On Tour with ‘The Vampire’s Protege (A Vampire’s Angel’s story)’ by Damian Serbu (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Vampire’s Protege

Series: From the Vampire’s Angel universe

Author: Damian Serbu

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: August 21

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 99600

Genre: Horror, paranormal, abduction, action, blood and gore, cisgender, contemporary, crime, dark, death, gay, paranormal, vampires

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Damian Serbu today on his tour for The Vampire’s Protege. We have a wonderful author’s interview, excerpt and giveaway.  Don’t miss any of it, starting below!

✒︎

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Damian Serbu ~

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

I wrote my first novel after several years of contemplation and fascination with the concept.  I was completing my doctorate in history at the time, and would escape from the concrete world of facts and past events by writing fiction.  That particularly story was inspired by the movie “The Man in the Iron Mask.”  It eventually became Dark Sorcerer Threatening, which is currently out of print but I hope to reprint someday.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

Because I have full time job, I maintain a pretty strict schedule or I would never get around to it!  I write at least twice a week, for a good chunk of time.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I am way too much of a historian, even in my writing of novels, to go without an outline!  So I sketch out the entire story before I begin.  For a long time before I outline, I keep notes and jot down ideas for the story, then I take that mess of ideas and shape it into the outline, which I then edit several times.  That being said, the outline serves as a general guide, not something written in stone.  I let the muse take me where it will, which often necessitates tweaking the outline as I go.  As for inspiration, I let that hit me wherever it appears.  Sometimes it’s a movie or song or picture, but more often than not it comes out of nowhere and just blasts me in the head.  It seems to happen a lot on my morning jog.  And I just let the words flow when I write – but that requires going back and doing a pretty thorough edit.

Where did the desire to write LGBTQIA+ stories come from?

From being gay!  It’s what I know, it’s what I like to read, and so it’s what I want to write.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

The amount of research for the story depends on the story, really.  When I set it in the past, I do a great deal of research.  For example, I’ve written about the French Revolution, Antebellum America, and pirates.  Those all took extensive research to get the history correct.  That’s where my academic background comes in handy!  I know how to gather books and articles that give me solid history, and then weave that reality into the writing.  I do all of that research before I even start outlining.  But other stories, including The Vampire’s Protégé, don’t require as much research.  There, I may need to research something that pops up.  For example, this time I suddenly found myself writing about Bitcoin, which I didn’t know a damn thing about.  So off I went to learn a tad so I didn’t make a fool of myself!  But my novels set in a contemporary setting don’t require as much extensive research.

Synopsis

A sinister vampire offers Charon a choice he can’t refuse: play a deadly game of winner takes all, losers die.

Charon relishes the competition and molds himself into a sexy vampire who defies vampire law, savoring his power and embracing the role of villain. He also loves surrounding himself with hot young men. But when an alluring vampire stalks him and threatens to turn him into the Vampire Council unless he helps with a seemingly impossible task, will Charon risk his perfectly narcissistic life on the challenge? Does he have any other choice?

Excerpt

The Vampire’s Protege
Damian Serbu © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Prologue

Introducing Charon

Everyone thinks they adore the Vampire Council with its rules and regulations that allegedly govern all vampires and thereby ensure the safety of virtuous humans. People want to lose themselves in the tales of the Council members: Xavier and Thomas and their love; Anthony and Jaret and their guarding of humanity; Catherine and Harriet and their whims within a righteous vampiric empire. Most of all, the Vampire Ethic provides comfort with its guarantee that goodness protects an individual from a vampire attack, with its promise that all vampires defend innocence.

Vampires accept this reality because it gives them a collective soul. The ethic protects them from the stereotype of evil incarnate preying upon humanity. Or, in the least, obedience to it keeps them alive, lest the Council hunt them down and murder them for transgressions against it.

