A MelanieM Review: Demon Familiar (Wanted #1) by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham (repost)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Sometimes when you don’t know what you want, life gives you what you need. 

When Neil Markovic witnesses the murder of his mother by Bone Men his world is thrown into turmoil. On the run from the assassins that killed her, his sorcerer father and the police, Neil finds help in the form of a tall half fae alchemist named Malachai. Mal seems more accepting than most of Neil’s demon bloodline, but curiously immune to his charms.

Malachai Valentine, disgraced scion of a noble Leprechaun clan, back in the Old Country, is happy living as an anonymous scrap dealer. Using his talent for alchemy to make fuel and potions, most days he doesn’t even think of his ruinous past. When a scared young man with a fancy car crashes into his life, at first, Mal thinks he can do without the hassle. But as Neil begins to get under his skin, Mal starts to reassess his hopes and ambitions.

Harassed by megalomaniac fae and stalked by sorcerous killers at every turn, Malachai and Neil must fight to be free, and to find what they both truly wanted.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, murder and non-consensual sex.

When I finished Demon Familiar, I just wanted to do a little teeth gnashing.  Where, oh, where, was the next book in this series? Oh, wait…not to be published until August 2018.  Let the wails commence.  That’s because at the end of this gritty, sometimes tender, occasionally horrific but always, always riveting story I wanted nothing more than for it (and this couple and other characters) to continue.

Demon Familiar by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham is the first in their new Wanted series and as such left some fairly large mysteries looming large while the overall arc for this story was resolved.  Yes, I was completely satisfied yet I knew just as Mal and Neil’s relationship was going to grow and deepen so would their journey that would continue to explain each of their back histories.  And I can’t wait.

The authors were masters at the tease here.

They gave us intriguing (and so often appalling hints as to events in Mal’s past and elements from Neil’s, that had our own speculations leaning from the tortuous to the downright insane.  And probably being right.  On top of that, they weave Gaelic mythology into an alternate city of  Detroit that’s just familiar enough to be both alien and mundane.  What a marvelous location.  It felt like a character itself with its atmosphere and vivid descriptions.

I loved the way the authors carefully built the relationship between Mal and Neil, while exposing both characters to the readers (alternating pov).  This is a big cast, full of fae, gremlins, demons, and more.  Not high fantasy but more urban fantasy,  the gritty underbelly of society for many.  Think pimps, drugs, whores and thieves.  And with that comes non-con for a section.  It’s only a section but its there and I expect to see it again for reasons I will not go into in the upcoming stories.  Maybe wrong but I don’t think so.  People and beings are in part a commodity in certain sections of town here.

They have just started their world building and it’s only going to get better because the foundation is already rock solid.

I thought it ended a little too soon but I’m hoping the next book picks up directly after the events of this one.  My mind is buzzing over a few clues here and there, and the mysteries left unsolved.  I want more of these characters and more of Mal and Neil.  I want their backstories and I want their future.  I can’t wait for this series to go forward.

Pick this one up which I highly recommend and join me in waiting for the next one to roll out.

Cover art: Posh Gosh.  The red head works for Mal but in no way does the dark haired character work for the incandescent youth Neil.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 244 pages
Expected publication: June 19th 2018 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786516695
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWanted #1

New Release Book Blitz Demon Familiar (Wanted #1) by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham (except and giveaway)

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Title:  Demon Familiar

Series: Wanted #1

Author: Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Release Date: June 19th 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 96,000 words

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Alternate Reality

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Sometimes when you don’t know what you want, life gives you what you need.

When Neil Markovic witnesses the murder of his mother by Bone Men his world is thrown into turmoil. On the run from the assassins that killed her, his sorcerer father and the police, Neil finds help in the form of a tall half fae alchemist named Malachai. Mal seems more accepting than most of Neil’s demon bloodline, but curiously immune to his charms.

Malachai Valentine, disgraced scion of a noble Leprechaun clan, back in the Old Country, is happy living as an anonymous scrap dealer. Using his talent for alchemy to make fuel and potions, most days he doesn’t even think of his ruinous past. When a scared young man with a fancy car crashes into his life, at first, Mal thinks he can do without the hassle. But as Neil begins to get under his skin, Mal starts to reassess his hopes and ambitions.

Harassed by megalomaniac fae and stalked by sorcerous killers at every turn, Malachai and Neil must fight to be free, and to find what they both truly wanted.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, murder and non-consensual sex.

