A Free Dreamer Review: The Demon You Know by Barbara Elsborg

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

the Demon You know coverA good demon?

Ezra is a timekeeper in Hell, responsible for building and maintaining the clocks that tick away eternal torment. He’s never believed he deserves to be in Hell, and when the reason he’s there is revealed, he’s horrified…yet filled with hope. But is this just another form of torture? When Ezra’s given a chance to go to the surface, he’s determined to uncover the truth, but his fellow demons seem just as determined he won’t survive the journey.

A bad angel?

Roman doesn’t understand why an angel who failed his training the first time round has been given the job of policing paranormals in the UK’s capital city. He’s consumed by unhappiness. He might not be in Hell, but sometimes it damn well feels like it.

When Roman meets Ezra his failings come back to haunt him. Ezra makes him want to break the rules, but an angel protecting a demon? Discovery would bring an eternity of suffering, and with a boss none other than the archangel Michael, it’ll take more than a miracle for the lovers to stand together.

Let me start off by saying that while this is part 3 of a series, it works perfectly fine as a stand alone. I didn’t even read the blurbs of the two other books before starting this one and I had absolutely no trouble understanding what’s going on.

You should also be aware that this is a pretty dark book. There’s rape, there’s dub-con, there’s violence and there’s depression and potentially suicidal thoughts. If that’s not your kind of thing, back away slowly.

So, there’s Ezra, sweet, gentle, good Ezra. He lives in Hell but has no idea why. Usually you have to be at least 16 before you’re sent to Hell. But not Ezra, who was apparently born in Hell. He works as a timekeeper, making sure the countless clocks that are part of the eternal torment of the demons are in working order. He’s different from the other demon. For one, he’s far smaller than even the females and he looks unusually normal. That makes him a prime victim to the other demons, who delight in making his life miserable. He was also chosen as one of a handful of demons to go to the surface and corrupt humans for a week. But Ezra has other plans: He wants to run, to hide, to never go back down to Hell again. He wants to see snow, see clouds and for once in his life to experience what it means to be cold.

Then there’s Roman, the jaded head of supernatural London, who makes sure the other supernatural beings (vampires, werewolves, faeries, gargoyles) stick to the rules and remain undiscovered. He’s an angel, but not a very good one. Angels are supposed to be free of sin, yet he always lusts after other men. He’s very unhappy with his life. Maybe not exactly suicidal, but definitely close. He doesn’t care too much about whether he’s dead or alive one way or another.

Of course Roman is part of the team that has to catch the demons before they can do any serious harm. When Ezra and Roman meet, it’s lust at first sight. But why can’t Roman sense Ezra’s a demon? And how can an angel and a demon ever have a HEA?

For the most part, I enjoyed this book.

I liked both Roman and Ezra from the beginning. They were nice guys. Though in Ezra’s case, I’d have to say he was too nice. He was so very sweet and kind, even though he’s only ever known sorrow and pain. He’s been raped countless times, yet he’s all too happy to have a sexual relationship with Roman. The past abuse seems to have no effect on him whatsoever, except that he’s kind of sad and occasionally flinches back when Roman makes a sudden move. That’s something I definitely don’t like. If you’re going to include traumatizing events such as rape and abuse, make sure your character actually is traumatized. Rape doesn’t make you go all sweet and submissive and happy to be of help to strangers. Though I did like the way he acted otherwise, he was funny and witty and had an interesting story to tell.

Roman is jaded through and through. He’s hurt, he’s lonely and he hates his life. It’s a little hard to understand just why he is so miserable in the beginning, but I promise there is an explanation eventually. I thought he was far more realistic that Ezra.

Since the two of them fall in instant lust, there’s plenty of sex. Almost too much, really, even if it is very hot. A little less sex and a little more world and character building would definitely have helped me really like this story though.

I’m generally none too fond of insta-love/lust and “The Demon You Know” was no exception. I get that they found each other attractive from the very beginning, so I understand all the sex they had, even at the most inappropriate moments. What I had a hard time understanding though was what made them fall in love with each other. It’s understandable that Ezra falls for the first person to have ever treated him kindly. But I have absolutely no idea what made Roman return those feelings. They barely knew each other. They only spent a few hours together, really. And why would Roman risk everything for a demon, when he knows it will only be trouble and that Ezra must have done something truly awful to be sent to hell?

