A Free Dreamer Review: Light by Nathan Burgoine

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Kieran Quinn is a bit telepathic, a little psychokinetic, and very gay—three things that have gotten him through life perfectly well so far—but when self-styled prophet Wyatt Jackson arrives during Pride Week, things take a violent turn.

Kieran’s powers are somewhat underwhelming but do have a habit of refracting light into spectacular rainbows for him to hide behind. Even so, it’s not long before Kieran is struggling to maintain his own anonymity while battling wits with a handsome cop, getting some flirting in with a hunky leather man, saving some drag queens, and escaping the worst blind date in history. It’s enough to make a fledgling hero want to give up before he even begins.

One thing’s for sure: saving the day has never been so fabulous.

This book was simply amazing. “Light” was funny, unique and had me hooked in absolutely no time.
I liked Kieran from the very first sentence. He has a telepathic bond with his cat (Seriously, how awesome is that?), having created certain images and signals to represent the various activities in a cat’s life. Other than that, he only uses his (all in all rather underwhelming) powers on his clients to find out where and why they are sore, making it a lot easier for him to massage those aches and pains away.


Kieran is not really a hero, he has never used his powers openly and doesn’t achieve any heroic deeds with them. That is, until a bunch of religious nutters show up at Ottawa Pride Week, the highlight of every year. Their “prophet” Stigmatic Jack is a psychokinetic that has a gift for randomly cutting “sinners” without needing a knife. That’s when Kieran really uses his powers for the first time, by bending the light around him and blinding Stigmatic Jack and his followers. From this moment on, the mysterious saviour is known as “Rainbow Man” or “Disco”, names that Kieran really can’t stand.


So the plot is a little different from your average superhero novel – no superhero heroically saving the lives of innocents on a daily basis. No, Kieran is a perfectly normal man with somewhat limited powers, looking for the love of his life. His friend Karen keeps setting him up for blind dates with some of the weirdest men in the history of dating.


While religion certainly does play an important role in this novel (the religious nutcases obviously make Kieran think about the way he sees religion), I never felt like the author was trying to force his believes on me.


At times, “Light” was simply too funny to be true, without ever getting ridiculous. I spent a large part of the novel snickering at some remark or another. My favourite scene has to be during the annual Drag Off. I nearly fell out of my chair.


At other times, especially during the great showdown, I found myself breathlessly chanting “nononononono”, completely ignoring everything around me.


The only thing I wasn’t too fond of was the whole “love at first sight” deal. But since it wasn’t overdone and seems to be an extremely common phenomenon in romance novels, it didn’t bother me too much.

To sum it up, “Light” is an ingenious work full of humour and suspense that should appeal to any lover of paranormal romances that enjoy heroes that aren’t all that heroic after all.

Cover: I quite like the cover. It’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill m/m romance cover. The colours are beautiful.

Sales:   Bold Strokes Books | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 190 pages
Published October 13th 2013 by Bold Strokes Books
ASINB00FVHFGEW
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersKieran Quinn, Sebastien LaRoche settingOttawa, Ontario (Canada)

Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for LGBT SF/F/Horror (2014)

Sometimes You Fall, Sometimes You Fly…Check out Gravity by Juliann Rich (LGBT YA romance tour and giveaway)

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Young Adult Romance (LGBT)

Date Published:  11-15-2016

Publisher:  Bold Strokes Books

Sometimes you fly. Sometimes you fall.

Blurb

A dream at Olympic gold in ski jumping. It’s a dream that’s been the exclusive property of male Olympic athletes.

Until now.

For seventeen-year-old Ellie Engebretsen, the 2011 decision to include women’s ski jumping in the Olympics is a game changer. She’d love to bring home the gold for her father, a former Olympic hopeful whose dreams were blown along with his knees on an ill-timed landing. But can she defy the pull of gravity that draws her to Kate Moreau, her biggest competition and the girl of her dreams?

How can Ellie soar through the air when all she feels like doing is falling hard?