Excerpt

Neil set the bushel of summer squash into the panel van with the rest of the produce ready to go to market tomorrow morning and jumped down. Mr. Yaetz patted him on the back. “That’s the last one. Good job, Neil. You best head home now. Don’t want to get caught outside the wards after nightfall, ’specially not in that fancy car.”

Neil stifled a wince and forced himself not to look around to see who might have overheard the mention of his ‘fancy car’. Mr. Yaetz didn’t mean anything by it, but the car was a sore point with his co-workers at the small greenhouse and urban farm lot. None of them had their own vehicle, much less a sleek convertible sports car. Explaining that it was his mother’s, not his, hadn’t stopped the digs about his ‘slumming with the common folk’ or brought him any closer to the camaraderie the rest of them shared.

“Thanks, Mr. Yaetz. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Neil told him and turned toward the front lot. He glanced at the horizon automatically, judging how much time he had. About forty-five minutes, maybe an hour. More than enough for the short drive home. He wasn’t likely to come across any shadow beasts here on the outskirts of the city but a pack hunting farther afield was always a possibility. Of course, if he did run across shadow beasts, they would have to catch him first and the Maserati was both fast and agile.

Neil slid behind the wheel and the powerful engine purred to life. With the sun slowly sinking behind him, he swung the car out onto the road and headed for home.

As expected, Neil pulled into the driveway with plenty of daylight left and no encounters with any creatures that came out after dark. Climbing the front steps, his thoughts preoccupied with a shower and dinner, he almost missed the broken seal on his front door. He stopped cold. The warding glyph, usually a subtle shimmering gold, was inert, dull gray and cracked with lines of black. A sick knot cramped in his belly and Neil pressed his thumb down on the latch and pushed the door open but hesitated on the threshold.

“Mom?”

He listened. No answer.

Neil stepped into the foyer and slowly moved into the hall. A picture had been knocked off the wall and the broken glass from the frame glittered in the fading sunlight streaming in behind him.

“Mom?” he called again, louder.

Something crashed in the kitchen, the metallic clatter of pans hitting the tile floor. Neil ran in that direction.

His mother screamed, “Neil, get out! Get out!”

Heart hammering, he skidded into the kitchen. A black-clad, hooded man held on to his struggling mother. Another man stood next to them with a curved knife in his hand—his eyes were flat black and icy cold as they slid over him. Neil rushed them, yelling, “Get away from her!” The man with the knife lifted his free arm and flung the outstretched fingers of his empty hand at him. Neil hit the stop spell so hard it jarred him from teeth to toes, knocking him on his ass.

“Neil!” his mother shrieked.

He lifted his head in time to see the man who had floored him lift the knife and draw it down the side of her throat and across her shoulder in two professional, vicious slashes. The other man let her go as her eyes went wide and her hands flew up to clutch at the wounds. The blood didn’t spray everywhere like it did in the movies. It welled up in a gush of red that soaked the front of her shirt as she choked and gasped then fell down on her knees.

“Mom! No!” Neil scrambled to his feet. The two men moved toward him in unison as his mother crumpled, face down on the floor. Her body sounded like a wet rag hitting the tiles and a shocking pool of red spread under her.

“Take him,” the one holding the bloody knife said. His voice was low, emotionless and without accent, like an automaton in one of the old films they occasionally streamed when the comms satellite was functioning.

On autopilot, Neil grabbed the pendant that hung on the chain around his neck and ripped it off, throwing it on the floor. The man reached to stop him, but it was too late. The glass pendant shattered and a wall of noxious smoke rose between him and the killers. It wouldn’t hold them long, a minute if he was lucky. Probably less. He turned and ran back down the hall, fleeing the house.

He stumbled down the steps and fumbled the keys from his pocket, hitting the lock button. He yanked the door open and was shaking so badly he dropped the keys on the floor.

“Fuck! Fuck!” He reached down and his fingers just touched the ring as the killers came running out of the front door. Neil grabbed the keyring and jammed the right key in the ignition. For one horrible second, he was sure it wouldn’t start even though he’d just driven the car home. The engine turned over as smooth as a kitten’s purr and he slammed the shifter in reverse just as the man with the blade grabbed the driver’s door handle. Neil put his foot down on the pedal. The tires squealed and the car shot backward down the driveway and into the street.

