New Book Release Blitz for The Vampire’s Quest (The Realm of the Vampire Council #2) by Damian Serbu (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Vampire’s Quest

Series: The Realm of the Vampire Council, Book Two

Author: Damian Serbu

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 11, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84600

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, 19th century American South, vampires, angels, established couples

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Synopsis

The Vampire’s Quest brings back the beloved gay vampires, Xavier and Thomas, in the anticipated sequel to The Vampire’s Angel.

In 1822, the Archangel St. Michel orders Xavier to go on a quest to America, a quest that violates the Vampire Council’s laws to the point of a possible death sentence. Worse, Xavier must abandon his lover, Thomas. Xavier runs to his aging sister and pleads for Catherine’s help as Thomas races after them. With Thomas and the Vampire Council vying for Xavier’s soul, Xavier and Catherine struggle to obey the former priest’s divine calling before their inevitable capture.

Excerpt

The Vampire’s Quest
Damian Serbu © 2019
All Rights Reserved

One: St. Michel’s First Visit
8 March 1822

London, England

St. Michel stood before Xavier in all his glory, with his sword in one hand and a stern look peering through the golden light flooding from behind. “Listen, Child of God, and obey. Go to Mont St. Michel. Go to the monastery and cathedral built to my legacy and to God’s glory. There I shall issue further instructions.” As St. Michel parted, his sword lashed across Xavier’s forehead.

Xavier cried out in his sleep, waking with blood dripping from his brow. The confines of his coffin never felt so claustrophobic.

He reached up to discover the gash from St. Michel’s sword already starting to heal. Why did that surprise him? Vampires healed almost instantly. But how could he imagine their magical healing powers could undo the wrath of an angel rained down in a dream?

The lid to the trunk-cum-coffin lifted and candlelight flooded Xavier’s face.

“What’s wrong?” Only when he heard Thomas’s alarmed voice and looked into his piercing dark brown eyes did Xavier realize his lover had already awakened for the night and no longer lay next to him.

“Nothing,” Xavier whispered.

“Nothing?” Thomas almost shouted. “You were screaming. And you bled. There’s an injury here.” Thomas reached down and touched Xavier’s forehead where St. Michel wounded him.

“It’s healed now.”

Thomas lifted Xavier out of the trunk and moved him to the nearby bed. He held Xavier in his strong arms and rocked back and forth. “What’s going on, abbé?” Thomas used his affectionate nickname for Xavier, from his human days as a priest. “Tell me.”

“You have to believe me. I know you don’t have the same faith, but this is real.”

“Talk to me.” Thomas clutched Xavier harder.

“We have to go to Mont St. Michel in France. Immediately. Tonight. St. Michel, the archangel himself, commanded it.”

Thomas frowned. “We arrived here to visit Anthony.”

“Anthony will understand.” Xavier trusted their closest friend, and the oldest vampire they knew, would accept their explanation for a hasty retreat.

“It was just a dream. Aren’t you overreacting?”

Xavier stifled his rising panic. He pointed to his coffin. “The blood. You saw it for yourself, on my forehead. He cut me as a warning. Please, you have to believe me. We have to go.” Xavier hated the desperation in his voice. It made him sound unhinged, almost as unstable as the time he disappeared during the French Revolution while human, lost in his drunkenness because he fled from Thomas’s love.

“Then we’ll go.” Thomas petted Xavier on the head, then leaned over and kissed his cheek.

“Do you think me mad?”

Thomas chuckled but squeezed Xavier in his arms. “Always. I never know if your visions are a flight of fancy or real. But they’re a part of you. Have I denied you anything since I converted you to a vampire? No. And I never will. So we’ll go.”

Thomas’s skepticism almost convinced Xavier to question what happened, until Xavier stood and saw the blood stain on the silk lining where he slept.

Moments later, Xavier and Thomas said goodbye to Anthony, who as expected, made no protest at their sudden departure. They crossed the English Channel by swimming at vampiric speed and approached Mont St. Michel.

The mere sight of the majestic place awed Xavier. On the northern tip of France sat a small island upon which stood a mystical cathedral, rising out of the clouds and reaching up to the heavens.

Built from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries, legend had it St. Michel visited St. Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, three times in a dream, commanding him to build a tribute to the saint atop the island rock. Enraged, the bishop had not heeded his call; on the third visit, St. Michel hammered the imprint of an anvil into the bishop’s head, so when he woke he would believe the saint visited his sleep. Impressed by St. Michel’s message, the bishop commenced the project, which took several centuries and various manifestations to complete.

The soaring cathedral built atop the island stretched into the night sky as the two vampires slowed their pace. Xavier and Thomas walked through the fields of grazing sheep toward the water, where they again would need to swim because of the high tide engulfing the island. The small city beneath the castle still acted as a medieval village, with gates and stone walls surrounding it for protection. The one road on the island wound up the steep hill, toward the abbey and monks’ quarters. Above the village, overlooking all of France, the church stood as a legacy to medieval architecture and its grand monuments to God and St. Michel.

St. Michel called Xavier to the shrine, the grandest of all memorials to him. Thomas and Xavier woke an innkeeper and rented an entire floor of his establishment for privacy. They then explored the small island’s shops, closed for the night, and last, the grand monastery perched atop. They took a few needed items from sleeping merchants, including an enormous traveling chest they could convert into their temporary coffin, but left behind twice the value of the objects they took.

Xavier and Thomas concealed themselves in their rooms inside the trunk. Xavier braced himself, as the sun rose, for another visit from St. Michel, but woke the next night well rested. With no further divine instructions, the vampires made love and decided to further explore the island.

Inside the cathedral, overlooking the channel, Xavier again talked to Thomas about why they came to Mont St. Michel.

“Did you ever think you’re worried about something else?” Thomas pulled Xavier into his arms. Xavier loved the feel of Thomas’s long, black hair against his cheek. “Maybe these visions mean something else. Archangels don’t really visit people.”

Xavier looked into Thomas’s brown eyes and ran his fingers through his hair. “You saw the blood.”

“There are a thousand explanations for that. Why go to ghosts and spirits?”

“Because he came to me.” Xavier put his head on Thomas’s chest, afraid Thomas thought him insane. Insanity would have been easier to confront than the actual visit from an archangel.

“And so we’re here. What now?” Thomas asked.

“We wait.” Xavier shrugged and pulled away. “We can tour this magnificent place.” Xavier twirled and motioned to the tapestries and view around them. “Here, come back to the courtyard. The view is magical.” He reached for Thomas’s hand and pulled him outside.

As they admired the water and saw the lambs sleeping on the mainland of France, Thomas came up behind Xavier and wrapped his arms around his waist. Soon, Thomas’s tongue lapped at Xavier’s ear and his hands wandered across his body. Xavier tensed with sexual passion, leaning into his lover, forgetting about the archangel for a moment.

“Someone will see,” Xavier said half-heartedly, at the same time reaching his head back to lock lips with Thomas. “Should we go to our rooms?”

“I can’t wait. It’s the middle of the night. No one is awake.”

They made passionate love to one another, right in the churchyard.

“Blasphemy,” Xavier said to his lover as they redressed. “In front of a church. I already have an angry archangel after me.” Xavier wondered how much he really meant. Did he think God would disapprove? Xavier felt sure God would dwell more on the power of their love for one another.

But what of St. Michel? Xavier doubted he had the same forgiveness as God. His legacy of violence against those whom he enlisted on his missions told a different story. Then again, Xavier felt certain last night St. Michel would come to him at once, either in their quarters or while Xavier slept through the day. Nothing. No vision. No sign.

“Leave the archangel to me. Nothing will harm you.” Thomas smiled at Xavier as they walked down the steep steps toward their inn. “You need to relax.”

“I am. I know I worry a lot. But not this time. He came to me. He really did.”

“Then we’ll wait. For as long as you need and as long as he doesn’t prohibit sex.”

“He might not want it in front of the sanctuary again.” Xavier grinned. Thomas’s penchant for blasphemy amused the former priest, despite certain irrational qualms about it. Thomas laughed and pulled Xavier close to him. They spent the remainder of the night in their quarters, with Xavier writing to his aging sister, Catherine, in Paris and Thomas organizing financial affairs.

