Release Blitz for Force of Nature (Coming About #4) by J.K. Hogan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Force of Nature

Series: Coming About, #4

Author: J.K. Hogan

Publisher:  Euphoria Press (self)

Release Date: 7/4/17

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 80,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary, adventure

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Synopsis

Everyone knows that bonds formed under extreme circumstances never last.

Harbor Patrol officer Neal Hesse has had his life turned upside down by a sudden break-up with his partner of ten years. After sleeping his way through Seattle failed to take his mind off his broken heart, he decides to take a leave of absence from work to find himself again. He hires a professional wilderness guide to take him up into the mountains, so he can get away from everything and live off the grid for a few days.

Travis “Rock” McCreary, ex-Army Ranger turned survivalist, hates doing guided excursions, but it’s his primary source of income while he’s working towards getting his own survival show. Working in such a testosterone-fueled profession has forced him so deep into the closet, he feels like he might never see the light of day again, which makes it even harder to put on a friendly face for his happy, normal clients.

When Rock is hired by clumsy city-boy Neal to take him up into the North Cascades for a survival adventure, his patience and his resolve are tested at every turn. He has to teach Neal to survive in the wilderness while fighting an attraction he can’t allow himself to act on. When their trip doesn’t go as planned, Neal’s getaway turns into a true survival situation, and he and Rock are forced to rely on each other to stay alive. If they make it out of the wilderness, can their newfound connection survive in the real world?

Excerpt

Neal didn’t see how this was supposed to help take his mind off his ex because, as they trudged up the trail mostly in silence, he had nothing but time to think. Time to think about how he’d fallen for and spent years with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He thought he’d been settled, that Tony was The One, that they had been on their way to growing old together. How wrong he’d been.

When the party reached an overlook at the highest point on the trail, they stopped for a panoramic view of the waterfall. Even Neal had to admit, with the sun streaming into the gorge and casting rainbows from the mist, it was a beautiful sight. It was still hard to drag himself out of his head, though. He knew his friends meant well, and they were right, of course. He needed to get up, get out, get back on the proverbial horse of life. But he didn’t wanna. He wanted to be at home on the couch moping, damn it.

He wished for that even harder when he saw the so-called trail that descended from the overlook to the foot of the falls where hikers could walk around or swim on warm-enough days. This trail was also steps, but natural ones of smooth, flat rock. It was narrow. Very narrow, and the lower part had a thin coat of slime from the water spray and mud. So it was fucking slippery.

When he’d almost made it to the flat riverbed, Neal lost his footing on a slick rock. He barely avoided taking a tumble—probably would’ve cracked his skull open—but he gained his balance again at the last moment. He breathed a sigh of relief when he stepped off that part of the trail. The falls dumped into a wide open part of the gorge, forming a broad pool that was bordered by a large, semicircular bank of river rock. There, day-hikers and tourists spread out on the rocks, picnicking, sunning themselves, or generally just taking in the scenery. Neal’s friends spread out to do their own thing.

Addison stalked off to the tree line with her cell phone, probably trying to get a signal so she could call her girlfriend. Bennett led Rory around the edge of the pond so they could get close to the actual waterfall. He was wearing a chest harness that held his Go-Pro, the action camera he usually kept on his boat. Rich and Paddy sat down on some large rocks and got out their trail snacks. And Nic Valentine, the crazy fucker, was wading in the frigid pool while Justice looked on, shaking his damn head.

Neal shivered just thinking about it. It was the tail-end of summer, so it was still quite warm, but these high lakes and rivers were always brisk, even on the hottest days. He’d been trained to withstand cold water temperatures for marine rescues, but that didn’t mean he had to like it, and he certainly didn’t do it for fun. Turning away from the splashing idiot, Neal looked around at all of the tourists and vacationers. Everyone had phones out, taking pictures, and he was sure they were tweeting and Instagramming like mad whenever they could find a bar or two.

He shook his head, then smirked and took his own phone out. “When in Rome,” he muttered. First, he snapped a picture with the reverse camera of himself with the waterfall in the background. Then he flipped the view so he could get a shot of the gorge. His frame wasn’t wide enough, so he took a few steps back, mindful of the rocks that became more slippery the closer he got to the falls.