Humans desire the Council’s laws to maintain their fantasy of security from the supernatural realms. Who would dismiss a hidden force of vampire police that might swoop in at any sign of danger and annihilate the perpetrator?

Yet deep inside, so many long for something different, something that avoids this utopian trope and perfect world, all tied up in a pretty bow. Part of everyone, that piece so desperately stamped down and derided, seeks an alternative story.

To be sure, many will deny it. Fight against these words and honorably cast them out as the devil’s temptations. Yet no proof of Satan or such demonic forces presents itself. Because even those thoughts really stem from the inner being in everyone, that secretly locked-up atom inside a person that pines for freedom and seeks release, even as the goodness scolds it.

Still people contest these words. Deny them.

Yet a fascination with villains thrives in America. Think of the great antiheroes of history and their legendary fame. The Wicked Witch of the West. Darth Vader. Hannibal Lecter. The Joker. The infamy of historic figures such as Adolf Hitler or Ted Bundy or the Son of Sam. The people who don the costumes at Halloween of Lord Voldemort, Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler because it empowers them for a night with beautiful wickedness. People laugh at Scar, Ursula, and even Mr. Potter. They read the tales of Lex Luther and Cujo, privately wishing they would eventually triumph over the heroes of the story and bring a bit of destruction to the globe.

Jack the Ripper lives through the ages because he successfully hid himself, true. But also because his perfect malevolence went unpunished. People want that for themselves. His legend draws them back again and again to that story with the hope of their own misdeeds going unchallenged.

Thus, whether admitted or not, people long to meet Charon. Yes, so many cry out for Charon and his story. People want him. Readers desire him, need him, really. The world will have no choice but to love him. All will embrace him as they have these other villains of history. They will celebrate his perfect treachery.

Unlike those obedient to the Vampire Council, Charon hardly worries about a bit of notoriety from time to time. Fear of retribution never enters his vocabulary. He need not concern himself with the Vampire Council and its regulations. Nor does Charon often fret over any other person or entity cracking down on his masterful empire.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He previously authored several novels now out of print, and is excited to reignite his writing with Ninestar Press!

Facebook | Twitter

Tour Schedule

8/21    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

8/21    Outrageous Heroes of Romance

8/22    Shari Sakurai 

8/22    MM Good Book Reviews

8/23    Drops of Ink

8/24    love bytes reviews

8/24    QSF     

8/25    The Novel Approach

8/25    Bayou Book Junkie

8/25    Erotica For All

8/25    Happily Ever Chapter

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New Release Special! King of the Fire Dancers (Shift Happens #1) by S.T. Sterlings (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  King of the Fire Dancers

Series: Shift Happens, Book One

Author: S.T. Sterlings

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: Aug 14, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 89700

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, abduction, captivity, shifters, slow burn, enemies to lovers

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host S.T. Sterling here today on her King of the Fire Dancers tour. We have a author’s interview, excerpt and giveaway for all our readers to check out.

✒︎

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with S.T. Sterlings ~

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

I have the habit of starting a WIP, and then just fizzling out with it, especially when self-doubt starts to rear its ugly head.  King of the Fire Dancers is the first full original story that I’ve ever written, so I’m really proud of myself for actually seeing it through to the end! Unfortunately, the inspiration behind it is a huge spoiler, so I’ll just say that the idea itself came from furniture we used to have in our house when I was a child, haha.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

I generally write when I can find the team. I’ve been saying that I need to get on a writing schedule for years. I used to write freelance articles, and I’m a horrible procrastinator, so I learned to write really quickly. Sometimes I’ll ask friends to give me deadlines, so that I’ll have something to aim for. Otherwise, I write whenever I can find the time to do so.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

In the past, I never used outlines. I never want to go back to that life, haha. I need an outline now. I lose sight of the finer details without one. Every now and then, I’ll search for photos or videos as inspiration. I love music, and I may use it to put me in the writing mood, but I can’t write while it’s playing. If I have anything playing in the background while I write, it’s usually a (bad) horror movie.