Before the sun appeared, Xavier retired to their makeshift coffin. Exhausted, he soon fell asleep, before Thomas joined him.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He has published The Vampire’s Angel and The Vampire’s Protégé with NineStar Press. Coming later this year from NineStar: The Vampire’s Quest and Santa Is a Vampire.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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New Release Blitz for Escaping Mortality (The Escape Trilogy #3) by Sara Dobie Bauer (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Escaping Mortality

Series: The Escape Trilogy, Book Three

Author: Sara Dobie Bauer

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 28, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 33100

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, bisexual, gay, vampires, polyamorous, British nobility, established couples

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Synopsis

Their ocean journey was successful, and Andrew and Edmund found an Elder just in time. As they wished, Edmund is now a vampire like Andrew. They have eternity together, but first, they must visit Edmund’s ailing mother in the English countryside with their flock of immortals, including the Elder, who has taken an ominous liking to his new creation.

When they arrive at Edmund’s family estate, his sick mother and her loathsome best friend await them. While ducking religious curses, Edmund struggles to harness an unexpected power gifted him by the Elder. Andrew fears for his beloved as Edmund becomes more and more monstrous—but vampires have always been monsters, haven’t they?

A battle is coming, for Edmund’s heart and his soul, and Andrew will lose neither. He escaped island exile and a near tragedy at sea to be with Edmund, the beautiful young sailor he loves. Andrew will do anything to keep Edmund by his side, but his most dangerous adversary may be Edmund himself.

Excerpt

Escaping Mortality
Sara Dobie Bauer © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Edmund tries desperately not to shiver, but he forgets himself every minute or so and allows a full body shake that vibrates the wet edges of his hair. We’re back on deck after our desperate leap into the ocean, my sailor and I. A half-hysterical Michelle wrapped us both in the heaviest fabric she could find once we were both safely lifted back onboard with our new passenger: the Elder.

He sits across from Edmund at a large table in our ship’s common area while I stand and glare. Michelle and Felipe linger silently to my left and right.

This Elder is nothing more than a rotting skeleton, covered in loose, hanging flesh. He smells of dead fish and refuses to take his dark eyes off the man I love.

“You are dying,” the creature says, his voice like the swinging of a rusted gate.

Edmund chuckles. “Yes. So you understand why I need your help.”

“Why do you want this gift, dead man? Power? Prestige?”

“No.”

“Then, why?”

“Love.”

The creature’s gaze momentarily swings up, and I stand straighter. For the first time since we escaped the rolling waves, the Elder addresses me: “How frustrating for a strong vampire such as yourself that you cannot save the one you adore.”

I’m about to respond when Edmund speaks first. “I would prefer to keep this conversation between the two of us, if you don’t mind. It is, after all, my life we discuss.”

The Elder studies Edmund and says nothing. For a long moment, he merely observes. Although the blanket covers Edmund’s black, infected flesh, it’s impossible to miss the green pallor of his skin, the purple circles around his eyes, and the color of his lips, now practically white. All signs of the healthy young man I first met are gone.

“You have no fear right now, dead man. Strange for one with so little time left. I tasted it underwater, your fear. Quite a strong bouquet.” A tongue like a slippery snail pokes out from the Elder’s mouth to lick cracked lips.

“You tried to pull me under.”

“You offered yourself.”

“I needed to get your attention.”

I’m not sure, but I think the Elder smiles. He shows his teeth anyway—long, pointed fangs bigger than any I’ve seen. “And now, you have it, dead man.”

“My name is Edmund. And you?”

Again, those eyes—so dark as to be almost black—glance at me. “Brien.” He growls the R. “If the world is still how I recall, Edmund, nothing is free. You woke me with your dying flesh because you need something.” He opens his hands before him, skin wrinkled, sharp fingernails like weapons. “What do I get from you?”

Edmund shivers and groans. When he bends over in pain and rests his forehead on the table, Michelle stops me from rushing forward. “What do you want?” Edmund asks.

As my darling struggles to find the strength to sit, Brien watches with interest—I assume. It’s difficult to tell with the sagging, wet flesh. Logic says the Elder should be dry by now, but he continues to drip foul water as though made of the stuff.

“You can have anything,” Edmund says.

Brien leans forward and sniffs, seeking Edmund’s scent. “I want to kill you.”

I step toward them. “No.”

The Elder stares at me. “No?”

“Edmund requested I do that.” I could say more about how I want to taste his soul, how I want that moment to belong to me and me alone. I want him in my arms the moment he takes his last breath. So many things do I want, and this monster of the sea would steal it all.

“Dead man?” Brien practically purrs.

“Damn it.” Edmund closes his eyes. “Fine. My life is yours.”

“But—”

“It is better than the alternative, love,” Edmund mutters. “Is that all you require?”

“I will travel with you wherever you now go.”

“Michelle?” Edmund says her name but doesn’t turn. I don’t think he’s strong enough to move anymore.

My old friend—once enemy, now leader—steps forward in her sweeping skirts. “Of course, Elder Brien. We are at your service.”

“You might want to…” Edmund coughs. “Find something to wear. They frown upon naked corpses walking around London.”

Felipe laughs—one short burst of amusement.

“Do we have a deal?”

Brien lowers his head. “Yes, Edmund.” He looks up and shows his teeth. “Ah, there it is—the smell. Now, you are afraid.”

Edmund’s eyes are red. I don’t know if he cries from pain or from the thought of his own murder at the hands of a hideous monster. Perhaps he found comfort in the thought of me doing it because he knew I wouldn’t let him hurt. Brien appears liable to chop off each of Edmund’s fingers before letting him die—but I will not let that happen. I will be at his side. I will hold Edmund’s hand as his heart stops beating. Thinking of this, my own chest begins to ache.

My God, what if this doesn’t work? What if the Elder kills my darling and jumps back overboard? What if these are the last moments I have with the only creature I have ever loved? I lean down quickly and kiss Edmund’s forehead.

His hand finds my face. “I’m ready,” he whispers. “Are you?” He smiles at me.

I pick him up and carry him to our room. The others follow close behind. In fact, the entire crew stands in the hall, watching us pass. What’s about to happen hasn’t happened in centuries, and I suppose everyone wants a view.

By the time I rest my shivering love in the center of our bed, someone has given Brien a cloak, although it does little to hide the emaciated ground meat of his face. Michelle comes in but locks everyone else out, for which I am thankful.

I kiss Edmund, and Jesus, he smells almost as bad as the Elder. I kiss his lips softly as he whispers he loves me.

“I love you too. I’ll be right here.” I squeeze his hand and kneel on the edge of our bed.

From across the room, Brien watches me again with what I suspect is delight. I want to bark at him and ask what on earth could be so funny, but I bite my tongue. Now is not the time to provoke the only man who can save Edmund. As he leans forward, I lean back, paying the Elder respect.

He looms over Edmund, but strangely, instead of beginning his feast, he rests on his side and touches Edmund’s hair with his pointed nails. “I am going to kill you now, but I will give you a new life. One without sickness or death. Do you accept this gift I give?”

Edmund nods.

“As I feed, I want you to think. Picture yourself healthy—the way you were before this. Perhaps, the way you were when you first met your vampire.”

“Half drowned on a beach?”

Although I can’t help but smile, the Elder seems confused. “Perhaps not. Picture yourself how you want to be, and in a little while, it will be so. Do you understand?”

Edmund nods again and flails for my hand. I entwine our fingers.

“Thank you for your offering,” Brien says. He then moves faster than even my eyes can manage to follow.

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words’ Review here!

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody series, among other sexy things.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest

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BLOG TOUR: An Officer’s Submission by Christa Tomlinson

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Title:  An Officer’s Submission

Series: Cuffs, Collars, and Love #4

Author: Christa Tomlinson

Publisher:  Self- Torlina Publishing

Release Date: March 15

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 67,000

Genre: Romance, erotic romance, contemporary, D/S, established couples

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 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Author Christa Tomlinson 

 

Hello, I’m Christa! I’m originally from St. Louis, Missouri and I currently live in Houston, Texas. I have two dogs, I’m a former teacher and I’m a retired roller derby player. I’ve been reading romance novels since I was eleven! My big sister let me read hers as long as I promised to skip the “grown up” parts. I always said I would skip them but read them anyway. I was a rebel. My current book is An Officer’s Submission. It’s an erotic BDSM romance, featuring men from my fictional version of the Houston Police Department SWAT team. This story is about Officer Clay Foster, who loves being a submissive, but still struggles with that part of himself. And his Dom, Sergeant Logan Pierce, who will do anything for his submissive.