His foot slipped and plopped down into water still cold enough to make him gasp, and right at the same time, he backed into something hard. Solid. Something alive. Neal winced when he heard an outraged cry and a splash behind him. Oh, fuck. Had he just…knocked someone into the water? He knew he needed to make sure they weren’t hurt or anything, but damn, he was afraid to turn around…because that had not felt like a small person.

Cautiously, he turned around and looked down, where he saw a man flailing around in the shallows of the pool. Once he got control of his feet, the man sprang up in the perfect kip-up. Neal cringed when he saw that his clothes and trail pack were completely soaking wet. And when he looked at the man’s face, he froze. His brain registered three things almost simultaneously: he looked vaguely familiar, he was very attractive, and he was really fucking mad.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” the stranger shouted.

He stepped forward so aggressively that Neal backed up, and his right hand went instinctively to his hip, where he would’ve put his hand on the stock of his service weapon—only there was nothing there because he was off duty.

Not wanting to seem like an equal aggressor, he covered the move by sticking his hand in his pocket, hoping to appear non-threatening. This guy was about his age and shorter by a few inches, but he was ripped. He looked rugged and whipcord strong and looked ready to kick some ass in a heartbeat. Neal might’ve been able to take him—he had him on height and weight, but the guy looked like he might be stronger…and a lot meaner. Neal really didn’t want to fight. That was a helluva lot of paperwork.

He held his arms out in front of him, both as a gesture of peace and to stave off an attack if that were to happen. “Man, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize anyone was behind me.”

“Clearly,” he growled, shrugging out of his pack. He unzipped it and started digging through it.

“Again, really sorry. If anything in your pack got damaged, I’ll reimburse you.”

He scowled at me. “This is a waterfall hike. I’m not an idiot. Anything of value is inside a dry bag.”

Neal bristled because the guy was basically calling him and everyone with him an idiot because they hadn’t brought dry bags. They’d just figured they could avoid, you know, falling in the water. Probably should’ve planned better, because if Neal hadn’t knocked into this guy, it would’ve been him in the water. But Neal had been the one to cause the fall, so he tried not to let his attitude get to him. “If you need a towel, I think one of my friends might’ve brought one.”

He sat down on a large, flat rock and pulled off his hiking shoes, probably to let them dry a little in the sun. His socks looked dry, so Neal assumed his footwear was waterproof. That also would’ve been a good idea, since Neal’s right sneaker was soggy as hell from stepping in the water.

The guy shook his head and didn’t make eye contact. “I’ve got more hiking to do. I’ll air-dry. Just try not to drown anyone, will ya?”

Neal’s eyes narrowed, and he fought a valiant battle not to tell the guy to fuck off. Instead, he fell back on his usual façade of charm and reached out a hand. “I’m Neal. Wish it had been under better circumstances, but it’s nice to meet you.”

His mega-watt smile, the one that had gotten him laid all the time when he was with Tony and before, bounced off this angry stranger like he had some kind of nice-guy force field. He glared at the proffered hand until Neal got the hint and put it back in his pocket. Just when he was about to say ‘fuck it’ and walk away, the guy mumbled, “Travis.”

“Pardon?” Neal asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Name’s Travis.”

“Well…Travis. It’s been a pleasure. I’ll get out of your hair.” About maxed out on politeness, Neal turned on his heel and started walking, stumbling slightly on the wet stones.

“Hey, Neal?”

He turned and looked at Travis. “Yeah?”

“You should stick to walking in the park or going to the gym. You don’t belong out here.”

Rage burned in Neal’s gut. He’d apologized profusely, and this guy just wouldn’t let it go. Where the hell did he get off? “The fuck did you say to me? I’ll have you know, I’m a police officer.”

Bennett had obviously picked up on the tone because Neal sensed his partner and Paddy creeping up on his flanks.

Travis’s eyes flicked back and forth between the three men, then he shook his head with a scoffing sound. “I’m just trying to give you some advice. It’s guys like you who come out here and fall down into the ravine because you don’t have the instincts to pay the fuck attention to where you put your feet.”

Neal lunged forward, but Bennett stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “Nuh-uh. Walk away, Hesse.”

