A MelanieM Review: Running with the Wind (Mermen of Ea #3) by Shira Anthony

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Sequel to Into the Wind

Running with the Wind coverWith the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.

This is the final installment in the Mermen of Ea Series from Dreamspinner Press.

With Running with the Wind, Shira Anthony brings her Mermen of Ea Trilogy to a close and what a ride it has been!  From the moment I met the endearing Taren, I was hooked on this imaginative saga of discovery, loss and love.  From a simple seaside tavern where we find the young slave,Taren,  who is ignorant of his true nature as a merman, through the pirate ships, tumultuous relationships and discovery of a divided Mermen culture, Anthony has built a deeply layered and magical universe to go along with her complicated fantasy characters.    That a series of relationships is built upon the plight of a divided people and the renewal of a culture who had lost its way just gives this trilogy added depth and heartfelt angst. The author’s world building is equal to the creativity shown with the characters, all of whom she made it easy to fall in love with.  And cry over.

Writing the final story, whether to a series or trilogy, is always tricky.  Readers have built up certain expectations in their mind that they bring to any final installment and meeting those high expectations is almost always impossible.  How does Running with the Wind measure up to mine?  Pretty darn well.

We have multiple couples and their relationships to bring some closure to, in one case its two couples in one.  That would be Taren Laxley who is also the reincarnation of the Ea priest Treande and his lover Ian Dunaidh, captain of the Ea ship the Phantom, who is also the reincarnated Owyn, Ea priest and lover of Treande.  We get both the past and the present with these two.  And then there is Odhrán and Bastian, who natures I won’t reveal here but these are two powerful characters, so much so that I almost think they “stole” the story away from Taren and Ian.  I loved the slow development and revelations that occur with these two.  They surprised me, confounded me and I thought their part of this tale was among the most powerful of elements.

But the Mermen of Ea also includes the unforgettable Jonat Rider, and Vurin, and so many others.  Anthony’s creations are so well developed that you come to care for them all deeply throughout the course of the series and their various fates pull at your hearts at the end of the story.

As stated, the final story, especially one with as many plots as found here, has much to tie up and the narrative got a tad crowded along the way.  The colony had to be brought back to its true destiny, a huge evil had to be overcome,  and some of our major characters had transformations to go through in order to survive and win out at the end.  I did find that some passages dragged on a little too long for me but the battles at sea and on land were vividly described,  painfully believable and suspenseful.  The air and sea felt charged with energy and the drama was everything I could have hoped for and expected of this writer.   And yes, I cried some too.

A truism that most writers recognize and address in their stories or fables is that a price is almost always extracted from each hero/major character who uses a ancient or forbidden power.  Somewhere towards the end of a tale, the hero will have to pay   a  profound personal cost that is the consequence for the use of magic. That happens here in Running with the Wind but not to the extent that I think the readers were lead to believe would happen by the events leading up to the last battles.  Some will be happy about that and others will be let down that the price Taren pays is more of a tap to the wrist then a major sacrifice.  How a reader feels about the element will dictate how they feel about the end of this story and series. I have to admit to feeling a bit disappointed, but only a little.  That is my only real gripe here.

This is a wonderful universe in which to spend hours of time.  And Shira Anthony has left enough room and questions that should she ever wish t0 return to it, perhaps to see how Odhrán and Bastian and the others are getting along, including a certain King, well,  I would be more than happy to journey back along with her.  But if that never happens, we still have the wonderful mermen and humans of  the Mermen of Ea saga to keep us happy and involved in their lives.  Read them all in the order they were written.  Enjoy the journey and end up happy as I did as to how it all played out.  It was a wonderful ride, I loved every minute and word of it.

Cover art by Anne Cain.  I have loved all the covers for this trilogy.  This one is lovely as is the first one.  But that second cover is so indescribably gorgeous and incandescent that this one suffers a little in comparison.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press –  All Romance (ARe) –  Amazon   Buy It Here on June 8th.

Book Details:

ebook, also available in paperback
Expected publication: June 8th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634762151
edition languageEnglish
seriesMermen of Ea #3
charactersIan Dunaidh, Taren Laxley, Odhrán, Bastian, Seria..

