A VVivacious Review: The Puritan Pirate by Jules Radcliffe

Standard

Rating: 3.75 Stars out of 5

 

the-puritan-pirateLieutenant Thomas Peregrine finds himself in a rather unusual position. He is serving as a naval liaison on the pirate ship, Audacious. He keeps to himself but he is unable to control his attraction to Gabriel Quinn, the sailing master of the Defiant. But one drunken night reveals one too many secrets and Gabe & Thomas find themselves on the way to a deeper connection. But when the Defiant finds itself in mighty trouble, what will Gabe’s fate be and will Thomas be able to survive it…

 

I liked this book quite a lot. It is an interesting read with well fleshed out characters and a daring plot.

 

This book uses a lot of words which are no longer in popular use and there are lots of phrases in different languages. So yeah sometimes I used to get stuck on certain words and phrases because I had no idea what they meant. Also this book is based in the West Indies and the book makes ample use of the tumultuous political scenario the countries of the Indies were facing in the late 17th century. Since I truly have no idea about the history of the Indies somethings definitely went over my head but I felt like the book definitely makes use of history to consolidate its plot. Alas, I have no idea about this history or how accurately it is depicted in this book.

 

What I loved about this book was the plot and our main characters.

 

The plot of the book is quite well written and it was interesting to read about naval warfare. For one it is very different than land warfare and has its own appeal. I loved the story of this book and its intricacies. The plot is simple but very well-executed and the book is well paced so you don’t lose interest.

 

My favourite part of this book was Gabriel and Thomas. I like the personalities of both characters, wherein Thomas is a guy firmly in control and Gabriel is just a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who can’t wait to break Thomas’ facade. But these two together were simply, hot. I mean the sex scenes between these two characters are some of the best I have ever read. I loved how the author wrote about the domination and submission between these two characters and I appreciated the fluidity of it.

 

Overall this book is a hot and interesting read.

 

Cover Art by Valerie Tibbs. I liked the cover, it complements the story.

Sales Links

Loose id

65a2f-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

ebook
Published January 3rd 2017 by Loose Id
Original TitleThe Puritan Pirate
ISBN139781682523018
Edition LanguageEnglish

A VVivacious Review: The Mutt: An Order Short Story by Kasia Bacon

Standard
 
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
 
the-muttErvyn Morryès is a Highlander, a dark elf from the Black Mountain clan participating in the training camp which is recruiting soldiers for the Queen’s National Army. He is mesmerized by the half-breed, the mutt Lochan Fèyes who is a blue-eyed assassin, deadly to say the least. But Ervyn is unable to let go of his obsession, he needs Lochan to notice him…
 
I think I successfully butchered the blurb for this short story. Basically this is like a prequel to the “The Order” Series which is going to centre on Ervyn and Lochan and this short story is the author’s way of giving us background on these two characters.
 
Personally I am amazed with this short story. It is so well-written. Ervyn is literally tight-rope walking the line between attraction and obsession. But the way everything is worded makes it just perfect, it is never unhealthy enough for you to question Ervyn’s motives but at the same time it is not entirely healthy, what it is, is the right amount of attraction and obsession making for a heady mix.
 
This story is told from Ervyn’s perspective entirely which is perfect to understand Ervyn’s thinking and Lochan’s outward demeanour. But I for one am really grateful that the author plans another short story from Lochan’s perspective prior to commencement of the series because I really want to know what’s going on in Lochan’s head and what kind of an impression Ervyn makes.
 
For a short story, which is just a set-up for a series, this story is just so good. I just loved the story and I loved the introduction it provides to these two amazing characters. I feel like these two characters have such contrasting personalities but at the same time I felt like these two have complementing personalities.
 
Personally I can’t wait to see more of these two and will be anxiously waiting for the next in this series.
 
Cover Art by Marek Frankowski. I liked the cover but I feel like the darker colours used to depict the background make this story feel like a dark one but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Sales Links
amazon square borderB&N borderApple borderKobo border
Book Details:
ebook, 40 pages
Published January 20th 2017 by Self-published
Original TitleThe Mutt: An Order Short Story
ASINB01N9P0LNX
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingThe Elven Country

An Ali Review:They Walk Among Us by T.A. Chase

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

they-walk-among-us-by-ta-chaseZach agrees to help Raven and finds himself drawn into a world he never knew existed.

 

Zach Harleigh was a baby when the aliens arrived. He doesn’t remember much about those months, except his parents fighting and his dad leaving. His father died, destroying the aliens, and his mother died when Zach graduated from medical school. He’s alone in the world and working hard to get his career going leaves no time for any kind of relationship.

