Dive Back Into the Belonging Verse with Staged by Kim Fielding – Blog Tour and Giveaway

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Staged (Belonging #3) by Kim Fielding
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iptide Publishing
Cover Art by Tami Santarossa

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here at Riptide Publishing

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words welcomes Kim Fielding here today along with the release of her latest novel, Staged, a story in the Belonging Universe.

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Hi, I’m Kim Fielding and I’m thrilled to introduce you to Sky Blue, the hero of my newest novel, Staged. In this book, I got the chance to write in an alternate universe very similar to our own–but where slavery is legal.

About Staged

Once the second-prize winner on My Slave’s Got Talent, Sky Blue has spent the past few years singing at a failing New York nightclub. While Sky has never had control over his fate, his life seems to take a turn for the worse when he’s torn from the familiar comfort of performing and sold to a rich and enigmatic man.

Morgan Wallace takes his newly purchased slave to San Francisco, his intentions unclear. On the one hand, he treats Sky with more kindness than Sky has ever known—treats him like a real person. On the other hand, he shares Sky at parties hosted by his sadistic new friends.

A confused slave is an endangered slave, and Sky isn’t even sure of his master’s real name. Is he Morgan Wallace, wealthy and cruel, or Mackenzie Webster, caring and compassionate? Caught between hope, fear, and an undeniably growing attachment, Sky struggles to untangle which parts are real and which are merely a performance. His future, his heart, and even his life may depend on it.

About Kim Fielding

Kim Fielding picked up a pencil when she was three years old and never put it down. She always dreamed of becoming an author, but took a roundabout way of getting there, first spending an inordinate amount of time as a student and ending up with a law degree and a PhD in psychology. She wrote plenty of academic articles and even a few books, but fiction continued to call to her. One day, she finally put that pencil to its intended use again and began to write novels.

Today, Kim is the best-selling, award-winning author of numerous gay romance and fantasy novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning multiple -genres. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in fifteenth-century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, slaves, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

Kim writes authentic voices and unexpected heroes.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there among the cows and almond trees with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Contact Kim:

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Staged, one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide gift certificate and a copy of Treasure by Kim Fielding in audiobook. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 23, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

This title is part of the Belonging ‘Verse universe.

In the Paranormal Spotlight: Annabelle Jacobs’ The Altered 3 (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Altered 3 by Annabelle Jacobs
Release Date: October 1, 2015

Goodreads Link 
Publisher: Annabelle Jacobs
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Sales Links:  Amazon | Amazon UK | All Romance (ARe) | Smashwords

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Blurb

Matt is a single shifter living in a house full of couples. It’s not that he begrudges his friends their happiness—especially after everything they’ve been through—but he wants someone for himself. He wants a mate. Living out in the Cornish countryside there seems little chance of him finding one.

Thomas’s life has recently been changed for ever. Newly altered, he finds himself in danger as his mother, a prominent politician, works to put a stop to the mistreatment of altereds and bring those responsible to justice.

To keep him safe, Thomas is sent to Cornwall where Matt and his friends offer him refuge until he can return to his home in London. Despite the circumstances surrounding his arrival, Thomas and Matt bond in a way neither of them were expecting. They struggle to come to terms with what this might mean for their future once the threat is eliminated.
Pages or Words: 58,000 words (approximate)

Categories: Alternate universe, Fantasy, Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal

Excerpt

“Daniel?” He strained to hear anything but the whole farmhouse seemed quiet. His senses were a little overwhelmed after being effectively dampened for the last three hours, but after thirty seconds or so he could hear the tread of footsteps outside and a car approaching the farmhouse.
Jordan’s black Volkswagen T5 pulled up onto the gravel drive at the same time as Matt opened the kitchen door. Daniel walked over to meet him as he got out of the van, holding his phone out for Jordan to see. Whatever was on there had Jordan tensing up immediately.
“What’s wrong?” Matt called out, making Daniel jump, but Jordan didn’t even flinch already fully aware of his presence. He walked over to them, and looked pointedly at Daniel.
Daniel motioned for Jordan to give him his phone back and handed it straight over to Matt. “I got an email from Shaw.”
It took Matt a good few seconds to recognise the name. And when he did, his chest tightened at the memories it invoked. It wasn’t that anyone had forgotten what happened at the facility, but it wasn’t exactly a popular topic of conversation either. Shaw, along with Ash and a Dr Adams, had been injected with the serum by Chambers and had ended up a partial altered. Whatever he had to say, Matt doubted it would be anything good.
The email was short and to the point. Shaw hadn’t bothered with pleasantries, and Matt felt oddly pleased by that. They weren’t friends, and he was glad no one pretended otherwise. He read it again to make sure he hadn’t missed anything and handed the phone back to Daniel.
“So.” Matt glanced up at the sky, knowing their peaceful existence was about to change. But he asked the question anyway. “Are we going to take them?”