Excerpt

Prologue

Prologue
This is not a story about a girl who found the courage to come out as gay.
Wrong girl. Wrong book.
Sorry. (Not really.)
This is a story about a ski jumper—me. And an auburn-haired girl—Kate. And the biggest
jump of all.
Ask any ski jumper and they’ll tell you a truth that never airs on ESPN.
None of us jumps for the judges. Or the scores. Or to nail some fucking form.
We jump for those four, five, six seconds of airtime. Against the rush of the wind, despite
the hard ground beneath us, we jump.
And in the jumping, we fly free.
So no, this isn’t a story about a girl who found the courage to come out as gay.
Wrong girl. Wrong book.
Sorry. (Not really).
This is a story about a girl who found the courage to jump, to fly, and—for a brief, precious
time—to be free.
But here’s the thing.
All flights come to an end.
Ask any ski jumper and they’ll tell you that’s another truth that never airs on ESPN.
For better. For worse. Gravity always wins.
2
PART I: THE INRUN
It’s all about resistance.
Until it’s not.
3
Chapter One
I need to throw myself off a mountain. I need to push myself until the only pain I have is in
my body. That pain, I know. That pain, I can handle. Unfortunately, all I’ve got is Freefall, a
steep vertical wall covered in ice and snow on the sheer north face of Moose Mountain at Lutsen
resort. It’s a Minnesota mountain. In other words, a glorified hill, but it will have to do.
Freefall.
I stab the snow with my poles and laugh aloud, an angry burst of breath crystallizing in the
night air.
The price of falling is never free.
A girl in a pale blue jacket and rented skis zooms past me without pausing long enough to
take in the view or assess the danger. Happens every year during the week between Christmas
and New Year’s. Some dumb tourist gets lost or cocky and tackles a black diamond run. It never
ends well, but it does keep the ski patrol employed.
I aim my left ski straight down and, in one fluid motion, push against my poles and kick off
with my right ski. The black-green blur of the evergreen trees to my right and left pick up speed
as I do. Stark against the snow and strong, they refuse to shed so much as one needle in the coldass
Minnesota winter.
The text. The text. The goddamn text. Never meant for my eyes. Impossible to forget.
Be an evergreen, I blink and tell myself. Shed nothing.
But I’m not an evergreen and the stinging hotness edges down my cheek where it freezes, an
icy pimple of pain, and eventually falls onto the snow beneath me. I’m used to leaving a bit of
myself on the slopes, but not like this.
Enough!
Crying over a broken heart is for the girls who count calories, not push-ups. Girls who drink
lattes, not whiskey shots. Girls who spend their Sundays in the mall, not throwing themselves
down ice-covered mountains. I plant my pole and kick against the beaten-down bed of snow,
promising myself that the frozen tear, now forever a part of Freefall, is the last I will shed for
Blair.
Ahead of me I spot the girl in the blue jacket. She’s crouched low, head tucked, like she’s in
some goddamn hurry to have her death wish come true. Fucking idiot. Freefall isn’t for skiers
who want a vacation break from their lives. Freefall is for people who need to face death to feel
alive.
The girl in the blue jacket is coming up on Freefall’s rough patch where rocks jut out
without warning. To make it worse I’m not seeing the sparkle of diamonds in the snow that
indicates fresh powder. I’m seeing a flat whitish-blue patch that means only one thing. Ice.
“Oh, shit,” I say, my boots biting into my calves as I try to slow down. This girl doesn’t
know she’s about five seconds away from having a search and rescue party thrown in her honor
as she hits the ice patch at full speed. I cringe, but then she’s cutting through it with sharp left
and right turns, leaning forward (forward!) until she clears it and reaches the bottom. She doesn’t
stop there to catch her breath or count her blessings or scratch off one of her nine lives. Most
skiers have nothing left when they hit the bottom of Freefall and have to ice skate Valley Run,
the trail that leads to the front of Moose Mountain, but not this girl. She harnesses her
momentum and lets it propel her over Valley Run until she disappears from sight.
Well, shit. No way am I letting a girl like that ski my mountain without at least knowing her
name. I bury my poles in my armpits and crouch low for maximum speed. The broken crusts of
ice, compliments of mystery girl, are annoying but nothing I can’t handle, and when I hit the
bottom of Freefall, I, too, fly onto Valley Run, my eyes searching for a bit of pale blue until I
spot her already standing in line for the lift that leads to Eagle Ridge. Impossible. She must have
taken Valley Run at record speed, which means I have to as well if I’m going to ride with her up
the lift that leads to the top of Eagle Mountain. I’m puffing when I ski up to the two skiers
between the girl in the blue jacket and me, but a tap on the shoulder and a toss of my head sends
them scurrying behind me. I don’t often play the Eleanor Engebretsen card, but this is a special
occasion, and I claim my place next to the mystery girl who isn’t even breathing hard, though her
cheeks are a sexy shade of red.
The ski lift carries the two people in front of us up, up, and away and we ski-shuffle onto the
lift pad. She chooses the left and I go to the right. The chair hits the back of my knees and then I
am sitting next to this girl, arms and hips and shoulders touching, and she’s futzing with her
goggles while I’m being swept away.
I should talk to her. I want to talk to her. I have a million questions to ask her, but my brain
won’t work. It’s too busy trying to figure out how to steal sideways glances at her without
getting busted. The first glance confirms what I suspected. No pro would be caught dead in
rented skis and some off-brand jacket probably bought at Walmart. The second glance reveals a
mess of auburn curls trying to escape a hand-knitted hat. The third glance gets me busted, but not
until after I’ve checked out her long eyelashes dusted with snow, her full nibble-worthy lips, her
slight overbite that makes her perfectly imperfect.
I was wrong.
So wrong.
This girl has all the right equipment.
“Hello, I’m up here.” She looks at me until I pull my gaze off her body. A puff of smoke
from her breath hits the freezing air and obscures her face for one second. Long enough for me to
realize I like looking at her face. “I’m Kate Moreau.”
“Ellie.” I should say more, explain why I’ve been checking her out, but my brain has quit
working.
“It’s my first time at Lutsen. How about you?” Kate tries to rescue me from the awkward
moment, but I hate small talk. Though I’m willing to listen to Kate’s voice for hours, as long as I
don’t have to respond.
I stare through the V of my skis at the ski run and the tiny zooming skiers beneath us. I stare
ahead at the gray-blue expanse of Lake Superior that begins at the foot of Lutsen and spreads
across all of Minnesota’s North Shore, ending who knows where. I stare at my knee, my boot,
the clump of snow stuck to my ski—anything but the girl sitting next to me—and try to think of
something clever to say.
“I asked if this is your first time at Lutsen, too.” Kate looks at me, waiting for an answer I
obviously should give her, but once again I’m rescued because the chairlift bounces to a stop and
the bar lifts up. Kate quick steps it to the left while I stand there like an idiot and get my ass
smacked before I realize I need to make a move.
“Uh, K-Kate?” My tongue, my fucking tongue. Such a traitor.
“Yeah?” She turns to look at me.
“It’s my first time skiing Lutsen, too.” I have no idea why I’m lying. No, that’s another lie. I
know perfectly well why I’m lying to Kate. Because I wish it was my first time. I’d give
anything to start over.
“Cool. I’m heading to Mogen. Want to join me?” Kate asks and I notice her eyes for the first
time. Gray streaked with slivers of pale blue. Little crinkles of skin around the corners. It makes
me want to hear her laugh.
“Yeah, sure. Love to,” I lie for the second time.
Mogen is Lutsen’s terrain park. It’s infested with snowboarders and peppered with deformed
hills that insult real ski jumps. It’s also Blair’s favorite run and I can’t think of Mogen without