Blood pounded in his ears, almost drowning out the engine sounds as he threw the car into drive and floored the gas, clutching the steering wheel hard enough to turn his knuckles white. He looked in the rear-view mirror as he sped away. They would come after him. He turned at the next intersection. Then turned again. And again. He tried to focus on what to do next but all he could see was the shock and anguish on his mother’s face before she fell, and that bright pool of red spreading out under her. He looked in the mirror again but saw no sign of the men that had killed her. That didn’t mean anything. They could come, he knew it. He was heading out of the city following pure instinct, but now he slowed the car for just a moment. At the next turn, he doubled back the way he’d come.

Out of the city might seem safer, but it wasn’t. He had little money and the car would take him only so far. He needed resources.

He forced his fingers to relax on the steering wheel but his hands still shook. When he took a breath, it was shaky too. The red had been so stark against her blonde hair. Her eyes…had they been blank before she fell or after she hit the floor? No. No he couldn’t think of that now. He raised and hand and swiped at his wet cheeks.

Bone Men. Their name whispered across Neil’s mind in his father’s voice, from one of his many lessons. Assassins. Twisted by the sorcery that enhanced them, marked by the lives they took. Had she been their target? Was her death retribution for something his father had done? Or…or were they there for him?

His mind raced as fast as his pulse and the car he was driving. He took another deep breath and eased his foot back off the pedal a few degrees. He needed a clear head. He needed a plan. But first he needed somewhere to hide. Instinct told him to find someone he trusted, but his training overrode that idea. He could hear his father’s voice in his ear again. Trust no one, Nielob. If they come for you, go to ground. Speak to no one you know. Hide and wait. I will find you.

Not if he could help it. If he had his way, he’d lose both the Bone Men and his father, for good. The car would get him a good distance but he couldn’t keep it. It was traceable. He’d drive into the city, find someone he could sell the car to for scrap and use the money to get a ticket to as far away as it would take him.

He couldn’t take the car directly to a salvage yard without a title, too risky. He needed a fence. Months ago, while he’d been watering seedlings at work, he’d overheard Carl bragging about how his uncle was going to get a real car, one with a combustion engine. No one had believed him and Carl had gotten mad. Insisted his uncle knew a guy that dealt in contraband autos in the city. Hammersfell Road, next to the old Ackard Motors factory. There was a warehouse where they had raves. The fence organized them. Neil had no way of knowing if the bragging was just lies, but he had filed the information away anyway. His chin gave an odd quiver and the tightness in his throat squeezed hard enough to choke him. No. He couldn’t give in to tears now. He couldn’t afford to let out the sobs that threatened him. A safe place first. The grief tasted of bitter acid and wanted to strangle him, but he swallowed it down and kept going.

Purchase

Pride Publishing | Amazon

Meet the Author

Bellora Quinn

Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels. The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings and many with a strong BDSM flavour.

Sadie Rose Bermingham

A storyteller since before she started school, Sadie also enjoys reading, photography, live music and long walks on the beach. Sadie has worked as a bookseller, a pedigree editor for the racing industry and a local and family history researcher. Originally from the north of England, she has been working her way across the UK ever since. She currently resides on the south east coast with her long term partner, where she hopes to buy a mobile home and establish a whippet farm.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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A MelanieM Review: Demon Familiar (Wanted #1) by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Sometimes when you don’t know what you want, life gives you what you need. 

When Neil Markovic witnesses the murder of his mother by Bone Men his world is thrown into turmoil. On the run from the assassins that killed her, his sorcerer father and the police, Neil finds help in the form of a tall half fae alchemist named Malachai. Mal seems more accepting than most of Neil’s demon bloodline, but curiously immune to his charms.

Malachai Valentine, disgraced scion of a noble Leprechaun clan, back in the Old Country, is happy living as an anonymous scrap dealer. Using his talent for alchemy to make fuel and potions, most days he doesn’t even think of his ruinous past. When a scared young man with a fancy car crashes into his life, at first, Mal thinks he can do without the hassle. But as Neil begins to get under his skin, Mal starts to reassess his hopes and ambitions.

Harassed by megalomaniac fae and stalked by sorcerous killers at every turn, Malachai and Neil must fight to be free, and to find what they both truly wanted.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, murder and non-consensual sex.

When I finished Demon Familiar, I just wanted to do a little teeth gnashing.  Where, oh, where, was the next book in this series? Oh, wait…not to be published until August 2018.  Let the wails commence.  That’s because at the end of this gritty, sometimes tender, occasionally horrific but always, always riveting story I wanted nothing more than for it (and this couple and other characters) to continue.

Demon Familiar by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham is the first in their new Wanted series and as such left some fairly large mysteries looming large while the overall arc for this story was resolved.  Yes, I was completely satisfied yet I knew just as Mal and Neil’s relationship was going to grow and deepen so would their journey that would continue to explain each of their back histories.  And I can’t wait.

