Blast from the Past: Winter Duet by Anne Barwell

 

WinterDuet400x600Thanks, Kim, for hosting me today.

Winter Duet is a blast from the past in a few ways. Firstly, it came out last year and I’ve had two releases since then. Secondly, it’s an historical, set during WWII, and the second of my Echoes—soon to be renamed Echoes Rising when it is republished with DSP Publications—series published with Dreamspinner Press.

Winter Duet is the middle book of a trilogy, and as such needed to advance the plot and grow the characters, but not tie up all the loose ends. After all, there’s still book 3 to come—Comes a Horseman—to finish the series. I’m writing that one next.

Being an historical, there was a lot of research involved in writing the story. Although I stress about getting all the details right and the research often seems daunting, it is a part of the process I enjoy. I always learn something new with each book, and one of the cool things about writing stories set in this time period is that it is well documented. Part of the action takes place during ‘The Big Week.’ This is when the Allies bombed parts of Germany night and day over the course of a week in 1944. I found detailed records, which not only gave the types of aircraft used, but the dates and times of their missions.

As well as discovering new things for this story, I was also able to pull on existing knowledge. When Kristopher and Michel needed a code phrase when contacting members of the Resistance, I used lyrics from a piece of music I’d studied at university a few years ago. It ties into the title of the story quite nicely, with its dual imagery of winter and music. This is reflected in the cover by Reese Dante. I love the way she’s used music and the outline of a violin against the isolation of winter and the lone Mosquito aircraft to capture the feel of the story.

In addition I have written a short story called Phoenix which features one of the characters from Winter Duet which one of my beta readers is still pining over. It does gives a bit of the plot away, but it is a nice teaser into my writing. You can read it here: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/series/echoes/free-story-phoenix/

I hope you enjoy this story, and Winter Duet, as much as I did writing them.

 

Winter Duet

Echoes book 2 – Sequel to Shadowboxing

Germany 1944

With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel leave the security of their safe house and continue their journey across Germany toward Switzerland. Caught in a series of Allied bombings, they stop to help civilians and narrowly escape capture by German forces.

While investigating a downed aircraft in the Black Forest, the two men discover an injured RAF pilot. After they are separated, Kristopher and the pilot are discovered by a German officer who claims he is not who he appears to be. Determined to find Michel again, Kristopher has to trust the stranger and hope he is not connected to those searching for him and the information he carries. Meanwhile Michel is intercepted by one of the Allied soldiers he met in Berlin. His help is needed to save one of their own.

Time quickly runs out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo closes in. Michel can only hope that they can reach safety before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s lives, but those of the remaining members of their team—if it is not already too late.

Buy Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5508

Excerpt:

Kristopher dropped to his knees and examined the boy. His eyes were glazed over, and he flinched when Kristopher touched him. “He must have hit his head when he fell,” Kristopher said. He brought his hand away from the boy’s temple. It was covered in blood. “He needs help, but I can’t do much for him here, just try and stop the bleeding.” He quickly opened his satchel and pulled out a short length of bandage, bundled it into a wad, and held it against the wound. It probably wouldn’t be enough to stop it, but it was better than doing nothing. Head wounds tended to bleed, didn’t they? It didn’t mean it was something serious, but it could be.

He let out a quick breath. Damn it. He wished he’d paid more attention when he’d watched Clara at work. Why had he agreed to disguise himself a medic? In this situation when that was exactly what was needed, he was next to useless.

“We can’t stay here,” Michel said. “Can you tie something around the bandage so it keeps the pressure on it when we move him?”

“Keep pressure on the wound while I look.” Kristopher searched around in his bag, ripped some more of the bandaging material, and tied it quickly. His hands were shaking, but at least there didn’t seem to be any blood seeping through the original cloth he’d put over the wound. “I think that should hold it for now.”

Michel handed Kristopher the flashlight and then lifted the boy into his arms. “What’s your name?” he asked softly when the boy opened his eyes and looked up at him.

“Fritz,” the boy replied, his voice wavering. He put his arms around Michel’s neck and clung to him. Thankfully, he seemed more alert than he had a few moments before.

“Hello, Fritz. I’m Michel, and this is Paul,” Michel said. “We’re going to keep you safe, I promise.”

“You promise?” Fritz’s earlier confidence was gone. “I didn’t think it was so dark. I know this place. I shouldn’t have tripped.” He glared at the ground. “Stupid thing. Stupid stupid. Everything looks different.” He sniffled loudly and wiped one dirty hand over his face.

“Do you remember the way to the shelter, Fritz?” Kristopher asked. Michel was watching Fritz carefully, holding the boy close to him. His grip had tightened at the first sign of Fritz’s distress.

“I don’t need to put you down,” Michel reassured Fritz. “You can still guide us while I’m holding you.”

“I don’t want to walk.” Fritz bit his lip. He looked around and then pointed to a street to their left. “If we go down there it’s only about ten minutes away.”

They’d never reach the shelter in time before it closed.

“There isn’t one closer?” Michel asked.

“It’s the one I know about,” Fritz said, somewhat defensively. “Mutter told me if something happened I should go to it.”

“Where’s your mother now?” Kristopher asked. The light from the flashlight was dying quickly. They had to hurry.

“I don’t know. She went to get my baby sister, but she never came downstairs.” Fritz stuck his chin out. “I waited like she said, even when I heard the loud noises and people crying.”

“You live around here?” Kristopher hoped Fritz’s family had survived this. They’d have to try and reunite them or at least find someone who could look after him before they left Stuttgart.

Fritz nodded. Whatever his wound, it seemed as though it was definitely superficial or he wouldn’t be talking as much as he was. “I went looking for her, and I couldn’t find her.”

“You sound much better, Fritz. Do you think you could walk?” Michel asked.

“I don’t want to lose you and Paul too,” Fritz said. He let Michel put him down and then put one small hand into Michel’s.

“You won’t lose us,” Michel promised. “Keep holding my hand, and Paul will look after the flashlight. We can work together.”

“Michel’s very good at working together,” Kristopher told Fritz. He shone the flashlight around. The farther out into the street they got, the more rubble there was. It wasn’t safe to move too quickly, and at this speed they’d never reach the shelter before daylight. He glanced up at the sky. Most of the flashes of light now seemed to be focused toward the city center. “I’m wondering if it’s safer to stay here but get as far away from the buildings as we can and wait for daylight.”

“We don’t know how long this raid is going to last,” Michel said, “but we need to make a decision.” Something creaked and groaned to the side of them. “Move!” Michel yelled. He picked up Fritz and ran back the way they’d come. Kristopher didn’t stop to see what was going on behind him. He followed.

Moments later, more rubble hit the street where they’d just been standing. If they’d stayed there they would have been buried in it.

Kristopher shone the flashlight on it and shivered. “I think finding the shelter is the least of our problems,” he said. “We need to get out into the open. It’s not just more bombings that could kill us, but the buildings that are already damaged.”

