A MelanieM Review: Happy Medium (Club Raven #1) by Julia Talbot

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

happymedium-1Andrew is out to debunk Max as a medium, not make love to him…

A Club Raven Novel

Max Bellame is working his way through 1870s Baltimore as a medium, even if he knows nothing about spirits. He uses the power of his mind to move objects, convincing his clients he’s the real thing.

Andrew Meechum works for Club Raven, a gentleman’s club that doubles as a paranormal research facility. He sets out to debunk Max, only to be fascinated by the man. Can Andrew convince Max to take a chance on love, and to find his true calling as a medium, or will their personal demons force them apart?

Happy Medium is one of three Club Raven stories that center around a 1800’s gentlemen’s club that’s actually a living structure that house men/beings who have paranormal talents.  Its also a library, science lab, law enforcement branch, ‘what have you’ when it  comes to the needs of the paranormal.  Its also very, very, kinky.  Think local dungeon in the 1890’s.  You only get enough knowledge about Club Raven to want to know more.  Its fluid enough that each author (there are 3) can bend it according to the needs of her story.

I read the stories out of order, reading this one second.  I think it hurt all three in comparison to be honest.  One story had depth to the characters, their relationship and the reason for the D/s dynamics was laid out beautifully.  In another it was more PWP.  Happy Medium is well, just that,  the novel that falls exactly between the two.

We meet Max Bellame at a seance’.  He’s got true ability to move objects with his mind and uses that telekinesis to make his clients think they are talking to the dead.  Enter Andrew Meechum from Club Raven, investigating Max, to see if he’s the real deal.  There’s an attraction between them them even as the seance starts to go wrong.  Yes, you could say that  sparks flew.

I liked the characters, I thought the author did a good job in laying out who they were, backgrounds etc.  What bothered me about them and their relationship?  How quickly they jumped immediately into not only sex (in the 1890’s!) but a BDSM relationship, specifically a D/s when one had no prior knowledge of kink or the workings of such.  It was “strap me now”.  And that bothered me so much wondering about the time frame (imprisonment or worse), the fact that someone new and frankly distrustful of the man and club would jump into acts that require high levels of trust.  Well, it hurt the rest of the story.

Which was quite good.

There is another plot layer which I wish had been enlarged  (and the bdsm edited into a smaller role) which included Club Raven in a large role, its inhabitants, and other beings.  That was far more dynamic in my opinion.  I loved the interaction between Max and Andrew here.

Insta love/insta D/s is one thing that pulled this story down.  The surrounding layers and  plot threads made it  interesting as did seeing characters I had already encountered in the other stories appear.  I still enjoyed the tale.  You might not be bothered by the instalove aspect.  Club Raven has so much to offer, I’m wondering if these authors are going to go past these three books.  I would love to see what the paranormal part of the Club  holds out for the lost souls of the 1800’s.

Cover art works for the characters and novel.

 

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 186 pages
Published January 17th 2017 by Evil Plot Bunny LLC
ISBN139781942831419
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttp://www.evilplotbunny.com/index.php/happy-medium-a-club-raven-novel/
SeriesClub Raven #1

 

Club Raven:

Happy Medium (Club Raven, #1)  by Julia Talbot

Wishful Thinking (Club Raven, #2)  by Kiernan Kelly

Calling His Bluff (Club Raven, #3)  by B.A. Tortuga

A VVivacious Release Day Review: The Craving by Z. Allora

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Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5
the-craving-by-z-alloraPhoenix is a chosen, destined to devote his life to the betterment of dimensional art at the monastery and spend his life as a slave to the Principles of Purity. But for Phoenix this is a great honour and from the very day he learns of his status as a chosen, he decides to spend his life abiding by the Principles of Purity. Phoenix is prepared for his future but what he isn’t prepared for is Zadra Solav who steals his breath and pushes him into his first craving years ahead of schedule.
 
Riva Quinton lives on the radioactive wasteland which comprises his planet of Feri. His aunt sacrifices her life to get Riva on a Star Chaser headed to the monastery, so that at least he may survive his family. On the Star Chaser he meets Eytan Rain Otak Sita a.k.a. Eros from the planet of Song Di-Wang II. Their budding friendship rushes headfirst into an emotional attachment but as initiates of the monastery they are forbidden from love and lust.
 
