An Alisa Release Day Review: Home Improvement by Tara Lain

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

Romance on Aisle Sixteen—opposites attract amid the hammers and screws of the home improvement store.

 

Gabe Mason became a father at seventeen, and his daughter, Ellie, is the most important thing in his life. But being the parent the courts demand means Gabe has given up most of his dreams—education, making furniture, a gay social life—to be a model dad with a steady, reliable job in a home improvement store. Life’s predictable until Jerry, a shy, eccentric guy in a hat and sunglasses, begs Gabe to oversee the renovation of his run-down mansion.

 

Gabe loves the house and the work, and Jerry’s pretty lovable too, but when Gabe discovers Jerry’s secret identity, he fears their passion could overturn both their lives forever.

 

This was an adorable story. Gabe has focused on being the best father he can since Ellie was born, which means he put his own life on hold a bit for her, but he would never regret the great women she has turned out to be. Working for Jerry seems like a great opportunity to earn some extra money for Ellie’s college fund but turns out to be so much more.

 

Gabe and Jerry’s first meeting was a little strange as were the next few encounters and while Jerry doesn’t tell Gabe who he is he does start to let his guard down and even brings Ellie into their relationship. I loved watching how trusting Jerry was of Gabe’s decisions, knowing that he would do what was right and not gouge him on prices and work. Even in his hesitation Gabe took on Jerry’s house with enthusiasm and in a very short time got a lot accomplished.

 

I love Gabe and Jerry’s interactions because they were just so real and even though Jerry was hiding a bit he didn’t hide who he really was from Gabe. I love that when the situation got turned all around that Jerry had the wherewithal to make the bid decision to set the story straight but to all give him and Gabe an opportunity to build a life together.

 

I like the cover art and the visual of Gabe, I think it works well with this story.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages

Published: July 9, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64405-541-0

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review: Palm Trees and Paparazzi (Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #3) by J.C. Long

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Gabe Maxfield remembers Manuel Delgado all too well—since investigating him nearly got him killed. He’d be very happy never to see him again, but that’s not in the cards for him. When the mother of a missing socialite seeks out Paradise Investigations to find out what happened to her daughter, Gabe and best friend Grace Park are going to be thrown right back into Delgado’s world. Personal lives begin to interfere, as well, and soon they’ve got more on their plate than they can handle.

A missing woman.

Delgado’s son.

A romantically awkward Grace.

Gabe’s parents.

It’s just another week for Gabe Maxfield.

Ok, I’m going to admit that this series and this author have me flummoxed.  There is so much to admire about the writing and the characterizations and the settings that I want to give this story a much higher rating.  And I keep waffling about it, I really do!

See,  JC Long gets so much right here.  Til it sort of doesn’t.

First let’s talk about the setting.  That would be Hawaii where Gabe is a transplant from the mainland.  Long gets the feel of being a “native born” Hawaiian just right.  From the poke, the clothes, the  “language” that goes beyond colloquialisms into a shared culture spoken among those born to the islands itself, you feel like Long knows Hawaii and its people.

After the setting and lush grounding of Hawaii, you have the many characters of this series.  And the start of my wobbling point.  I can see them so clearly.  Long’s ability to define a personality, give them life, and then push them along a narrative works.  Whether you like that character or not, it works.  Long does a great job with all elements of society, law abiding, criminal, native, and haoli. So far so good.

Even the plot of the missing fiance was entertaining.

So where do I find that the story (and potentially series) wobbles?  Well, that would be in believing that Gave and his very annoying partner Clare are actually detectives.   I  kept waiting to find any sort of genuine investigation here (that’s left to another IT person). Anything that would make me believe that any actual “detecting” was being done.  Nope.  From what went down, I don’t believe these two could find pet rocks unless someone threw them at them. They stumble into everything and I don’t think we are meant to look at it like that.  Gabe gets followed by two men.  Does he try to find out who they are?  No.  When he gets pictures , actual  photos of the distinctive men tailing him, try to match up faces to names of the thugs? Again no.  He makes assumptions.  Does he even ask, Maka, his cop boyfriend? Or even tell him they’ve tailed him home? Nope.  Maka, when he does eventually see the thugs, identifies them immediately. Smh!  These two almost make Clouseau look brilliant. Why they keep solving cases I haven’t a clue.