Normally, I let the words flow out, and then try to make sense of it later. There have been times where I go back to edit, and I have no idea of what I was going for, lol. Editing is super important, as is a great editor.

Where did the desire to write LGBTQIA+ stories come from?

I’m in the community, so I always feel more comfortable writing LGBTQIA+ stories. I think I’ve read so many strictly heterosexual romances over the years that I don’t really have it in me to want to read more. I want to read stories about people like me. We deserve to have our stories told, and our voices heard.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

Honestly, it depends on the story. My day job is a librarian, so I LOVE research. As for authentic voice, I think this comes from reading as much as you can in various genres. Also, pay attention to the people you interact with, and the world around you. None of my characters are particularly based off of anyone, but some of them may share characteristics of people I know.

Synopsis

When he’s propositioned by a wealthy stranger, it seems Coy Conlin’s impoverished life is about to be upgraded. But before he can share the news with his family, he comes home to find his grandmother murdered and his little brother missing. To make matters worse, he’s thrown in prison along with every other shifter under the Sovereign’s orders.

August Seaton left his laboratory job at the Asuda Registry to become a Registry officer. But after a mission with his partner goes horribly wrong, August ends up with Coy’s dead grandmother on his hands, and Coy thinks he’s the murderer. Worst of all, his partner discovers his secret.

August is a shifter. And now he’s Coy’s cellmate. Coy and August must survive each other, abusive guards, and a scientist hell-bent on forcing Coy into a breeding program.

Teamed up, the pair escape prison and journey across the country. With the Registry hot on their trail, they have enough things to worry about. Falling for each other wasn’t supposed to be one of them.

Excerpt

King of the Fire Dancers
S.T. Sterlings © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

There were two things that Coy Conlin was exceptionally skilled at. The first was dancing. The second, and more unconventional, was turning into a dragon. Both were in his blood and took years of trial and error to perfect, but the former wasn’t a danger to those around him. It wasn’t easy maneuvering a dragon body, especially not one as big as his. Dragons had claws, scales, and fangs. He even had the misfortune of retaining his proneness to seasonal allergies, which sure as hell took explosive sneezing to a whole new level. Still, thanks to his grandmother—a dragon shifter like him—he’d mastered shifting and everything that it entailed from a young age.

Like hunting.

His prey was a slender boy with white skin and blue eyes. The boy raced past, auburn hair catching the wind and blowing about his head. He scurried through the dried grass, his pale, gangly legs kicking up dirt as he rushed to hide behind a large tree. Laughter disguised as a growl escaped Coy’s mouth. As if a mere tree would provide the boy sanctuary.

Coy hated flying. Dragon or not, he preferred to keep his feet—and claws—securely grounded. But, humans were often smarter than they looked, and he knew that if he continued to creep along the ground, the boy would feel the vibrations caused by his heavy footsteps. And so, he pushed off, sharp talons grazing earth as he hovered above the coarse ground. His wings, as wide as sails on a cutter, pierced the air and sent forward a powerful gust of windblown, dusty dirt. He flapped them again, creating a mini dirt storm between himself and the tree and, most importantly, his prey.

A shower of prickly leaves and thin, brittle branches fell to the ground. Seconds later, the boy emerged from behind the tree, arms up and over his head, shielding himself from the downpour. Amidst the cascading debris, Coy caught the look of determination on the boy’s face. Wedged tightly in the boy’s grip was a rock, jagged and angled, the tip pointing toward the sky. A rock? Really? A puny, misshapen hunk of slate? What good would that do against a ninety-foot-long dragon with scales as black as onyx and five times as hard?

A rock.

The little idiot.

The boy let out a wail of a battle cry and charged forward, gripping the rock in his hand like a warrior wielding a sword. There were hundreds of ways Coy could have reacted, and most would have ended with the boy dead on his feet. Instead, he stood there, a beacon of massive power and pride, and allowed the boy to attack. He didn’t feel the impact of the rock smashing against his leg, though he did see the resulting blood. It wasn’t his. It would have taken much more than a rock to puncture his scales.