Two couples, very much in love, separated by the law… Will they ever find their happy ending?
 
This story is fascinating and very interesting. There is loads of world-building. This entire story takes place in a different star system and a technologically more advanced one at that. There are a lot of planets harbouring a lot of different species with lots of different customs and outlooks on life. It was amazing to witness so many different outlooks of people on life. These planets are united by their political affiliations wherein they all accept the rule of His Greatness Ruler Xantha Aspara Paramendor, resident of Viking-Haven and ruler of the Xantha Galaxy.
 
The world-building in this book while fascinating, also has a lot of pitfalls but that is mainly because of the fact that the author has created an entirely new galaxy and even imparting basic knowledge of this galaxy and its various planets and people would have probably not made for a very interesting read. So while I acknowledge that yes some things are a little vague, I accept that it is better that way. But one thing I would have loved more information about and I felt that this information should have necessarily been parted with was how other people viewed dimensional art especially sixth dimension dimensional art, how exactly did that art influence people’s actions and how come no one had used the same art responsible for peace to incite war, rebellion and hatred and what would the outcome of such a thing be. In this book we only ever get to see dimensional art from the perspective of its creators which basically doesn’t give us any information on how dimensional art brought about peace and changed the course of the Galaxy.
 
This story is also not evenly split between the two couples. I personally feel that we get to see a lot more of Riva and Eros because they are established as a couple earlier on in the story while Phoenix and Zadra are more like the secondary couple especially because they aren’t a couple for more than half of the book.
 
I liked all the main characters but especially Eros and Riva because we get to know them quite better and also because since Riva has spent his life so far on Feri, he is inquisitive about a lot of things about the Xantha Galaxy that we aren’t privy to and thus his perspective is the most informative.
 
Yoshio Xirau is a non-chosen female admitted to the monastery and that is a rare thing to say the least because she is the only one. Now Yoshio is shown to be shy and afraid to connect with others. But this description only fits Yoshio in one chapter, because following that you she her back-talking and making her opinions known which begs the question that given her personality in latter chapters, why did she allow herself to be bullied by the chosen females. I found her role to be very intrusive with regards to Phoenix and Zadra’s relationship. My problem with her characterisation was that she seemed to be a whole lot unrealistic especially when she manages to smuggle two people under surveillance on-board the Ruler’s very own Star Chaser.
 
Personally the plot is interesting because of the fascinating world-building but when it comes down to the essence of the plot, it was supposed to answer the question if these two couples whose existence was contrary to the law would be allowed to be together. But not much of the plot is devoted to this aspect of the story. Also the fact that these couples are breaking the law doesn’t seem to burden their conscience at all, not even Phoenix’s who has lived by the Principles of Purity since the age of 14. There is an easy resolution to the plot. Also it seems like the author may plan a sequel because this book is very open ended as a wave of change is headed towards the Xantha Galaxy but while I would have loved a sequel focusing on dimensional art and its implications, I don’t know if I would like to read a sequel more focused on the political side of things.
 
There are a few loose ends – one being what was it that Zadra had asked for when His Greatness had asked him to name his price and the second one being Monk Paksus, what was up with that guy? Also I would have liked to know if anyone else shared Phoenix’s views of the empty canvas.
 
Overall the story is well written, with good characters and amazing world-building but it fails a bit when it comes to the plot but still makes for an enjoyable read.
 
Cover Art by Paul Richmond. It tries to capture the exotic world of the Xantha Galaxy and features Phoenix and Zadra.
Sales Links
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Book Details:
ebook, 280 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634779053 (ISBN13: 9781634779050)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw and David Ross (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

redesigning-max-audioRenowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.

 

When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?

 

Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.

 

This story is a wonderful continuance in this series.  Fredi is a little sad when he’s with his friend Jimmy and his boyfriend; he has to learn to jump in if he wants what they have in spite of the consequences.  In addition to being known for his interior design, Fredi is also an award winning architect.  He is amazed when he gets to visit Max’s home and expects something similar to his cabin, but gets the exact opposite.

 

This story is told from Fredi’s point of view, which gives us a good view of his thoughts and feelings.  We still get to see the other characters pretty clearly, even if Fredi doesn’t see it at the time.  I love how Max isn’t willing to let others’ prejudice affect his chance with Fredi and sees the light at the end of the tunnel when things go bad.  It was nice to see how each of them admired the other, but didn’t know it until they began talking about their interests.