This is not supposed to be a comedy of errors but serious detective work but Gabe and Clare come off at two people who not only should not be Private Detectives but give that group a bad name because they are so inadequate at what they do.  Impulsive, check.  Half cocked.  Uh huh. Running into dangerous situations. Check and check.

So do you see my quandary here?  Believable characters who are absolutely terrible at their jobs but I don’t think JC Long meant to write them that way.  Does Long believe they are doing great work?  Does he believe he’s writing terrific investigative procedures?  Or is this all tongue in cheek?  I really don’t know.  But I get the feeling it’s meant to be serious.

Then there’s their treatment of their receptionist.  Gabe hires a older woman, not because she’s competent, but because she’s sure to make Grace crazy with the way she acts and dresses.  Then when there are constant “emotional” fireworks between Clare and the feisty and totally marvelous Mrs. Neidermeyer, he doesn’t back up either one of them.  All the while acknowledging that maybe he made a less than wise decision.  Ya think? She dresses inappropriately, pole dances and dates and has way more life than many of the other characters in the series.  Long has give her depth and vitality.  Yet none of the characters in the story treat her as anything other than a joke or a burden to deal with.  How odd is that?

So yes, how do I rate this story?  Go high for great settings, believable characters and then what?  You can’t ignore character abuse, lack of professionalism by the PIs or sheer bumbling that occurred that was supposed to fill in as detective work.

For me, I’m still pondering what to do while knowing I’ll grab the next story in the series when it arrives.  Honestly, I love Maka and effervescent Mrs N!

Cover art by Natasha Snow.  Great cover, vibrant and pulls your eye right to the book. Love it.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 1st 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781951057039
Edition Language English

Series Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #3

Gabe Maxfield Mysteries Series

Mai Tais and Murder

Tiki Torches and Treasure

Hula Dancers and Hauntings

Palm Trees and Paparazzi

Steven Harper on Drunk Writing in the Basement and his new novel The Importance of Being Kevin

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The Importance of Being Kevin by Steven Harper
Dreamspinner Press

Published July 2nd 2019
Cover Art: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press |  AmazonIndie BoundGoogle Books 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Steven Harper here today on tour for his new release, The Importance of Being Kevin.  Welcome, Steven.

 

✒︎

DRUNK WRITING IN THE BASEMENT

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I totally wrote a chunk of a fantasy novel while I was high in my basement.  Truth!

See, I’m a rotten sleeper.  Have been for most of my life.  Nothing beats a long day like staring up at the ceiling all night. Finally I complained about it to my doctor, and she prescribed Ambien.  Miracle!  Suddenly I was able to sleep!

Ambien does have its problems, as you’ve probably heard.  It can monkey with your memory or spur you to wander about your house, opening odd cupboards and stumbling down stairs.  It never did any of these things to me.  Until…

One evening I was hard at work on DANNY, my YA bisexual fantasy novel, and I noticed it was getting on to bedtime.  I didn’t want to quit writing quite yet, but I did pause long enough to take a dose of Ambien.  It usually takes about half an hour for it to kick in, so I could get in another chunk of writing.  I got back to my computer to hit the keys.

And then I woke up in bed the next morning.  It wasn’t until after breakfast that it came to me–I didn’t remember how I’d ended the day yesterday.  Mystified, I went into my office.  The computer was powered down.  I booted it up and called up the most recent files.

I discovered an entire scene I didn’t remember writing.  It was an action scene, a fight between a monster and the main characters.  And it used the style and voice I had chosen for the novel.  The writing was solid, and it advanced the plot the way I needed it to.

