In order to stay alive, Bray and Sam must appear to be lovers.
What happens when pretending becomes too real?
When Brayden stumbles into a covert operation, Sam has to keep him alive. Together they navigate their unexpected attraction and the world of the Ukrainian mafia.
Brayden Hart needs to find his older brother Mason and time is running out. Mason disappeared after being discharged from the military two years before. While on leave from the army, Bray follows a lead his friend has been able to find. When he knocks on the door of a dingy apartment outside Miami, the last person he expects to meet is the gorgeous but grumpy Sam Wheeler.
Sam denies knowing Bray's brother and turns him away. But Sam is Bray's only lead. Luckily, Bray's childhood friend is one of the best hackers in the country and helps Bray follow Sam to Ukraine.
In Kiev, Bray falls blindly into the fray of a covert operation and Sam steps in to keep him alive. While navigating the choppy waters of the Ukrainian mafia, Bray and Sam fall into the bedroom. But what happens when the mission ends?
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Cover Artist: Erin Dameron-Hill
Genre/s:. Contemporary M/M Romance (Action/Adventure)
Trope/s: Fake boyfriend
Themes: Finding belonging, Moving on from the past
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 79 900 words/ approx. 300 pages
This is the first book in The Hart Consulting Series, but can stand alone.
Introduce yourself and your writing
I’m a little bit of an awkward introvert, so bear with me. These open ended questions are the hardest for me. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and I’ve been writing for a long time as well. Romance is my go-to genre and I like to read about all pairings and all sub-genres.
My writing is pretty realistic. I write how I talk, contractions, slang and all. I like sex to be on the page when I read, so that’s how I write. There are sides of my characters that may never reach the page, but I’ve written their whole backstory. Hopefully that helps them to act consistently through the book.
How long have you been an author?
That depends on your definition of author. I’ve been writing since high school in one form or another, but some say you aren’t an author until you’re published. This is my first novel, so if that’s your definition, then 2021.
Tell us about your new release. What inspired you to write it?
If you know any writers, you know that we don’t always choose the story, sometimes the story chooses us. Stories come to me in dialogue first, snippets of conversations — usually emotional scenes — that roll through me and I have to write it down so I don’t lose it.
The conversations that came to me first were between the three Hart brothers and their father. First Mase, then Bray and Nick. They all have a very precarious relationship with their dad. He’s caused his family a lot of pain and he thinks he’s ready to own up to that.
That’s what has Bray looking for his brother once again at the beginning of Sweet Hart. Bray has tasked himself with pulling his family back together. He’s tenacious and kind and sweet. He also lands in a heap of trouble that only Sam can help him out of.
How did you decide on the title?
The title was easy, it’s Braden’s army call sign. Coming up with his call sign was a lot more time consuming.
What are you working on at present? Would you like to share a snippet?
Nick’s story is done and with the editor, so I’m in the middle of Mase’s story (book 3). Mase is really tearing me apart. His love is so strong and unwavering. I don’t even have a full first draft yet — and it’s rough — but I can give you a little bit.
For the first time in years, Jazz turned toward him instead of away and accepted the comfort. He pressed his forehead against Mase’s shoulder. It felt so right to have Jazz in his arms that Mase’s body began to react. This was where he always seemed to falter. He pulled his hips back to hide his erection.
He did nothing more than rub Jazz’s arms. He’d deduced enough over time to know that Jazz had no-go zones and his back was the biggest one. Mase cupped his cheek and kissed the top of his head. After a few short moments, Jazz pulled back and looked up at him.
The breath froze in Mase’s lungs as he looked into those heavy-lidded eyes he loved. This was the hardest part, having to pull away before Jazz rejected him. If he let things progress, he’d cross one of Jazz’s invisible lines, and he would retreat. Their friendship would suffer yet again.
Jazz’s gaze dropped to his mouth. Mase barely held back a groan. He was pretty sure it wasn’t meant to tease. He’d come to that conclusion over the years. Jazz couldn’t seem to help it.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
The same advice I give myself; keep writing, don’t stop learning about the craft of writing, take constructive criticism with grace, truly examine your writing after getting feedback, and learn what works for you. But in the end, it’s your story, tell it your way.
Are there any genres you prefer to write and if so, why?
I prefer romance. Whenever I go to write a story, there is always love and a happily ever after. I would like to jump around in the sub-genres. Since I like world-building, I think eventually I’ll delve into fantasy and paranormal.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Not a book, but a character. It’s a little cliché, but I do love Mr. Darcy. He’s complex and he allowed love to change him in the best way.
