A Mika Review: Death’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun #6) by John Wiltshire


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Death's Ink Black Shadow coverIt takes a certain kind of courage to live as if favored by the gods, ignoring the ever-present ghosts of your past—or perhaps not bravery, but arrogance. And maybe not even that. Ben genuinely believes that the past is behind them—that they deserve to enjoy the life they have created. So it’s not hubris that leads him to overlook the signs that Nikolas does not share his faith, it’s love. But Nikolas knows something is coming. He can’t stop it; he can only decide how he will choose to face it. And without Ben’s support, he is entirely alone.

Honestly, I was so underwhelmed reading this! Nothing magnificent happened, nothing explosive. Everything was meh.  I’ve seen everything here before in other stories so I saw it coming here. It’s getting repetitive with Nik shutting Ben out, Ben getting whiny and doing something extreme. Ben finding out the truth that was right there in front of his face, and feeling bad about how he acted, it was underwhelming to say the least.

I found myself coasting along throughout the book. It did not feel like the usual emotional journey that J.W presents us with. I’m finding myself thinking it’s the same scenario with these two just different settings with a regurgitation of their feelings. 

There was one seen where I felt a spark of something good happening, but after the truth came to light then noothing spectacular happened further in the book. I think the problem is that we’ve built this series up to be so amazing, and not it’s in book 6.

What more is there to happen with this couple? I think they need a good therapy session because we can’t continue to go through this! Of course I’ll continue the series, but I’m going in extremely cautions with the next book.

Cover Art by: I like the cover, I don’t know the reason behind it. I’m still not sure about it. It’s beautifully done though.

Sales Links:  MLR  Press  |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  |  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 239 pages
Published June 19th 2015 by MLR Press
original titleDeath’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun, #6)
edition languageEnglish
seriesMore Heat Than the Sun #6

Books in the Series:

Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1)
Conscious Decisions of the Heart (More Heat Than the Sun #2)
The Bridge of Silver Wings (More Heat Than the Sun, #3)
This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun, #4)
The Bruise Black Sky (More Heat Than the Sun, #5)
Death’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun #6)

Paul’s Paranormal Portfolio – A Look at MPreg (a new Reviewer Column At STRW)


Pauls Paranormal Portfolio Header

Paul’s Paranormal Portfolio

Paul B’s Look At Male Pregnancy Paranormal Stories

Welcome to the second edition of Paul’s Paranormal Portfolio. The blog editor, Melanie, has asked that I make this a monthly column to talk about all things paranormal, alien, and science fiction not only in gay romance books but also in television, movies and books in general. While the emphasis will be on gay romance in those media, this column will hopefully touch on all things paranormal.

I would like to use this edition of the portfolio to discuss an issue that has grown in the area of paranormal and science fiction gay romances. Male pregnancy has been seen in more and more books in these genres. Whole series of books are centered on the idea. Love it or hate it, the growth in the number of books featuring the idea proves that is here to stay.

Mainstream movies have used male pregnancy as a source for comedy. While there are comedic moments in gay romance novels surrounding male pregnancy, the primary function of the device is to provide offspring for our gay male couples. Having read several of these novels, I have found that there are basically four major ways that authors have used this plot line

The first and I think most prevalent is the alpha-omega coupling. The omega shifter, the weakest members according to some authors or the strongest members according to others, has the ability to become pregnant. The omega usually finds his alpha mate and they will start a family. On rare occasions, omegas will become pregnant by alphas who are not their mate.
Next up is the paranormal who can become pregnant because of the type of paranormal they are. The most common occurrence of this I have found in books featuring faes. It is usually a unique ability of the species and usually not revealed to others unless they become a mate to someone who can become pregnant. An example of this is Stormy Glenn’s Midnight Mating story Sparkle and Purr.

Another example is the paranormal who can get their mate pregnant regardless of gender. An example of this is Charlie Richard’s gargoyles in her Wolves of Stone Ridge and Love at First Bite series. Since the gargoyles are all male, they must be able to impregnate their mate, whether they are male or female to keep the gargoyle population from extinction.

