The Speakeasy Series Review by K. Evan Coles & Brigham Vaughn #LGBTQ+ #SeriesReview #GuestPost #SpeakeasyCrew


The Speakeasy Series

Media mogul Jesse Murtagh and bartender Kyle McKee decide to go into business together and open Under Lock & Key, a speakeasy on the upper West Side of Manhattan. The bar, with its secret passphrases and craft liquor cocktails, becomes a sanctuary for Jesse and Kyle’s circle of friends, who gather once a month to catch up with each other and share their experiences.

Under is both hang out and haven for the men who spend time within its walls and their friendships build family ties that are sometimes missing from their own lives.

Overall Heat Rating for the series: 4 flames

The stories can be read in order or as standalones.

TBR Goodreads

Creativity and Productivity

by: Brigham Vaughn

I’ve always been a little in awe of K Evan Coles’ ability to juggle writing, a day job, and a family. Trying to write full time and work full time nearly killed me. And it didn’t help my marriage. I felt overwhelmed and frazzled constantly. I wrote a lot of words and I am very proud of them, but it took a huge toll on my mental and physical health. Unfortunately, letting go of the day job and the ex-husband (fairly amicably for both, thankfully) wasn’t enough. Sometimes juggling the writing I’m doing on my own to earn a living with the co-written work was tough. 

I can’t say I’m grateful for the coronavirus. Too many people have been lost already, including a family member. But I will say I’m grateful to have found some inner peace in the midst of it. Despite the horrors of what’s happening, I’ve been able to slow down, take a few deep breaths, and finally find the elusive balance I’ve been searching for. I’m using the time I have with fewer distractions to wrap up projects I’ve been itching to finish for years. 

A different approach to how I manage my time has given me the freedom to spend weekday mornings writing and weekday afternoons working on the business and promotion side of things. I’d love to say that I have evenings and weekends off, but I’d be lying. I’m choosing to push myself a little harder for the time being to get ahead of the release schedule I’ve laid out so those are often spent working. At some point, when the world opens up a little bit or when I need a break, whichever comes first, I hope to ease off a little. Writing will never be a neat and tidy Monday through Friday 9-5 sort of career. But I’m hopeful that as things change, I can get better at changing too.

This new schedule has given me the opportunity to explore plotting a little bit more as well. I’ve more or less been flying by the seat of my pants with only a rough idea of the beginning and end of a story with a few major points figured out. But I’ve been plotting a little more. Being more deliberate in the choices I make. Finding a way to keep the creativity flowing while also being more productive. 

If I can say one thing about writing though, it’s that it’s constantly changing. So that’s become my motto too. Reassess. Reevaluate. Change when it’s necessary. 

Writing the Tidal and Speakeasy series with K Evan has been a wonderful experience. As we wrap up what is over half a million words together, we’re taking a short pause. Not for lack of ideas or lack of desire to write together. But so we can both take advantage of this time to focus on other things in our lives that need attention.

I don’t know what the future is going to hold for me. For the world. But I do know this. Every day I learn a little bit more about the writing process. I get better at managing that balance between creativity and productivity. And I’m very excited about all the words to come. Especially the ones K Evan and I will write together. There are dozens of ideas just waiting for us to explore.

And if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that our characters never stay silent for long. 


Book Title: With A Twist (The Speakeasy Book 1)

Author: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Genre/s: Contemporary, Romance, Gay

Heat Level: 4 flames

Length: 95 295 words/ 263 pages

Release Date: September 25, 2018

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Love, served with a twist.


Nursing a broken heart when his ex-boyfriend, Riley, leaves him for the love of his life, Carter, Will Martin throws himself into teaching at NYU and writing. An invite from Riley to a speakeasy called Under helps Will begin to heal, and he finds himself enjoying both the drinks and the company.

Soon after, he’s shaken by news of his father’s cancer diagnosis and Will reluctantly returns to Long Island to see the man who disowned him after he was outed.

Sparks fly when Will meets his father’s mentee, Republican Senator David Mori, who is both mixed race and openly gay. Will is looking for a no-strings-attached fling and David is leery of getting involved with his mentor’s son, so they keep their affair a secret.

As his father’s health worsens, Will elects to remain in Garden City and his relationship with David grows beyond casual sex. Now, both men must decide how to bridge the divide between them.

So I meet Will in Carter and Riley’s book ‘Calm’, which I highly recommend reading both ‘Wake’ & ‘Calm’.  Though not necessary for this series, they are just really good.  My heart broke for Will and I was super excited he would be getting his own book.

Then I read the blurb.  A GAY REPUBLICAN?  Wait what, how does the even work.  I let me tell you Brigham and K. Evan make it work in the best possible way.  And that shows a sign of brilliant writing.