It was the boy’s.

The force behind the thrust of his hand had caused the rock to ricochet off a section of scales and created a shallow cut in the center of his reddened palm.

Coy had been specific with the rules—no blacking out, no crying, and no bloodletting. If any of those happened, the game ended immediately. And, although the human tried to hide it, he was definitely bleeding.

“No, wait. I’m okay. I swear it. I’m fine. Look. It barely—”

The protest fell on deaf ears—literally. Coy couldn’t hear—or see—anything during the transformation. It was as if he were alone in a black, soundproof room, nothing but darkness and depth and the feeling of endless falling. His heart rate quickened, slamming against his chest like a musician’s calloused hands pounding against a hand drum. He inhaled through his nose, focusing on the rhythm and physically and mentally controlling the pace of his heartbeat. He calmed his mind, grasping at emotions pulsing like lightning, smoothing them out until his vision began to return. First, blurs of colors: reds and browns and a single blob of white standing directly in front of him.

Then, all at once, everything returned.

“It’s barely a scratch,” the boy muttered, folding his pale arms over his chest.

“Too bad,” Coy replied, rubbing at his jaw. It felt good to use his vocal cords again. He was incapable of speech as a dragon, just limited to snarls and hisses…and fire breathing. That last one came in handy. “Rules are rules, Ari.”

Ari—Coy’s adopted brother—frowned. “You didn’t even give me a chance.”

“A chance to what?” Coy rolled his shoulders in an attempt to relax some of the tension in his muscles that came from shifting. “Find another rock? What was that supposed to do?”

He trudged away from his younger brother, crushing dead grass beneath his bare soles. He spotted his discarded sarong lying by a fragment of slate, the latter’s golden-brown surface highlighted with speckles of fiery red. The color was reminiscent of his own skin, warm brown with red undertones—the exact opposite of Ari’s. Even if Ari had somehow managed to slightly injure him with his dumb rock, the bruise would have been difficult to see. One of the many perks of having brown skin was that it didn’t display bruises well. Growing up, that played to his advantage with the number of fights he got into.

Ari pouted. “It was the only thing I could think of.”

“Yeah, well.” Nude, Coy bent down to retrieve his sarong. “That type of thinking is going to get you killed. Or worse, you’ll get your ass kicked.”

Ari rubbed his bloody hand against his sweat-soaked tunic. “How can getting beat up be worse than dying?”

Coy watched as the blood stained the faded fabric. Ari had already outgrown most of his clothes. What he had left was either tainted or torn. Coy would have to take up private performances at this rate just to make sure he could afford to buy Ari clothes.

“If you’re dead, you won’t have me around to rub it in.” He grinned at Ari and then motioned toward the open wound on his hand. “Better not let Dinina see that. You know how she gets.”

He wrapped the thin, cobalt-colored sarong around his waist, securing the two ends into a knot. They’d spent half the morning outside, which meant he’d spent just as long in his dragon form. He’d be exhausted later, but it was worth it. He always had fun hanging out with his little brother. Still, he felt like he was forgetting something.

And then he remembered.

“Shit!” he shouted, the sound so loud and sudden that it startled an unkindness of ravens perched in a nearby tree.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” Ari asked, blue eyes wide with concern.

There were several things wrong, and all of them could be summed up with two words.

“The Registry.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

ST Sterlings is a librarian, and a mother of two (two boys, and one exhausting female GSD). She’s an avid fan of LGBTQ romance, and also loves the horror genre. She’s from Hampton, VA, but currently lives in Lancaster, CA.