“But—”

“Nope.” Paddy started pulling him backward.

Travis spoke again, and the sound of his voice grated over Neal’s nerves like sandpaper. “I’m not just trying to be an asshole, although I’d be justified, considering.” He gestured down at his wet clothes. “But seriously, if you want to be all outdoorsy and shit? Get yourself some survival training, because you seem pretty fucking hopeless.”

Neal growled and lunged again, but was stopped by his two strong friends.

“Aaaand we’re done here,” Bennett said, as he and Patrick hauled Neal to the other side of the river where the rest of their group was waiting.

“Come on, just one swing!” Neal shouted over his shoulder. It was just for show because his pride was more bruised than he wanted to let on, but the boys kept a firm grip on him just in case.

Why the fuck did it matter that some asshole stranger thought he was incompetent? But Neal knew the answer to that—because his own boyfriend had as well. Tony had basically unmanned him by suggesting Neal’s career and choices didn’t matter, and now some random guy was telling him he couldn’t even wipe his own ass without help.

Neal seethed quietly all the way back down the trail. He’d never see that crazy fucknut again, but he’d be damned if he’d let the guy be right. So as soon as he got back, he booked himself on a survival excursion with a professional wilderness guide. That’d show that asshole. The one he would never see again.

Purchase

Euphoria Press (self) | Amazon

Meet the Author

J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and two sons, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit http://www.jkhogan.com.

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In the Spotlight: The Balance (The Eternal Dungeon #3) by Dusk Peterson (excerpt and contest)

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The Balance (The Eternal Dungeon #3) by Dusk Peterson
Release Date: April 11, 2016 (reissue)

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Love In Dark Settings Press
Cover Artist: Dusk Peterson

Blurb

“‘The Eternal Dungeon is my home now,’ the High Seeker said. But as he spoke, he lifted his face and looked at the Vovimian carving, as a man might look at a beloved he must leave forever.”

The Seekers (torturers) in the Eternal Dungeon have always expressed contempt toward the Hidden Dungeon in the neighboring kingdom of Vovim, whose torturers abuse prisoners without restraint. But the balance between mercy and hell is not so clear as might be thought in either dungeon, and now that balance is about to tip. Only the strength of love and integrity will determine the paths of two Seekers whose fortunes are bound together.

A winner of the 2011 Rainbow Awards (within the “Eternal Dungeon” omnibus), this tale of love and adventure can be read on its own or as the third volume in The Eternal Dungeon, a speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

The Eternal Dungeon series is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Young Toughs, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael’s House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

 

Pages or Words: 90,000 words
Can be read as a standalone
Categories: Alternate Universe, Gay Fiction, Historical, Adventure, Queergender

Excerpt

He had awoken, on that day after, to find himself lying alone in bed.

It had all been a dreaming, then: the promise of everlasting love, the passion that had followed upon that promise, the warmth of Elsdon’s body – and more importantly, the warmth of his companionship. Layle had expected it to happen one day: his dreamings had become so real that he had begun to believe them.

The bedsprings creaked.

He reacted automatically, which meant he reacted violently. Reaching toward the only loose object at hand – the night-table next to the bed – he grasped it by its leg, wrenched it from the floor, and had begun to swing it toward the intruder before he checked himself in time.

He opened his eyes. Elsdon, fully clothed and hooded but with his face-cloth raised, sat beside him. He looked, Layle realized with amazement, more amused than fearful.

“By all that is sacred,” Elsdon said, speaking the mildest of oaths, “is this how you always greet your love-mates upon awakening?”

Layle slowly lowered the night-table, feeling the blood thunder within his body. “I’ve never had a love-mate before who slept with me.”

“I can see why, if this is how you wake from your sleep.”

Layle slowly raised himself into a sitting position. Elsdon was still smiling, he noted with growing incredulity. The Seeker-in-Training had made a joke about the fact that Layle was a killer born.