The fourth major theme of male pregnancy is the paranormal with reproductive organs from both genders. While the paranormal may be distinctly male (or female), he has the ability to create offspring in either fashion. The Fal’Amoric in Lexi Ander’s series The Valespian Pact series are an example of this. When Zeus Vondorian was taken to Chtichilian doctors to cure him of his blindness, they took away half of his ability to reproduce.

While these are the primary ways I have found for male pregnancy in paranormal gay romances, it is by no means a complete list. A rare example in found in Erin M Leaf’s book Rock Star Baby. In her book, two alpha shifters produce an offspring which is noted by the outgoing leader of the wolf council to be quite rare and special. If you have different examples of male pregnancy, please feel free to comment or send me an email (found on my profile page).

Also, if you have an idea for future editions for this portfolio, email me or comment below.

                                                                                                                – Paul

A MelanieM Review: Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs (The Seattle Chronicles) by C.C. Dado


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

ImposterinZebraStripedBriefsFS (1)When recent college graduate Nathan Harris makes a life-changing move out from under his mother’s thumb and into his own place, he is determined to take some risks. He is tired of not being good enough, tired of allowing his fears to control him.

What he thought would be an exciting adventure ends up being one jaw-dropping mishap of embarrassment after another, leaving him with a life he doesn’t even recognize anymore.

His once boring, lonely existence has been replaced by a brownstone filled with colorful friends, a rough around the edges, tattooed bad boy best friend, and a stripper for a boyfriend who’s not even sure he’s gay.

I’m going to say right off the bat that I adored this story.  There is something about the characters, plot and writing style of C.C.  Dado that just resonated with me.  Its quirky, endearing, and the dialog is so appealing that you will find yourself smiling before you have finished reading the end of the sentence.  And its all wrapped up by page 73!

Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs by C.C. Dado is a first story for me by this author.  But my fondness for this universe and endearing cast of characters is sending me on a quest for the first book in Dado’s The Seattle Chronicle series.  But back to this story. David, the “imposter stripper” is not only not  gay but ungainly as a dancer as well.  Only the need to help out a younger brother, the real stripper,  sends this man into the night in the afore mentioned zebra-striped briefs and a dancing gig at a bachelor party.  A gay bachelor party.

Brandon and Josh are getting married which has set off a slew of life-changing events, including their own.  Josh’s old apartment gets a new resident, and  Josh gets a new, socially inept best friend in Nathan Harris.  Oh, Nathan.  I loved this character,  Yes he has many of the same quirks you read in other nerdy and socially backward gay men, but in Nathan, somehow it all feels so fresh and adorable.  Nathan also comes with one awful family he is fleeing and a yearning for someone to love.  Little does he know that his future is uncomfortably wearing tight briefs and trying to “shake his booty” on the crowded party deck.

It all zipped by so quickly but I still remember the warm feelings and laugh out loud moments it left behind.  Could you call this a “gay for you” story?  Probably. HFN? That too.  But whatever the trope, this sweet, layered romance is a delight you will want to revisit. I hope that Dado brings these characters back so we can see where their future takes them…and all their friends as well.

I loved Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs by C.C. Dado and definitely recommend it to all lovers of romance and M/M contemporary fiction.  Now I’m off to discover what the first book in the series has in store for me.

Cover art by Alexandria Corza.  Honestly, not sure whether I like this cover art or not.  Definitely eye catching, got the briefs but something about it is a little too harsh for the loving and endearing characters within.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press  |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  |  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 72 pages
Published July 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleImposter in Zebra-striped Briefs
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Seattle Chronicles

Love a Quirky Happy Romance? It’s the Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs by C.C. Dado (author interview and giveaway)


ImposterinZebraStripedBriefsFS (1)

Imposter in Zebra-stripes Briefs (The Seattle Chronicles #2) by C C. Dado
Release Date: July 1, 2015


Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Dreamspinner Press

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press  |  Amazon

My Mini Interview with C.C. Dado

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing C.C. Dado author of Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs…
Hi, C.C, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

I am a native of the Pacific Northwest. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac sundae, with claustrophobic sprinkles, and a big cherry of anxiety on top, so I don’t travel much. I read and write to relax my mind. I tend to write painfully awkward, usually embarrassing, romance because long confident gazes followed by sexy dancing never happens to me.

Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs is about taking chances, making friends and falling for someone that you never thought you could have.

What book do you wish you could have written?

Shel Silverstein “Where the sidewalk ends” it oozes creativity on every page.

How important are names to you (in your books)? Do you choose names based on liking the way it sounds or meaning? How do you choose your names?

Names are very important, it’s like the wrapping on a gift, but there is no reasoning so far for me in picking one. I have three books currently published or in the publishing process and I picked the names after the book was complete, I wanted the whole story to tell me what the name should be, but that’s not how it always works. I had a brainstorm the other day on a new story and I have one page of notes on the new story and the title was obvious to me.

Were you already a great writer? Have you always enjoyed writing? How long have you been writing?

I have always said literacy is my kryptonite, and to a certain extent it still is. So no, I have not always been a writer. I would consider myself a story teller not a writer.

Which character, from any of your books, do you consider your greatest work?

I would say “Elliot” from Meet-Cute is my favorite, only because he is a self-deprecating version of me so it was easy to flow through the scenes. The friendship between Nathan and Josh in Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs is a close second though.

What hobbies do you enjoy?


  • Thank you, C.C., for the great answers and for stopping by today.



When recent college graduate Nathan Harris makes a life-changing move out from under his mother’s thumb and into his own place, he is determined to take some risks. He is tired of not being good enough, tired of allowing his fears to control him.

What he thought would be an exciting adventure ends up being one jaw-dropping mishap of embarrassment after another, leaving him with a life he doesn’t even recognize anymore.

His once boring, lonely existence has been replaced by a brownstone filled with colorful friends, a rough around the edges, tattooed bad boy best friend, and a stripper for a boyfriend who’s not even sure he’s gay.

Pages or Words: 22,810 words

Categories: Contemporary, Humor, M/M Romance, New Adult


Ding…. He heard his phone go off again as he was grabbing an orange from the fridge. Nathan set the orange on the counter and pulled his phone out of his pocket.

Maybe I’m jumping the gun here. What are you into?

Nathan wasn’t quite sure how to answer that. He leaned back against the kitchen counter and stared at the keypad for a second before responding. Guys?

Ding…. I’m literally shaking my head at you right now….

Ding…. Josh instantly followed up his last text. I meant what turns you on about a guy. Eyes? A nice ass? I need to know what I’m working with here.

Nathan felt like the entire world could see his words as he typed his response. I think men’s feet are sexy.

Ding…  Josh responded, apparently not fazed at all by Nathan’s answer. All right then, let’s start at the toes and work our way up.

About the author:

I write painfully awkward, usually embarrassing, romance because long confident gazes followed by sexy dancing never happens to me.
I am a native of the Pacific Northwest, and will probably never leave since I’m a hypochondriac sundae, with claustrophobic sprinkles, and a cherry of anxiety on top. I read and write to relax my mind and I love getting lost in someone else’s story, even if it is only for a little while.

Where to find the author:

Twitter: @C_C_Dado

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: PDF Copy of ‘Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs’. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Dates & Stops:
Hearts on Fire
Amanda C. Stone
The Novel Approach
EE Montgomery
Bayou Book Junkie
MM Good Book Reviews
Love Bytes
Velvet Panic
Inked Rainbow Reads
Boys on the Brink Reviews
Jessie G. Books
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
Prism Book Alliance
Full Moon Dreaming
BFD Book Blog
Chris McHart
Happily Ever Chapter
Bike Book Reviews
Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy
My Fiction Nook
Molly Lolly

Take An Alternate Path to Love with Obsidian Sun by Jon Keys (excerpt and giveaway)



Obsidian Sun by Jon Keys
Release Date: July 10, 2015

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond


Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press  |  All Romance  |  Amazon  | Google Play  | Barnes & Noble

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Differences must be put aside when vengeance becomes all-consuming.

