2019 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Finalist in Contemporary Romance
2018 Romance Writers of America® Heart-to-Heart 1st Place Winner in Erotic Romance
2018 Romance Writers of America® Gateway to the Best 2nd Place Winner in Single Title/Contemporary Series
Only true love can free a captive heart.
Landon Jenks, retired four-time Golden Glove-winning shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, is lonely, heartbroken, and in desperate need of simple human contact. Trapped in the sticky fine print of an ironclad contract that forbids him from revealing his very-much-single status until the season finale of his reality show airs, he calls an elite male escort service that caters to the rich and wretched.
Accustomed to servicing his often less than savory clients at more upscale locales, twenty-six-year-old Toby Carmichael is surprised when his handler sends him to a run-down motel off I-55. But “surprise” doesn’t come close to describing the shock that rocks his system when a delightful stuttering mess covered in tattoos and nearly ten years his senior stumbles into the room—and right into his heart.
For the first time since Toby was forced into the life of prostitution, a kiss sparks a desire that has nothing to do with money and everything to do with genuine chemistry and the faintest beginnings of something so much more. But Toby’s dark past and troubled present make it impossible to see a future with Landon. And when the truth comes to light, a horrified and helpless Landon is determined to save Toby at all costs.
Content Warnings: Discussion of childhood verbal abuse by an adult survivor, homophobia from a close family member, discussion of previous self-harm/cutting behaviors by an adult survivor, prostitution with dubious consent (all interactions between the main characters have full consent and there are no on-page depictions of dub-con situations), consensual and experimental Domination/submission play between mostly-novice characters, mild violence between a main character and antagonist, and human trafficking associated with illegal drugs (nothing explicit on-page, only discussions related to and psychological/mental ramifications of addressed in moderate detail).
Toby was trying to kill him. That was the only feasible explanation as to why he now stood in his kitchen—fully clothed, with a butt plug up his ass—when only ten minutes prior he’d been one touch away from the biggest explosion of his life.
Landon’s knife sliced through a jalapeño and thumped against the cutting board with an exaggerated thud. He closed his eyes, trying to focus on the task at hand instead of the heavy metal weight shifting against his prostate with every movement. The sensation hardly cured the incessant, low-grade burn of unfulfilled desire in his groin, but it quenched the need enough to take the edge off. Or make it worse. He couldn’t quite tell, and he didn’t really care. He fidgeted without shame, fueling his own desperation.
And with every movement, the plug reminded him of who put it there. And why.
Because Toby wanted him desperate. He wanted him to feel impossibly achy and unbearably hot. To yearn for touch and to crave sensation—any sensation. He wanted Landon laser-focused on his own delectable anguish, so when he found relief, it could only come from one place. Toby.
Landon had never suffered such exquisite torture, and yet it felt so completely fucking right. Righter than anything he’d ever experienced before. Something inside him that had lain dormant for far too long rose to the surface, demanding things he never could’ve imagined wanting before now. Before Toby. Things he’d, thankfully, never asked of Garret.
He felt free and cared for and inexplicably understood for the first time in his life.
When Toby’s strong arms wound their way around Landon’s belly, tugging him against that solid warmth, he ground his plugged ass into Toby’s rock-hard cock. The movement sent a zing of white-hot pleasure straight up Landon’s spine. He whimpered and rested his head on Toby’s shoulder.
Nuzzling into Landon’s neck, Toby grazed the sensitive spot behind his ear with a line of whisper-soft kisses. “You okay, babe?”
Landon wanted to bust loose with a loud, crazed cackle at the utter absurdity of that question. Was he okay? Hardly. Did he want Toby to rip the plug out and fuck him until he came all over the kitchen island? Without a doubt. But this was the hottest fucking thing he’d ever experienced. He wouldn’t change a single thing about it. Not in a million fuckin’ years.
He twisted in Toby’s arms, sighing when Toby dropped a kiss on his nose before pressing their foreheads together. “I’m doing great.” Landon canted his hips forward to grind his dick against Toby’s through the thin fabric of their pajama pants. “How about you?”
Toby groaned. “I didn’t think this through very well, did I?”
A genuine laugh bubbled up Landon’s throat. “No, I suppose you didn’t.”