“I know a place,” Fritz said after Michel put him down. “I’ll show you.” He took hold of Michel’s hand again. “You and Paul are soldiers.” He pointed to the Red Cross on Kristopher’s arm. “You’ll stay and help look after all the hurt people, won’t you? Vater is a soldier too. He’s fighting at the front. Mutter says he’s very brave.”

“Yes, we’ll stay and help,” Michel said before Kristopher could say anything. He squeezed Fritz’s hand. “We’ll also help you find your mother, or at least someone who can look after you.” He looked over at Kristopher and gave him a questioning look.

“Of course we will,” Kristopher said, wondering why Michel felt he’d even had to ask.

Bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning. In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Anne’s books have twice received honorable mentions and twice reached the finals in the Rainbow Awards.

Blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/

Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/

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Dreamspinner Press Author Page:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/anne-barwell

 

 

 

Blast from the Past: Psychic Moon by M.D. Grimm

Hello there everyone! M.D. Grimm here by the generosity of Kim Fielding. Isn’t she great?

PsychicMoonLGI’m here to bring some attention to my second book ever published: PSYCHIC MOON. Yep, it was only my second. I was dancing on the moon when Dreamspinner Press accepted it.

Here’s the buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2426

Here’s the link to my website: www.mdgrimmwrites.com

You know what I learned over a couple of years removed from it? It has its flaws. There, I admitted it. But what book doesn’t? I can read freaking “Lord of the Rings” (big fan) and find a few flaws, but it’s still a darn good book. I feel the same about my own. I’m very proud of “Psychic Moon” and I think it’s a good story (there is a possible chance that I’m slightly bias).

How much more perfect do you get pairing an animal cop with a vet? I’d been watching a lot of “Animal Cops” on Animal Planet at the time and the plot bunny hopped pretty fast and high to get my attention. And the rest, they say, is history!

There are multiple reasons why I’m proud of this book; one of them is that this book started The Shifter series. When I wrote “Psychic Moon,” I didn’t have a set plan on a series, I only knew I wanted to write about shape-shifters. But after publishing “Psychic Moon” and working on “Love is a Whirlwind,” my universe kept expanding and I dived headfirst into constructing the overarching plot, making it a true series. The only problem? Making sure I didn’t contradict myself. Making sure I stayed consistent… that is the freaking hardest part of writing a series. When I create rules I better stick with them because readers can be unforgiving about that—I would know since I’m a reader and unforgiving. Unless the world the author creates is going through some sort of Armageddon and the very fabric of existence is being rendered, rules should be followed. So, I try to follow my own advice. So far, I think it’s worked. I don’t believe I’ve broken any of my rules….

The following could be considered a SPOILER so proceed at your own risk.

The villain in “Psychic Moon” is a violent, deranged wolf shape-shifter. It was only after I’d written the first draft of “Love is a Whirlwind” that I finally had a set plan on the series and realized I wanted to bring back that wolf shifter. But I ended “Psychic Moon” with Derek and Brian being told the wolf shifter was dead. So what could I do? Well, since the Agency is a secret organization, I figured they’d be required to lie about things and informed the readers of that in the epilogue of “Love is a Whirlwind.” Agent Poe (don’t you just love him?) admitted that he lied to Derek and Brian to give them peace of mind, but that the wolf shifter was imprisoned for everyone’s safety. That gave me the opening I needed for “Healing Minds” and to show the depravity of the Knights in greater detail. Just like that I’d linked Book #1 with Book #5 and proved to myself that I really could do the whole series thing. Sure, Agent Poe popped up in several stories before he got his own in “Master’s Blood” but it felt like a true series when I brought Xavier to the forefront and told his story. I also wanted to show that not everything is as it seems… Xavier wasn’t a villain by choice.

Now I just published Book #8 (The Serpent and the Angel) in March, Book #9 is finished and awaiting submission (Predator and Prey), and I’m outlining Book #10, tentatively titled “Shifting Moon.” And guess what? Derek and Brian are back! “Shifting Moon” returns to the couple that started it all as they get drawn deeper into the battle between the shifters, the Agency, and Arcas and his knights.

I’m very excited for “Shifting Moon” and am eager to return to my first couple! I could never have guessed in the beginning that “Psychic Moon” would start such a journey for me or that so many would want to join me on that journey.

May dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

Blurb:

Humane Officer Derek Wiliams has been toying with the idea of asking out Brian O’Donogue since the veterinarian started working at the Pet Rescue Center two years ago. So why hasn’t he made his move? It’s complicated… but it has something to do with the fact that Derek occasionally likes to run around on four legs instead of two. Recovering from an abusive relationship and hiding supernatural abilities of his own, Brian takes a chance and agrees to go on a date with Derek. The ensuing relationship is better than either of them could have hoped—until a rogue wolf shifter attacks Brian while he’s walking his dogs. The abrupt attack forces Derek to confront his feelings, but the danger isn’t over. The rogue shifter is out there, and he’s hunting them.

 

Bio:

M.D. Grimm lives in the wet state of Oregon, and when she’s not reading, writing, or watching movies, she dreams of owning a pet dragon. She’s wanted to become an author since second grade and feels that her dreams are finally coming true. She was fortunate to have supporting parents who never told her to “get her head out of the clouds.” While she doesn’t like to write in only one set genre, she feels romance is at the core of most of her stories. M.D. earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Oregon and hopes to put that degree to good use in the literature world as well as the “real” world.

Blast from the Past: On the Road to a Perfect Match

roadTodd and Brad have been friends since they were kids dreaming of making their pro wrestling dreams a reality. After Todd’s college girlfriend ditches him, he convinces Brad to put his education on hold and go to wrestling school in Portland.

With money tight, Todd and Brad end up sharing a pull-out bed in a small apartment. It gets increasingly difficult for them to hide their feelings—or even to determine exactly what it is they do feel for each other.

When Todd’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, he returns to Seattle. Brad is left to fend for himself in Portland and struggles with jealousy and guilt as he wishes for Todd to be with him again. Will their wrestling careers ever take off? And what will happen to Todd and Brad’s relationship, in and out of the ring?

Here are buy links: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3992
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-ontheroadtoaperfectmatch-1241353-149.html

Blast from the Past: Sounds of Love by Susan Laine

SoundsofLove_postcard_front_DSP
Book Blurb:
“A Senses and Sensations Story
What does love sound like? If you hear it, will you heed its call?
Police officer Jordan Waters is recovering from a shooting by moving to a new apartment in a new town and taking a new job. In other words, he’s lonely. His first instinct is to relieve his anxiety through uncomplicated sex—until he meets a man so far out of his league and experience that he stumbles for the first time.
Police volunteer Sebastian Sumner may be deaf, but his spirit, openness, and sense of humor give him the strength to get through anything—even the emotional defenses of Jordan Waters. But it’s his own family history that poses the biggest challenge. Can he learn to trust Jordan with his heart, or will his upbringing blind him to the sounds of love?”
Buy Links:
Bio:
“Susan Laine is an award-winning, multi-published author of LGBT erotic romance. Susan lives in Finland, where summers are wet and winters long. Thankfully, the spark for writing, which kindled when Susan discovered the sizzling hot gay erotic romance genre, keeps her plenty warm.
Trained as an anthropologist, Susan’s long-term plan is to become a full-time writer. Susan enjoys hanging out with her sister, two nieces and friends in movie theaters, bookstores, and parks. Her favorite pastimes include listening to music, watching action flicks, eating chocolate, and doing the dishes while pondering the meaning of life.
Visit Susan’s website at http://www.susan-laine-author.fi/ or join her newsletter or write her an e-mail at susan.laine@hotmail.com.”

