BLOG TOUR – Badlands by Morgan Brice


Title: Badlands
Author: Morgan Brice
Publisher: Darkwind Press
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 296 pages
Cover Artist: Natania Barron
Reviewed by: Tosha

Blurb:

Medium and clairvoyant Simon Kincaide owns a Myrtle Beach boardwalk shop where he runs ghost tours, holds séances, and offers private psychic readings, making a fresh start after his abilities cost him his lover and his job as a folklore professor. Jaded cop Vic D’Amato saw something supernatural he couldn’t explain during a shootout several years ago in Pittsburgh and relocated to Myrtle Beach to leave the past behind, still skeptical about the paranormal. But when the search for a serial killer hits a dead end, Vic battles his skepticism to ask Simon for help. As the body count rises, Simon’s involvement makes him a target, and a suspect. But Simon can’t say no, even if it costs him his life and heart.


EXCERPT

“Bikes are a big deal here,” Simon said to fill the pause. “I’m always amazed at how many come through for Bike Week.” Several major motorcycle events each summer turned the Grand Strand into a cavalcade of the hottest cycles on the coast.

Cop Dude shrugged. “I always liked Born to Run. Springsteen fan. What can I say?”

“Sir?” the voice called from the counter, making Simon turn away. “You’re next.” Simon had never been less happy to get to the front of the line.

“I’ll have a Dread Pirate Roberts,” he mumbled, not wanting to look like an idiot to the guy he was trying to impress. He handed over the money, took his change as she rang him up, dropped a one dollar bill in the tip jar, and moved down the counter to wait for his drink.

“I’ll try that, too,” the cop said, flashing him a grin. “What the hell? Live life on the edge.”

Le Miz baristas were fast. Simon knew he needed to come up with a way to extend the conversation without looking like a creeper or lose the connection, maybe forever. Just as the barista handed both of them their drinks, a deafening thunderclap sounded, rattling the windows, and the rain came pouring down.

“Want to grab a table?” Simon asked, nervous enough that his throat felt tight. “We’ll drown if we go out there now.”

“Sure. Why not.”

Simon led the way through the crowded outer room where the tables were all taken to the back room where there was once a display of pirate doubloons and recovered sunken treasures. The room kept its murals of sailing ships and scruffy pirates, along with the odds and ends left behind by the previous owners—a beat-up old chest, a pirate mannequin everyone called “Mo” and a bedraggled stuffed parrot on a perch, dubbed “Percy” by Le Miz regulars.

“You must come here a lot to know there’s a second room.”

“Told you, I take my coffee very seriously,” Simon teased as he sat down. “I’m Simon, by the way.”

“Vic,” the man replied. “So what’s in this mystery drink?”

“Do you like the smell?” Simon asked.

Vic leaned over his cup, took a deep breath, and his eyes fluttered almost closed. Simon’s heart did a little samba, instantly imagining what Vic would look like blissed out and debauched after sweaty sex. Simon’s erection strained at the fly of his jeans, and he was insanely glad they were seated at a table where Vic couldn’t see how aroused he was.

“Good?” Simon asked, hating that he sounded a little breathless.

“Yeah,” Vic replied, with a little moan that made Simon painfully hard.

“Glad I could turn you on to a good thing,” Simon replied, hoping he hadn’t read the signals wrong since he was blatantly flirting.

“Much obliged,” Vic replied, and maybe it was Simon’s imagination that the man’s voice dropped a little lower, a bit huskier, than before.

“You’ve been here before, you said?” Simon asked, finding that his pick-up skills were as woefully rusty as his ability to make polite chit-chat.

“A few times,” Vic replied. “I haven’t gotten to the boardwalk as much as I’d like.”

“I try not to overdo the special coffees,” Simon said with a self-conscious smile. “I know the sugar adds up. But you’ve got to do something to make yourself feel good now and then, right?” Oh lord, that sounded really bad. I can’t believe I said that.

A wicked twinkle came into Vic’s eyes. “I’m all for feeling good,” he replied, and his foot bumped into Simon’s beneath the table.

It’s just his foot. Doesn’t mean anything. Could have been an accident,Simon told himself, but Vic didn’t move away, and Simon hoped his smile looked encouraging instead of merely nervous.

“So are you in town for business or pleasure?” Simon asked, and cringed internally. What’s wrong with me? I’m never smooth, but I didn’t used to be this awful at picking up a date.“I mean, are you a local or just visiting?”

Vic’s full, sensuous lips quirked in a smile. “Neither,” he replied.