thinking of Blair. And I can’t think of Blair. Not yet.
I am about to suggest another run, any other run, but Kate is a moving blur and, like on
Freefall, she doesn’t stop when she hits the top of Mogen. Someone really should tell her she’s
missing the best views, but that someone isn’t going to be me.
I kick off and follow Kate. The run splits and she heads to the right toward a quarter-pipe
jump. She slices through a swarm of snowboarders in a way that makes me proud to know her,
even if it has only been for three whole minutes. I watch Kate approach the jump. I watch for the
telltale signs that signals an amateur: A split second of hesitation. Surrendering to the reflex to
pull back. Veering off at the last minute. But Kate does none of those as she takes the jump and
somersaults through the air like she exists beyond the rules of gravity, and when she sticks a
perfect landing, I forget how to breathe.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Kate fist pumps the air and whoops for joy, and then it’s
my turn to take her breath away. I shift my weight and aim straight for the quarter-pipe jump. My
repertoire plays through my mind. A flatspin, an alley-oop, a twister? As usual, my body makes
the decision for me. A Lincoln Loop it is. I bury my poles in my armpits and crouch low. The
quarter-pipe rushes me and I feel it, the moment when my muscles take over. Wind slaps me
across the face. My stomach presses against my spine. The sky tilts and then—
Images flood my mind.
A soft body, the ins and outs of which I know better than my own.
Laughing eyes. Lying eyes.
Long dark brown hair that bleeds blond. Ombré, she calls it. I should have known better than
to fall for a girl who couldn’t even be faithful to one hair color.
Blair. Blair. Goddamn Blair. Never meant for my heart. Impossible to forget.
My muscles contract. All of me contracts. The earth tilts on its axis. Fast and out of control,
a wash of white. It’s a different kind of fall, but like the others, it isn’t free.
7
When the sparkling white starts to spin away, I spot Kate’s face hovering above me and I
pray to die right there at the foot of the quarter-pipe jump on Mogen.
“Oh my God, are you okay?” Kate asks.
I lie in the me-shaped indentation of snow, wriggling toes and bending wrists and trying to
suck in air through lungs that have betrayed me as well. “Yeah, I think so.”
Kate grabs my hand. “Let me help you up.” She pulls me into a one-legged perch. I look for
my other ski and spot it a few feet away, skewering a mogul. A sharp pain hits like a punch to
the gut. I double over and grab my side. First Blair and now this—boffing a jump that on any
other day would have been my bitch. The world wobbles again.
“Hey.” Kate reaches out an arm and I grasp it like a kid in SkiWee holding onto the T-bar
for dear life. “You sure you’re okay?”
The pain begins to subside until I can straighten and look into her eyes. “Yeah, I’m fine.
Sorry.”
Her eyes crinkle at the corners. “For what? Falling? It happens.” Kate yanks her hat off and
a mop of wavy auburn hair tumbles around her face.
“Thanks for picking me up.” Jesus! Did I say that? “From the ground, I mean. From the
ground. You know, where you found me and…picked me up.”
Kate laughs and I realize maybe Jack was right. She usually is when it comes to girls. Jack
is my butch best friend whose real name is Lisa Marie, but she’ll kick you in the balls if you call
her that. Doesn’t matter whether you have balls or not. She earned the nickname Jack when she
came out, all at once and without giving a shit. Like that kid’s toy, the one with the clown that
couldn’t take the pressure anymore and had to pop out of the damned box. That’s Jack. Happy to
be out, but always looking for the next box to pop into. Which, according to Jack, is precisely
what I need to do to get over Blair.
Step one: Get a little tourist pussy. The sooner, the better.
Jack’s words, not mine, and even though Jack can be crude, she’s also brilliant as hell. She’s
got it all planned out—how I can get over my cheating girlfriend. She even named her master
plan The Blair Bitch Project, but so far I’ve yet to find a tourist willing to sign up for some
meaningless, heartbreak-erasing revenge sex. Still, Jack’s plan is devious in a way that makes me
sad she and I have zero chemistry, because I sure as hell love how her mind works.
8
I steal another glance at Kate. There’s a sexy little glint in her eyes and a half smile on her
face that could be interpreted as flirty. As Jack would say, no time like the present to get down
with The Blair Bitch Project.
“How about I buy you a cocoa as a thank you?” Heat surges on my face until I’m certain I
look like a friggin’ stop sign. Round and red and telling Kate to stop, to not cross this lane.
Talk about a contradiction.
“I don’t think so,” Kate says and my stomach tightens. “But you could buy me a burger and
fries to go with that cocoa.”
“You got it.”
Kate looks down the hill at my ski sticking out of the mogul. “Be right back.” She skis over
and yanks out my ski, then side steps her way back up Mogen. She drops the ski in front of me
and I step into the binding. “You’re lucky. You could have really hurt yourself.”
It’s subtle, but it’s there. Kate’s assumption that I couldn’t handle the quarter-pipe jump, and
it stings. So much I almost tell her I followed her down Freefall. That it was easy! That I’m
Eleanor Engebretsen, the Eleanor Engebretsen, for crying out loud, and that I’m only off balance
because my ex-girlfriend sent the wrong lover a text. But instinct tells me to shut the fuck up, so
I do.
Kate surveys the slope and shakes her head. “We’re going to take it slow and skip the rest of
the jumps. If you get in trouble, for God’s sake, sit your ass down and yell for help. Got it?”
“Yeah.” My ego takes a hit, but my libido surges. “I got it.”
“Okay, then. Follow me.” And she’s off.
One quick dart toward the moguls would clarify things once and for all, and yeah, it’s
tempting. But then Kate looks back at me, and it strikes me that following this girl might lead me
exactly where I want to go.
As promised, Kate takes it slow, hugging the curves of the hill in a way that makes me see
more than just her body. I see her form, the way she uses the slope and the pull of the hill to her
advantage. The way she reacts without thought or fear. Three minutes down the hill, I’m pretty
sure Kate’s talent is more born than trained. Five minutes down, I’m certain it doesn’t matter.
“We made it!” Kate says when we reach Rosie’s Chalet. She’s too polite to say what she
really means—that I made it, miracle of miracles. She slides her rented skis into the rack and
smiles at me.
9
“Thanks to you.” I lay it on thick as I slide my Rossignols next to Kate’s skis. “C’mon.
You’ve earned that burger and fries.”
“Don’t forget the cocoa.” Kate grins as she takes off her gloves and shoves them in her
pockets.
“Absolutely not,” I promise her.
We walk toward Rosie’s, where cocoa is going to be served, hopefully with a heavy
sprinkling of sweet talk. Kate holds the door for me and I walk forward, my attention
momentarily drawn to her long fingers circled with silver rings and her neatly trimmed nails.
It’s impossible to stop my imagination from fast-forwarding as we step into the women’s
locker room to ditch our jackets and clunky ski boots. I sit on a bench and bend over to unclamp
my buckles. It’s the perfect vantage point to steal more glances at Kate as she unzips her jacket,
but she catches me and smiles a Mona Lisa smile. Indecipherable. Infuriating. My stocking feet
hit the floor and soak up the snow that has dripped in clumps from my boots and turned to
puddles. I shiver.
“What’s wrong?” Kate asks me.
“Nothing.” I tell her. “Just cold feet. I’ll warm up soon enough.”
She laughs like she’s reading between all my stupid lines. I put on my tennis shoes and lead
Kate upstairs to Rosie’s. Of course, getting her on my turf is only the first part of my plan. The
next part depends on whether or not Jack is working the front desk at Eagle Ridge Lodge. She’d
better be. Otherwise The Blair Bitch Project is dead in the water before I can give Kate a reason
to take off all those rings.
NOTE: ALL CONTENT IS THE COPYRIGHTED PROPERTY OF JULIANN RICH.N RICH.