 

David Ross did a wonderful job narrating this story.  I was able to connect with the characters through hos he showed the characters’ emotions in his reading of the story.  We got to see Guy and Jimmy a bit which is always nice.

 

Cover art by AngstyG is wonderful and gives a great visuals of the characters and follows the pattern for the series.

 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 2hrs 55min
Published December 20, 2016 (ebook first published July 29, 2015)
Edition Language: English

Series: A Foothills Pride Story

In the Historical Spotlight: The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple by K.A. Merikan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple:

Author: K.A. Merikan

Publisher:  Acerbi&Villani ltd.

Release Date: 7th of February 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 140,000 words

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Historical – 18th Century Cornwall, Highwayman, Kidnapping, Forbidden love, Violence

Add to Goodreads

 

Writing historical books requires a lot of research, otherwise they might will feel washed out. Because of the theme of this particular novel, we needed to look into the legislation of the period and find out how laws were applied.

Executions used to be major attractions at that time, with spectators filling up Bodmin every time a hanging was taking place. People’s morals must have been very different from ours, because convicts weren’t only killed for murder or highway robberies with violence. No, people had been hanged for stealing someone’s spoon, or a sheep. This shows how ferociously the wealthy protected their possessions, and how little human life meant in comparison. On the other hand, in case of livestock, one could argue life was at stake. Sometimes, a cow or a goat was vital to the survival of a poor family, so losing it meant malnourishment, and possibly even death. Either way, reading through a list of public executions from the eighteenth century is a bizarre experience.

Around the period the book is set (1785), the executions were moved closer to the new gaol in Bodmin. The previous location, known as the Five Lanes for its convenient location where roads from several towns converged, had been utilized since the mid-sixteenth century at least. I went through the list of 1785 executions to make the descriptions as true to reality as possible, and I discovered something shocking.

Talk about coincidence! A man named William Hill had been executed at the Five Lanes in Bodmin on July 23rd 1785–a date corresponding to the timeline of The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple–for the murder of none other than John Pascoe. There wouldn’t have been anything unusual about it if it weren’t for the fact that this is the name of our book’s villain. I swear we picked his name at random. We looked through lists of people who lived in eighteenth century Cornwall to pick up a surname that was local to the region.

I’m not even gonna check who that particular John Pascoe was, because that is just too freaky for my taste 😉

Have you ever had this kind of bizarre experience when reading something related to history? A known name, or a vaguely familiar face in an old photo?

The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple is the kind of book that just needed to be written, despite our already tight schedule. The idea first came to us when we watched a documentary about highwaymen, but we promised ourselves to wait. And then we went to Cornwall for a month, and initial plans collapsed. As we walked through the woods, watching the lush nature and the old stone cottages peppered on both sides of a valley where we were staying, the characters and story steadily came to us. Our aim was to write a historical book that provides as much excitement as readers learned to expect from our contemporary romance.

RELEASE DATE: 7th February 2017

If you want to see our inspiration photos for this book, check out the ‘Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple’ Pinterest board:

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The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple is our baby. It’s been a year since we started working on this book, and to celebrate its release, we’re organizing a quiz for readers who follow The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple blog tour. Answers to all questions will be provided in the blog posts, and we will then randomly pick the lucky winners. You can win:

  • a signed paperback of The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple + a selection of Cornish treats (main prize – for one person)
  • 3 ebooks of choice from our backlist + a surprise treat from Cornwall (will go to 3 more people)

For a chance to win, follow the instructions in blog posts and solve the quiz, which will be published on our website on 1st February 2017. Please, send answers to kamerikan@gmail.com with ‘Black Sheep Quiz’ in the subject line of the email.

 

Winners will be randomly chosen from readers who sent us correct answers by 17th February 2017.

LINKS TO ALL POSTS:

02/01 THE QUIZ

02/03 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

02/06 We Three Queens

02/07 Boy Meets Boy Reviews

02/08 Prism Book Alliance

02/09 The Novel Approach

02/09 Joyfully Jay

02/10 The Zipper Rippers

02/10 The Book Bella

02/11 Divine Magazine

02/12 Bayou Book Junkie

Synopsis

“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”
“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for.”