Website |Twitter | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

8/14    MillsyLovesBooks

8/15    MM Good Book Reviews

8/15    Erotica For All

8/16    The Novel Approach

8/16    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/16    Drops of Ink 

8/17    V’s Reads 

8/18    Love Bytes Reviews

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Blog Tour: Moro’s Price by M. Crane Hana (character bio, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Moro’s Price

Author: M. Crane Hana

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 26

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Female, Male/Male

Length: 107000

Genre: Science Fiction, sci-fi, aliens, abuse, captivity, abduction, dark, slave

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have M Crane Hana here today on her Moro’s Price tour.  She’s brought along a little bit more information on one of the main characters for our readers! Enjoy!

♦︎

Character Bio – Valier Antonin

Valier’s mostly human Camalian species carries a sentient colonial symbiont linking all members in greater or lesser mental and emotional contact. Val’s family are the genetically engineered rulers who can control and absorb the emotional overloads caused by that linkage.

He is one of the few Camalians who can mindspeak directly to Cama, the symbiont’s apparently-female guiding consciousness. He is the only Camalian who can actually twist Cama’s will to his own, without her even knowing it. Fortunately, he and Cama get along ridiculously well. She tolerates his quirks and tries to be a stabilizing influence while Val indulges his love of nano-technology, explosions, sexy gladiators, and his very-much-frowned-upon sadomasochistic tendencies. Val redeems himself by being a mostly kind and generous person, struggling to find the good in urges that no peace-loving Camalian should ever have.

He’s a budding genius with a fear of boredom and a knack for combining nano-tech with his obliging symbiont. Val’s gifts, curiosity, and manic tendencies get him into (and out of) trouble, often causing disaster for the people around him. Because his accidental control of Cama nearly shattered the Camalian empire when he was a teenager, Val knows his own parents might decide to execute him if he ever really steps out of line. Bisexual, Val grew up knowing there were half a dozen Camalian female Potential mates who might be his emotional match, but they were carefully hidden from him to protect them until he matures.

After saving Moro and fixating emotionally on him, Val begins to grow up…and has to decide if his responsibility to Moro is more important than his mother’s empire.

Val stands about 5’6”, with a wiry, lightly-muscled build. His skin is medium bronze, with rounded Afro-Asian features, his family’s genetically engineered pale gold curly hair and pale golden-yellow eyes (it’s a marker to tell other Camalians to look out!)

For Val’s look, I was somewhat inspired by British male model Phoenix James, American actor Jon Michael Hill, and the DC character Aqualad (Kaldur’ahm).

Synopsis

Crown Prince, techno-geek, and secret sadomasochist Valier has lusted for years after the gorgeous gladiator called “The Diamond.” Meeting the escaped slave on a rooftop, Valier discovers Moro Dalgleish wants suicide before his former masters can reclaim him.

Infected with a deadly symbiont, Valier proposes empty sex to satisfy his urges and grant Moro’s release from a horrible life. Neither man plans for Moro to survive, or how the morning after will shake three empires to their foundations.

Excerpt

Moro’s Price
M. Crane Hana © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1

A thousand spectators watched Jason Kee-DaSilva, the Leopard of Saba, ruin his career two minutes after his comeback victory.

The Golden Cage Arena spanned the top floor of a gaudy casino skyscraper in south Cedar-Saba. At the center of the domed auditorium, a thirty-foot circular steel floor slowly revolved to the right. An airy dome of gold-plated steel filigree mesh arched thirty feet over it. The mesh was stronger than a spaceship’s skin. Two gates led into the Cage. Once a fight began, they’d stay locked until one man lost and yielded to the other.

DaSilva had broken two men already tonight: two in credits, the last in flesh.

The deceptively delicate dome had just lifted from the bloodstained circular steel floor to let a cadre of medics through. Huge holo screens in the dome played highlights from the first rounds of battle or lingered over shots of the Leopard swiftly claiming his last victim. He hadn’t been brutal, merely thorough. The orgasm he’d wrung from the other man had been as much a symbol of victory as the final punch-down.