Books in the Mermen of Ea Trilogy are in the  order they were written and should be read:

Stealing the Wind coverIntoWindRunning with the Wind cover

 

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Closing the Loop by Jane Davitt

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Closing the Loop coverJust as he’s finally ready to take a romantic Valentine’s Day gay cruise, travel agent Lee Jones discovers that his partner Ryan not only wants to have sex with other men while on the cruise, he’s already done so right under Lee’s nose. It’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and Lee dumps him, not needing to continue to put up with Ryan’s self-centered ways.

When he finds out Ryan is still planning to go on the cruise and share their room, a room Lee paid for, it just adds insult to injury, and Lee puts out the extra bucks to get half of the only other room available—the Presidential Suite. It turns out the other half is occupied by Joseph Cole, a gorgeous lawyer who was on the wait list due to Lee’s own work. Cole had come into the office during the previous week, wanting to get a spot on a fully booked cruise so Lee put him on the waiting list. As far as Lee is concerned, this is a win:win situation. Cole is hot, virile, wealthy, and just the thing to help Lee forget Ryan.

But Cole isn’t interested in the cruise so much as he’s interested in a young man on the cruise, and Lee is continually disappointed that he’s not the center of Cole’s attention. When Cole and Lee discover they have a bit of a kink for leather and spankings, they spend a night creating memories that Lee knows he’ll never forget. But, yet again, Cole’s attention wanders to the young man the next day.

Pushed to the limit, Lee confronts Cole and finally gets the answer. The young man is Cole’s nephew and is recovering from the death of his partner. Unfortunately, over the next few days, his behaviors interfere with the budding romance between Lee and Cole, and when a near-tragedy occurs, Cole has to leave the cruise to escort the boy home, and he departs, Lee loses all hope for any future contact. What happens next is not something I’m about to detail in the review due to spoilers, but it ultimately leads to a very definitely hopeful future for these well-matched men.

I enjoyed this story very much. The author allows the characters to explore their kinky side to the point where the story might be classed as light BDSM, yet she also gives them life beyond the bedroom. Their shared enjoyment of various activities, topics of conversation, and life circumstances all combine to make their compatibility very evident, despite the mismatch in their careers and economic status. . Their personalities are well-developed; their attraction to each other is believable; and the story is interesting and fun.

If you love contemporary M/M romance, you should enjoy this. The BDSM is light, so those who normally aren’t attracted shouldn’t have any major issues with it. Those who like it will enjoy the leather and spanking kink, and those who just want to find a good book to read at the beach should look no further.

Cover Art by LC Chase depicts a birds-eye view of two men lying on deck chairs on the balcony of their cruise ship suite. It’s very bright and colorful and beautifully sums up rest and relaxation in the sun.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing  –  All Romance (ARe)Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 150 pages
Published May 25th 2015 by Riptide Publishing (first published May 23rd 2015)
original titleClosing the Loop
ISBN139781626492813
edition languageEnglish

Its A Wrap for Those Sexy Mermen of Ea with Running With the Wind by Shira Anthony (excerpts and giveaway)

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Running with the Wind cover

Running With the Wind (Mermen of Ea #3) by Shira Anthony
Stories must be read in order. This is the final book of the trilogy

RC

Release Date: June 8, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

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Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback

My Interview with Shira Anthony

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Shira Anthony author of Running with the Wind (Mermen of Ea #3). Hi Shira, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
• Describe your book to us.

Thanks for hosting me today! Running with the Wind is the final installment in my Mermen of Ea Series from Dreamspinner Press. The series is high fantasy, romance, and adventure set on the high seas. The story follows Taren Laxley, an indentured servant who dreams of sailing aboard the tall ships that put into port in the harbor town where he lives.

Taren is kidnapped by pirates, and an entire new universe opens up to him aboard their ship, the Sea Witch. But when he falls overboard during a storm trying to save a fellow crewmember, he’s rescued by the crew of the Phantom. The ship and its captain, Ian Dunaidh, aren’t what they seem. They’re merfolk shifters, or Ea. What’s more, Taren learns he is an Ea as well.

Taren and Ian’s rocky start eventually turns into a deep and all-encompassing love. Their connection is ages old, and Taren learns he has a purpose he must serve: leading his people a safe haven where they can live in peace. The final book in the series, Running with the Wind, leads Taren and Ian and the Ea to the brink of another civil war, and their happiness is far from guaranteed.