Cornwall, 1785

Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.

Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.

No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.

When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.

Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.

But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes: highwayman, abduction, ransom, forbidden love, self-discovery, danger, crime,
Genre: Dark romance, historical
Erotic content: Explicit scenes

Length: ~140,000 words (standalone novel)

WARNING: Adult content. Contains violence, distressing scenes, abuse, offensive language, and morally ambiguous protagonists.

Excerpt

The sun was high up in the sky by the time the desynchronized orchestra left Julian’s skull. There wasn’t enough space to properly lie down anywhere in the carriage, but he managed to obtain a comfortable position by resting his legs up the wooden wall while his upper body occupied one of the benches. He still felt like the filling of an enormous rattle as the carriage bent in all possible directions on the uneven road leading away from the coast.

Horace didn’t even make an attempt to hold back his disapproval, but after delivering several biting comments and a lengthy speech about duty, he at last leaned against the side of the carriage in the seat across from Julian and closed his eyes. It was difficult to say whether he was truly in need of a nap or if it was Julian’s face that he didn’t wish to look at.

With his headache out of the way yet not quite well enough to read, Julian opened the curtains in hope of amusing himself with the views, but so far, he merely got to see the side of a narrow gully—all dirt and grass.

He couldn’t understand why Father was being so implacable about having his youngest son marry a title. Couldn’t it wait a fortnight so that Julian could finish that new novel he came up with last night? This one could truly be the breakthrough Julian had been waiting for, the one that would make the Reece family known for more than fabric trade.

Inspiration was a moment in time when Julian’s friend Martin emerged from the darkness of an alley behind the tavern. In that very second he had not resembled himself but a man made of bronze, dreamlike and yet of substance, with strong hands that could crush Julian if they wanted. The novel would start with a similar encounter somewhere in the narrow back alleys, just off the Colosseum. Haunted by the ghost of an ancient gladiator, the protagonist would be believed to be slowly descending into madness, when in reality his awareness of the supernatural would become a vehicle for truth.

Julian was not yet certain of the exact message he wished to convey, but the events would be presented from several points of view, through letters written by the protagonist, his friends, and an official of some sort who’d represent the stale world order.

He’d already had several beautifully evocative ideas for metaphors describing the gladiator himself, but they became somewhat blurry after a night of cards and drink.

Oh, if only he could travel to Rome to let the atmosphere of the city soak him all the way to the bone—without a wife fighting for his attention and pulling him away from work because of feminine fancies.

He looked out of the window with growing disdain. Who in their right mind traveled on Sunday, and so early at that? Julian would have much preferred listening to a sermon at church to spending the day in what was effectively a hearse carrying one of the brightest literary talents just waiting to be discovered.

Now that Julian was feeling better, he was upset with himself about not asking for a day’s delay on religious grounds. He’d never been as devout about prayer as he was about his art, but if the Christian faith could postpone his commitment to a woman he never met, he would gladly kneel and pray. And Miss White wasn’t even a woman but a girl of fifteen, quite pretty in the portrait Julian had been shown, and a viscount’s only daughter at that, but surely as hungry for her intended’s attention as the bawdy house wench who’d become sweet on Julian some years ago.

Back then, he still visited Madame Canard’s establishment to do what everyone else did when they visited a school of Venus. These days, Julian had neither the overwhelming desire nor patience to handle a cunt, no matter how lovely the lady it was attached to. He still enjoyed having a drink with the harlots, and no card table within twenty miles was as lively as the one at Madame Canard’s, but at twenty-five he’d much rather handle needs of the flesh in solitude.

Sweet perfume made his nose itch, the act itself made him unpleasantly sticky—with his sweat and hers—and while he would not dare to ask, it was his suspicion that the friends who usually accompanied him to the brothel were only whoring so much because of pride and bravado. It was a sign of status to be able to afford women and decent wine daily, and so fucking and gambling was the thing you did as a social activity.

Julian’s eyes darted to Horace, who slept with his head thrown back and leaning against the side of the carriage. His wide-open mouth was asking for a distasteful prank, but Julian was far too upset to think of amusing himself at Horace’s expense. So far, the day’s joke was on him.

In the years past, he’d been mocked by his father and siblings over not taking on a profession that they deemed worthy of a gentleman, but with the family being very prosperous, Julian saw no reason to divert his focus from his one true calling.

