New Release Blitz for The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree (Stoker & Bash #2) by Selina Kray (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 100,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Stoker & Bash Series
 
Book #1 – The Fangs Of Scavo – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

When will She open Rebecca Northcote’s box?

Finding lost poodles and retrieving stolen baubles is not how DI Tim Stoker envisioned his partnership with his lover, Hieronymus Bash. So when the police commissioner’s son goes missing, he’s determined to help, no matter what secrets he has to keep, or from whom.



When a family member is kidnapped, Hiero moves heaven and earth to rescue them. Even if that means infiltrating the Daughters of Eden, a cult of wealthy widows devoted to the teachings of Rebecca Northcote and the mysterious contents of her box. The Daughters’ goodwill toward London’s fallen women has given them a saintly reputation, but Hiero has a nose for sniffing out a fraud. He will need to draw on some divine inspiration to rattle the pious Daughters.

Like weeds gnarling the roots of Eden’s fabled tree, Tim and Hiero’s cases intertwine. Serpents, secrets, and echoes from Hiero’s past lurk behind every branch. Giving in to temptation could bind them closer together—or sever their partnership forever. 

 
Excerpt


When will She open Rebecca Northcote’s box?


Hieronymus Bash contemplated the question posed by the long, red-lettered banner that blazoned over the otherwise quaint fruit and vegetable stall. A sharp tug of the arm from Callie, his ward, brought him to heel. He’d already been struggling to match her brisk pace, having been dragged from his early afternoon repose in the cozy climes of his study into, of all things, the sunshine, or what passed for it on this weak-tea day.


Rays of piss-yellow sun trickled down over the city, tinting the fumes that oozed up from the Thames. Clouds of smog blurred the distant Albert Bridge into an impressionist’s nightmare. A growing crowd choked the small stage erected just before the river’s edge, scuttling in from both directions of Cheyne Walk like ants over a carcass. A bald man with a white mustache that flapped out to his ears checked his pocket watch for the fourth time since Hiero and his companions descended from their carriage.


At the far end of the stage, a squad of low-rank militia struggled to keep a path clear for the Duke of Edinburgh and his bride, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, only beloved daughter of Tsar Alexander II. The newlyweds were, in the timeless tradition of royals everywhere, unfashionably late to the opening of the Chelsea Embankment, the third and final stage of the sewage system that had transformed London’s riverside.


“Look, it’s Bazalgette!” Callie tugged him forward, doing a fine impression of an excitable hound.


“While I admire your enthusiasm, I do wonder if it’s not a tad misplaced.”


Callie scoffed. “Only you would prefer the arrival of some dippy duke over the architect of this entire endeavor.” She threw her free arm out wide. “Can you not spare a moment to admire this feat of engineering? In the place of muddy banks, pavement has been laid, a fence with lampposts erected, with gardens and greenery to come. And running beneath it, the waste of London, and soon an underground train! How can you be so trout-mouthed in the face of such marvels?”


“Not your most persuasive argument, comparing the face that dropped a thousand trousers to a fishmonger’s wares.”


Callie sighed, relinquishing his arm to chase after her muttonchopped idol. Hiero watched her go, marveling at how much she resembled her Uncle Apollo, Hiero’s long-deceased lover who had charged him with her care in character and spirit. Theirs was an unconventional household, where the lady moonlighted as a detective, the servants were part of the family, and the lord of the manor—Hiero himself—was neither a lord nor owned the manor.


“Come now.” Han, his friend and self-appointed keeper, fell into step beside him. The rhythmic taps of his lotus-headed walking stick slowed their pace to a stroll. “You’re no longer catch of the day with Mr. Stoker about.”


“Perhaps if he were about, someone would defend my honor.” Hiero bristled at the mention of his fair-weather paramour, Timothy Kipling Stoker, a detective inspector with Scotland Yard who shadowed them when there was a mystery to solve but otherwise preoccupied himself with… well, finding them another mystery. His dedication to duty exasperated.


“Not likely.”


“No, I rather thought not.” Hiero pressed a lavender handkerchief to his mouth and nose. Mr. Bazalgette’s innovations would have to work much harder to filter out nearly a millennia of filth, the river being a cesspit into which the city had poured every conceivable kind of rubbish, from human to animal to otherwise. A place where sins had been cast off and bodies buried. A few of Hiero’s personal acquaintance.