Reading it was the strangest feeling.  I never get to read my own work as a reader, and I’d always kind of wondered what it was like for people to read my stuff.  Now I was actually doing it.  This writing was mine, with characters and a setting I had created, but I had no idea what twists the scene would take or how it would end.  It was like finding a journal entry I didn’t remember making, or stumbling across an album filled with photos of myself I had never seen.  It was me, but not a me I remembered.

I kept the scene, with only minor edits.  If you’ve a mind, you can read DANNY and look for it.  Email me your best guess, and I’ll tell you if you found it!

I didn’t write THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING KEVIN while high on Ambien, though it did involve a my front porch, a water fountain, and a hella lot of caffeine.   That’s another story.

BLURB

Kevin Devereaux’s life can’t get worse. He’s on probation. He’s stuck with an unemployed ex-convict dad. And he lives in a run-down trailer on the crappy east side of town. To keep his probation officer happy, Kevin joins a theater program for teenagers and falls hard for Peter Finn, the lead actor in the show—and the son of the town’s leading family. Despite their differences, Peter returns Kevin’s feelings, and for the first time, Kevin learns what it means to be in love.

But Peter’s family won’t accept a gay son—let alone a boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks—and in their conservative town, they must keep the romance secret. Still, they have the play, and they have each other, so they’ll get by—

Until a brutal attack shatters Kevin’s life and puts Peter in danger of going to jail for murder.

About the Author STEVEN HARPER PIZIKS

Steven Harper Piziks was born with a last name no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he usually writes under the name Steven Harper. He grew up on a farm in Michigan but has also lived in Wisconsin and Germany, and spent extensive time in Ukraine. So far, he’s written more than two dozen novels and over fifty short stories and essays. When not writing, he plays the folk harp, lifts weights, and spends more time on-line than is probably good for him. He teaches high school English in southeast Michigan, where he lives with his husband and youngest son. His students think he’s hysterical, which isn’t the same as thinking he’s funny.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Visit Steven’s web page at http://www.stevenpiziks.com or http://www.stevenharperwriter.com . You can also find him on Facebook as Steven Harper Piziks and on Twitter as Steven Piziks.

Lou Hoffmann on Horses, Characters, and the new release Dragon’s Rise (The Sun Child Chronicles #4) (guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Dragon’s Rise (The Sun Child Chronicles #4) by Lou Hoffmann

Harmony Ink Press
Publication: July 9th 2019

Cover Art: Catt Ford

Buy Links:

Harmony Ink Press |  Amazon ebook |  Amazon paperback|   B&N ebookB&N paperback |  Kobo | iTunes/iBooks |  Books 2 Read Universal Link (ebooks) 

 

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Lou Hoffman here today on tour for the latest novel in The Sun Child Chronicles, Dragon’s Rise. Welcome, Lou!

 

Five Fabulous Horses from The Sun Child Chronicles

Hi, I’m Lou Hoffmann, author of The Sun Child Chronicles. I love writing these stories, because they take my imaginings and run with them. One of the very best parts of the fantasy worlds Lucky (the main character) inhabits is the variety of animals he encounters. I’ve always loved horses, seriously. At fourteen, as a city girl growing up in Los Angeles County, I used to walk over an hour on Saturday to get to a riding stable so I could spend the lunch money I’d saved all week on a ride. Sometimes I’d muck stalls so I could ride longer. 😊 So I’m happy that the world Lucky lives in most of the time is a world where horses are the major mode of transportation. By the way, these aren’t listed in order of most loved. I’m really terrible at choosing favorites of anything at all. I just love them all.