Buy the book

http://duskpeterson.com/eternaldungeon/#thebalance

Universal / Global Amazon – http://myBook.to/TheBalance_DPeterson
BN – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-balance-dusk-peterson/1115247368
kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-balance-the-eternal-dungeon-volume-3
iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/balance-eternal-dungeon-volume/id1102706878?mt=11
smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/629188

 

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Meet the Author

Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction: alternate history, historical fantasy, and retrofuture science fiction, including lgbtq novels and young adult fiction. Friendship, family affection, faithful service, and romance often occur in the stories. A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, A.M. Leibowitz, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Full Moon Dreaming, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, My Fiction Nook, Jessie G. Books, MM Good Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter, Charley Descoteaux, MM Book Escape, Bonkers About Books, Velvet Panic, The Hat Party, Outrageous Heroes, Open Skye Book Reviews

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: An e-copy of “Life Prison.”  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
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Love Alternative Romance? Don’t Miss Out On Dusk Peterson’s ‘Rebirth’ (Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon # 1) by Dusk Peterson
Release Date: February, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Love in Dark Settings Press
Cover Artist: Dusk Peterson

Blurb

“‘This prisoner deserves special treatment.’ The hooded man looked over at the young man again.”

Elsdon Taylor, a prisoner accused of committing a terrible murder. Layle Smith, a torturer with a terrible past. Their meeting in the Eternal Dungeon appears certain to bring out the worst in both men.

Yet neither man is quite what he appears. As the prisoner and his torturer begin to be drawn toward each other, the ripple effects of their meeting will have a powerful impact on other inhabitants of the Eternal Dungeon: Layle’s faithful guard, struggling to contain his doubts. A younger guard determined to take any shortcuts necessary to ensure that his life follows the path he has already chosen. An old love from Layle’s past, still sorrowing. And most of all, a prisoner who has not yet arrived at the Eternal Dungeon, but whose fate will depend on how Layle handles Elsdon Taylor . . . and on how Elsdon handles Layle Smith.

A winner of the 2011 Rainbow Awards (within the “The Eternal Dungeon” omnibus), this tale of love and adventure can be read on its own or as the first volume in The Eternal Dungeon, a speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

The Eternal Dungeon series is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael’s House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

 

Pages or Words: 130,000 words
Categories: Adventure, Alternate Universe, Historical

Excerpt:

“Do you have any questions?” the Seeker asked. “About the routine of the dungeon? The times you will be fed? The questions you will be asked? The instruments of torture I use?”

The faintness went beyond Elsdon’s voice this time and entered his body. He could feel the sweat upon his skin; he wondered whether he had turned white. He blurted out, “What if I’m innocent?”

The Seeker’s gaze did not waver. “If you are innocent, then I trust that our time together will be short. I would far rather find a prisoner innocent than guilty; too many prisoners are sent to us, and the quicker that we can release them from here, the better. If your release is to the lighted world rather than to the executioner, it is likely to come more quickly. But we are commissioned by the Queen to ascertain the truth of accusations of death-sentence crimes, and we are committed to fulfill that commission. Please don’t waste my time with false pleas of innocence, Mr. Taylor. It will only make our time together more difficult.”

Buy the book:

http://duskpeterson.com/eternaldungeon/#rebirth

 

 

Meet the author:

Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction: alternate history, historical fantasy, and retrofuture science fiction, including lgbtq novels and other types of diverse fiction. Friendship, family affection, faithful service, and romance often occur in the stories. A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books. Visit duskpeterson.com for e-books and free fiction.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, Jessie G. Books, MM Good Book Reviews, Sassygirl Books, Oh My Shelves,

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Full Moon Dreaming, Bayou Book Junkie, The Hat Party, BFD Book Blog,

Kirsty Loves Books, The Jena Wade, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Book Lovers 4Ever, Outrageous Heroes,

Wake Up Your Wild Side, Mikky’s World of Books, Nephy Hart, Inked Rainbow Reads, Velvet Panic

 

Giveaway

Enter to win. Must be 18 years of age or older. Link and prize provided by Pride Promotions.

 

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Early Bird’s Book Look at ‘Secret of the Manor’ by Taylin Clavelli (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Secret of the Manor
Author: Taylin Clavelli
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Synopsis

Warren Blake is an accountant at the pinnacle of his career. After accepting a new position he decides to settle in the scenic Cotswold village of Walmsley Hackett.  A village with a colourful history of myth, old wives tales and mystery.

