweetheart she’s rescued in multiple episodes. In another scene, Danielle draws some fan art and uses it to flirt with Clara.

Well, dammit if I didn’t want to write that ‘ship myself by the time I was done working on K1G2! (And then I shocked myself by writing it longer than the original story that inspired it.)

I have always been into ladies rescuing ladies, and this time I’ve focused on a knight/damsel dynamic for the romance itself.

Cinnamon Blade is sassy, edgy, and outrageous — but when she does care, she cares deeply. She cares for her best friend, Captain Werewolf, with whom she spent her childhood hiding from Hebrew school on the synagogue roof. She cares for justice, doing her best to make up for her questionable years as a jewel and art thief without compromising her sense of style. And she cares for Soledad Castillo, who stole her heart with wide, adoring eyes and babbling conversation about the linguistic origins of words.

This book is about half ladies being cute and sexy with each other and half superheroes fighting various Beasties. I hope all of this intrigues you enough to come along for the ride!


IMG_20170410_210426635~2Shira Glassman is a bisexual Jewish violinist passionately inspired by German and French opera and Agatha Christie novels. She lives in north central Florida, where the alligators are mostly harmless because they’re too lazy to be bothered.


Exclusive Cover Reveal: A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra!

Today on the site, we’ve got a brand-new cover reveal! A Tiny Piece of Something Greater is Sierra’s newest gay contemporary romance, which releases from Interlude Press on May 17, 2018, involving scuba diving, mental illness, and a secret past. Check out the official description:

Reid Watsford has a lot of secrets and a past he can’t quite escape. While staying at his grandmother’s condo in Key Largo, he signs up for introductory dive classes, where he meets Joaquim Oliveira, a Brazilian dive instructor with wanderlust. Driven by an instant, magnetic pull, what could have been just a hookup quickly deepens. As their relationship evolves, they must learn to navigate the challenges of Reid’s mental illness—on their own and with each other.

And now, check out the cover, designed by C.B. Messer!

Here’s where you can buy the book:

Interlude Press:


Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews., @judesierra

Cover Reveal: Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen!

I love when books that’ve been on my to-read list since announcement day finally get close enough to get publication to get covers, and I love love love when those covers are excellent! So today is a total double whammy for me, and I’m thrilled to exclusively reveal the cover of Jack of Hearts (and other parts) by L.C. Rosen, which releases from Little, Brown on October 30, 2018!


Jack has a lot of sex—and he’s not ashamed of it. While he’s sometimes ostracized, and gossip constantly rages about his sex life, Jack always believes that “it could be worse.”

But then, the worse unexpectedly strikes: When Jack starts writing a teen sex advice column for an online site, he begins to receive creepy and threatening love letters that attempt to force Jack to curb his sexuality and personality. Now it’s up to Jack and his best friends to uncover the stalker—before their love becomes dangerous.

Ground-breaking and page-turning, Jack of Hearts (and other parts) celebrates the freedom to be oneself, especially in the face of adversity.

Add it on Goodreads

And here’s the fabulous coverphotographed by Howard Huang (who’s also photographed Nicki Minaj!) and designed by Little, Brown’s Karina Granda—in full!


Are you as in love as I am?? Share your love in the comments!! And until buy links go up next week, make sure you add Jack of Hearts to your TBR on Goodreads!

Photo Credit: Rachel Shane
L. C. Rosen, also known as Lev Rosen, has written several books for adults and children, but this novel is his YA debut. His books have been featured on numerous Best of the Year lists and nominated for several awards. He lives in New York City with his husband and a very small cat.

Cover + Excerpt Reveal For Sparks Fly by Llinos Cathryn Thomas

Today on the site we’ve got a new cover reveal for an f/f romance novella set in space! Come check out Sparks Fly by Llinos Cathryn Thomas!

After twenty-five years of single-minded determination, Marianne Gordon has finally achieved her ambition and been promoted to Principal of the Vesper School for Zero-Gravity Artistic Display.