  • Windrunner: A white horse, one of the many trained by Lucky’s warrior uncle Han Shieth. Quite old by the time Lucky meets him, he’s now known as Windy, for reasons that aren’t necessarily complimentary. Still, he’s a wise old fellow, and Lucky’s very helpful friend on a snowy, scary adventure in Wraith Queen’s Veil.
  • Sherah: The wizard Thurlock’s “legendary” silver-gray mare. She’s always there when Thurlock needs her, comes when he whistles even from what seems miles away. She has a moment or two of fame in each of the books, but perhaps her greatest ride is the one she took Thurlock and Han on so they could team up to beat the great Sahlamahn. Find that wild ride in Key of Behliseth.
  • Simarrohn: This is Han Shieth’s personal ride, a mare that’s always in his corner. It probably makes things easier that Han can communicate mentally with most animals (including Sim), but most of the time, he doesn’t even have to use that talent. Sim knows what’s needed and delivers. She in a lot of scenes throughout the books, but one of the ones I love is where she and Sherah take Han and Thurlock on a magical ride to put the wizard’s blessing on the troops. It happens in Ciarrah’s Light.
  • Zefrehl: Zef is Lucky’s ride, when what he needs is an ordinary horse. She’s fast and sure-footed and good-natured, and she takes Lucky wherever he wants to go. In Ciarrah’s Light, she helped Lucky dodge an early death with her quick moves escaping an ambush on the trail to Nedhra City.
  • K’ormahk:  As far as fantastic horses go, K’ormahk is one of the most fantastic ever. He’s got an unbreakable bond with Lucky so strong that Lucky’s “call” can bring him flying—that’s right, he’s winged—from unknowable distances, from places that aren’t even in the same world. He’s blacker than midnight, and powerful, and he takes excellent care of his passengers even as he flies them through the stars, like he did for Lucky and Han in Wraith Queen’s Veil. But he’s a warhorse too, bravely flying Lucky and his boyfriend Rio into a battle in Dragon’s Rise, not shying from arrows and swords, zombies and wraiths, dragons, or even strangely deadly aliens.

Thanks for joining me! Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, and good luck with the drawing! I hope to see you along the way as I celebrate this release! See the schedule in this blog post: http://queerlyya.rainbow-gate.com/dragons-rise-release-schedule-of-events-blog-tour-giveaway-facebook-party-book-signings/

 

Blurb

Sequel to Ciarrah’s Light
The Sun Child Chronicles: Book Four

Five days after his sixteenth birthday, Lucky—or Luccan, as he’s known in the Sunlands of Ethra—cut down a horde of wraiths with the help of his magical, living blade, Ciarrah. Then they ended the worst undead of all—Lucky’s mother, Liliana, or rather the evil creature she had become. Now he needs a chance to rest, but he can’t catch a break. The otherworld invaders want to take Ethra as their new home, and one defeat hasn’t even slowed them down.

 

Ancient wizard Thurlock continues to help Lucky learn about his unique magic as they travel together, but when they reach the capital city, they find few allies and too many Sunlandian traitors. They’re forced to flee, but their discouraged spirits lift when they’re joined on the road by an old wizard friend of Thurlock’s and some new young allies. Lucky has armies, friends, family, shifters, dragons, a faithful dog, a winged horse, and magical tools on his side. But when war comes like a great storm, hurling at him everything from zombies to hateful wizards to twisted drakes, can he hope to prevail—or even survive?

Excerpt

An hour, Lucky thought. Two days ago I fought in a battle with aliens and dead people and… ended my mother’s nightmare. Yesterday I went to a meeting where I found out people still hate me. Today I had a bit of not-fishing with Han, a game of Skippers with Cook, and a game of Skies with Aunt Rose, and now I have one hour before I have to leave. My boyfriend’s gone home, one of my best friends is missing, my other best friend is on a mission, and my dog isn’t even here.

Lemon Martinez apparently had taken pity on him for once, though. He purred comfortingly—and uncharacteristically—curled into a loose spiral of gray fluff next to Lucky on a sun-washed flat rock in a quiet corner of the Behlvale. Not far away, a worker was singing a rhythmic song, maybe keeping time with the movements of rake or hoe in the Sisterhold’s kitchen garden. Much closer, a pair of hand-sized golden dragonflies flashed in and out of the sunlight, their wings making a droning hum over the splash and bubble of the creek.

