Just A Taste From: Eat Your Heart Out 2 – A Charity Anthology For The Hunger Project and Unicef’s Ukraine Appeal.

Eat Your Heart Out 2

Featuring

Arizona Tape
Calista Jayne
Danika Bloom
Demelza Carlton
Erin Bedford
Gwyn McNamee & Christy Anderson
Jade Waltz
Jessalyn Jameson
K. R. Max
Lacey Carter Andersen
Laura Greenwood
Lexie Miers
Linzi Basset
Margo Bond Collins
Mia Harlan
Rachel Everly
Skye MacKinnon
TB Mann
Zoey Indiana

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Are you ready for seconds?

Eat Your Heart Out is back for 2022 with 19 brand new standalone stories from bestselling romance authors.

Pull up your chair and dig into a variety of drool-worthy stories! Whether you want to dip into something steamy, or nibble on something sweet, you’ll find your perfect match amongst the pages. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer your treats paranormal, contemporary or with a side of aliens, we have a dish for everyone.

All net proceeds from Eat Your Heart Out 2 will be donated to The Hunger Project and Unicef’s Ukraine appeal.

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My Big Sweet Waffle Monster
Starlight Monsters Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Skye MacKinnon

Penny is smelling waffles, just like her nan used to make with all the sweetness of honey and maple syrup. She has to find where this delightful aroma is coming from. Now while that sounds easy to do for Penny it is not. She’s somewhere in the galaxy not anywhere near Earth and the prospects of going home are less than none. She waits until the guards are at their meal before attempting to find the source of the waffles. Her only way into the area is through the very small vents.

Qong is a prisoner on this ship, he’d been rudely wakened from cryosleep and put into this cell. He’d been traveling to Kev-4 a place for his people to start over with better lives. Now he has no idea where he is his only happiness is in sensing his mate. She appears to be closer now, over his head in fact.

This is one of my favorite scenes.

The alien stared at me with confusion and something like disgust. I’d become pretty good at reading aliens’ expressions, no matter where they were from. It wasn’t all about facial features, but also about stance and body language, plus a large dose of intuition. This particular alien male was confused, which confused me in return. Why was he looking at me as if I wasn’t what he’d expected? He shouldn’t have expected me at all. I was only here because of the sweet scent, the same scent that was so strong now that I could taste waffles in my mouth. I had to fight the urge to chew.  

Up close, he was even bigger than he’d seemed from above. His hexagonal scales formed thick layers, reminding me of medieval plate armour, but far more delicate. They were adorned with a honeycomb pattern, which combined with their golden colour made them look like tiny, crispy waffles. Or maybe not. It was entirely possible that I was only making that connection because of the scent.  

“Do you have any food in here?” I heard myself say.

“Is that what I smell?”

His confusion became even more obvious as he looked down at me with a frown. The scales on his face were only about the size of my fingernails, giving him the flexibility to have an expressive mimic. Even his eyelids and lips were covered in scales, so small that they appeared like gold dust on his skin. His eyes weren’t all that different from a human’s, with dark irises ringed with shimmering gold, although his eyelids closed from the sides like in reptiles.  

“I don’t have food. Are you hungry? What are you?” He clasped a hand over his mouth. “Sorry. That was rude.”

I found him strangely adorable. He was huge and could squeeze me like an insect, but there was a vulnerability in his beautiful golden eyes that made me look past his intimidating strength.  

“I’m human, although it seems most beings call us Peritans,” I explained. “Turns out we’re pretty rare. We’ve only just developed space travel, so only a few of us have left our planet.”

“Peritan,” he repeated thoughtfully. “I’ve never heard of that before. What is your planet called?”

“Earth in my native language, Peritus in Intergalactic Standard.”

“Is your planet close to Aggo?”

“I’m sorry, I have no idea. I don’t know much intergalactic geography. I didn’t exactly leave my home by choice. But anyway, maybe we should start with names?” I smiled at him. “I’m Penny.”

Back on Earth, I would have held out a hand, but I’d learned quickly that most aliens weren’t familiar with that gesture. One had actually taken my hand into his mouth. The memory of his enormous tongue swirling around my fingers still gave me the shivers.  

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, ma… Penny. I am Qong, son of Qing, third enforcer in the Macwuel Clan.”

He said the words with pride, but of course, it meant nothing to me. I just nodded and smiled as if I knew exactly what an enforcer was or how important his clan was.  

The sweet scent of waffles drifted into my nostrils once more and I couldn’t help but ask, “Why does it smell like waffles? Where is it coming from?”

“I don’t know what waffles are. And I only smell the sweet scent of my m… you.”

I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or creepy. “Are you saying that I smell?”