Usually, I avoid books about angels, simply because there tends to be a strong element of religion and belief present most of the time. Being an atheist, this tends to bore or annoy me easily. “The Demon You Know” had very little religion and belief for the most part. Sure, there was a bit of talk about God and the devil, and about the Seven Deadly Sins, but for the most part, it just focused on the two MCs. I liked that.

To sum it up, “The Demon You Know” is a quick, hot read, without a lot of depth. With more depth, this could have easily been a truly great story. As it is, I had fun and I finished it within two days. If you don’t mind the darkness of this and are willing to suspend your disbelief for a bit, you’ll most likely enjoy this too.

And I’ll definitely take a look at the previous book, Bloodline, which is about two of the minor characters in this book.

Fiona Jade’s cover is just wow. Breathtakingly beautiful. I think it matches the story well, you can see Roman’s anguish and the flames from hell licking at the bottom of the cover and his wings show Ezra’s influence. The background shows various famous sights in London, so it does not only reflect the protagonists but also the setting. It’s one of the most beautiful covers out there, one that I’d love to have in my physical bookshelf.

Sales: Loose Id LLC  |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 233 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Loose Id LLC (first published April 27th 2015)

A BJ Review: The Complications of T (The Actor’s Circle #1) by Bey Deckard

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

The Complications of T coverStuart Leandro is a movie actor who has been taking roles for money rather than art and has recently faced that his marriage is breaking up. One night on the road in a foreign country, he winds up drunk in the gutter. Lucky for him, there’s someone’s there to rescue him before his face ends up plastered all over the tabloids. But is his rescuer male or female? His drunken senses aren’t at all sure, especially after a semi-coherent kiss enters the mix.

When he wakes in a strange apartment the next day, his rescuers gender still isn’t clear. Wary of the motives of the reclusive stranger, Stuart nonetheless can’t deny his curiosity or his attraction. He’s surprised when beneath the mystery, he discovers someone whose life has actually been intertwined with his own for years. But Tim White is unlike anyone Stuart has met before.

Tim’s simple act of kindness soon leads the two men into one of the most intense encounters of both of their lives—but are these two very public individuals willing to weather the media storm their extraordinary relationship will cause?

This story is a bit different than what I’ve come to expect from this author; less dark, lighter and most definitely sweeter. But I enjoyed it immensely.

Stuart and Tim’s romance moved from a strong attraction to sex that sent sparks flying and quickly coalescing into insta-love. It was Stuart’s first gay experience, yet he took it very much in stride. I admired his acceptance and open-mindedness, and the hesitant but determined way he dealt with discovering Tim right alongside experiencing emotions and attractions that were new to him. The sex was light rather than detailed, which actually disappointed me since unlike other trans books I’ve read, it was clear that Tim didn’t eschew taking pleasure by using his remaining female parts.   

After its breakneck start, the relationship slowed down (actually came to a rather screeching halt) at Tim’s request. And I actually liked that. I was enthralled with the hopeful direction it was heading, and then it ended.

Yep, it ended way too abruptly for my liking. I wanted to experience those absence-made-the-heart-grow-fonder moments, wanted their physical reunion right there on the page, wanted to know if the reactions of others that they’d both worried over and dreaded turned out as expected, and if so, how they handled it together. Wanted more.

Sometimes life is all about being in the right place at the right time. Tim White was there just when and where Stuart needed him to be. How he came to be there wasn’t quite clear to me. Coincidence? Or was Tim stalking his favorite actor?

Despite all those nit picks, I couldn’t rate this less than four stars, because I enjoyed Tim’s character so much. His wit, intelligence, self-assurance and strength and low angst level were perfect. And his reclusive lifestyle rang very true to me. And then there’s this:

“You want to know if I have a penis?”

“Yeah,” I confessed, a little embarrassed.

“I do!,” said Tim, but when he saw the look on my face, he just tugged my hair again with a playful smirk. “I was, however, unfortunately born without it, and seeing as what science can offer really, and I mean really, doesn’t appeal to me, I’m forced to keep it in the top drawer of the bedside table. Why? Do you want to see it?”

So yeah, I love Tim, and really, really hope there will be a second book that’s from Tim’s point of view… just as in the F.I.S.T.S. series we got the second from Murphy’s. Please, with puppy dog eyes, can you give me that dear author?

The lovely and sensual cover does this story justice. Love it.