Blast from the Past: Electric Candle by Elizabeth Noble

ElectricCandleFSWhen a vampire finds his soul mate, the bond is forever. It’s love at first sight. Or is it?

Flint, Ohio Homicide Detective Jonas Forge has been a vampire for nearly two hundred years. He’s fought wars, seen life go from the simple but hard colonial days to the modern high tech world. He’s evolved with the times, adapting with each new era, blending into each new life. The one constant is his best friend and lover, Declan.

Until Forge’s soul mate tumbles, literally, into his life.

Even though they’re not fated to be together forever, Forge and Declan are perfectly happy. Despite the pheromone attracting him to his soul mate, Forge isn’t thrilled with the guy, and the feeling seems mutual. While trying to adjust to his clumsy soul mate and equally awkward feelings, Forge is on the hunt for the serial killer who’s leaving a trail of bodies, and who witnesses can’t identify. But Forge better watch out. When his work collides with his love life, things really heat up.

Excerpt

He took a swipe with the razor and hissed, “Damn.” The shaving cream stung where the razor had taken off a small chunk of skin.

Forge knocked on the door. “You okay?” There had been no telltale footsteps, making Blair think Forge had moved from wherever he’d been to the bathroom at warp speed.

“Ye—yeah. I just sort of nicked myself. I had enough trouble shaving when I could see myself in a mirror. It’s twice as bad trying to shave without seeing what I’m doing.”

“Want some pointers? I learned to shave before I had a mirror.”

“Sure,” Blair said without thinking. He started when the bathroom door opened and Forge stepped in.

Taking the razor, Forge rinsed it off, sprayed more cream from the can, and stepped behind Blair. “See, the trick is, don’t try so hard. Your skin hasn’t changed.” He reached around and lathered more shaving cream onto Blair’s face and neck.

Blair sucked in a breath and let his head tip back, resting on Forge’s shoulder.

“All your parts are still where they were before you changed.” Forge’s breath was warm in Blair’s ear. All Blair could do was offer a jerky nod. Forge pressed the razor lightly to Blair’s neck and glided it up, repeating the movement a few times before stopping. Blair wanted to beg him to continue, but his voice wouldn’t work.

Forge leaned around Blair and rinsed the razor. Blair felt Forge’s thighs, as muscular and powerful as he’d imagined, press to the back of his. A shudder ran through Blair, and Forge’s body responded with one just as forceful. How the man ignored it, Blair had no clue.

“It’s like mowing a lawn.” A tremor ran through Forge’s voice. He took a few more swipes up Blair’s neck, these skimming over his chin. “Overlap your strokes.”

“I’m getting your shirt all wet.” Blair winced inwardly as the stupid words left his mouth.

A low rumble vibrated through Forge’s chest and against Blair’s back. “Easily fixed,” Forge murmured. He set the razor down, took a step back, and pulled his shirt over his head. When Blair turned to watch, he saw that at some time after Blair entered the bathroom, Forge had changed to faded jeans and was barefoot.

Forge tossed the shirt to the side, making the muscles of his wide chest stretch and flex. Pale skin had a fine dusting of curly hair so dark it was almost black across his pecs and swirled around dark pink nipples. A thin line of dark hair ran down to his navel and created a small eddy on its path around, then continued from his navel to disappear under low-slung jeans. His abs creased along his midline, then formed a web of lines between the muscles to outline Forge’s ribs.

Leaning around Blair again, smiling as he did so, Forge picked up a washcloth, thoroughly wetting it. Repositioning himself behind Blair, Forge used two fingers to gently tip Blair’s chin up and began wiping away the remaining shaving cream.

“Now, was that so hard?” Forge asked. His voice was in Blair’s ear again.

“Oh, yeah, it is.” Blair’s voice was small and tight. He was very aware of Forge’s hard cock pressed against his ass and rubbing the soft material of the shorts Blair wore. A low growl escaped Forge, and something in the mirror flickered.

Elizabeth Noble started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into fan fiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction. Being able to share her works with Dreamspinner is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming.

Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed breed canine princess named Rosie, and two cats, Murphy and Yeti. She lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening, winter and summer sports (go Tribe!). When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives.

Two of Elizabeth’s books have received Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards.

 

Website  http://www.elizabeth-noble.com

Circles website:  http://elizabeth-noble-circles.weebly.com/

Akhkharu Nasaru website: http://elizabeth-noble-thevampireguard.weebly.com

Dreamspinner page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/elizabeth-noble

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Noble/e/B0052JEZVY

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Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4781553.Elizabeth_Noble

Blast from the Past!: Loving Luki Vasquez by Lou Sylvre

Vasquez & James: Book One

lovinglukivasquezlg-cover-reese-danteReclusive weaver Sonny Bly James controls every color and shape in his tapestries, but he can’t control the pattern of his life—a random encounter with Luki Vasquez, ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, makes that perfectly clear. The mutual attraction is immediate, but love-shy Sonny has retreated from life, and Luki wears his visible and not-so-visible scars like armor. Neither can bare his soul with ease.

While they run from desire, they can’t hide from the evil that hunts them. After it becomes clear that a violent stalker has targeted Sonny, Luki’s protective instincts won’t let him run far, especially when Sonny’s family is targeted as well. Whether they can forgive or forget, Sonny and Luki will have to call a truce and work together to save Sonny’s nephew and fight an enemy intent on making sure loving Luki Vasquez is the last mistake Sonny will ever make.

Dreamspinner buy link: http://goo.gl/y3NbrK
 
Kindle buy link: http://goo.gl/4EF0jt

Vasquez and James Short Excerpts

 

Loving Luki Vasquez

Single Whip led into White Crane Spreads Its Wings, the name of which made Sonny adorably… all right fine, adorably happy. The sequence involved motions that at first felt counterintuitive. Like probably every student in the centuries tai chi had been around, Sonny needed help with it. As he would with any other student, Luki stood behind him, using his own hands to guide Sonny through the move. He wondered if he could get away with teaching him all the rest of the moves in just that way. Perhaps for hours. Every day. For a long time.

 

As he was teaching and wondering and probably even almost smiling, a wind rose up, splashing spray and sand and whipping Sonny’s long hair at Luki’s face and right into his mouth. On the word “open,” appropriately enough.

