COVER & EXCERPT REVEAL: The Weight Within by Gwen Martin (Excerpt & Giveaway)


The Collective Series – Book Two

by Gwen Martin

Cover & Excerpt Reveal

Release Date: March 13, 2024

Cover Design:

We Got You Covered Book Design


Xram Ragde

Genre: M/M Romance Standalone

Tropes: Enemies to lovers, opposites attract, bisexual romance, workplace romance, hurt/comfort, slow burn


Tristan Edwards is clean cut, determined, and organized on the outside, but on the inside he’s falling apart. After years of nonstop travel for work, he’s assigned to open a new branch that could keep him close to home with more job security. But if he doesn’t show how well he can transition to an executive position, his dream job may fall into the hands of his dream man.

Kurt Holden is newly divorced, without a home and in need of a change. When a new position springs up, Kurt jumps at the chance to start over in a new city, as a new person. What he isn’t interested in is falling into another relationship, but the more time he spends with Tristan, it becomes impossible to ignore his attraction.

As Tristan struggles reconciling his mental health, and Kurt attempts to reconcile the weight of his past, new desires have the men questioning if their rivalry to win will ruin their future together.

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“Follow me,” I said, tucking the paddleboard under my arm. After a few steps I looked over my shoulder to see if Tristan was following me and found him frozen, his lips parted, gaze tracing a path down my body, slowly and deliberately, then sweeping back up to my face. My neck prickled under the weight of his gaze.

The rest of my body caught up quickly after, as warmth swirled around in my belly, spreading through my chest and into my fingers and toes. My cheeks went warm, and my breath caught.

Tristan blinked when his board slipped down his arm, catching it before it landed on his foot. He even made fumbling look hot as hell.

I doubled down on my focus and led us to the entrance point, slowly wading and holding the board steady as I leveled myself up on one knee and then the other, playing with the balance until I was completely on my feet.

It took a second to get the balance just right because it was my first time on it, but once secure, I checked on Tristan to see how he was doing. I didn’t need the man to bust his head open before we even really got out on the water.

Tristan was not struggling at all, already on the board, slowly paddling past me. “You ready, or do you wanna keep staring?”

I choked on an inhale and sputtered, nearly losing my balance. Tristan was on this board. Without any issue. And he apparently noticed that I was staring at him on his board without any issue.

Great, this was great. At least embarrassment made a great bone killer. I started paddling, trying to catch up, and said, “What. The. Fuck.”

Tristan continued ahead, throwing me a self-satisfied smile over his shoulder. “I’ve done this a few times with my brother.”

I quickened my pace. “You said you’d never done it before.”

“I did not. I stated I had other preferences. It’s not my fault you inferred what you did.”

I barked out a shocked laugh. This sneaky bastard. “I’m still betting that you’re going to eat shit sooner than me.”

Tristan pointed at me. “I’ve already one-upped you once today. Don’t think I can’t do it again.”

“We’ll see about that,” I said under my breath, bracing my hand on the top of my paddle, keeping my strokes quick.

Really, I was grateful Tristan was ahead of me. It would require an act of God to conceal what having this much of his skin exposed did to my insides.

Tristan stopped paddling and widened his stance on the board. I drew closer, anticipating the telltale wiggle of trying to balance his center of gravity, but it didn’t happen. Instead, he pressed the flat part of his paddle against the side of the board, listing a little to the side, and flipped the board around. He landed on his knee and did a loud whoop in victory.

I blinked. Holy shit. It took me ages to be able to perfect that move, and I was on the water for hours that summer. I knew he did it as a challenge, but I couldn’t deny the fact that watching him do it was one of the hottest things I’d ever seen.

I clapped a few times and said, “Not bad for a beginner.”

Tristan’s smile didn’t fade as he rolled his shoulders. “Are you implying you’re an expert?”

“Not implying. Telling.”

“Well,” Tristan said with a wave of his hand, as a perfect eyebrow flicked upward. “Show me what you’ve got.”

It’d been a long time since I’d done any standup paddleboard tricks, so I would have to lean heavily on hope and muscle memory. With the SUP being newer, it was hard to gauge how to find balance and work against nature. It also didn’t help that I could feel Tristan’s stare like a phantom touch.

I counted to three and held my breath as I attempted the kick flip. Immediately, I knew I’d miscalculated the jump and listed sideways, my paddle smacking Tristan in the chest and throwing us both into the water. My entire body went rigid at the chill before it broke through the shock, and I kicked up to the surface.

As I emerged, I gasped. I whipped my hair to the side and wiped my face of water, swimming around in a circle to find Tristan. Something brushed against my leg, and I jerked back in alarm. The water bubbled while Tristan gracefully slipped through like he was born of it, his breath whooshing out of him, hair smashed against his forehead.

He scrubbed his hand over his face and sloppily brushed back his hair. We were so, so close, the tips of our toes touching one another as we kicked around to stay afloat. It was easy to forget about the boards knocking into each other and the paddles floating nearby.

Encased in a halo of sunlight, Tristan’s skin glittered from the droplets of water running down his neck and into the dips of his collarbones. His cheeks were flushed from the chilly water.

I desperately wanted to kiss him.

Tristan swam closer, his gaze on my mouth as he wrapped his fingers around my forearm. I shivered.

He leaned closer, eyes hooded, and my breath hitched, mouth parted in anticipation. Was this happening?

Tristan was nothing but a blur, his sharp features hazy and soft. My eyes fluttered closed in anticipation. I could feel his breath hot against my lips, and I waited for him to close the gap between us.

“Hey,” Tristan whispered, and I opened my eyes to see him leaning back with a smirk. “I won.”


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One of Five eARC’s for The Weight Within

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Other Titles Within this Series




The Collective Series – Prequel Novella





The Collective Series – Book One


About the Author

Gwen Martin is from Florida where the sun was always shining, and the humidity is always high. In 2020 she and her partner moved to Knoxville for a change of scenery with their five cats, and a whole lot of dreams.

Writing came to her at a young age, where she scribbled stories instead of paying attention to math lessons. She spent many years in fandom, exploring her writing opportunities before deciding to take the dive into self-publishing.

Gwen has a strong love affair with cold brew coffee, black cats, and nerding out in a variety of fandoms. When she’s not writing, she’s reading everything she can get her hands on, crocheting compulsively while listening horror gamer playthroughs,and vibing to spotify playlists for inspiration. And best of all, loving the best creatures on earth—her harem of gatos.

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