Release Blitz for KA Merikan’s My Dark Knight (Kings Of Hell MC #2) (giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Length: 145,000 words
 
Kings Of Hell MC Series
 
Laurent & The Beast (Book #1) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Love or hate. Life or death. No inbetween. No compromise. No rules in love and war.

Knight. Party monster. Handsome Savage. Doesn’t do monogamy.


Elliot. Obsessive. Intense. Uncompromising.


Newly single, Knight is done with relationships. All he’s interested in is bringing down The Count, an Internet personality who is tarnishing his family name. An opportunity to crush him comes when the audacious clown shows up at the Kings of Hell MC clubhouse to film for his YouTube channel. But when Knight meets Elliot, the man behind The Count, he no longer knows what to do with him.


Knight has never seen a more pathetic creature than Elliot. He’s also never met anyone who needed him more. Skinny, messed up, and a bucket of trouble as thick as tar, everything Elliot does seems to be a wordless death wish. No matter how much Knight hates Elliot’s alter ego, under the makeup and theatrics hides a fragile young guy with a passion for history, and Knight can’t help but catch Elliot every time he falls.


Elliot has bad taste in men. Always hopelessly attracted to violent brutes, his favorite is a long dead serial killer. But he gets more than he’s bargained for when he seizes an opportunity to meet the man of his dreams. The ghost is manipulative and dangerous, offering Elliot all he’s always wanted, for a price he can’t possibly pay.


Elliot is faced with an impossible choice between two men.


One alive, one dead.


One carnal and honest, one drizzling sweet, poisoned promises into his ear.


One unwilling to commit, the other promising an eternity together.


And Elliot doesn’t settle for half-measures. He craves a love that is all or nothing, passion that will consume him, and desire to burn him alive.


Elliot is ready to either get that, or die trying.


POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes: enemies to lovers, protector, cruelty, motorcycle club, alternative lifestyles, demons, tattoos, impossible choices, deception, crime, self-discovery, healing, black magic, gothic, commitment, ghosts, possession

 

Author Bios
 

K.A. Merikan are a team of writers who try not to suck at adulting, with some success. Always eager to explore the murky waters of the weird and wonderful, K.A. Merikan don’t follow fixed formulas and want each of their books to be a surprise for those who choose to hop on for the ride.


K.A. Merikan have a few sweeter M/M romances as well, but they specialize in the dark, dirty, and dangerous side of M/M, full of bikers, bad boys, mafiosi, and scorching hot romance.

 

Giveaway

Review of Black Magic by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Once there was one nation but a brutal war split it up into smaller kingdoms, each with its own laws, religion and official views of magic and magic users. In the Kingdom of Vindeia, the Goddess was worshiped and the King supported by his High Priest and High Paladin, the warrior arm of the Goddess. They in turn ruled over lesser priests and paladins to help keep the kingdom safe from demons and chaos.  Necromancers exist as well, but only on the outskirts of society, shunned for their supposed involvement in the dark arts.

In the neighboring Kingdom of Narvath, there is no Goddess worship and the Kingdom’s only practitioners of magic are the alchemists. And  unlike the priests and paladins who lead lives of acceptance and relative ease, the alchemists are slaves, sold to the highest bidder once their gifts come alive.  No other magical practices are allowed to exist by law.

But something evil is stirring that will bring death and chaos to both kingdoms and make them question their most basic of assumptions about magic and those who wield its powers.

When a cousin and fellow paladin is murdered in the most gruesome way, High Paladin Soren seeks out the advice of the Goddess to help him catch the murderer.  Through her High Priest, the Goddess tells Soren that one comes to aid him, and that person is none other than one of the hated necromancers.  Because his Goddess commands him and against his better judgement, Soren accepts the help of the necromancer, Koray, to track down the murderer who has just struck again.

Koray the necromancer journeyed to the High Castle because the Goddess has commanded it, not knowing why but well aware of the reception he will get from the castle inhabitants.  Necromancers have been beaten, tortured and even killed on sight for ages and Koray expects the same to happen to him once he reaches his designation. But before he reaches the castle, he runs into Soren who is out in the woods mourning the loss of his friend and relative.  Sparks ignite between them and once the dust settles, both men realize that the Goddess has brought them together and they agree to put aside all differences and prejudices to accomplish her goal, one that will change the kingdoms around them forever.

Once again, Megan Derr has given us a rich, densely layered world, so carefully crafted that even the forests and villages, vivid in their details, feel as real as the park down the street. Her partitioning of Magic into the various fields is not  new but it feels so here with all the elements she has crafted that go into Goddess worship and those that support her by magical means.  There are the magical priests, paladins, necromancers, alchemists and warlocks, no one is left out. As most of the action takes place in Vendeia, that is the region given the most detail.  From the castle battlements to the various rooms right up to the Cathedral itself, Derr brings it to life from the rough hewn stones to the smooth rock of the hallways, I could see it all so clearly.  Just a wonderful job in making a fantasy world seem authentic and real.