Simon tried and failed at not staring at his lips and imagining them around his cock. Get a grip!Shit, that only changed the mental image to a hand job. So not working! Don’t fuck this up.That didn’t help at all.

“Moved here not too long ago, so I don’t feel quite like a local, but definitely not a tourist,” Vic added.

“You can still take in the sights, even if you live here. Most people don’t take time to enjoy what’s in their backyards. I’d love to show you some of my favorite spots.” Oh, just shoot me now. That sounded like the worst line from a cheap porno. I totally suck at this. No, don’t think about sucking…

“Sounds fun,” Vic said, and Simon was so lost in his embarrassment that he almost missed it.

“You would?” he asked, then cleared his throat. “I mean, that’s great,” he failed miserably to cover his awkward reply. Simon was just about to ask for Vic’s number when Vic’s phone went off.

The ringtone sounded odd, and Vic’s manner shifted in the blink of an eye, going from casual and relaxed to tense and alert. “I’ve got to take this,” he said, without even glancing at the number. “I’m sorry. It’s work. Confidential—need to step away.” With that, he got up and headed toward the service corridor that went toward the men’s room, taking his coffee with him.

EXCERPT #2

Vic hadn’t grown up around the ocean. Pittsburgh had its famed three rivers, and friends had taken him boating or camping on lakes, but the ocean had always remained a special memory of his favorite childhood vacations. Just listening to the rush of the waves made Vic feel better, no matter how shitty the day might have been. And while he wasn’t much for lying still in the sun, walking at the edge of the water and feeling the wet sand under his toes went a long way toward cleansing his mood.

The wind had picked up, and Vic glanced at the dark clouds coming in. Too late he remembered the predicted rain and grimaced at the thought of riding home and getting soaking wet. He thought about heading for his motorcycle, but the lure of some fresh air and a good cup of coffee kept him where he was. He could survive getting wet.

He rested his forearms on the boardwalk railing and looked out toward the ocean, in part to ignore the couples laughing and joking as they walked along with their ice cream. Maybe it was time to think about getting out there again, dating, finding a boyfriend and not just a hook-up. Vic snorted. Even his hook-ups had been few and far between because he didn’t like being vulnerable with someone he didn’t know. That nixed dating apps since the cop in him wanted to get a read on a prospective partner in person, not just swipe right. Then again, he hated going clubbing—no telling when one of those places would get busted for something—and cruising for a date in a bar just felt desperate.

Yep, he thought. That explained why he was still single and spending most nights watching TV, tuning up his cycle, or going for a long ride along the Coastal Highway. Maybe he should get a dog, and resign himself to spending the rest of his life wanking off in the shower. God, he needed to get laid.

Vic pushed off from the railing and ambled down the boardwalk toward Mizzenmast Coffee. He didn’t usually pay much attention to the shops, couldn’t remember the last time he had even noticed the signs. But today, the “Grand Strand Ghost Tours” window caught his eye. What made him pause was the smaller lettering beneath “Tours, Maps, Books, Candles, and Supplies.” In particular, the line that read “Private Readings and Séances, by Appointment Only.

What could it hurt, to come back and see if the psychic can contact any of the spirits of the dead workers? He thought. Not like we’ve gotten any other breaks in the case. And if I get a tip that pans out, no one ever needs to know where it came from.

EXCERPT #3

“Bikes are a big deal here,” Simon said to fill the pause. “I’m always amazed at how many come through for Bike Week.” Several major motorcycle events each summer turned the Grand Strand into a cavalcade of the hottest cycles on the coast.

Cop Dude shrugged. “I always liked Born to Run. Springsteen fan. What can I say?”

“Sir?” the voice called from the counter, making Simon turn away. “You’re next.” Simon had never been less happy to get to the front of the line.

“I’ll have a Dread Pirate Roberts,” he mumbled, not wanting to look like an idiot to the guy he was trying to impress. He handed over the money, took his change as she rang him up, dropped a one dollar bill in the tip jar, and moved down the counter to wait for his drink.

“I’ll try that, too,” the cop said, flashing him a grin. “What the hell? Live life on the edge.”

Le Miz baristas were fast. Simon knew he needed to come up with a way to extend the conversation without looking like a creeper or lose the connection, maybe forever. Just as the barista handed both of them their drinks, a deafening thunderclap sounded, rattling the windows, and the rain came pouring down.

“Want to grab a table?” Simon asked, nervous enough that his throat felt tight. “We’ll drown if we go out there now.”

“Sure. Why not.”