In better days, DaSilva had been a glorious bronze godling of the Cage, always dressed to show off his sleek muscles, dapple-bleached short hair, and the leopard-spot tattoos covering his shoulders and spine. He’d regained most of the muscle, though it was still pared down from illness. Haunted hollows showed around brown eyes, and his hair was growing out to plebian brown curls. His knee-length kilt was simple grayish-brown poly-silk, without Garibey Shemua colors or concentric teardrop pattern.

Now DaSilva looked up angrily, shrugging off the lackluster attentions of his own single hired attendant and the man’s low-budget medical kit. In place of DaSilva’s legendary anthem, a rights-free generic martial score rumbled in the background from expensive speaker systems.

In the first tier of seats behind the three red-clad referees, a bald man in Garibey Shemua’s purple and silver robes tapped studiously at the keyboard manifesting across his left sleeve. He glanced at DaSilva, as if just now noticing the fighter’s thunderous expression.

DaSilva glared at the Shemua official and then pointed toward the nearest speaker. “I paid, damn you. I wrote my anthem years ago!” he shouted, stepping aside to let the medics work on the other fighter.

“While you were under contract, Sero DaSilva. We’re happy to lease the rights back to you for single-use or month-to-month,” the bald man said with a mild tone, pitched to carry perfectly past the low music. The hovering audio drones made certain his words were broadcast over the whole arena.

“I paid yesterday.”

The Shemua official’s polite, calm expression never wavered. “Which was applied to last month’s fees. Which were in arrears, I’m afraid. It’s a new month. Your employment liaison should have told you to pay today, too.”

“My liaison went on a convenient fishing trip to Lariden Lake last night and couldn’t be reached. What the hell do you people even want?”

The Shemua official lifted a red metal collar from his right sleeve and waggled it in the air. The collar clasp glittered with purple enamel and white diamonds in Shemua’s concentric teardrop emblem. A concerted gasp came from the spectators who knew what it was: the Leopard’s Red-Band bonder’s collar he’d worn while being owned by Garibey Shemua.

“This can all work out for the best, Sero DaSilva, if you’d just see reason and come back.” Until the previous year, the Leopard of Saba had been one of Shemua’s feted, pampered bondslave fighters. Their star.

DaSilva stepped a pace backward.

The crowd moaned as one. Another onlooker began slowly, derisively clapping: a huge old man clad in a brilliant white suit, sprawled a dozen seats down from the referees. The camera drones focused on him, then longer on the silent, nearly naked man kneeling in front of him.

A buzz ran through the crowd.

“The Diamond.” A whisper from a few hundred hushed voices, as everyone was reminded of who else had watched every moment of DaSilva’s three comeback fights. The silent man’s black collar indicated a murderer or traitor under arena sentence. His odd black-and-white coloring marked him as a legend equal to the Leopard. Heavy cosmetics rimmed the man’s eyes, exaggerated his refined cheekbones, and shaped his lips into a courtesan’s scarlet smile.

Flinching at the sight of himself on the giant screens, the painted man lowered his head in a spill of long black curls and huddled against his master’s legs.

Everyone in the vast room saw how long the Leopard looked at the Diamond.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

M. Crane Hana lives in a flat place filled with cactus. She writes romances in all flavors, spends too much time world building her sword & planet fantasies and space operas, and makes museum-grade artifacts from cultures that never existed. Publishing credits: (as Marian Crane) ‘The Blood Orange Tree’, Such A Pretty Face anthology, Meisha-Merlin 2000. ‘Saints and Heroes’, Thrones of Desire anthology, Cleis Press 2012.