One morning during his train ride into work, Warren notices a small quaint church which he becomes enchanted with. Curiousity compels him to find the church and when he finally does, he discovers an unmarked grave in the corner. Feeling sorry for its occupant, Warren becomes a frequent visitor.

Little does he know that the young man inside the coffin needs a champion and Warren is chosen.

What follows involves a ghostly medieval joust, witchcraft, love, and Warren risking his life.

Exclusive Excerpt

Secret Of The Manor – Excerpt – The Garden Party

Miles, CEO of A-Genet, was a good man and a fine leader. Warren got on well with him. But, while Miles played host, Warren looked upon the party with a more cynical eye. It was an occasion where the title CEO took on a whole new meaning. At such times, CEO meant Cock-Enlarging Officer. The epithet worked for Warren on so many levels. Warren was sure Miles knew what happened every time he spoke to an ambitious employee, especially the males. The man’s winning words had an immediate effect, and the person he was talking to always changed his stance, and seemed to have more down his trousers than when he walked in.

The annual garden party was also a time many took advantage of to network, in various guises. One or two carried virtual knives. Warren knew the game rules. It was a necessary evil in a place where, if you didn’t watch your back, others took advantage. It wasn’t pretty, but it was better than the game some played. He’d been bitten by the latter before; it was one reason for his degrees of separation.

Warren had settled into his comfortable cane chair and relaxed with a glass of wine. He completed the “Hello, darling; wonderful dress, are those new shoes?” social niceties expected of him with the wives, and the “This quarter is going well, any news on that contract?” dialogue with his colleagues in high management. He chinked glasses, ate well, smiled, and conversed with the willing. He stayed with his crowd, and was wary of others who approached him—climbers who decided he was one of those worth sucking up to. Maybe he was unfair to some, but he’d seen too many cases of backbiting to embrace an idealistic approach to office shenanigans.

Secret of the Manor Cover

Buy Links

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/secret-of-the-manor-by-taylin-clavelli/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Manor-Taylin-Clavelli-ebook/dp/B0174MHXS8/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Manor-Taylin-Clavelli-ebook/dp/B0174MHXS8/
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/Secret-Manor-Taylin-Clavelli-ebook/dp/B0174MHXS8/
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/Secret-Manor-Taylin-Clavelli-ebook/dp/B0174MHXS8/
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-secretofthemanor-1914001-149.html

Genre: Gay romance, mystery, paranormal, adventure
Length: Novel

Book Trailer

 

Giveaway

Enter to win the following Rafflecopter giveaway.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

  • 3 x Mega Swag Packs (Europe only) – Bullet USB, Keyring hip flask, Memo set, Mints, 3-in-1 Stylus pen keyring
  • 2 x $10 WIP Gift Cards
  • 3 x Swag Packs – Memo set, Mints, 3-in-1 Stylus pen keyring

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About the Author

Taylin Clavelli lives in the United Kingdom, about 15 miles south of Birmingham, and a short journey from the world famous Cadbury’s Chocolate factory. She’s married with children and loves her family with all her heart.

Her love of books has been a long standing affair, with Taylin liking nothing better than to lose herself in an imaginary world.

Until she met Lily Velden, she never considered trying her hand at writing. However, after talking ideas, Lily encouraged her to put pen to paper—or rather, fingers to keyboard. Since, with a few virtual kicks in the right place, she hasn’t stopped. Her confidence eventually led to her writing an original work for submission.

Her first published work was Boys, Toys, and Carpet Fitters, developed for the Dreamspinner Press Anthology – Don’t Try This At Home.

Now she absolutely adores immersing herself into the characters she creates, and transferring the pictures in her brain to paper, finding it liberating, therapeutic, and wonderful.

Outside of writing, her interests include; martial arts (she’s a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwon-do), horse-riding, all of which facilitates her love of a wide variety of movies. Her action heroes include Jet Li and Tony Jaa—finding the dedication these men have for their art combined with their skill both amazing and a privilege to watch. If pressed, she’ll admit to thinking that the screen entrance of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl, and Shadowfax in LOTR, to be the greatest screen entrances ever. Her all-time favorite movies are Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

The simple things in life that make her day, putting a smile on her face are:

Laughter – especially that of her children.

