NOW AVAILABLE! SLOW HEAT by LETA BLAKE – An Alpha/Omega Erotic Romance


Available now at Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited

A lustful young alpha meets his match in an older omega with a past.

Professor Vale Aman has crafted a good life for himself. An unbonded omega in his mid-thirties, he’s long since given up hope that he’ll meet a compatible alpha, let alone his destined mate. He’s fulfilled by his career, his poetry, his cat, and his friends.

When Jason Sabel, a much younger alpha, imprints on Vale in a shocking and public way, longings are ignited that can’t be ignored. Fighting their strong sexual urges, Jason and Vale must agree to contract with each other before they can consummate their passion.

But for Vale, being with Jason means giving up his independence and placing his future in the hands of an untested alpha–as well as facing the scars of his own tumultuous past. He isn’t sure it’s worth it. But Jason isn’t giving up his destined mate without a fight.

This is a stand alone gay romance novel, 118,000 words, with a strong HFN ending, as well as a well-crafted, non-shifter omegaverse, with alphas, betas, omegas, male pregnancy, heat, and knotting. Content warning for pregnancy loss and aftermath.


  • Holy hotness, YES, LETA BLAKE, you just gave me another reason to love you.” – Jordan, Alpha Book Club


  • “Wow– I loved this book! Couldn’t put it down. Those who like their mm romance on the hot side will looove this one!” – Eli Easton, author of Blame It On The Mistletoe and the Howl at the Moon series


  • I loved this book. Really LOVED it. The author once again proves her extraordinary versatility. This book is so much more than a love story. So multi-layered. So wonderful.” – Katerina, Don’t Love Me, Jack Reviews

The Dream of the 90s Is Alive in THIS CHARMING MAN by AJAX BELL #seattle #GenX #gayfiction @flickerjax

This Charming Man (A Queen City Boys Book)This Charming Man by Ajax Bell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This charming book is chock full of interesting, lovable, and, at times, hate-able characters. First is Steven, the narrator and main protag, who has come to adulthood but hasn’t really found his footing as an adult. For the past five years he’s been happily lost in that place familiar to most readers–somewhere between dependant adolescence and independent adulthood. Sure, he’s not living at home with his parents, but he’s holding a retail job during the day and clubbing the night away with his fascinating-but-cruel best friend, Adrian, most nights. He’s a typical Gen-Xer in that way, delaying adulthood and responsibilities, and prolonging the time between. Which, huh, speaking of Gen-Xers, he is one, since this this story is set in 1991. And that realization has given me a whole new spin/outlook on Steven. Basically, if you’re familiar with that Portlandia song “The Dream of the 90’s is alive in Portland”? Well, that’s the dream of the Gen-Xers, man, and Steven’s living the dream. [reference:]

But somewhere beneath his shiny, glittering night club life, he’s tiring of it all and he’s growing up, wanting to find something meaningful in his life, something beyond coffee shops, bumps of coke, and his retail job at a fashionable clothing shop. He’s wanting a career, a life, a true love, a home. And yet his current situation keeps sucking him back. It’s easy to stay the same and hard to change–especially when his best friend, whom Steven is half in love with, seems very invested in keeping him stunted.

Speaking of Adrian, he is a scene-stealer in the best way. He’s horrible and yet so compelling. If any reader has made it to adulthood without knowing (and being compelled by) someone like Adrian then you’re a lucky dog. I’ve certainly known enough Adrians in my time to feel both drawn to his flame and an intense world-weary disgust with him. It’s easy to see how he’s manipulated Steven into being his emotional prop through the last five years, and how Steven has been his eager toy.

Enter Steven’s motivation to change. One John Pieters, a charming older man (think Baby Boomer to Steven’s Gen-X) who has life experience and drive. He’s suffered through the 1980s horror of AIDS and clings with tight loyalty to his friends, demonstrating the kind of connection with his self-made family that Steven yearns for and doesn’t get with Adrian. He’s an adult in a way that Steven finds inspiring, arousing, and intimidating. Steven knows that a charming, handsome, older man must look at him and just see a wasteful club kid with nothing going for him.

While Steven does keep John in his mind as a motivator for the life changes he makes in the wake of meeting the man, it’s clear that Steven’s metamorphosis, his true coming-of-age, comes from within. John is the carrot that drives him, like a fantasy or a dream, but something so unattainable at first that it’s only as Steven begins the process of changing the he realizes that maybe it’s not so unattainable after all. At first his metamorphosis is about wanting to be the kind of man John would notice, but it isn’t long before the satisfaction of change motivates him on its own.

I don’t want to spoil too much, and a lot of the wonderfulness of this story is in the details and the way that Steven’s character (and every character of the book) is so relatable and yet so identifiable as being tied to the time (1990s) and place (Seattle). You’ll love Steven and want better for him, like a mother hen ghost, silently following him as a reader and rooting for him to make better choices and then cheering when he finally does.

Speaking of Seattle, the city during the 1990s is beautifully captured here and comes alive in the reader’s mind. While I was not in Seattle in the 1990s, myself, I’ve been given to understand from other readers that the scenes and places discussed are real and recognizable to people who were there.