 

Sonny spun around, gathering up his luxurious baked-earth red hair. Before Luki had a chance to close his mouth, Sonny kissed him. A passionate, seeking sort of kiss. A kiss that Luki instinctively returned, though kissing wasn’t a large part of his intimate life, and especially not kissing on the beach.

 

As suddenly as he started it, Sonny ended it, leaving Luki bereft… frustrated and bereft.

 

Sonny turned away, refusing eye contact. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that.” Without any further explanation, he stepped away.

 

Luki knew fear, could spot it from afar and pick it out in a crowded room. Right now, it ran hot through Sonny’s veins. He reached for Sonny’s arm. “Sonny, what….” What are you afraid of? He ended the question silently. Sonny had already gone.

 

Delsyn’s Blues

 

As he wandered through his bare rooms, Luki traded the perfect, flawlessly tailored clothing he usually wore even at leisure and donned tattered jeans and a faded flannel shirt. Just what Sonny would have worn, and it helped keep Sonny alive in his mind, a man rather than a thin shade. He’d look a lot better than me wearing this, he told himself, padding over the hardwood floor to the only room in the house he ever smoked in, wondering on the way when the floor had become so cold. Once he got there, he switched on the silent fans and the omnidirectional heat, sank into the leather of the only easy chair in the house, and lit up. In his mind, he could hear Sonny clearly, as if his lover stood right next to him. Or sat by him on their love seat. Or sat on the floor at his knees making drawings for a tapestry he would weave so resplendent the world would probably weep. “You should quit,” he’d say.

 

Luki knew he should quit. Knew that cigarettes… cigarettes and hamburgers were the only flaws in his otherwise perfect health regime. Smoking would someday, probably soon, take a toll. Perversely, when he met Sonny he’d started smoking more than ever before, just because Sonny’s existence in the world nudged him off his solitary perch, the place where he seemingly rose above the world of emotion and let other men into his life only occasionally to practice his skills at cold but perfectly executed sex. With Sonny? Anything but cold. Although still close to perfect. He smiled at the memory of Sonny’s surprised looks when Luki showed him something new, something that, in all his gay years, he’d never felt.

 

“Luki, please,” he’d say.

 

Finding Jackie

 

“You know what, Titus? I don’t want to kill him.” Marcone swept a hand against the cool silk-soft wood of his desktop, thinking of Nadia’s skin. His heart had started beating faster. “I want to show Vasquez why he shouldn’t have been part of anything that screwed with the Marcone name, why he should have made haste to take his fag lover far away the minute he saw there were Marcones involved. This isn’t the first time we’ve opposed one another, but this is the first and will be the last time he’s deliberately involved himself in smearing shit all over my name. I’d have forgiven him everything that came before he realized who Richard and Marina were, if only he’d gone east at that point, instead of racing back west to stick his guns in where they didn’t belong. And I want him to keep remembering, keep feeling the pain he earned with that fuckup, keep that pain with him for years. For the rest of his life.”

 

“Yes,” Titus breathed, his voice gone low and distant.

 

“And that won’t be hard either, Titus. I’ve been doing my homework—keeping a watch on him through a variety of sources. He’s got people, and for all his hardass ways, his heart’s like a sponge.”

 

Titus took a quick breath, and spoke without inflection. “I love people like that.”

 

The DA’s brows rose, and he smiled. “I know you do, my man. I know you do.”

 

Saving Sonny James

 

Almost whispering, breathing in fearful sounding gasps, Sonny said, “Luki, I want you to fuck me…. No. No, I want you to make love to me.” He looked away then back to meet Luki’s eyes, brow lowered with worry. “Luki, I know—”

 

“Sh! Hush, baby.” Luki kissed the tender arch of Sonny’s foot—the rest of him being out of reach. He looked at Sonny and nodded. “Yes. I want that too.” […] With all the power of his mind, he blocked out the things that would get in the way of him loving Sonny—had been getting in the way for weeks. And with all the power of his heart, he focused everything on his husband, his love. His breath beginning to come faster, biting his lip for stability, he rose on one knee and moved toward his husband.

 

His hands wanted to wander over Sonny’s skin, and he let them. Let them follow the long slender curves of Sonny’s legs, his inner thighs. When he reached his sex, he framed his husband’s familiar and much-missed cock and balls with his hands, but he didn’t touch them. He let Sonny see the smile in his eyes as he instead moved his hands up over hip bones and belly and abs and pecs with their hard puckered centers of dark, sensitive flesh. Once he reached the chiseled shoulders, he lifted Sonny and pressed him against his own chest. And then he took his lips in a kiss like fire.

 

Yes (A Vasquez and James Novella)

 

[Luki] woke up in profound darkness, aware of Sonny still beside him, but held rigid now while small, strangled noises escaped from deep in his throat. Even if it hadn’t been for the give-away sniffle, Luki would have known. Sonny was crying. Not that “I’m sad” kind of crying that was more a glorified pout. No. Sonny fought for all he was worth not to let a sob fly loose. His heart had a great big, hurting hole in the middle of it, and Luki had put it there, and still Sonny tried to protect him. If he couldn’t stop from crying, by God at least he’d do it quietly and let Luki sleep. But he and Luki had loved too long, too deep, too close for Luki not to hear it anyway, to register it even in his sleep, and understand. And feel it, too, like what Sonny felt.

Luki rolled over and put his arms around the man who, when all was said and done, he loved and would love forever.

 

Because of Jade

 

Later, while Sonny and Jade lay on the floor in front of the fire, and Sonny read Merry Christmas, Mr. Snowman! over and over, Luki paced. He stopped occasionally to look out the window, and just as the sky began to lighten he saw that snow had begun to fall, big flakes touching down soft as feathers to cover the lumpy, frozen ground near the house.

 

Luki turned around to share the wonder of snow with his family, but they had at last fallen asleep stretched flat on the floor on their stomachs—Jade because of her injuries and Sonny because of his aching back. Luki shook his head and smiled, surprised at how much he loved them even though he knew. He threw some wood on the fire and banked it and fetched a light but warm down comforter and a pillow from the bedroom. Laying himself down next to them, he covered them all three, let his head fall to the pillow, and found first peace, and then sleep.

 

Blast from the Past: Just Life by E.E. Montgomery

 

It’s the little things that happen to people, the ordinary ways they respond to them that make life what it is. It’s the way people blunder along in their lives without seeing the beauty and love surrounding them—or the loss and devastation. Sometimes you look at people and think ‘how can you not have seen that coming’, yet it happens again and again. People are like that.

 

It’s Just Life.

 

There’s a group of friends who work in a major shopping centre who have things happen to them. The dramas and contentments of their lives are lived in full view of any passers-by, yet everyone gets only a glimpse of one small part of their lives. This series began from one such glimpse.