“Where has your Mr. Stoker taken himself off to this—” Han considered the urinal murk of the embankment and found himself at a loss of an adjective. “—afternoon?”


“I do not presume to know what impulses rule that man.”


“And yet you are the one who rides his… coattails.”


“Only when he deigns to undress for the occasion. Otherwise…” Hiero huffed, his mood irretrievably spoilt by this line of conversation. “I cannot think where I’ve gone wrong with him.”


“No?” Han evidenced something close to a smirk. “It wouldn’t have something to do with meddling in his work affairs, compromising his relationship with his superiors, forcing him into our fellowship, risking everything he holds dear, and then sharing nothing of consequence about yourself, now would it?”


Hiero peered at him out of the corner of his eye. “Nothing of the sort, I’m sure.”


“Ah. Well, then, it is a mystery.”


“Coo-coo! Mr. Han!” a voice trilled at them from behind.


With a pair of heavy sighs, they turned to heed an all-too-familiar call. A hand waiving a white handkerchief fluttered up and down amidst a dense crowd. A grunt from Han parted the sea of surging revelers to reveal Shahida Kala, the latest of Hiero’s charity cases, hopping with the vigor of a spring hare. Her compact figure contained a carnival of personality.


The instant this bright light had beamed into his study on the arm of her father—who served under Apollo in Her Majesty’s Navy—Hiero recognized her for one of the rare people who could steal his spotlight. So he had relegated her to the least enviable position in the household, that of nurse to Mrs. Lillian Pankhurst, Callie’s permanently indisposed mother. But the long days of attic dwelling and reading Richardson’s Pamela ad nauseam had not snuffed a single spark.


Instead Lillian had transformed from bed-ridden depressive into a semifunctional member of the family. Every morning she and Shahida took a two-hour stroll. They cultivated a rooftop garden. Shahida had imposed an afternoon tea regimen on their household, always leading the conversation as Hiero, Callie, and Han plotted ways to return to their preferred solitary occupations. Dinners were always a family affair, but Shahida’s insistence on more healthful, nourishing fare that conformed to Lillian’s new diet had Minnie, their cook, weekly threatening to resign. Callie was the only other member of the household resistant to her charms.


Even Han, cynical, monkish, seen-it-all Han, danced to whichever melody she played. Hiero watched as he bounded over to her, biting his lip at the comical sight of a surly giant bowing to the whims of a pretty imp, but also to keep from emitting a growl of frustration. He glanced back to search for Callie, but the crowd had swallowed her. By now she’d likely clawed her way to the front of the stage and barked questions at a baffled, bewhiskered Mr. Bazalgette, which Hiero thought should be his formal title.


Schooling his features, he joined Han and Shahida’s conversation in medias res and was somewhat aghast to discover them talking about produce.


“… the plumpest, juiciest berries. Artichokes the size of a fist. Fat aubergines and cabbages and cauliflowers, and cucumbers as long as…” Shahida pressed two fingers to her mouth. Hiero didn’t miss how her eyes flickered down. “Well.”


Shameless, that was the trouble. As if she’d snipped the best pages from his playbook and then had the temerity to improve on his notes.


Han chuckled. Chuckled! Hiero hadn’t seen his friend so much as shrug in all the time he’d known him.


“A religious order, you say?” Han asked.


“The Daughters of Eden.” Shahida leaned in, gave him her most conspiratorial smirk. “And I think they might be.” She didn’t even have the grace to straighten when she spotted Hiero. “Oh, Mr. Bash! Mrs. Pankhurst and I don’t mean to spoil your fun. But if you wouldn’t mind, we’ll stay here for a while. We’ve discovered the most—”


“Impressive cucumbers. So I heard.”


“Mrs. Pankhurst is just beside herself. We’ve big ideas for our garden, but this…”


Hiero was unmoved. “And what is it you want?”


“We’ve done our third crate and could fill two more. The crowd is bit much for Mrs. Pankhurst, so I thought Mr. Han might take us back to Berkeley Square? We’ll send the carriage back for you.”


“As it is my carriage, I rather think it will return for me regardless.”


That got her attention. “Of course. If you’d like us to stay—”


“Let us see these berries from heaven.” With a sweep of his hand, Hiero directed them back toward the stall that had earlier piqued his interest. “Their Majesties will wait upon our leisure.”