The authors were masters at the tease here.

They gave us intriguing (and so often appalling hints as to events in Mal’s past and elements from Neil’s, that had our own speculations leaning from the tortuous to the downright insane.  And probably being right.  On top of that, they weave Gaelic mythology into an alternate city of  Detroit that’s just familiar enough to be both alien and mundane.  What a marvelous location.  It felt like a character itself with its atmosphere and vivid descriptions.

I loved the way the authors carefully built the relationship between Mal and Neil, while exposing both characters to the readers (alternating pov).  This is a big cast, full of fae, gremlins, demons, and more.  Not high fantasy but more urban fantasy,  the gritty underbelly of society for many.  Think pimps, drugs, whores and thieves.  And with that comes non-con for a section.  It’s only a section but its there and I expect to see it again for reasons I will not go into in the upcoming stories.  Maybe wrong but I don’t think so.  People and beings are in part a commodity in certain sections of town here.

They have just started their world building and it’s only going to get better because the foundation is already rock solid.

I thought it ended a little too soon but I’m hoping the next book picks up directly after the events of this one.  My mind is buzzing over a few clues here and there, and the mysteries left unsolved.  I want more of these characters and more of Mal and Neil.  I want their backstories and I want their future.  I can’t wait for this series to go forward.

Pick this one up which I highly recommend and join me in waiting for the next one to roll out.

Cover art: Posh Gosh.  The red head works for Mal but in no way does the dark haired character work for the incandescent youth Neil.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 244 pages
Expected publication: June 19th 2018 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786516695
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWanted #1

Blog Tour: Burning Boundaries, by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham

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Burning Boundaries (Elemental Evidence #2)

by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham

Publisher: Pride Publishing
Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis

Release Dates

Preorder: 23rd May
Early Download (from Pride Publishing): 6
th June
General Release: 4
th July

Genre(s): Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Fantasy – Urban & Magical Beings, Mystery & Thriller, Paranormal, Paranormal – Psychic Talents

Hello, I’m Dr. Gale and I’ve been asked to think of twenty random things that people might not know about me, so here goes.

 

  1. My Doctorate is in Security Usability of AI processes in Authentication and Transmission Programs. I received it when I was just twenty years old.
  2. My middle names are Wesley Arthur. Wesley is my father’s name, though everyone calls him Troy. I think that may be a Stingray thing, but I’m not sure. Arthur is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.
  3. I learned to write code when I was four and a half. I built my first computer when I was seven.
  4. I was the youngest person ever to enroll at my University College, I was twelve years and seven months old.
  5. From the age of 8, until I was about 14, I was actually quite chubby. I burned all the photos.
  6. My Mama calls me Ilmari, my Papi calls me Blue, short for Blue-Eyes.
  7. The first time I tried to surf a telephone line I was six and a half years old. I eavesdropped on my Great Grandmama’s neighbours but then my Papi caught me and I came back to my own body so fast that I knocked myself out. Which was kind of embarrassing.
  8. This will surprise Chivis, but I can actually ride a horse. He isn’t the only city person that’s done great outdoors stuff. I also ski pretty well.
  9. I took up running when I was 13, mainly to impress a guy I liked at my University.
  10. I have dated precisely four other people prior to meeting Jake Chivis. That’s not counting casual flings. Two guys, and two girls.
  11. I am 6’ 2” tall.
  12. Yes, I am a natural blond.
  13. Yes, I wear contacts. No, they aren’t tinted, my eyes are genuinely this color.
  14. I speak five languages, English, French, Suomi, Catalan and Malay Chinese.
  15. I’m an Aquarius.
  16. My favourite place in the world is Kotka in Finland. It’s where my Great Grandmama and Aunts lived and it’s so beautiful it takes my breath away.
  17. I was actually born in Mauritania, in a war zone, to be precise, but my birth was registered in New Haven, New York State. I have joint American/Finn nationality because my mother was born in Finland.
  18. My Great Grandfather studied in England and was one of the very first pilots for the Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the R.A.F. He was decorated for gallantry and outstanding service during the First World War. In spite of knowing this, I still hate flying.
  19. My shoe size is 10 and a half. Or 11 in American.
  20. I have a serious thing for tall, shy, part-Native-American Arson Investigators.  

Blurb:

Mari Gale’s life has been a whirlwind since meeting Jake Chivis. A new job prospect and his mother’s health preoccupy him, so when Jake invites him on a date he’s ready to cut loose. Their night out turns into a nightmare when a fire breaks out in the basement of the bar and they barely escape.