 

One night, a beautiful man is brought into the ER. Raven Sanderson has been severely beaten and seems unsocialized. Raven and Zach hit it off when Zach takes over his care. Raven can’t speak but writes notes to Zach, letting him know the man is in the city to find his sister.

 

Zach agrees to help Raven and discovers a world he never knew existed. A world full of alien creatures that read minds and heal with a simple touch. He realizes there is more to the world around him, and the aliens he thought were destroyed weren’t. Their offspring walk among us.

 

Zach has always been interested in the aliens that were around when he was a baby, but never thought he would actually see one as they were said to have all been killed.  He doesn’t hate them, far from it, he has spent a lot of time researching and trying to find the truth.  When he meets Raven he is fascinated with him and wants to do anything he can to help him.

 

Raven is intrigued by the intriguing doctor, but doesn’t want to get anyone involved in his mission, let alone he isn’t sure about trusting a human.  He quickly learns there are a lot of layers underneath the surface and nothing about the doctor is quite what it seems at the beginning.  Both of these characters have been longing for someone to love and someone they can let into their lives without reservation.

 

We see how open Zach is to Raven, even showing him things that he has never shown anyone else.  Raven is so reserved at the beginning, but eventually opens up and really begins to hope for a future with Zach and his people.  I loved seeing them fight together to overcome the things standing in their way to get Raven’s sister and then for their future.

 

The cover art by Posh Gosh is wonderful and perfect for this story.

 

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 168 pages

Publication: February 7, 2017 by Pride Publishing

ISBN: 9781786515346

Edition Language: English

A Stella Review: Storm Season by Pene Henson

Standard

RATING 4 out of 5 stars

storm-season-900px-front-tumblrThe great outdoors isn’t so great for Sydney It-Girl Lien Hong. It’s too dark, too quiet, and she’s certain a giant spider is going to sneak into the tent she’s sharing with friends on her way to a New South Wales music festival. To make matters worse, she’s been separated from her companions and taken a bad fall. With a storm approaching, her rescue comes in the form of a striking wilderness ranger named Claudia Sokolov, whose isolated cabin, soulful voice and collection of guitars bely a complicated history. While they wait out the weather, the women find an undeniable connection—one that puts them both on new trajectories that last long after the storm has cleared.

I’ll be honest and say this new release by Pene Henson wasn’t easy to read as it was Into The Blue , which I easily adored. I had some little struggles with Storm Season from the beginning until the ending, and these were due to the use of the present tense as verbal form. It’s not my favorite and I too often have problems with it, this time too. It gave me troubles and it was hard to focus on the characters and not on the pure writing. But I didn’t give up and was rewarded. I can’t give Storm Season less than four stars, it put me in a good mood and the atmosphere I found myself in was the right one I want to have in my reads.

Storm Season is one of the few FF romances I read so far, I picked it just cause I loved the author’s previous work. And it was a comfirmation of my appreciation for her style. As soon as I was able to put aside my aversion for the present form, Lien and Claudia caught my attention, two person apparently so different from each other, the first a fashion blogger well known, the second a ranger who isolated herself for three years. But things aren’t exactly how they appear, Lien is not a superficial girl and Claudia is not just a ranger. After some days spent together in a cabin in the middle of a storm, where they will let themselves got to the attraction they have for each other, Lien returns in Sidney and Claudia needs to come back to her life before the years she spent in the wilderness. From this point the story changes and it starts a new part where these two girls will take their time to actually know each other and see if they have something important to explore.

I have to say, the first part, although well done and hot in some scenes, bored me a little, while the second part engaged me deeply. I loved see both girls focused on their lives and it was really beautiful to watch Claudia gain the confidence and passion she had for her true work career.

I liked all the characters, not just the main ones, the second characters played important roles, especially Beau, Lien’s bestfriend. I liked him and it was clear how much he cared for Lien and her happiness. I would love to read his and Annie’s story.

If you’re a FF lover, give Storm Season by Pene Henson a chance. It deserves it.

I like the cover art by CB Messer, simple and well done and  it totally fits the story.

Sales Links

Interlude Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 208 pages

Published February 2nd 2017 by Interlude Press

ASIN B01MU73GUH

Edition Language English

Ingela Boehm on Writing, Inspiration and her novel ‘The Seventh Flower (World of Love) by Ingela Bohm (guest post)

Standard

the-seventh-flower

The Seventh Flower (World of Love) by Ingela Bohm
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Available for Purchase at

140b7-dreamspinner2blogo

📚

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Ingela Boehm here today to talk about writing, inspiration and her novel, The Seventh Flower. Welcome, Ingela.