But her moment of triumph is cut short when she discovers that she must share her position with Josephine Knight, a celebrated zero-gravity performer who doesn’t know the first thing about teaching. Deeply insulted, Marianne does her best to carry on as though Jo isn’t there, but Jo has a way of making her presence felt.

When the future of Marianne’s beloved school is threatened, Jo may be the only person who can help – but only if Marianne can learn to let her in.

Sparks Fly is a novella-length F/F romance in space.

And here’s the cover! 

Sparks Fly Cover - Llinos Cathryn Thomas

Buy it!


The door opened. ‘Ms Gordon?’

Marianne had seen Josephine Knight on the arts casts, an athletic figure in form-fitting Z-GAD flight gear, and in pictures taken at glittering after-show parties, in dresses or suits with her chin-length hair stylishly arranged. In person, she was not as tall as Marianne had imagined, her hair was a tangled ash-blond mess that flopped over her eyes, and what Marianne could see of her expression was hesitant. She leaned in the doorway for a second, waiting for confirmation.

‘Yes, yes,’ said Marianne impatiently. ‘Do come in.’

Ms Knight crossed to the desk – with a bit of a limp, Marianne noticed – and extended her hand.

‘Jo Knight,’ she said. ‘Looking forward to working with you.’

‘I’m sure,’ said Marianne, taking the offered hand and shaking it for the briefest moment she could get away with. Her ire at this entire situation was strong enough that when they touched, she felt an almost physical jolt, like electricity passing between them. She tried to squash down her annoyance.

‘That’s your desk over there,’ she said, pointing across the office.

‘Thank you,’ said Ms Knight.

Marianne relented slightly. ‘I suppose someone’s already shown you to your rooms?’

‘They have, thank you. I just came from there. But I haven’t seen anything else of the place. I don’t suppose you have the time to give me a bit of a tour? I almost got lost on the way down.’

‘I’ll transfer you a map,’ said Marianne.

‘Not really my strong suit, map reading,’ said Ms Knight.

Did she really think Marianne had nothing better to do than waste her afternoon showing her around?

Be nice to her. For your own sake.

There had been more than a bit of an implied threat in Bisley’s words. She wasn’t nearly established enough in her position yet to openly defy the board’s wishes.

‘Come on, then,’ she snapped.

If it hadn’t been for the accident, Marianne would have stalked ahead at her usual brisk pace and left Ms Knight to keep up as best she could, but in the circumstances it seemed unnecessarily cruel even for someone who had turned up and casually ruined everything for her.

Instead, she vented her spite secretly by giving a perfunctory and passionless tour – she’d lived and worked at this school for twenty-five years and she knew every bit of history, every quirk of architecture, every thrilling story of things that had happened in its corridors and rehearsal rooms, and she could have told them all if she’d wanted to.

‘This is the staff room,’ she said instead. ‘This is the rehearsal room.’

They walked down the long corridor with the photographs and holo-sculptures of famous performances, and although Marianne could see Ms Knight peering curiously at them, she didn’t say anything, even though it was almost physically painful not to share what she knew.

‘What’s this one?’ Ms Knight asked, stopping at a piece Marianne loved. ‘It’s wonderful!’

Marianne seethed inwardly – what right did Ms Knight have to like her favourite picture? – but she plastered on a polite expression.

‘That’s a photograph of a performance of The Wild Hunt that the Vesper Company gave almost thirty years ago.’

‘I’ve seen the recordings – you choreographed it, didn’t you? It was magnificent.’

Marianne looked up. Ms Knight was smiling at her with what seemed like sincere admiration. Her stomach jolted.

‘I… yes, I did. Um… thank you.’

‘You were an incredibly promising choreographer – what made you decide to switch to teaching?’

Marianne almost winced. It was like prodding a bruise. ‘Nothing I want to discuss,’ she snapped.