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


Book Details:

ebook, 53 pages
Published August 20th 2015 by Bey Deckard (first published August 18th 2015)
ISBN13 9780994790026

In Our Supernatural Spotlight: Uncaged (Shifter Uprising #1) by Lisa Oliver and T.J. Oliver (author interview, excerpt & giveaway)

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Uncaged (Shifter Uprising #1) by Lisa Oliver and T.J. Oliver
Release Date: July, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Oliver Group Publications
Cover Artist: Lisa Oliver

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Buy the book: Amazon |AllRomance (ARe) | Smashwords

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Thomas Oliver, co-author of Uncaged, Shifter’s Uprising series book one.  (Written with Lisa Oliver, author of the Cloverleah Pack and Bound and Bonded series).

Hi Thomas, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Hi there, thank you for having me here today.  This book, Uncaged, is my first book, although I think it’s my Mom’s seventeenth or something.  I had the idea for the Shifter’s Uprising series for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to go about writing it, and that is where Lisa Oliver came in.  In Uncaged you have Carlin and Lucas, both fighters, both having committed crimes against shifter law and both living at the Souterrain which is run by a force called the Elite. Carlin and Lucas are mates and want to be together, but Lucas wants his freedom too.  When Carlin tries to fight for that freedom, Martin, the ruler of the Elite, decides Carlin’s death would be a better idea instead. Both Carlin and Lucas have to fight for their right to be together and to be free.

  • Was there a basis for you story? A previous experience or something else?

I don’t think there was any defining moment for me, but it is like you see the little things that happen every day, on the news and on social media, and you think WTF?  But these things happen and yet people don’t seem to do anything about corruption, politicians taking away rights or discrimination and that is where the ideas for this series came from – that realization.

  • What skills do you think a writer needs?

An open mind, some serious typing skills, a vision to work with and an awful lot of patience.

  • What for you is the perfect book hero?

This might sound strange, but someone like Harry Potter appeals to me.  He’s humble, modest, has overcome a lot of crap in his life, and its like him against the world – yet he still keeps fighting and he still comes out on top. I like that.

  • Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I have trouble getting my words onto paper, and this is where Mom (Lisa Oliver) was a huge help.  I have the ideas, and I know how I want scenes to go, but getting those thoughts onto paper was a new thing for me, and the book wouldn’t have been finished if I had tried to do this on my own.

  • Tell us about your favorite childhood book.

Hairy Maclary – actually that is one of the few books from my childhood I can remember – he didn’t do a lot, but the stories always flowed really well.

RC

Blurb

Carlin is an Alpha Wolf Fighter, one of only three in the top spots at the Souterrain – an underground fighting club, run by the Elite to punish shifters who have gone outside of the laws. He’s happy enough, only has to fight exhibition matches, has his own apartment space, food and sex on tap – yep, life it good. So when Martin offers him the chance to fight for his freedom, Carlin turns it down. It’s no fun being a lone wolf and Carlin is quite happy where he is.

Then Lucas catches his eye. A handsome man, a stunning fighter, moving up through the ranks fast. Lucas might not have the killer attitude that most men at the Souterrain have, but he’s got the moves. Carlin has no problems insisting the man is bought to his apartment – sex is never a bad idea. But when he catches Lucas’s scent and realizes the man is his fated mate, suddenly getting him to bed is the least of his problems. Lucas wants to be free, and for the first time in a long time, so does Carlin.

Unfortunately there is more to Lucas than meets the eye. Martin certainly has no intention of letting them go, and if he has to have Carlin killed to keep Lucas at the Souterrain, then the man has no problems with that either. Suddenly the deal Carlin makes with Martin goes horribly wrong, and Carlin and Lucas realize that the price for freedom might be Carlin’s life, and even then Lucas will not be free.

Warnings: M/M sex, HEA, some violence (they are in a fight club after all). A growly Alpha who lets his emotions get the best of him, and a hybrid shifter with a wicked imagination.

Pages or Words: 44,000
Categories: Erotica, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal

Excerpt

Carlin knew he was behaving like an idiot pacing up and down the floor of his small apartment, but he couldn’t stop. How long did it take for one man to have a shower for fucks sake? He’d ordered food for the both of them. Having been a fighter for more than five years, Carlin knew that Lucas would be hungry – hopefully for food and sex. But if the bloody man didn’t get his skates on then Carlin would eat alone and get straight to dessert when Lucas arrived.