Anan, a spellweaver of the Talac people, returns from a hunting trip to find his village decimated, his mate dead, and everyone else captured by Varas slavers. The sole survivor is Terja, a young man without the velvet that covers most Talac, marking him as a spellspinner. Since Talac magic requires both a weaver and a spinner, Anan and Terja must move beyond their ingrained mistrust. All that remains is revenge and a desperate plan to rescue their tribesmen before they are sold to Varas pleasure houses. A goal Anan and Terja are willing to die for.

With the blessing of the Talac gods, they discover new and surprising ways to complement each other’s power. But as they race through terrain full of enemies and dangerous creatures to reach their people before they pass into Varas lands, they must take drastic steps to face the overwhelming odds against them. Understanding their connection might be their only hope.
Pages or Words: 200 pages

Categories: Alternate universe, Fantasy

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

ANAN EASED into bow range. He’d been hunting for a fingercount of days and stalking this daggerhorn since the early gray of predawn. He waited until the animal turned away before rising to a crouch. The lethally armed grazer would feed him and his mate for days. He brought his bow up slowly and drew the bowstring to his cheek.

His body convulsed with pain that felt as if he’d been stabbed with a red-hot iron blade, and his arrow shot several lengths above his quarry, which disappeared into the deep grass.

In the next instant, Anan knew. His mating-bond with Silbre had snapped. Agony filled him, sending him to his knees as the bow slipped from his numb hands. Gasping for air, he dropped forward onto his hands as waves of loss and pain overwhelmed him.

I have to find Silbre. What happened? Our mating-bond can’t be broken. Unwilling to believe the horrible truth, Anan had to find his mate.

He staggered to his feet, looping the bow over his shoulder as he took the first stumbling steps toward home. The surety of his pace came back to him, and he gained speed until he was sprinting toward the clan’s encampment. Time became irrelevant. He walked when his legs refused to run and ate when his body demanded it.

Dusk came on him stealthily, but he refused to stop. Silbre can’t be gone. We’ve been together since our adult velvet. Anan’s chest tightened at the thought of losing his mate. His mind swirled with fear, horror, and anger. If their teachers hadn’t sent him on yet another hunting trip, maybe he could have saved Silbre. No, he refused to believe he’d lost Silbre. There must be another explanation. He pushed down the rush of emotions and focused on the run as night deepened. With the rise of the moons, he picked up speed, desperate to reach home.

Anan neared the last of his endurance when he saw the familiar featherleaf trees that lined the river bend where the Kuri clan spent its summers. He topped the river embankment and dropped to his knees at the sight before him. Complete devastation. The warm morning breeze carried the scent of death. The raucous voices of carrion birds as they fought over bits of his clan reinforced his horror.

He struggled down the steep embankment to splash through the shallow river that circled most of what had been the Kuri’s summer encampment. As he waded to shore, he found the eyeless face of a childhood friend. Anan stumbled to one side and emptied his stomach. He retched again and again as he surpassed the limit of his emotional endurance until each twist of his stomach yielded nothing.

Silbre! Where’s Silbre? Anan renewed his headlong flight to find his twining mate.

He ran through the devastation, sending flocks of birds into the air. With each heartbeat his desperation grew as he ran to their tent. He has to be alive. I can’t survive without him. He rounded a pile of debris and found the familiar woven pattern of their summer lodge. His world died. Entangled in the remains, Silbre’s body bristled with a fingercount of crossbow quarrels. Varas slavers. Those are their bolts. The iron heads and spiral fletching left no doubt. But they had never come this far into Talac territory.

Anan dropped to his knees and pulled Silbre tight against him. Anan’s breath rasped between clenched teeth, his chest tight with grief as he rocked with his mate in his arms. A freshet of tears rolled over the plush hair covering his face. The dull drone from hordes of green burrowing flies and the cries of carrion birds surrounded him. But grief paralyzed Anan.
His sorrow merged with anger, and he screamed toward the implacable sky. “Why have you let this happen? Why did you cut his threads so short?”

Anan dropped his chin against his chest and sobbed. He rocked his mate slowly, tracing the tips of his fingers along the swirls of a spellweaver created in the short tan and brown hair covering Silbre’s face while he fought to ignore the fatal wounds.