‘Oh. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t…’

‘Anyway,’ said Marianne, firmly. ‘We should move on. It’s almost lunchtime. We teachers eat in the communal dining hall with the students and mechanics. I hope that’s not too plebeian for the famous Josephine Knight?’

‘Not at all. And it’s Jo.’

Marianne ignored that, and led the way to the dining hall.


Llinos Cathryn Thomas comes from North Wales and lives in London with her wife and their books. She likes dragons, spaceships and cake. She writes about pretty much those same things.

Connect with her on Twitter and Tumblr!


Cover Reveal: Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault

So thrilled to have author Claudie Arseneault back on the site today, this time to talk about one of her own books, the upcoming Baker Thief!

Adèle has only one goal: catch the purple-haired thief who broke into her home and stole her exocore, thus proving herself to her new police team. Little does she know, her thief is also the local baker.

Claire owns the Croissant-toi, but while her days are filled with pastries and customers, her nights are dedicated to stealing exocores. These new red gems are heralded as the energy of the future, but she knows the truth: they are made of witches’ souls.

When her twin—a powerful witch and prime exocore material—disappears, Claire redoubles in her efforts to investigate. She keeps running into Adèle, however, and whether or not she can save her sister might depend on their conflicted, unstable, but deepening relationship.

Baker Thief is the first in a fantasy series which centers non-romantic relationships and stars a bigender aromantic protagonist. Those who love enemies-to-“lovers” and superheroes will love this story!

And now, the cover! 

Baker Thief_cover

Even better, the full jacket!

baker thief wraparound

Find Artist Laya Rose on Twitter, Tumblr, & Laya Rose Art

Some thoughts on the cover from Claudie Arseneault:

I have been sitting on this cover for months now, and I am still every bit as in love with it as when I first saw it. Perhaps because I set it as my computer screen and stare at it every day. I love the superhero feel of Claire watching over the city, I love the strong and full colours (yes, purple, people who know me will not be surprised one bit), I love the simplicity of the lines. Normally I am drawn to covers that don’t have the protagonists on it, but for this it felt important to have it. And I love that Claire is there, front and center, with flabby arms and thick thighs, and that she feels centered and powerful. This is her story, moreso than any other of my books have been one character’s story, and it feels right. Working with Laya on this cover has been a charm—full of difficult decisions, for sure, but that is a sign of the many great options I had. I’m glad to be sharing at last, and I hope you love it as much as I do!

Add BAKER THIEF on Goodreads * Download an excerpt from The Kraken Collective


claudie-arseneault-author-picClaudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Québec City. Claudie is best known for the Aromantic and Asexual Characters Database and for her body of work, which features several ace and aro characters. She has written both science-fiction (Viral Airwaves) and fantasy (the City of Spires trilogy) and edited an anthology of amazing solarpunk dragon stories (Wings of Renewal).

You can find Claudie on Twitter @clh2oars and her website!



Cover Reveal for The Weekend Bucket List by Mia Kerick!

This YA about expectations, love, and friendship features bisexual and pansexual rep and releases on April 19! Here’s the scoop on The Weekend Bucket List by Mia Kerick:

High school seniors Cady LaBrie and Cooper Murphy have yet to set one toe out of line—they’ve never stayed out all night or snuck into a movie, never gotten drunk or gone skinny-dipping. But they have each other, forty-eight hours before graduation, and a Weekend Bucket List.

There’s a lot riding on this one weekend, especially since Cady and Cooper have yet to admit, much less resolve, their confounding feelings for one another—feelings that prove even more difficult to discern when genial high school dropout Eli Stanley joins their epic adventure. But as the trio ticks through their bucket list, the questions they face shift toward something new: Must friendship play second fiddle to romance? Or can it be the ultimate prize?

And now, the cover!



Cover + Excerpt Reveal for All Downhill From Here by Erin Ptah!

