Please welcome Jamie Fessenden!

lizzie-bourneDay Two of the Murder on the Mountain Blog Tour!

In Murder on the Mountain, when Kyle and Wesley are being transported to the summit of Mount Washington on a cold, foggy October night to investigate the murder of Stuart Warren, the train passes by the memorial to Lizzie Bourne. It’s mentioned in passing, but let me take this opportunity to tell you why that memorial is there.

On September 14, 1885, a 23-year-old woman named Lizzie C. Bourne attempted to climb Mount Washington with her cousin, Lucy Bourne, and her uncle, George Bourne. They followed the Carriage Road. However, that was only half constructed at the time, so the second leg of the trip would have been grueling. It’s now believed Lizzie had an undiagnosed heart condition, as well.

They began the climb at 2pm, and by 4pm they were halfway up the mountain. In those days, there was a hotel at the summit called the Tip-Top House, so if they’d been able to make it that far, they would have had a warm bed for the night. Unfortunately, they were hit by a sudden gale, and clouds descended, making it impossible to see the way to the summit. As night descended, the temperature dropped below freezing.

lizzie-bourne-monumentThe girls became too exhausted to continue, so they lay down and George busied himself building a rock wall to shield them from the winds. He labored at this until late into the night, at which point he lay down beside the girls. But when he took Lizzie’s hand to comfort her, he found that it was cold. She’d died quietly in her sleep.

In the morning, the sun rose, revealing that George and the girls were within sight of Tip-Top House, where they could have spent the night, warm and safe.

Lizzie Bourne was not the first person to die on Mount Washington, but a young woman dying so close to safe haven struck a chord with people. A rough stone monument was built to commemorate her, and later replaced with a more permanent structure. Her portrait now hangs in Tip-Top House, which is now a museum.

For the next four weeks, Murder on the Mountain will be touring the blogs of several MM Romance authors, providing . If you leave an email address in the comments or email me at jamesfessenden@hotmail.com, you’ll be entered into a drawing for either a free copy of Murder on the Mountain or a $40 gift certificate to Dreamspinner Press!

To visit more blogs on the blog tour, go to: http://jamiefessenden.com/2014/08/22/murder-on-the-mountain-blog-tour/

When Jesse Morales, a recent college grad who aspires to be a mystery writer, volunteers to work on the summit of Mt. Washington for a week, he expects to work hard. What he doesn’t expect is to find a corpse in the fog, lying among the rocks, his head crushed. The dead man turns out to be a young tourist named Stuart Warren, who strayed from his friends while visiting the mountain.

Kyle Dubois, a widowed state police detective, is called to the scene in the middle of the night, along with his partner, Wesley Roberts. Kyle and Jesse are instantly drawn to one another, except Jesse’s fascination with murder mysteries makes it difficult for Kyle to take the young man seriously. But Jesse finds a way to make himself invaluable to the detective by checking into the hotel where the victim’s friends and family are staying and infiltrating their circle. Soon, he is learning things that could very well solve the case—or get him killed.

BUY LINK: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5335

Please welcome Lily G. Blunt!

Paint the Sky Facebook Cover Art copy

Paint the Sky

by

Lily G. Blunt

 

Genre: M/M, Contemporary Romance and Erotica

Length: 65,000 Words/230 pages

Release Date: August 30, 2014

ASIN: B00MSYA1JQ

 

 

 

BLURB:

 

A love of art…

A mutual interest in art draws two shy university students together. Ben admires Vinnie’s painting of the university building, so Vinnie invites him to an exhibition of his artwork. From a wealthy family, Ben purchases some of Vinnie’s art and arranges for the artist to personally hang the paintings in his apartment.

Starry, starry night…

Ben commissions Vinnie to paint his portrait, in order to spend more time with the artist. On the night of the sitting, Vinnie fingerpaints the starry night on Ben’s chest… and they kiss. They begin a relationship beneath the night sky, God’s own canvas.

But every relationship has its ups and downs and so it is with theirs. When Ben thinks Vinnie spends too much time with a fellow artist, his jealousy drives a wedge between them and forces Vinnie into the very thing Ben dreads.

Hold tight to your dreams…

Ben and Vinnie will have to walk through fire before they can find one another again. But if they believe, and if they keep their faith in the night sky and each other, just maybe they can make their dreams of love come true.

 

EXCERPT:

 

Paint the Sky E-Book Cover copyVinnie led me across the room, pulling me by the shirt. “Lie back on the sofa for me and I’ll paint you.”

As if in a dream, I settled my head against one arm of the sofa, my legs dangling over the other end, scarcely breathing now. Vinnie knelt on the floor beside me with an open pot of paint in his hand.

Teasingly, he dipped his index finger into the dark blue paint as if it were cream he would lick off. His finger connected with my skin and he made short strokes across my chest, the coldness of the paint making me shiver.

Mesmerised by the closeness of his beautiful face, the view of the night sky through the window, and the picture forming upon my chest, I watched as dab after dab and stroke after stroke he built up a mix of shades, until a dark night sky with the moon and stars were there to be seen—a masterpiece, drying on the warmth of my blazing skin, a transient thing of beauty. His fingers skimmed my skin causing gooseflesh to ripple in waves down my arms and thighs. My nipples pebbled in response to his touch.

And when he was done, his lips met mine in a languid kiss; how our first kiss should have been—sweet, innocent, and full of promise. He pulled away, smiling down at me.

This was the beginning of something special.

 

BUY/PRE-ORDER LINKS:

 

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paint-Sky-Bob-Loving-ebook/dp/B00MSYA1JQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1408336547&sr=1-1&keywords=Paint+the+Sky

 

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MSYA1JQ

 

 

LILY G. BLUNT’S BIO:

 

Lily G. Blunt writes contemporary gay romance and erotica. She loves to explore the relationship between two men and the intensity of their physical and emotional attraction. Angst often features in her stories as she feels this demonstrates the depth of the men’s feelings for each other. Lily is forever writing imaginary scenes and plots in her head, but only a few ever make it to the page—there never seems to be enough hours in the day despite having left the teaching profession to concentrate on her writing!

Lily discovered the wonderful world of m/m romance novels four years ago via fan fiction and went on to write stories in her spare time. With the encouragement of her friends and readers she decided to publish some of her work.

Lily has several self-published stories available on Amazon. She is also published with Torquere Press and Wayward Ink Publishing.

Easily distracted from her writing, Lily makes videos using clips from gay-themed movies and posts gorgeous pictures of men kissing or making out on her tumblr and Facebook pages. Lily is also an avid supporter of GLBTQ rights and advocates equality for all.

Lily lives in central England with her rather bemused husband, two twenty-something children, and a ‘mad as a bag of frogs’ Shetland Sheepdog.

 

 

LILY G. BLUNT’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

WordPress: http://lilygblunt.wordpress.com

Blog: http://lilygblunt.blogspot.co.uk/

FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/LilyGBlunt

FB Profile: http://www.facebook.com/lily.blunt.75

Tumblr: http://bobloving.tumblr.com/

Tumblr: http://lilygblunt.tumblr.com

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/BoyonBoyLoving?feature=mhee

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BoyonBoyLoving

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6586037.Lily_G_Blunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please welcome EM Lynley!

TITLE: Come and Get It! Spaghetti Western by EM Lynley is Coming Soon!