Soon Jake learns that the horrific accident is being investigated as a possible homicide, and it’s not the only case. Detective Inspector Cordiline of the London Met hints at spontaneous human combustion, but as far as Jake knows, SHC doesn’t exist.

When Mari looks into a group called Birthright, he finds a connection to the victims of the fires and Jake risks himself to go undercover at the shadowy organization. The race is on to determine the truth before Jake becomes the next target.

Length: 103,000 Words
Format: eBook
Pairing: MM
Heat Level: 4 out of 5
Price: $5.99

 

Elemental Evidence Series Info:

Former Detective Jake Chivis is a Fire Elemental who uses psychometry to see the past. Doctor Ilmarinen Gale is an Air Elemental, a human/cybernetic interface, able to infiltrate even the toughest information systems. Together they find out just how potent a combination Fire and Air can be when it comes to solving crimes.

Amid murder, conspiracy and a world that views them with suspicion, and sometimes contempt, Jake and Mari circumvent the conventional. While the police aren’t always appreciative of their methods they can’t deny the results.

When they aren’t busy consulting for the police, figuring one another out is their next big mystery. One that proves as frustrating as it is passionate. Between hunting killers and avoiding competing government agencies that want the two of them working on their side, they just might have enough time for love.

Excerpt:

Was that flirting? Was he flirting with the guy? Jake tried to rein those thoughts in but he couldn’t help it. Mari had a habit of flirting, but it had never bugged Jake before. Jesus, they’d managed to go to one bar for an hour and already he was devolving into Neanderthal territory. He realized something else. It had never really bothered him when he and Alex had gone out and his ex had spent all night coming on to strangers. Then again, he’d known Alex was doing it to get a rise out of him. That was not Mari’s way, at all.

“You want another drink?” Jake asked, by way of keeping himself from hauling Mari out of there and grilling him about whether he wanted to sleep with Mr. Whips and Tattoos. They had to step to one side as a sweating, agitated-looking guy pushed by them on the stairs in an obvious hurry to get down to the basement for some chastisement. Though he looked chastised enough already, in Jake’s opinion.

“If you do,” Mari said, then exhaled a huff that might have been regret and might have been relief. “Unless, of course, you just want to put me over your shoulder and carry me out, Mr. Caveman. I wasn’t giving him the come-on. So you can stop looking daggers. And don’t deny it.” He pointed a slender finger at Jake as he opened his mouth. “I could see you thinking it. Yes, he’s very cute, but he’s not really my type. I do like his toy box though.”

Jake snapped his mouth closed then pushed a hand through his hair and let out a sigh of his own. He had always pitied guys that acted like possessive jerks and here he was being as transparent as glass, all but snarling at anyone who got too close to Mari. “I’m sorry. I was aiming not to be obvious. I’ll try and refrain from clubbing you over the head and dragging you out by the hair.” He managed a sheepish grin.

“In that case, it would be my pleasure to have another drink with you, Chivis.” Mari chuckled, slipping a hand around the nape of his neck and towing him in for a brief, firm kiss.

They made their way back up into the bar and as they were weaving their way through the crowd, Jake heard someone shout, then screaming coming from the direction of the basement.

The red and gold lighting seemed to be flickering and Mari yelled, “Can you smell something burning?”

Jake noticed the smell just as Mari was saying it, and turned his head. A curl of pale smoke was winding up from the basement stairway, not thick but noticeable.

“Shit!” He grabbed Mari’s arm. “Get out of here. Hurry.”

Jake gave him a push toward the front exit then shoved through the crowd, trying to get to the stairs.

Buy Links Etc:

Publisher: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/burning-boundaries

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Burning-Boundaries-Elemental-Evidence-Book-ebook/dp/B071ZGP541

Apple: Coming Soon

ARe: Coming Soon

Barnes & Noble:

Kobo: Coming Soon

Smashwords: Coming Soon

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34913207-burning-boundaries

Author Bio:

Bellora Quinn:

Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels. The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings.