There’s magic, magical creatures, and adventure in the books, and they were a blast to write! I hope you enjoy reading them.
• Have you ever read something that made you think differently about your genre? Can you tell us what it was?

The first real gay romance I read was back in the 80s and it was between the lines of my all-time favorite sci fi/fantasy series, Darkover, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. The deep love between two men and the strength of those characters made me crave more, and eventually prompted me to take a good friend up on her suggestion that we write an MM story together (that story became Prelude (Blue Notes #4). When Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote that series, gay romance in mainstream fiction was still taboo, but the little taste of it I found there was the foundation for the genre I now love to write. I honestly can’t imagine writing anything else!
• Tell us about your character’s family life?

Taren’s parents died when he was a baby, so he never knew them. He was raised by a ship rigger, Borstan Laxley, who treated him fairly well. But Borstan pays off his gambling debts using Taren, and Taren finds himself not much more than a slave at an inn near the harbor. Later in the series, we get a glimpse back at Taren’s parents. But I won’t spoil that part!
• Compare yourself to your main character.

Wow, tough question! At the beginning of the series, Taren is a mixture of submissive slave and questioning boy. Very different from me, since I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to temper my need to speak my mind. Later, Taren grows more assertive, more like I am I guess you could say.
• Describe your past week as a type of landscape or a weather forecast.

Definitely a seascape! I’ve been so busy traveling to conventions, including Romantic Times in Dallas, Texas, and Animazement, in Raleigh, North Carolina, not to mention balancing writing, blogging, and real life work, that all I see right now is a very large ocean. In the distance? My vacation! And what an appropriate vacation for that kind of landscape: I’m spending 3 weeks aboard our catamaran sailboat, Land’s Zen!

Now more about Running with the Wind….

It’s here!  The final story in Shira Anthony’s Mermen of Ea Trilogy, Running with the Wind.  Check out the synopisis and excerpts below and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end.

About Running with the Wind

Sequel to Into the Wind

With the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.
Pages or Words: 67,000 words

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance

Running with the Wind Excerpt

SPOILER WARNING: This excerpt contains spoilers for the first two series books!
Running with the Wind
Excerpt from Chapter One