SpagettiWestern_EM Lynley

I’m thrilled to share the cover (and a recipe from the book!) and tell you about the latest installment in my Delectable Series, featuring men in the world of food and wine. It’s fun to pair up opposites and see where the rough edges will crop up—and how they try to smooth them over. So it was a real joy to set my chef Riley Emerson, fresh from several years of working in Paris, against Colby Zane, born-and-bred cattle rancher who didn’t know a patisserie from a potholder—till he met Riley.

 

The fun didn’t stop there, because I set the story on the Rocking Z Ranch in Colorado. I’ve only been to the state once and it left such an impression on me that I couldn’t wait to find a story that belonged there.

 

As the cook at the guest ranch, one of Riley’s duties is taking the antique chuck wagon out for an authentic trailside dinner for the guests, and events that occur during these dinners are some of the key scenes in the book. Not only is there some awesome food, but plenty of fun, drama, and maybe a few encounters hotter than a campfire!

 

One of the most enjoyable parts of the research was discovering chuck wagon lore. Chuck wagons were a huge part of the west for a short period of time. When ranchers had to move a lot of cattle very long distances, between the ranch and the grazing grounds, or to the sale lot, they were on the trail for days. The chuck wagon provided not only food, but carried their sleeping gear, and the cook (called Cookie) often provided medical and dental services. Ouch! I think I’d just live with the pain rather than let Cookie mess with my mouth.

 

There’s a lot of Western and cowboy lore surrounding the chuck wagon and the cook. Back when cowboys drove cattle hundreds or even thousands of miles to and from good grazing areas or to the sales location, the chuck wagon was an important part of trail life.

 

The cook had one of the toughest jobs. He had to be up before the cowboys so breakfast could be ready early enough for them to start their day, and he was still cleaning up when they were relaxing or snug in their bedrolls. He’d also have to prepare enough food at breakfast so the cowboys could take something along for their lunch.

 

But the chuck wagon cook also had the respect of every cowboy, and no one would dare complain if they didn’t like the chow. Well, if they did complain, they might not want to do it in front of the cook. With a supply of staples like coffee, flour, beans, molasses, potatoes, salt, dried fruit, and beef, the cook had to come up with enough variety to satisfy hungry cowboys day in and day out.

 

One thing every chuck wagon cook was sure to have was a Dutch oven: a heavy cast-iron pot on legs so it could be set over the coals in the fire. The pots got the name because originally they were obtained by Dutch traders who sold housewares. The Dutch oven’s lid had a special lip where the cook would place coals. This allowed him to replicate the heat dispersion of a regular oven: from below and above for more even cooking. A good chuck wagon cook could reproduce almost anything made in an oven at home.

 

Coffee was the key ingredient the cook would carry, but chuck wagon cooks were judged by their sourdough. They’d make biscuits, bread, even desserts with sourdough, and that meant they needed a sourdough starter and they would tend it as if it were a favorite child. I’ve got recipes in Spaghetti Western, including several using sourdough, and I even show how easy it is to make and use a starter.

 

If you’re intrigued, there are antique chuck wagons still working as catering events, chuck wagon suppers and historical reenactments. Visit the Chuck Wagon Registry for one near you.

 

Check out the beautiful cover by LC Chase, who found me a palomino just like the one Colby rides.

 

Blurb:

Spaghetti Western, by EM Lynley

220 pages

Release date: September 17 from Dreamspinner Press

Pre-order from Dreamspinner Press

(Amazon pre-order coming soon)

 

 

Cordon-Blue trained pastry chef Riley Emerson arrives in Aspen, Colorado for a summer season at the best restaurant in town, only to discover his jerk of a boyfriend has dumped him, leaving his heart and his summer plans in tatters. Doubting himself and longing for a change of pace, he takes a low-paying position as chef at a guest ranch, the Rocking Z. The scenery is gorgeous, but he expects that nature up close and personal can’t hold a candle to his exciting Paris lifestyle.

When born-and-bred cattle rancher Colby Zane spots a newcomer letting himself be pawed at by a passel of horny cowboys at Aspen’s Club Rawhide, he doesn’t think twice before rushing in, throwing the guy over his shoulder, and rescuing him from the volatile situation. Sober, Riley Emerson turns out to be sweet and sexy, but not interested in more than a one-night stand with Colby. Initially disdainful of the guest ranch side of the business, Colby’s over the moon when Riley late arrives as the new cook on his family’s ranch

But all’s not well at the Rocking Z. Unsurmountable financial problems force them to rely on a cash infusion from an outside investor, Fitz Wellington. Only Fitz is hot for Colby, and he won’t sign on the dotted line without some very personal incentives. The future of the ranch is at stake, and Colby’s just desperate enough to go along, but saving the Z might mean losing Riley.

 

 

Blue Cornmeal Bread

 

After sourdough biscuits, hearty cornbread was a cowboy’s second favorite bread. My chef Riley Emerson put his own personal touch on this tradition by using blue cornmeal—it’s so pretty!—and kernels of corn mixed in. If you can’t find blue cornmeal, yellow works just fine, but try and find the blue—it’s available at Whole Foods and other stores with bulk bins.

 

Ingredients

 

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups blue cornmeal* or yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups whole milk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed, drained

 

*Blue cornmeal is available at natural foods stores and specialty foods stores.

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Stir flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl to blend.

Whisk milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and buttermilk in a medium bowl to blend. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until just blended.

Fold in corn kernels. Pour batter into buttered dish. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cut bread into 2-inch squares and serve warm.

 

* * * *

Pre-order from Dreamspinner Press

(Amazon pre-order coming soon)

 

EM Lynley writes gay erotic romance. She loves books where the hero gets the guy and the loving is 11 on a scale of 10. A Rainbow Award winner and EPIC finalist, EM has worked in high finance, high tech, and in the wine industry, though she’d rather be writing hot, romantic man-on-man action. She spent 10 years as an economist and financial analyst, including a year as a White House Staff Economist, but only because all the intern positions were filled. Tired of boring herself and others with dry business reports and articles, her creative muse is back and naughtier than ever. She has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., but the San Francisco Bay Area is home for now.

She is the author of Sex, Lies & Wedding Bells, the Precious Gems series from Dreamspinner Press, and the Rewriting History series starring a sexy jewel thief, among others.

Visit her online WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitterNewsletter

 

Please welcome Lex Chase!

AmericanaFairyTaleFS

Americana Fairy Tale
by Lex Chase

Genre: M/M Fairy Tale Urban Fantasy
Length: Novel, 340 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Blurb

Modern fairy-tale princess Taylor Hatfield has problems. One: He’s a guy. Two: His perfect brother Atticus is the reincarnation of Snow White. Three: Taylor has no idea which princess he is supposed to be. Four: Taylor just left his prince (a girl) at the altar. Despite his enchanted lineage, Taylor is desperate to find his Happily Ever After away from magic, witches, and stuffy traditions. Regrettably, destiny has other plans for him. Dammit.

When word reaches Taylor that Idi the Witchking has captured Atticus, Taylor is determined to save his brother. He enlists the help of rakish and insufferable Corentin Devereaux, likewise of enchanted lineage. A malicious spell sends Taylor and Corentin on a road trip through the kitschy nostalgia of roadside Americana. To save Atticus, they must solve the puzzles put forth by Idi the Witchking. As they struggle, Taylor and Corentin’s volatile partnership sparks a flash of something more. But princesses have many enemies, and Taylor must keep his wits about him because there’s nothing worse than losing your heart… or your head.