Will and his father have a strained relationship to say the least.  Then his mom calls and says his dad has cancer and the outcome doesn’t look good.  He reluctantly goes to help his parents out, and that is when he meets David, the gay republican.  Just like me he wonders how is that even possible.  But David helps Will come to terms with a few things, helping him face some demons he had with his father.  I loved this, it did wonders for my heart, knowing that parent can come around and accept their gay children.

I adored watching these two men learn how to make their relationship work.  Its prove that opposites can make future with each other.  This is an amazing start to a new series.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | iTunes | B&N | Kobo | Google Play

24 Symbols | Thalia | | August Roberton | Mondadoristore


Book Title: Extra Dirty (The Speakeasy Book 2)

Author: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Genre/s: Contemporary, Romance, Gay, GLBTQI

Heat Level: 4 flames

Length: 88 944 words/ 345 pages

Release Date: March 26, 2019

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Love, served extra dirty.


Jesse Murtagh loves his life as a wealthy bisexual businessman dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure. With a circle of friends he trusts implicitly, he enjoys a successful career in his family’s business and as co-owner of Under, an uptown speakeasy, with his friend with benefits, Kyle McKee.

Music teacher and part-time DJ Cameron Lewis lives modestly in a DUMBO loft and isn’t interested in serious relationships. However, he’s always up for some casual fun.

Doing a favor for his friend Carter Hamilton, Jesse meets Cam and is immediately charmed. When Jesse discovers Cam’s other life as a DJ, he is further intrigued. Viewing Cam as a challenge, Jesse pulls out all the stops, but his usual methods to avoid serious relationships fail. Though Cam has no intention of becoming attached, he begins to fall for Jesse, unaware that Jesse’s feelings are changing.

Afraid of heartbreak, Cam pulls away, leaving Jesse bewildered and hurt. They remain friends until a series of misunderstandings widens the rift to breaking point. When Cam steps in to help Jesse through a family crisis, they realize they care for each other more than they’ve been willing to admit. Jesse and Cam don’t want a traditional relationship, but can they build a future that makes them both happy?

Now Jesse also played a role in Carter and Riley’s book, and a very important one for Carter.  I NEEDED more of him.  And more of him I did receive.  OMG I can’t tell you how happy I was when Jesse’s book dropped.  I read it in one sitting.

Jesse doesn’t prefer male or female, he enjoys them both.  He apologetically enjoys sex, and 9 times out of 10 even if the sex stops he remains friends with them.  Hell most of his closest friends are people he has slept with.  But monogamy is NOT something he wants for his life, he knows if works for some he just isn’t one of them.

So I wondered how this would work in this book.  Would Cam be able to change his mind?  Would there be a happy ever after.  Well this book taught me that relationships are not cookie cutter.  What defines someones relationship does not have to define someone else’s relationship.  These two authors took these men and proved to us that you have to do what is right for you and your partner.  Oh it took a bit of miscommunication to get there but when they did, Jesse and Cam figured out what would work for them.

I ADORE Jesse, and by the end I was just as smitten with Cam.  I one thousand percent recommend this book, but I will warn you to have an open mind, cause their relationship is anything but traditional.

Buy Links


Book Title: Behind the Stick (The Speakeasy Book 3)

Author: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary, MM, Romance, Interracial, Erotic Romance

Trope/s: Bad Breakup, Hurt/Comfort, Interracial Relationship,

Sex Buddies Become Lovers, Found Family

Themes: Family, Friendship, Family Conflict, Racial Intolerance, Forgiveness

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 97 045 words/370 pages

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Love, served behind the stick.


Kyle McKee lives a charmed life. He co-owns Under, an uptown speakeasy, where he is chief mixologist. Friends poke fun at Kyle’s tiny one-bed apartment in Chelsea, but they’re the best support system a man could ask for. Unfortunately, Kyle’s lackluster love life has led him to take a break from dating.

Harlem resident Luka Clarke is a lieutenant with Engine 47, the Pride of Morningside, where he carries on his father’s legacy with the FDNY. Luka, who is mixed race and bisexual, has his eye on Kyle, whom he met at a local burger joint and he just needs to make time to visit Kyle’s bar.

Before work one evening, Kyle is trapped inside the luncheonette when a fire breaks out. Luka’s firehouse answers the call and he connects with Kyle again under the most unexpected of circumstances. When Kyle gratefully invites Luka and the firehouse squad to Under, the flirting between the two men leads to a date.

Kyle and Luka quickly grow close, but Luka’s mother and sister distrust Kyle for being both white and gay. Luka believes his family will come around and accept Kyle in the end, but Kyle is not optimistic and hides his disquiet as attraction blossoms into love.