Her characters possess an equal measure of complexity and realism as their settings.  They can be a haughty and humorous, irritating and   endearing, abused and long suffering, all these facets of their personas.  What they never are is dull.  They have a tendency to argue themselves right into your hearts, make you grind your teeth in frustration over behaviors irrational and still you root for them to succeed.  I loved each and every one Derr introduces to us, starting with Soren and Koray.  Soren is the epitome of certainly in everything he does, while often volatile in the things he says when angry.  And he meets his match in Koray, who is his equal in power and acidity of tongue.  Their verbal interactions were a constant joy as they pivoted around each other in willful misunderstandings (Soren) and hurtful barbs (Koray). I loved watching their relationship develop. I would have been happy with just them but then the author adds two additional and intriguing couples, each full of surprises for each other and the reader.  Really I couldn’t put this story down until I was done and their tale finished.  And then of course I wanted so much more, more of these fascinating people and more of the future spread out so tantalizingly before them.

In Black Magic Megan Derr has given us a remarkable fantasy full of magnificent quests, horrific deaths and love most human.  She really is my go to author for fantasy when I want to lose myself in magic, warlocks, knights, villains most evil and lost causes.  I will put this next to my other favorites, up front and ready to begin my journey with these memorable characters once more.

Book Details:

ebook, 265 pages
Published October 31st 2012 by Less Than Three Press LLC (first published October 30th 2012)

Review of the Jewel Bonds Series by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars

 

For the Jewel Bonds series, Megan Derr creates a rich world of wizardry and combatants.  In this fantasy world, we have the Territories full of wild creatures and dragons, a lawless land that is constantly infringing on the civilized cities and towns.  To deliver the full measure of protection to the civilized zones, it takes a bonded team comprised of a mage and a warrior.  One to go forward in strength and combat, the other to watch his back and keep safe all around them by magical means.

Children with an affinity for magic or sword work and able to pay tuition go to live at the University of Magic and Combat where they are taught lessons in warfare and magic.  The children are all ages. The different schools seem to correspond to our system here. Some arrive in their teens for studies at the university level. Neither gender or social status matters, both can be warriors or mages, as long as the tuition is paid or scholarships hold, they can attend.  When a mage is finishing their third year in the University, clear jewels are implanted in their wrists and foreheads, showing they are ready to become full mages able to use their magic to the fullest of their abilities. Mages tend to have a talent for one area of alchemy like fire or wind and when they find a warrior to bond with, their jewels take on the eye color of their partner. But for some mages, whatever the reason, a warrior is never found to bond with, leaving them to become a field mage or research mage on their own.

Within this realm of harsh realities, of learning acquired through pain and physical deprivation, Megan Derr gives us three short stories of mages and warriors at different stages in life. Two are still in school at The Royal University of Magic and Combat in the capitol city, the middle pair have left their schooling behind them, one to glory and the other to ignominy and despair, and the third pair sees a mage in his forties, in straightened circumstances, facing a life without a position, possessions or a bond who in his most desperate hour meets a young warrior in need of a temporary mage.  Derr gives us a glimpse into their lives, the hardships they endure to become warriors and mages, and the strange journeys made to find fulfillment and love.

An Admirer (Jewel Bonds #1) introduces us to Kaeck, a poor student working three jobs to help subsidize his scholarship in order for his to stay in school.  By inclination (he feels unloved by family and peers) and circumstances (he works from predawn hours to midnight), he has isolated himself from most of the student body.  Kaeck’s daily routine and expectations rarely changes until the day he opens his student post box and finds a letter from a secret admirer, One letter is followed by others and then gifts.  And Kaeck finds his outlook changing, someone admires him, thinks him beautiful! Kaeck wants to meet his admirer and give him a gift back. But while his admirer is anonymous, Kaeck has met a fellow student, Bellamy, with whom he shares common interests and insecurities and soon Kaeck wonders if their friendship could turn out to be more. But Bellamy is enamored of another student and Kaeck is left wondering if his secret admirer will ever come forward.