A long line of enterprising vendors hawked their wares along the edge of Cheyne Walk, hoping to entice royal watchers to purchase a bit of refinement for their life. One stall lined up its dainty little bottles of oils and perfumes like Russian nesting dolls. A mini royal portrait gallery sold likenesses of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their progeny in a variety of poses. The gentleman scooping iced lollies for the children had his work cut out for him on such a tepid day, Hiero thought. The pub with a street-side stand offering hot tea and cider already did brisk business. A few watercress girls fought against the crowd’s undertow, but their wares looked shriveled as seaweed compared to the glorious bushels of the Daughters of Eden.


Even Hiero had to admit, upon inspection, the quality of their produce astounded. Fat and luscious, their fruit allured like the bosom of an opera diva, ready to smother and enthrall. Their vegetable stalks evidenced a virility that would put most molly-houses out of business. Little wonder their customers meandered around the baskets like lovestruck swains. Their bounty conjured images of orgies culinary and carnal. Hiero didn’t doubt there were more than a few serpents lurking about this tiny Eden, eager to defile a peach or two.


All of this was overseen by a trio of women dressed in immaculate white uniforms that somehow defied the city’s grime. Hiero drifted away from his companions to better observe these wyrd sisters. The tallest was also the least remarkable, a stout but cheery woman with farm-worn hands and hard-earned streaks of gray in her brown hair. She milled through the customers, answering questions and nudging reluctant buyers toward the register.


A skittish dove of a girl dutifully kept the ledger and the cash box, cooing her thanks before slipping some sort of pamphlet into people’s baskets. Her crinkly hair had been woven into two winglike braids that perfectly framed her heart-shaped face. A sprinkling of dark freckles contrasted with her pale-brown skin, all but disappearing when she blushed.


Which she did whenever the third sister glanced her way. “Willowy” did not do this petite, flopsy woman justice. A willow branch would look as leathery and stiff as a whip compared to her wispiness. Near-translucent skin and stringy cornsilk hair completed the otherworldly effect. Hiero almost questioned whether she was really there, such was the nothing of her regard. She appeared to have no occupation other than to pose under the sign in a demure attitude. The crowds gave her a wide berth, and little wonder. Nobody wanted to mingle with a possessed scarecrow.


Except possibly meddlesome not-detectives stuck on a boring outing with friends who had abandoned him for some phallic parsnips and a walrus architect.


Just as Hiero made to pounce, the waif leapt as if lightning struck. Eyes ravenous, mouth agape, hair billowing in an invisible breeze, she stared into the buzzing hive of customers. Transformed in an instant from trinket to spear, her astonishment gave color to her cheeks and heft to her bearing. She appeared somehow taller, bolder, a colossal spirit crammed into a compact package: a genie unleashed from its lamp.


All the better to bedazzle you with, my dear, Hiero thought.


Hieronymus Bash, professional cynic, knew a performance when he saw one. He read again the red sign that screamed above her head: When will She open Rebecca Northcote’s box? But there was no box he could see, and if this woodland sprite was Mrs. Northcote, he’d eat Han’s walking stick. These Daughters had lured in quite a crowd with their sensuous produce. Was she the serpent come to tempt them? And if so, to what end?


Hiero shuttered his natural radiance to watch the spectacle unfold. The pale sister glided, arms outstretched, into the maze of crates, eyes fixed on her prey. Hiero hissed under his breath when she stopped at Lillian Pankhurst. In a state of docile confusion at the best of times, Lillian continued sorting out a mess of string beans, oblivious to this starry-eyed suitor. Han, ever protective, moved to Lillian’s side just as the sister shrieked…


“Daughter! You are found!”


The woman at the ledger jumped to her feet. “Juliet?”


“I’ve heard your spirit call to us these long nights, and now you have come home!” Juliet continued at eardrum-splitting pitch, making herself heard to all in the vicinity and probably those across the Thames. “Welcome, Daughter, into Her grace and light! Welcome home!” She hugged a startled Lillian with impressive fervor for one so slender. Lillian, looking to Shahida for a cue, patted her on the back.


A frowning Han caught his gaze from across the way, but Hiero signaled he would play Polonius behind the curtain. Hopefully without the knife in his gut.


“Don’t fear, Daughter. You are among friends,” Juliet nattered on. “We have come to shepherd Her back to Eden through our good works, and, by your pallid cheeks and trembling hands, I can see that you are eager to play a part.”