Anan’s throat tightened as more tears rolled down his cheeks. He lowered Silbre gently, as if he were sleeping.

The aftermath of the attack must be dealt with. He had no choice. He steeled himself to the carnage around him and struggled to understand. How did the Varas unravel the protective web that surrounded the village? Especially those of the Kuri clan, who have some of the most skilled spellweavers of the Talac people. Even if they had broken the spell, a warning would have been felt, and people would have boiled out like stingers from their nest. Something in the web of Anan’s reality shifted as he wondered how the Varas were able to decimate a Talac village.

Anan called on his spell vision and tried to trace any threads, but they were gone. If there were survivors, they were no longer connected to the village weaving. He began moving in a haze of disbelief.

All the people he’d grown up with were gone. Saritua who taught him his first weavings, Trebea who knew the perfect day to harvest wood for bows that wouldn’t wrack in the fall rains—gone. He’d never hear Poza talking with her imaginary friends as she toddled from one rug to another pretending at grownup, or her wonder when the spring gliders migrated across the savanna.

He’d seen the carrion birds pecking the flesh from their lifeless bodies. The horrors no longer registered, as his surroundings became part of an unending cascade of atrocities. At some point he would break and mourn. But not now; he was too numb, too overwhelmed. The bits of his being that weren’t focused on what he had to accomplish in this moment hid in the corner of his mind, gibbering in near madness. Silbre couldn’t come to the rescue this time. The task fell on his shoulders. There was no one else.

Screaming birds took off and revealed the burned arms of a spellspinner. With this final revelation, the last warp threads of Anan’s reality snapped. All the Kuri spinners would be dead. When spellspinners in battle ripped the matama from the attackers, they condemned themselves to death. Akhir gave their attackers a painful end, but the backlash left the spellspinners burned and dead. He moved closer and saw the velvetless skin that marked them from birth as spellspinners. But the curse, or gift, of akhir created the final separation between the Talac spinners and weavers.

Anan’s questionable skill at spellweaving didn’t matter any longer. Without a spinner, there was no one to take the deathspinner eggs and harvest silk for the matama threads he needed for his weavings. Only the spinners knew how to combine matama with silk harvested from the most feared animals of the savanna. Without spun threads, Anan’s years of training didn’t matter.

Lucid thought came to an end with yet another gruesome discovery. His mind rebelled, and the final threads of his former life broke one by one. He locked away his emotions to sort through them when he could take the luxury.

Anan recognized the end of his second day when the sun’s deep red orb rested on the treetops, covering his world in the color of fresh blood. Darkness would come soon and with it the possibility of larger predators. With the clan spell webbing gone, nothing would keep them out.

He knew his duty. He must gather the dead and perform the most sacred of weavings. He would create the final unraveling ceremony for most of the village.

Anan struggled to his feet and began his task. Taking Silbre first, he carried his mate’s body to the center of the camp. He ran the back of his fingers over his twining’s face, the cold ache of loss constricting around his chest until his breath came in gasps and tears rolled down his cheeks again.

Hesitant at first, Anan carried the remains of each member of his clan and laid them side by side. Lastly he moved to the spellspinners’ tents. He understood their importance in the clan, but their aloof manner and vanity over their birthmark velvetless skin had been reason enough for him to avoid them in the past. But his duty was to the village, and his personal disdain had no place. Following the sense of duty hammered into him by his parents, he afforded the spellspinners the same reverence as the other lost.

As he moved toward the final dwelling, and its content, he couldn’t help but note the remains of Varas attackers littering the encampment. Some resembled colorless grubs, the sign of a spellspinner calling akhir. The pale Varas bodies also meant there would be a burned spellspinner close by. Akhir extracted a horrible toll. Only in the legends of First Spinner and First Weaver did anyone survive calling akhir.

He grabbed the wrists of a spinner and found the touch of bare skin against his palms… odd. Anan had never touched a spinner before. There had never been a reason to do so. They didn’t encourage contact. After steeling himself, he squatted to gather the last of the bodies, when he heard a moan.