Kyle and Luka’s near-idyllic bubble is shattered one evening after a hate crime leaves them scarred, inside and out. Shaken, they put on a strong front but struggle inwardly against fear and personal demons. As the emotions seething beneath the surface finally come to a head, both men must decide if they have the strength to find love enough to conquer hate.

Reader advisory: This book contains references to non-nurturing parenting; homophobia; racism and racist slurs. There are references to recreational drug use. This book also contains scenes of mmmm ménage and characters caught in fire.

Kyle has been patiently waiting to tell give us his story for quite a while now, as he too was introduced in ‘Calm’.  And man what a story he and Luka told.

Kyle has a thing for guys in uniform, and Luka looks damn good in his uniform.  Too bad the way they meet wasn’t exactly ideal.  Kyle gets trapped in a fire and Luka and his crew are the ones that come to the rescue.  As a Thank You, Kyle invites Luka and his fellow firefighters to Under where the sparks fly.  See what I did there, pun intended.

But their road to a happy ever after is far from easy.  Some of Luka’s family don’t like the idea of him dating a white man, seeing how in the past Luka was burned by a white man.  And one of Luka’s sisters doesn’t agree with him dating men all together, thinks it would be so much easier if he settled down with a woman.  But Kyle makes Luka happy and vice versa.  Then a hateful attack on both men leaves them reeling.  Luka hating that he couldn’t protect Kyle and Kyle is scarred, both inside and on the outside.  Kyle doesn’t think Luka will be able to see him the same as before.

But that horrific crime proves to Luka’s family that Kyle is the right man for Luka.  And it takes a bit of nudging from Luka’s sister to light a fire under Luka and fix things with Kyle.  There were times in this book I wanted to throw my kindle across the room, to get these two to communicate with each other.  Other times I was in tears.  Then there were times I need an ice cold glass of water from how hot they, and others, were.

This book was a much appreciated addition to the Speakeasy crew and I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK

B&N | Apple | Google | Kobo



Book Title: Straight Up (The Speakeasy Book 4)

Author: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Length: approx 94 217 words/ 267 pages

Release Date: June 9, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Gay, Ace Spectrum, GLBTQI

Trope/s: Opposites Attract, Bi-Awakening, Coming Out, First Time, Found Family

Themes: Acceptance, commitment, family conflict, denial,

closeted kink, taboo, experimentation/first time, sexual awakening.

This book can standalone or be read as part of the series.


Buy Links

Choose Your Store | First For Romance

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Love, served straight up.


Malcolm Elliott has been keeping secrets. Helping his mom through a financial crisis has nearly emptied his bank account and his kitchen cupboards, despite his thriving career with Corporate Equality Campaign. Malcolm is also bothered by his inability to tell the most important people in his life that he identifies as gray ace.

Stuart Morgan has a secret of his own. Though years have passed since the tattooed chef fled the Mormon church in Utah for New York, he’s never truly come to terms with the kink that ruined that rigid but outwardly perfect life. Experience has also taught Stuart that keeping his love of lacy things under wraps is safer than telling the truth.

After Malcom’s boss, Carter, hires Stuart’s restaurant to cater a gala fundraising event, the strait-laced Malcolm is thrown together with badass biker Stuart. Despite their differences and a couple of false starts, the men discover they work well together and a friendship quickly forms.

As Malcolm’s feelings for Stuart deepen, his sexuality awakens, but he remains tight-lipped about his problems. And though Stuart grows more and more attached to Malcolm, he remains fearful of confessing his kink.

When both of their secrets are finally exposed, they find themselves at a crossroads in which they must choose between playing it safe or finally coming clean to the person they love.


From Straight Up, The Speakeasy #4

“Crap, crap crap.” Malcolm took the subway stairs two at a time, muttering under his breath.

He’d arranged the Thursday meeting with Chef Morgan at Lock & Key, expecting forty-five minutes would be plenty of time to commute up from Midtown. However, a mechanical problem had plagued his train and he’d spent the crawling ride exchanging messages with his mom, trying to get her to apply for job openings he’d found in the neighborhoods around Staten Island. Now Malcolm was nearly fifteen minutes late and almost sprinting along Broadway in his loafers and business casual duds, messenger bag bumping his hip.

Malcolm hated being late, particularly when it came to his job. He’d texted the chef with a heads-up he was running behind, but still felt wretched and unprofessional. He also knew this would make a poor impression on a man who had high expectations of the people around him. Stuart had been friendly—even charming—when he’d introduced himself to Malcolm, tattoos peeking out from beneath the chef’s white jacket. His demeanor had changed the moment the talk had turned to food, however, shifting into a thorough confidence that was reflected in the quality and plating of the food he’d put in front of Malcolm. Everything had been luscious—both esthetically and in taste—and Malcolm had known from the first bite that the chef and his staff at King’s would do impeccable work for the CEC fundraiser.