 

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Pre-order from Dreamspinner Press in eBook and Paperback

Available September 12th, 2014

Paperbacks ordered through Dreamspinner Press qualifies for Free Shipping to GRL for pick-up!

Use code: GRL2014

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Excerpt

 

Still flustered and confused, with no time to contemplate what had just come over him, Corentin tossed out his hand and gestured to the open road. “Do you see signs for I-85 North anywhere, genius?”

“Man, you’re really bitchy,” Ringo said, crossing his arms. “Have enough water today? Hydration is important.”

“Why should I trust you anyway? You could be getting us lost on purpose,” Taylor said. There was a sneer in his tone, and he glared in the rearview. “I’m not counting out we nearly died three seconds ago.”

“I was avoiding a tire in the road,” Corentin lied. “And I am not getting us lost.” His irritation grew as he tried to puzzle through everything that had just transpired. “I’m keeping my promise. You’re useless to me, so we’re going to go save your brother and kill Idi instead.”

“Woooooah,” Ringo said, holding up his hands in surrender. “You didn’t tell me this was Idi we were up against.”

“Someone fill me in,” Taylor said in a demanding tone.

Corentin gritted his teeth. Just like all princesses, Taylor was a pretty spoiled brat. “Idi is the Witchking,” Corentin said simply. He braced himself for the oncoming flurry of questions. Which he wouldn’t know how to answer in the simplest of terms.

“Idi’s bad juju,” Ringo said. “The worst of all witches.”

“And we’re going to kill him?” Taylor asked.

Corentin caught him arching a brow and making a doubtful expression in the rearview. “That’s the plan.”

“And save Atticus,” Taylor said.

That’s the plan,” Corentin repeated tersely.

“What’s in it for you?” Taylor asked. Something in his tone suggested his mistrust had hit its limit.

Before Corentin could come up with an expert lie, he was unfortunately saved by the GPS popping with sizzles and showering sparks over the cabin of the truck. Ringo zipped behind the passenger seat, and Taylor yelped in a half squeal. The truck fishtailed over two lanes and came dangerously close to clipping a car. Corentin acted fast, ripping the melting device from its dash mount and chucking it out the window. Taylor turned to look out the back window, and Corentin caught the bright orange flame as the thing exploded like a grenade.

When the spots cleared from Corentin’s eyes, he muttered a curse under his breath as the truck passed from a clear division of daylight into the dead of night. He clicked the headlights on and waited for his eyes to adjust.

“What the hell is going on?” Taylor asked, leaning up to the back window.

“Idi’s fucking with us,” Corentin said. “It seems like he’s trying to delay us as much as possible.”

“He knows we’re onto him,” Taylor said. “Way to go for discussing the super-secret squirrel plan out loud.”

“You know…,” Corentin said, glaring in the rearview. “You are a lot more pleasant when you’re passed out, snoring.”

Taylor huffed. “I don’t snore.”

“You bleat like a dying hyena,” Ringo said, then spit a giggle.

Taylor’s attention snapped to the pixie. “What is this? Asshole day?”

Corentin caught his eerie pink glare in the rearview.

“Dude, just get off at the nearest exit. We should be near Birmingham by now.”

“All right, all right,” Corentin said, and it was a pleasant reprieve that Taylor kept his mouth shut for more than five minutes. It didn’t last.

“Hey, hey!” Taylor said and pointed at a green-and-white interstate exit sign in the distance. “Talladega! Turn here. I can get us to Atlanta from here. We’re not that far off.”

Corentin guided the truck up the exit ramp and frowned. Something was wrong—flat-topped mesas came into view.

“What the…?” Taylor whispered and watched the rolling dunes of the Painted Desert.

“Uuuh…,” Ringo added and pressed himself to the windshield. The occasional cactus whisked by. “Wow, Talladega’s having a hard time with the drought this season,” Ringo said through their awestruck silence.

“That’s not a drought,” Corentin said softly.

Taylor squinted into the distance. “Does ‘Welcome to Arizona, the Grand Canyon State’ answer your question?”

Ringo pasted his face to the windshield. “How do you even see—” Ringo squeaked when the state sign of Arizona blurred by. “Oh my Storyteller!”

Corentin remained tense, trying to get his thoughts together.

Taylor, however, seemed to not be able to resist blurting out his opinion. “It seems this Eddie guy is doing more than just fucking with us.”

Idi,” Corentin said and realized how terse he sounded. “I think he wants to do more than just delay us.”

Ringo peeled himself from the windshield. He slapped his hands to his cheeks in horror. “He wants us to die out here?” he croaked.

“Panicking is not going to help,” Corentin said firmly.

“Easy for you to say,” Taylor snapped. “We just need to stop somewhere and ask for directions. We’ll get back on the right road in no time.”

Corentin sighed. Taylor’s hope was admirable, but Ringo was only half right. They would die out here, but only one of them. This was Corentin’s first trial. Now he was here, in the middle of nowhere, with Taylor to do with what he will. As soon as that was over, Idi would release him and he’d be on his way, but only until the next time Idi summoned him to do his bidding.

They drove on, again in a long-hanging silence. The interstate lay barren, not a single car or scrap of civilization to be seen. The pavement bore veins of black tar from years of shoddy repair. Corentin caught Taylor’s pink gaze in the rearview, and his feral eyes seemed to gleam in the dark.

The princess shifted from one side of the backseat to the other. He seemed to look for anything that would help. He cupped his hands around the glass and peeked out into the night. “I can’t see anything out there. It’s just desert,” Taylor muttered.

Ringo turned to Corentin, “How are we on ga—”

Don’t say it!” Corentin and Taylor shouted in unison.

Ringo held up his hands and pursed his lips. “Got it…. Uh… why?”

“I assume Eddie is listening in to everything,” Taylor said.

Idi,” Corentin corrected Taylor again. “I think sir princess is right. It seems the second we’ve said anything, something’s gone wrong.”

Ringo fluttered over to the dash and rested his chin in his palm. “You know… it could be all a coincidence….”

Corentin and Taylor glared angrily at Ringo in silence while the hum of the pavement whooshed as Corentin drove.

Ringo waved his hands. “By Titania’s tatas, guys, I was just kidding!”

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Giveaway

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About the author

 

LXC_FlamesLex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” She knew then she wanted to make the world a little more interesting too.

Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure and epic love—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes if you’re going to going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva and her DVR is constantly backlogged. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind. She is incredibly sentimental, to the point that she gets choked up at holiday commercials. But like the lovers driven to extreme measures to get home for the holidays, Lex believes everyone deserves a happy ending.

Lex also has a knack for sarcasm, never takes herself seriously, and has been nicknamed “The Next Alan Moore” by her friends for all the pain and suffering she inflicts on her characters. She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine now residing in the burbs of Northwest Florida, where it could be 80F and she’d still be a popsicle.

She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and welcomes feedback.

You can find in the Intarwebz here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LXChase
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lex_Chase
Tumblr: http://lexiconofkittens.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/westbaylen

Andrea Speed’s City of Monsters

Andrea Speed is one of the judges for my flash fiction contest. She also has a new book out, City of Monsters. Which you need to read because it’s funny and terrific.
 