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Advanced Praise for Gravity:

“A spicy novel about two young women daring to fly free in life and love while accurately depicting the thrill of ski jumping!”

~ Sarah Hendrickson, Olympic Ski Jumper and member of the US Ski Team Women’s Ski Jumping Team

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A MelanieM Review: The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust #2) by Christian Baines

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Orchard of FleshReylan’s last assignment for The Arcadia Trust brought a rebellious human servant under his roof, and a volatile werewolf lover named Jorgas into his bed, leaving the self-reliant Blood Shade–known to the outside world as vampires–in no hurry to risk his immortality for them again. But when a new terror starts disappearing humans from a bad part of town, Reylan must do everything in his power to keep Sydney’s supernatural factions from the brink of war. Having an ambitious, meddlesome human in the mix is only going to make things worse…especially when that human is Jorgas’s father. Reylan will need all his determination and cunning to keep the peace under his roof, between the night’s power brokers, and in his lover’s troubled heart.

Christian Baines brings us back into the world of Reylan and the Arcadia Trust series by means of a mystery.  Humans are disappearing from a notoriously bad part of town and suspicions are pointing towards a Blood Shade, the preferred term for vampire.  Reylan is asked to investigate and does so because his interests are closely entwined and his curiosity piqued.

By launching us directly back into the seamy undersides of Sydney, Baines gives us the gritty, reality that is sometimes missing from supernatural novels with a romance bent.  As I mentioned in my previous review of the first story, The Beast Without, there’s no sparkle to be found anywhere near these Blood Shades, thank you very much.  And the werewolves?  They are alpha predators to the bone with neither beings exhibiting any guilt or making apologies about who and what they are.  Its sort of refreshing.

In fact Reylan is an asexual being..except for the fact that Jorgas seems to negate that whenever they come in contact to one another and then the heat between them is almost combustible.  Reylan has to ignore the fact that their union is considered an unholy alliance by all factions outside of themselves.  And what is it about this strange and unusual investigation that has so many threads leading back to not only the most powerful Blood Shade in Sydney, but to Jorgas’ father too.  Baines has a veritable tapestry of plot threads here, and he’s woven them skillfully throughout the novel that it carries us along, throughly connected to the characters, the relationships that are evolving and the new situations that are being revealed.

One of the things I love is the idea here of mannequins, an undead servant that is adopted by a Blood Shade.  It is a big deal, and not done lightly.  Brett, from the first novel is Reylan’s mannequin and things are not going smoothly with his transition from human to mannequin.  Baines lets us see what might happen when that occurs.  Here the person is unprepared and just perhaps, maybe even the wrong choice.  Its a fascinating element and I love watching it evolve.

But for all the locations, the mysteries, the grittiness and just the plain, out and out terrific writing, its the characters that stick with you.  I know they have since the first time I met them in The Beast Without.  I had to wait for this one.  And while, yes there is a bit of a cliffhanger, Baines has promised the wait for the third story won’t be as long.

You should read the first book in the series to get all the world building and characters firmly in place before picking up The Orchard of the Flesh.  But as that remains a favorite of mine, I would have recommended that to you as well anyway. Pick them both up and get started today. This is an amazing series full of remarkable characters.  I can’t wait for the third story  now to arrive.

Cover art is quite wonderful and works for the story and character.