RC

Meet the Author

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with her husband, three rowdy children, and two cats.
An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

Where to find the author:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AJacobs_fiction
Website – www.annabellejacobs.com
Email – ajacobsfiction@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ajacobsfiction
Facebook Author page

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Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Havan Fellows, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Jessie G. Books, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Carly’s Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter, Bike Book Reviews, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, 3 Chicks After Dark, The Jena Wade, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Molly Lolly, The Jena Wade, Inked Rainbow Reads, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Three Books Over The Rainbow, Iyana Jenna, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Divine Magazine, Mikky’s World of Books, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, Rainbow Gold Reviews

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Book from Annabelle’s backlist and $10 Amazon gift card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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A BJ Review: The Downs by Kim Fielding

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love is an Open Road” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

The Downs coverPrompt: Dear Author,
He stood, head bowed, body tense, waiting. No matter what happened next, his life would never be the same…
Please give this man his life changing event, whatever that may be, as long as he ends up with his HEA/HFN by the end. Thank you, Aislinn

This story reads rather like a fable or a dark fairy tale. It’s set in a fascinating dystopian world where those convicted of a crime are taken from the city, across the Reach and pitched over a cliff into the Downs where they are told they are being given to the demons for their pleasure.

Nicely done world building. The story begins with a Entian, a criminal who has been wrongly judged then carted across the desert, brutalized and thrown down a cliff, supposedly to the demons. However, he wakes instead to tender care at the hands of the gentle, scarred giant named Rig. Both of the main characters were intriguing. Although he hadn’t deserved what he got, Entian hadn’t been at all an innocent saint in his previous life. And Rig with his sad past and big, sweet bear personality is lovely. Both of their backstories are very developed for a story of this length.

This story had many elements I enjoy: dark, dystopian, hurt/comfort, scarred/broken characters, and a sweet love story. There is action but for the most part it moves at a steady pace that lets us sink gently into the world and the relationship.

This isn’t only a romance, but a fable-like tale of betrayal, second chances, and vengeance. Little truths sneak out from its pages. Like for example how sometimes it’s the unfortunate events that brings us to the exact place where we find what it is we most needed all along. But Entian’s determined desire for revenge even after he’d created a life with Rig was the one sour note in the story for me. I did end up liking how it played out though. So overall a great story with a sweet and fitting end.

The cover is lovely and uses the actual prompt photograph from the m/m romance group which inspired the story!

Free Story which can be found here.

Book Details: 

book, 95 pages
Published June 10th 2015 by M/M Romance Group @ Goodreads
edition language English

2 Book Spotlight Special: Chris McHart’s Alex’s Surprise & Saving Alex (Unexpected #1 and #2) (excerpt and giveaway)

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Alex’s Surprise & Saving Alex (Unexpected #1 and #2) by Chris McHart
Release Date: Alex’s Surprise – June 26

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Goodreads Link:   Alex’s Surprise   |   Saving Alex 

Publisher: Alex’s Surprise – M/M Romance Group on Goodreads.
Saving Alex – Chris McHart
Cover Artist: Meg Bawden of Bawd Designs

Sales Links:  Amazon DE  |  Amazon  |  All Romance (ARe) 

 Alex’s Surprise is a free story! You can download it on Goodreads, Amazon and ARe

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Book Blurbs

Alex’s Surprise: Alex wanted a night of hot passion with Gerome, but he gets more than he ever bargained for. His life will be changed forever in a world where he’ll be thrown in jail— or worse— for being pregnant.

Alex’s best friend, Sam, has been acting strange ever since he met Alex’s one-night stand, but now Alex needs help in order to hide, and Sam is his only hope.