Ian leaned over the railing as the morning sunlight warmed his shoulders. A few feet away, Taren wrapped a blanket around the shivering boy, who sat with his knees hugged to his chest. He tenderly ruffled the boy’s fiery red hair. The boy leaned into Taren’s touch and made a satisfied sound much like the purr of a cat.
Not a boy, Ian reminded himself. Bastian. An Anuki. The heavenly brethren of the Ea. A dragon shifter reborn from the ashes. True, this freckle-faced dragon child looked nothing like the full-fledged beast who’d nearly killed them the day before, but they knew little of the Anuki. Had it only been a day since Seria’s men had attacked them and they’d lost Rider to Seria’s bullet?
Ian met Taren’s gaze and his grief eased slightly. Taren smiled back, his warm brown eyes hooded with exhaustion and grief, his shoulder-length hair having dried in a tumble of waves. From where he sat on the deck, Bastian watched Odhrán, keenly interested. The sphere they’d discovered not long after the destruction of the Sea Witch—an egg, Ian now knew—had dissolved beneath the water. Bastian had been choking and spluttering when Odhrán had carried him aboard. Since then, Bastian had done little but watch Odhrán with rapt attention.
Like a baby bird watches its mother. Ian frowned at his folly. How easy it was to forget this pathetic creature had destroyed the Sea Witch and nearly killed them all. If Odhrán hadn’t killed the dragon Bastian had become, they’d all have died. And yet Bastian had been reborn.
Bastian glanced up at Taren, blinked several times, then shifted his gaze back to Odhrán, who spoke in hushed tones to one of his crew. The long blond braid down Odhrán’s back dripped onto the deck and left the back of his woolen jacket sodden. Despite the bright blue of his eyes and his youthful features, Odhrán appeared as exhausted as Ian felt.
“A moment of your time?” Ian said after the crewmember trotted off toward the stairs, leaving the four of them alone on the foredeck.
Odhrán nodded and followed Ian amidships, far enough away that Bastian wouldn’t hear.
“Do you think this is wise?” Ian asked with a quick glance back at Taren and Bastian.
“What would you have me do? Leave him to drown?” Odhrán, too, appeared weary. Ian knew he still regretted having killed the fully transformed Bastian.
“He couldn’t live without Rider.” Taren’s words echoed in Ian’s mind. Rider—Ian’s oldest friend—had taken a bullet in Ian’s stead. There’d been no time to grieve.
“No.” Ian sighed. “Rider would have wanted us to care for him.” Taren would never have forgiven him for suggesting they leave Bastian to drown, and they’d lost too much to even consider it.
Odhrán nodded curtly and turned his gaze eastward. Now calm in the wake of the storm, the water sparkled with sunlight. Nothing remained of the Sea Witch but a few bits of broken timbers floating restlessly on the waves. Later, all of the men now aboard the Chimera would gather on the deck to remember the Witch’s captain, but for just a moment, Ian could almost imagine Rider at the wheel of his beloved ship.
I’ll miss you, old friend. More than you’ll ever know.
Ian shrugged off his dark thoughts and walked back to Taren. “You should get some sleep.” He squeezed Taren’s shoulder. “Odhrán and I will not let Bastian out of our sight.”
Taren pressed his lips together and nodded. How tired Taren must be that he didn’t even argue!
“I’ll join you in a bit.” Ian pressed his lips to Taren’s warm cheek.
Taren retrieved the blanket that had fallen off Bastian’s shoulders and wrapped it around him again. Naked as Bastian was beneath, Ian caught a glimpse of the wings they’d seen when they’d discovered him on the ocean floor. No longer scaled as they’d been when they’d first pulled Bastian from the water, Bastian’s wings were now covered with feathers and shimmered red, yellow, orange, and fuchsia, iridescent in the sunlight.
“I’ll be back later,” Taren told Bastian with a barely repressed yawn. “I promise.”
Bastian’s eyes revealed little understanding. Had he forgotten everything of his former life? Perhaps he was still too overwhelmed from the shock of the past day’s events to fully comprehend his situation. He’d not uttered a word since they’d brought him aboard.
Taren kissed Ian—a fleeting kiss, but one Ian needed to reassure himself that all had not changed—before heading belowdecks to rest.
Ian met Odhrán at the bow. “He’s like a fledgling,” Ian said, inclining his head in Bastian’s direction, “watching you like a bird might his mother.”
Odhrán’s brow knitted. He’d clearly noticed it as well. “I’ve asked Garan to reinforce the enchantments on the ship’s masts and sails. There’s nothing more to be done.”
“Aye. But if Bastian threatens the ship—”
“Then I’ll be forced to subdue him. Not a prospect I relish, although in his current state, he appears far less powerful than before.” Odhrán studied Bastian once again. “For now, at least, he’s content to be in our company.”
“What do you know of the Anuki?”
“They’re much like the Ea in their ability to shift to human form. I met one centuries ago, but he was nothing like this. Not a child. But what happened with Bastian….”
“Reborn from the ashes.” Ian’s heart ached once again for the loss of Rider.
“My time with one of their kind was brief.” Odhrán stared past Ian as if remembering.
Ian didn’t press the issue. Later, perhaps, he’d ask Odhrán about that encounter. “And his memories of his life with Rider?”
Odhrán shook his head. “I don’t know. I suppose only time will tell.”
Ian clenched his jaw. The realization that Bastian might not remember anything of his love for Rider made Ian’s grief that much greater.

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About Shira Anthony~

In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “i Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shira.anthony
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shira-Anthony/177484618974406
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterShira
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/anthony0564/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4641776.Shira_Anthony
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ShiraAnthony/posts

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $10 gift card and backlist book of choice.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

Here is the list of prizes (also on the Rafflecopter link):

December Diamonds Wedding Mermen Ornament
(or a free download of the audiobook version of Stealing the Wind for non U.S. Residents
Geneva Nautical Wrap Watch
Anchor Cord Bracelet

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buy Links for the other stories in the Mermen of Ea Trilogy – now complete:

Stealing the Wind coverIntoWindRunning with the Wind cover

 

 

 

 

Stealing the Wind: 
Add to Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18216592-stealing-the-wind

buy it at: 
Dreamspinner Press – https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4101
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Wind-Mermen-Ea-Book-ebook/dp/B00EHHZXVS
Google Books – https://books.google.com/books/about/Stealing_the_Wind.html?id=-RKzAAAAQBAJ&hl=en
B&N – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stealing-the-wind-shira-anthony/1116395006?ean=9781627980531