“Oi!” Shahida hollered, shoving her way between Juliet and Lillian. “Mrs. Pankhurst gets three square a day, and her arthritis is much improved. I dare anyone here to say otherwise.”


“But her spirit, dear girl, droops like a flower too long out of the sun.” Juliet backed away a step to address the customers, every one of which stood rapt. “She knows how this frail woman has struggled. She has heard her prayers and her anguish. She has shone Her glorious light into her, lit her like a beacon for her sisters to find. She is a Daughter, called upon to continue Her good work and bring about a second Eden!”


Shahida let out a trill of laughter three octaves too high. It effectively pierced the balloon of hot air Juliet had been huffing and puffing.


“Angel with a flaming sword you’re not, ma’am. Sorry.” Shahida locked an arm around Lillian. “Stick to the fruit and veg.” A pointed look directed Han to escort their charge away.


“But I haven’t finished the beans…” Lillian muttered as they disappeared into the gaggle of onlookers.


“Shame!” Juliet bellowed, beseeching the yellow sky. “Shame! It is the burden of womankind.” The customers moved into the space vacated by his friends, and Hiero followed, curious as to how she would spin such a public defeat. “The prophet Rebecca Northcote warned against it in her great bible, The Coming of the Holiest Spirit. Too often we ladies wait upon the actions of others. Are made to feel shame and guilt and worthless when we do act. Allow others to lead us astray, away from the truth in our hearts. We pay the price for the sins of our fathers and brothers and husbands. But She… oh, She is coming to deliver us from these injustices, from our fears and torments. As our Holy Mother Rebecca divined, if we join together, Daughters, and build the garden, She will come to save us all. She will gift us with her light!”


“Amen!” the ledger-keeper cried, having abandoned her post to shove pamphlets into the hands of any who would take them.


“Thank you, Mother!” the other sister seconded, lifting a basket of golden pears for all to see.


Juliet scanned the crowd. “You reap of the bounty we offer, but you do not know of how we labor in Her name. To prepare for Her coming, our prophet Rebecca chose each of Her Daughters with care. And though a shame-filled few will deny Her, everyone is welcome to hear Her message and to contribute however they can.” Hiero swallowed a snicker as she gestured to the donation tin. So transparent. “If you are committed to peace and prosperity, if you would see heaven retake the Earth, then I invite you to heed our prophet Rebecca’s call. And She will shine Her light upon you for all the days of your life.”


Juliet seemed to resist taking a bow, but only just. She gave each customer a final angelic smile, then returned to her perch beneath the red sign. A few of the curious chased her with questions; a ragdoll sag and a vacant stare shut them out. Instead the ledger-keeper, who introduced herself as Sister Nora, gathered them around the donation tin before addressing any queries.


“And?” Han appeared beside him, sudden as Banquo’s ghost. “Showstopper or second-rate?”


Hiero rubbed a thumb over his knuckles. “Better than a pair of poncy royals cutting a ribbon, but only just.”


“Fit for a return engagement?”


“Perhaps. Their setup is commonplace, but she does have a certain je ne sais quoi.”


“Enough to en savoir plus?”


“Time will tell. You know how religion turns my stomach. But their focus on Lillian was…”


“Agreed. That Sister Juliet read her too easily.”


Hiero nodded. “Could have been instinct.”


“Or she saw a mark.”


They shared a look weighted by their years of friendship and experience, a partnership of equals who knew, without another word, how to protect their own.


About The Author


Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.


Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.


If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net

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A MelanieM Review: In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.

Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.

Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.

Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over?

Sometimes a story just resonates with you and In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray did just that with me.  From the location to the characters everything about this book is staying with me, taking me back to places, scenes, and people.  Reading this story became an almost visceral experience, my mouth watering through meals of local seafood, pasta, bread, and the ever present Granita al limone, my muscles ache in memory of the tortuous climbs up and down ancient steep stairways Seb walks worthy of mountain goats, and my mind and heart are envious of the sea, night stars and view that Amalfi affords the fortunate that visit and live there.