CityOfMonsters3Blurb: Hunter is a human turned animal shifter in Nightshade, a literal city of monsters in a near-Earth dimension called Dev. All sorts of beasts reside here, unable to return to Earth, yet still plagued by the same jealousies, rivalries, and needs of any human. Resolving them is Hunter’s job.

Hunter faces supernatural perils at every turn: vampire debt collectors who most decidedly don’t sparkle, werewolfs who literally piss on everything you love, and surprise shifters. And just like back on Earth, there are mundane struggles too. Like paying the rent—which isn’t easy for a guy with more vices than virtues—and keeping his haunted blender happy with pricey produce. So he takes a job from a foul-mouthed reverse tooth fairy to find her missing twin.

Just when things seem like they couldn’t get any worse, Hunter meets Sakari, a hot newcomer to Nightshade with a taste for danger. Will Sakari change Hunter’s bad luck, or will he only mean more trouble? Can Sakari help him solve his case? And how will Hunter explain the new man in his life to his blender?

​Excerpt: ​You know you’re in for a bad night when you wake up dangling ten stories above the ground. Somehow, the night gets worse when you realize an angry vampire is holding you by the ankle.

“Good, you’re awake,” Fang said as my eyes continued to adjust. My head ached, and I figured I’d been clobbered. Not that I could remember any of it, mind you, but that came with the territory of head injuries. “I was afraid you were gonna sleep through your death.”

“Fang, dude, let’s talk this out,” I said, hoping I didn’t sound as pathetic as I thought I did. The truth was, I bet I sounded a million times worse. “What is it you think I did?”

“You know what you did, you rat bastard.”

“Yeah . . . you’re gonna hafta narrow it down for me, Fang.”

He made a noise of disgust and shook his head, which I could feel in the slight tremor of his arm. “Mutt, even you can’t be this stupid.”

“I am not a mutt,” I protested, even though that was really just a guess on my part. You’d think after six months, I would have known what kind of were I was, but nope. I kind of didn’t want to know because with my luck, I was something ridiculous. A worm maybe, or a dung beetle.

He sighed; it wasn’t natural for vampires, so when they bothered to do it, they were being drama queens. “Did you forget about the wolf races?”

“No.” Although I quickly realized that, yes, I had. “Yes.” I’d really thought Silver Streak was a shoo-in to win the third race, but then he’d had to pull up lame. Just my luck.

“You now owe Mr. Deth two grand—interest added—’cause you didn’t show up Friday to pay off the fifteen hundred, and he figured you were trying to weasel out of your debt. Is that what you are? A weasel?”

“No. I genuinely forgot.” I had. It may have been related to a self-pitying, sorrow-fueled bender, but hell if I was gonna tell him that. He didn’t need to know about my personal life. Although the saddest thing was, I’d had so many interactions with Fang that he was kind of a frenemy. Personal life wasn’t exactly out of bounds. “I’ve kinda been . . . sick.”

“Ya mean drunk?” he asked, his voice dripping with contempt. “I can smell the booze coming through your pores.”

“Look, can you give me a break here? My head’s killin’ me, and if you keep dangling me, I’m gonna barf. Wanna find out what I ate last?”

He made a grumpy noise and roughly deposited me back on the roof, where I flopped down like a landed fish. The sky, a weird midnight blue with dark, flesh-pink tendrils at the very edges, spun as if it were on a broken turntable—too fast and a little wobbly. When my vision cleared, Fang was standing off to one side, arms crossed over his chest, looking vaguely disgusted. The fact that he’d given in so easily confirmed my long-held suspicion about him—that he felt sorry for me. And how sad was that? I’ve always depended on the kindness of enforcers.

His name, by the way, was actually Fang. He was an Asian American vampire. The Asian part was pretty obvious, but the American giveaway was his almost comically thick Minnesotan accent. The first time I heard him talk, I’d laughed, expecting him to ask me if I had a hot dish to pass, don’tcha know. He punched me into next week, and I’d never laughed at his accent anywhere near him again. It was still really funny, though, especially considering he made his living as a hired thug.

“Look, he’s extended all the credit he can,” Fang said.

“That’s bullshit, and you know it. He could do more if he wanted.”

“Yeah, but why would he for you?”

That was a damn good point. I would have agreed if I weren’t concentrating on not vomiting up my digestive track. Fang looked down at me, scowling with distaste, and finally rolled his gleaming copper eyes. “I’ll see if he’s willing to have you work off the debt. But how are you at shakin’ people down?”

“Depends. Actual humans?”

“Oh, hell no.”

“Not that good, then.” Finally the sky steadied, and I got brave enough to push myself up to my knees. Took a bit longer than it should have.

“Has anyone told you that even for a weird were, you’re kinda lame?”

“Don’t you start, Fang. I’m humiliated enough as it is.” I sat on the cool crystal roof and tried to mentally will myself into feeling better. It wasn’t working. Spirit wine was a fucking bitch. Brilliant when you had it, but later you understood why they gave it the name—it haunted you like a cursed graveyard. Also, it made you feel undead. In a bad way.

“I’ll talk to Deth. Don’t leave town. If you do, you’ll be sorry,” Fang said before stepping off the edge of the roof. He couldn’t fly—vampires couldn’t do that—but they were pretty indestructible, like most of the undead, and Fang’s legs weren’t natural. Oh, maybe they had been once, but his boss, Deth, had arranged for his number one enforcer to get legs made of that nigh-invulnerable black crystal stuff the bug people used for their buildings. I couldn’t pronounce their name for it, and frankly I didn’t care to, ’cause I wasn’t insectoid and it didn’t really matter. All I knew was, if you made Fang mad, he could easily kick a hole through titanium-plated steel. When he landed, he left two foot-shaped indents in the ground below.

“Where the hell would I go?” I shouted after him. Did he hear me? Didn’t matter. It was a rhetorical question anyways.

Still, at least he’d given me an out. Kind of. How pathetic did you have to be for a legless enforcer to feel sorry for you? I guess I’d just answered that question.

I’m usually not this sad, really. Or at least I hope I’m not. The name’s Hunter Burrows, and I’m a finder in the city of Nightshade. Never heard of it? Lucky you. It’s a city of monsters.

I’m not being fanciful or metaphorical. It’s literally a city of monsters. There are no humans here, or at least none that aren’t food. Zombies, vampires, and werewolves walk the streets, as do lizard men, insect men, and assorted other beasties and mutant abominations. I’m a were, so I’m in that category. Not a werewolf; there are a whole bunch of different weres. You name an animal, there’s probably a were for it. Problem is, I’m not sure what kind I am. I’m not a werewolf, ’cause they pee on all their stuff, and even in human form, they have this gamey, wet-dog smell about them. I don’t. But I only know I’m not a wolf—everything else is up for grabs. For all I know, I’m a werepenguin. I kinda hope not, because I’m pathetic enough as it is.

When I was sure I could move without barfing my head off, I got up and headed for the roof exit. Of course, me being me, the elevators were out, so I had to make the long climb down the stairs to street level. I was forced to take breaks along the way, with the way I was feeling.

Once I left the building, which was an apartment complex primarily populated by vampires, I sat on the sidewalk, trying to shake off my fuzzy headedness, and wondered if I should blame a hangover or a blow to the head for the fact that I couldn’t remember where I’d last been. Maybe it was neither—maybe it was just the city itself.