I love reading about men falling in love with each other, so I think it’s natural that I’d want to spin my own stories about it.
Do you have any genres you prefer reading, and if so what are they?
I’ll read anything if it sounds interesting, with the exception of horror.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Fandom by Eden Finley
What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow?
Too many novels to name, but I will name a few authors. I really like Sloane Kennedy, Tal Bauer, and Annabeth Albert.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
I am a pantser by nature, but I’ve discovered that I can write faster if I at least have a skeleton of an outline.
The background and research are what take the longest, besides writing and revising. Sometimes the character background story is thousands of words long and much of that won’t make it into the book, but it’s their story all the same. Most often, I know how the story ends long before I begin, I just don’t always know how I’m going to get there.
Do you write often? Do you have a schedule?
I try to write every day, mostly at night when our house finally quiets down. I try to make a certain word count every day.
Are you a cat person or a dog person? Tell us about your pets.
I love animals. I grew up around dogs. We always had at least two. Twice, we’ve moved and inherited a cat. If I could afford it, I’d have a bunch of dogs, cats, maybe even a horse. For now, I just have one geriatric dog. She acts like a cat with a hairball sometimes, so it’s almost like having a cat and a dog.
If you had access to a time machine just once, is there anything you'd go back and change? Either on a personal level or an historical event?
I’ve read too many fantasy and sci-fi novels for this one. You can go back and kill Hitler, but someone even more sinister might take his place and succeed where he failed. I try really hard not to have regrets and learn from my mistakes.
The only thing I would change about the past are the times I’ve hurt people on purpose. Hurting someone by accident is one thing. I think it’s much worse to hurt someone on purpose.
“I’ll let you relax,” Sam said as he stood.
“Don’t go. You said I couldn’t sleep. I want to relax, but if you keep me talking, I won’t fall asleep.”
With a nod, Sam backed away and sat on the closed toilet. From there, he could only see Bray from the shoulders up. Much less of a temptation.
“This feels amazing. The warmth is seeping into my bones. Today definitely didn’t turn out how I thought it would.”
Sam snorted. “Ditto. I thought I was in for a fairly mundane business trip.”
Bray reached for the little soap provided by the hotel but flinched. Sam jumped up to get it for him. He tried not to look at Bray’s lower half, but his eyes caught on the bruises.
“Are they getting worse?” Sam asked.
“I’d only worry if it hurt to breathe. You’re quite the mother hen, Sam Wheeler.”
Sam looked up at the sound of his alias. The last name sounded so wrong coming from Bray’s mouth, but the kid was smiling like he was proud of himself. Sam found himself smiling back until his gaze fell once again to the black-and-blue marks on Bray’s abs.
“I feel responsible,” he murmured as he returned to sit on the toilet lid.
“You couldn’t have stopped me. I did my best to hide the fact I was following you.”
“Next time I’ll remember to have one of my men sit on you.”
Bray’s eyes went wide.
“Not like that. Don’t get all offended. I meant trail you, make sure you don’t leave the States.”
“I want to apologize,” Bray said. “I’ve caused you a lot of trouble today with your...associates and I didn’t mean to. You don’t know how relieved I was to see you walk into that room. I knew you’d come for me.”
Sam wasn’t sure how true that last sentence was, but he was sure the rest was true. The look in Bray’s eyes made Sam uncomfortable.
“Don’t look at me like I’m some hero, Bray.”
“You’re a good man, Sam Wheeler. I knew it right away, and today, you proved it.”
“I didn’t prove anything. My business is about as dark as you can get. I’m not a good man.”
“You are to me. I might be naïve, but I think that counts for something.”
“Don’t see pixie dust where there is none. It wouldn’t behoove me to have left you there at their mercy. I had selfish reasons for getting you out of there.”
“I’m sure you did.” Bray smiled.
Maybe he was getting too into his role, but that smile was one of both indulgent patience and dirty little nymph. It was a smile one boyfriend would give another and Sam hated how much he loved looking at it.
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Rae has been secretly penning romances since high school. It started with short stories that grew into full-length novels. When she received her first Kindle and had thousands of books at her fingertips, she became a little distracted from writing. Then one day she read a book that she would have written a different way. She began writing again and hasn't stopped since.
When she's not writing, Rae can usually be found reading, walking along the beaches of Half Moon Bay, or taking her geriatric dog to the vet, yet again.