Anan spun, knife in hand. When he realized the sound didn’t come from attacking Varas, he sheathed his knife and waited, listening for signs of life. A few heartbeats later another barely audible sound leaked from the wreckage. Anan dug through a pile of tent cloth and found a storage cache. Another groan drifted from inside the partially exposed opening, followed by rustling as if a mouse ran across a stretched kuri-skin drum.

Anan eased himself forward, peering into the opening. At first he could see nothing but darkness, but then two brilliant blue eyes peered up at him.

He waited, recognizing the color of a spellspinner’s eyes. How did this spinner survive? Why did he hide? Compassion returned to Anan. Regardless of how this spinner survived, he is also Talac.

“You hurt?” Even to Anan’s own ears, his words sounded brittle and desolate of emotion. He waited for a response, but when none came, he reached inside.

“Here. Let me help.”

Smooth skin slid under Anan’s palms, the first time he’d touched a living spinner. Surprise raced through his system when he found the contact… pleasant. As he helped the slender figure, he recognized this spinner, but not for a reason he might have hoped. The spinner standing before him was the most reclusive. He always avoided contact with any of the Talac who were normal. Who were velveted.

He studied Anan with the suspicion of a young night-hunter, complete with the twitch of his nose. He took the offered hand and scrambled up the side of the cache.

The tension between them grew as their gazes locked. This isn’t about my feelings for the spinners. I must perform the unraveling. He waited a moment, took in a breath, and calmed himself.

“Can you walk?”

The spinner wiped a grimy arm over his forehead, leaving streaks of filth as he tucked his dark hair behind his ears. An instant later he nodded silently.

“I’m Anan.”

This time the young man trembled. “Terja. I am a spinner.”

Anan’s brow lifted. “Yes. I see you.” He considered asking the questions swirling through his mind, but waited.
Terja shuddered again and turned his head slowly. He seemed lost, but Anan granted him time to adjust and waited until the spinner’s focus returned. “Where is everyone?”

“Dead. Or taken as Varas slaves. I found only a few bodies from Kuri our age.”

Terja’s eye’s widened. “Slavers? The screams. I heard… it was….” He stared at Anan.

Anan wondered if this spinner still functioned or if the trauma had overwhelmed Terja. Regardless, he continued. “Varas slavers attacked the village. Everyone is either dead or captured. I don’t know why the web didn’t sound an alert. The herds are scattered. All the Talac clans are in jeopardy.”

“Our kuri and herdweavers? Gone?” Terja’s voice broke at the news.

Anan stared at him. The herds were the least of his concerns. The herdweavers had either died fighting or were captured. But he knew they hadn’t deserted the kuri. They took their role as guardians seriously. But he needed to finish his task, and Terja acted too overwhelmed to help.

Though he moved toward the nearest body, Anan couldn’t stop staring at Terja. The irrelevant question wiped out the last of his restraint. “Why were you hiding? The Varas attacked. Why’d you do nothing?”

Tears flooded from Terja’s eyes. With his breath coming in gasps, he tried to explain. “I tried. Had my staff. People dying. Father put me—” Terja broke into inconsolable sobbing. Anan knew he would get no more information from the spinner.

“At nightfall we’re doing an unraveling for the dead. You’re helping.”

Terja looked shaken, as if it had never occurred to him a spellweaver would address him in that manner. He began to speak, but when Anan glared at him, Terja pressed his lips tightly together.

Anan motioned to the body of one of the older spinners, and Terja moved to stand at its feet. He clamped his eyes shut as he groped for the ankles, shuddering when the tips of his fingers made contact, and hesitated. Anan allowed him what time he could, but before he had to jar him into motion, Terja clenched his teeth and grabbed the dead man’s ankles.

He opened his eyes and glared at Anan, but Anan was far past being affected by anything so minor as the anger of a young spellspinner. With Terja’s help, the last bodies were gathered. Exhausted mentally and physically, he still refused to allow Terja to perform any of the ceremony.

“We need to make a final check. It’s close to nightfall. I don’t want to leave—” Anan stopped and swallowed hard to regain his control. “I want to be certain we’ve taken care of everyone. We can go opposite directions and meet back here. Hopefully, there’s nothing to find.”