I’m not kidding. I have no idea how I was turned, or how I ended up here. I just woke up half-naked in an alley, my head hurting, gripped with a sense that something was wrong, though I didn’t know what. When I saw the first lizard man amble by, I’d thought maybe I was near a sci-fi convention or something. It was the sky and the buildings that eventually convinced me I was in another world, long before the zombies and werewolves. The buildings were made of the strangest stuff I’d ever seen, and the sky . . . well, it was a fleshy pink. I’d thought it was hell for maybe five seconds, but I’d never believed in that shit, and I wasn’t dead.

Somehow, I’ve figured out how to survive in this world. But it was all trial and error, and in many respects, I’m still trying. I never thought I was very good at improvising, but my continued survival seems to prove otherwise.

A werehorse pulling a pedicab clopped down the street, and I flagged him over and asked him to take me back to my place. He agreed with a neigh and a shake of his big roan head, and I stepped up into the cab. They’re a community service, mostly for thieves and other low-level criminals. The justice system in Nightshade is a patchwork of weirdness. There isn’t really a police force as humanly defined, just Sentinels who work for Medusa, the god who runs the dimension. In any other place, that all might seem super strange, but in Nightshade, it’s close to the most normal thing we have.

As I sat in the back of the cab and watched the city go by, it occurred to me that the existence of a mythological god no longer seemed weird. Then again, I was some kind of were. What was unbelievable anymore? There were no limits. And I was in debt to a were crime boss with vampire henchmen all because gambling and drinking were the only thrills left to me. Being in a city full of monsters seemed to have made me more jaded by the day. And maybe a bit depressed. I felt terribly alone, even though all of us former humans were in the same boat. And now I was in trouble with Mr. Deth. Terrific.

I live in an apartment building made of onyx and shaped like a dagger plunging into the heart of the sky. It’s officially known as Briarwood, but it’s called the Knife. In fact, this area is known, consequently, as the Knife District. Just ’cause it’s a city full of monsters doesn’t mean they’re any more creative than humans.

I gave the werehorse a friendly pat on the haunches as I got off the pedicab in front of the building—my version of a thank-you. Technically, weres don’t retain human intellect in animal form, but there’s a special kind of curse applied to those doing community service. No one but the Sentinels and their special Cursers (yes, that’s an actual job description) actually know how that works, but rumors about it run rampant. I try not to pay attention to any of it. I may not have been here long, but I’ve caught on to the fact that the truth is often too strange to properly tolerate.

Inside the main door of the Knife, I was almost instantly overwhelmed by the animal scents, which no amount of air scrubbers could take away. The Knife was mainly inhabited by weres, and while most spent at least part of their time in their human forms, the building still ended up smelling like a semi-tidy zoo.

I’d wanted an apartment on a lower floor, as I’m not a great fan of heights, but the best I could get was level twenty-two. So I took the elevator up, though it made creepy creaking and groaning noises that made it sound like it was two minutes away from gaining sentience and swallowing you whole. It wasn’t totally impossible. Nothing here was.

I staggered down the hall toward my door, which was painted red. On every floor, each door was a different color, making the dimly lit hallways look like a pride parade after the power had gone out. From the lingering scent in the hall, one of my neighbors was a werewolf, and another had decided six in the morning was the ideal time to make lasagna. It made the nausea I thought I’d shed come back big-time.

As I went in, I continued wracking my brain for what had happened last night before Fang had dangled me off a building. But it was a painful, blurry fog. I finally decided I’d sleep on it and see whether it came back to me. It was just a shame that, despite all this mystical stuff, you still had hangovers. Magical dimension, my ass.

– See more at: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/city-of-monsters#sthash.ecsyRPrD.dpuf

Please welcome Charlie Cochet!

RoseByAnyOtherName[A]500

A Rose by Any Other Name
by Charlie Cochet

Genre: M/M historical romance, 1920s
Length: Novel, 270 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Blurb

Nights in the roaring city remind bright young things that life’s too short to take for granted. Tucked away in Times Square hides the Pantheon: a secret cabaret for wealthy gay men. Pretty young men in elaborate costumes and rouged lips are eager to please, and the champagne flows all night long. It’s a world of frivolity, fantasy, and debauchery. As Eros, the most sought after performer at the Pantheon, Julius uses his beauty and charm on enthusiastic patrons, but growing weary of superficial love, he longs to make a better life for himself.

Five years after being declared mentally unfit after surviving the trenches of No Man’s Land, Edward Joseph Clarence Junior pieced his shattered life back together. Now he’s ready to take on the family empire. To celebrate his thirtieth birthday, Edward’s cousin takes him to the most posh nightclub in town, the Pantheon. Falling under the sway of Eros, Edward and Julius find a love they’ve never imagined and the chance for a future they had only dared to dream about. But as Ares, a notorious gangster and Julius’s most important—and dangerous— client watches them, the threat to their love and their lives grows by the day.

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Pre-order from Dreamspinner Press in eBook and Paperback

Available September 12th, 2014

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Excerpt

“There you are. I’ve been looking for you two for—” Eros stopped in his tracks and stared at Edward. “You’re here. Again.”

Edward stood and took Eros’s hand, giving it a kiss. “I thought maybe after the second or third night you would have believed me.” The young man looked absolutely stunning as always, the gold cloth wrapped low on his slim hips working a now familiar magic.

Eros wasted no time in removing his hand from Edward’s grasp. “What reason do I have to believe someone who broke into my dressing room and then lied to me about who he was?”

Well, this was certainly news to him. “I said I was an executive for Clarence and Company Department Stores, which I am.”

Eros leaned toward him, his voice lowered. “You seemed to have conveniently left out the tiny detail concerning you also being heir to the Clarence and Company multimillion dollar fortune.”

“Does it matter?” It wasn’t as though Edward wished to go about advertising his wealth, but he wouldn’t have thought Eros had any reason to be discreet about it.

“Does it—?” Eros shook his head and let out a humorless laugh. “I don’t have time for this.”

Perhaps it was time for Edward to get to the heart of the matter and the reason why Eros was doing his best to avoid Edward to the point of being brazen with him when every chorus boy, cupid, and Ancient Greek deity seemed to be in a constant state of frenzy each night in the hopes of roping themselves a wealthy patron.

“Have I done something to offend you?” Edward took hold of Eros’s hand again, refusing to let it go. After the second tug, Eros let out a sigh and left his hand in Edward’s grip. Eros was absolutely enchanting, even when he was irritated.

“No, nothing. I apologize.”

Then it struck him. How could he not have seen it? He’d been looking at this all wrong. The thought had Edward smiling from ear to ear. “It’s not me you’re upset with, is it? You’re upset with yourself.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Eros scoffed. “I happen to be quite fond of myself.”

“You were hoping I’d be here.”

Eros tugged at his hand again. “Well, aren’t we sure of ourselves. For Pete’s sake, would you let go of my hand?”

“You’ve been curious about me since we met. Only now you know the extent of my wealth, you feel threatened. You believe I’ll be no better than the others, wanting nothing more from you than what I pay for, and it’s disappointed you.”

Eros narrowed his eyes at him, at which point Edward promptly let go of his hand. For a love God, Eros certainly had one hell of a murderous glare. Edward was pushing his luck, but he went with his gut feeling.

“Edward, if I felt threatened by a man’s wealth, I would hardly be in this line of work. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. I feel empowered.”