1. What inspired you to start writing?

I started reading early, so I progressed to higher level books pretty quickly. I loved the stories I was reading so much, that I knew I wanted to create my own by the time I was eleven.

2. How long have you been writing?

I started trying to write in middle school. But it wasn’t until about 2008 that I really sat down and began completing stories.

3. What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Get the words down! Don’t worry about editing, agents or whether or not it’s any good. Just write so it so you can have that goal reached. Then you can worry about the other stuff. You can’t sell what isn’t written.

4. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Yes. But for me, I think it only happens when I’m not prepared enough. So when it does, I stop and do more planning and outlining. Once I have a better road map, the block usually disappears.

5. Who is your favorite author and why?

Johanna Lindsey. I don’t read m/f historicals anymore, but she’s the romance author I read the most growing up. Her books are great, but what I love most about them is how detailed the characters were. Especially her Mallory clan. I strive to create characters with that much depth and personality.

6. What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?

I’m currently writing the next and probably last book in the Cuffs, Collars, and Love series. Officer Hector Castillo, the sniper from the team, is getting his own story next! I’ve already finished the rough draft and I’m planning for a June or July release. After that, I’ll be making a sub-genre shift. I’ve wanted to write historical fantasy for a long time now, and I’m in the planning stages for my first project. I’m very excited about it!

Thank you for having me on your blog today! I appreciate the opportunity to discuss my work and look forward to chatting with your readers. Readers, feel free to drop any questions you have for me in the comments. Have a wonderful week!

Love,

Christa

Synopsis

“You don’t ever have to keep anything you feel locked up, Clay. I’m your Dom, and whatever you need from me, I’ll gladly give to you.”
– Sergeant Logan Pierce

Police Officer Clay Foster is finally at peace and happy with his life. He enjoys his career as a member of Houston’s SWAT team, and he loves submitting to his Dom in the bedroom. His life is perfect, until one cruel act destroys Clay’s bubble of happiness. Shattered trust forces Clay to reevaluate his career, his relationship, and himself.

Sergeant Logan Pierce is the leader of Houston’s elite SWAT team. On the force, he’s the best at what he does. In private, the most important thing in his life is taking care of his submissive, Clay. Clay is his whole world, and Logan will do whatever is necessary to keep him safe. Even if that means going up against Clay’s stubbornness in order to help him heal.

Can Logan and Clay work together to rebuild their happiness? Can they find their way back to the shared passion of Dominance and submission? Or will their love and relationship end before it’s truly begun?

An Officer’s Submission is Book Four in the Cuffs, Collars, and Love series. If you love romance that is epic, emotional and erotic, you’ll want to give this series a read!

 

Excerpt

“It’s good to be back home.”

Logan looked down at him with an eyebrow raised. “Home?”

Clay snorted a laugh. As usual, they were at Logan’s house. When he thought about it, he realized he hadn’t been back to his apartment in weeks. In fact, his bags from their recent trip to Colorado were here at Logan’s. He hadn’t bothered to take them back to his place after their return.

“If I’m in your space too much, I can throw all my stuff in the car and head back to my apartment,” he said as he pretended to pull away.

Logan tightened his grip on his foot. “You’re not going anywhere.”

Clay bit his lip to hold back a grin. “I didn’t think you wanted me to. But what I meant is, I feel good about life. That trip was awesome. I got to play in the snow, just like I wanted.”

“And I got to warm you up when you were done.”

“You did a very good job. You might have gotten me a little overheated a few times,” he teased. He wiggled his toes as Logan squeezed his foot again. “You and I are in a great place. And I think things are going to be better at work now too. We redid Hayden’s ridiculous course and passed with flying colors this time. I’m hoping the fact that we passed the redo means Hayden will get off our backs and quit fucking with our schedule.”

“The team is gelling again. And we’re hoping Hayden will finally move on and give up on his pet project of tormenting our team. Anything else?”

Clay shifted, looking at the TV instead of Logan. “What else is there?”

“Are you still blaming yourself for that idiot making those fake calls to our team?”

Clay pulled his feet off Logan’s lap for real this time and got up from the couch. “Why wouldn’t I blame myself? It was my fault.”

“It wasn’t your fault. And I don’t like hearing you say that it was.”

“C’mon, Sarge. You know that was on me.” Clay roughly ran a hand through his hair, turning his back on his lover. “If I hadn’t gone to that convention and went on camera bragging about how badass our team was, that whacko would have never taken it as a challenge to try and prove he was better than us.” He turned back around as Logan grabbed his hand and pulled him to stand in between his legs.

“Maybe not. But maybe he would have taken his anger out in another way.”

“What do you mean?”

“You read the report Roberts put together on the guy. He was looking for revenge because he felt he’d been slighted too many times. What if he’d physically attacked the people he wanted revenge against? Someone or several someones could have been hurt. At least with the revenge tactics he chose, no one was. We managed to catch the idiot, and hopefully he’ll be granted some time to think about what he did.”

“Are you forgetting he tried to kill me?” Clay saw a muscle tic in Logan’s jaw at the question, his hazel eyes going hard before he answered.

“No, I’m not forgetting.”

Clay tilted his head to the side as he studied his lover. “You know, I noticed that the perp seemed a little worse for wear before you got him loaded in the patrol car. Did you do anything to cause that?”

“I’ll never let anyone hurt you.”

Logan’s response was a non-answer, but it confirmed Clay’s suspicions. “I’m a cop. On occasion, I might get hurt. And you can’t go after people because of that.”

“And you’re mine. Did you forget that?”

Clay shook his head. “No, Sir.”

“Come here.” Clay followed the gentle pull Logan gave his hand to drop down to the couch and straddle his lap.

“You’re my lover. My submissive. It’s my right and my pleasure to protect you, always.” He brought a hand up, his thumb sliding across the metal collar that circled Clay’s neck. “I won’t let anything or anyone hurt you or take you away from me.”

A thrill shot through Clay at that declaration. Logan’s unapologetic possessiveness had caused problems early on in their relationship, but they’d worked on it and come to an understanding on boundaries. Now, he was able to revel in Logan’s possessiveness and caring, because he knew it wouldn’t get out of hand. Clay pressed his forehead to Logan’s and closed his eyes. “I love when you talk to me like that.”

Logan’s hand moved to grip the back of his neck. “Do you?”

His eyes still closed, Clay nodded.

“Tell me why.”

“Because it makes me feel like the most important thing in your world. I’ve never felt like that with anyone.”

“It’s true. You are the most important thing to me. Having you in my life, wearing my collar, means everything to me.”

Clay opened his eyes and looked into his lover’s gaze, seeing the sincerity there. Not that he doubted him. Logan had proven time and time again how much he loved him. “I don’t deserve you, Sir. And I don’t do enough to show you how much I love you in return.”

“You don’t have to do anything to deserve me. I’m with you because I don’t ever want to be with anyone else.”

“Well, maybe I can show you what I feel tonight. Physically.”

Purchase

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Kobo

Meet the Author

Christa Tomlinson is an exciting up and coming author in erotic romance. Her first self-published novel, The Sergeant, was an Amazon Best Seller for Gay and Lesbian Erotica for seven weeks straight.

Christa graduated from The University of Missouri-St. Louis with a degree in History. She loves to create stories that are emotional and lovely with sex that is integral to the characters’ romantic arc. Her books include straight couples, curvy couples, gay, and multicultural couples. Love is love and everyone should have their story told.

Christa lives in Houston, Texas with her two dogs, and is a retired roller derby player.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | Amazon

Sign up for Christa’s Newsletter!

Tour Schedule

April 13thTwo Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy

April 14th –  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

April 15th MM Good Book Reviews

April 16thBoy Meets Boy Reviews

April 17thMy Fiction Nook

April 18th Love Bytes Reviews

April 19thErotica For All

April 20th Nerdy Dirty & Flirty

April 21st – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

April 22nd – Booklover Sue

 

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Release Day Blitz: An Officer’s Submission (Cuffs, Collars, and Love #4) by Christa Tomlinson (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  An Officer’s Submission

Series: Cuffs, Collars, and Love #4

Author: Christa Tomlinson

Publisher:  Self- Torlina Publishing

Release Date: March 16

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 67,000

Genre: Romance, erotic romance, contemporary, D/S, established couples

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

“You don’t ever have to keep anything you feel locked up, Clay. I’m your Dom, and whatever you need from me, I’ll gladly give to you.”
– Sergeant Logan Pierce

Police Officer Clay Foster is finally at peace and happy with his life. He enjoys his career as a member of Houston’s SWAT team, and he loves submitting to his Dom in the bedroom. His life is perfect, until one cruel act destroys Clay’s bubble of happiness. Shattered trust forces Clay to reevaluate his career, his relationship, and himself.

