Love Historical Romance? Check Out the Release Blitz for The Duke & The Dandy Highwayman (Duke & Dandy #1) by Zakarrie C. (excerpt and giveaway)

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NEW RELEASE

Book Title: The Duke & The Dandy Highwayman Trilogy

Author: Zakarrie Clarke

Publisher: Self-published

Release Date: May 6, 2019

Genre/sHistorical M/M Romance (Regency), Comedy/Humour

Trope/s: Forbidden Love, Highwayman/Duke

ThemesDuty, Expectations of Society, Redemption Tale

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: approx. 100,000 words

It is a standalone story

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AVAILABLE FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME

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Blurb

‘The Most High, Noble and Potent Prince, His Grace Padraic, Duke of Waterford.’

After enduring the Ducal Grand Entrance, one might be forgiven for thinking that an evening could only improve. One would be wrong. Padraic was then duty bound to find an amiable miss to romance and dance attendance upon. In truth, the Duke was rather more partial to establishments that promised charms he would ne’er find in the arms of a Lady. Such dalliances did add a dash of decadence to his life of ducal drudgery, but time was tick-tocking and a blue-stocking bride must be wooed, and wed…

Raff of the Rookeries. The most afeared rake-hell to have haunted the highways since Darkin denied them the pleasure at the gallows…by stepping off the ladder before they could whip it from under his feet. Raff had fought his way up to rule the roost with instincts as razor-sharp as his dirk. His sword skills, fists, and wily wits had stood him in good stead, but none had proved as invaluable as the weapon he’d ne’er needed to tend. His fury. A rage every bit as lethal as arsenic—deadlier than brawn, brains, or bravado—Raphael had carried it like a toxic plague. Until, he became Raff of the Rookeries. Unleashed upon the underworld, it was the most formidable foe in London. Two men from two different worlds…a mere few miles apart. That is, until the fateful night when The Duke was halted in his tracks by a very Dandy Highwayman…

Excerpt

Mayhaps twenty minutes later, the air turned decidedly rank; a stench that came accompanied by random street sounds and the odd drunken shout. They were, beyond any shadow o’doubt, heading for some godforsaken part of town. A logical assumption, further embellished by the aroma of decaying cabbage and other, far less salubrious odors.

If the Devil himself intended to demoralize the poor, he could not find a means more agreeable to his plans, than the London slums.

“Nearly there, Yer Grace,” The scoundrel called over his shoulder as they slowed to a trot.

“Where is ‘there’?” Padraic dared to wonder.

“My humble abode. It’s where you’ll be staying awhile; leastways until someone coughs up for yer safe return.” The highwayman’s voice sounded harsher, colder while imparting this, as if his words were poisoned by the rancid air as they fell from his lips.

“Whereabouts are we?” Padraic asked, curious as to whether his rogue would answer.

“The Strand.”

It was as he’d expected. They were in the warren of narrow, filthy streets and alleyways in the densely populated slums. Home to one of London’s most notorious Rookeries. An utterly lawless labyrinth of squalid living, gin dens, bawdy houses, and brothels. Popular legend told of a traveller who had entered Portugal Street on his way to The Strand and never emerged. His ghost was, apparently, still searching for a way back to civilization. Padraic would just have to hope to fare rather better than he.

The Duke had e’er been horrified that people were forced to live this way, right under the refined noses of the ton. Poles apart, but virtually overlapping in proximity. Padraic had poured thousands into funding an orphanage and school for foundlings, when he came into his inheritance. He visited them oft, choosing the staff himself to ensure that no child was ill-treated, but there was only so much he could do. With all the will in the world, there wasn’t a great deal to be done, as long as those in power turned a blind eye to the suffering of others.

“Whoa…” When Demon clattered to a halt on the cobblestones, the Duke reluctantly relinquished his grip about his captor’s person. The scoundrel shifted in the saddle and with one sharp tug, the kerchief was gone, alongside a fair few strands of hair that were tangled into its knot. The Duke scarce felt the sting as his hungry gaze guzzled the sight it had been denied for the duration of the ride. ’Twas with a devilish wink that the highwayman threw a leg over the horse’s head, before lightly dismounting.