About to call Brian and find out where his errant fuck had gone, Carlin caught the sound of people outside of his door. He threw himself on the couch and picked up a book. He didn’t want Lucas thinking he was waiting for him or anything.

Brian came in, Lucas a few steps behind him.

“Alpha Fighter Carlin. This is Lucas, ranked fifth after today.”

Carlin was surprised. He’d heard the man had moved swiftly up the ranks, but he didn’t realize that Lucas was so close to a shot for an Alpha ranking. In theory, one more fight and he might have to fight Lucas in the ring. For a moment Carlin was tempted to send the man away. He did have some conscience, even after so many years of being a fighting machine. He didn’t want to have to kill someone who had been in his bed.

But then Lucas stepped past Brian, and Carlin was caught in angry eyes. Silver eyes. Something tugged at Carlin’s brain – the eye color had some significance, didn’t it? But then Lucas’s scent hit Carlin’s nose and any rational thought fell straight out of his brain.

“Leave, Brian,” Carlin said, standing up and not breaking his stare with Lucas. He knew his body radiated the power he was famous for, and guessed he might look intimidating, as he heard Brian whisper to Lucas as he scurried out of the door, “I told you not to stare at an Alpha. You’re dead meat pup.”

“Better dead than a fuck toy,” Lucas snarled – his comment for Brian, but those silver eyes stayed fixed on Carlin.

“I agree,” Carlin said, his voice dropping as he got closer. Before Lucas could react, he reached his hand around, grabbing Lucas by the nape and pushing the man’s face into his throat. Whatever Lucas was going to say was muffled by Carlin’s skin, although the man was kicking, punching and doing everything he could to get free.

“Sniff, damn you,” Carlin said urgently. “Fucking sniff, and then I’ll let you go.”

Carlin felt Lucas quieten, although his body still stayed rigid in Carlin’s grasp. Lucas’s deep inhale was the only sound in the room. Carlin knew the moment Lucas had worked out what Carlin was trying to say.

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Meet the Authors

Lisa Oliver had been writing non-fiction books for years when visions of half dressed, buff men started invading her dreams. Unable to resist the lure of her stories, Lisa decided to switch to fiction books, and now stories about her men clamor to get out from under her fingertips.
When Lisa is not writing, she is usually reading with a cup of tea always at hand. Her grown children and grandchildren sometimes try and pry her away from the computer and have found that the best way to do it, is to promise her chocolate. Lisa will do anything for chocolate.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers and other writers. You can friend her on Facebook here, or email her directly at yoursintuitively@gmail.com.

Thomas Oliver doesn’t have a lot of time for writing itself although he can talk about his ideas for hours. A construction worker by day, he has a wicked imagination and it was from sharing some of his ideas with Lisa, that the idea for this series was born.
When not working, Thomas is like any other young man. He loves to spend time with friends, his girlfriend and working on his car. His dream is to do up a project car – something mean, with attitude and plenty of power under the hood.
Anyone wanting to contact Thomas can do so through Facebook.

Where to find the author:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lisaoliverauthor
Facebook Author Page:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/wisecrone333
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lisaoliver79/
My Blog: http://www.supernaturalsmut.com

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: three ebook copies of the book to giveaway (pdf, mobi or epub). Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the authors and Pride Promotions.

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Tour Dates & Stops:
21-Sep – BFD Book Blog, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Amanda C. Stone
22-Sep – Just Love Romance, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, MM Good Book Reviews
23-Sep – Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Happily Ever Chapter
24-Sep – Divine Magazine, Molly Lolly
25-Sep – Open Skye Book Reviews, Jessie G. Books
28-Sep – Mikky’s World of Books, It’s Raining Men, Bayou Book Junkie
29-Sep – Michael Mandrake, The Blogger Girls
30-Sep – Inked Rainbow Reads
1-Oct – Love Bytes, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Bike Book Reviews
2-Oct – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

Coffee Sip & Book Break with Shades of Power (Arcane Magic #1) by Beany Sparks (excerpt and giveaway)

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Shades of Power

Shades of Power (Arcane Magic #1) by Beany Sparks
Release Date: September 21, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Rainbow Ninja Press
Cover Artist: Beany Sparks

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Buy the book:  Smashwords

Blurb

An explosion sends Ethan running…straight into the arms of his mate.