Today on the site, we’ve got a cover and excerpt reveal for All Downhill From Here by Erin Ptah! This is a short spinoff story for the webcoming Leif & Thorn, but it’s a standalone AU; no previous knowledge of the comic is required. Here are the deets:

When a diplomatic conference gets derailed by an avalanche, native groundskeeper Leif and visiting knight Thorn end up buried together in the snow. The good news: Leif knows how to survive in the wilderness, and Thorn knows enough of the language to take directions. The bad news: a concussion, divided loyalties, malfunctioning magic, and any vampires that find them are legally allowed to eat them

Or: 13K words of fantasy survival hurt/comfort m/m, with translation difficulties, tangled loyalties, and romantic tension in between the mortal peril.

And here’s the cover!


They talk, for a little while, about safe topics. Nothing political. Nothing that has a real chance of killing either of them over the next few days.

At some point Thorn pulls out his smartcrystal, and Leif nearly melts with delight as he coos through the photos of Thorn’s cat. Some things are culturally universal.

With both of them inside the bedroll, it’s almost cozy. “I’ll take first watch,” says Leif presently, as Thorn is starting to get sleepy. “You should put your coat on back-to-front, so it’ll be open at the back, and we can put the heatpack between us while we’re spooning.”

Thorn’s mouth curves upward. “That sounds like dishes.”

“It…is. It’s the same word. Because spoons in a drawer, they’re like this….” Leif cups his gloved hands and sits them together, one inside the other. “Don’t you say that in Ceannic?”

He looks baffled when Thorn starts laughing — the first real laugh he’s had in what feels like weeks. “No, never! But maybe now I start.”

There’s a scramble as they rearrange their bodies and their clothes, so Thorn is facing the mouth of the tunnel with Leif hugging him from behind. The back-to-front coat means he can’t put his hood up, not without choking himself or at least getting a faceful of fur, so he gets to keep Leif’s scarf. Leif, meanwhile, nuzzles bare-faced against the back of his neck.

It’s…nice, okay? It’s really nice. It’s….

Look, it’s not like Thorn doesn’t know what’s going on, here. You go through a dangerous situation with another person, either you wind up stressed enough to go at each other’s throats, or worked-up enough to go at each other’s…well. Possibly also throats. Depending on what you’re into.

Especially if your companion is resourceful, and confident, and kind, and occasionally vulnerable, and unselfconscious about wrapping his arms around you to ward off the chill. Cute, too. Not that cuteness is the most pressing issue on Thorn’s mind right now…but he has noticed Leif’s snub nose and thin lips and pale, expressive skin.

He might even have said something, if not for be careful with the Sønska servants plus working up a sweat makes you more likely to freeze to death.

Best for Thorn to just keep quiet, no matter how much he likes the innocent “spooning.” (What a great word.)

“Is it only spoons?” he asks sleepily. “Can I also say that we’re forking?”

It’s his turn to be the baffled one, as Leif kinda splutters for no reason Thorn can figure out. “N-no, sir. That already means…something else.”


Release date is December 20!

Ebook-friendly formats can now be preordered on Smashwords:

A fancy illustrated PDF will be available December 20 on the website:

Cover + Excerpt Reveal: My Heart is Ready by Chace Verity!

Chace Verity is back on the site today with a cover reveal of the newest installment in fantasy romance series The Absolutes, My Heart is Ready, which releases on December 15! Here’s the book’s blurb:

The last thing Corsine ever expected to do was break into a vault and steal some rare seeds. Corsine has a secret magic known as Maje flowing through her veins, but she’s never committed a crime before, and she’s terrified of the other Majerian hoarding the seeds at Rosales. But the risk is worth it if she can successfully prove how far she’ll go for her girlfriend.

Self-proclaimed harpy king Lester loves chasing rumors, but it’s hard to fly around and gossip while molting. However, he doesn’t have time to shed quietly when his best friend Corsine is behaving suspiciously about her trip to Rosales. Plus he’s dying to impress Corsine’s (hot) fearless traveling companion.