“Billy, m’lad!” He hailed a youth seated on the front steps of a large dilapidated townhouse, holding a lantern aloft. An endearing grin lit up his grimy face as he sprang to his feet.

“Yer all right, Raff?” he chirped, in very genuine cockney tones.

“Too right I am. We ’ave ourselves a guest m’friend. Yer Grace, this is Billy—he ain’t got another name—so I can’t tell yer that. Billy, this ’ere is His Grace, The Duke of Waterford, so yer better mind your p’s ’n’ q’s, like I taught yer.”

“Hello Billy, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Padriac greeted him.

“Lawks! I can’t fink why, Yer…Grace?” Billy glanced at the man he’d called Raff, seeking reassurance for his form of address, and received an approving nod.

“I can’t think why ’twould not be.” Padraic smiled. Billy looked puzzled for a moment—as if trying to make sense of something he’d patently understood—then just beamed instead and reached for Demon’s halter.

“See that he’s rubbed down and well-fed, won’t you, Billy? I need to get our guest settled in.”

“Righto. C’mon Demon, let’s be ’avin yer, there’s oats awaiting and some fresh hay.”

“After you, Yer Grace…” The rascal sketched a bow, waving his hand with a flourish as he bent extravagantly low, before straightening up to push open the front door. It was painted black; blistered, peeling and desperately in need of a fresh coat. A large, dimly lit hallway lay beyond it, with a wide staircase ascending on the left.

“Raff! I’d almost given up ’ope on ya. Thought you’d gone a-whoring,” announced a stocky, bow-legged man, with close-cropped hair and forearms like lamb shanks. His broad grin revealed several missing teeth, the remaining ones having seen better days. Several decades ago.

Despite having tugged his kerchief down when they entered, Padraic was still unable to drink his fill of Raff’s face, for much of it was cast into shadow and the rest, obscured by a tangled fall of hair.

“Not tonight Bluff, I was off procuring us a guest,” he smirked.

“Crikey, you’ve nabbed a right nob. Who the ’ell is he?”

“This ’ere’s The Duke of Waterford.” Raff declared, inclining his head with divine insolence.

“Lawks! A Duke? Couldn’t yer find a Prince ’anging about then?” Bluff gaped.

“’Fraid not, we’ll just ’ave to slum it…” Raff tutted, with a fulsome sigh.

“I hope yer don’t expect me t’curtsy. I ain’t got the legs for it.”

“You ain’t got the legs for owt except sitting on ’orseback,” Raff retorted, about a breath before his tone darkened to a deadly rasp. “Bluff. See to it that no one. But no one. Lays a finger on him.” He added nary a dire threat, nor had he raised his voice. Raff had, in fact, lowered it to a lethal lash of sound that sliced the air like a whip—but it was the glint of green he levelled at Bluff that made the man swallow visibly while nodding several times.

“Will do, Raff. He’ll fetch a pretty price, won’t he?”

“Too bloody right, he will. I’ll have to keep him up top with me—Duke he might be—but he ain’t above being too ripe and ready by ’alf.”

“A dark ’orse is he? I ain’t at all surprised, now you mention it. Beggin’ yer pardon, Yer Dukeness. Right, I’ll just wait for Billy an’ lock up then.”

“Thanks, Bluff. ’Night.”

“’Night Raff…’night yer Dukeness.” Bluff doffed an imaginary cap at Padraic, who inclined his head with ducal gravity, so as not to disappoint him. The amiable miscreant was chuckling away to himself as he took his leave of them, before disappearing through a door further down the hallway.

“Right then, Yer Grace, up yer go. Right to the top,” Raff instructed, gesturing towards the staircase with a regal sweep of his hand.

“Are you locking me in the attic?” Padraic asked, as he clasped the bannister.

“I am, indeed. Yer can’t get up to any mischief up there.”

The Duke thought it might be wise to hold his tongue and make his way upstairs, afore the scoundrel decided to shove him in the coal cellar instead. Padraic’s brain was abuzz with demon steeds, daft monikers, and bandy-legged blackguards. A boy with only one name and a heart of gold.