Ethan White is a witch whose days are spent in his apothecary with his familiar, Beema. While making potions for the townsfolk keeps him busy, nothing exciting ever happens—until one day when a surprise visitor walks in and his world crumbles around him. Suddenly Ethan and his familiar are on the run, heading for the Fae to seek sanctuary.

Grayson is an alpha wolf. His two best friends are his betas, but there’s one thing missing—a pack. It’s for that very reason that the three of them were volunteered by the council to act as representatives. Their mission? Try to convince the Fae Queen to get the Fae involved in a battle with the Midnight Coven, the witches suspected of using the dark arts. However, the mission takes a back seat when Grayson meets his mate for the first time.
With revelations and lies around every corner and a battle looming, they have to be ready to fight if they want to have a life together.

When a prophecy about the Shades of Power comes to light, both sides want the power for the battle against the other. The question is—who will unite them first?

Pages or Words: 36,444 words
Categories: Fantasy, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal

Excerpt

“What are you doing here?” he asked, feeling proud his voice remained level.
“My, my, is that any way to speak to a customer, Ethan?”
“You are not a customer, nor will you be a customer. Tell me what you want and then get the hell out of my shop.”
Ethan had a second to regret his rudeness when she narrowed her eyes at him, but reminding himself that nothing good could come of her visit had him standing there with his head held high.
“I would watch how you speak to me, Ethan, since we both know who the stronger witch is.”
“Well, if you are the stronger witch, then there’s absolutely no reason why you would be in my shop. Make sure the door doesn’t hit you on the way out.”
Ethan watched as her eyes narrowed even further, to the point where he wasn’t sure she could even see him. All the while he waited for her reaction—or rather, the explosion that was likely coming.
Suddenly she blinked and then smiled, which was far scarier than anything Ethan could remember seeing before.
“You’re right, Ethan, I am the stronger witch, and as such, I have better things to do than waste my time making potions. So here I am, ready to purchase the potions I need and help my dear little brother make some money so that he can survive in this big, bad world we live in.”
Ethan almost sighed, wanting to forget about being related to the monster in front of him. No one had believed him when he had accused her of being evil. While everyone else had seen her as a gifted child, Ethan had seen the dark side of her early on. Deep down he’d known that she would turn to the dark arts, but everyone he’d told thought he’d just said that to get attention, even their parents. When they’d died, it had left a huge hole in his heart, but he’d finally been able to escape his sister by using some of his inheritance money to move towns and buy his cabin. Although, he couldn’t really call it escaping when on her way out one day she’d told him to pack his things and be gone when she returned. For the first time in his life, he’d obeyed her.
Snapping back to the present, Ethan tried to focus, knowing that if he didn’t, things could go badly.
“What do you want, Des?” he asked.
She frowned at him for a moment before speaking. “Actually, it’s Ravyn now, Ravyn Darkh. Maybe you’ve heard of me?”
Oh shit!

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Meet the Author

Beany lives in Western Australia. She first started reading romance novels in 2008, but it wasn’t until January 2010 when her Kindle got delivered that the world of erotic romance opened its doors to her, and she hasn’t looked back.

With suggestions and support from friends, her muse—“affectionately” known as PITA—was finally able to break free, and in January 2014 her first story was written. Since she can’t put PITA back in his box, Beany has decided to give in and team up with him. Together they’ve made plans to write both MF and MM stories.

She can be reached at beany.sparks@gmail.com
Or visit her at http://www.beanysparks.com

Where to find the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beany.sparks
Twitter: @BeanySparks

Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, MM Good Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter, Bayou Book Junkie, BFD Book Blog, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Mikky’s World of Books, The Jena Wade, Havan Fellows, My Fiction Nook, Divine Magazine, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, For the Love of Bookends, The Hat Party, Molly Lolly, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Inked Rainbow Reads, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Carly’s Book Reviews, Ogitchida Book Blog, Nephylim, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

 

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: e-Copy of ‘Shades of Power’ by Beany Sparks. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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Enter the Dystopian World of Bane by Amelia C. Gormley (Riptide Tour and contest)

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Bane (Strain, #2) by Amelia C. Gormley
Published by Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist  Kanaxa

Buy Bane at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome Amelia C. Gormley here today as we step back into her dystopian universe of Strain.  Amelia’s brought not only a contest for Bane, but the rough draft of a new Strain universe novel, Refuge.   On our part of the tour, our readers will get the first look at Chapter 1 (part2) of Refuge, .  Welcome, Amelia, and thanks for the opportunity for this first glimpse at your new story!