The smell of lasagna cooking – it makes her mouth salivate.

The dawn chorus – no symphony ever written can beat the waking greetings of the birds.

Social links:

Website: http://www.taylinclavelli.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005234535413
Twitter: https://twitter.com/taylinclavelli

Release Day Blitz – Secret of the Manor by Taylin Clavelli (excerpt)

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 Secret of the Manor by Taylin Clavelli
 Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Blurb

Warren Blake is an accountant at the pinnacle of his career. After accepting a new position he decides to settle in the scenic Cotswold village of Walmsley Hackett.  A village with a colourful history of myth, old wives tales and mystery.

One morning during his train ride into work, Warren notices a small quaint church which he becomes enchanted with. Curiousity compels him to find the church and when he finally does, he discovers an unmarked grave in the corner. Feeling sorry for its occupant, Warren becomes a frequent visitor.

Little does he know that the young man inside the coffin needs a champion and Warren is chosen.

What follows involves a ghostly medieval joust, witchcraft, love, and Warren risking his life.

Secret of the Manor Cover

Buy Links: WIP | Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon DE | ARe

Excerpt

DURING THE previous summer, midway through the building process, Warren had found a local stables and indulged his love of horses. The facility had both indoor and outdoor schools, a field full of jumps, and a cross-country course. Warren chose the place not only because of its impressive amenities, but because he immediately struck a chord with its aging owner, Carl. He and Carl rode together often. Their friendship developed during Sunday-afternoon rides through the vales and hills of the Cotswolds.

It was during one of the pair’s lollops into luxurious green canopies and winding trails that Warren first spotted a small church spire. But it was in the distance, and was soon out of sight. Even then, Warren was intrigued. Sadly, they never rode close enough for it to be anything but an image veiled by trees and for one reason or another he never asked about it.

Often, he and Carl didn’t talk at all when they rode together. They simply enjoyed the relaxing, mind-clearing experience of milling around the countryside on horseback. Short of the odd bird flying out of a hedge and scaring the bejesus out of them, or a rabbit making a dash for cover, riding was a time of compatible solitude, away from the rat race.

When Carl was in the mood to talk he regaled Warren with the origins of Walmsley Hackett. And when Carl spoke Warren stayed quiet, enamoured with his stories.

As it turned out, the 1800s was nowhere near the start of Cheltenham life. Unearthed historical finds suggested several villages in the Cotswolds dated back to Roman times, long before the Saxons, Vikings, and mediaeval Normans.

The historical tales were of varying believability. Carl often rolled his eyes while he glossed over the fables he considered ludicrous. Among those were stories of a jousting competition reenacted during the summer solstice. It was believed to take place in a field on the village border, and Carl had never met anyone who’d seen it. Other stories told of winged fairies in the woods during spring and a Roman army on the march.

Genre: Gay romance, mystery, paranormal, adventure
Length: Novel

About the author

Taylin Clavelli lives in the United Kingdom, about 15 miles south of Birmingham, and a short journey from the world famous Cadbury’s Chocolate factory. She’s married with children and loves her family with all her heart.

Her love of books has been a long standing affair, with Taylin liking nothing better than to lose herself in an imaginary world.

Until she met Lily Velden, she never considered trying her hand at writing. However, after talking ideas, Lily encouraged her to put pen to paper—or rather, fingers to keyboard. Since, with a few virtual kicks in the right place, she hasn’t stopped. Her confidence eventually led to her writing an original work for submission.

Her first published work was Boys, Toys, and Carpet Fitters, developed for the Dreamspinner Press Anthology – Don’t Try This At Home.

Now she absolutely adores immersing herself into the characters she creates, and transferring the pictures in her brain to paper, finding it liberating, therapeutic, and wonderful.

Outside of writing, her interests include; martial arts (she’s a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwon-do), horse-riding, all of which facilitates her love of a wide variety of movies. Her action heroes include Jet Li and Tony Jaa—finding the dedication these men have for their art combined with their skill both amazing and a privilege to watch. If pressed, she’ll admit to thinking that the screen entrance of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl, and Shadowfax in LOTR, to be the greatest screen entrances ever. Her all-time favorite movies are Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

The simple things in life that make her day, putting a smile on her face are:

Laughter – especially that of her children.