Sadie Rose Bermingham:

A storyteller since before she started school, Sadie also enjoys reading, photography, live music and long walks on the beach. Sadie has worked as a bookseller, a pedigree editor for the racing industry and a local and family history researcher. Originally from the north of England, she has been working her way across the UK ever since. She currently resides on the south east coast with her long term partner, where she hopes to buy a mobile home and establish a whippet farm.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.belloraquinn.comhttps://www.sadierosebermingham.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElementalEvidence/

Twitter: 

https://www.twitter.com/BelloraQ

https://www.twitter.com/SadieBermingham

Its Paranormal Crime & Mystery with Breathing Betrayal by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham.(character interview, giveaway)

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Breathing Betrayal BannerTitle: Breathing Betrayal

Author: Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham

Series Title and Number: Elemental Evidence, Book One

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis

Release Date: June 7th, 2016

Heat Level: 3

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 96,902

Genre/Tags: Crime and Mystery, Erotic Romance, Paranormal

Add to Goodreads

breathing betrayal cover

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have a character here to interview from Breathing Betrayal to interview:

Character Interview with Doctor Ilmarinen Gale

RS: You’ve lived in a lot of different places. What would you say is your favorite place?

Mari: Well, I think I’ve lived in just about every continent now. My parents travelled a lot for work. Father worked for various Space Agencies and Mamma was with Medecins sans Frontieres. I was born in Africa, though I don’t remember anything about that, and raised in New York State, London, Paris and Kota Kinbalu, in Malaysia. I think Malaysia was probably my favourite, it’s such a beautiful country and the people are so sweet and friendly. And the food is absolutely to die for. We had a beautiful house there with huge gardens and a view of the mountains, I still dream about it sometimes.

RS: Tell us a little about how your talent works? Do you need special software?

Mari: It’s sort of hard to explain, but I’ll try. The communications networks we use are made up of different kinds of waves and they operate on all kinds of frequencies. Our brain waves work in similar ways. What Air Elementals like myself can do, if you can imagine this, is to find a place where we can switch the frequency of our brain waves to the same pattern as the technology. Once I’m on the same frequency, it’s easy to push my thoughts along those waves. Now, every time we communicate with someone, by phone or on the internet, we create a kind of node where the energy from those waves pools and swirls around. I can use those nodes to navigate from one conversation to another, or look at documents stored in the Cloud, or chase a series of calls and plot the location of the caller. A hacker can trace calls and documents but I can see, literally at a glance, who you last spoke to, and who they last spoke to before that and all the people who spoke to them in a certain time limit, ad infinitum. It’s quite draining though, I can’t do it for extended periods at a time without running the risk of burning out my ability, or becoming hooked on the feeling of being out of my body. It’s a sensation like nothing else in the world. If I get lost in the moment and don’t come back to my physical body, I suppose it could actually kill me.

RS: Oh my! That sounds dangerous. Do you take precautions?

Mari: (laughing) You make that sound quite… suggestive. I suppose I don’t really, beyond trying to ensure that when I’m going to have to surf for a longer time, or go deep into a system, I have someone with me to interrupt me, if I overrun. I’ve experimented with setting the alarm on my phone, which works for a shallow surf. If I’m very deeply immersed though, it can take a serious commotion to bring me back.

RS: What sort of Elemental are you?

Mari: My classification is Air. The medieval scientist Paracelsus who first categorised us, called my kind Sylphs, but I always think that makes us sound rather trivial and flighty. The things we can do are far more weighty than that. Family rumours said that my Great Grandmother was what scientific historians call a Remote Viewer, she could surf deep and see through the eyes of a person on the other side of the continent, if she tried hard enough. It’s a Legendary skill, no Air Elemental has been able to do that for almost a century.

RS: I bet there’s a big demand for something like that though. Have you thought about going into business for yourself? I bet you could make a lot finding…information, for people.

Mari: <frowning slightly> If I was less… ethical, perhaps. Yes, I concede, there is a market for my talent. I’ve never been out of work, since leaving University, let’s put it that way. But a lot of the things I do for my employers aren’t exactly encouraged in the mainstream, I suppose.

RS: Aren’t you even a little tempted though? I mean, you could find out who <censored reality TV star’s name> is dating before anyone else.

Mari: <looking bemused now> Why would I want to know that?

RS: Because it would be a *scoop*. You’ve missed your calling Dr. Gale. You could have been the greatest reporter ever!

Mari: <laughing> I don’t think I’m cut out to be a journalist. I’d need to be far more curious about things for a start. Now if a certain cute interviewer happened to leave his phone by my seat while he went for a coffee… I might decide to find out if he was dating or otherwise. But stalking people I don’t care for… no, I think not.

RS: <blushing> Speaking of dating. Rumor has it you’re seeing a certain Detective?

Mari: Now, you see, that’s why you’re a journalist and I’m a scientist. Let’s just say, I’m not currently unattached and I’m quite happy about that, shall we?

