Hot Licks

Hot Licks

by A.M. Arthur

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Benji Moore is living his dream traveling as the lead singer of his band. His life would be perfect if he could get his boyfriend, Josh, to commit to an exclusive relationship.

Even though Josh loves Benji, he has good reasons not to trust in long-term relationships. So Josh decides to take some time to himself and sublets a room at a friend’s beach house. But when he walks into the nearby Off Beat bar, he finds a bartender who may be a good distraction from his relationship problems.

Van Holt doesn’t do anything deeper than sweaty one-night stands. But when Josh sets his sights on him, Van is surprised by their connection. Except Van also doesn’t do complicated, and the situation between Josh and Benji defines complicated. But the more time Van spends with them, the more he’s realizing how hard it would be to let Josh and Benji go.

Can the three of them find a way together, or will they all end up going solo?

Hot Licks is part of the Off Beat series by bestselling author A.M. Arthur

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250105875
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/07/2017
Series: Off Beat , #3
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 300
Sales rank: 159,371
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone's throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She's been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn't been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur's work is available from Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.
Contact her at with your cooking tips (or book comments). You can also find her online (, as well as on Twitter (, Tumblr (, and Facebook ( ).

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone's throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She's been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She is the author of Body Rocks, Hot Licks, Off Beat, and Steady Stroke. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn't been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Read an Excerpt

Hot Licks

Off Beat #3

By A.M. Arthur

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2017 A. M. Arthur
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-10587-5


Eleven Years Ago

Donnie had gotten real good at lying over the years, so faking a stomachache on county fair day wasn't terribly hard for him. Mama was all sympathy, while Pop looked at him like he was the laziest thing on the planet. His younger siblings didn't care much, because they were still going to the fair to see Mama's prize jams win ribbons like every year.

He listened from the bedroom he shared with his two little brothers as the family truck pulled away, kids tucked into the bed with a lot of hay to make it more comfortable.

He didn't have a stomachache.

The county fair was one of the few things his parents went to every single year, like it was a religious holiday they couldn't skip, and they had done his entire seventeen years. Kirby left home a few months ago, so now as the oldest of six, Donnie had been expected to go and help wrangle the younger kids. But he had other plans that didn't include six children who weren't even blood.

His plans involved Brady Gibbons.

Just thinking the boy's name got him hard, and he rubbed himself through his worn jeans. They had all day and a real bed, and they'd finally get to do something they both wanted to try. Donnie had fantasized about it for months now, ever since Brady first kissed him in the hayloft after playing their guitars for hours. Pop thought the guitar was a useless hobby, but Donnie kept up with his chores and his schoolwork, so Mama stood up for him and said he could. He saved money to buy a used guitar when he was fifteen, taught himself by watching other people play on the TV, and he was darned good at it.

And then Brady's family moved to town all the way from Austin at the start of this year — their senior year — and Donnie knew he'd found a kindred spirit in the tall, sandy-haired city boy. The working farm Donnie lived on fascinated Brady, and they'd become fast friends. Guitar buddies. Secret boyfriends.

Okay, so maybe they'd never used the b-word out loud, but that's what Brady was to him.

Not that he'd ever tell anyone else. Brady either. It wasn't safe to be gay where they lived. There wasn't even a black person in their tiny town, much less anyone who flew a rainbow flag, but they both graduated in two months. Brady was already eighteen. Donnie would be eighteen in July.

The day after, they were gone. On the road. Together. Brady had some money saved up, and they'd play their guitars for street change until they got famous. Once they were famous, no one would care they were together.

Donnie could finally stop living a lie.

His adopted family left around nine in the morning for an hour drive north to the fair. Brady was supposed to come over around ten. Donnie dashed into the bathroom to wash up and get ready. He'd been real careful about researching this, because they both wanted to do it right. It was one thing for silly twelve year-old boys to giggle in the dark about cornholing. It was a whole other thing to want to do it with your boyfriend.

He was pretty sure Vaseline would be okay, so he took the jar of yellow stuff into his room, along with an old work towel no one would wonder at being in the laundry. Didn't want to risk getting his sheets messy, because Winnie did laundry this month and she was mouthy about weird stains.