Sales Links

Bold Strokes Books

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

Book Details:

ebook
Published August 16th 2016 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN139781626396500
SeriesArcadia Trust #2 settingSydney (Australia)

Series: Arcadia Trust:

The Beast Without (Arcadia Trust, #1)
The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust, #2)

In the Spotlight: The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust #2) by Christian Baines (author interview)

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The Orchard of Flesh

The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust #2) by Christian Baines
Bold Strokes Books

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here at Bold Strokes Books

 Other Sales Links

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

~~~

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Christian Baines here today to talk about writing, his characters and his latest release, The Orchard of Flesh. Welcome, Christian.

~~~

  •  In The Beast Without…the vampires and werewolves weren’t civilized creatures but more apex predators.  What made you go in that direction?

They’re civilized to a point, but they’re not timid or gentle, and they’re not self-loathing about what they are. I went in that direction for two reasons. One, it seemed to me like a lot of stories about vampires or werewolves established their humanity through guilt over their difference. That felt worn, and more than that, I didn’t want to reinforce their difference as being intrinsically evil. They’re all individuals, they all have things they have to do to survive, and they all make their own moral choices. If you look at it as a parallel to say, sexuality, you either learn to embrace that difference, or you go crazy. I wasn’t interested in writing self-loathing monsters.

  •  In the first story you had to lay down the foundation for your world and all the relationships.  Here in The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust, #2) you have to continue the complex story you started and the relationships as well.  What was the biggest challenge here?

The biggest challenge is keeping the storylines straight, and not introducing so much that the reader just gets confused and tunes out. There are elements in Beast Without that aren’t completely closed off by the end of that book, and they continue in Orchard of Flesh and beyond. In doing that, I’m keeping track of a bunch of plot threads, characters, and events that, even though they’re not on the page yet, are influencing the story as I’m (or Reylan is) telling it. You need to know what’s coming in the next book and maybe the one after that.

The central relationship between Reylan and Jorgas is easier in some ways because it evolves in the moment, and we see that evolution first hand. It breaks with common romance convention in that the romance isn’t confined to one book in which you know the boys are going to wind up together. I don’t make that promise. Their relationship is difficult, and it’s constantly evolving, just like every other relationship in the book’s world. Reylan’s relationship with Patricia, the head of The Arcadia Trust, which was very combative in Beast, evolves considerably here. His relationship with Brett, the human servant he adopted in Beast, is a big focus as well. His relationship with another character sours a bit. I love watching the relationships deepen gradually as the characters come to either trust or question one another. You can really bring out the details by doing that.

  •  Of the main characters, do you find you have a favorite?

Not particularly. I like characters who are elusive and kind of Machiavellian, but I go through phases and they all have aspects that I love and aspects that frustrate me. I’m always curious to know readers’ favourites though. That tells me a lot. Patricia and Jorgas are always popular, and I’m forever asked if Reylan is me. He isn’t. Or maybe he is. I don’t know. I’m not internalising it.

  •  Which is the hard one to write for you?

Kelvin, the Cloak Walker presents an interesting challenge by being invisible. There’s no image to work with there. But it’s also quite fun in that I get to come up with new and interesting ways for him to interact with people. The fact that he’s such a bad-tempered, explosive personality makes him fun too.

  • It’s been some time since the first story and the sequel.  Why the time span between the stories?

There were a lot of external factors behind that, but in the end, I don’t write quickly and I don’t see that as a bad thing for me. Initially when I got into the MM world, I’d just published Beast Without, and I would see these authors pumping out three, four, five books a year and thinking ‘My god, I can’t compete with this. I have to have something out there.’ So I put out an erotic, paranormal short, mostly because the next novel was a ways off and I felt I needed to release something. As a short, I like it. It still reads well. But it didn’t really reflect the kind of story I enjoyed writing, or reading, for that matter, and I think readers could tell. It was me caving to what I saw as this ‘pressure’ that really wasn’t there. It’s something I won’t be doing again, but it was a valuable experience.

Maybe the future Arcadia Trust books will come out faster, but they do need a lot of planning and thinking ahead. A lot of seeds are planted for payoff down the line, and the line is finite. I don’t want to be writing this series forever. There are other projects I want to do, not all of which are paranormal, or even prose, for that matter. There was Puppet Boy, which surprised a few people who loved Beast Without because it’s such a different book. But I love it. It’s another genre that I’m equally passionate about.

  •  What is your favorite aspect of the series?  Or do you have one at the moment?

Besides the deepening relationships, the humour helps, particularly if you want to take readers down a darker path. It’s funny though, people either get dark, off-beat humour or they don’t, and if they don’t, it’s no use trying to convert them. My favourite aspect though is how morally ambiguous the characters are. Most of my characters, actually, Puppet Boy’s included. They aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They just have goals, needs, and agendas. A desire for love, justice, revenge, or whatever, which may lead them to very selfish or dangerous acts. They decide what works for them as the situation requires it, and some have ethical boundaries they won’t violate, or wrongs they won’t tolerate, while others are more ‘flexible’ or pragmatic.

  • What would you like your readers to take away from your novels?

A sense that they’ve had fun with the book, and ideally, will be thinking about it for a few days. I love a story that plays with my brain and makes me think, so I try to pay that forward in my own work. Other than that, a sense that LGBTs need not be victims. A lot of the time we talk about portrayals of LGBTs that we like or don’t like in media or stories. We don’t like seeing them get killed, wind up alone, turn out to be a serial killer, etc…the list is long and varies depending on who you ask. I’m fine with any of those things, provided the LGBT character isn’t simply a victim, calculated to get our sympathy or derision.

  •  What’s next for Christian Baines?