For Corsine and Lester, uncovering truths is easy, but revealing secrets is hard when love and friendship are on the line.

And here’s the cover, featuring Lester, as drawn by the wonderful Maggie Derrick @!

Want even more? Here’s an excerpt!


“Do you know anything about Absolutes?” Lester asked.


Corsine set a tray of roasted sunflower seeds on the windowsill. No shells. Lester grabbed a handful and started munching on them, enjoying the salty snack as the cool morning breeze kissed his face.

Corsine had invited him inside her house, but he was molting and felt awkward about leaving feathers everywhere. His legs were almost done shedding. It would soon be time to seek safety for several weeks while the most tiring and stressful part of molting occurred, the replacement of his wing feathers.

Even kings experience periods where they cannot fly.

“I think they’re some kind of guardians.” Corsine leaned against the sill, staring up at the ceiling. Her black curls bobbed in cadence with her every movement, and her dark brown skin shimmered beautifully under the morning sunlight. She was always a delight to look at. “I was going to ask you about Rosales. Do you know anything about it?”

Blossom sat in the middle of the kitchen floor, glowering at Lester. She had never liked him. He didn’t care much for the fox, either. No useful gossip.

“Someone I know is going there next week,” he said. “Where is it?”

“Near the palace.”

“So there’s a city named Rosales in the middle of Florea.”

“It’s an agriculture school, not a city.” Corsine frowned. “You know someone?”

“I know someone.”

Lester stuffed more seeds in his mouth and dared Corsine to ask him to elaborate. He was ready to gush about… About…

Goddess. He had no idea what the flower-crown woman’s name was.

“Who?” Corsine asked.

He glanced at Blossom, as if she would know. She snorted.

Corsine looked over Lester’s shoulder, toward her lustrous field of sunflowers. They were slowly waking up from their nocturnal slumber.

“Hurry up,” she said. “Tris won’t be sleeping for much longer. Who is this person you know?”

Lester pointed to his left. “The woman from the rainbow strawberry farm. About our age?”

She stared at him.


Sylvia. So lovely.

“You don’t actually know her, do you?” Corsine asked.

“I want to know her.”

“It would help if you knew her name. For all your cunning, you’re something of a daffodil when it comes to romance.”

He stuck his tongue out. “Good at cunnilingus, at least. That helped me with you.”

She gave him the same vexed look she gave a plate of cooked beets.

“Shut up.”


Preorder My Heart is Ready now!

Chace Verity (she/they) is publishing queer as heck stories with a strong romantic focus, although queer friendships and found families are important too. Chace prefers to write fantasy but dabbles in contemporary and historical fiction as well. An American citizen & Canadian permanent resident, Chace will probably never be able to call a gallon of milk a “four-liter.”

If you think Chace Verity and Chasia Lloyd look suspiciously alike, you might be onto something.

Cover and Excerpt Reveal: Curved Horizon by Taylor Brooke!

A couple of months ago on the site, we had a guest post by author Taylor Brooke on mental illness in her debut, Fortitude Smashed. Today, LGBTQReads is privileged to exclusively reveal the cover to its sequel, Curved Horizon, which releases on March 8! Here’s the info:

In the sequel to Fortitude Smashed, navigating the ins and outs of love is hard enough as strangers, but now Daisy and Chelsea must find a way to transform their friendship into something more. Meanwhile, Shannon and Aiden’s year-long relationship is put to the test when a horrific accident puts Shannon’s life at risk.

And here’s the cover!

Doesn’t that look gorgeous next to the cover for Fortitude Smashed??

But wait, there’s more! Voila: an excerpt!


Shannon reached out, opening his beach-tanned hand on the table as an invitation. “Let’s see it; come on.”