“Springborn.” Lucky had just that day learned the name of the creek, and now he announced it to Lemon, who didn’t seem to care.

The whole scene could, Lucky supposed, be called idyllic, a word he’d also recently learned. Be that as it may, he wasn’t in the mood for peace and country sunshine. He didn’t want to leave the Sisterhold. Not yet. He had questions he wanted answers to, and he felt pretty darn sure that at best he’d come back from Nedhra City with more questions instead. At worst… he didn’t want to think about it.

Fidgeting, he drew the Black Blade from its sheath, which was hooked to his belt at the moment, and squinted at the violet gleam echoing the sunlight deep inside the obsidian. It brought to mind another afternoon in the sun, and he realized one of his questions could be answered then and there.

“Ciarrah.” Lucky mentally called the blade’s name and waited no more than a second for her response.

“Blade-keeper?”

“Remember when we were playing… um, I mean practicing sword stuff?”

“I’m a rock, Blade-keeper. Memories are embedded in me.”

“Is that a yes?”

There was no way to know for sure if Ciarrah was doing the equivalent of an eye-roll, but somehow Lucky thought she might be. He smiled at the idea before communicating, mostly just being stubborn, “Well? Is it?”

When Ciarrah answered, her “voice” had a lilt that might have been laughter. “Yes, young Light-wielder, I remember all that has happened to me and all that I have been told or shown over these last thousands of years, beginning with the day I first met our great ancestress Naht’kah.”

“Naht’kah, the dragon? The one I read about in that book? Isn’t that just a… story?”

“Oh, but there is no such thing, Luccan, as ‘just’ a story! In stories lie the greatest truth. Sometimes it’s hidden in fictions, but sometimes at the core of a legend is the true account of what has come to pass. Naht’kah is quite real.”

“You mean was?”

“She lives. You may meet her one day.”

Why that idea should freak him out, Lucky wasn’t sure. So many crazy impossible things had happened in the last year, what was one more? Still…. He began his usual comforting chant out loud. “Normal, normal, nor—” He stopped and shook his head, then gave himself an order. “Never mind! Nothing is normal. I mean everything is normal. I mean whether it’s normal or not, it is what it is, and no use pretending different.

About the Author

 

Lou Hoffmann, a mother and grandmother now, has carried on her love affair with books for more than half a century, and she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—partly because the list keeps growing. She reads factual things—books about physics and history and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. She loves all sorts of wonderful things: music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, flora and fauna, rivers and seas. Even good movies and popcorn! Those things help her breathe, and everyone she knows helps her write. (Special mention goes to (1) George the Lady Cat and (2) readers.) Proud to be a bisexual, biracial woman (of European and Native American descent), Lou considers every person a treasure not to be taken for granted. In her life, she’s seen the world’s willingness to embrace differences change, change back, and change again in dozens of ways, but she has great hope for the world the youth of today will create. She writes for readers who find themselves anywhere on the spectrums of age, sexuality, and gender, aiming to create characters that live not only in their stories, but always in your imagination and your heart.

Author Links:

Visit her on her blog: http://www.queerlyya.rainbow-gate.com

Like her page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouHoffmannBooks/

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lou_Hoffmann

Check out her Amazon Author Page: http://queerlyya.rainbow-gate.com/ciarrahs-light-event-schedule-get-blog-tour-links-here/

Giveaway

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Love Fantasy? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Through the Tears (Torn Between Worlds #1) by Leigh M. Lorien (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Through the Tears

Series: Torn Between Worlds, Book One

Author: Leigh M. Lorien

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 8, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56600

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, gray-ace/gray-aro, transgender, bonded, monsters, violence, anxiety attacks

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Huge, horrid creatures with a taste for human flesh have been invading Seacliff Manor and its surrounding lands for years. Ghouls are coming from another world through portals made of magic. No one knows why or how, but nothing good ever comes with them.