Sergeant Logan Pierce is the leader of Houston’s elite SWAT team. On the force, he’s the best at what he does. In private, the most important thing in his life is taking care of his submissive, Clay. Clay is his whole world, and Logan will do whatever is necessary to keep him safe. Even if that means going up against Clay’s stubbornness in order to help him heal.

Can Logan and Clay work together to rebuild their happiness? Can they find their way back to the shared passion of Dominance and submission? Or will their love and relationship end before it’s truly begun?

Excerpt

“It’s good to be back home.”

Logan looked down at him with an eyebrow raised. “Home?”

Clay snorted a laugh. As usual, they were at Logan’s house. When he thought about it, he realized he hadn’t been back to his apartment in weeks. In fact, his bags from their recent trip to Colorado were here at Logan’s. He hadn’t bothered to take them back to his place after their return.

“If I’m in your space too much, I can throw all my stuff in the car and head back to my apartment,” he said as he pretended to pull away.

Logan tightened his grip on his foot. “You’re not going anywhere.”

Clay bit his lip to hold back a grin. “I didn’t think you wanted me to. But what I meant is, I feel good about life. That trip was awesome. I got to play in the snow, just like I wanted.”

“And I got to warm you up when you were done.”

“You did a very good job. You might have gotten me a little overheated a few times,” he teased. He wiggled his toes as Logan squeezed his foot again. “You and I are in a great place. And I think things are going to be better at work now too. We redid Hayden’s ridiculous course and passed with flying colors this time. I’m hoping the fact that we passed the redo means Hayden will get off our backs and quit fucking with our schedule.”

“The team is gelling again. And we’re hoping Hayden will finally move on and give up on his pet project of tormenting our team. Anything else?”

Clay shifted, looking at the TV instead of Logan. “What else is there?”

“Are you still blaming yourself for that idiot making those fake calls to our team?”

Clay pulled his feet off Logan’s lap for real this time and got up from the couch. “Why wouldn’t I blame myself? It was my fault.”

“It wasn’t your fault. And I don’t like hearing you say that it was.”

“C’mon, Sarge. You know that was on me.” Clay roughly ran a hand through his hair, turning his back on his lover. “If I hadn’t gone to that convention and went on camera bragging about how badass our team was, that whacko would have never taken it as a challenge to try and prove he was better than us.” He turned back around as Logan grabbed his hand and pulled him to stand in between his legs.

“Maybe not. But maybe he would have taken his anger out in another way.”

“What do you mean?”

“You read the report Roberts put together on the guy. He was looking for revenge because he felt he’d been slighted too many times. What if he’d physically attacked the people he wanted revenge against? Someone or several someones could have been hurt. At least with the revenge tactics he chose, no one was. We managed to catch the idiot, and hopefully he’ll be granted some time to think about what he did.”

“Are you forgetting he tried to kill me?” Clay saw a muscle tic in Logan’s jaw at the question, his hazel eyes going hard before he answered.

“No, I’m not forgetting.”

Clay tilted his head to the side as he studied his lover. “You know, I noticed that the perp seemed a little worse for wear before you got him loaded in the patrol car. Did you do anything to cause that?”

“I’ll never let anyone hurt you.”

Logan’s response was a non-answer, but it confirmed Clay’s suspicions. “I’m a cop. On occasion, I might get hurt. And you can’t go after people because of that.”

“And you’re mine. Did you forget that?”

Clay shook his head. “No, Sir.”

“Come here.” Clay followed the gentle pull Logan gave his hand to drop down to the couch and straddle his lap.

“You’re my lover. My submissive. It’s my right and my pleasure to protect you, always.” He brought a hand up, his thumb sliding across the metal collar that circled Clay’s neck. “I won’t let anything or anyone hurt you or take you away from me.”

A thrill shot through Clay at that declaration. Logan’s unapologetic possessiveness had caused problems early on in their relationship, but they’d worked on it and come to an understanding on boundaries. Now, he was able to revel in Logan’s possessiveness and caring, because he knew it wouldn’t get out of hand. Clay pressed his forehead to Logan’s and closed his eyes. “I love when you talk to me like that.”

Logan’s hand moved to grip the back of his neck. “Do you?”

His eyes still closed, Clay nodded.

“Tell me why.”

“Because it makes me feel like the most important thing in your world. I’ve never felt like that with anyone.”

“It’s true. You are the most important thing to me. Having you in my life, wearing my collar, means everything to me.”

Clay opened his eyes and looked into his lover’s gaze, seeing the sincerity there. Not that he doubted him. Logan had proven time and time again how much he loved him. “I don’t deserve you, Sir. And I don’t do enough to show you how much I love you in return.”

“You don’t have to do anything to deserve me. I’m with you because I don’t ever want to be with anyone else.”

“Well, maybe I can show you what I feel tonight. Physically.”

Purchase

Self- Torlina Publishing

Meet the Author

Christa Tomlinson is an exciting up and coming author in erotic romance. Christa graduated from The University of Missouri-St. Louis with a degree in history. She loves to create stories that are emotional and lovely with sex that is integral to the characters’ romantic arc. Her books include straight couples, curvy couples, gay, and multicultural couples. Love is love and everyone should have their story told.

Christa lives in Houston, Texas with her two dogs, and is a retired roller derby player. She enjoys hearing from readers, other authors and aspiring writers. For more on Christa’s work, including deleted scenes, excerpts, and free reads, visit http://www.ChristaTomlinson.com

 

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Review: Symphony in Blue (Blue Notes #4.5) by Shira Anthony

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Symphony in Blue-build (1) coverThe holidays are a time for friends and family to come together in celebration and thanks.  Symphony in Blue brings together all the couples in the Blue Notes series for a very special occasion.  Aiden and Sam are ready to get married but before that can happen Cary and Antonio’s baby daughter decides to make her appearance into the world earlier than anyone had anticipated. So instead of the huge reception planned, David Somers and his long time lover Alex Bishop bring everyone to their villa in Milan for a homecoming and Thanksgiving that they will never forget.

Join Sam and Aiden, Jules and Jason, David and Alex, and Cary and Antonio and friends as each couple shares something they are thankful for. Played out in four movements, this symphony is a celebration of friendship and love, orchestrated by David.

I have loved this incredible series since the release of the first story, Blue Notes.  With the Blue Notes series, Shira Anthony (and for Prelude, Venona Keyes), has created an ensemble of musicians and their lovers that has intrigued us with their personalities, enthralled us with their music and beckoned to us with their love stories.  Whether it was violinist Jules Bardon (with manager/lover Jason Greene), cellist Cary Redding (and his partner, entertainment lawyer Antonio Bianchi), operatic baritone Aiden Lind (with partner lawyer Sam Ryan), and finally conductor and Chicago Symphony Music Director David Somers and his partner, violinist Alex Bishop, Shira Anthony has used this incredible octet of musicians and their loves as the “voice” through which she has moved us with her deep love of and passion for the world of classical music as well as knowledge of the various art forms within.

A former opera singer, Shira Anthony was at one time as deeply immersed in this world as her characters are and it shows in every element, every note that threads itself through these stories.  It is there in joy and in sorrow, through all the difficult times and choices these men have had to make.  And because she has been there herself, her series has a realism and authenticity that gives these stories depth and texture.

As these couples sit around the Thanksgiving table in Milan, each reflects on their lives as they share with their friends (and readers) something specific they are thankful for.  Anthony presents us with an intimate setting and a ritual I suspect occurs in more than one household around the country.  For each man, each couple, the things they share brings the reader up to date in their careers and presents us with glimpses of their present day family life.  I have to admit that Cary and Antonio’s memory is my favorite, with Cary (and Antonio) trying to deal with their son’s Massimo’s jealousy over the new born in their midst).  It’s so real, with elements that will break your heart and then put them back together as father consoles child and reaffirms their love for him. One couple after the other, with emotions high, celebrate love and family among their dearest friends.  It feels familiar and immediate and oh so lovely.