 

#1 Just His Type:

 

just1Daron’s looking for a certain type: he loves tall, slim older men, and he’s sure one of them will be his one true love, even though he doesn’t truly believe he deserves it. His lack of confidence leads him to a series of meaningless encounters with strangers, convinced that eventually he’ll find a relationship to last a lifetime. His best friend and coworker, Rebel, offers Daron the only stable relationship he’s ever known. Rebel is younger than Daron and only slightly taller, so definitely not his type. Daron enjoys the time they spend together, but refuses to allow himself to think it could be anything more than friendship. He’s never bothered to consider what Rebel thinks….  A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

 

Buy: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2880

 

#2 Just Like a Date:

just2Jeremy is devastated when Mark breaks up with him, and uses Rebel as a crutch to get over him. Daron enlists Peter’s help to attract Mr Right. With both Daron and Rebel focused on something else, will they miss what’s sitting in front of them again? Or is this the time they find true love?

 

Rebel Nguyen and Daron Boroughs both need to be loved, but when Rebel looks at Daron to fill that role, it mangles their friendship. Rebel tries a clean break and meets Jeremy. They hit it off, but Rebel is preoccupied with might-have-beens.  When Rebel doesn’t contact him for days, Daron feels lost. He decides he’ll never find love unless he can change, but the process of his makeover throws him into the arms of his last trick’s ex-boyfriend. Shockingly, they work together—until Daron inevitably screws it up.  Rebel and Daron both need to learn that they don’t have to change themselves for love—just the way they look for it.

 

Buy: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3071

 

#3 Just in Time:

 

just3Mark Mendelson’s life is close to perfect: he has good friends, a successful business, and a solid reputation in the jewelry industry. He fought hard to get what he has after nearly losing it all fifteen years ago, when his then boyfriend, Cole Porter, stole his designs.  When a handsome man enters Mark’s store to request a commitment ring—a design Mark made specifically for Cole—Mark wants nothing to do with him. All he can think about is his rage at Cole’s betrayal, something he thought he’d dealt with long ago. But Mark’s would-be customer, Dr. Liam Watson, returns to the shop, thinking Mark might provide some answers. For years Liam has tried to convince his cousin Jon to leave Cole, who abuses him. As the relationship between Jon and Cole disintegrates, a fragile new one forms between Liam and Mark—but Mark can’t move on until he confronts Cole once and for all.

 

Buy: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3556

 

 

It’s been more than a year since the third book in the Just Life series was released, but Liam’s cousin Jonathan wouldn’t let me go. I had to find out his story and give him the happy ending he deserved.

 

#4 Just the Way You Are:

 

just4After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free. Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man. He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap.  For Ben, it’s love at first sight, and he doesn’t want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.

 

Just the Way You Are, the fourth book in the series, is now available for preorder from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6274

 

E E Montgomery

E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.

 

Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.

 

You can contact E E Montgomery at eemontgomery11@gmail.com; on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery; on Twitter: @EEMontgomery1; or at her web site: http://www.eemontgomery.com/ and blog: http://www.eemontgomery.com/blog.

 

 

Blast from the Past: Designs of Desire by Tempeste O’Riley

Hi Kim, thanks for having Designs of Desire, bm debut novel, over for a visit.
It’s not only my first, but it’s the one that I’m still the most in love with—both James and Seth, the MCs and with the cover! When I sat down to write this story, I never expected to publish it, much less receive some of the wonderful emails and comments I have on it.
You see, James’s character came from my own frustrations with being a person living with a “disability” that few understand. With dealing with the ignorance and impatience of others. And with the loss of being desired because I was “too broken”. I was really upset one day with some stupid strangers attitude over me not being “old” enough to use the electric cart at the grocery—seriously, at the time I used forearm crutches just as James does. Trying to walk the whole of places like Wal-Mart, shop, and push the cart? Nope. Not realistic, at least not for me. A friend suggested that since I loved to write, I should put all my frustrations and want into a story but give the character like me the happily-ever-after I wished for.
Well, as you can see, I did as suggested! Smile And then the incomparable Reese Dante took my story and gave it the perfect cover! The silver ring splint you see on the hand is real (I’m supposed to have one just like it, btw, lol). Isn’t it gorgeous?! She did a wonderful job of showing the heart of James, the love of Seth, and the disability we both face. (James and I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, by the way. It’s super rare, so even doctors often don’t know what to do with you. :/ But James finds the man that can not only love him as he is, but shelter him even from his own fears.)
I’m thrilled to share James and Seth’s story with you today. I hope you find it to be one of hope and love, and that it’s the heart that matters, not the shell we wear around our souls.
Thank you for having me over and thank you all for taking the time to read a little about my guys.
***

Designs of Desire 400x600Artist James Bryant has forearm crutches in every color from rainbow for fun to sleek black for business. He even has a pair with more paint splatters than metal. After his family’s rejection and abuse from a man he thought loved him, James only just gets through the day by painting. He lives in constant fear that he’s not worthy of anything, let alone love.

As CEO of his company, Carrington Enterprises, Seth Burns is a take-charge kind of guy, and he is instantly smitten by the artist helping with his newest project. When he witnesses James suffer a panic attack, a protective instinct he never knew he had kicks in. He truly believes nothing is unobtainable—including James—if he’s willing to put in the time and effort.

James is shy and confused by Seth’s interest in him as a person. With Seth’s support, can he work through his fears to finally find the true love he deserves, or will someone finally land the crushing blow he won’t survive?

Dreamspinner Press Audible All Romance Amazon B & N

 

***

Excerpt:

James gestured to the chair across the conference table and hoped Seth would sit. He hated to be stood over. Seth smiled and settled into the chair indicated. “Now, what can I do for you, sir?”

“We, Carrington Enterprises, are beginning a new venture and hope you can help with designs. Companies I can manage; design and draw, not so much.”

James nodded at Seth’s pause.

“Let me start by explaining the project you will brand. We’re opening a new hotel chain. This will be a little different than your usual hotel, though. Each site will be more like a large bed and breakfast, but they will cater to the GLBT community. It’s often an issue when a couple wants to vacation. They have to consider the area, the hotel, the other patrons even if they want to do something as simple as hold hands. That is, if they don’t want to be met with hate or possible violence.”

James wasn’t sure which impressed him more, the wonderful idea behind the hotel or the deep, commanding voice that instilled confidence in everything he said.

Obviously unaware of James’s internal dialog, Seth continued his spiel. “With our liberal policies and views, we have decided to make a place where judgment doesn’t exist. At least, that’s the theory.”

God, that voice! He shivered.

“Also, each site will have a club, bar, or restaurant attached. So, this will be an ongoing project, not a one-shot deal.” When finished with his little speech, Seth seemed inordinately pleased with the idea.

No wonder Brian gave me the account. He didn’t realize he had spoken aloud until Seth glowered at him.

“Excuse me?” Seth snapped. “I was assured you have no personal issues or biases that might hinder your ability to provide the needed work. Was I incorrectly informed?”