I’m currently working on a horror story set in New Orleans, for those who like such things. It was a short story. It’s now a novella…which is probably where it’ll stay. The next Arcadia Trust book is underway as well. It introduces a character who’ll be a bit of a game-changer for the series, so I’m excited about that.

I’m also doing a number of readings/events over the next couple of months, including Flame Con in New York City in August (look for the ‘Genre Junkies’), GRL in Kansas City in October, and the Naked Heart Festival in Toronto in November. So if you’re going to going to any of those, come say hi. I don’t bite unless you buy a book and ask nicely. You can find all the details at http://www.christianbaines.com/#!news-and-events/c1pz.

Blurb

Reylan’s last assignment for The Arcadia Trust brought a rebellious human servant under his roof, and a volatile werewolf lover named Jorgas into his bed, leaving the self-reliant Blood Shade–known to the outside world as vampires–in no hurry to risk his immortality for them again.

But when a new terror starts disappearing humans from a bad part of town, Reylan must do everything in his power to keep Sydney’s supernatural factions from the brink of war. Having an ambitious, meddlesome human in the mix is only going to make things worse…especially when that human is Jorgas’s father.

Reylan will need all his determination and cunning to keep the peace under his roof, between the night’s power brokers, and in his lover’s troubled heart.

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About the Author – Christian Baines

Born in Toowoomba, Queensland, Christian Baines has since lived in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto, earning an MA in creative writing at University of Technology, Sydney along the way. His musings on travel, theatre, and gay life have appeared in numerous publications in both Australia and Canada.

Dual passions for travel and mythology have sent him across the world in search of dark and entertaining stories. His first novel, The Beast Without, was released in 2013, followed by an erotic short story, The Prince and the Practitioner.

Cover Reveal of The Orchard of Flesh By Christian Baines

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The Orchard of Flesh

The Orchard of Flesh

The Orchard of Flesh By Christian Baines
B
old Strokes Books

Release Date  August 1, 2016

Pre-order/Read An Excerpt Here


Reylan’s last assignment for The Arcadia Trust brought a rebellious human servant under his roof, and a volatile werewolf lover named Jorgas into his bed, leaving the self-reliant Blood Shade—known to the outside world as vampires—in no hurry to risk his immortality for them again.

But when a new terror starts disappearing humans from a bad part of town, Reylan must do everything in his power to keep Sydney’s supernatural factions from the brink of war. Having an ambitious, meddlesome human in the mix is only going to make things worse…especially when that human is Jorgas’s father.
Reylan will need all his determination and cunning to keep the peace under his roof, between the night’s power brokers, and in his lover’s troubled heart.

Genres Paranormal & Urban Fantasy

Words   85000

Pages   264

ISBN-13  978-1-62639-650-0

About the Author

Christian Baines

Christian Baines was born in Toowoomba, Australia. He has since lived in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto, earning an MA in creative writing at University of Technology, Sydney along the way. His musings on travel, theater, and gay life have appeared in numerous publications in both Australia and Canada.

Dual passions for travel and mythology (both of which he attributes to growing up in Australia’s bible belt) have sent him chasing some of the world’s most feared monsters, including vampires in New Orleans, asuras in Bangkok, and theater critics in New York. His first novel, The Beast Without, was released in 2013, followed by his erotic short story, “The Prince and the Practitioner.”

Puppet Boy is his second novel.

This is a continuation of the story that started with The Beast Without
by Christian Baines* A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Highly Rated Novel.

Happy Australia Day! Celebrate with Christian Baines’ ‘Puppet Boy’ and his take on Australian Antiheroes (guest post and giveaway)

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PuppetBoy

Puppet Boy by Christian Baines
Published by Bold Strokes Books
Goodreads Link

Sales Links: Amazon US

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Christian Baines back again to talk about his new release, Puppet Boy and writing Australian antihero characters.  Welcome, Christian, and happy Australia Day!

Australian Antiheroes by Christian Baines

Scheming bastards need love too. 

Thanks so much for having me back on the blog, Melanie. Always a great pleasure to be here and touch base with your readers! Before I start though, Puppet Boy’s main character, Eric, has a special Australia Day message he’d like to share with you all:

Happy Australia Day!

There. I said it. Now don’t tell me I never join in with things. Even a day that celebrates a nation so insecure it clings desperately to its forebears. A day that tries to ignore that this is a nation built on theft, colonisation, and slaughter. Oh, I know you foreigners think it’s cute. That Australia is awesome and sunny all the time, and that Aussies are all ridiculously sexy, and super nice. That we’re always surfing or drinking, when we’re not busy popping out baby Hugh Jackmans and Chris Hemsworths. That we treat all races equally and all love LGBT people and that every day in Sydney is Mardi Gras. That ours is a land of beauty, freedom, and equal opportunity at all.

I mean, sure. If that’s what the picture tells you to believe, then keep right on thinking it. Go on. Admire us. We did get our shit sorted on the whole gun thing, after all.

So let’s all say it again. Happy Australia Day! Enjoy your beach. Enjoy your barbecue. Enjoy that ‘authentic Aussie’ $8 meat pie ($12 if it’s kangaroo) you’re scarfing down at the Williamsburg organic market while trying to shield yourself from freezing New York winds. Try not to think of the blood of Indigenous nations as you smother it in tomato sau—pardon me. Ketchup. And enjoy your holiday.

Eric     

PS: That delicious Aussie flat white you’re drinking was invented in New Zealand.

Cheery, isn’t he?