Chelsea tried her best glare, but Shannon wasn’t fazed. He’d seen it too many times to take it seriously. She heaved a deep sigh and slapped her right hand in his. He yanked her wrist, and his fingers closed over her knuckles as if he were admiring a ring.

“You’ve got two days left,” he said matter-of-factly. “Nervous already?”

“Of course I am.” She pulled her hand away and reached for a sugar-rimmed martini glass filled with raspberry vodka. “I’ve been terrified of this since I was a little girl, but at least then I had a plan. Now I have no clue what’s going to happen.”

“What’s going to happen is what’s supposed to happen,” Shannon said.

The server returned with their appetizers.

Chelsea stabbed a tiny, deep-fried squid with her fork and dunked it in a vat of spicy marinara. “I thought you were my future for so long, Shannon.” She spoke around a cheek stuffed full of calamari. “I was young and stupid, and I had this fantasy that you’d come back for me. It was immature,” she said pointedly, chewing and swallowing. “I’m not sayin’ all this to make you feel bad; I know I was wrong. I wasted years of my life waitin’ on someone who didn’t exist to come sweep me off my feet. I put that imaginary person to your face, because you’re the only one I ever saw myself with.”

Shannon looked genuinely hurt. His lips pulled down and his brow furrowed. “I’m sorry, Chels, but what happened, happened. How was this imaginary person different from me?” His voice wavered. “I mean—do you still have an idea of your future, because, trust me, the Clock doesn’t care. Fate gives you what you need, not what you think you want.”

“And you needed Aiden?” Chelsea muttered, hoping she didn’t come across as cold as her voice sounded.

“Still do,” Shannon snapped. His irritation showed in the click of his teeth.

“Can we not fight,” Chelsea groaned. She smashed her hands over her face and sighed again, drawing in the longest breath she could before letting it out. “I was young, honey. I had this idea of me and you: me being a doctor in Milford and you taking over as sheriff at the station. It was just an idea. I was already scared over this,” she waved her right hand at him, “when you flew home last year for New Years. Aiden just… when I saw the way you looked at him, it made every fantasy I’d ever given the time a day into a rude awakening.”

“You’re gonna find someone wonderful,” Shannon whispered.

Curved Horizon isn’t yet available for preorder, but you can buy Fortitude Smashed at these fine retailers while you wait!

Barnes & Noble * Interlude PressAmazon * Book Depository


After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup artist, Taylor Brooke turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she’s traveling, hiking or reading. She writes Queer books for teens and adults. She is the author of Fortitude Smashed (Interlude Press, 2017) and is represented by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch Literary Services. Follow her on Twitter at @taysalion.

Exclusive Cover + Excerpt Reveal: (Un)Masked rerelease by Anyta Sunday and Andy Gallo

Today on the site, we’re celebrating the re-release of (Un)Masked by Anyta Sunday and Andy Gallo, a gay paranormal NA romance, which was previously published by Dreamspinner Press but now has new editing and a new cover! Here’s the blurb:

Walker has two wishes: to perform the play of his dreams alongside his best friend at Wellington’s Tory Street Theatre, and to meet that special someone. Someone he’d go to the ends of the earth for. Someone who might only exist in fairy tales.

When Jay meets accordion busker Lethe Cross, it’s like living a dream come true. Lethe’s music captivates Jay, and he resolves to meet the man who plays so beautifully. But then he discovers Lethe’s life is more like a nightmare. The phrase “down on his luck” can’t begin to cover it. Determined to help, Jay does some snooping for answers—and winds up on the wrong end of a centuries-old curse. The good news is there’s a way to break it. The bad news is it might cost Jay his life.

Aaaand here’s the cover!

Buy it

But wait, there’s more! Check out this (long!) exclusive excerpt!

From the sidewalk, I spied Lethe cutting strokes through the rippling water. The gray glow of morning made it look as if he swam through satin waves. A cool breeze reminded me just how cold those satin waves would be. I zipped up my jacket, dropped the bag with my towel in it, and perched on the concrete wall.