About the Author

After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, Zakarrie settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea. ’Twas here that her castaway dreams resurfaced and she began to write; stories that are, in truth, better at being her than she’s ever been. Her one hope now is that someone, somewhere, will enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she loves writing them.

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Blog Tour for Darkness Dawns by Zakarrie Clarke (excerpt and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Darkness Dawns

Author: Zakarrie Clarke

Publisher: MLR Press

Genre/s: Contemporary/Humour/MM/Disability (Blindness)

Length: 65 000 words/150 PDF pages

Release Date: February 1, 2019

It’s a novel with a sequel. The first 43 chapters form Darkness Dawns; it concludes on a HFN and the sequel completes the novel.

I’ve written both, but thought it best to split it, or it would be over 140 000 words long.

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Blurb

Darkness Dawns is a love story. It also tells the tale of one man’s war with himself, brought onto the battlefield of his blindness. Leo Ferrar suffers from diabetic retinopathy and lost his sight two years ago. Unable to bear the scrutiny of strangers or the impact of his blindness on those he loves, Leo has determined on shutting the world out ever since. This is the man Ben meets on his first day at work as Mr Ferrar’s care assistant.

A former heroin addict, Ben was sentenced to six months community service as punishment for his crimes by a judge entitled to condemn him to a seven-year stretch. Far too charming for his own welfare, Ben proves unaccountably brilliant at ‘bulldozing the blind’.

When fate sees fit to dispatch Ben to the home of the man he has dubbed Mr Ferrarcious; it is with the words of the last five unfortunates who’d dared darken Leo’s doorway ringing in his ears.  A door that is opened by a man who might be Lord Byron himself. Drop dead gorgeous and as hot as hell, Leo Ferrar has the most beautiful eyes Ben has ever seen.

Never has an irony seemed so cruel. Nor fate so fortuitous.

Buy Links

Publisher – MLR 

Amazon US Author Page

Amazon UK Author Page

Excerpt

Leo knew he should have opted to use the cane, instead of the arm Ben offered him for their unexpected walk. Should. Every time that word left someone’s lips, Leo wanted to scream; fists clenched in a screech of hopeless, helpless rage. The fact that everything he should do was For-His-Own-Benefit, made it so much worse, which was as ludicrous as it was true. Independence was the only thing he had left to aspire to. So, why the fuck did should rub Leo so raw it obliterated any inclination he may have had to do whatever it prefaced? He ought to want to do the things he should. But what if he tried…and failed? What if Leo couldn’t master any of them? Then he would lose even the hope that he might, one day, be able to. Even more galling, that loss would be down to him, because he was so bloody useless. He did want to show Ben that he was quite capable of managing…didn’t he? Very much, although why that mattered, Leo had no idea.

Why care what this latest in a long line of functioning eyeballs thought of him? It was probably more politic to say, ‘visually unimpaired’. Visually Impaired. Leo had to stifle the urge to punch people who described him thus. Impaired? Adj: weakened or damaged. Weak. Weakened. F’fucksakes. He was still chewing that particular wasp when Ben asked for his wrist.

Does he intend to lead me by it, as if I’m a toddler?

Leo found himself holding it out anyway. Christ knows why he was going along with all this. It was just that…being in Ben’s company was rather like sitting in the passenger seat of a snow plough driven by a drunk. Far preferable to standing in its path…and yet, somehow more appealing than staying behind, wherever the hell it was off to.

Nevertheless, he was still relieved when Ben clasped the proffered wrist—not to cart Leo off as he’d feared—but to plant his hand on top of Ben’s head. The fact that Leo could have changed the lightbulb without stretching a whole lot further, did seem to suggest he’d been addressing Ben’s nipples for the last half hour.

Quite how Ben then contrived to claim fault for something that was Leo’s mistake was less clear, but this was pulled off with such disarming charm, it would’ve been churlish to argue otherwise. Why the hell did the notion of calling Ben’s bluff feel as brutal a prospect as drowning his cat? If he had one, of course. Cat? More to the point…nipples?