The first time he'd beat off in bed and hadn't cleaned it up good, she'd told Mama, who'd told Pop, and Pop beat the sin out of him with a leather belt.

"Touching yourself is of the devil," Pop had said after every whap. Donnie hadn't been able to sit properly for two days.

He went out to the yard to wait. The farm was pretty far from the center of town, down a long dusty road. The west side of the farm was really hilly and rocky, with a lot of gorges and dry creek beds, and Brady's house was a half-mile walk as the crow flies. It'd be too conspicuous to drive a car over, like he did when they had planned guitar time, so Brady insisted on walking.

It made the whole date even more exciting, because he was sneaking over. His parents were going to the fair too, but he didn't have to make up a lie to stay home. The Gibbonses were cool like that. Not like Donnie's parents, who weren't even his real parents. Every one of his siblings was adopted like Donnie, because Mama and Pop couldn't have kids, but they needed to keep the farm going. It had been in the family for three generations.

Donnie was convinced they weren't legal adoptions, but it wasn't his place to interfere. They were all fed, clothed, and sent to school. Church twice on Sunday. Seven God-fearing souls, and then there was Donnie. The only person he was scared of was Pop and his leather belt.

Only a few more months.

A head of familiar dark-blond hair appeared in the distance, followed by the rest of Brady — the handsomest boy Donnie had ever seen in his life. He'd been smitten from day one, and he'd nearly died when he realized Brady liked him back. Never had he imagined finding a boy to love in this stupid little town.

Donnie bounced on his toes as Brady approached, smiling broadly. "Hey, you," Brady said with a drawl thicker than Donnie's. "They bought the sick stomach?"

"Yup. We've got the place to ourselves for hours."

Nervous now, Donnie turned and walked back to the house, desperate to touch Brady, but too scared until they were indoors. He didn't think anyone was around to see them, but old fears died hard. The minute they were both inside of his bedroom with the door shut, they were kissing.

They'd done this so much that kissing Brady was a familiar dance. He let Brady control it and be the aggressive one, shoving his tongue in Donnie's mouth, practically breathing for him. Donnie had lost some of his wood during his shower, but it was back in a flash, hard against Brady's hip. Brady grabbed his ass and squeezed, and Donnie humped against him.

"Been dreaming of this," Brady said during a brief interruption in the kissing. "I can't wait."

"Don't have to. Been dreaming of it too."

They broke apart in order to strip. Boots and jeans and undershirts all landed in a pile on the floor, everything getting all mixed up in their haste. Donnie loved Brady's body. Brady had played football at his school in Austin, so he had muscles on his arms and chest and legs, and all kinds of golden hair everywhere. He hadn't made the team this year, because he'd transferred too late to make pre-season practice, but he worked out to maintain those muscles.

Next to him, Donnie was scrawny. He was almost as tall, but he was really thin all over from working on the farm and stingy meals, because money was always tight. But Brady said he was gorgeous, so that made it all okay. The girls at school thought he was good-looking, too, but he really believed it when Brady said it.

Brady immediately took Donnie's dick in hand and started stroking him. They'd done this stuff before, too. Kissing and hand jobs, and even blow jobs. All kinds of touching. That stuff was easy to do in a hayloft, even if their butts got itchy sometimes. They'd wanted to save this, though, for a bed. Someplace soft and sweet, instead of hard and dusty.

"I wanna do you first," Brady said, giving his balls a good rub that made Donnie sigh. "You can do me later, if you want to."

"Okay." Donnie would have agreed to anything in that moment. "I want you to do me."

After another demanding kiss, Brady said, "Then get on the bed, cowboy."

Donnie laughed. Brady thought it was hilarious to call him cowboy, even though he worked on a farm, not a ranch, and they didn't even own horses. Just some cows, pigs, and chickens. Donnie was even a little bit afraid of horses, ever since he was a kid and saw one kick a real cowboy in the face.

The ancient box springs creaked beneath his weight. As the oldest, he got the single bed, while his brothers had to share the bunk beds on the opposite wall. Knowing what he was about to do in a room he shared gave him a funny little thrill, so he wiggled his bare butt at Brady, then settled over the towel on his hands and knees.

"Use that, okay?" Donnie said, pointing to the Vaseline. "It'll help."