RS: I must say it’s been a pleasant interview Dr. Gale. Thank you for joining us today.


Mari: You’re most welcome. Thank you for having me.

Synopsis

Jake Chivis is the descendant of Fire Elementals with a gift for psychometry, the ability to see memories from touching objects. After a bad breakup and trouble at work, Jake gave up his career as a detective in Detroit and moved to England to join a research program studying Elemental gifts at University College London. It seemed like the perfect way to escape his past and start over, and this time he’s vowed not to fall into the trap of dating a coworker. At least that’s the plan, until he meets Doctor Ilmarinen Gale.

Mari Gale is blond, sexy, relentlessly academic and comfortable in his own skin in a way Jake envies. After a handful of embarrassing encounters, Jake is ready to resign himself to staying under the radar, but when a colleague’s brother goes missing, he and Mari must work together to find him. As they dig into the inexplicable disappearance, Jake is impressed with Mari’s competence and unique skills, and even more impressed by his ability to wrap Jake around his finger. Together the unlikely pair discover murder, betrayal, secrets and just how high Mari can fan Jake’s flames.

Excerpt

Rain pink-pink-pinked against the window pane and drip-drip-dripped into the pot that Jake had placed under the leak in the hallway. Murky gray morning light greeted him when he opened his eyes. Another drizzly day. He had thought that was just some persistent stereotype, a comic exaggeration—about how rainy it was in London—but so far, this month, it was turning out to be true.

Jake was steadily getting used to the weather. It really wasn’t all that different from his native Michigan. He had been told by his colleagues this was an unusually wet November and that when winter finally kicked off, it wouldn’t be as severe as he was accustomed to. That was something to be glad about, at least.

The weather was not the only thing he’d had to get used to after moving a little over three and a half thousand miles away from the only place he’d known. London was worlds away from Detroit. It was still alive for one thing, not a dying husk. It was cleaner too, even with more than ten times the population. London had its crime and its dangerous places just like any large city, but even the urban degeneration here had a certain vibrancy to it that was unlike the desperation and decay of Detroit.

Enough of that.

Thinking about home was a guaranteed way to put him in a bad mood. At least he didn’t hate his new abode.

The apartment was small and leaky but it was clean and bug free and he didn’t have a lot of stuff anyway. Four rooms—kitchen, bathroom, small living room and a closet-sized bedroom that was barely big enough to hold a double bed and the armoire. The kitchen was equally tiny. A small fridge, sink and an ancient two-burner stove. There was just enough counter space to plug in his coffeepot. He was not complaining. The small space made it easy to keep warm and clean and discouraged clutter. It was also paid for, which was another big plus.

He hadn’t liked that idea at first. He thought the university should just pay him outright and let him figure out how to deal with the rent and utilities, but he had to admit that having them take care of the bills took some of the worry off his mind. Unfortunately he still had plenty of other things to worry about.

No, he told himself firmly. He was not going to start off the day thinking about home and everything he’d deliberately left behind when he got on the plane. That was over.

Jake dragged himself out of bed and across the living room to the bathroom. After a quick slash, he washed his face, finger-combed his hair with wet hands then threw on some sweats and he was ready for his morning run. There would be time for a shower and food later. Back in Detroit, he would have started his day by driving to the track or the gym to work out before heading to the station house. Here he could walk or use public transportation to get just about anywhere he needed to go. At first the idea of not having a car, of not being able to just hop in and drive wherever he had to go, any time he wanted, had given him more of a panicky, trapped feeling than being an ocean away from everyone he knew and everything familiar. A car was the very first thing he’d asked about, after moving his meager belongings into the apartment. The research assistant who’d been assigned to ensuring he got settled in and had what he needed had told him to give it a week or two and, if he still wanted to purchase a car, the university would arrange it. At the time, Jake had thought there was no possible way he could survive for so long without a vehicle at his disposal, but by the end of his first week he had explored the Tube, the cabs and the buses, got himself an Oyster card and found he could get around remarkably well without having to fight through traffic behind the wheel. He hadn’t brought up the need for a car again.

There was a small park only one street over from where he lived, and several right around the university, but they were little more than decorative green space—compact garden squares hemmed in by the tall, dark façades of houses and office buildings—nice for a picnic maybe, but not big enough for a run. Fortunately Regent’s Park was fairly close to where he lived and the paths and trails there were perfect. The park was never truly empty but this early in the morning, especially on such a wet, gray day, only the dedicated were out. They all had little earbuds or headphones on and their eyes were fixed forward, everyone in their own private bubbles. No one stopped to say good morning. No one drew him to one side to ask if he could touch their grandmother’s wedding ring and tell them if she’d hidden cash somewhere in the attic. It was great. It was almost perfect, except for one thing.