Despite frequent threats, he’d hoped that Father—having four willing sons and three daughters—wouldn’t push Julian into marriage, but it seemed a lost cause. Soon it would be a wife nagging Julian to stop wasting his time following intellectual pursuits and instead turn his attention to practical matters. As the head of his own family, maybe he’d even be pushed to join the family trade, one step farther from traveling abroad to meet the great artists of the continent.

The carriage started a steep climb up a hill, and Julian cursed, pushing the soles of his boots against the wall to keep his body from rolling off the narrow bench. How long would it take for them to reach London at this pace? It was over two hundred miles away, so a week perhaps? The last time Julian had made the journey, he was so intoxicated most days that he couldn’t properly count them.

But out of nowhere, as the slope of the hill became gentler, the ugly dirt and grass that had been Julian’s only source of entertainment for the last half an hour were replaced by lush greenery of tree tops. He grinned and glanced at Horace, but the fat sod was too busy snoring to notice the change in scenery.

A wicked plan was starting to take shape in Julian’s head, and he quietly removed his feet from the side of the carriage and lowered them to the floor. Pulling himself upright was easy enough after that, and he stalled, eyes transfixed on the permanently flushed face of his brother that was an unappetizing contrast with the white wig he wore, and made him look like a man many years his senior. Julian might be less inclined to business, less sedate than his siblings, but at the very least he had good taste and flair most of Julian’s family lacked, buried deep in the stern world of pretense and money.

Horace didn’t even stir. The old pig was fast asleep, and if that wasn’t Julian’s chance to save his life, he didn’t know what was. Careful not to make any sound, Julian gathered his valise and the coat he’d earlier taken off because of the heat, stilling when the carriage came to a halt. His eyes immediately darted to Horace, but his brother only smacked his lips in his sleep. Hunt could have stopped to relieve himself. What an opportunity this was!

Julian could feel his heartbeat in his throat when he softly pressed on the door handle. Still distinctly aware of his brother being close enough for their knees to touch, were Julian not careful enough. He opened the carriage and left it in a soft stride before closing the door with care.

A warm breeze combed through his hair, wiping away the unpleasant wetness of sweat, and his lungs filled with fresh air, but he didn’t get to enjoy it.

The shining muzzle of a pistol was grinning at him from inches away.

Despite the warm weather, Julian’s whole body was shaken by a chill when his gaze met a pair of eyes so dark they might as well have been lacquered coals. The man had a tricorn hat pulled low over his forehead, and a black scarf obscuring the lower half of his face.

This can’t be happening.

“Don’t try to scream, or I will blow your brains out.” The man squinted and lowered his gun to Julian’s pupil. “Through the eye.”

Julian opened his mouth as his throat closed, robbing him of breath. He wanted to look back, suddenly wishing Horace weren’t such an easy sleeper, but Hunt was nowhere to be seen either. Heat washed over Julian’s body, making him stiffen as if he were made of clay. Had this man hurt their coachman? If so, where was the body?

“What do you want?” Julian whispered, resting his hand on the door handle when his knees softened.

“These.” A hand in a leather glove gripped Julian’s sweaty fingers and slipped off his rings. “And all your other valuables.” The man didn’t even blink, his voice dark as if dragged through tar.

Julian stared, and his mind finally came up with the answer for what this was. “You’re a highwayman…”

“And you’re cork-brained to travel on a Sunday when the roads are empty.” The man’s gaze drifted away to Horace for a split second, but he must have judged him as no threat, and when Horace snored from inside the carriage, the highwayman chuckled quietly.

Julian’s lungs emptied, and a silly grin emerged on his face, encouraged by the highwayman’s amusement. “Ah, I should have gone to church after all.”

The smile died on his lips when the robber poked Julian’s temple with his gun.

“Your valuables,” he urged.

Julian clenched his teeth when they threatened to clatter. He needed to keep calm. His father believed his friends to be villains, so he could handle one. “I’ve been taken out of the tavern this morning with nothing but the clothes on my back. I lost everything at the tables. You should try my older brother. He’s Father’s heir. He should have a healthy sum on him.”