During a hunting trip, Eamon encounters one such monster and falls through a portal into the ghoul’s hellacious desert home world. Separated from his home, his friends, and his lover, with no magic of his own and no sign of other life, Eamon expects to die there…until an encounter with a lone stranger gives him hope. There is a way home. But can Eamon survive alone in ghoul-infested terrain long enough to get there?

Worlds away, the Lord of Seacliff Manor is determined to bring Eamon home. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Rafe knows his human lover is alive. It’s just a matter of finding out where. To that end, Rafe has a plan. It’s dangerous, perhaps even suicidal, but he’ll do anything to save the man he loves.

From different sides of the galaxy, the lovers fight monsters and seek magic with one goal in mind: reunion. Monsters aren’t the only things they’ll have to defeat to find their way back to each other, and the horrors uncovered along the way may be more than they can handle.

Excerpt

Through the Tears
Leigh M. Lorien © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Rafe

The body lay at the base of a maple tree in a crumpled heap of leathery gray flesh and black blood. Rafe studied it for a long time. Its fanged mouth hung open, eyes like black marbles gazing lifelessly at him, hands with hawk-like talons curled into loose fists in the grass. It was more than capable of killing a human—gods, it was probably capable of killing him. He turned away, forcing down the momentary surge of fear as he took in the scene, playing through the information he had.

Eamon, Lionel, Rose, and Tuomas had been hunting that morning, as Eamon had said they planned to do. Lionel was training a new bird. They were well armed. No one left the stronghold unarmed these days. Ghoul incursions were growing more frequent, and the filthy things were getting bolder by the day. Rafe had wanted to send an escort with them but let his lover talk him out of it. We’ll be fine. We’re barely going past the village.

But they weren’t fine. Lionel’s bird didn’t return when it should have. The ghoul had crept up on them while they were distracted.

Signs of the struggle were obvious all around the body. Broken twigs, displaced leaves, mud spatters up the trunks of the trees. The humans had come out victorious. Three of them had, anyway.

Thirty or so feet beyond the ghoul’s body, a cliff dropped into the sea. Ignoring his audience—the three humans who’d returned, as well as two of his rin retainers—Rafe walked past the ghoul’s corpse, inspecting the grass between the site of the attack and the edge of the cliff. Clods of soil lay in heaps where massive claws had raked it up. He wished there was some indication of Eamon’s movements, but the ghoul’s weight and erratic assault covered all sign of his human lover. Blood spatters painted the grass black. Rafe didn’t need to touch or taste the drying liquid to know it was not human. Not Eamon’s. The rotten stench of ghoul blood was as foul as raw sewage and, for once, he envied the humans their inferior senses. Someone had hurt it, and badly, right here. Eamon was not a close-quarters fighter. He was barely a fighter at all. If Rafe were a gambler, he’d put his money on Lionel and the longsword he wore.

“You say he fell,” Rafe stated. It wasn’t a question. Rose had spoken for the group, told their story in a quavering voice. If the two men were hoping Rafe would show mercy to a teary-eyed woman and thus to them as well, they were all mistaken.

“Yes, Lord,” Rose said. “Th-the ghoul tackled him, and they rolled, and…I’m not certain, I mean I-I didn’t see it myself, Lord, but…Eamon was gone when…”

Rafe walked to the very edge of the cliff and leaned forward to look down, grateful for an excuse to breathe air untainted by blood. The tension level behind him rose tangibly, but no one rushed forward to drag him back. He was their lord, not a child to be scolded for putting himself in danger. Hundreds of feet below, waves crashed and roared over a beach of jagged stone. Even with his sensitive rin hearing, little more than the faintest whisper reached Rafe’s ears from this distance. There was no question that a fall from this height meant no survival for a human. No matter what awaited at the end of the fall, no matter how strong the human.