“Thank you,” Leo managed to mumble, which was something of a result itself. Half an hour with Ben and he’d started to feel several sandwiches short of the proverbial picnic. He’d also begun to suspect that Violet had been a sweet little old lady—and quite sane—when she’d met Ben.

So off they went. The blindingly daft leading the blind off on a stroll around Camden.

In a bid to distract himself from well, pretty much everything he’d thought for the last five minutes, Leo decided to ask Ben to describe himself. For some reason he was intrigued, not only to know what Ben looked like, but to hear the picture he drew. Leo had an inkling this would prove more unmissable than an aural tour around the National Portrait Gallery. Unmissable? It was a bloody masterpiece. There most definitely were not any renderings of Steptoe’s six-four daughter there. The last two years might have felt a damn sight less soul-destroying if Ben had voiced Leo’s DVD visual descriptions.

Walking outside had lost all its appeal when the world became a giant landmine lying in wait to blow up in Leo’s face; every step into the unknown, a potential public humiliation. Despite this, and Ben’s partiality to lamp posts, they somehow arrived in Gloucester Crescent, alive and well. Even more shocking, was that Leo hadn’t fretted about…anything really, along the way. He’d just drifted along, listening to Ben weave words too beguiling to question where embellishment waved farewell to the truth. But who the fuck would want to, when that would feel as blasphemous as punching a fist through a Picasso?

About the Author

When Zakarrie was little and dreamed big, she wanted to be a writer. Just like Enid Blyton. Or p’raps not…having been most remiss on the lashings of ginger beer front. After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, she finally settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea. When her castaway dreams resurfaced, they were believed into being by the warm words of friends who breathed life into her own. Her one wish now is that someone, somewhere, might enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she adores writing them.

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Release Blitz – Full O’Festive Spirits by Zakarrie Clarke (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Full O’Festive Spirits

Author: Zakarrie Clarke

Publisher: Self-published

Genre/s: Contemporary romance

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length:  40 000 words

Release Date: December 16, 2018

Buy Links:

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07LF2PNRN

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07LF2PNRN

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Blurb

Gabriel is staggered, upon overhearing two old dears declare that only 21 shopping days remain ’til Christmas. He hadn’t even noticed that December had dawned, far too busy being grim ‘n’ grumpy to be bothered. This, after losing his job—again—leaving him too fed-up of enforced thriftiness to differentiate days that did not. Let alone recall the date on the calen— A thought that sends Gabriel scuttling off the bus, in a belated bid to secure his favourite part of the festive season…an advent calendar. If they have any left. Upon clattering into the nearest shop, he finds himself coshed by the most splendid sight he e’er did see. A Christmas Feast for the eyeballs so sublime, it seemed—for a hectic heartbeat—that they’d all come at once. As the latter was a feat so improbable in said company, they definitely had not.

Dylan is much dismayed by the ramshackle litter of limbs and belongings that trips into the off-license, halfway through his shift. It being way too early for the drunk and determinedly irritating to come staggering in. In the wake of arriving too late to audition for a role he’d set his heart on, Dylan is no mood to deal with a human hatstand—doe-eyed and demented—intent upon purchasing a bloody advent calendar. On the third of December. For himself. Strewth. Could fate have possibly dumped a less welcome portent of festivities doomed to disaster on the doorstep?  

Excerpt

Dylan’s trip down misery lane was rudely interrupted by the teeth-gritting jangle of the bell that heralded the entrance of each customer. Reason enough to want to bolt the bloody door to ensure that no one could set the damn thing off.

“Oh, bugger…”

Christ, no. It was way too early for the pissed-up and perennially irritating to start staggering in. Dylan glared at the ramshackle onslaught of limbs and belongings that clattered into the shop. This, with a godawful racket reminiscent of a one-man band, created by what appeared to be: one person, a single guitar, and some plastic bags. The latter were either full of saucepan lids, tambourines and stray cats…or, the customer could cause chaos in a broom cupboard. On his own. Neither of which boded well for the duration. He would no doubt browse for fifteen minutes, knock Dylan’s painstaking display of colour coordinated decorations off the shelf—then insist on arguing about fuck-all—before finally purchasing a cheap lighter, some Rizzla papers and a Snickers bar.  