Writing misanthropic characters isn’t easy. It isn’t that popular anymore either, particularly in gay fiction. The inherent optimism required in the romance genre makes it almost impossible, and in gay and MM fiction, romance is particularly dominant right now, sometimes to the point of giving readers false expectations when they pick up a non-romance book. There’s a pressure to be ‘gay positive.’ To show a world for LGBTs where everything ‘gets better’ despite the odds, depicting characters who deserve their HEA. Don’t be ambiguous. Don’t be bittersweet. Things that many people accept as a normal part of real life, yet won’t accept within the fantasy of a novel.

That’s a troubling idea for me. When we start to talk about characters in terms of what they deserve, we are inherently passing judgement on them, and this invariably limits the character.

When The Beast Without came out, a lot of readers remarked on the main character, Reylan’s cattiness, his apparent selfishness and arrogance, and other anti-social traits. Not to mention his rather dubious Blood Shade/vampire morality. For readers and critics who ‘got’ the book, this wasn’t a turn-off. It was simply there, part of what defined the character and gave him personality. Yet, Reylan also has a fiercely paternal streak, including a soft spot for lost kids/young supernaturals in trouble. Many of his friends, his servant, Brett, and his lover, are either former protégés, or lost souls he’s rescued. Reylan may pack an acid tongue, but ultimately, though he won’t admit it, he has a strong moral compass where the greater good is concerned. In the follow-up, The Orchard of Flesh, coming later this year, we get to see even more of that.

Then, there’s Eric.

I’m not going to tell anyone what to think of Eric. He’s a young man with a goal, an outspoken mind, and a social conscience, but also a decidedly skewed moral centre. He loves his girlfriend Mary, and has an obvious thing for young Middle Eastern men, to the point of keeping one tied up in his absent mother’s home theatre room. He’s caustic and cynical, but won’t spit venom at everyone he meets, and he seems to have no trouble making friends. There’s also the whole high-class rent boy thing – or maybe, as one character points out, he’s just worked out that sucking the right cock gets him taken to the opera.

A character like that doesn’t tend to fit the traditional romance archetypes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write one, or that he can’t be likeable, or that he doesn’t feel the need for love. Eric is in some ways Daria from the namesake MTV cartoon, by way of Frank Underwood from House of Cards. He calls out his world’s wrongs as he sees them, but he’s also not afraid to manipulate the hell out of those around him to get his way. Yet when you look closely at Daria and Frank, you see their vulnerabilities, and their need for human connection, even when it’s shrouded by misanthropy or arguably sociopathic behaviour.

Characters like this work when you can find the human in the monster, whether that monster is a Blood Shade/vampire, or just a young man with a goal and an enduring distrust of humanity. My favourite parts of Puppet Boy aren’t about the prisoner in Eric’s basement, or his escorting exploits, or his jerk of a music teacher. They’re the scenes where he connects with Julien, the transfer student who catches his eye. Where they talk about their inspirations and dreams for the future. Where Julien falls asleep on Eric’s chest. The scenes where we catch a glimpse of Eric’s vulnerability. Those are the scenes where I kind of fall in love with Eric and want to see him come out on top, even when his attitude annoys me. Even when his morals seem way off base.

Even when he’s making fun of my meat pie and flat white.

Happy (for what it’s worth) Australia Day!

About Puppet Boy

A school in turmoil over its senior play, a sly career as a teenage gigolo, an unpredictable girlfriend with damage of her own, and a dangerous housebreaker tied up downstairs. Any of these would make a great plot for budding filmmaker Eric’s first movie.PuppetBoy

Unfortunately, they’re his real life.

When Julien, a handsome wannabe actor, transfers to Eric’s class, he’s a distraction, a rival, and one complication too many. Yet Eric can’t stop thinking about him. Helped by Eric’s girlfriend, Mary, they embark on a project that dangerously crosses the line between filmmaking and reality. As the boys become close, Eric soon wants to cross other lines entirely. Does Julien feel the same way, or is Eric being used on the gleefully twisted path to fame?

Genre:  gay fiction, contemporary, romance, LGBTQIA fiction

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, Paperback available, 314 pages
Published November 16th 2015 by Bold Strokes Books
ASINB01784KP2I
Edition LanguageEnglish,settingSydney (Australia)

Christian Baines’ new novel, Puppet Boy is now available from Bold Strokes Books or on Amazon.

He will be signing copies at The Bookshop Darlinghurst in Sydney on January 30 at 11.30am, and reading at Hares and Hyenas in Melbourne on February 1 at 7.30pm.

About the Author

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Christian Baines

Born in Toowoomba, Queensland, Christian Baines has since lived in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto, earning an MA in creative writing at University of Technology, Sydney along the way. His musings on travel, theatre, and gay life have appeared in numerous publications in both Australia and Canada.

Dual passions for travel and mythology have sent him across the world in search of dark and entertaining stories. His first novel, The Beast Without, was released in 2013, followed by an erotic short story, The Prince and the Practitioner.

His second novel, Puppet Boy was released in late 2015.

Find Christian on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

  Giveaway

Enter to win a ebook copy of Puppet Boy by Christian Baines.  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Use the Rafflecopter link provided to enter.

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Want To Make A Difference? Donate a YA LGBT Book Today!

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PFLAG

 

The Prince William County PFLAG (VA) youth group is seeking contributions of either young adult (YA) paperbacks or cash donations to purchase books for the PFLAG youth library. If you have any questions or wish to donate, please contact Lynn Schmitz, PFLAG facilitator, at lschmitz1@comcast.net.

Not familiar with PFLAG? PFLAG is Parents, Families,Friends, and Allies united with LGBTQIA people to move equality forward. Their National PFLAG website can be found here. Its also the place to locate your local chapters. More and more of our publishers are turning toward the YA and New Adult market. This includes many publishers you are familiar with such as Dreamspinner Press, with its Harmony Ink YA Press, Interlude Press with its new YA imprint, Duet Books, Torquere Books with its Prizm Press: Young Adult Novels LGBT Characters, JMS Books with Queerteen Press,  Bold Strokes Books (YA division) among the ones that come immediately to mind.