✒︎

The difficult art of giving up by Ingela Boehm

The inspiration for this story came, paradoxically enough, the very day after I decided to lay my writing on the shelf. I was written-out, exhausted, and even a little fed up with my own stories. I’d churned out a few novels in quite a short time and felt like I had nothing more to say. Ever. So I allowed myself to give up. Even promised myself to.

Well. Giving up is a difficult art. At least in my experience, declaring that you’re, say, not looking for love is a guarantee that you’ll meet your soul mate within a week. In my case, it was Christer meeting his soul mate, but that soul mate had a real life counterpart. I’m not going to name him here (no, stop badgering me, I’m not gonna tell), but he’s a fairly well known face in the music world – in that slightly unknown-indie-but-still-huge kind of way.

So. First day of my non-writing life, I’m lazily youtubing this band I’ve just discovered, and I come across this silly little thing called Innuendo Bingo. It’s a game on BBC Radio 1 where guests and an in-house opponent sit opposite each other and fill their mouths with water before listening to a series of innuendo-laden phrases cut from various BBC programs. For example, there might be a woman talking about snails in a way that make you think she’s talking about certain body parts, and when you only listen to the bits where it’s not clear that it’s about snails and nothing else, it can be rather funny. So the point of the “game” is that the “contestants” laugh so much at the innuendo that they spray each other with the water they have in their mouths.

I told you it was silly.

It’s also really, really amusing to look at – especially the episode featuring the above mentioned indie star. I will confess that I watched and rewatched it many times over the course of about a week – not because the innuendos were so very funny, but because of the way said indie acted. He just ticked all my weird boxes, being all submissive and cheeky all at once. Long lashes, giggles, a raised shoulder… the slightly heart-wrenching way he’d never get to finish a sentence because someone else was more brash and took up more space. It was absolutely adorable to me.

And so I created Henrik.

Anyone who’s as charmed by the mystery unnamed celebrity as I am might just guess who it is. I haven’t changed much about him – in fact, he’s only a different person in name and vocation. Apart from that there’s the same style in clothes, the same hair and eyelashes, the same smile. Because I just couldn’t refrain from writing him. And that was the whole problem. I’d promised to stop writing, and along came this guy who just begged to be described, to be worshipped, to be paired off with his perfect counterpart. And I… couldn’t say no.

In fact I never could. I’ve thought so many times in my life that I have no more stories, that there are no words left in me, but every time I’ve been wrong. Because there’s always a new character lined up to catch my eye, to beckon me, to lure me in with sweet nothings. They never do shut up. They want their saucy ways documented for posterity.

And boy am I glad they do, because without them I would be very bored indeed.

the-seventh-flower

About The Seventh Flower

Christer is too old to believe in fairy tales. He’s not the kind of guy to pick the proverbial seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve so he can dream of who he will marry, and he certainly isn’t the type to fall for someone he’s just met. Especially not a womanizing blogger named Henrik.

 

Besides, Christer’s previous marriage didn’t end with a happily ever after. Therefore he has no interest in gifting his heart to someone who lives five hundred miles away and probably isn’t even gay. His family is right: it’s time he grew up and stopped dreaming.

 

But Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden is a magical night, and Henrik won’t stop flirting. As the midnight sun shines down on the misty woods, maybe there’s room for one last dream.

About the Author

goodreads-photo

Ingela Bohm lives in an old cinema, tucked away in a northern Swedish forest where she can wander around all day long and dictate her books. She used to dream of being an actor until an actual actor asked, “Do you really need to do it?” That’s when she realized that the only thing she really needed to do was to write. She has since pretended to be a dietician, a teacher, a receptionist and a cook, but only to conceal her real identity.

Her first imaginary friend was called Grabolina and lived in her closet. Nowadays she has too many imaginary friends to count, but at least some of them are out of the closet. Her men may not be conventionally handsome, but they can charm your pants off, and that’s all that matters.

Ingela’s more useless talents include reading tarot cards, killing pot plants and drawing scandalous pictures that no one gets to see. She can’t walk in heels and she’s stopped trying, but she has cycled 12 000 miles in the UK and knows which campsites to avoid if you don’t like spiders. If you see her on the train you will wonder what age she is.