“I think I’m suffering more than you are right now.”
There was a whine in Toby’s voice that had Landon grinning. “Oh? Are you sure about that? I seem to remember being the only one who had a plug shoved up his ass after being edged to the brink of orgasm over and over and over again.”
Toby tipped back his head with an exaggerated groan. “That doesn’t help, you know.” He pinned Landon with his heated golden-green stare. “I was as worked up as you were, and I didn’t get off either. Plus, knowing you’re wearing that plug is… Fuck. So fuckin’ hot. Have. Mercy.”
Landon shrugged and gave his most innocent look, complete with batting eyelashes and an overly angelic, toothy grin. “Gee, that’s too bad. I guess next time you’ll have to make sure you get off before you plug my ass and leave me in this state. Because, quite frankly, I’m having a hard time feeling sorry for you right now.” He bumped their cocks again and snickered at the glare he received for his efforts. “Now, you’re distracting me from my meal prep, and I thought you were hungry.”
“I am hungry,” Toby growled, stealing into Landon’s mouth with a ferociousness that spoke to Landon’s simmering libido like a promise and a prayer all rolled into one.
When Landon finally tore his lips free of Toby’s ravenous kiss so he could suck air into his starved lungs, he squeezed Toby’s shoulders and smiled through his heaving breaths. “We’re never going to eat if you keep that up. Why don’t you head into the living room and watch some TV while I finish lunch?”
Toby narrowed his eyes. “That’s assuming I’m hungrier for food than I am for you.”
A million butterflies took flight under Landon’s ribs, twisting his stomach with the frantic beating of their wings. He didn’t know why those words got to him so much, but they did. Maybe it was the fact there was no mistaking Toby’s need for him in that moment. For him, not his public persona, not his father’s influence, but him.
“I’m almost done with prep, and the oven’s preheated. I just need thirty minutes.” Landon pressed on Toby’s chest, trying to shove him away, then laughed when his hold only intensified. Why wasn’t he pushing Toby away from the thought of food and toward anything that could alleviate the throbbing need between his legs? Oh, that’s right, because he was thoroughly enjoying the torment. And more importantly, if Toby hadn’t left himself on the same tremulous edge, there’s no way he’d let Landon off that easy.
While this was all new between them, he’d self-sacrifice to save Toby from himself. Just this once. “Go. Watch TV. Leave me in peace for thirty minutes, then you can fill your belly and my ass.”
Toby’s shoulders drooped. “This is so unfair. I need to think this shit through better next time. I’m in hell, and you’re bouncing around the damn kitchen like your only concern is channeling your inner Guy Fieri.” He furrowed his brow and drew his arms across his chest when Landon finally extricated himself and returned to his cutting board. “Somewhere in this whole mess, me and my poor dick lost the reins.”
Landon blew him a kiss. “Go. Thirty minutes.”
“Yeah, yeah, thirty fuckin’ minutes,” Toby mumbled, throwing his hands in the air and stalking out of the kitchen.
Evie Drae is a registered nurse by day and an award-winning male/male romance writer by night. She has won first place in seven Romance Writers of America® (RWA®) competitions, including the prestigious title “Best of the Best” in the 2018 Golden Opportunity Contest. She is a double finalist in the 2019 Golden Heart®, in both the Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense categories, and finished as a second-place runner-up in four additional RWA contests.
One of Evie’s favorite things to do is encourage her fellow writers. To that end, she started the #writeLGBTQ and #promoLGBTQ hashtags on Twitter to support and promote LGBTQ+ authors and allies while providing a safe space to connect and grow as a community. She is married to the love of her life, is the mother of three wonderful fur babies, and runs almost entirely on coffee and good vibes.
Evie loves to link up with fellow writers and readers. You can reach her directly at EvieDrae@gmail.com or find her on her social media accounts listed below. Twitter is where she’s most active but be sure to check out her blog too. She focuses on reviews for LGBTQ+ authors and allies with the occasional quirky advice/recommendation post just to toss things up.
Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
a $50 Amazon gift card + an ebook copy of He Owns My Heart
an ebook copy of both He Owns My Heart + Beauregard and the Beast