Think about the books you read as a preteen or teenager. Did the great ones, the memorable ones seem to speak to you? Involve characters that you could identity with? I bet some of you are smiling now just remembering those stories that made your day, helped you through a crisis, or just let you know you weren’t alone in your thoughts and problems. These can be tough years and books that take you away or make things that are scary at that age less fearsome are important.

Now image you are a young LGBTQIA child, preteen, teenager, whatever the age. I don’t imagine the local or school libraries have many books that have characters that you can identity with.

Where do you turn for stories where you can see yourself in the characters or situations? That’s where this PFLAG youth library comes in. There are some terrific YA LGBTQIA stories out there. You need look no further than our own Aurora’s YA reviews to see that. That includes today’s 5 Star Review by Aurora of Casey Lawrence’s Out of Order. Lynn Schmitz and her fellow PFLAG associates are trying to put together such a library. And they need our help.

Write Lynn, see what books she has already been given, what books the library is looking for and how you can help this project grow! Is there a need for such a library in your county or city? Check it all out and see how we can help our LGBTQIA youth find the joys we discovered in books when we were their age.

Again Lynn Schmitz email address is lschmitz1@comcast.net

Let’s make a difference…one book at a time!

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Love YA Fiction? Want to Donate a Book? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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PFLAG

The Prince William County PFLAG  (VA) youth group is seeking contributions of either young adult (YA) paperbacks or cash donations to purchase books for the PFLAG youth library.  If you have any questions or wish to donate, please contact Lynn Schmitz, PFLAG facilitator, at lschmitz1@comcast.net.

Not familiar with PFLAG? PFLAG is Parents, Families,Friends,  and Allies united with  LGBTQIA people to move equality forward.  Their National PFLAG website can be found here.  Its also the place to locate your local chapters.  More and more of our publishers are turning toward the YA and New Adult market.  This includes many publishers you are familiar with such as Dreamspinner Press, with its Harmony Ink YA Press,  Interlude Press with its new YA imprint, Duet Books, Torquere Books with its Prizm Press: Young Adult Novels LGBT Characters, Bold Strokes Books (YA division) among the ones that come immediately to mind.

Think about the books you read as a preteen or teenager.  Did the great ones, the memorable ones seem to speak to you?  Involve characters that you could identity with?  I bet some of you are smiling now just remembering those stories that made your day, helped you through a crisis, or just let you know you weren’t alone in your thoughts and problems.  These can be tough years and books that take you away or make things that are scary at that age less fearsome are important.

Now image you are a young LGBTQIA child, preteen, teenager, whatever the age.  I don’t imagine the local or school libraries have many books that have characters that you can identity with.

Where do you turn for stories where you can see yourself in the characters or situations?  That’s where this PFLAG youth library comes in.  There are some terrific YA LGBTQIA stories out there.  You need look no further than our own Aurora’s YA reviews to see that.  Lynn Schmitz and her fellow PFLAG associates are trying to put together such a library.  And they need our help.

Write Lynn, see what books she has already been given, what books the library is looking for and how you can help this project grow!  Is there a need for such a library in your county or city?  Check it all out and see how we can help our LGBTQIA  youth find the joys we discovered in books when we were their age.  Again Lynn Schmitz email address is  lschmitz1@comcast.net

Let’s make a difference…one book at a time!

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This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

When to Hold Them coverMurder and Mayhem coverRorschat Blasts coverThe Bruise Black Sky cover

Sunday, June 7, 2015:

  • Julie Lynn Hayes – When Will I Be Loved virtual tour and contest
  • Book Spotlight:  Drifting Sands by C.J. Baty (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Love YA Fiction? Want to Donate a Book? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 8, 2015:

  • Cover Reveal for ‘Scent of the Heart‘ by Parker Williams (interview, excerpt and giveaway)
  • Disappear With Me 2nd Edition by Dean Frech tour and contest
  • A Mika Review: The Bruise Black Sky by John Wiltshire
  • A MelanieM Review: Counselor to the Wolves by Liv Olteano

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

  • Cara Dee Blog Tour for Northbound and Northland (guest blog and giveaway)
  • Belinda Burke Totally Bound Tour and Contest
  • A Mika Review: Northbound by Cara Dee
  • A BJ Review: Rorschach Blots by RoughDraftHero aka R. D. Hero

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

  • Drama Queen by Joe Cosentino blog release tour and giveaway
  • Fool School by James Comins‏/Guest Blog and Contest
  • A Mika Review: Northland (The North Novels #2) by Cara Dee
  • A BJ Review: In Sunshine or in Shadow (Short Stories, Volume 1) by Josh Lanyon

Thursday, June 11, 2015:

  • Denial, Deceit, Discovery by J. James Non Fiction Book Tour
  • Book Spotlight:  Cate Ashwood’s The Storm Before the Calm (interview and giveaway)
  • A Mika Review: Murder and Mayhem by Rhys Ford
  • A MelanieM Review:  Denial, Deceit, Discovery by J. James
  • Reviewer Author Discovery:  BJ on Author Jaye McKenna (new feature)

Friday, June 12, 2015:

  • Patricia Logan ‘Silver Linings’ Virtual tour and contest
  • RJ Scott’s “Retrograde” Release Day Celebration and Contest
  • Brandon Shire’s The Love of Wicked Men Box Set Tour and giveaway
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: When to Hold Them by D. B. Gordon
  • A MelanieM Review: Diamond Draw by Laura Harner (PF 2015)

YA Saturday, June 13:

  • An Aurora YA Review:  Out of Order by Casey Lawrence

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