At 73 pages, Anthony packs a lot of feeling and music into her story.  Yes, let us not forget about the music, such an integral part of the Blue Notes series.  The story itself is a composition by David Somers, the dedication written by him.  The performer list is that of all the characters in the series and the story plays out in five movements, each movement a sharing by someone at the table. This is an inventive format that works beautifully for this story and is so reflective of the entire series.

In many ways Symphony in Blue and the Blue Notes stories are a series of love letters from the author, sharing her passion and deep appreciation of the musicians and the music they live their lives by.  I highly recommend not only Symphony in Blue but the entire Blue Notes series.  If you are a fan already, then you will love catching up with all your favorite couples.  If you are new to the series, then go back to the beginning as this story contains spoilers for all the rest.  Either way, this one is not to be missed!

Listed below are all the stories in the Blue Notes series.  The author has noted that she considers it a series of interrelated, classical music themed standalone novels that can be read in any order.

Knowing (Blue Notes, #0.5) a free read at Goodreads
Blue Notes (Blue Notes, #1)
The Melody Thief (Blue Notes, #2)
Aria (Blue Notes, #3)
Prelude (Blue Notes, #4) by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes
Encore (Blue Notes, #5)
Symphony in Blue (Blue Notes, #4.5)

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 73 pages
Published December 25th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627983945 (ISBN13: 9781627983945)
edition language English

Release Day Celebration and Contest for Symphony in Blue by Shira Anthony!

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Blue Notes Books Banners

Merry Christmas, everyone! Today, Christmas morning at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords, we  are celebrating the release of Symphony in Blue by Shira Anthony.  While everyone is enjoying family and loved ones, Shira Anthony is stopping by to talk about her Blue Notes series and  sharing some memories of holidays past.  Entries are still being taken for the terrific Blue Notes contest.  See details at the bottom of the post.

Now pull up a chair with some coffee or tea, and let’s  welcome Shira Anthony and Symphony in Blue:

Celebrating with the Blue Notes Series: Symphony in Blue Release Day Party!  Symphony in Blue-build (1) cover

Thank you, Melanie, for inviting me to celebrate the release day of the 6th book and the first holiday novella in the Blue Notes Series! I’m also celebrating because with Symphony in Blue, I’ll have published my 10th book with Dreamspinner Press. How appropriate that celebrations are the focus of Symphony in Blue. Celebrations of love, family, and friendship.

Symphony in Blue is written as a symphony might be, with “movements” in which a particular character pairing is featured. Complete with liner notes and a dedication, it is conductor/composer David Somers’s masterpiece—a piece of his heart, shared with his friends. And for David, who for years built a wall around that heart, it’s something of a holiday miracle that he can share the joys of love and friendship as deeply as he does. The focus of the novella is a Thanksgiving meal at David’s villa outside of Milan, Italy, where all his friends gather.

I have a bit of experience with Thanksgiving in Europe, since I lived in France for two years when I was in middle school. Back in the 1970s, there weren’t many people who were familiar with the Thanksgiving holiday. My mother loves to tell the story of her Cranberries20101210begging my grandmother to send her cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner. You couldn’t find cranberries in Europe at that time. She meant for my grandmother to send her the canned variety. My grandmother sent fresh ones! By boat (back then, and even now, airmail for packages was very expensive)! Needless to say, they were pretty much ruined by the time they arrived 4 weeks later. My mother picked out all the “good” berries (i.e., the ones that weren’t moldy or mushy). We had about 2 tablespoons of cranberry sauce that year! But we still had our turkey, stuffing, along with some European traditions including cheese after the main meal, and some amazing French wine (which I totally didn’t appreciate at age 15!). I still remember that Thanksgiving in Grenoble.

Nowadays, you can find fresh cranberries and all the trimmings for a festive meal throughout Western Europe, so David Somers’s last-minute Thanksgiving dinner is entirely plausible. That meal also features regional breads and vegetables. Violinist Jules bread-recette-pain-paysan-pain-campagne-1Bardon helps round out the offerings by baking “pain paysan,” or French country bread (I make this from time to time – it’s actually quite easy!). Here’s a recipe you might want to try. For our Thanksgiving my year, my daughter made two round loaves of pain paysan, and it was amazing!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, whatever you celebrate in your home! And if after your Christmas dinner you want to settle down are read a story about love for the long-term, you might want to check the Blue Notes Series and my latest release, Symphony in Blue.

The Blue Notes Series books are about real men in real relationships, with real problems, each with a music theme. If you’re looking for a sexy hot romances with fluffy scenes, I think you’ll like the Blue Notes books. But if you’re also looking for something more—for something more real than Cinderfella and his prince? I think you’ll enjoy these stories about making love work over time and through obstacles. You can find all of my Dreamspinner Press books by clicking here. You can read more about me, even hear what I sounded like when I sang opera professionally, and read more about my books, including free fiction and excerpts on my website, www.shiraanthony.com.

Don’t forget to enter the Blue Notes Holiday 2013 Blog Tour giveaway (details at the bottom of the post) by clicking here (Rafflecopter). There are plenty of ways to enter, and you can enter more than once by commenting, tweeting, buying books, and liking pages. I’ll be drawing winners on New Year’s Eve at midnight!

Good luck! –Shira
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Excerpt (Symphony in Blue):
DAVID TAPPED his cellphone, shoved it in his pocket, and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Something ruffle the maestro?” Alex grinned up at him from the couch, his bare feet tucked underneath him, a pile of staff paper scattered about the floor and coffee table. He’d printed out a score for a new composition and managed to knock it off the printer tray. Of course, all the page numbers at the bottom of the sheets were cut off. Damn thing was at least thirty pages and would be a nightmare to organize.

“Nothing that can’t be managed. Unlike your score.” David raised an eyebrow and Alex saw the ghost of a grin on David’s face.

You could just reprint it, you know.”

“What? And waste paper?”

“You’re stubborn,” David said as he picked up several of the pages and set them on the coffee table before joining Alex on the couch. When Alex said nothing, David leaned over and feathered several kisses over Alex’s neck.

Delightfully so, of course. But stubborn nonetheless.”

Alex sighed contentedly and pushed the rest of the music onto the floor. Fine. He’d reprint the damn thing. Later.

Who was on the phone?”

“Aiden.” David spoke the name with his lips so close to Alex’s ear that Alex nearly gasped. David’s voice just did that to Alex—that sexy baritone seemed to resonate through every part of his body. Alex was pretty sure David knew what it did to him too.

“Aiden? I thought he and Sam were in Australia.”

David pulled away and offered Alex a sardonic eyebrow. “Austria.”

“Oh, come on!” Alex laughed. “You know I can hardly keep track of my own schedule. Now you expect me to keep up with his?”

“Not even the correct continent.” David went back to kissing him. “What was he calling about?” Anything to keep David focused on his neck.

“The party in Connecticut is off. They’re also postponing the civil ceremony in New York for now.”

Alex shot up off the couch. “What? But we’ve been planning the reception for six months now! It’s only two weeks away. What the hell happened? Are they okay? I mean…. Shit. You know what I mean.”

David smiled—a strange expression for someone who’d just learned that he’d wasted four months arranging the party to celebrate Aiden and Sam’s wedding. Caterers, musicians, guests, and a dozen different schedules to coordinate.

“Okay. Fess up. Why are you smiling?”

“Aiden and Sam are fine. They’re just postponing it.” David appeared entirely calm. Too calm. Happy, even?

“Postponing? They’ve been doing that for two years now.”

“Three.”

“Fine. Three years. So why are you happy about it?” Alex pressed. Of course, David was yanking his chain, but he liked that. Anyone who thought David Somers didn’t have a sense of humor simply didn’t know him.

“I’m happy,” David said as his eyes brightened, “because there’s a good reason for it. In fact, there’s a wonderful reason for it.”

Alex laughed. “What reason would that be?”

“Who might be the more appropriate way of say—”

“David,” Alex warned.

“Graziella Michaela Redding.”

“Graziella? You mean….”

“Mother and child doing quite well, I’m told.” David grinned outright this time.

“Cary and Antonio’s baby?”

“Born last night. Almost five pounds. Three weeks early but doing well.” David stood up and wrapped his arms around Alex’s waist. “A good reason to postpone a wedding, don’t you think?”

“The best.” Alex kissed David. “Should we plan a visit in a few weeks?”

“A few weeks?” David’s sly grin made Alex chuckle. “Just because we can’t have the party to celebrate doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of the opening in everyone’s schedules.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Thanksgiving in Milan. It’s been years since we’ve been able to get everyone together.”