His eyes widened and he raised his scaled hands as if to erase his words. “No, of course not! I simply mean that your scent is the most delicious fragrance I have ever smelled. So sweet, so delicate, so strong. I…” He shook his head and stopped talking before he could dig himself a bigger hole.  

I ignored him and walked around the cell, sniffing every few steps. The scent was coming from in here, that much was certain. I avoided the toilet column, hoping very much that it wasn’t his shit that was smelling this delicious. That would throw up all sorts of new problems – quite literally.

“What are you doing?” he asked after watching me circle his cell twice.

“Finding waffles. Or maple syrup. Or whatever else it is that is driving me crazy by smelling so good.”

“Describe waffles for me.”

I gave him a quick look to check if he was serious, then shrugged and continued pacing. “They’re baked flat cakes, kind of like pancakes, but I suppose you probably don’t know what those are, either. They can be sweet or savoury, although my favourite ones are sweet drizzled with maple syrup. Some people make them in a square shape, but I have a heart-shaped waffle iron. I know it’s silly, but I always feel like they taste better when they look like a heart.”

I realised I was rambling – and drooling at the memory of my nan’s waffles – and stopped.  

“Are they your favourite food?” Qong asked curiously, still not taking his eyes off me. His confusion had abated slightly, but he still didn’t seem sure what to think of me.  

“My favourite sweet food, yes.”

“Then I’m honoured.”

That sentence didn’t make sense at all, so I stopped once again to look at him. “What do you mean?”

“Your kind, your… Peritans… Do you have a mate bond?” he asked instead of answering my question.

“No. We have relationships and fall in love, but we don’t have bonds like I’ve seen in other species.” One of my roommates, a young Ferven woman named Dra-Lia, had explained all about mate bonds to me once. They seemed common and most aliens living on the station were either mated to a partner or looking for their mate. Humans were strange in that regard. I’d tried to explain to Dra-Lia that I didn’t want a fated mate because I wanted to decide who to love, but she’d just shaken her head and given me a pitiful look. For her, finding the mate destined to her by the stars, was the fulfilment of all her dreams. For me, it sounded like a chore.  

“Oh.” Qong looked disappointed, his hairless brows furrowing. “That is strange.”

“Not strange, just different,” I said automatically. It had become my mantra, something I told myself several times a day, especially when confronted with particularly weird aliens and their even weirder habits. Like the species that communicated by farting. I doubted I’d ever get used to that.  

He didn’t seem to know what to say to that. I finally stopped my exploration of his cell, conceding that there were no waffles hidden away anywhere. I’d known that from the start, really, but the intensity of the scent was pushing away all rational thought. I needed to find the source of the smell so I could think clearly once more.  

Qong breathed in deep, a smile curving his lips as he sighed in contentment. “I don’t smell what you call waffles. For me, it’s the sweet fragrance of the yumii flower mixed with a hint of coradomn, a spice we use a lot in confectionery. It is the most beautiful scent I could imagine. Nobody ever knows what they will smell until the time comes. It could be your favourite flower, dish or even animal, but quite often, it’s a combination of scents, made even better by their union.”

“Sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about. You have to be clearer. Why are we smelling different things? What is causing it?”

“There is no easy way to say this,” he muttered. “So I shall be blunt. You are my mate.”

I froze, unsure how to react to that. Hysterical laughter was one option, denial another. Or maybe should I scream and run?  

Mate. I looked at him, the golden scaly alien, and tried to imagine him as my partner. I didn’t know him, he was a complete stranger, yet it didn’t feel that way. Our gaze met. His eyes were kind and full of hope. He was watching me closely, waiting for my reaction. I liked that he gave me time to process what he’d said.  

Mate.
Skye MacKinnon. My Big Sweet Waffle Monster (Kindle Locations 150-213). Peryton Press.

Knowing Qong is her mate, she needed the answer to one question, did he volunteer for Kalumbu or are the trials his punishment.

That he is neither is not a surprise to her, she’d seen much over the course of her stay here. Volunteers often weren’t but the trials are harsh and most often deadly. She would need to get him off the ship and get both of them off the station without being caught.

This book is both fun and exciting as they make plans and execute them. I can’t wait for the next book in this brand-new series.

5 Contented Purrs for Skye!

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Skye MacKinnon

Skye MacKinnon is a USA Today & International Bestselling Author whose books are filled with strong heroines who don’t have to choose.

She embraces her Scottishness with fantastical Scottish settings and a dash of mythology, no matter if she’s writing about Celtic gods, cat shifters, or the streets of Edinburgh.

When she’s not typing away at her favourite cafe, Skye loves dried mango, as much exotic tea as she can squeeze into her cupboards and being covered in pet hair by her two bunnies, Emma and Darwin.

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