I took Kaeck to heart immediately.  Who hasn’t had someone like him in their lives, doing everything he can to keep afloat and make his dreams come true. Kaeck’s family is harsh and lacking love growing up has contributed to his sense of worthlessness.  I just wanted to grab him up, give him a huge hug and feed him a massive dinner.  Kaeck is so fully realized that his pain became mine as well.  It was just as easy to become invested in Bellamy.  A “country mouse” late to class his first day of advanced swordplay and in his ignorance he treated the Lord like a regular professor. Bellamy gave his all in a swordfight, earning his Lordship’s respect and earning a coveted apprenticeship as well as the continued resentment of his peers. Neither young man is comfortable around others, one silent, the other babbles when nervous.  But together, they find a ease with each other they have found no where else.  Derr brings the stress and angst that comes from  school cliques, trying to find your way,  and awkwardness in school and transfers it believably to a fantasy world.   I loved this story and want so much more of these two. At 36 pages, it felt just too short as I was totally invested in these young men and their world. You will feel the same.

Kiss the Rain (Jewel Bonds #2) is a neat time shift as the two heads of Magic and Combat, Lord Jenohn and Master Selsor, almost 60 years old in An Admirer, here  are only 18 when the story begins.  We meet Selsor as he is being brutally attacked by bullies in the school yard at the University.  Told from Selsor’s POV, this is a difficult paragraph to read as you feel every blow to the ribs, every kick to his head as curses rain down upon him.  In his fear, he strikes out with his magic, which up to now has never worked.  A lightning bolt comes out of the sky, killing another student in the courtyard by accident.  Selsor is hauled before the University council who refuse to believe him about the attack and the accident. They tell him the student is dead because of him.  Selsor is banished, forbidden to use magic upon threat of death, and his jewels turned black by the University mages.  Three years have past, and we meet up with Selsor, age 20, scrubbing the floors of a lowly inn, living in the straw above the animals in the stable, reduced to almost starvation levels as no one will hire a disgraced mage.  So depressed he has tried to kill himself, he is beaten regularly by the sadistic innkeeper. Into the inn comes Jenohn, a warrior and a group of soldiers on a mission from the Prince.  The town they are in is being inundated by rain to the point of extermination and the Prince wants to know if black magic is the cause. Jenohn needs the help of an uncorrupted mage and picks Selsor for the job, to his amazement and distrust.

In Kiss The Rain, Megan Derr takes the hard life and isolation of Kaeck’s student life and then deepens it into abuse and horror for Selsor.  Selsor only wanted to become a mage and bond with a warrior, just like his parents had.  But his pretty features and slight build made him an easy target at school where the bullies endless physical and emotional abuse was a daily occurance.  Not only was Selsor afraid for his life but his magic doesn’t want to work even though he knows he has it, adding frustration to his fear.  Selsor commands both our empathy and understanding as he tries to deal with horrific living conditions and the loss of his dreams.  Especially horrifying are his circumstances when we meet up with Selsor years later only to find him being kicked and abused again, only this time with no magic at hand.  So when this golden warrior, Jenohn appears, offering him enough silver to live on and escape the life he is living, we are just as wary as Selsor.  He knows from experience that life is never fair nor kind.  But just as Jenohn grows on Selsor, so does he grow on the reader.  Arrogant but able to back it up, kind in a sort of “need to smack him” sort of way, Jenohn just gets under your skin, Selsor’s too.  Selsor finds it hard to keep his grump on when faced with such irrespressible good nature, and all of it directed at him.  Great characters, both of them.  I loved seeing their backstory after getting a glimpse of them in old age.  This  story has it all, tears, angst, rage and laughter all in 47 pages.  Amazing.

An Exception (Jewel Bonds #3) takes us into the life of Riot, a lonely mage. Mage Riot never thought he would be jobless and practically homeless at the age of 40.  After 20 years of service to the lord of the territories, making sure the land is safe from dragons and that the kingdom prospers, his lord dies.  The new lord is an arrogant, smarmy young man who bullies all around him and expects Riot to submit to his sexual demands.  An honorable man, Riot refuses the pipsqueaks’s ultimatum, and leaves with nothing as all his belongings are confiscated by the new lord.  Even worse, once Riot is cast out, rumors are spread, casting aspersions on Riot’s honor and magic abilities.  Almost penniless, Riot is trying hard to hold on in a land that no longer seems to put a value on his experience, and accumulated wisdom. What is a mage to do when all the rules he has lived by are deemed old fashioned?

I loved Riot immediately.  He is such a unique character.  He is older, forty to be exact.  His hair is graying and he is well aware that any chance he had of being regarded as handsome is long past.  His former lord was a good man and Riot was happy in his service, even though he had never met a warrior who wish to be bonded to him during that time, to his everlasting sorrow.  Now his crystals in his forehead and wrists have turned gray from lack of use and he despairs of ever finding another job, especially at his age, let alone a warrior who would want an older man.  How that rings true no matter the setting, our world or that of fantasy.  Riot is so relatable in every way.