Anan waited for Terja’s nod, then started through the encampment. Hesitant at first, he covered the area with speed and resolve. I don’t know how many more victims I can deal with before my mind snaps like a weak warp thread. As he worked through the smoldering remains, he began to think they’d recovered all the bodies.

He returned to the center of the encampment and found Terja hadn’t arrived. Anan moved to locate the spinner. Close to the spinner’s lodges, Anan found him, crumpled into the dust, holding the body of a small child.

His heart cracked when Terja’s eyes met his, tears running down his red cheeks. He held the broken body like a precious jewel, cradling the kit who was long past the issues of this world. The spinner ran his fingers over the deep brown velvet covering the kit’s face as if he were sleeping. He reached down to touch Terja’s shoulder.

“He’s gone, Terja. Add him to the ceremony so his strands can rejoin the others in the Great Weaving.”

Past reason now, Terja’s sobs echoed across the scene of desolation. The darkness flowed over the pair, its edges seeming to ripple in response to Terja’s grief. “You don’t understand!” he yelled, his face contorted with anger. “Akra and I were friends. His father died when a longtooth pack attacked him. We broke fast together each morning. Why would they kill a kit?”

Anan hardened. “You know why. Akra was nothing more than an animal to them. They don’t follow the teachings of First Twining, and we are nothing more than mating slaves to feed their addiction.”

“Akra was a sweet kit. Just a toddler.”

Anan squeezed his shoulder. “Come. It’s time.”

He forced Terja into motion. They came to the central area, and Terja turned to Anan. “Clean him. Please. I know it will take some of the spinnings you have, but please. I cannot stand to think he’s going to the Great Weaving like this. He worried so much about how he looked.”


“Please. I’ll replace the spinning. The spell panels on your kilt are close to full. You have enough matama to do this.” Terja turned ashen. “Please. This will be the last thing I ask of you.”

Anan sighed and ran his hand over the complex matama patterns stored on his kilt. Although his state of exhaustion diminished his focus to the point where he had to touch the threads. He deftly created the weaving in the air from the matama stored in his kilt panels. Soon he had the simple weave completed. Once he did, Anan struggled through the ritual steps drummed into him to release the spell and clean the lifeless body. The small weaving dissipated, and Anan let his vision slip away.

The kit before them now could have been sleeping. Anan normally would have refused to use a spellweaving on someone beyond its reach, but he admitted, if only to himself, this final visage of the kit was much preferable to the blood- and gore-splattered toddler that had lain before him a short time earlier. He stared at the kit, then at Terja.
“It’s time to do the unraveling.”

STRW Author Bio and Contacts
Jon Keys’s earliest memories revolve around books. Either read to him or making up stories based on the illustrations, these were places his active mind occupied. As he got older the selection expanded beyond Mother Goose and Dr. Suess to the world of westerns, science fiction and fantasy. His world filled with dragon riders, mind speaking horses and comic book heroes in hot uniforms.
A voracious reader for half a century, Jon recently began creating his own creations of fiction. The first writing was his attempt at showing rural characters in a more sympathetic light. Now he has moved into some of the writing he lost himself in for so many years…fantasy. Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to drawing and cooking, he uses this range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.

Where to find the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jon.keys.773
Twitter: @Jon4Keys
Website: http://www.jonkeys.com/

Tour Dates & Stops: July 10, 2015
Parker WilliamsBFD Book BlogFull Moon DreamingHavan FellowsJessie G. BooksKimi-Chan,Decadent DelightsIt’s Raining MenMichael MandrakeVelvet PanicScattered Thoughts & Rogue WordsMy Fiction NookMolly LollyAndrew Q. GordonBayou Book JunkieWicked Faerie’s Tales and ReviewsThe Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. KatMM Good Book ReviewsFangirl Moments and My Two CentsWake Up Your Wild SideDawn’s Reading NookAmanda C. StoneInked Rainbow ReadsJust Love Romance



STRW Spotlight Contest Header

 Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Home Grown’ by Jon Keys.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the Spotlight: Ari by Cheryl Headford (excerpt and giveaway)



Title: Ari
Author: Cheryl Headford
Genre: LGBT, romance, transgender, intersex, M/M, F/F
Length: Novel
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing


After having known each other online for some time, writers, Benji and Ari meet at a convention.