To get updates on Ingela Bohm’s work, please sign up for her newsletter or connect at her

Blog

Amazon author page

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Instagram
Tumblr

Books by Ingela Bohm:

9fbbd-goodreads-button

The Pax Cymrica series:

Just Playing

The Road Taken

Release

Cutting Edge

Standalone novels:

Rival Poet

Not Safe For Work

Last Communion

All You Can Eat

Short stories:

Seven Thousand Minutes

Strings Attached

The Subjunctive Mood

Beneath The Mask

RIPTIDE TOUR Embers (Common Law Book 2) by Kate Sherwood (giveaway)

Standard

embers_500x750

Embers (Common Law Book 2) by Kate Sherwood
R
iptide Publishing
Cover by: Natasha Snow

Read an Excerpt/Buy It here

 

About Embers

Small town—big problems. Jericho Crewe is back in Mosely, Montana, trying to deal with police corruption, interfering feds, his newly discovered family members, and, of course, Wade Granger.

He doesn’t really need a biker war on top of it all, but as the bodies start to pile up, it becomes pretty clear that’s what he’s got. Not only that, but Wade’s involved somehow, and as soon as Wade is a part of something, things that seemed clear become cloudy.

With the feds breathing down his neck, Jericho has to find his way through Wade’s maze of half truths and manipulations. It would all be so much easier if Jericho could think straight in the other man’s presence. So much easier if their passionate past could be forgotten, and if he could be sure he’s strong enough to resist the temptation of a passionate present.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/embers

About Kate Sherwood

Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!

Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!

Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?

Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.

After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.

Twitter: @kate_sherwood 

embers_tourbanner

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of all four books in the Common Law series, we’re giving away one four-tour-wide GRAND PRIZE of $100 in Riptide credit! Enter at each stop on each tour (once they go live) to maximize your chances to win! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 8, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the Embers tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

This title is part of the Common Law: The Complete Collection collection. Check out the collection discount!

Sherrie Henry on Life, Writing, and her release ‘Flag on the Play’ (HARMONY INK PRESS GUEST POST: interview, excerpt )

Standard

flag-on-the-play

Flag on the Play by Sherrie Henry
H
armony Ink Press
Release Date: February 7, 2017

Cover artist: Alexandria Corza

Available for Purchase at Harmony Ink Press

📚

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Sherrie Henry here today.  Welcome, Sherrie!

📚

Chugging right along! We’re at my third stop for my blog tour to promote my newest release “Flag on the Play.” Thank you Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me!

Check out my question/answer session:

  • How much of yourself goes into a character? 

I think all writers put a little bit of themselves into their characters. It’s like splitting your own personality, bits and pieces go into each character you develop. I think it’s inevitable; it’s been my experience that regardless of how far-fetched the plot, there is still a grounding in reality that reflects our own lives and experiences.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Sue and using your own experiences to create a character?

No. A Mary (or Gary) Sue in my opinion is a character who’s sole purpose is to save everyone, be the hero, and has no character flaws (or have flaws that are endearing). To me, that’s cheating the reader to create such a perfect character. No one learns anything, there’s no plot or character development in a Mary/Gary Sue. I’m not certain I could create such a character; I’m flawed, thus my characters, who are in some part a reflection of me, are flawed as well.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

In my most recent novel ‘Flag on the Play’, I interviewed a few gay men on their experiences as a gay teen (as, being female and not gay, I couldn’t draw much from my own childhood!). It gave me tremendous insight into their world and their struggles, which still occur across the country to this day.

I did enjoy doing the interviews and I like research in general. But I also write sci-fi/fantasy, so it’s nice to just let loose and change the laws of physics. LOL

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I consider myself an eclectic reader which has shaped my writing to an extent. I tend to write what I want, regardless of genre. Whatever fancies me at the time, that’s what comes out. For example, I’m finishing a sci-fi novel and also working on a cookbook. I’m not the type to be pinned to a specific genre!

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Once, when I had to kill off a major character, I needed some time away from the story as I ended up crying as I typed the death scene. Had to give myself a couple of days away to recover. It was painful, but it was necessary as it advanced the story.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

As life never gives HEAs, I do enjoy reading them in my stories as a change of pace from reality. As I don’t read a lot of books that are parts of series, I don’t typically come across HFNs.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Oh hell yes. I remember sneaking my mom’s Harlequin Romance and Danielle Steele novels as a young teen. I’m not sure to this day if she realized I read them!