And while I’m luxuriating in all things Amalfi, I’m also deep into the characters of Sébastien Osaki and Andrea Sorrentino.  Seb grabs at your heart immediately as the point of view of this story.  On a personal journey of grief, loss, and just maybe recovery, he’s gone to Amalfi with his husband’s Henry’s travel journal, retracing Henry’s steps as Henry’s requested.  Henry was a travel writer and although he had been there ten years earlier, this time they would have gone together.  Now three years after Henry’s death, Seb is trying to find a way to move forward.   It’s a realistic, and deeply moving portrait of a man who still mourns his husband and has been mired in grief.  And you love Seb, he’s intelligent, self  depreciating, and kind.

Andrea Sorrentino is equally well drawn.  Layered, he starts off a bit “typical local Italian” but the joke is on us. Because that’s exactly the role he is playing up for the tourists.  He’s exactly…well, I won’t spoil that little revelation for you. He’s lovely, multidimensional, and  someone we can all connect with (and do).

Also, theirs is not a instant love relationship which I absolutely appreciated.  This is a realistic HFN.  It has to be because although they recognize they want to see where their feelings go, too much is new and there is also much that needs to be settled for them both.  A mature and adult ending to a mature and adult story!  Be still my heart!  It does let me beg the author for a sequel, however, so we can see how Seb and Andrea are doing down the road.  Pretty please?

And not  just Seb because there’s a whole cast of characters to care for here, including the “girls”, three woman staying at the Villa who became Seb’s  friends, listening boards, drinking and cards buddies and everything else.  Plus Lucy the manager, Andrea’s family…well, I could go  on and on….and I wish the book had too.  How I adored this story!

If you love contemporary romance, do not let this one pass you by.  It’s HFN but join with me in asking the author for a sequel.  Seb and Andrea cry out for their HEA!  In the meantime, I highly recommend In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray.

Cover Design: Tiferet Design.  The cover is simply beautiful and one of my favorites with  Seb in outline and the Amalfi coastline so vivid below.  Perfect.

Sales Link:  Amazon Kindle |  Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/WildLemonGroves

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 212 pages
Published February 8th 2018 by Selina Kray
ASINB079329DCF
Edition LanguageEnglish

Review Tour : In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray (excerpt and giveaway)

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Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/WildLemonGroves
 
Length: 55,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Blurb
 

A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.


Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.


Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.


Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over?

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.

Excerpt
 

Scent of sea and palm,

Craggy and ancient, a world

Bathed in saffron

– #17, In Blue Solitudes, S. Wilson-Osaki


“A. S’okay.” Bleary eyed and bone weary, Sébastien stared at the sign for two minutes before it registered. He kept his distance, glanced around the bushel of sun-ripened cab drivers and chauffeurs waiting to squeeze every last euro out of their charges, but no.


This was him. Smile so bright it blinded, like glare off a windshield. Footballer’s frame decked in team colors and too-tight shorts. Face Bernini could have sculpted. Hair black as an oil slick, greased into a neat, perfect slope. His tortoiseshell eyes twinkled in Seb’s direction when he took a cautious step forward.


Signor S’okay?”


“Osaki. Yes.”


“Ah, Osokay.”


“Osaki. O-sak-i. Japanese.”


“You fly from Japan?”


“No. Canada. Montreal.”


Si, si, Signor Osaki. Sebastiano.”


Seb opened his mouth to correct him but nodded instead. “That’s me.”


“Andrea Sorrentino.” He thumped a hand on his chest. “You want I take your bag?”


“Uh…”


Before he could decide, the driver clacked down the handle on his extra-fee-heavy suitcase and hefted it under his arm like an unruly toddler. “Vieni, vieni.” He dove into the crowd before Seb could get his bearings.


Spotting the clean line to the exit, Seb set his own pace, his tipsy head still mired in a post-flight fugue. Thirty-two sleepless hours, plus a morning spent tracing and retracing his path through the labyrinthine halls of the Rome airport to make his connection, left him listless. With exhaustion but also nerves. What had he been thinking, shipping off to a country he’d never been to and where he didn’t speak the language?


The answer, of course, was Henry. Who should have been there, propping him up with his rock climber’s arms, but also with his wonderment, the kid-in-a-candy store way he’d seen the world. Henry had puffed all his energy and excitement and fire into Seb’s lead balloon and—in his latest impossible feat—made him fly.