Eros closed the distance between them and ran his hands slowly up Edward’s chest, over his shoulders, and down his back, smiling triumphantly when Edward gave a start at the feel of Eros’s fingers digging into his backside.

“You see, you may have wealth, but I have the power to take it away.”

Eros gave a low, sultry moan before running his tongue over his bottom lip. Pressing himself against Edward, one hand discreetly moved around the front to grip Edward through his trousers. Edward shut his eyes, willing himself to breathe.

“I can feel how hard you’re getting, Edward. Don’t play games with me, or I will make you wish you never set foot in here. Do you think I haven’t come across men like you before?”

His hand slowly started to stroke Edward through his trousers.

“Jesus,” Edward breathed, his hands going to Eros’s shoulders. He had to put a stop to this madness. It was clear Eros was willing to take this as far as he needed to in order to get his point across, and Edward was foolish enough to stand here and let him.

“Honey-sweet words mean little to me, Edward. Do you know how many men have offered to whisk me away from my filthy, devious life? Put me up in some Fifth Avenue penthouse, pay me an allowance, and give me anything I wish for? Do you want to make me your personal whore?”

Edward gently pushed Eros away, drawing a look of surprise from him. “Enough. I neither believe so little of you nor of myself. I won’t have my character insulted. If you have the power to take my wealth as you say you do, why didn’t you take it? You saw how eager I was, yet you continually push me away.”

“You turned him away?” Pothos asked, gaping at Eros.

“Of course not.” Eros lifted his chin defiantly and took a step back. “He stated he would make an arrangement with Aphrodite, and I didn’t object.”

“Only after I refused to leave,” Edward reminded him. “You had ample opportunity to take what you wanted from me, yet all you wanted was for me to leave. Why? What are you afraid of?”

Eros rolled his eyes. “Being bored to death. Honestly, why aren’t you doing Vaudeville with your act? I choose my clients, Edward, and I didn’t choose you. Your bruised ego will simply have to get over it. Now if you will excuse me.”

“Why haven’t you told anyone else who I am? Do you refuse to share me, or are you protecting me?” Edward held back a smile when Eros spun around and marched back to poke him in the chest.

“You seem to have developed this ridiculous notion I care about what you do, Edward. I haven’t spoken of it to anyone as it’s not my place to do so. I pride myself on my discretion and integrity. However, if you wish to announce your wealth to the whole damned club, be my guest! And you’re right; you aren’t like the others, because no one is as infuriating as you are!”

Eros threw his arms up in frustration and stormed off.

“Did I mention you look stunning when you’re angry?” Edward called after him.

Eros grabbed a champagne glass off a passing waiter’s tray and hurled it at Edward. “Go fly a kite!”

With a laugh, Edward managed to jump out of the way in the nick of time, the glass shattering on the floor where he’d been standing. By the time he looked up, Eros was nowhere in sight.

“I think he likes me.”

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Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the author

CCochet100Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Charlie's Website facebook twitter pinterest goodreads tumblr Charlie's Amazon Page Charlie's Dreamspinner Page


Andrew Q. Gordon on the Allure of Fantasy

The Allure of Fantasy

For the past few years, the MM Romance group on Goodreads has organized the ‘Don’t Read in the Closet’ [DRitC] event. Readers find a picture that speaks to them. They explain what the picture means and then ask an author to write the story. The stories are posted on both Goodreads and on a website where readers can download the story for free in whichever format they choose.Ashes of Life Cover Final

There were a wide mix of things, but when you toss out things I don’t like—BDSM (not IRL or in fiction), Gay For You, (don’t get me started), Tentacle (I so don’t get this, sorry to all who do)—the remainder were contemporary romance or Sci-fi/Fantasy/Paranormal.  I went with Fantasy. Here’s the prompt I selected:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1729208-dear-author-ilona—claimed-by-andrew-q-gordon

Now, those who’ve read Kim’s work extensively know she is quite the Mistress of Fantasy Fiction Extraordinaire. It’s something of a fan boy moment to be talking fantasy to her readers, but I’ll try to keep my fawning to a minimum.

I’ve always loved fantasy books, one of the first books I read just to read, was The Lord of the Rings. After that I would scan the fantasy aisle at the local B. Dalton (a relic of my lost youth that is sadly gone forever) and bought darn near every fantasy book and/or series I could find. I would say there are two different ‘classes’ of books, those that follow the mighty hero, i.e. the wizard with all the shiny toys and awesome spells, and those that follow the Frodo Baggins of the world. I think for the most part I prefer to write from the mighty wizard’s point of view.

When it came time to write Ashes of Life, I opted for a different approach. I wanted to write from the everyday man’s point of view. The guy who wanted to save the world, but who didn’t have the power to match his or desire. I wanted the perspective of the man who had everything at stake, but could do little effect the outcome.

One of the more difficult things about fantasy is world building. Doing it in under a trilogy is an achievement. Although the event didn’t have a word limit, the time frame—45 days, 60 days max—created its own cap which made it that much harder. That made this story that much harder.

My focus was to create the world with enough detail that it kept the story together, but not so much to bog it down and eat up the limited words I had to work with. The result? I made the story less about the magic, or the fight and more about the relationship between Thane, the everyday man who saves the phoenix, and the phoenix Eraq, who is at the heart of the battle to save the world.

I hope I struck a good balance. If you get a chance to read the story, let me know if I succeeded.

You can download the book for free in ePub, Mobi or PDF from the MM Romance Groups website: Ashes of Life, by Andrew Q. Gordon

Ashes of Life, By Andrew Q. Gordon

Blurb:

When Sergeant Thane asked his best friend and second in command, to go riding, he had no idea how much his life would change. Taken by his horse to a forest that shouldn’t exist, Thane hears a cry for help.

Answering the plea, Thane releases a phoenix—Eraq—from his centuries long imprisonment. Eraq’s first act of freedom is to claim Thane as his own.

But the phoenix is more than he appears. A mage-shifter, Eraq sets his sights on the man who answered his call for help. Thane returns the interest despite learning that his act of liberation has set in motion events that will change the world.

When he learns his relationship with Eraq places him at the center of events beyond his understanding, Thane refuses to abandon the man he’s come to love. Even if it hurtles him toward certain death.

 

About the Author:

Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of eighteen years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day and not get the shakes.

Social Media Links:

You can find his books at

Wayward Ink Publishing

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon

Follow Andrew on his website: www.andrewqgordon.com,

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon,

On Twitter: @andrewqgordon,

Or just email him: andrewqgordon@gmail.com

 

Please welcome Dani Myrick!

Hello, everyone! My name is Dani Myrick, and Kim has kindly loaned me her blog today to tell you about my debut novella, His Familiar Scars.

Since I’m a new, unknown author–all shiny-eyed and just happy to be here in that annoying fashion newbies have–let’s start with a few things about me, quick and dirty-like…

Occupation: full-time college student (returned last year at age 36)

Personality: anxiety-prone, obsessive-compulsive, chronically lost, socially awkward introvert with a severe overload of imagination

Obsessions: writing and anime

Hobbies: reading and drawing

I’ve written fiction for as long as I can remember–fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, cyberpunk, even horror–mostly to bring some stability to the churning morass my brain becomes once characters take up residence, clamoring to be heard (yes, I’ve seen professionals; no, they didn’t prescribe medication–yet).