His arms arched over his head in firm strokes, his head twisting for air on every third stroke. He stood up suddenly, whipping the water from his hair and running a hand through it. He searched the length of the beach several times before he caught sight of me.

He beckoned me over. Each move of his hands pulled me toward him.

“You’re here,” he said.

“Gristle just about killed me for waking him up so early. You always up at this time?”

“The beach is deserted now.” He glanced toward the sea, worrying his bottom lip. “Who’s Gristle?”

Flatmate,” I blurted a little too quickly. “My best mate.”

His shoulders loosened and he looked at me. “Did you come to swim or watch?”

I stripped down to my swimming trunks and tiptoed into the sea. “I should have stuck to watching.”

Lethe laughed and kicked water at me. “You would deprive your other senses of all this?”

I stared at the gently lapping water and not the rivulets of water dribbling down his bare chest. “This is quite the sensory feast.”

“Dive in before I pounce on you.”

“I’m not sure you understand how threats work, Lethe.”

“Who said it was a threat?”

My breath caught, and I waded toward his soft, beckoning smile.

When I reached him, Lethe kicked onto his back. His gaze flickered to me before landing on the clear sky above. His green eyes glittered. If one could see a soul, then his was deep, haunted yet determinedly hopeful.

It reminded me of Gristle at the zoo, living life to the fullest because he claimed death danced in his shadows.

I dove under the water, letting the shock of it numb a sudden shiver. I came up under him and tackled his waist.

Lethe twisted under water with me, bubbles bursting out of his smiling lips.

We messed about in the water for only a few more minutes before Lethe dragged us out. I’d grabbed my stuff and drifted to his towel.

Lethe scrubbed his face. “Haven’t done that for ages.” He smiled at me. “Thanks.”

I choked on my own thanks. I’d not had so much fun with anyone other than Gristle for, well, I couldn’t even remember when.

“Maybe we could do this again?” His voice wavered, and he vigorously rubbed at his hair.

“I am all about indulging in sensory feasts.”

Lethe grinned. “On the discussion of feasts. What about breakfast?” He gave me a once over, lingering at my scrawny waist. “You shouldn’t skip breakfast.”

I forced a laugh and hurriedly pulled on my top and pants. Grabbing my bag, I twisted the street. “See you, then.”

He clasped my shoulder and steered me back around. “I think it came out wrong.”

I raised a brow.

He looked at me, gaze flickering nervously from my eyes to my shoulder. “Will you have breakfast with me?”

* * *

I arrived earlier than the four previous mornings, in time to see Lethe wading into the sea. His muscles flexed with each step, and once he hit waist height, he dove under.

Dropping my bag and towel next to his, I followed after him. My body exploded in goose bumps as the first cold waves cuffed my ankles. Sand sank underfoot as the water dragged itself back in. I quickly dunked into the water and gasped from the cold.

Lethe caught sight of me and waved. I swam over. A hand glided over my back, and I jerked upright, treading water.

“Morning,” Lethe said, smiling, as he circled me. “What brings you here so early?”

You. “I wanted to repay the favor, so I made us breakfast this time. It’s more a picnic, but I wasn’t sure of your schedule. How long do you have?”

Lethe flipped onto his back. Water rippled around him, and I threaded my fingers through the tiny waves. “Have I told you the perks of working as a street musician? Other than the stellar pay?”

I laughed. “In that case, sign me up.”

Lethe splashed water on my face and pointed to the fountain. “Want to race?”

I kicked off, taking my advantage and swiftly made it to the fountain, not too far behind Lethe.

“You’re improving,” he said with a smile. “Another couple weeks, and you’ll be a match for me.” He ducked under the water, only to pop up on my other side. He sliced the top of the water with his hand so it sprayed in my face, then whacked my upper arm. “You’re it.”