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Hi, and welcome to the Bane blog tour!

I don’t think it’s any secret that a lot of readers, in the wake of reading  Strain, wanted more of Darius and Rhys. Already by that point I was brainstorming the pre- and peri-apocalyptic story that would become  Juggernaut, but the further along I got on that, the more I realized the situation Zach and Nico were in couldn’t be resolved in the timeframe of Juggernaut. They needed developments that would only make sense to happen after the events of Strain. The plot also required Rhys to have matured a great deal since the end of Strain. Altogether, it gave me a beautiful opportunity to bring closure and an HEA ending (or at least as close to one as you get at the end of the world) for both sets of protagonists.

Thus we have Bane.

Over the course of the Bane blog tour, I’ll be sharing a free post-Bane short story, Refuge. How far post-Bane? Well, you’ll have to read and see. Some developments that happen in Bane are referenced, but not in any great detail, which means the reader should only encounter a few very broad, non-specific spoilers. Obviously, though, it will be best enjoyed if you’ve read Bane already (and Bane, of course, is best enjoyed after Juggernaut and Strain.)

Refuge introduces us to three new characters, Kal, Billie, and perhaps my favorite, Zeus. It’s a completely sex-free story, so you’re safe reading it at work. If my nebulous thoughts on how to continue the Strain universe ever take shape, it’s very possible a lot of material in this short story will be folded into a larger plot with Kal and Billie as the protagonists, and if that happens, you’ll find the smut there.

Each day, at least one stop on the blog tour will contain a section of the story. These segments may end or begin a little abruptly or clumsily at times, as I tried to split them in such a way that no one section would be to long and cumbersome for a single stop on the blog tour. In its linear form, it would simply be a five chapter story. By the end of the tour, all the sections will have been posted. If you need to catch up, you can check out the blog tour page (linked above), or my website, or the “Extras” tab on the Bane product page at Riptide for sequential links to all the posts.

Anyone who follows along on the tour will qualify to win store credit at Riptide. To enter the drawing, leave a comment on this post including a way to contact you (email, Twitter, or Facebook.) Each stop along the blog tour that you visit offers you another chance to enter.Be sure to check the Riptide blog tour schedule for a complete list of other stops. The contest will close 9/26/15. Any entries made without a way to contact the winner will be invalidated, so please don’t forget to provide your email, or your Twitter or Facebook address. As always, you must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Good luck, and enjoy Refuge!

*****

*Author’s Note: Refuge is completely unedited and un-proofed. What you’re seeing here is essentially a first draft, and like any first draft, it often may be clumsy to read or contain extraneous world-building and info-dumping that would be trimmed and streamlined during the editing process. Actually, I kind of like sharing it with you this way, if for no other reason than to allow readers to see just how much world-building happens behind the scenes and in my head, but doesn’t ever actually make it onto the page.

And of course, there will be typos. Oh so many typos.

*****

Blurb

The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.Bane_600x900

Rhys Cooper’s unique immunity to all three strains of the virus that nearly annihilated humanity has brought him the unwanted attention of Clean Zone scientists. They’ve summoned him for testing—ostensibly in the hopes of finding a vaccine—but Rhys’s partner, Darius Murrell, has good reason not to trust any government. He and his comrades in Delta Company were unwitting test subjects for Project Juggernaut, the military experiment that gave them superhuman abilities and unleashed the pandemic. Doubting the government’s intentions, Delta Company refuses to let Rhys go alone.

Fear of infection has kept Zach Houtman and his lover Nico Fernández apart for a decade. They meet rarely, just long enough to coordinate their spying on the head of the government’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood is a vicious predator, and they suspect he’s trying to acquire the strain of the virus that would make him superhuman. To stop him, they need the perfect bait: Rhys.

For Rhys, helping them might cost him his relationship with Darius—or his life. For Zach and Nico, even if their plan succeeds, they still face the ultimate question: can infected and uninfected people ever live together safely?

*****

About the Author

Amelia C. Gormley published her first short story in the school newspaper in the 4thgrade, and since then has suffered the persistent delusion that enabling other people to hear the voices in her head might be a worthwhile endeavor. She’s even convinced her hapless spouse that it could be a lucrative one as well, especially when coupled with her real-life interest in angst, kink, social justice issues, and pretty men.