Into the Wind: 
Add to Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20343872-into-the-wind

DP – https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4975
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Into-Wind-Mermen-Ea-Book-ebook/dp/B00K4PX4BS
B&N – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/into-the-wind-shira-anthony/1119434211?ean=2940149579983

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Carly’s Book Reviews

8-Jun
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In Our Book Spotlight: Two Sides of the Same Coin by Thianna Durston (excerpt and giveaway)

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Two Sides of the Same Coin by Thianna Durston
Release Date: May 17, 2015

A Kindle Exclusive: Amazon Buy Link

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Thianna Durston

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STRW Author BookSynopsis

Blake Loughton was pretty sure life was over at the age of forty. All he did was work, work, work, except for the few hours a week he spent online with a dominant who seemed to get him. When he met his dom in person quite by accident, it changed everything, especially when he fell in love with the man behind the online persona.

At thirty-four Dusty Brandon had been involved in his alternative lifestyle for ages, but hadn’t had a sub in years until he met Blake online. The more he knew him, the more he wanted to take things further. Getting through Blake’s barriers used all the knowledge he had, but getting his boy to move to Texas took even more.

Join Blake and Dusty on their journey from meeting online to the moment Sir collars his boy. A BDSM erotic romance sure to make everything worth it. Two men. Dominance, submission, kink, and love. The Blake/Dusty Chronicles: Two Sides of the Same Coin – an erotic romance you won’t want to miss.

Pages or Words: 90,000 words

Categories: BDSM, Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

PG Excerpt:
December 10th ~ Texas

Walking through the doorway Dusty Brandon held back the sigh that wanted to leave his lips as the conversation in the room stalled slightly. It had been that way ever since he came out years ago. His whole damned family never knew what to say when he was around. Except for his Uncle Larry who winked at him across the room.

“‘Bout time you got here!” Larry bellowed.

Grinning, he strode through the throngs of uncles, aunts, and cousins over to a man he loved. “Happy Holidays, Uncle,” he said, giving him a hug.

“Same to you. How’s business?” Larry asked as the conversations in the room began to pick up again.

“Good. Have several new deals in the works. Found out about a company in Seattle that might be worth lookin’ into. They would add a lot. And life’s good.”

It was just the quirk of an eyebrow that told him his uncle was not in the least convinced. “Sure it is. Any new man on the horizon?”

Grimacing, Dusty shook his head. “Naw. Last one was too taxing. Needed a break.”

With one of his smiles, the kind that let you know he was up to something, Larry picked up a couple glasses of champagne and handed him one. “Sell that to someone who’ll buy it,
Nephew. Now let’s celebrate the season. I hear Carilee has somethin’ to announce.”

Snorting, Dusty took a swig of the expensive champagne. “Probably that her daughter is expectin’. She loves rubbin’ that in Mama’s nose every chance she can get.”

Even worse, four pregnancies in the family were announced, meaning four of his cousins, all younger than he was, were expecting a child. “It could be worse,” Larry mused as they watched Dusty’s mother have to smile and congratulate another of her sisters on a new grandchild.

“How?” Dusty was gay. He had known it for years and when he came out, it was because he needed to do it. It never occurred to him how hard it would be on his own mother. As her only child, he had not understood just how important being a grandmother was to her and hearing her only son was gay had been hard enough. Having the other women in the family gloat over it every time their daughter or son announced a new baby downright pissed him off.

“You could have tried to hide who you are and got someone pregnant before you came out.”

Musing on that, Dusty nodded. “Don’t think that woulda’ worked. No girl would get me that excited.”

Sales Links:

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Thianna loves to write strong stories with even stronger heroes. While all of her books have an erotic overtone, it is the story that is the most important to her. “The story should be able to stand on its own. The erotic elements are an add-on.”

She enjoys writing about couples with kink, paranormal couples, and straight out strangeness. But more on that later… You can find her at mm.thiannad.com.

She also writes m/f under the name Thianna D.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thiannaDismyname?fref=ts
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ThiannaDurstonAuthor?fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_weremouse
Website: http://www.mm.thiannad.com

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Tour Dates & Stops: June 2, 2015
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 Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-book copy of ‘Two Sides of the Same Coin’.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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