There was one other person from the university that liked to run the same route he did and while Jake didn’t see him every morning, it happened often enough that he’d started looking for the guy while he ran. That annoyed him. Running was his time to clear his head. It was meditative. He could tune out and think of nothing. Or at least he could until he started paying more attention to the people he passed than he did the simple rhythm of putting one foot down in front of the other. Now during his morning runs, he was distracted by looking around to see if he’d catch sight of a particular slender figure whose long legs ate up the distance like the wind.

Jake told himself that he was only looking so that he could avoid him, and thereby avoid having to make polite conversation. It definitely wasn’t because of the way the ridiculously tight Lycra leggings he wore outlined every muscle in his lean thighs or the way his perfect ass looked so tasty in them. No, not at all.

Jake never had been very good at lying to himself. Even so, admiring that sexy little derrière from a distance was all he would do. He had learned his lesson about getting involved with coworkers. Anyway, it was unlikely he’d see him today, given the dismal weather. He could stop looking around and just concentrate on pushing himself.

* * * *

The park was usually Mari’s first call of a morning, though he sometimes gave his running a break when the weather was this grim. Today the rain was that fine, persistent drizzle that evaded umbrellas and invaded just about all items of clothing that weren’t a wetsuit. He was used to it, having spent almost the last three of his twenty-seven years here, at UCL, but after the sunshine of his previous job in Barcelona, it was still kind of a comedown to walk out of his front door on a morning like this.

Fortunately the park was just around one corner, and the university campus just around the other, one of the perks of living in town. Papi had wanted to pay for a place out in the countryside, arguing that it would be more peaceful, but his Mama would hear none of it. The London house had been her grandmother’s then her father’s. He had been renting it out for years while the family lived abroad but now it was finally useful, even if the reason behind its new purpose was a less than happy one. Plus, Mama argued successfully—because no one, not even Papi, would dare to fight with her right now—it was also a short cab ride to the hospital, not an ungodly trek through the suburbs every time she had treatment or saw her oncologist.

He pushed those thoughts away, determined not to dwell on what might be, knowing she would not thank him for it. She had not wanted him to come to London at all, but on that point he had dared to defy her and anyway, he’d already been offered and had accepted the post at University College London. It was a decent job, even if London was not Barcelona.

There was no one quite like Tomas here, but maybe that was a good thing too.

Mari put his head down and pushed on into the clinging miasma of the chill London rain. Tomas Arregui was something else he would rather not think about right now. With the clarity of hindsight, perhaps it had been for the best that the job had come up with UCL when it did. Given longer to chew over the frustration of his on-again, off-again lover, he might well have been driven to do something he would most certainly regret.

Damn it, though! The memory of Tomas was like a persistent tic that wouldn’t let go of his hide once its nasty little fangs had sunk in.

He was glad of the distraction presented in the form of another early-morning loper and his spirits perked up even more when he was able to make out the familiar form and easy gait of the new guy who was working with the Web Security Team. Mari had spotted him striding through the park before, though they had never spoken. Lester in the print room said he was American, though Mari thought there was a slightly Hispanic look to his rough-cut, thick black hair and darkly handsome features. Maybe Romani, even? He couldn’t be sure.

He was well built without looking chunky, except when he was bundled up in several layers of damp running gear, and almost as tall as Mari’s six-foot-two-inch frame, which was a plus. It got embarrassing trying to flirt with men who were forced to look up at him all the time.

Not that he had any idea if Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome was even that way inclined. But that never stopped him testing the waters. Alicia in his department said that one day some guy was going to punch his lights out for flirting the way he did, as if every man in the world was automatically gay and, by definition, hot for him.

He’d made her laugh with his mock-horrified response. “You mean they aren’t?”

Breathing Squared

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Meet the Authors

Bellora Quinn: Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels. The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings and many with a strong BDSM flavour.

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Sadie Rose Bermingham: A storyteller since before she started school, Sadie also enjoys reading, photography, live music and long walks on the beach. Sadie has worked as a bookseller, a pedigree editor for the racing industry and a local and family history researcher. Originally from the north of England, she has been working her way across the UK ever since. She currently resides on the south east coast with her long term partner, where she hopes to buy a mobile home and establish a whippet farm.

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