The highwayman gripped the front of Julian’s waistcoat and pulled him forward so hard Julian stumbled straight into the man’s arms. He was much taller than Julian, with wide shoulders that were so strong their size couldn’t be just padding. His clothes smelled of leather and horse sweat, and Julian found himself staring into the eyes above the black scarf.

Before he could say a word, the man turned him around, and pressed the gun to the side of his head.

“Go on, wake up your brother.”

Julian breathed in and out, stiff with discomfort at the warm body pressed against his back as if the highwayman was seeking warmth. The gun provided some relief against heated skin. Its presence made Julian’s blood speed through his veins. It wouldn’t go off. Murder wasn’t in the robber’s interest, but if that was the case, then where the hell was Hunt?

Then an idea illuminated Julian’s mind. “I have a proposition, Mister—”

The highwayman stilled. He’d be lying. Of course. “Noir,” he said in the end. “What kind of proposition can you have, pretty boy? With no money in your pockets.”

Something about Noir’s tone sent a hot shiver through Julian’s ribcage, but he ignored the condescending words and slowly looked back into the blackest eyes he’d ever seen. “I don’t have much on me, but you must know my father. He’s William Reece, the cloth merchant. You could take me and ask for ransom. We could split it between us like two gentlemen,” he whispered and gave Noir a polite nod. Appealing to the highwayman’s self-importance should do the trick. His kind were known for a love of opulence and status they didn’t deserve.

He must have managed to surprise the thief, because Noir’s grip on him faltered. “How much could I ask for a son who hates his father?”

Julian exhaled in relief when he felt Noir’s aggression turn away from him. “A lot. He needs me. I’m worth more than you can imagine,” he said with a small smile.

Noir stole another glance at Horace sleeping in the back of the carriage, and his gloved hand slid to Julian’s neck, squeezing around his nape in a way that had Julian rising to his toes. “You better be. You scream, or try to run, and I will kill you.”

Julian swallowed against the warm, soft leather. It felt surprisingly expensive. Might have been snatched from a gentleman. “I don’t doubt that,” he lied. “However, we share a common goal, friend.”

“Call me ‘friend’ once this is all over.” Noir shook his head and pushed Julian behind the carriage, where a gloriously jet-black stallion awaited its rider, and watched Julian with eyes as dark as Noir’s.

“I hope you haven’t hurt our driver. He’s a good fellow,” said Julian, smiling at the huge beast in front of him.

“He’ll live. Your brother will find him once he wakes up.”

Julian was sure there had to be a hint of a smile under that black scarf. When Noir put the gun inside his coat, Julian tried to assess the man more thoroughly.

The black leather riding coat was worn but of good quality. Could have been stolen too, but the clothes underneath, as black as everything the man wore, were clean, suggesting the highwayman wasn’t sleeping rough somewhere. Unless he dressed up for robbery.

Julian opened his mouth to comment on the beauty of the horse, but Noir spun Julian around and pulled back his hands.

“Good heavens. We’re partners,” Julian whispered with distaste. Hot and cold sweats were hitting him in rapid waves, and he couldn’t tell whether he was scared or excited about this new development. Once he got out of this, he could write a novel about the peril of travellers attacked by rogues while driving through a dark, rainy forest, and with a bit of poetic license, call it a true story.

“I haven’t decided on that yet,” said Noir, and a cold shiver went down Julian’s back at the proficiency with which the man tied his hands. A former sailor perhaps? That wouldn’t bode well, as those types rarely possessed the intellectual capability for complicated schemes. His speech was also far too refined to have been only recently acquired. Damnation!

“Mr. Noir. I’d much rather ride with my hands free. You see, I’ve been incapacitated by gin just this morning, and I don’t feel secure enough without my hands to assist me yet. I assure you, I am harmless.”

Once Noir had tied Julian’s hands, he turned him around. “Now you are. Up.” And just as Julian was wondering how exactly he was supposed to climb atop the tall beast, the scoundrel grabbed his legs and picked him up. Julian barely refrained from screaming. It was no way to handle a gentleman, and yet he couldn’t help but be amazed by Noir’s physical prowess.

Definitely a sailor. A naval officer, perhaps.

Julian’s face flushed with heat when he imagined his bottom sticking out like a whore’s ass at a party. Good grief, what had he gotten himself into? What was next? Being kidnapped by pirates?