Their attraction is both immediate and mutual.

But all is not straightforward,Ari is intersex and Benji transgender.

Together they embark on a journey.

A journey that unites families, and heals old wounds.

Ari Cheryl Headford

But not everyone is happy with the blossoming love between these two unique and special individuals.

Will an act of aggression crush the flower before it can bloom?


The journey was interminable, especially when we realized we had no idea where the hospital was, or even which hospital it was. A Google search threw up a few choices and I panicked over making one. Dad got frustrated with me and lost his cool, which lit a touch paper and had me screaming back. Our screaming match lasted almost half an hour until we reached the most likely candidate, both exhausted and frazzled, with sore throats from yelling.
I couldn’t wait for Dad to park the car, so he dropped me at the hospital entrance. As I watched him pull off it occurred to me I might have done better to find the emergency department. However, I needn’t have worried. Skye and Nancy had all bases covered as usual.
I turned and almost fell into Nancy’s arms. “Where is he? What happened? Please tell me he’s okay.”
“Not here, sweetheart. We have a room. Let me call Skye and tell her I found you.”
“But…. Please. Tell me what’s happening. Just tell me he’s okay.”
“I can’t do that. Wait.”
When Nancy commanded, everyone obeyed, so I had to follow in silence while she talked to Skye on the phone. Nothing in the conversation gave me a clue about what was going on. 
When she finished the call Nancy kept on walking and I trotted obediently at her side. I could barely breathe. The atmosphere of the hospital—one grey, echoing corridor after another—was oppressive, and I was sick with worry, but it was pointless to press because I knew Nancy would be like a rock until she was ready to open. At least I knew that when Skye joined us she would be more forthcoming. Skye was like Ari and couldn’t keep emotions inside if her life depended on it. It frustrated Nancy, but would definitely work in my favour right now.
Finally we came to a set of double doors that led into a busy corridor. About halfway along was a door marked “Staff Only”. Nancy ushered me inside.
“Are we supposed to be in here?”
“We are supposed to be wherever we find ourselves.”
“Spiritually, yes, I get it, but—”
“It’s alright, Benji,” Skye said. “We have permission.”
Now why hadn’t Nancy just said that? Couldn’t she see what a state I was in?
“Sit down, sweetheart,” Skye said drawing me into a chair. “My goodness you’re cold as ice. Tell me you didn’t drive all this way alone.”
“No. Dad drove. He’s parking. Oh, he won’t know where I am.”
“Give me your phone,” Nancy said. “I’ll call him and give directions.”
Numbly, I handed over the phone and Nancy walked away toward a window. I dismissed her, knowing I would get what I needed from Skye.
“What happened?”
“Hasn’t she told you anything?”
I shook my head, and Skye tutted and rolled her eyes in Nancy’s direction. Then she turned serious and took both my hands in hers, which was no mean feat as her hands were tiny, like Ari’s.
“I think this is where I’m supposed to say ‘be strong’, but you don’t have to be. You don’t have to be strong at all because we will look after you, and your Dad’s here.” She took a deep breath and I could practically see her drawing in her strength. “It’s bad, Benji, really bad. We’re going to lose him. We’re going to lose our baby boy.”

Book trailer

Buy Links

Donít miss Wayward Ink Publishingís Tickle Me Pink Sale! 25% off all list prices.

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/?p=1298

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YUT48QE/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YUT48QE/

Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00YUT48QE/

Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00YUT48QE/

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-ari-1820879-341.html

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ari-cheryl-headford/1122098431?ean=9781925222487


Prizes: 3 UK Swag Packs (Ari mug, notebook, rainbow pen) and 3 International Swag Packs (6.99 WIP gift card, bookmark, key chain)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author

CHERYL HEADFORD was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but arenít so much fun to clean.

Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, sheíd make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and theyíd explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.

Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re-enactment group who traveled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.

It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that itís still there, somewhere.

In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but theyíre still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.