When her husband and son aren’t interacting with the back of her head as she stares at the computer, they rely on her to feed them, maintain their domicile, and keep some semblance of order in their lives (all very, very bad ideas—they really should know better by now.) She can also be found playing video games and ranting on Tumblr, seeing as how she’s one of those horrid social justice warriors out to destroy free speech, gaming, geek culture, and everything else that’s fun everywhere.

You can find her self-published Impulse trilogy almost anywhere ebooks are sold, and check out her catalog of Riptide Publishing releases at their website.

 

Refuse, A Strain Universe Novel

CHAPTER 1, PART 2

She landed hard, her shoulder and ribs screaming a song of pain at the impact. Billie’s teeth snapped closed on her tongue and the metallic taste of blood filled her mouth. She wasn’t sure if the crack she heard was the house collapsing around her, or her own bones fracturing. The basement was even colder than the house above it had been, filled with the odors of wet and mildew, dirt and animal droppings. It was impossibly dark; even the meager moonlight that had filtered through the dusty windows of the house above was all but gone. Around her, rodents squeaked and squealed and chittered.
That was the sound that broke her.
Weeping with fear and despair, she curled into a ball. Even if it didn’t hurt to move, the chances of her finding the stairs in the pitch black were almost non-existent, and if she did stumble upon them by sheer luck, they were just as rotten as the floor had been. More so, really. She’d ventured to check them when she was exploring the house as a possible shelter, hoping there might be something she could scavenge in the basement. The first one had been mushy beneath her carefully-placed foot and she hadn’t dared put her weight on it. Climbing them now, when she was already injured, would just be impossible.
But sooner or later those rats in the darkness were going to overcome their fear at this loud intrusion and start biting her. Then she would die of infection or disease if the cold didn’t kill her first.
She was tired. Too tired to make the effort to try to survive. She closed her eyes and begged whatever powers that be to help her go to sleep or even freeze to death before the pain began.
Something warm pressed against her, whining softly. The dog. It had gotten into the house and down the stairs she wasn’t brave enough to climb. Its cold wet nose nudged her face, its tongue licking her cheek. It stiffened and growled, and Billie braced herself for it to bite, but a moment later it was nudging her and whining again.
That process repeated itself several times—the curious sniffing and licking, followed by a menacing growl. The growl didn’t seem to be for her, though. Finally she realized it only growled when the rats got louder.
Closer?
Was it driving off them off?
Was it protecting her?
Eventually it snarled and lunged at something. A loud squeal and a lot of movement followed, the scratching and clicking of little feet as they bolted in fear. Then there was silence except for the dog, who returned to press against her and whine reassuringly.
She was still cold where she lay on the concrete of the basement floor, but the warmth of the dog helped offset that. Billie grew braver, wrapping an arm around it and burying her face in its fur. It smelled . . . clean. Not like she imagined a wild dog would smell at all. Maybe this was a domesticated dog that had somehow wandered away from the Clean Zone, or perhaps even one that had gone with someone who had left the Clean Zone for the same sorts of reasons Billie had. Maybe that person had died and now it was alone like her.
Feeling safer than she had since she’d run away, despite the cold and hunger, she fell into an exhausted sleep.
When she woke, the dog was still there, and faint hints of light were filling the hole in the floor over her head. It ran off once she was awake, and it was gone for some time before returning. Consciousness was an elusive thing. Sometimes the dog was gone, and sometimes it was right there, radiating warmth. Sometimes it barked at her, begging her to get up and follow it up the stairs. She even managed to crawl a few feet in that direction before the shaking of her limbs and weariness dragging her down had made it impossible.
The dog charged off again, and in that icy, semi-conscious state, she thought she heard it barking in the distance. No doubt berating her for not following.
All she could do was lay there, too cold even to shiver.

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Strain

In the early 22nd century, the US military created Project Juggernaut. It was meant to solve a hopeless tactical imbalance in overseas wars by providing the US military with supersoldiers while crippling enemy resistance.

Instead, it introduced a deadly pandemic that all but obliterated humanity.

The remaining Juggernaut troops work tirelessly to find and protect the surviving uninfected population—even though they themselves are exiled and despised by those they help. But their efforts are hampered by the vestiges of a dysfunctional government, old prejudices that refuse to die, and those few who would do anything—and sacrifice anyone—to become superhuman too.

– See more at Riptide Publishing’s Strain universe page.

 

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