“The villa?” David’s Italian villa was certainly large enough. “But—”

“Is that a problem for you? Last I looked at your schedule, your next performance is in Buenos Aires in three weeks.” David nipped at Alex’s earlobe.

“No… it’s not… ah…. Shit, David, I can’t think straight when you do that!” Alex shivered and closed his eyes. “And no. No problem for me. But didn’t you give the staff at the villa the entire month off?”

Alex knew David had completely forgotten about that particular detail. He frowned, then said blithely, “We’ll just have to do it ourselves. Jules and I can handle the cooking. You and Jason can get the placed opened up. Rachel can help you with the rooms.”

“You’re serious about this?”

“Am I ever not?” David pulled at Alex’s earlobe with his teeth. “I’ll call the travel agent and look into rebooking all the air travel.”

“Travel agent?”

Another kiss, a nip, and then: “The travel agent. Too complicated to handle that much rebooking online and you needn’t trouble yourself with that. Just call Jules and Jason and let them know we’ll meet them in Milan on Saturday. I’ll text them the flight information as soon as I have it.”

“Ah…. Okay. Sure. Jules and Jason.” Alex could handle that. He’d been meaning to call Jules to see how the Blue Notes album was coming along anyhow. He’d joined Jules and the other members of the trio on several of the tracks when he’d been in Paris three weeks before.

“Good.” David brushed his lips against Alex’s. “And one more thing.”

“Hmm?” Focus, Bishop, focus!

“This.” David pushed Alex onto the couch and began to unbutton his shirt. “First things first. Always.”

******
You can purchase the Blue Notes Series books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AllRomanceEbooks, and on the Dreamspinner Press website.
Encore: link to DSP
Symphony in Blue: link to DSP

Contest Details for Blue Notes Series Holiday 2013 Giveaway:

  • Begins on release day for “Encore,” November 11, 2013
  • Ends on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013, at midnight
  • Drawings are open to both U.S. readers and international readers, but physical prizes (Kindle, necklace, book, and t-shirt) are for U.S. readers only. I will award a virtual set of the first 4 Blue Notes Series books to one winner from outside the U.S.

Prizes (U.S. Only):

  • Grand Prize: A Kindle loaded with the first 4 Blue Notes Series books and some of my other back titles
  • 1st Place: A sterling silver music themed necklace
  • 2nd Place: Winner’s choice of one of my back titles in paperback (i.e., not including the 2 new releases)
  • 3rd Place: Blue Notes t-shirt, cover of the winner’s choice

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Blue Notes Holiday 2013 Blog Tour stops:
November 11th (release day – Encore): Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words (Melanie Marshall)
November 12th: Live Your Life, Buy the Book
November 14th: Michael Rupured’s Blog
November 15th: Joyfully Jay (Blue Notes Cover Art – Interviews with the Artists)
November 18th: Elin Gregory’s blog
November 22nd: Aisling Mancy’s blog
November 26th: Andrew Q. Gordon’s blog
December 6th: Oscar’s Bruised Petals (Sandra Garcia’s blog)
December 10th: Brilliant Disguise (Tali Spencer’s blog)
December 13th: Lily Sawyer’s Blog
December 16th: Rebecca Cohen’s blog
December 20th: Purple Rose Teahouse (Charlie Cochet’s blog)
December 23rd: Mrs. Condits and Friends
December 25th: Symphony in Blue Release Day Party at Melanie Marshall’s Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
December 26th: Book Suburbia
December 27th: Helen Pattskyn’s blog

Back from GRL, Pulp Friction Week, Book Contests and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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It’s Sunday and I have been back from GRL in Atlanta a whole week but it feels like only yesterday.  How does that happen?  I still haveGRL ATL -Atlanta-skyline one small suitcase to empty, my swag bag contents are scattered across parts of the kitchen table like so much titillating, lovely fall debris.  And I have yet to take all my books and stack them close to the bed for reading.  Sigh.  I have an awful feeling that I will open the suitcases to pack for GRL in Chicago next year only to find the remnants of GRL Atlanta still laying inside ready to be put away.

It was an outstanding conference.  So many wonderful authors, publishers, bloggers, and readers to meet and talk with.  Amy Lane, Shira Anthony, JP Barnaby, Lynn Lorenz, Venona Keyes, Marguerite Labbe, Wade Kelly, RJ Scott (making the journey from the UK), Mary Calmes, Jessica Freeley, Kaje Harper, Anne Tenino, Laura Harner, Tom Webb, Katey Hawthorne (my roomy), so many more.  I know I will kick myself when I realize who I have left out. Oops Keturah from Riptide, Dolorianne from Wilde City, Kris Jacen, editor extraordinaire from MLR, ack my brain cells are running out….My head and thoughts swirl under all the great people I got to see and meet there.  TJ Klune and Eric Arvin got engaged in a tearful and heartwarming engagement in front of a Q & A audience to our delight.  The Heaven and Hell Ball sawDSCN4099 DSCN4103so many great costumes from the sublime to the silly and everything in between while the gorgeous Atlanta city lights twinkled as our backdrop. That is Edmond Manning (King Perry)to the right and the sexy Drake Jaden, porn star and model for the cover of JP Barnaby’s Painting Fire on the Air (Survivor Stories #2). Be still my heart!  I don’t know who that funny person is in the Queen of Hearts wig and outfit! lol.  From Heidi Cullinan, Reese Dante ,Ethan Day , Teresa Emil ,Carol Lynne , and  Damon Suede , thanks for organizing a great conference.,They made GRL memorable for me and everyone else I talked to.  I can’t wait for GRL in Chicago next year!

I will probably still be packed for it.

Now I am so excited for the week ahead as I am trying something new here.  Next week is Pulp Friction Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and a multiple book contest to go along with 4 great authors and 4 wonderful intertwined series.  The Pulp Friction group consists of Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, LE Harner and TA Webb.  They got together (I will let them tell it in their own words) and decided to write a group of serialized stories reminiscent of pulp fiction that interconnected through a group of tightly bonded men.  I have slowly been reviewing each series at four books a piece.  Now it all culminates in a fifth book each and a guest post from each corresponding author.  A review of the fifth book follows the author’s post in the afternoon.  This is how our week shakes out.

Wicked Solutions coverFifty Fifty Chances Are coverMonday, October 28:    Havan Fellows and Wicked’s Way series

Review of Wicked Truths (Wicked’s Way #5)

Tuesday, October 29:    Lee Brazil and Chances Are series

Review of Chance In Hell (Chances Are #5)

Wed., October 30:         L.E. Harner and Triple Threat series

Review of Duplicity (Triple Threat #5)

Defiance coverStarry KnightThurs., October 31:       T.A. Webb and City Knight series

Review of Darkest Knight (City Knight #5)

Friday, Nov. 1:       Pulp Friction Wrap up, Announcements, and

Winners of the book contests

Saturday, Nov. 2:          October Summary of Reviews

To be entered into the contest, just leave a comment on any post this coming week and you will automatically be entered one of four books being offered up by the authors.

And I Saw A Sea of Squirrels….and the Week Ahead in Reviews!

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And Then I Saw A Sea of Squirrels……grey squirrel drawing

Its fall and my patio and lawns are full of nature’s bounty, aka nuts.  Lots and lots of nuts and therefore lots and lots of squirrels (and deer but that’s for another story from this park naturalist).   This year is a high cycle year so all the oaks, hickories, and beech trees in my backyard were groaning under the weight of the nuts they bore.  And have now loosed them upon every surface available, turning every spare inch into a prickly hulled,DSCN4046 brown blanket or a mosaic of shiny hard bits and pieces of acorns to go along with the prickly hulls of the beech nut.  Of course the green golf balls of the black walnut are dropping too, sounding like hail during the worst of storms.

And my dogs hate this.

I don’t blame them.  Those prickly little bits and pieces hurt the pads of their paws, jagged hulls of shells courtesy of sharp squirrel teeth are just the right size to work themselves between the pads and wedging themselves firmly to great pain and discomfort.  No amount of sweeping is stopping the tide.  It’s relentless, a constant cacophony of sound followed by a carpet of discarded husks.DSCN4053

I think most people don’t realize that nuts are cyclical.  That each year the harvest is that much greater than the year before with the various animal populations that depend upon them for food expanding along with them.   And then the year that follows the one with the biggest yield is all but barren.  No nuts, or at least very little.  People start reporting seeing skinny or starving animals.  And they reason that such a thing helps to keep populations down.  And certainly that is true for the present day.  But not always.