"Good idea." Brady grabbed it. Donnie heard the lid twist off, then a wet, sticky sound. "Can't believe we're finally doin' this."

"Me too."

"Read somewhere it can hurt a little so you gotta relax, okay? But if it hurts really bad, you gotta tell me. I don't wanna hurt you for real."

Donnie didn't want that either, and his heart fluttered at how careful Brady was being when all Donnie wanted was for him to shove it in already. "I'll tell you, I promise."

Something hard and blunt pressed against his backdoor, and Donnie gasped.

The bedroom door flung open hard enough for the knob to crash into the wall, and Donnie yelped. Pop appeared in the doorway, his face contorted in rage and so dark he was almost purple. "What in the name of Christ Almighty are you doin' to my son?" Donnie's insides turned to ice, and his bowels got watery.

Behind him, Brady moved so fast the bed shook. He tried to go for his clothes. Pop picked up Donnie's guitar case with both hands and swung. Donnie screamed. The case smashed into the side of Brady's head, sending him sprawling to the wood floor on his stomach. He moaned, but stayed down.

Donnie tried to get past him and out the door, but Pop was faster. He swung the case again, catching Donnie in the small of his back. He cried out as he fell. The second blow landed on his bare ass, harsher than any lash with a belt or paddle.

"Goddamn city boy come out here to corrupt my kid," Pop roared. "Goddamn city queer. You'll be fuckin' sorry, with your devil instrument."

All Donnie heard was thudding and Brady crying, and he wanted to run, to get away from the horror but he couldn't leave Brady. "Pop, stop, please!" His voice was rough and full of tears, so he tried again. "Stop! It's not his fault."

The guitar case clattered to the floor. Then Pop loomed over him, a seething mass of man Donnie didn't recognize. "I knew somethin' was off between you two, I knew it. Why do you think I came back?" Donnie couldn't hold back a sob.

"You wanna cry like a woman? I'll give you somethin' to cry over. You and that devil's instrument? You're done with it."

He didn't understand until Pop put all of the force he could muster into slamming his size-fourteen work boot down onto Donnie's right hand. Bones popped. Pop dug in, and Donnie screamed.

He screamed for a long time as he clutched his mangled hand to his chest. Long after Pop dragged Brady out of the room. Long after the back door banged. After a while, the scream turned internal, and it wrapped itself around Donnie's heart. Wrapped it hard and tight in pain and anger and grief.

Even after Pop drove him to the hospital with a story about a farm equipment malfunction and got his hand bandaged, even after the physical pain dulled behind narcotics, even after Pop got him to swear he'd never speak of this to anyone, not ever, or he'd be sorry ... his heart continued to scream.



Joshua Lansing never would have guessed that a bar existed behind the barbershop façade of the strip mall, and he probably never would have found it without Lincoln's help.

He'd heard of Off Beat from many of his friends, including his long-term boyfriend Benji Moore, but he'd never managed to visit the bar/live music venue until tonight. When Benji had visited the shore back in July, their three-year relationship was in a rocky place and Joshua didn't go with the group, so he missed the outing that had seen Benji's band performing live at the club.

Tonight he and Lincoln West, one of Benji's former band mates, were braving a Thursday open-mike night. Being the first Thursday after the Labor Day weekend holiday, Joshua didn't expect a packed house. Most tourists went home after the holiday, didn't they?

He followed Lincoln through a heavily tinted front door and into the kind of eclectic meeting room he'd expect to see at a hookah joint. Big, funky couches, bright colors on the walls, piped music. A chalkboard wall in the back with all sorts of drawings and messages, and above it, a sign that said "No Fucking Swearing."

That made him chuckle.

Most of the seats were taken upstairs, but the hookah-type lounge wasn't their destination. An old-fashioned phone booth in the back seemed to be the portal to another room, because a pair of girls in tight shorts and skimpy tops exited from it.

"They use this place during Prohibition or something?" Joshua asked.

"Apparently that's the vibe Beatrice was going for when she opened it," Lincoln replied. He went directly into the phone booth and descended narrow cement steps, into the heart of Off Beat.