Simon led the way through the crowded outer room where the tables were all taken to the back room where there was once a display of pirate doubloons and recovered sunken treasures. The room kept its murals of sailing ships and scruffy pirates, along with the odds and ends left behind by the previous owners—a beat-up old chest, a pirate mannequin everyone called “Mo” and a bedraggled stuffed parrot on a perch, dubbed “Percy” by Le Miz regulars.

“You must come here a lot to know there’s a second room.”

“Told you, I take my coffee very seriously,” Simon teased as he sat down. “I’m Simon, by the way.”

“Vic,” the man replied. “So what’s in this mystery drink?”

“Do you like the smell?” Simon asked.

Vic leaned over his cup, took a deep breath, and his eyes fluttered almost closed. Simon’s heart did a little samba, instantly imagining what Vic would look like blissed out and debauched after sweaty sex. Simon’s erection strained at the fly of his jeans, and he was insanely glad they were seated at a table where Vic couldn’t see how aroused he was.

“Good?” Simon asked, hating that he sounded a little breathless.

“Yeah,” Vic replied, with a little moan that made Simon painfully hard.

“Glad I could turn you on to a good thing,” Simon replied, hoping he hadn’t read the signals wrong since he was blatantly flirting.

“Much obliged,” Vic replied, and maybe it was Simon’s imagination that the man’s voice dropped a little lower, a bit huskier, than before.

“You’ve been here before, you said?” Simon asked, finding that his pick-up skills were as woefully rusty as his ability to make polite chit-chat.

“A few times,” Vic replied. “I haven’t gotten to the boardwalk as much as I’d like.”

“I try not to overdo the special coffees,” Simon said with a self-conscious smile. “I know the sugar adds up. But you’ve got to do something to make yourself feel good now and then, right?” Oh lord, that sounded really bad. I can’t believe I said that.

A wicked twinkle came into Vic’s eyes. “I’m all for feeling good,” he replied, and his foot bumped into Simon’s beneath the table.

It’s just his foot. Doesn’t mean anything. Could have been an accident, Simon told himself, but Vic didn’t move away, and Simon hoped his smile looked encouraging instead of merely nervous.

“So are you in town for business or pleasure?” Simon asked, and cringed internally. What’s wrong with me? I’m never smooth, but I didn’t used to be this awful at picking up a date. “I mean, are you a local or just visiting?”

Vic’s full, sensuous lips quirked in a smile. “Neither,” he replied.

Simon tried and failed at not staring at his lips and imagining them around his cock. Get a grip! Shit, that only changed the mental image to a hand job. So not working! Don’t fuck this up. That didn’t help at all.

“Moved here not too long ago, so I don’t feel quite like a local, but definitely not a tourist,” Vic added.

“You can still take in the sights, even if you live here. Most people don’t take time to enjoy what’s in their backyards. I’d love to show you some of my favorite spots.” Oh, just shoot me now. That sounded like the worst line from a cheap porno. I totally suck at this. No, don’t think about sucking…

“Sounds fun,” Vic said, and Simon was so lost in his embarrassment that he almost missed it.

“You would?” he asked, then cleared his throat. “I mean, that’s great,” he failed miserably to cover his awkward reply. Simon was just about to ask for Vic’s number when Vic’s phone went off.

The ringtone sounded odd, and Vic’s manner shifted in the blink of an eye, going from casual and relaxed to tense and alert. “I’ve got to take this,” he said, without even glancing at the number. “I’m sorry. It’s work. Confidential—need to step away.” With that, he got up and headed toward the service corridor that went toward the men’s room, taking his coffee with him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions
Morgan Brice will be a Supporting Author at Gay Romantic Lit convention and a Hosting Author at RomCon in October.

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Author

I am an unapologetic book addict/lover. I’m happiest when reading and I spend most of my time with my Kindle, which is never far from my hand.
I love to be told a good story! I mostly read fiction: Romance, Erotica, Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal (shifters? Yes, please!), a little BDSM when I’m in the mood, and I love a good ménage story. I DEFINITELY PREFER A HFN/HEA!

My biggest no-no’s are cheating, miscommunication / misunderstanding plots, unnecessary angst, and cliffhangers.

A sampling of my “Favorite M/M” stories:

Carry the Ocean The Half of Us Red Dirt Heart Adulting 101 Tied Up In Knots
Shelter the Sea Manties in a Twist David, Renewed Ethan who Loved Carter Perfect Imperfections
Wolfsong Fight the Tide How to Walk Like A Man The Lightning-Struck Heart Forging the Future

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