The smell of lasagna cooking – it makes her mouth salivate.

The dawn chorus – no symphony ever written can beat the waking greetings of the birds.

Social links:

Website: http://www.taylinclavelli.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005234535413
Twitter: https://twitter.com/taylinclavelli

Review: Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows #10) by Charlie Cochrane

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Lessons for Suspicious MindsJonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith have just returned home when they are sent a summons by Mrs. Stewart, Jonty’s mother.   Her old friend and Jonty’s godmother requires their assistance and immediate travel to her stately home in the country.  Although lacking details, Jonty and Orlando know this can only mean one thing…..a mystery to solve.  But this could not come at a worse time,, Orlando is still preoccupied over the revelation of his true family name and Jonty had made plans to help Orlando in his personal investigation.

But Mrs. Stewart is not to be denied and soon the two are traveling with the Stewarts to the Berkshires and Fyfield, home of Alexandra Temple.  Midway on their journey, a stop at Monkey Island sees the Cambridge Fellows with an unexpected request to look into a recent death there.  Orlando and Jonty keep that mystery to themselves but are surprised when asked to investigate a suicide at Fyfield, their destination.  That’s two recent suicides suspected to be murder, a circumstance that neither Jonty or Orlando believe to be coincidence.

For Orlando and Jonty, the deaths remind them of a recent dark time for Orlando and memories of Orlando’s father’s suicide.  There will be many mysteries to solve and personal obstacles to overcome before the Cambridge Fellows can return home to Forsythia Cottage and a life they love.

With Lessons for Suspicious Minds, Charlie Cochrane takes us back to England, 1909, a time period prior to the last two novels in this series. WWI is still years away although change is in the air and troubling events are occurring aboard.  Orlando is still reeling over the fact that he is not really a Coppersmith but a relation of the Italian Artigiano del Rame family and Jonty is making plans to help his lover investigate his grandfather’s identity.  But of course, even the simplest of plans go awry for our Cambridge Fellows as Cochrane builds some of her most sophisticated and convoluted set of mysteries to date for them to solve.

There is just so much to love and admire about this book. And l especially appreciate that, as the tenth book in the series, Charlie Cochrane takes us back prior to WWI and the events of All Lessons Learned (#8) and Lessons for Survivors (#9).  Once again we get to revel in the closeness and joy that is the Stewart family, from Richard, Jonty’s father always ready to join in as a spry co-investigator and the ever formidable Helena Stewart, Jonty’s mother, whose post pulls Orlando and Jonty into one of their most personal and perplexing cases  yet.  Lavinia, Jonty’s sister, nephew and brother in law are also present and enjoyably accounted for.  The Stewart family aspect of this series has always been a powerful emotional anchor for Jonty and Orlando’s relationship and sometimes even their mental and emotional stability.  That will come into play here as well.

A constant thread throughout this series has been Orlando’s predilection towards depression, an event usually brought on by thoughts of his dysfunctional family and his father’s suicide.  When Lessons for Suspicious Minds starts, we find Orlando in an unsettled state of mind.  He has just found out that his family name is not Coppersmith but an Italian one from his maternal grandmother as their true family name, Artigiano del Rame, is italian for Coppersmith.  Now the mystery before Orlando is that of the identity of his grandfather, a man never identified by his grandmother.  As always Jonty is trying to find a way to help Orlando but unsure of how to assist him.  This is such a marvelous way to start a story that will have further ramifications for both Orlando and Jonty, especially as they get involved in investigating two deaths categorized as suicides.

This is an emotionally fraught subject and Cochrane treads delicately but resoundingly here.  She brings back past events where depression almost pulled Orlando under and has the entire Stewart family just as unsettled as Orlando, unsure of how to tackle their concerns about his state of mind when dealing so directly with these recent deaths.  Then the author balances the tricky state of hiding the nature of Orlando and Jonty’s relationship from everyone at Fyfield, including the servants, just at the moment when Orlando is needing the love and support of Jonty the most.   It’s almost painful for them to part in the evening when all Orlando (and Jonty) wants is to curl up with his lover, feeling safe and loved.