Clutching his backpack like a life preserver, Seb practiced his deep breathing as he waded through the stream of travellers. More of a trickle, really, now that he was in the flow. One foot in front of the other, he reminded himself, looking for a focal point. A taut jean-clad ass, with a carefree swagger all its own, lured him the rest of the way. Seb staggered out of the airport terminal…


… into a whole new world. The hazy afternoon sun swaddled him like a warm blanket. Ripe with the scent of palm trees and petrol, the parking lot was more social gathering than frantic hub, with drivers chatting, smoking, and laughing as they waited for clueless travellers to wander by. Stoic mountains—silent sentries at the gate to paradise—shadowed the horizon, rings of mist crowning their crater heads.


Woozy with relief, Seb lowered his lids to half-mast and basked in the moment. This was Henry’s world. He was safe.


A hulking black SUV screeched to a halt in front of him, blocking the view. Before Seb could decide whether to be terrified or outraged, his driver slid open the side door, beckoning him into his luxury air-conditioned chariot. Too polite to give in to the urge to collapse across the seats and zonk out, Seb stumbled into the nearest chair. His hands shook as he fought with the seat belt. Something about that fateful click brought the reality back home—he was trapped in a jet-fuelled coffin with a man who could barely pronounce his name, soon to be zipping down a highway where speed limits weren’t even guidelines, thousands of miles from home, by a world-famous volcano that once scorched everything for miles—


Hand on his knee. There was a hand on his knee.


Signor Osakay? You want I get you espresso? Water? Food? Is no trouble.”


“No.” Seb shut his eyes, sucked in all the air he could. “I… I’m just tired. Didn’t sleep on the plane.” When he opened them again, he met soft eyes shimmering with kindness. His exhalation came easy. So did his smile. What was his name again? Andrea Sorrentino. A gentle name, full of music.


Granita al limone. Un momento.” A squeeze to Seb’s knee, and he hopped out the door.

 



February 8 – The Novel Approach
February 9 – Booklove
February 10 – Gay Book Reviews
February 12 – MM Good Book Reviews
February 13 – Hearts On Fire Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
February 14 – My Fiction Nook
February 16 – Love Bytes Reviews
February 17 – Open Mind For A Different View
February 19 – Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Sarandipity Book Reviews

 

Author Bio

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.


Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.


If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net



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Release Blitz Tour – Selina Kray’s In Wild Lemon Groves (excerpt and giveaway)

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Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/WildLemonGroves
 
Length: 55,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Blurb
 

A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.

Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.

Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.

Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over?


Excerpt
 

Scent of sea and palm,

Craggy and ancient, a world

Bathed in saffron

– #17, In Blue Solitudes, S. Wilson-Osaki

“A. S’okay.” Bleary eyed and bone weary, Sébastien stared at the sign for two minutes before it registered. He kept his distance, glanced around the bushel of sun-ripened cab drivers and chauffeurs waiting to squeeze every last euro out of their charges, but no.

This was him. Smile so bright it blinded, like glare off a windshield. Footballer’s frame decked in team colors and too-tight shorts. Face Bernini could have sculpted. Hair black as an oil slick, greased into a neat, perfect slope. His tortoiseshell eyes twinkled in Seb’s direction when he took a cautious step forward.

Signor S’okay?”

“Osaki. Yes.”

“Ah, Osokay.”

“Osaki. O-sak-i. Japanese.”

“You fly from Japan?”

“No. Canada. Montreal.”

Si, si, Signor Osaki. Sebastiano.”

Seb opened his mouth to correct him but nodded instead. “That’s me.”

“Andrea Sorrentino.” He thumped a hand on his chest. “You want I take your bag?”

“Uh…”

Before he could decide, the driver clacked down the handle on his extra-fee-heavy suitcase and hefted it under his arm like an unruly toddler. “Vieni, vieni.” He dove into the crowd before Seb could get his bearings.

Spotting the clean line to the exit, Seb set his own pace, his tipsy head still mired in a post-flight fugue. Thirty-two sleepless hours, plus a morning spent tracing and retracing his path through the labyrinthine halls of the Rome airport to make his connection, left him listless. With exhaustion but also nerves. What had he been thinking, shipping off to a country he’d never been to and where he didn’t speak the language?

The answer, of course, was Henry. Who should have been there, propping him up with his rock climber’s arms, but also with his wonderment, the kid-in-a-candy store way he’d seen the world. Henry had puffed all his energy and excitement and fire into Seb’s lead balloon and—in his latest impossible feat—made him fly.