“No. No, sir. I apologize for my comment. It was out of line,” James said in a rush, trying to smooth over the obvious irritation his thoughtless words had caused.

“Are you able to do the branding or should I continue elsewhere?” Seth demanded.

“You misunderstand, Mr. Burns. I had wondered why I was given your account, considering I’m not one of the senior designers and your account would normally be reserved for one of them. Now that I hear what the project is, I understand why I was chosen.” He knew he was babbling but he couldn’t help it. “You see, I’m the only openly gay designer here and my family runs a small bed and breakfast. This project is perfect. In fact, once we have the branding set up, I’m sure I can point you in the right direction for some specialized marketing. Magazines, newspapers, websites, etcetera. We will help you with all of that, as well.” James tried to restrain the extent of his excitement over the project, but was unsure how successful he was. He didn’t want to seem flippant or inexperienced after admitting he was a junior designer with Skye Designs.

Seth raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Excited, are we? Carl said you were the man for the job. I guess he was right if enthusiasm counts. I have a full write-up of what we need and what we do and do not want to incorporate into the brand.” His smile fell and he became all business again. “This is an upscale getaway, not a high-priced bathhouse.”

“Understood, sir. I think the idea will work in areas with a large enough population of GLBT and open-minded people.” His hands itched to begin sketching and planning.

“Good. Once you’ve read over everything and start your designing, I want you to visit the site we chose for the first hotel. It’s here in Milwaukee, so it shouldn’t be too far for you. Would you be ready by Friday?” At James’s accord, Seth opened his briefcase and began pulling out folders and large manila envelopes and setting them in front of James. He paused, peered up at James, and blinked hard. “I should call someone to carry these things for you,” he mumbled, glancing at the items and toward James’s crutches. “You can’t fit all this in your bag.”

James pinched the bridge of his nose while counting to ten in his head. Why do they always see the sticks instead of me? “Mr. Burns.”

“Seth, please,” he interrupted, giving James a soft smile.

“Seth, Chase acts as my assistant when needed. He will tend to anything I can’t transfer up to my office personally. There is no need to be concerned.”

A strange look flashed across Seth’s face, but his expression quickly returned to his previous in-command smile. “Very good then.”

They chatted a bit about ideas and plans before Seth shifted his coat sleeve back to check his watch. With a slight frown, he said, “Well, I need to head back to the office. I will leave this all in your fine hands, James. Please call me here.” He pulled out his business card and wrote something on the back. “I look forward to our next meeting.”

Seth held out his hand. James flexed his fingers and clasped the offering. He knew this was for work, but somehow it felt different this time. Warm and strong, the grip shot tingles up his arm. Seth seemed to hold on a little longer than necessary for business needs. It had been so long since a man touched him, at least without violence or pain. James shook off the thought he might be interested. Beautiful men like Seth didn’t waste their time on guys like him. Besides, he wasn’t certain he wanted to go down such a painful road again.

James stood in the doorway, watching Seth saunter out the main doors, wishing for something, though not really sure what.

 

Blast from the Past: Serpentine Walls by CJane Elliott

Hi Kim and readers! CJane Elliott here to share about my first novel, Serpentine Walls, which was published by Dreamspinner in October 2013. It’s the first book in the Serpentine Series, contemporary New Adult stories featuring guys who attend the University of Virginia.

 

My main character, Pete, is a typical college guy and at the beginning of the story he comes off as somewhat shallow. Angry over his parents’ divorce, he insists he wants nothing to do with love and relationships. He keeps a nice guy, Jed, in the friends-with-benefits category and meanwhile pines after unavailable Aidan with whom he has a hook-up early in the story. He winds up falling for wonderful Matthew, who has sworn off relationships himself, and they both have to give up their fear to find their happy ending.

 

The second book in the series, Aidan’s Journey, is the story of the glamorous but wounded Aidan Emery. It was published in October 2014, and is a dark, psychological study, very different from Serpentine Walls.

 

I’m currently working on the third book in the series, working title Sex, Love, and Video Games, which is similar in tone to the first book. It’s the story of nice guy Jed, whose heart is a bit broken by Pete in Serpentine Walls.

 

Jed was introduced to Pete by his rugby teammate Bud, who is Pete’s cousin. The excerpt below from Serpentine Walls shows where Pete is at about Jed, and also what Bud’s opinion is. Bud features even more in the third book and the relationship between Pete and Jed is shown from Jed’s perspective. Sex, Love, and Video Games should be out in early fall 2015.

cjane

EXCERPT:

 

Bud and Pete sat at a dead standstill in a huge line of cars on I-66.

“I knew this was going to happen. I told you to be ready earlier.” Pete’s voice sounded whiny even to his own ears. Crap. This is a shit way to start winter break, he thought, wondering why he was even in a hurry. It wasn’t like going home was anything to look forward to.

“Big deal. The way traffic is around here, we would’ve needed to leave at the crack of dawn. Can we change the station?” Bud reached toward the dial.

“No!” Pete snapped.

“God.” Bud slumped down in his seat and pulled his baseball cap over his eyes.

After twenty minutes of silence, in which they inched forward about a mile, Pete decided talking to his cousin was better than fuming over the fucking traffic situation.

“What’re you doing over break?”

“Going skiing this week.”

“Cool.”

Must be nice. Bud had only one sister, Heather, and their family was wealthy. Pete tried not to envy them. It wasn’t like his family was poor or anything, but given how many there were of them, they couldn’t take ski trips at a moment’s notice. And now that his parents had split.… Shut up.

 

“Hey, but I’ll see you on Christmas Eve, bro.” Bud’s parents had hosted a huge party for family and friends every Christmas Eve for as long as Pete could remember. “You and Jed.”

 

“Jed?”

 

Bud stared at him like he was dense. “Jed—your boyfriend? He’s gotta meet the family sometime.”

“Jed isn’t my boyfriend. Wait—you didn’t invite him…?”

“’Course I did!” Bud said, indignant. “I don’t care what you call him; you guys have been hooking up for months, right?”

“That doesn’t make him my boyfriend! Crap. Why’d you have to invite him to the family Christmas party?”

“Well, what is he then? What—you too good for Jed? You can’t bring him around? You’re such a snob, Pete.”

“Shut up.”

“No, I’m serious, man. You finally get someone who likes you—a normal guy, not one of those—”

“Bud, shut the fuck up. If you say one more thing, I’m gonna smash your face in.” Pete said this knowing that threats never stopped Bud, and, true to form, he barreled ahead, crossing his arms over his chest with a belligerent scowl.

“All I’m sayin’ is you finally get a guy who’s into you and you blow him off. For what? That Aidan guy? Gimme a break.”

Pete gripped the steering wheel, wanting to pull over and punch Bud out, although he’d never actually do that. He couldn’t pull over anyway. They were trapped on I-66, surrounded by wall-to-wall automobiles, and there was no escaping Bud’s continuing diatribe.