Dylan had, clearly, been working in an off-license far too long. This had been true about an hour into his first shift, despite the fifteen percent staff reduction that had clinched the deal in the first place. Dylan watched, incredulous, as the litter of limbs and baggage rearranged itself into something that resembled a human figure. Albeit, a far too…extravagant one. Then, he lifted his head.  

How simple that sounded. The customer’s face had formerly been obscured by the brim of his hat; a battered black trilby, barely a shade darker than eyes as bottomless as they were huge. Framed by excessive eyelashes and skin so pale, he could have played Pierrot, sans make-up. A fact not helped by lips so wind-chapped, they looked kiss-bitten. Or, he’d earned enough to buy more than a packet of bloody Rizzla and a Snickers in the very recent past. If he hadn’t already blown it on his next fix. Get a grip. Who the hell would cart a guitar around with them, while out pulling punters? Punters, f’fucksakes?

“Hiya.” His little-boy-lost features lit up in a smile as startling as his voice; coming from a body comprised of far too many corners. Dylan had expected clipped cockney tones or a harsh estuary drawl. The ‘hiya’ had scarce classified as a word, it had been but a wisp of melody. This particular nugget of nonsense was followed by the belated awareness that Dylan was standing like a lemon, dumbstruck. Ensnared in the dark spotlight of a gaze akin to a steel-jaw trap…

About the Author

After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, Zakarrie settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea. ’Twas here that her castaway dreams re-surfaced and she began to write; stories that are, in truth, better at being her than she’s ever been. Her one hope now is that someone, somewhere, will enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she adores writing them.

Author Links

Blog/Website

Twitter

Pinterest

QueeRomanceInk

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a choice of ebook from Zakarrie’s  backlist.

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A MelanieM Review: Hangover from Hell (Hangover #1) by Zakarrie Clarke

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Hangover from Hell is exactly what greets rock star Callum Carter upon being rudely awoken by his partner, artist Daniel Flynn on the last morning of their ‘On the Road’ trip along Route 66.

They have been together for five years, after meeting when the infamous ‘enfant terrible’ was commissioned to paint Callum’s portrait.

Theirs is a story of lust, laughter and all-consuming love, although this remains a closely kept secret; until the morning they wake up in Las Vegas. Married.

Dan has no memory of this miracle taking place–only one thing seems certain–he has somehow managed to pull off a masterpiece on the mischief front, and inveigled Cal down the aisle..

I enjoyed Hangover from Hell (Hangover #1) by Zakarrie Clarke.  Bad boy rockers, quixotic artist lovers, oodles of miscommunication, and a wonderful premise.  They woke up married in Vegas after being together on the down low for 5 years.  That’s sort of irresistible. I had to know how this ‘unknown to me’ author was going to handle it.

Turns out, after a little disjointed beginning, really well.  We jump right into the morning after and everyone is just waking up from what had to have been a wild and wooly night of sex, drugs and rock n roll.  Then our boys get a look see at the new rings flashing on their hands and tiny spurts of memory of Elvis and a chapel start to come back.  Yes, it’s very funny.

The jumpy, disjointedness comes in recounting who exactly these men are and their history with one another. That part of the narrative could have a more fluid feel to it. That comes in small flashbacks scattered throughout the story while the men are dealing with the ramifications of their marriage in Vegas (that’s turned into a media frenzy).  The whole story actually occurs just over the course of a couple of days.

I thought the author did a great job with the characterizations and the dialog.  Each is easily distinguishable and I loved each man’s personality. Daniel Flynn is a  particular favorite of mine and I could clearly see him as the artist he was written to be.  The same goes for Callum the rocker and they both had genuine chemistry between them.

This is the first in the Hangover series so I’m interested in where the author will take it. That means I’m definitely in line when the next story releases.  In the meantime, I’m recommending Hangover from Hell (Hangover #1) by Zakarrie Clarke to all lovers of contemporary romance and bad boys in love.

Cover art is simple but nice.  I liked it.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1 edition, 276 pages
Published March 9th 2018 by MLR Press (first published March 8th 2018)
Original Title Hangover from Hell
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Hangover #1