Did you know people once saw seas of squirrels as they migrated through?

Yes, Eastern gray squirrels used to migrate, following the cycles of the oaks, and hickories and other nut bearing trees.  Back when the midwestern and eastern forests were one contiguous mass of forest.  Back before we started to carve out our settlements, and farms and cities. Back when there were only small farmsteads and villages that dotted the forests, tiny punctuation marks of humanity.

Then the animals lived much different lives than they do today.

One of my college professors,  Dr. Vagn Flyger wrote a report for the University of Maryland on a squirrel migration as recent as 1968.  Oh, how he loved squirrels and imparted that love to his students!  And this recent migration, from Vermont to Georgia, fascinated him.  You can read it here.  But even more fascinating are the earlier account of waves of squirrels so massive that it took days before the end of the hoard could be seen.  Or as Robert Kennicott in his article “The Quadrupeds of Illinois” in The Annual Report of the Commissioner of gray squirrelPatents for 1846 stated  “it took a month for the mess of squirrels to pass through the area.”*

Just imagine what that must have looked like! Tens of thousands, perhaps millions of squirrels following the wild harvest through the vast forest of the midwest and east, flowing like a grey furred river, leaping and bounding over every surface as they passed their way through the immediate area.   Here is another quote (from that  *same article ):

*In 1811, Charles Joseph Labrobe wrote in The Rambler in North America of a vast squirrel migration that autumn in Ohio: “A countless multitude of squirrels, obeying some great and universal impulse, which none can know but the Spirit that gave them being, left their reckless and gambolling life, and their ancient places of retreat in the north, and were seen pressing forward by tens of thousands in a deep and sober phalanx to the South …”

No longer.

We still have them migrate occasionally.  The last reported one was likely 1998 in Arkansas but nothing like the vast migrations of the past.  And how can they with no massive forest or massive stands of trees, following the bounty of nuts and seeds as the cycles demanded?  Like the beaver before them, we have changed their natural history and lost something special in return.

Now the Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is regarded as a cute backyard dweller or bird seed eating pest.  They get into attics or gnaw on wires.  We are amused by them, infuriated by them, and in some cases regarding bird feeders outsmarted by them.  They throw nuts at my dogs and tease them unmercifully and I laugh, of course.  They are a constant in my yard and a source of food for my owls and hawks.  They are as familiar to me as my wrens and woodpeckers…and my life would be poorer without them.

But once they moved across the land in rivers of energy and gray fur, millions of them covering the landscape and making people stop in their tracks, marveling to see such a sight.  Just once I wish I could have been there, standing beside those folks so I too could have said “and then I saw a sea of squirrels…”.

The Migration of the Grey Squirrels

by William Howitt

When in my youth I traveled
Throughout each north country,
Many a strange thing did I hear,
And many a strange thing to see.

But nothing was there pleased me more
Than when, in autumn brown,
I came, in the depths of the pathless woods,
To the grey squirrels’ town.

There were hundreds that in the hollow boles
Of the old, old trees did dwell,
And laid up store, hard by their door,
Of the sweet mast as it fell.

But soon the hungry wild swine came,
And with thievish snouts dug up
Their buried treasure, and left them not
So much as an acorn cup.

Then did they chatter in angry mood,
And one and all decree,
Into the forests of rich stone-pine
Over hill and dale to flee.

Over hill and dale, over hill and dale,
For many a league they went,
Like a troop of undaunted travelers
Governed by one consent.

But the hawk and the eagle, and peering owl,
Did dreadfully pursue;
When lo! to cut off their pilgrimage,
A broad stream lay in view.

But then did each wondrous creature show
His cunning and bravery;
With a piece of the pine-bark in his mouth,
Unto the stream came he;

And boldly his little bark he launched,
Without the least delay;
His busy tail was his upright sail,
And he merrily steered away.

Never was there a lovelier sight
Than that grey squirrels’ fleet;
And with anxious eyes I watched to see
What fortune it would meet.

Soon had they reached the rough mild-stream,
And ever and anon
I grieved to behold some bark wrecked,
And its little steersman gone.

But the main fleet stoutly held across;
I saw them leap to shore;
They entered the woods with a cry of joy,
For their perilous march was o’er.

Now for the Week Ahead in Reviews (and  Autumn Sedum in my garden):DSCN4051

Monday, Sept. 30:         Sonata by A.F. Henley

Tuesday, Oct. 1:              September Summary of Reviews

Wed., October 2:            Goblins by Melanie Tushmore

Thurs., October 3:         Dominant Predator by S.A. McAuley

Friday, October 4:         The Isle of Wishes by Sue Brown

Sat., October 5:               Knightmare (City Knight #2) by T.A. Webb

Review: Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3) by Anne Tenino

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Sweet Young ThangCollin Montes was instrumental in getting his fraternity, Theta Alpha Gamma, to change their  bylaws and accept gay and bisexual college men into TAG.  Several of the brothers were already out about their sexuality, most notably Brad, so this just instilled in their bylaws the acceptance acknowledged in their close knit fraternity.  But there is even another reason this change means so much to Collin and that is the fact that Collin is also gay.  Collin has kept that fact  hidden from most of his fraternity and his family.  And that includes his Uncle Monty who raised him after his father died when Collin was 5.  Uncle Monty is also the president of the TAG Alumni Association and an influential and powerful man in his own right. Uncle Monty is also a homophobe.  The TAG Alumni Association contributes a heavy sum to the running of TAG and neither Uncle Monty or the rest of the board are happy with the inclusion of Gays and Bisexuals in the fraternity.

When first a water heater is rigged to launch through the ceiling, setting off a fire at the TAG house which injures one of the brothers, and then a bomb is found,  Collin is sure that these are repercussions due to the changes in bylaws at TAG.  One of the paramedics/firemen to arrive at the house  the day of the fire is college and TAG Alumn  Eric “Dix” Dixon.  Eric sees Collin helping out his injured frat brother and the attraction between the men is instantaneous.

Older by ten years and with touches of grey in his hair, Eric is openly gay at work.  Eric has always dreamed of someone to make a home and family with but that person hasn’t appeared until now.  Collin, with his sexy eyes and gorgeous body, just may be the one Eric has been waiting for.  But there are many obstacles between their happiness and future together, from Collin’s closeted status and homophobic uncle to the person responsible for the arson and bombing of the TAG House.  As Eric and Collin fall in love, the threat to Collin and the fraternity grows greater.  Can Eric protect the man he has come to love or will homophobic hatred ruin their chance for a future together?

This is the third book in the Theta Alpha Gamma series by Anne Tenino and I loved it.  It has all the distinctive features of the others in the series.  It’s funny, it has terrific characters, and of course, it’s over the top sexy!  But this story has something more. It has a mystery as well.  Who is behind the arson and bombs at the fraternity?  A mystery is a terrific new aspect to this already wonderful series.  But let’s take a closer look at this series most common features.

Each book has focused on a member of the Theta Alpha Gamma or TAG fraternity at Calapooya University in Oregon.  First it was Brad, then Paul, and now it’s Collin’s turn.  Each young man is not only a member of TAG but gay as well, although each has arrived at that self knowledge in differing ways.  The wonderful thing about this series is that the characters and couple you have fallen in love with in the previous books are back, included in this story.  That holds especially true for Brad and Sebastian from Frat B0y and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma #1).  They are still working on their relationship and Collin plays an important part in helping them work through a few issues of their own.  But the story here belongs to Collin and Eric, as well as the rest of the fraternity brothers.

This is the first time we have really seen the men of TAG interact with each other on a deeper scale.  Tenino brings us into the frat house dynamics and the close knit brotherhood of the Theta Alpha Gamma fraternity. Once more we get to watch Tank, Ricky, Toby, Kyle, Jules and the rest support each other, no matter the problem.  I have to admit the frat house scenes that involved all the frat brothers had me giggling uncontrollably.  Whether they were being roused to action by the threat to their kegerator or watching Project Runway, these are the scenes that really brought their fraternity to goofy life.  It’s hysterically funny and yet heartwarming at the same time.  Is it a realistic depiction of life at a fraternity?  Don’t know and quite frankly don’t care. In Tenino’s more than capable hands, these quirky, crazy group of guys are alive and kicking and making us  laugh over and over again.  I just loved them.