“I don’t even know what you see in that asshole. He fucks everyone in sight. You’re better than him, bro, even if you’re a dumbass at times.”

“Can we stop talking about this?” Pete said through gritted teeth.

“Yeah, fine. But I got one more thing to say. If you don’t think you’re boyfriends with Jed, you should tell him, ’cause he thinks you are. And I ain’t disinviting him from the Christmas party. That’s just rude.”

Stony silence. Pete didn’t stop Bud this time when he leaned over and changed the radio to the country station. He was suddenly in the mood for “Achy Breaky Heart” and all that other lachrymose shit. Yeah, and maybe he was a snob, because he didn’t think either Bud or Jed even knew what “lachrymose” meant, but fuck it. I am who I am.

 Not the main point, Morgan. Okay, the main point was Jed. He liked him—Jed played a mean video game and was fun to hang out with. And, yes, they’d been having sex—not exactly regularly, but off and on since September. Someone like Angie could misconstrue that, but Jed was a guy. A gay guy! “Friends with benefits,” right?

So what? argued an opposing voice, as a vision of Jed’s double bed and shy smile arose in his mind. What makes gay guys exempt from wanting a relationship? He was not going to dwell on his next memory: Aidan, naked on top of the coverlet, telling him, You want someone to love. Aidan had that all wrong. (But he’s not as big of an asshole as you think, Bud.)

Back to Jed, Pete knew there had been signs of Jed getting attached to him since the beginning. But tell him they weren’t boyfriends? Pete could just imagine that conversation:

Uh, Jed, it’s come to my attention that you think we’re boyfriends, and I just wanna let you know that we’re not. ’Kay?

Oh. Sure, Pete. Thanks for letting me know. Wanna play Mortal Kombat?

And what if he brought it up, and Jed looked at him like he was nuts because Bud had gotten it all wrong? As his cousin who’d been stuck with him all their lives, Pete was aware that the likelihood of Bud getting shit wrong, especially when it came to people and relationships, was high.

So, what’s the plan? Ignore it and hope it goes away? That sounded good to Pete. Jed hadn’t brought it up, so he sure as hell wasn’t going to. He had a week before the Christmas party; he’d think about it later. That resolved, Pete cut off Blake Shelton and turned the music back to his R&B station.

Buy link:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4281

CJane Elliott’s books: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/cjane-elliott

Author Bio:

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of gay equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.

In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

You can contact CJane at cjaneelliott@gmail.com. Her website is http://www.cjaneelliott.com. Twitter: https://twitter.com/CJaneElliott and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cjane.elliott

 

Blast from the Past: When Will I See You Again by Julie Lynn Hayes

med_WhenWillISeeYouAgainToday I’ve traveled to Crescent Bay, a seaside town whose biggest claim to fame lies with its supernatural inhabitants. I’ll be interviewing two of the residents today, to get their take on life in Crescent Bay from both sides of the railroad tracks, so to speak.

My first stop is the infamous night club, Charisma. Anyone who knows of the town knows about Charisma, and the man who draws people to it like a magnet. What could be more fitting than I should interview the crown prince himself, Raoul Marchand. This wasn’t easy to do, believe me. I had to pull a few strings to get his agreement to this.  Let’s hope he’s in a good mood and willing to talk.

It’s still fairly early when I arrive. Hopefully, I can avoid most of the crowds. I hear people line up just to get into this place, to witness the phenomenon that is Raoul Marchand. Well, I’m ready to be wowed. There is only a short line, luckily, when I arrive, and when I reach the head of the line and start to pull out my ID, the bouncer waves me in. I’m not sure if I should be glad or insulted.

Another bouncer greets me inside. “Good evening, I’m Paolo. You must be Julie?” I nod. “Raoul is waiting for you. Right this way.” I follow him down a hallway, which opens up into a very bright and shining place indeed.

Flashing colored lights bounce off platinum and chrome surfaces, exuding a certain energy. A large circular bar dominates the room like a command post. It’s covered in mirror tiles streaked with dark blue veins the color of night.

“Right down there.” My guide points to the end of the bar, and I spot him. It’s hard to miss him, even at this distance. He has a most commanding presence.

“Thanks, Paolo.” I give him a smile and proceed. As I approach, the man stands, and I tell myself to please not drool when I’m speaking to him, but I know it won’t be easy. He’s tall, dark, and hunkalicious. His dark hair falls down his back—to his ass, I hazard a hopeful guess—and his eyes glitter with a fierce intensity. He is very well put together, and he doesn’t dress to hide it. He’s a veritable god.

“Thank you for agreeing to this, Mr. Marchand,” I say as I reach out my hand. He takes it for just a moment before returning it to me, gesturing toward a leather and chrome bar stool beside his own.

He shrugs. “My father thought it was a good idea.” Does that mean Raoul doesn’t? I wonder.

“What would you like to drink?” he asks.

I think a moment before ordering an amaretto sour. He relays that to the bartender, and orders himself a marguerita. The bartender seems friendly enough. He quickly brings our drinks then leaves us to our own devices.

“What would you like to know?”

Well, that’s… to the point, isn’t it? Good thing I borrowed Sarah’s voice recorder. Otherwise, I might not remember a thing.

“Mr. Marchand… may I call you Raoul?”

I hear a low growl and I wonder if someone brought a dog into the bar before I realize it’s my host. Then the sound is gone as he replies. “If you wish.”

“So…” I think I’ll skirt the name thing for now. “How long have you been running Charisma?”

“About twenty years.”

“That’s a long time for someone so young. How old are you, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Of course I don’t mind. Age doesn’t make a difference. I’m forty.”

“So you started in the business pretty young?”

“My father gave it to me to run, so it was pretty well laid in my lap.” He gives me an enigmatic look as he picks up his glass and drinks.

I think for a moment. “Let’s see, your father is Philippe Marchand, right? So he started Charisma? When was that?”

“About fifty years ago. But it wasn’t a night club, it was a restaurant.”

“Oh, I see. Did he close the restaurant?”

“No, he moved it across town and gave me the night club.”

“That was nice of him. Why did he do that?” I’m thinking maybe a graduation present or something. Must be nice, right?

I think I said something wrong. He gets this look I can’t describe… like he’s just assumed a mask of indifference. He pulls a phone from his pocket, glances at it and then at me.

I think I’m living on borrowed time, so I cast about in my mind for another subject.

“The Marchands are the largest and most well known supernaturals in this part of the country, aren’t they?”

“Yes.”

Short and sweet.

“I know that with drugs, lycanthropes don’t have to suffer through the change any more. What a blessing that must be for you and your family.”

“Yes it is.”

Hmm, not getting anywhere there. Try something else.

“Tell me, Raoul, is there a special someone in your life?” That has to be good, get him to talk about his girlfriend. Or boyfriend. Whichever.

Suddenly he rises, slams his glass onto the bar. “I’m done,” he announces. “Find your own way out.” And before I can respond, he’s flounced off, toward the dance floor. Ooh, I hate to see him go, but I love to watch him leave.