Through ten stories readers have been there as Orlando and Jonty meet, romanced and finally settled into a deep loving relationship.  It has been a wonderful journey, filled with angst and joy. So we understand how far Orlando has come from those early stages to this point where he needs that physicality, that touch from Jonty to shore him up emotionally and mentally. And when they finally are able to sneak away and indulge in their need for one another, the reader feels as content and emotionally satisfied as they do.

A tenth book is always a milestone in any series and Charlie Cochrane does justice to this remarkable series by including all the elements that her readers have come to expect and enjoy and elevating them here in Lessons for Suspicious Minds.  There is the marvelous parlance of the time period that Cochrance includes in her dialog which demonstrates an ease and familiarity of language in use then.   Whether it is Jonty calling Orlando “a big jessie”, with total affection of course, Richard remonstrating “Helena, he’s built like a bull of Bashan.” after Jonty’s mother says he is “looking a touch on the thin side.” Or even Jonty asking “What have you planned in the way of a nosebag?”, it natural, instead of strained or unusual.  It just adds that note of relevance and accuracy necessary for a historical novel, albeit accomplished in a lovely and subtle manner.

Her locales ring as true as her dialog.  I would love to punt my way to Monkey Island and spread a cloth under the trees to nap away a hour or two in the afternoon. Cochrane’s descriptions are both informative and a calling card for that geographical area. Their pull is hard to resist and sent me googling Monkey Island, punts and gardens Cochrane so vividly brought to life.

And then there are her mysteries, two of them in fact.  To use the lingo common in fiction, there is a dastardly aspect to these cases that I was not prepared for. Its complex and it takes time for Jonty and Orlando to pull all the facts together before they can solve the crimes.  The clues are myriad and include such marvelous things as servants bells and mariner journals. Just outstanding, I think this is the best mystery yet.  I loved that I did not guess at the solution, didn’t even come close!

But the true heart of this story and the series is the love between Orlando Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart.  It has survived Orlando’s innocence, Jonty’s childhood sexual abuse, and all the events of their past investigations, including death threats , threats to the romance, and the threat of discovery. I was slow warming up to their romance but as the stories flew by and their relationship progressed, I fell for them as deeply as they fell for each other.  Now I number this series and couple among my all time favorites.

Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows #10) is one of the best of the series, a marvelous thing to report at book ten.  This series and their romance is alive and getting resoundingly better with each new story.  How many series can say that at book ten?  If you are new to the Cambridge Fellows series and Jonty and Orlando, then rush back to the beginning and the start of their romance.  But if you are a long-time fan as I am, then you will surely be as in love with this story as Jonty and Orlando remain with each other, exchanging gentle slaps and retorts to go along with the double entendres and hidden caresses we love and expect.  I consider this one of the best of 2013.

Cover art by Alex Beecroft is perfect for this story in every way.

Book Details:

Paperback, 200 pages
Published September 30th 2013 by Cheyenne Publishing (first published September 19th 2013)
ISBN 1937692272 (ISBN13: 9781937692278)
edition language English

For those of you for whom this review is your first introduction, please start from the beginning. Take your time getting to know these remarkable men, delve into life and times of England in the 1900′s. It starts out with all the joys of a slow promenade and then picks up the pace with each succeeding book.

It is an extraordinary journey. Dont miss a page of it. Here are the order the stories were written and should be read to fully understand the relationships and events that occur:

Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows, #1)
Lessons in Desire (Cambridge Fellows, #2)
Lessons in Discovery (Cambridge Fellows, #3)
Lessons in Power (Cambridge Fellows, #4)
My True Love Sent To Me
Lessons in Temptation (Cambridge Fellows, #5)
Lessons in Seduction (Cambridge Fellows, #6)
Lessons in Trust (Cambridge Fellows, #7)
Once We Won Matches (Cambridge Fellows, #7.5)
All Lessons Learned (Cambridge Fellows, #8)
Lessons for Survivors (Cambridge Fellows, #9) – released by Cheyenne Publishing.
Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows #10)

For free stories in the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries universe and more about the author, visit the author’s website.