I lunged after Lethe, managing to jump on his back halfway to shore. I dunked him under the water.

A rueful grin quirked his lips when he came up gasping for breath. Barely two steps away, Lethe leaped onto my back. His knees locked around my sides and hands pressed my head under water. He didn’t hold me under long, letting go with a little tap to my shoulder. Breathing out a bunch of bubbles into the water, I came up. Lethe remained jammed against my back, his chest expanding against me as he breathed.

When he loosened his grip, I twisted and faced him. Water dribbled down his hair, over his scar, plopping on his lips. I pulled my gaze away from his mouth and combed a hand through my wet hair, pushing the locks off my face. “Up for another race?”

He stared into my eyes and my heart exploded into a gallop. I imagined him leaning in, brushing his lips against mine with the murmured words I like you too, Jay.

I slammed my eyes shut and water stirred as Lethe backed up.

He stroked toward the fountain, and I followed, the ghost of his touch still curved against my back.

“You look hopeful.” Lethe stroked over to where I clung to a jutting edge in the fountain base. He latched a hand on the same edge and pulled himself closer.

Although salt water dominated my sense of smell, I detected a hint of something peppermint and spicy coming from Lethe’s hair.

Lethe tilted his head, watching me. “Really hopeful.”

I dipped my head forward and lightly pressed my lips against his. The taste of salt flowed into my mouth; he felt softer than I’d imagined.

It lasted less than a couple of seconds before I pulled away. “Really, really hopeful.”

His breath caught and he grabbed my arm and kicked a leg around mine. His mouth met mine again. Our lips parted, and a gentle tongue flicked against mine. A gasp left me, and Lethe’s lips curved into a smile.

I let go of the fountain, wrapping both arms around Lethe, and deepened the kiss. We sank under the water, limbs entangled, gripping at each other. Salt stung my eyes as I looked at Lethe underwater. His hair swirled upward around him and light glowed around him. We broke our kiss and stared at each other. A cloud of bubbles burst from Lethe’s mouth as he laughed, and it sounded like music.

We pushed our way back to the surface and both hauled in air. I sucked in a good third breath, and Lethe splashed water in my face. I spluttered and coughed. His merry laugh taunted me and I chased after him, dunking him under when I got a good hold.

“We’d better go in.” Lethe looked back toward the shore, a frown forming between his brows. “We’ve stayed out here too long.”

Grabbing our bags and towels, we dashed for the outdoor shower. Lethe hurriedly scrubbed seawater from his hair.

I stepped under the spray with him and tentatively touched his chin, lifting his head. Water beaded at the ends of his eyelashes and trailed over the tips of my fingers. “What’s going on?”

Lethe bit his bottom lip. “Nothing.”

“Nothing doesn’t hightail out of the water every morning.”

“Which eyebrow is my scar?”

I gently drew my thumb over the cut in his eyebrow and he sighed and leaned into me.

“What are you running from, Lethe?” I whispered into his ear.


Anyta is a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. She loves to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love. Some of her favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

Anyta writes a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy. Her books have been translated into German, Italian and French.

Member of Romance Writers of America.

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Andy Gallo’s stories capture how he wished he’d spent his formative years, instead of how it really happened. Unfortunately for his characters, they find themselves infused with some of Andy’s less noble qualities.

A hopeless romantic, Andy writes seated next to a hundred year old Smith Brothers typewriter he inherited from his grandfather. He also dreams of superheroes and wizards and sees no reason why two men with superpowers can’t fall in love just like everyone else. Although not all of his stories have a paranormal bent, a touch of the supernatural never derailed a good read in his mind.

Married and living his happy every after, Andy helps others find their happy endings in the pages of his stories. He and his husband of more than twenty years spend their days rubbing elbows with other parents as they raise their daughter. Embracing his status as the gay dad, Andy sometimes has to remind others that one does want a hint of color even when chasing after their child.

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