His foot found the stirrup, and he exhaled with relief, pushing his other leg over the horse’s hindquarters until he straddled its back. “I see no reason for this kind of treatment, considering it was I who came up with a most lucrative opportunity for you.”

“Keep that up, and I will gag you.” Noir was quick to get on the horse himself as soon as he’d attached Julian’s coat and valise to the saddle. Julian felt completely overwhelmed when the man reached for the reins, all but embracing him.

Julian shuddered and curled his shoulders to not be in the way, though no matter what he did, the shape of the saddle brought them close together. “You’re a scoundrel. Another man in your profession would have treated me right.”

Noir laughed darkly. “You are correct, sir. How could I have forgotten.” Even though the mockery had him exaggerate the polite accent, Julian was becoming certain that Noir’s natural speech was not that of someone uneducated.

Before Julian understood what was happening, Noir pulled a burlap sack over his head.

“I will scream,” whispered Julian, staring through the dots of light in the smelly thing. He squeezed his hands into fists and pushed them hard against Noir’s stomach. His mind was rattling again, as if the drunkenness returned with full force.

“No one will hear you where we’re going.”

“Julian?” came a sleepy voice from the carriage.

Noir’s thighs tensed, and he must have urged his mount to rush, as it went almost straight into gallop.

Julian screamed at the top of his lungs. “Horace!”

The stallion flew forward, and without the aid of his hands, Julian was forced to hang on to it with his legs alone, shaken like a rattle. The rapid gait moved him back and forth over the front of the saddle, making Julian stiffen and push back against the firm chest behind him. Without seeing where they were going, Julian tried to hold on to anything he had on hand, and as it happened, it was probably Noir’s waistcoat. If the horse tripped, at least they would stumble and break their bones together. Or maybe the villain would cushion Julian’s fall in a well-meaning act of God.

It was Sunday.

 

Meet the Author

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are mistaken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite being over thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

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Z. Allora on Writing, World Building and her release ‘The Craving’ (guest blog and giveaway)

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The Craving by Z. Allora
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Z. Allora here today talking about writing, world building and her latest story.  Welcome, Z.

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Star System Building Starts With Sex by Z. Allora

I want to thank Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for allowing me to share my new release with you: The Craving. (There’s also a giveaway to thank the readers). If you read my stories or you’re one of my Facebook Pretties, you know I believe that the relationships we have with sex and gender affects the filter we use to view the world. I figured just cause I’m wandering through space doesn’t mean I can’t continue to explore this connection.

Before writing The Craving I had to understand the generalizations each planet had about sex. What would their feelings and expectations toward sex, orientation, and gender. Do they have anything taboo? What are they? Why are they? Then I had to piece together if my character agreed or denied their society’s view on sex and relationships.

K’Dane: (moderately wealthy and technologically advanced)

The K’Danes believe they are sexually progressive. They openly discuss recreating (masturbation) and sex. The K’Danes go through a biological process called the craving, which is an unstoppable urge to soothe the burning need to bond on a physical and spiritual level.

Phoenix Dotir comes from K’Dane and he’s marked as a Chosen. This means he’ll forego a life mate to dedicate himself to his art. He’ll be doing every thing he can to avoid the craving. He adopted the monk’s Principles of Purity earlier than he has to which involves him wearing a protective device. He even exacted a promise from his mother that she would medicate him if he went into the craving.

Zadra Solav is torn between being respectful of Phoenix’s status as a chosen and going after what he wants. He’s open like most K’Dane but won’t try to convince Phoenix to abandon his path. 

Ambrosial: (Garden planet half vacation destination half monastery)

There is no sex at the monastery. The Principles of Purity promote chastity. Many of the initiates were unaware of the strict code of conduct or how a protective unit (chastity belt) ensures adherence to the principles. Orgasms are taboo. Even though most don’t like it they live under the strict rules or are careful not to get caught.

Song Di Wangan II: (Uber wealthy and technologically advanced)

Song citizens used to heart link with one partner for life.

The Xi virus ravaged the planet a thousand seasons ago causing many to perish. Those that were heart linked couldn’t survive the loss of their partner and it devastated the population. As a result of this monogamy was all but outlawed.

No sexual act is taboo on Song Di Wangan II. On a person’s coming of age day their parents would gift them with erotic pleasure workers to celebrate in any manner they wished. But desiring a heart linked love is viewed as backwards and dangerous.