His Familiar Scars is my first romance, an experiment to push the limits of what was comfortable and “safe” for me to write. I couldn’t be happier with the results, and the fact that I’m able to share it with others is truly exciting! My writing passions include voicing unique characters, capturing the equal parts awkwardness and awesomeness of real relationships, and bringing together people who just, well, belong with one another (sometimes because no one else could handle them).

Now, onto the exciting stuff!

Description:

Ever since Ben’s childish dare caused Nazil to break his arm, the two have been inseparable best friends. Over the last three years, Ben has grown accustomed to Nazil’s outspoken personality and crazy schemes, but he is totally unprepared for the secret Nazil has been hiding–Nazil’s feelings for Ben go way past friendship. Spurred into action by a family move out of state, Nazil finally confesses. After the initial shock wears off, Ben finds that he returns Nazil’s affection. Now they must pull off Nazil’s wildest scheme yet in order to convince Nazil’s homophobic parents that he should stay behind with Ben when the rest of them move away.

HisFamiliarScars_PaintedSample

His Familiar Scars is available at the Dreamspinner Press website here http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5268

While I leave cover art to the professionals, that doesn’t stop me from drawing my own characters to the best of my (limited) artistic abilities. So, to conclude today’s post, here is some of my own artwork showing Ben and Nazil!

Ben-for-Kim-Fielding-blog Nazil-for-Kim-Fielding-blog

Also, if you’re interested in my online presence, you can find me at http://danimyrick.wordpress.com/ and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/danimyrickauthor

 

Please welcome Bru Baker!

Finding Home blog tour banner

Thanks for hosting me, Kim! I’m wrapping up my blog tour for Finding Home, which was released in June. I feel like the blog tour—and the summer—has just flown by, which I suppose is to be expected when you’re having fun, right?

Finding Home is the second book in the Dropping Anchor series. The book’s main character is Ian Mackay, who was a briefly mentioned secondary character in the first book, Island House. It was an interesting challenge to take him from the unapologetically selfish playboy we met in Island House and make him into the kind of character readers would want to see get his happily ever after, but there was always more to Ian than met the eye.

He helps Niall through an emotional journey in the first book, and the second book shows Ian’s own trek from one night stands to a serious, monogamous relationship. I had so much fun writing Ian, since even though he’s a good guy at heart, he’s still a jackass. I love multifaceted characters, and Ian sparkles like the shiniest gem out there. *g*

He also makes quite a few appearances in book three, which was just contracted this month. (Yay!) That book, tentatively titled Playing House right now, is a little different from the other two in the series. While books one and two showed the main characters meeting someone and falling in love, book three picks up with a couple who has already been together for a decade and a half. Their struggle isn’t their relationship, which is solid, but the question of whether or not to expand their family and adopt a child. Like all books in the Dropping Anchor series, though, at its heart it’s the story of the main character growing into himself and discovering who he really is. In this case, that’s Frank coming to terms with issues that have defined him for all of his life and figuring out how to manage those and move forward in a way that will keep his relationship with Warner healthy, whether or not they actually decide to bring a child into their family.

That third (and final) book in the series will be out in late 2014. The series is about personal growth and accepting who you are, and it’s managed to play that part in my writing career as well. I’ve spent the last two years with these books, and they’ve helped me grow and develop as a writer. I’m going to be sorry to see them end!

 

FindingHome

Blurb:

When an inheritance fell in Ian Mackay’s lap, he fled the high-pressure banking industry and didn’t look back. Since then, he’s spent four years living carefree on the island of Tortola, his life a series of hookups and hanging out with friends.

After his best friend moves to Seattle and gets married, Ian finds himself lost. His unapologetic existence doesn’t hold the same appeal, and he wonders if he’s throwing his life away. After visiting Niall in Seattle, Ian decides to stay, but that means taking his life off hold and finding a real job. Meeting Luke Keys, who is about as far from a player as possible, isn’t the plan but might be just what Ian needs. Luke and his values intrigue Ian, and he pursues Luke ruthlessly until Luke agrees to a date.

 

Their courtship sweeps Ian off his feet, and when the relationship gets complicated, Ian has the chance to cut and run. Habits born from years of being on his own are hard to shake, and self-proclaimed playboy Ian must decide if love is worth fighting for.

 

Finding Home is available through Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AllRomance, and other book retailers.

 

 

Bru Baker is a freelance journalist who writes for newspapers and magazines. Fiction makes her happiest, whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s. She and her husband live in the Midwest with their two young children, whose antics make finding time to write difficult but never let life get boring.

Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Twitter.

 

Chasing Sunrise by Lex Chase

Chasing Sunrise
(The Darkmore Saga, Bk 1)
by Lex Chase
 
Blurb:
On the Coastal Bend of Texas, a hidden kingdom called Darkmore lies in ruins, and King Sevon Maraté is trapped. Using Sevon as a mouthpiece and a scapegoat, Lord Dominic rules from the shadows. Sevon copes with the unrelenting abuse by dressing in women’s finery and casting an image of graceful nobility. Born of royal verkolai blood and as beautiful as he is lethal, he possesses the ability to part the Veil separating his world from hundreds of others. His gift is his chance to escape, but Dominic refuses to relinquish his tool for power. Dominic forges an ambitious plan to invade the prosperous land of Priagust. Only a select few know the mythic kingdom of shifters exists. Sevon is out of options for his people’s survival, and cooperating with Dominic is his only chance.

On their foray into Priagust, Dominic’s men kidnap and interrogate a shifter named Jack. Even under torture, Jack’s loyalty to his kind never wavers. But as Jack’s knowledge about Darkmore’s king and its history unsettles Sevon, a curious bond begins to form. Despite Sevon’s mistrust, Jack is determined to tame Sevon’s wild heart and perhaps earn his freedom. As invasion looms, Sevon wonders if trusting Jack will lead him into another trap or if he should forget about chasing the sunrise and remain Dominic’s compliant prisoner.

Available for purchase at

 