This Charming Man is a charming, lovely read. There are no difficult hoops to jump through to get into the book. The writing itself is sharp and straightforward. I’ve read it twice and loved it both times, and both times found a deeper connection to the story and the characters.

I think Gen-Xers will especially identify with this story but it’s a great read for all lovers of gay fiction.

View all my reviews

Writer Wednesday: Painting Rain by Dev Bentham

Today we have Dev Bentham’s latest Painting in the Rain! I want to acknowledge that I owe Dev an apology. This was supposed to go up last Wednesday, but I was traveling and despite assuring her it would indeed go up, I completely spaced on it and failed to do so. I’m sorry, Dev, and I hope that putting it up this week makes up for it a little bit.


What are your names? And tell us a little about yourselves?
Mike Malone: “Hey, how’s it going? I’m a social worker, here in Bayport for a summer job working with at-risk kids. Until I met Gabe, I was having a hard time being here. I guess when I applied, I thought a small town on the Oregon coast would be more gay-friendly than the little Northern Wisconsin town where I grew up.”
Gabe Thompson: “I was born here so the small town attitudes don’t surprise me. As an artist, I guess I’m used to being an outcast. But it’s been hard on my son, Trevor. He’s still angry that a couple years ago I divorced his mother and came out.”

How did you meet?
Mike: “Like Gabe said, Trevor’s one pissed off kid. He’s been acting out enough to have his parents enroll him in my program.”
Gabe: “Right. Mike’s my son’s supervisor, which is a little awkward, to say the least. We met when Mike came over to talk about Trevor’s behavior—he’s turned into an adolescent Casanova, probably in reaction to me.”

Was it love at first sight?
Mike: “It was something at first sight. He took my breath away.”
Gabe: “There I was, talking with my son’s social worker and all I could focus on was Mike’s eyes. I couldn’t believe this gorgeous young man was interested in a middle aged guy like me.”
Mike: “Oh come on, I’m older than I look. There’s less than ten years between us. Besides, thirty-five isn’t exactly over the hill.”
Gabe: “It’s damned close. But I’m glad that doesn’t faze you.”

What do you believe is your worst or most frustrating quality? What about his?
Mike: “I think Gabe doesn’t give himself enough credit. He’s a very accomplished artist—you should see his work. He’s really good. I think my worst quality is that I’m overly cautious, or at least I was with Evan. The poor kid deserved better from me.”
Gabe: “You can’t blame yourself. What happened to Evan wasn’t your fault. The thing that frustrates me most about myself is that I’ve tried hard to be a good father and I think I’ve failed.”
Mike: “I don’t know about that—I think you’re a great dad. But I’ll agree with you that the thing that drives me most nuts about you is Trevor. The kid’s a terror.”
Gabe: “He used to be a fun to be around.”
Mike: “I’ll have to take your word on that.”

What is your best quality? What about his?
Gabe: “Mike’s a solidly good guy. He’s great with the kids, even Trevor, and he’s so very sane.”
Mike: “Thank you. That’s nice of you to say. But she also asked about your best quality. Are you trying to be modest?”
Gabe: “Hardly. But I like thinking about you more than about myself. I think my best quality might be persistence. I’ve stuck it out here for fifteen years in order to be a father to my son. That’s got to be worth something.”
Mike: “It is. And I think Trevor will appreciate it down the road. I’d have to say that your best quality is your imagination. I love your house because it’s like walking inside your brain—all those whimsical creatures everywhere. It’s enchanting. As for my best quality, I don’t know, maybe that I care. I really want life to be better for those kids. Not just the gay ones, but maybe especially them.”

If you could have one wish come true, what would it be and why?
Gabe: “That Mike would stay here on the coast.”
Mike: “Yeah. There’s a job opening up here. I’d like to get it and be able to stick around.”


Now let’s talk to Dev!

What makes your current offering a different and compelling read?
This is my first dual third person narrative story. In the past I’ve written from one character’s point of view—either in close third (Moving in Rhythm and August Ice) or in first (the Tarnished Souls series). While I love the more literary narrative styles that those points of view offer, I really enjoyed getting into the heads of both characters. This book is also more wildly romantic than any I’ve done before, perhaps because it’s in a more standard romance format or because it’s set on the Oregon coast, an area I find deeply romantic.
This is also the first story I’ve written that has a kid at the center and I’m delighted that came out on Fathers’ Day. I can’t imagine a more perfect timing for the release.

What is the most rewarding aspect of writing and/or publishing? The most terrifying/frustrating?
I love hearing from people who’ve enjoyed my books. One of my goals for publishing was to have people outside my circle of friends read my work. Now that that is happening, it’s both the most rewarding and the most terrifying aspect of writing—that people I’ve never met will either love or hate the stories I write.

What was your favorite thing about writing these characters?
I love how different these men are from each other. Mike’s a Midwestern kid, just out of graduate school and ready to start his real life. Gabe’s nine years older, an art school dropout who’s spent the past fifteen years compromising himself because of an experimental one-night stand that made him a father. Their experiences couldn’t be more different and yet they’re both aching for the same kind of whole-hearted relationship.

Lastly, provide us with covers, blurbs, buy links, and where you can be found on the web! 🙂

Amber Allure

Find Dev on the web at or email her at and follow her on twitter at @DevBentham.