Eytan Rain Otak Sita wants to share his life with one love. His family deemed his needs counter culture and disgusting, thus sent him away.

Feri: (radiated rock, life expectancy short & death painful)

The citizens of Feri learned at a young age, if you had privacy, time and energy you sought as much satisfaction as you could. Tomorrow wasn’t promise so enjoy everything you can to the fullest.

Riva Quinton believed in love and marriage. He wasn’t aware going to Ambrosial would mean giving up pleasure.

Viking Haven: (Capital planet and blessed in most ways)

People, who identified as female, threatened the current ruler’s great-great-great-great grandfather legitimacy. So rather then surrender his seat of power or worse share it, he mandated a gender divide. Male lords and males slaves were allowed to stay in Viking Haven’s capital while all others were banished to Valhalla.

The lords were kept to serve and protect His Greatness. Some still maintained relationships with women in Valhalla but until recently there was no easy assessable path. Homosexual power exchanges were the expected norm.

Slaves were born with the honor of serving the lords. Slaves were meant to receive penetration and the lords were meant to give. This stringent framework creates a number of issues for Viking Haven and those in charge need.

I could go into greater detail but you get the idea. Let me share the blurb with you.

The Craving Blurb:

The craving is an undeniable urge that drives K’Dane citizens to find their life mates—if only to sate their uncontrollable physical longings.

Thrilled at being named a Chosen, Phoenix Dotir leaves K’Dane to become an artist-monk who will create dimensional art capable of changing worlds. Living by the monastery’s Principles of Purity will surely help him overcome the craving. But he never accounted for star chaser Zadra Solav.

Zadra doesn’t believe in rules and makes his own future. Fate separates him from the man he loves, but one touch renders him helpless to his own desires. Bonding with a monk is forbidden, and Zadra’s family sends him to deep space to avoid disgrace. Unable to give up, Zadra must find a way reunite with his Chosen.

Tormented by enforced separation, Initiate Riva Quinton struggles with his vow of chastity and risks all to rescue his lover. Together with his Eros, he stows away on board a star craft to follow his heart.

Four men defy destiny and tradition for love… but their love is a crime punishable by death.

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press ebooks and Paperback

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Giveaway

 Leave a comment about your favorite sci-fi series (TV or book). There’s two ways to win: You’ll be entered into win a $20 Dreamspinner gift certificate (which goes across all the blog sites on The Craving tour) and I’ll also pick a winner from each individual site for an e-book from my backlist.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

About the Author

Z. Allora believes in happily ever afters for everyone. She met her own true love through the personals and has traveled to over thirty countries with him. She’s lived in Singapore, Israel and China. Now back home to the USA she’s an active member of PFLAG and a strong supporter of those on the rainbow in her community. She wants to promote understanding and acceptance through her actions and words. Writing rainbow romance allows her words to open hearts and change minds.

To contact Z. Allora:

E-mail: Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com

FACEBOOK:   Z Allora Allora

Website: www.zallorabooks.com

Twitter: @ZAllora

Love A Contemporary Romance? Check out Terrible Twos by Megs Pritchard (tour and giveaway)

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Title: Terrible Two’s
Author: Megs Pritchard
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: January 30, 2017

 

After leaving University, Zach struggled to find employment. When he eventually found work in a call centre, he was ecstatic.
But from day one he had a problem.
After an accidental run-in with the manager, John, Zach was under no illusions that his days were numbered.
While dealing with his work issues, Zach is left devastated when his sister dies.
Now, struggling at work with a boss who may or may not like him, Zach is now raising his two young nephews alone.
One night, a chance encounter with John changes everything.
But, when a problem occurs in work, is John willing to stand by Zach or will he walk away?

 

 


Megs Pritchard lives in England and is a mother to two small boys. When she isn’t working or being mummy, she is busy writing about complex characters that know the harsh realities of life but want a HEA.

 


 

A lover of M/M and M/F romances she believes everyone deserves to be happy, healthy and loved.

Growing up in a military family, Megs has traveled Europe and has a great deal of respect and gratitude for all the men and women who have and who still serve. Her dream job was to be a Bomb Disposal Expert and even had her own ‘kit’ when she was younger.

She is currently working on her first full length series called Second Chances.


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