Excerpt
Jack shuddered against the cold bite of his
shackles. The iron cuffs held him upright, and his arms were stretched tight
over his head. Gravity pulled him sloping forward painfully against his bonds.
His umber hair swayed in sweat-slicked strands and clung to his face. The
humidity hung like milky fog visible against the gray stones. He could smell
the herbal traces of algae glazing the walls. No moans, no cries for release,
not even a rattled chain sounded throughout the dungeon. He deduced he was the
only prisoner—or the only one currently living.
It had happened so fast. He was at the shoreline of the lake when
two figures shot from the water. Shrouded in black, the demonic men yanked him
into the lake. Jack had expected his end. But he didn’t expect a dungeon, and
not just any, but Darkmore’s dungeon. He knew it as well as any ghost story. He
had teased Sevon mercilessly for crossing his fingers and turning in a circle
three times as he walked by the entrance.
Jack’s heart softened. Sevon, sweet Sevon. It had been exciting
for Jack when he was a cub to have a special friend outside of Priagust. One
who was not a shifter at all, but something different. He was Jack’s treasure,
and he would guard their memory.
But the men had taken him and tossed him in this dank cell. It had
to be a mistake. Darkmore was Priagust’s sworn protector. King Louis would
never wrongfully imprison a shifter. Jack spit a speck of grit. Was Louis
alive? Did he survive the storm? What of Anna Maria? Surely she’d know.
But Jack wasn’t sure. He had been just a child when he saw Louis
die, and all childhood memories were fallible. He could only hope it was a
misunderstanding. He squinted with the painful pull in his shoulders, and the
realization sank in. This was far more than a mere misunderstanding.
Jack’s pupils flexed into pinpricks when the sound of distant
footsteps announced someone’s approach. He jerked his chin toward the sound to
get the first look at his host.
An ethereal, earthbound spirit drifted into the dungeon. Pale as
Winter Mother’s snow and with a brilliant bloom of golden curls to rival Father
Sun’s rays, the woman captivated him. Dressed in layers of the midnight sky and
coal, her skirts swirled in a trail of goldfish fins behind her. The unusual
ladybird settled at the cell door, tossing a lock of spun gold over her
shoulder. She waited.
“What do they call you?” she coldly demanded.
A peculiar tenor tone in her voice made Jack choke on his breath. A man. The strange, colorful bird was a man.
By the way he glared at Jack as if he were of no consequence, Jack
decided that whatever the case, he had to be on guard. Jack sniffed and
mentally discerned a more masculine scent under the perfumed oils. But there
were two masculine scents, this beautiful man’s and someone else’s. He licked
the salt on his lip and smirked. He had nothing left to lose.
Jack lifted his head, and he panted against the searing pain in
his back. He focused on the curious little meadowlark shrouded in flimsy
frippery. He had never seen such an unusual hue of hair before, but he knew one
thing for certain.
“You’re not the king,” Jack said.
Something came over the strange man as he quirked his thin brow in
irritation. “Yes, I am the king,” he
growled in warning. “Your name, creature.”
Jack evaded the question and changed the subject. “The king of
Darkmore would never show a shifter such hostility,” he spat. “Go, little
meadowlark. Fetch him, now. You are of no concern.”
The supposed king recoiled on his booted heel as if he had been burned.
“Excuse me, you maggot?” he growled and his temper flared.
Jack squinted at him. He looked so much like Anna Maria, as Jack
remembered her. Perhaps her son? Perhaps Sevon? Jack swallowed. He had to keep
it to himself. He had to find out what he was dealing with first, if he
survived that long. He thought of his brother, Kaltag, back in Priagust,
probably wondering where he was and if Jack was still staring over the lake,
waiting for the day Sevon would appear.
Jack’s heart thumped.
“Louis is gone. I am the king now, and you will answer to me. My
sources tell me you’re a spy from the shifter land of Priagust,” he said. The
accusation did not bode well for Jack.
Jack took his stand against his captor. He strained against his
shackles and grinned through the searing pain in his shoulder blades. “Your
sources are clearly mistaken. I was only fishing when your men emerged from the
lake and tried to drown me. Which—” He glanced around, and his shackles
rattled. “This is some level of hell, correct?” Jack watched him, still
puzzling his way through recollections. It wasn’t possible he was Sevon. Why
would Sevon become this? He hissed a laugh and kept up a brave face. Jack
turned his gaze up. He smirked when the king leaned away from the hammered iron
bars of Jack’s cell in disgusted horror. “You are a very fussy bird. You’re no
more than a chick, peeping for nourishment.”
“You will answer my questions, shifter…. Or you will be forced to
answer them.”
“What kind of king do you think you are?” Jack asked. “Do you
understand the scope of what you are doing by holding me like a criminal?”
“Pardon me for not rolling out the red carpet and most lovely
courtesans,” he said sarcastically.
“A little bird that pecks. I like that.” Jack chuckled.
Crossing his willowy arms in irritation, the king nodded to the
stocky dungeon guard.
The guard loped forward on his gnarled legs and slipped the heavy
key in the iron padlock. With a protesting shrill, the bolt popped from its
moorings with a loud echoing clank.
The cell door swung open with an antiquated creak, and colorful bird of a man
slipped into the cell.
Jack’s heart thumped, and his face heated. It was Sevon. His Sevon. He had never been so sure. In
the twenty-two years between then and now, the boy Jack had so longed for no
longer existed. Confusion swirled through him, but Jack had to keep it within.
More parts of the puzzle would fall into place if he just gave it time.
His heart wouldn’t stop racing; all the while he maintained his
arrogant grin.
“I’d curtsey, but as you can see, I’m a little tied up,” Jack
apologized.
This new Sevon cocked his hip in irritation and snorted. “For a
vicious animal, you don’t look like much.”
The term hit Jack hard, but he wouldn’t cower.
“Funny.” Jack chuckled. “For a king, you present yourself quite a
bit like a whore.”
Before he could blink, Sevon was upon him. He yanked Jack by the
scruff of his hair, tilting his neck painfully backward on its stalk to meet
him eye to eye. Jack’s eyes rolled wildly to focus on the glacier blue of
Sevon’s. His scent stabbed into Jack’s nose, jabbing cruelly into his brain.
The delicate floral became an unrelenting assault on his mind and body. The
damning confirmation sank into Jack’s stomach. It was a matter of survival not
to show fascination or fear.
“Listen to me, you worthless shit-eating maggot!” Sevon snarled in
his face. “You don’t get to call me a whore! Do you understand? I will leave
you here to rot in this dank cell until even the rats find you too foul and
putrescent. You will be thankful we don’t outright kill you. You will be appreciative of your accommodations.”
Sevon relaxed his grip and his harsh tone eased. “You will be
eager to answer our questions. You will
make yourself very helpful. Or I will have you skinned alive and your flesh
made into jerky.” Sevon snorted a breath through his nose, and Jack’s hair
fluttered. The beautiful blond man smiled like a content feline. “Now, do we
have an understanding?”
Channeling the bravest parts of himself, and locking away the heartbreak,
Jack laughed with a crooked, toothy grin. If this was the game, then he would
play it until he was the last one standing. Finally, he had sorted the second
male scent, and his thoughts sparked with devious delight. “Did I ruffle your
feathers, meadowlark? Does the man
whose scent you’re slathered in get to ruffle more than your feathers?”
Sevon shoved him away with a wail of disgust. Jack’s head bounced
against his chest, and his manacles creaked at the added pressure. Sevon’s
offended squeal was the only warning as a hard, echoing slap cracked across
Jack’s cheek so forcefully that his vision blew out into whiteness for a
moment.
With several flustered breaths, Sevon sharply pivoted and then
stormed out of the cell. He nodded to the stocky guard. “Have him questioned
about the nature of his people and land. I don’t care how you do it, or to what
ends. Use any means necessary to milk him dry.”
The guard bobbed his head and bowed.
Turning back, Sevon regarded Jack one final time.
Jack noted the confusion mingled with a semblance of fascination.
He forced a smile through his blood-tinged teeth. “See you soon, Your Majesty,”
he purred.
Jack clung to a scrap of hope, and listened to the whispers of
Sevon’s skirts as he left Jack in the darkness.
The rats chittered.

About the Author


Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” She knew then she wanted to make the world a little more interesting too.
Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure and epic love—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes if you’re going to going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love. 


Lex is a pop culture diva and her DVR is constantly backlogged. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind. She is incredibly sentimental, to the point that she gets choked up at holiday commercials. But like the lovers driven to extreme measures to get home for the holidays, Lex believes everyone deserves a happy ending.
Lex also has a knack for sarcasm, never takes herself seriously, and has been nicknamed “The Next Alan Moore” by her friends for all the pain and suffering she inflicts on her characters. She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine now residing in the burbs of Northwest Florida, where it could be 80F and she’d still be a popsicle. 


She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and welcomes feedback.
You can find Lex at

               


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