Website | Twitter | eMail | Tumblr | Wattpad

Tour Schedule

6/26    Bonkers about Books

6/27    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

6/28    MM Good Book Reviews

6/29    Boy Meets Boy Reviews

6/29    Love Bytes

6/30    Erotica For All

6/30    Dean Frech

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Release Day Blitz: Shaper by Christine Danse (giveaway)

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Title:  Shaper

Series: The Mi’hani Wards, Book 1

Author: Christine Danse

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 13

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 14100

Genre:

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Nameless and without an identity, she wakes on the streets of Shapertown, an abandoned city that defies the laws of physics. She’s fleeing a threat she can’t remember. One woman holds the key to unlocking her memories and the dangerous truth: She is the threat.

Excerpt

Shaper
Christine Danse © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I didn’t dream.

I existed in a black space where for a time I almost had a family and friends, school, the everyday pleasures of domestic life. I drifted close to the shores of memory but didn’t make landfall.

The sound of voices pulled me out again, a man and a woman. They drew me out to sea and up into the sky, into my skin.

I came to on my side under the warmth of covers. Home, in my bed.

But no, not my bed. Not my room. No room I recognized.

Instinct told me to kick to my feet and bolt, but like a small animal, I felt safe under cover.

I scanned the contents of the small room. White dresser, table against the side with two chairs, one door. No more than that.

I made another pass with my eyes just to be sure, but there was only the one door, so only one way out. The voices came from just on the other side of it, so I wouldn’t be slipping out unseen. I would have to wait this out. I had no choice. It had nothing to do with the fact that the pillow was soft under my head, the blankets a bank of clouds atop me. A comfort like home, which I hadn’t known for…

For a long time. The feeling didn’t quite come with a memory, but a strong sense of hard surfaces and shivering sleep.

“I realize,” the woman was saying. She spoke in a hushed tone, but I could just get her words.

The man responded in a low rumble I couldn’t make out.

“I know that,” she said. “But you must understand the position this puts me in.”

Something about her voice made me uneasy. Maybe her tone. There was an edge to it, a wariness and also a weariness.

“I’m retired,” she said at last, flatly.

Nothing after that. They might have moved off, leaving me, forgetting me. But I didn’t move, just lay with the blanket pulled up to my eyes and held still, waiting for something, because something always came.

The rattle of the doorknob warned me just before the door opened. The man entered first. Tall, with dark brooding eyes and a presence like a storm cloud compacted into a man’s shape. But it was the woman at his elbow who scared me. Thin, with straight brown hair and luminescent blue eyes. Beautiful but tired, mouth in a line like it had never known a smile.

I sat up and clutched the blanket, never mind that I was clothed. I pushed back my curls.

“You’re awake,” the man said. He drew out a chair and sat. The woman stood leaning back against the doorframe with her arms crossed, seemingly impassive, but our awareness of each other pulled like a taut string.

“I’m Nero,” the man said. “And this is Natalia.”

After that came a pause. They seemed to be waiting for something. I looked between them, fingers curled around the top edge of the blanket. My gaze caught the woman’s and snagged.

He prompted: “Can you tell us your name?”

I opened my mouth and— “No.” I felt an instant pulse in the air, like a throb of hostility from them, and added, “I don’t know.”

The man’s eyes flickered. The woman shifted from one leg to the other and propped the foot against the wall.

“I don’t know,” I said again. “I don’t know my name.” The edge of panic crept into my voice.

They exchanged a glance.

The man asked me more questions. It was a terror and a relief not to have the answers. They could get nothing out of me. I could betray no one.

He seemed to get the same idea. He stood and exchanged a conversation with the woman that consisted of a look, a subtle glance in my direction, a scowl, and a tight nod. Then the man told me that Natalia would make me comfortable.

“I’m comfortable here,” I said. At that moment, I would have rather been huddled in the corner of that crumbling building like a dog behind the dresser.

The woman, Natalia, dredged up a smile that didn’t quite make it to her eyes but also wasn’t unkind, and held a hand up, gently beckoning. I couldn’t decline.

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Christine lives with her writing partner in the wilds of urban Oregon, where they raise weeds, worms, and eyebrows.

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