Wait, he’s picking someone out of the crowd, and all the people around him are going nuts, trying to gain his attention. I watch as he selects a young man and leads him away. Ah, it was fun while it lasted. Guess I’ll get some rest at the hotel and go to my next interview tomorrow.

I’m sure there’s a story there, one he’s not ready to share.

The next day, I’m up bright and early. My next interviewee is meeting me at my hotel on his way to work, and he said he doesn’t have long. I can live with that.

I take the elevator down and make my way to the restaurant, which is sparsely populated. He’s already there, and looking rather chipper for so early in the day. He waves me to the table he’s at, and as I join him a very kindhearted waitress brings a cup and a pot of nectar of the gods. Good, I’ll be able to think.

I add sweetener and cream and smile at the young man. He has thick red hair and bright blue eyes and a very energetic smile. “You must be Alexx Jameson?” I hazard a guess.

“I am. And you’re Julie?”

“Right the first time.”

Okay, down to business, since he doesn’t have very long.

“I’m flattered you called me,” he says, “but I can’t imagine anyone wants to read about me, you know? I’m no one special. Just a guy who works for the Chronicle.”

“Everyone is someone,” I reassure him. “So, what do you do there, Alexx?”

“I’m a go-fer, I guess. I work in the mail room, but I do whatever they need me to do. Like get their morning coffees, which is my next stop.”

“How long have you worked at the Chronicle?” The Crescent Bay Chronicle is the town’s one newspaper, owned by Joseph Levine, head of a family that is second in size and position to the Marchands.

“About two years now.”

“Were you born here?”

“No, I wasn’t. I lived in another state entirely. Chance brought me to Crescent Bay and got me a job at the paper.”

“Chance or fate?” I can’t help but smile. He sips at his coffee and grins back. He seems like a very nice young man, very easygoing.

“So where do you see yourself in a few years?” I ask.

“Hopefully as a reporter at the Chronicle,” he confesses, a faint blush rising up his cheeks, as if he isn’t used to speaking about his dreams.

“What kind of reporter do you have in mind to be? Sports, fashion, general news?”

“Crime,” he admits. “Something there isn’t really a lot of in Crescent Bay. But it would be a start. Who knows what after that?’

“The sky’s the limit. And if it’s meant to be, you know… maybe something is just around the corner for you?”

“I hope so.” He finished the rest of his cup and rises. “I’m sorry to drink and run, but there are people who will be very upset with me if I don’t get their morning coffees and stuff.” He rolls his eyes in a playful way. “Save us from divas.”

I can’t help but laugh. “I’ve met a few of those in my time.” I rise and hold out my hand. He takes it. “Nice to meet you, Alexx, thanks for talking to me. I’ll send you a copy of the interview when it comes out.”

“Nice to meet you too, Julie.” He gives me another smile and quickly hurries out of the restaurant. I, on the other hand, am starved, so I sit back down and glance at the menu. Might as well eat while I’m here. Then go home and put these interviews together.

So, there you are. Two different men, two different stories.

Hmmm, wonder if their worlds will ever collide?

(insert cover)

Blurb:

Raoul Marchand is the crown prince of Charisma, the infamous night club in Crescent Bay, renowned for its supernatural clientele. He has the pick of any and all men, but he cares for none. He uses them and throws them away again, and has done so for some twenty years, in the aftermath of a tragedy that robbed him of what he loved most in the world.

Alexx Jameson is an idealistic young would-be reporter with the Crescent Bay Chronicle. Presented with an opportunity to write a story on the Marchands, he eagerly grasps the chance to be a real reporter. His friend, Chronicle receptionist Miller Fenwick, suggests they go to Charisma to do a little research. Alexx isn’t sure that’s such a great idea. After all, he’s still under age, being only twenty. No problem, Miller can fix that! Added bonus, there’s a full moon tonight.

When Alexx first encounters Raoul, it isn’t exactly in the way he dreamed of, and he’s sure he made a terrible first impression. But Fate throws them together under unforeseen circumstances, and the attraction between them can’t be denied. Can Raoul let go of the past long enough to find his future with Alexx, or is he doomed to repeat past mistakes?

 

Excerpt:

Alexx drew in his breath in dismay. This wasn’t going well. Even so, he could not stop staring at Raoul. His eyes met the other man’s. Raoul’s were very golden; he wasn’t aware such colors even existed in the spectrum of the human eye. But then again, he didn’t have any friends that were werewolves either. He wondered if this was a sign that perhaps this man was about to change, right here and now?

The thought was both exhilarating and frightening.

Alexx’s vision telescoped until he wasn’t aware of anything but this gorgeous man in front of him. Blood pounded in his ears and his mouth felt suddenly dry. Having lost all sense of the others in the room, he was surprised when he felt his chair yanked out from under him. Before he could fall, a hand grabbed the scruff of his neck, propelling him to his feet. He glanced at his companion; Miller was being subjected to the same surly treatment.

“You waste my time for this?” Raoul’s upper lip curled back in a snarl. Alexx found himself wildly attracted to him. “I have somewhere I need to be. Paolo, please show these gentlemen out.” Sarcastic much? He turned and reached for the door, but it opened before he touched it.

A shaggy blond with hazel eyes and a cheerful countenance stuck his head inside. “Hey Paolo—” He interrupted himself at the sight of the occupants of the room.

Alexx heard Miller’s sigh of relief, even as he too recognized the newcomer. He’d seen him around the Chronicle often enough, although he’d never really spoken to him. Foster Levine, son of the Chronicle’s owner—heir apparent and future newspaper magnate.

Alexx’s relief quickly changed to anxiety. What if Foster knew how old he really was? He couldn’t be sure one way or the other, but for the sake of argument, he had to assume he did. Would he out him to Raoul Marchand and his burly minion? Had they simply jumped from the frying pan to be scorched by the fire?

 

Author Bio:

Julie Lynn Hayes first began publishing short stories and poetry in the 1990’s, when it was a different ballgame altogether, and Ebooks hadn’t been dreamed of yet. That changed in 2010 with the acceptance of her first romance novel. She’s come a long way since that first book appeared, and is finding the journey a very educational one.

 

She lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah and her cat Ramesses. She often writes of two men finding true love and happiness in one another’s arms, and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She likes to write in different genres, to stretch herself in order to see what is possible. Her great challenge is to be told something can’t be done—she feels compelled to do it.

 

When she isn’t writing, she enjoys crafts, such as crocheting and cross stich,  needlepoint and knitting, and she loves to cook, spending time watching the Food Network. Her favorite chef is Geoffrey Zakarian. Her family thinks she’s a bit off, but she doesn’t mind. Marching to the beat of one’s own drummer is a good thing, after all. Her published works can be found at Dreamspinner Press, eXtasy Books, and Amber Quill Press.

 

My links:

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Twitter @Shelley_runyon

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My Goodreads

Dreamspinner

eXtasy Books

Amber Quill