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Choosing an English degree as an undergrad. I was exposed to so many different genres and authors during that time. I had always been an avid reader; I remember getting the Scholastic Reader booklets as a kid and ordering all the books I could afford on my allowance. I probably owned a few hundred paperbacks as a child.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I certainly like the ebook format; makes reading in bed a lot easier. My Kindle weighs a lot less than hardcover novels and large paperbacks and is much less bulky.

I’m not sure where the ebook is going; because a writer can publish anything and everything they want without going through a traditional publishing company, the ebook has gotten a bad rap. Those ebooks from self-pubbed authors still have a the stigma of bad writing, no editing, and crappy covers. Ebooks are evolving, but I’m not sure for the better. I’m not saying all self-pubbed books are crap, but it’s the perception of the reading audience, myself included. (I’m a trivia buff, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of bad trivia ebooks published.)

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I typically have an idea of what I want and convey that to the cover artist. A couple of times I’ve had no clue, so the cover artist gave me some drafts and I was able to envision what I wanted.

As an amateur landscape/wildlife photographer, a lot of times I can at least have a very base idea of what I want, at least in the background.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

As a piece of me is in all my work, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’d have to say my vampire story ‘Traditions.’ The main character is a snarky, sexy, slightly-overwhelmed male vampire surrounded by dysfunctional family and friends. It’s the first in a trilogy and has been submitted for publication. Hope to hear within a month or so!

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Finish my sci-fi novel (about 3-4 chapters to go) and my cookbook, then pick one of the dozen or so WIPs I have on my computer. I’d like to finish at least one more novel this year, if not two. I want to diversify myself; I’ve got two WIPs that are thrillers, which is a new genre for me to be writing.

Thank you, Sherrie, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your answers!  Now more about Sherrie and Flag on the Play.

flagontheplay_headerbanner

About the Author

Sherrie was born and raised in Southern Indiana, in a small farming community. A stop-over at Indiana University in Bloomington to earn bachelors and masters degrees was the next step before she struck out to the big city of Chicago. She has lived in the ‘burbs of the Windy City for the past 19 years, currently residing with her dog Rocky and teaching at the local community college. She is a third-degree black belt in hapkido and is considering a run for a fourth-degree before hanging up the ol’ black belt. Writing and photography are her hobbies, and hopes that she can add travel to her hobbies soon.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorSherrieHenry
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/sherriehenry
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AuthorSHenry
Blog: http://sherriehenry.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.sherriehenry.com

Sales link for ‘Flag on the Play’:

flag-on-the-play

About Flag on the Play

Sixteen-year-old football punter Liam Hartley has come to terms with being gay, but it isn’t something his religious and conservative community will ever accept. He’s isolated in his Midwest town until Cody Williams transfers to his school from Chicago. A proud bisexual young man, Cody shows Liam he isn’t alone—or abnormal—and they soon become more than friends.

Despite the intimate, secret world he shares with Cody, Liam is in pain. The hatred spewed by bigots has an effect on Liam, even if Cody carefully hides their relationship with a pretend girlfriend. Liam is jealous—he doesn’t want to have to share Cody, and he doesn’t want to have to live in shame. Cutting himself seems to be the only way to deal with everything he’s suffering, and things only get worse when Liam and Cody are outed in front of the school. And even if they can make it through the hardship, they know their relationship is destined to end when Cody’s family returns to the city.

Liam can’t go back to facing the hatred and religious judgment by himself. He won’t survive it. Somehow, Liam and Cody must secure a future for both of them, and that means finding a way to stay together.

 Excerpt from ‘Flag on the Play

Liam downed his lemonade. Even though it was fairly cool out, he was sweating profusely. After the tuck-pointing, he volunteered to help cut and haul some wood from the downed trees on the property. He and Cody were sitting in the backyard, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. Cody’s mom came outside with more to drink.

“You boys finish?” She set the pitcher on the step and sat down next to Liam.

“Yes, ma’am.” Liam refilled his glass.

Marissa laughed. “Please don’t call me ma’am. Makes me feel old.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“No worries. So, Cody said you had some questions you wanted to ask me?”

Liam looked out over the expansive yard. “If you don’t mind.”

“Nope.”

Cody nudged Liam. “Go ahead. She’s a good listener.”

Liam swallowed. “Me and Cody. That’s natural, right?”

Marissa furrowed her brow. “Of course it is.”

“I’ve been taught it’s a great sin and I’m going to hell.”

“Oh, hon, no. Look, I don’t want to sway you from your religion—”

“I’ve lost my religion. I can’t believe in it anymore. I need to know I’m going to be okay. You accept Cody, and me, and us and….” His voice trailed off.