Clutching his backpack like a life preserver, Seb practiced his deep breathing as he waded through the stream of travellers. More of a trickle, really, now that he was in the flow. One foot in front of the other, he reminded himself, looking for a focal point. A taut jean-clad ass, with a carefree swagger all its own, lured him the rest of the way. Seb staggered out of the airport terminal…

… into a whole new world. The hazy afternoon sun swaddled him like a warm blanket. Ripe with the scent of palm trees and petrol, the parking lot was more social gathering than frantic hub, with drivers chatting, smoking, and laughing as they waited for clueless travellers to wander by. Stoic mountains—silent sentries at the gate to paradise—shadowed the horizon, rings of mist crowning their crater heads.

Woozy with relief, Seb lowered his lids to half-mast and basked in the moment. This was Henry’s world. He was safe.

A hulking black SUV screeched to a halt in front of him, blocking the view. Before Seb could decide whether to be terrified or outraged, his driver slid open the side door, beckoning him into his luxury air-conditioned chariot. Too polite to give in to the urge to collapse across the seats and zonk out, Seb stumbled into the nearest chair. His hands shook as he fought with the seat belt. Something about that fateful click brought the reality back home—he was trapped in a jet-fuelled coffin with a man who could barely pronounce his name, soon to be zipping down a highway where speed limits weren’t even guidelines, thousands of miles from home, by a world-famous volcano that once scorched everything for miles—

Hand on his knee. There was a hand on his knee.

Signor Osakay? You want I get you espresso? Water? Food? Is no trouble.”

“No.” Seb shut his eyes, sucked in all the air he could. “I… I’m just tired. Didn’t sleep on the plane.” When he opened them again, he met soft eyes shimmering with kindness. His exhalation came easy. So did his smile. What was his name again? Andrea Sorrentino. A gentle name, full of music.

Granita al limone. Un momento.” A squeeze to Seb’s knee, and he hopped out the door.

Author Bio

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.

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Selina Kray on the Historical Background for ‘Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo’ (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Selina Kray on her Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo tour. Welcome, Selina!

Hi, romance lovers! I’m Selina Kray, and this is the latest stop on the Stoker & Bash blog tour. A huge thank you to the lovely people at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today. I thought I’d talk a little bit about some of the historical details in Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, in which burlesque isn’t really burlesque.

Say the word “burlesque” nowadays, and your mind conjures images of Dita von Teese in a giant champagne glass; sparkly, barely there outfits capped by a giant feather boa; or the camp-tastic film with Cher and Christina Aguilera. Erotic dance as reclaimed by fierce feminists unafraid of expressing their sexuality.

But back in the Victorian era, burlesque titillated both your body and your mind. It started as a way for working class audiences to poke some fun at the classics of theatre, opera, and ballet. The plays of Shakespeare, for instance, would be:

“…adapted into a broad comic play, usually a musical play, usually risqué in style, mocking the theatrical and musical conventions and styles of the original work, and often quoting or pastiching text or music from the original work.” (source: Wikipedia: Victorian Burlesque)

The actors would sing or speak in rhyming couplets, rife with bad puns, and the action of these parodies would often be set to the popular music of the time. Gender-swapping some of the characters was the norm. One of the most popular burlesque performers, Nellie Farren, starred as The Gaiety Theatre’s “principal boy” for over 20 years.

Eventually, theatres combined burlesques with more standard music hall fare, such as singers, comics, skits, dramatic monologues, and dances, into evening-long extravaganzas. The idea was not only to mock the haughty airs and impenetrable verses of classic plays and operas, but to dull some of the sharp-edged plot points of the tragedies. With names like The Bohemian G-yurl & the Unapproachable Pole and Cinder Ellen Up Too Late, you get the sense that audiences and performers alike had a wild, bawdy good time.

In Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, one of my characters is a burlesque performer at The Gaiety Theatre, which specialized in burlesque for 30 years. While I did research what parody was playing in that theatre in October 1873—only to be disappointed when I found out it was based on an opera—I decided to make up my own.

A performance of Robbing Hood and his Mercenary Men sets the stage for one of the most important encounters between the novel’s two leads, Tim and Hiero, and is the background for a lot of the action. So in addition to transporting you back to the Victorian era, Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo will also take you to the punny wilds of “Sure Would” Forest.

 
Length: 100,000 words
 
 
Blurb
 

At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.


When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?


And just who is Hieronymus Bash?

 

 

Author Bio
 

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.


Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.


If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net

 

 

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