The steel in Stuart’s expression as he’d spoken about food and his work had reassured Malcolm. He understood how to interact with a man who was all business. He’d been less sure of how to handle the moments when Stuart had smiled at him, however, and the way that warmth had made his brown eyes dance. The chef’s touch had tingled against Malcolm’s skin when they’d bid each other goodbye, too and…well. Malcolm really didn’t know what to make of that.

He caught sight of a huge motorcycle parked by the curb as he neared Lock & Key and slowed to a walk. It was a beautiful machine, gleaming black and chrome in the late afternoon light, and Malcolm could imagine the kind of man who rode it, clad in a leather jacket with tattoos on full display.

I’ll bet Stuart Morgan wears a leather jacket.

Malcolm nearly tripped into Lock & Key’s door. Where the hell had that come from?

Seconds later his errant thought literally came to life and Malcolm blinked at the sight of the chef seated at Lock & Key’s bar, a tall glass of water in hand and motorcycle helmet by his elbow. Stuart wore a black leather jacket, just as Malcolm had imagined, and a scowl so mighty he looked almost like a stranger. Malcolm’s stomach flipped.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” he said in a rush. Moving quickly, Malcolm waved hello to the bartender, then pulled the strap of his bag over his head and stepped up beside Stuart. “I meant to be here to meet you, Chef, but the train—”

Stuart cut in, his voice gruff and grumpy as Malcolm had expected. “I get it. Public transportation sucks.”

“It’s unpredictable,” Malcolm replied. “Anyway, Under’s head bartender is waiting for us downstairs.”

“Downstairs?” Stuart waved at the room around them with one hand. “Downstairs from here?”

“Um, yeah. This is Lock & Key. Under’s located in the basement.”

“I thought you said the event would be happening on the roof?”

“It will be. Under and Lock & Key will be part of it, too though. Sort of.” Heat flashed over Malcolm’s cheeks when Stuart rolled his eyes. “Sorry, let’s …” He blew out a breath and squared his shoulders. “Let’s start again.”

Stuart’s expression softened by a degree. “Okay. I’m listening.”

The fourth and finally book in the Speakeasy crew we get Malcolm’s story.   Man I am so sad this is coming to an end.  And I don’t want to say they saved the best for last, but it was definitely is one I think needed to be the final book.

Malcolm is gray ace, and I must admit I had to google that one.  I know about asexuals, but I wasn’t aware that there was a spectrum of being ace.  So THANK you K. Evan and Brigham for teaching me one more aspect of the LGBTQ+ community.  Stuart is a previous Mormon with secrets of his own, and I for one loved his hidden kink.  But I hated that he felt he had to hide it and why he felt that way.

So even though their beginning was a little rocky, once Malcolm opened up to Stuart they figured out to work on a relationship that worked for both of them.  But even with Mal’s sexuality out in the open he is still hiding things from his friends and Stu.  When Stu finally pieces together the problem Mal is having with his mother, he does what he thinks is the right thing to do, even though I pisses Mal off.  Here is when I thought things would blow up for them, but I was pleasantly surprised to see them talk it out once Mal had time to cool off.  So smooth sailing from there, right?

Not so fast, you see Stu is terrified to finally tell Mal his secret kink.  When Mal does stumble on Stu’s secret his mind goes to the worst possible scenario.  But I was super proud at how he handled it.  I loved watching these two navigate a relationship that is no new to them both.

Is this one my favorite?  No, that is like asking my to pick my favorite kid.  Each couple hold a place in my heart and they provide a comfort for the kind of mood I am in at a certain time.  Humor, Jess and Cam all the way.  Make me think about the world around me, Will and David.  Need some angst and be put back together, Kyle and Luka.  Acceptance and understanding, Mal and Stu.

I love them all and am sad that the ride is over, but I am forever grateful to have found these guys cause I know I can always visit The Speakeasy crew and I will find what I am looking for.  I hope you give these guys a chance, I know you won’t regret it.  Thank you K. Evan & Brigham for sharing these guys with me.

About the Authors

K. Evan Coles

K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper. K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.

K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.

Author Links

K. Evan Coles

Blog/Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Facebook Reader Group

Twitter | Pinterest | BookBub | Instagram

Goodreads | Newsletter

Brigham Vaughn

Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.

Her books range from short stories to novellas. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.

Author Links

Brigham Vaughn

Blog | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Fan Group (Brigham’s Book Nerds)

Twitter | Newsletter sign-up | Instagram | Pinterest


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