“I’ve been where you are.”

Liam glanced over at her. “Really?”

“Yes. Born into a very Catholic family. But I realized at a very young age, what was coming at me at every Mass was pretty much bullshit. Pardon my language.”

Liam snorted. “I’ve heard worse.” He gave her a smile. “How did you get out of the church?”

“I had to bide my time until high school. I finally sat my parents down and told them I couldn’t believe in what the priest was saying. That any higher power couldn’t hate his or her creations, that he or she would create such inequality. And I was totally against the no birth control thing. That really rubbed me the wrong way. I’d done research at the library—this was back before everything was on the Internet you know—and found that human sexuality isn’t something to be repressed. Not that I condone sleeping around, sex and love need to go hand in hand, but it doesn’t need to be saved for marriage or be something to feel guilty about.”

“So you don’t believe I’m going to hell?”

Marissa gave a little laugh. “Hon, that’s why I love being Wiccan. We don’t believe in hell. Hell is a Christian concept.”

“There’s no heaven or hell?”

“Wiccans, other pagans, some of us believe in what’s called Summerland. A place we go when we die until we are reincarnated. Hell doesn’t exist.”

“But what about people like Hitler, or Stalin? Shouldn’t they be in hell?”

Marissa paused, taking in a long breath and letting it out. “To be honest, I struggle with topics like that. Leaning on my youth teachings, yes, hell would be a good place for such evil. But to reconciling such evil in my Wiccan beliefs—I came to the conclusion that people like that don’t go to Summerland, they just cease to exist, no reincarnation. That their evil energy is dissipated into the universe, forever dissolving out into the reaches of deep space.”

“Wow, that’s profound.”

“Nah, just the way I can deal.”

“So what about the Bible?”

Marissa patted his knee. “The Bible is a book, a good book, but it was written by men, and men are fallible. I don’t like how some people will pick and choose what they want to follow out of it. They should use it as a guidebook, not a rulebook. Use the teachings of doing good deeds, of not throwing the first stone. Of being kind to strangers and helping those in need. That’s what they should take away, not a strict or not-so-strict adherence to rules written in a time when slaves were the norm and women were property to be bartered for.”

“Never thought about it that way.”

“I never did either, until I took a ‘Bible as Literature’ class in college. The discrepancies stood out, the outright contradictions. It was then I solidified my beliefs.” She put her arm around Liam. “I’m not saying to dump all your beliefs, or even change them. I’m just giving you a different perspective. You have to decide what is right for you. Each religion, even mine, has its good points and shortcomings.”

Liam sucked down the rest of his lemonade. “I can’t see any shortcomings with yours.”

“There are. Like the question of evil from before, there’s no consensus. It’s just what I’ve decided to believe. And the threefold rule.”

“Cody told me about it. How can getting threefold of good coming back at you be bad?”

“Because it works the other way as well. If I put bad thoughts or bad deeds out there, bad stuff can come back to me threefold.”

“I don’t see how you can do anything bad.”

“Well, I get angry and anger begets anger. I get angry against people who do bad deeds, like a mother who kills her children. My inclination is to say she deserves the death penalty, but I’m sworn to do no harm.”

“But you wouldn’t be pulling the switch, so to say.”

“No, but I’m putting the bad energy out there by thinking and stating my opinion. It’s like I can feel the negative energy build when I think about situations like that. I have to meditate a lot when news stories such as those are aired, try to diffuse my thoughts. It can be hard work.”

“I would think someone who kills their children doesn’t deserve to live.”

“And you’re not alone, not by a long shot. But doesn’t even your faith say you should forgive the sinner?”

Liam cocked his head. “Yeah.”

“While Wicca doesn’t believe in sin per se, we do believe in forgiveness. To keep up the positive energy so it always outweighs the negative.”

“And how do I deal with messages from my pastor that what I feel is wrong? That I’m damned?”

“You need to forgive your pastor and hope one day he can see the error of his ways. That love is precious, in all its forms.” She turned and gave him a hug. “You aren’t damned. My Cody loves you and so do I.”

Kelly took that moment to come running out of the house and plopped down in Cody’s lap. She shoved a book in Liam’s face. “Story?”

Marissa laughed. “I think you’ve made quite an impression on Kelly as well.” She let Liam go and collected the empty glasses and pitcher. “Guess it’s story time. Once you’re done, you’d probably head home. It’s getting late.”

“Yes, ma-Marissa. And thank you.” He took the book from Kelly and started to read about a fairy princess and her faithful companion, a dragon named Sue.