The same music from upstairs was ten times louder downstairs. A funky bar was to the right, decorated in Tiki items and made of old surfboards. Not a single one of the various tables and chairs matched. Some low, some high, all very kitschy. Nothing about the bar should have worked, but it did.

And the place was pretty packed for almost eight o'clock on a weekday.

Some of his surprise must have shown on his face, because Lincoln laughed. "It's popular with the locals, so they do good business all year long."

He nearly asked how Lincoln knew that, then stopped himself. Lincoln was dating the owner's nephew, Emmett. They'd been together since early summer and were pretty serious. And committed wholly to each other.

The thought dinged his guilt bell hard, and he suddenly missed Benji so much his chest ached.

Their current off-again status was Joshua's fault. He and Benji had been together for almost three years, and from the beginning, once things got serious, Joshua had told Benji he wanted an open relationship. They were committed to each other, loved each other, but they both traveled so much — first for Joshua's IT job, and then Benji with his former band XYZ, and now with Fading Daze — that finding time together was tricky. The arrangement had left them both free to fuck other people and scratch that loneliness itch, as long as it was once and done.

And for the first two years, it had worked perfectly. Until that goddamn car accident last summer.

All four members of the dismantled band XYZ — Lincoln, Benji, Dominic Bounds, and Tyson Reed, plus Joshua — had been driving north to Philadelphia after a late gig in Fenwick Island. They'd been sideswiped in a hit-and-run that sent their car careening into a telephone pole. Benji and Dominic got out with surface injuries, and Tyson broke his arm. Lincoln was in a coma for two days with a traumatic brain injury that he was still recovering from.

Joshua had ended up in surgery to remove a big piece of the car from his abdomen, and he'd come pretty close to cashing in his chips. The scars on his face and belly had faded, but were constant reminders to him and to Benji of what had nearly happened. As Joshua recovered, though, Benji started getting clingy. At first, Joshua chalked it all up to some sort of post-traumatic reaction.

Eventually, though, Joshua was well and working again, and this past June Benji had asked to close their relationship. Only them, no more outsiders. Joshua refused. He had very good reasons for refusing, and Benji knew those goddamn reasons, but he still insisted.

The fight hadn't been pretty. Mean things were said by each of them, things Joshua regretted every day. They'd parted on speaking terms, but they'd also both agreed on a break. A break that, so far, had lasted two months and counting, and Joshua missed him. Texting and Skype weren't enough.

He wanted his boyfriend back, but so far, Benji had given no indication that he wanted Joshua back. Benji was living his dream, traveling with Fading Daze and making new fans with every gig in every new city. Maybe his rock-star life simply didn't have room in it for Joshua anymore.

Confused and no longer enjoying his IT job, Joshua had sublet the apartment he'd only recently rented, taken a leave of absence from work, and moved to the shore to share the three-bedroom apartment Lincoln lived in. The only minor drawback was how grossly in love Lincoln and Emmett were. Joshua saw it in every look, move, and gesture the couple made. It didn't help that Emmett had practically moved in, too.

Joshua had been there a week, and he still felt no less unsettled about his life than when he'd been in Philadelphia.

Lincoln nudged him with an elbow. "You want to get a table or sit at the bar?" The bar looked jammed, so he said, "Table. I'll get one if you want to order our drinks."


Excerpted from Hot Licks by A.M. Arthur. Copyright © 2017 A. M. Arthur. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Hot Licks 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DorisB More than 1 year ago
If you want some sexy men who have learned to overcome some very intense past experiences you will love this book. Benji and Joshua have been in a relationship for some time even if it is an open relationship but all that is about to change. Benji is lead singer in a band and is gone on the road quite a bit since they are at the cusp of making it big which leaves Joshua home waiting for his boyfriend to return. Even though it is an open relationship Joshua has a rule of “one and done” but all of a sudden it seems like Van might make this rule hard to follow. He met Van at the bar where Benji and his band got their start and little does Joshua know that Benji and Van have also crossed paths making the other stand up and take notice. Each of these men have had some pretty traumatic experiences in their past which has left them with various degrees of commitment issues. Will they be able to overcome their pasts and who will be the odd man out? Even though this is book three in this series I don’t feel that I wasn’t able to follow and it just made me want to read the first two books ASAP. I received this book from NetGalley as an ARC for a freely given honest review.