Derr excels at characterization and her people, like Riot, have emotions, thoughts and feelings that match ours.  How can we not relate to them, trying to get through life without compromising who they are and dealing with the stress of everyday life? Even if that life means keeping the kingdom safe from dragons? All that to deal with and at middle age too. Depressing, even heartbreaking.  I felt I knew Riot intimately. Rior meets his match in Coroe, a warrior in need of a mage.  Coroe is in charge of seeing his Lady safely to the lands of her new husband in a neighboring kingdom and all the mages he has hired have been disastrous, either drunk or incompetent or both. Coroe’s gorgeous looks belie his warrior status just as Riot’s rough warrior like exterior is atypical of mages.Both men have had problems stemming from peoples assumptions about their appearance and both are equally wary about the other.  Each also feels their age difference matters to the other in how they are perceived.  Again, how realistic. Coroe’s character has the same level of complexity that Riot has, but it comes out in difference ways.  I loved him too.  Both men circle around their mutual attraction, held back by Riot’s insistence on a firm separation of business from pleasure.  I liked this plot twist that keeps the men from acting on their romantic impluses because with the physical sexual act removed from the action, Derr is able to concentrate on building her characters, their backstory and amble, instead of run, to the start of a romance.  Here too, Derr gives us a complex duo in 10,000 words.  Do I want to see more of them?  Why yes, I do!

I hope Megan Derr will continue to give us wonderful stories in the Jewel Bonds universe,  Perhaps more of Selsor and Jenohn as we are missing 40  years of their lives.  Or perhaps Kaeck and Bellamy after graduation.  The plot possibilities are endless and so are my hopes for the series.  Don’t pass these up.

Covers by Megan Derr.  Hard to argue when it is the author themselves creating the covers for her stories.  Love them.

Review of A Self Portrait by J.P. Bowie

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Rating: 3.75 stars

Artist Peter Brandon is getting ready to have old friends visit for the weekend and is a little irritated that his partner, Jeff Stevens has scheduled a meeting in L. A. about a case at the same time he was hoping to have help with the preparations. As it gets closer for Jeff to leave, Peter starts having feelings of dread, twinges of intuition that have always been right in the past.  But Jeff goes anyway promising to be back in the evening. When Jeff doesn’t arrive home as planned and doesn’t answer Peter’s phone calls,  Peter knows that something terrible has happened. A vision shows him Jeff, hurt, bound and gagged and Peter  jumps into action, determined to rescue Jeff at any cost. And one of the people Peter counts on to help him is none other than the spirit of his dead lover, Phillip.

Peter finds out that Jeff had been pulled into a case involving a Satanic cult whose leader, Lefevre, has followers everywhere and the LA police have no leads on Jeff’s location.  As Peter and Jeff’s friends gather round to help in the search, Peter heads out with only Phillip as his guide. When Lefevre finds out about Phillip’s ability to aid Peter from beyond the grave, he plans to acquire the spirit and kill all who stands in his way.

In my opinion, A Self Portrait is really two separate books attached loosely two thirds of the way into the plot.  While I enjoyed each separately, I don’t that it worked successfully fused together.  The first two thirds of the book happens when Peter falls unconscious after hearing the news of Jeff’s disappearance. During this state, he remembers his love affair with Phillip from beginning at age 15 to the attack that killed Phillip and severely injured Peter to the point he remained in a coma for 3 years.  I loved their story although Phillip’s sheer perfection got on my nerves a bit. While I can see the memory of a deceased loved one become burnished over time so that their imperfections vanish, I don’t think that was the case here.  I just wish Bowie had Phillip gnaw on a cuticle or two, something to humanize Phillip more for the reader.  Peter is far more the believable human being here, with his flaws and imperfections front and center, I certainly liked Peter more.  And I was genuinely upset when the couple was attacked and devastated when Peter woke alone in the hospital.  That said, I also saw the attack coming, much like watching one of those college kids go down into the basement in Scary Movie.

The remaining third of the book deals with Peter, his visions, and his attempts to locate Jeff before they are all killed in a satanic ritual.  Again, Bowie built the reader’s apprehension and suspense bit by bit, so much so that in parts I was on the edge of my chair reading.  Very skillfully executed indeed.  The one thing that threw me off balance was Lefevre turning out to have real powers as opposed to being just another bogus whackjob with pretensions to evil.  J.P. Bowie never built a case for that happening so it didn’t seam to fit in with the rest of the story.  I did like the idea of Phillip’s spirit assisting Peter but wish we had a more solid base for all the actions of the last act, especially when the psychic powers become all important to the plot and its resolution. As I said I think that there are two successful books here, I just am not sure that A Self Portrait contains one.  I liked the book (with reservations), and I like the author.  If you find my quibbles palatable, then I recommend this book to you.

Cover.  This is not the cover on my book. The cover artist for that particular cover is Deana Jamroz.  But both covers have the same elements and work for the story