Collin and Eric are so interesting in their own right.  Collin’s father died when he was young and although his mother is alive, his Uncle had a large part in raising him.  Collin is an intelligent young man who knows he is gay but fears losing the love of his Uncle by telling him who Collin really is.  Uncle Monty is homophobic and controlling, and that has defined Collin’s upbringing until now.  It is a joy watching Collin change as the events unfold and his relationship with Eric grows more substantial.  Eric is also an interesting character with a sexy, hidden side to him.  Trust me when I say that a photography session is one of the sexy highlights of this story.  I enjoyed their relationship and the journey towards love for them both.  I liked that Anne Tenino took into consideration their age difference when writing the relationship. Neither man is at quite the same stage as the other which is an honest aspect to this story.  I appreciated it much more than if we had gotten a case of “instant love”.

I did have a few quibbles with the story.  The person behind the attacks on the frat house is easily spotted although the motive remains hidden until the end.  I really didn’t have a problem with that aspect of the mystery because it plays out so nicely in the story.  There is an event at the end I wasn’t expecting and that was a nice touch too.  I did wish that Collin’s relationship with his Uncle had a better resolution (and his Uncle’s Alumni Association’s aspect too).  Both his Uncle and the Alumi Association had figured greatly in the story, and that was not really dealt with at the end.

A new young gay character was introduced here. Tank’s younger brother has transfered into the college and been accepted into TAG. I see his story coming next.  I can’t wait.  I love these guys and their crazy mixed up fraternity.  They have heart to go along with their beer parties.  They are funny, engaging, and I always enjoy my time with them.  I highly recommend this book and this series.  Grab them all up, starting with the first one if you are new to the series and this marvelous band of brothers.

Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and their relationships:

Frat Boy and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma, #1)

Love, Hypothetically (Theta Alpha Gamma, #2)

Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma, #3)

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 22nd 2013 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626490321
edition languageEnglish

Review: Forever Promised (Promises #4) by Amy Lane

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Forever Promised coverNothing stays the same forever even when you wish it too.  For the family of friends that call Levee Oaks and The Pulpit home, things are about to change and rock their lives to the core.  Four years after Crick returned injured from his tour of duty, things have settled down for him and Deacon.  Crick and Deacon have married, so have Mikhail and Shane,  Jeff and Collin, as well as Lucas and  Kimmy. Benny and Drew, and of course, Parry Angel are coming together to form a family, just as Amy and Jon have. Promise House is up and running smoothly just as Shane had always envisioned, providing a place where young men and women could get a second chance at life.  Even Martin, brother of Jeff’s former boyfriend, has settled in to become part of this larger extended family and will soon be returning to Levee Oaks to live.  With all their lives going along smoothly, of course, something happens to shake them up and provide the impetus for a decision from Benny that will change their lives forever.

When Jon and Amy receive job offers in Washington, DC with a firm that specializes in LGBTQ law suits and gay civil rights, it is impossible to turn the offer down.  But that means leaving Deacon and Crick and everyone else who has become their family behind and they are not sure they can do that.  Benny also is looking at her future and seeing many changes as well.  She will be graduating from college and Drew wants her and Parry Angel to move into the cottage with him so they can start to become a real family of their own.  But in order to move forward with her life, she wants to make sure that part of herself will always be with Deacon and Crick.  That leads to a momentous decision and a gift, that should Deacon and Crick accept, will change everyones lives forever.

Back in 2010, Amy Lane wrote a book called Keeping Promise Rock that became an almost instant classic and comfort read for so many readers.  People embraced the characters of Crick and Deacon, little Benny and Parry Angel, connecting with them deeply and with a heartfelt passion.  We clamored for more stories about them and The Pulpit, the horse farm where they lived in Levee Oaks, California and  Amy Lane obliged.  She then gave us Making Promises (Promises #2) which introduced us to Shane and the heartbreaking Mikhail, causing us to fall in love with a new set of characters while keeping our adoration for all things Crick and Deacon intact and up to date.  The third book, Living Promises, brought Jeff Beachum and Collin Waters into our lives. Actually Jeff was there early on as Crick’s physical therapist in Keeping Promise Rock where he became part of the growing circle of people around the foundation couple of the Promise series.  Living Promises starts with Jeff comforting a young Collin outside a HIV treatment center and then charts  their rough road to a loving relationship.  And as always, there to support the couple, were all the people we had come to love from all the previous books, continuing on with their lives and loves.  Sometimes funny, sometimes  painfully sad but always with their hearts and souls in the right places and full of passion.  We were there with them, deeply engaged in their relationships and their future.  Now with Forever Promised, Amy Lane brings this series to an end and I am not sure we are ready for that to happen.

Amy Lane has such a way with characterizations that the people she creates for her stories live outside the pages and constraints of her novels. They become alive for her readers.  We laugh with them and we cry for them. And sometimes just shake our heads in disbelief over their actions.  My beloved grandmother would shake her head and tell me “I  can’t believe that Erica did that to (insert name of husband here).  She knows better than that!” after watching the soap All My Children.  For her, those people in that show were real folks and she talked about them as though they were her neighbors.  That’s the way the readers (myself included) have come to feel about the people of Levee Oaks and The Pulpit.  We have lived with them through traumatic events, near death experiences, times of great sorrow and times of great joy.  How do you let that go?

The answer is not easily but Forever Promised tries hard and mostly succeeds in closing a series we never wanted to see end.  Every character we have ever come to love over the course of this series is here, in different stages of their lives.  Most have achieved a deeply loving and satisfying relationship, a majority of the couples have gotten married and Parry Angel is old enough to be on a soccer team.  A soccer team where one of the funniest passages in this story occurs.  Really, I can’t remember laughing so hard that I was gasping for breath.  One of the things that make that section so priceless is that I could see it actually happening on a soccer field in anytown, USA.  Amy Lane writes stories about real people who live through real things that happen in everyday life.  We recognize the milestones in the characters lives because they are ones that happen to us.  Her characters bleed and cry and laugh as we do.  Lane writes good people trying to be the best they can be in situations both normal and stressful, so how could we not love them?  We would in our real lives and the author understands the importance of that connection.  Amy Lane writes reality.  Whether it is dealing with kids thrown away by society, a woman unable to bear a child and her grief over that fact, or the fragility of the future before us, Amy Lane gets it and makes those truths a part of her writing.  Not once did I find myself stoping mid story to think “well, that would never happen” because the emotions and events that occur in Forever Promised and the Promise series ring with authenticity. And never more so than with the issue of surrogacy and pregnancy, which is at the center of the storyline here.

There are so many plot threads to resolve, so many lives and relationships that need a happy ending.  Forever Promised delivers that to us, but not without an event so heartbreaking that I had to put the book down for a time to get myself through it.  I am still ambivalent about this episode but acknowledge that the reality of Promise House is that not all can find their way out of past pains and anguish, and that despair and sadness is a part of life as well.  Without going into details, it will hurt then the author will use that hurt to bring the reader and the story up to another level of authenticity. Our couples find that they are happy and moving forward in ways that the reader will find moving and true.  That’s the promise Amy Lane makes to her readers and her characters, and that is the one she delivers in Forever Promised.

Each couple gets their own section in a way and the events that happen are seen from various perspectives.  Events from the past are brought up again (another reason to read these books in order), and the characters examine their past lives and how best they can go forward in their current ones.  Not all the couples are settled, several are still in transition when the book ends but that is to be expected given the number and diversity of the characters involved and the realistic way Amy Lane writes their lives.  I know I was happy to see them all moving forward, happy with each other and mostly together as a family.  Just as it should be at Promise Rock.

If my quibbles in a story are that it included a pain I didn’t want to feel, and characters I didn’t want to say goodbye to in a book that ended a series I wanted to continue on forever, well, then, those are hardly quibbles after all.   Amy Lane made us several Promises and delivered on all of them.  Forever Promised is both a gift and a promise kept.  Don’t miss out on this book and the entire journey.

Here are the Promise series in the order they wee written and should be read to understand the characters and the events that occur:

Keeping Promise Rock (Promises #1)

Making Promises (Promises #2)

Living Promiese (Promises #3)

Forever Promised (Promises #4)

Cover art by Paul Richmond shows several of the couples together. But I have to admit that I wanted to see one like the first cover, Keeping Promise Rock.  That is the one that sticks in my memory.

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Published June 28th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623808596 (ISBN13: 9781623808594)
edition language English
series Promises #4