And yet…

He had not felt Eamon die. Rafe had never had a bound companion die, so, he didn’t know from experience what it would feel like, but he’d heard others speak of it. He’d expected something…worse. He should have experienced fear as Eamon fell, pain as he crashed to the ground and his body shattered against the rocks below. It would have dropped him to his knees, put him in a state of shock.

Instead, there was a sharp surprise, fear, and then…an absence. Eamon simply was not there. He wasn’t alive, but neither was he dead.

“You are aware Eamon is bound to me?” Rafe turned to the humans, and they all bowed their heads, nodding and avoiding his eyes. “You should have protected him.”

The wind off the sea howled and whipped his dark hair around his head. Everything was cast in a dusky gray—the winter sun had not shown its face for days, and the choppy sea below was the color of cold steel. Standing at least a head taller than the tallest of the three humans, Rafe was no stranger to intimidation tactics. It wasn’t his preferred modus operandi—physical threats were so pedestrian—but it was easy, and with the gaping absence of Eamon distracting him, it was all he managed.

“I’m sure they did their best, my lord,” Kiran, his retainer, said softly.

Rafe continued to aim a cold gaze at the humans.

“I’m sure. Have search parties organized. Comb the beach and the forest in this area. I did not feel him die.” And if he was mistaken and Eamon was dead…The words hurt as they formed in his mind, but he forced them out. “If you find him, or his body, bring him home.”

Kiran bowed his head and rushed toward the manor to find willing and able individuals to carry out the command. Wind continued to buffet Rafe’s side and face, tangling his hair as it whipped around. In his imagination, Eamon was scolding him as he worked a brush through Rafe’s hair as he did every night. Would it kill you to tie your hair back once in a while? It’s like you tangle it on purpose.

If it weren’t tangled, I wouldn’t need you to brush it, would I? Rafe would reply and grin in the mirror at his lover. The thought of the familiar teasing almost made him smile. Almost.

“M-my lord,” Tuomas ventured, stepping forward as Rafe returned to the ghoul’s body. “We would like to join the search parties, if we may.”

Rafe shook his head. “No. Take this body to the manor. Have it burned.”

The three humans exchanged wide-eyed glances. The ghoul was larger than all three of them combined. Heavy as it was, it would take them hours to drag it to the manor. It seemed a mild punishment in Rafe’s eyes, for letting his lover fall over a cliff.

Tuomas and Lionel were unbound and had been for as long as Rafe had known them. Rose was bound to Elena, the manor’s doctor, and lived in the manor with her, while the two human men lived in the village outside the manor walls—together, if Rafe was not mistaken. Eamon had lived with Tuomas for some time, until he came to Rafe’s attention, and still spent the night in Tuomas’s village home on occasion. Perhaps it was cruel to punish the three of them in any way for what had happened. They were likely hurting as much as Rafe, but they were not bound to Eamon. They could not feel his absence, like the loss of a limb or an eye or an ear, like a crushing emptiness where, until mere hours ago, there had been a warm, bright presence every day for the past ten years.

“Stay with them,” Rafe instructed his second retainer, Orienna. “See that we lose no one else to rogue ghouls today.”

The woman bowed. “What of you, my lord?”

“I’m in a mood to rip something’s throat out,” he said coldly. “Let the filth try.”

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Leigh M. Lorien is a queer author who got her start at the tender age of five, writing and illustrating her own Sonic the Hedgehog stories. Fortunately, her writing has improved in the subsequent decades. Nowadays, Leigh’s stories primarily lean toward science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy, but she has had some contemporary pieces sneak out of her head. Regardless of genre, her books will usually include sarcasm, strong relationships (romantic and platonic), polyamory/non-monogamy, magic, music, animals, mental illness, and less-frequently-represented queer identities.

When she’s not writing, Leigh enjoys gardening, photography, travel, music, Renaissance festivals, doing hair-color experiments in her bathroom, and going on any kind of adventure involving the outdoors (unless it’s cold, screw that). If you want to know her better or see pictures of her many fur-children, she’s most active on Twitter and Instagram.

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