Saving Alex: Not only is Alex pregnant, something punishable by jail time, but Gerome, the father of the baby, is a vampire prince. When strangers invade Alex’s home and kidnap him, he doesn’t know who is responsible, if he’ll ever see the man he loves again, or even get to see the child growing inside him.

Considering himself the father of his lover’s child, Sam has a hard time standing around and letting others plan Alex’s rescue. But when the Prince and his trackers find an important clue, the race to save his beloved is on. Now all he can do is cross his fingers that the scheme they’ve devised will work.

When Prince Gerome receives ransom demands, the instructions are clear: mate a complete stranger or he’ll never see Alex or the child he carries again. Will he be able to convince his newly intended to help, or will those seeking to dethrone his family win this evil game of blackmail?

Caution: Contains a kidnapping, unwanted matings, a scheming king, way too many people that follow their own plans and a highly pregnant Alex

Pages or Words: Alex’s Surprise – 27,000 words, Saving Alex – 33,000 words
Categories: Alternate universe, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Mystery, Paranormal, MPREG

Excerpt

Alex zapped, annoyed, through the channels. He lounged on the couch, bored out of his mind. Sam, his best friend and roommate, had taken up the recliner, reading something. Maybe Alex should do that as well? Watching TV wasn’t going to keep him entertained, since nothing caught his interest, no movie, no documentary, nothing. He zapped on, but stopped at a news report showing a pregnant man. He sat up a bit straighter. What was up with that?
The man’s stomach was swollen, showing he was at least five or six months along. His hands were cuffed in front of his baby bump and tears were streaming down his face. The camera showed a courtroom full of people, slowly sweeping over the interested men and women watching the process.
Alex turned up the volume. What had the man done? And why was he pregnant? He’d heard it was possible, but he’d never encountered someone who’d actually experienced that.
The reporter’s voice came up. “Robert B. was tried for violation of the racial laws. Today’s sentencing was long awaited. No one had heard of pregnant men for years, and there had been uncertainty about the actual jurisdiction in such cases. B., who is, according to doctors, six months along, was sentenced to five years in jail. His child will be put in an orphanage until he is released. The fathering sire has no legal claim over the child. He will be able to visit his child, but he can’t get guardianship over him or her. The child and the carrier will be outcasts of society after that.
“B. broke down after hearing the judge’s decision. Even though it’s forbidden, he clearly hoped the old laws would be overturned. Instead, the judge confirmed that male breeding between the races is still forbidden and punishable. With that, back to the studio.”
The picture changed, now showing a woman in a suit, smiling at the camera. “Thanks to our reporter in Berlin for a summary of today’s events in court. Now to the weather…”
Alex turned down the volume, muting the forecast. He turned to Sam, who had apparently put down his book to watch the news as well. “Did you hear that? How can they judge someone because he got pregnant?”
“I have no idea? Maybe because it’s wrong? Are these children dangerous? I’ve never met one, or heard of one, for that matter, but I guess there’s a reason it’s forbidden. The whole pregnant man thing is so strange, no wonder it’s against the laws. Who knows what’ll come out of such breedings.”
Alex frowned. A new life was precious, not wrong. He couldn’t imagine a child being dangerous, even if it was mixed. Children born from interracial relationships were allowed, as long as one of the parents was female and the other male. Why this didn’t apply to children born from a same-sex relationship was beyond Alex. Even if it was unusual for a man to be pregnant, he shouldn’t be put in jail for something like that.
This was the first case in a long time, according to the reporter, but he’d not given a reason why the laws were upheld. “It’s still wrong to judge someone for getting pregnant.”
“I don’t know. Like I said, there must be a reason why it’s forbidden.” Sam picked up his book again, ending the conversation. Alex took a moment to study his friend’s features as he buried himself in yet another sci-fi book. He was quite handsome with his blond, unruly hair and his strong jaw. The gaze of the piercing blue eyes that never seemed to miss anything flew over the page, pulling Sam into yet another outlandish adventure.
Maybe Sam was right. There had to be a reason it was against the law. Alex was kind of sorry for the man who now faced five years in prison, but then, the man knew what he risked with getting pregnant in the first place.
Alex settled back and focused on the TV again. Sam was not in the mood to discuss the matter anymore, his mind clearly on the story he was reading. As if they’d need sci-fi to experience something unusual. Ever since paranormals had come out of hiding back in the 1980s, going to certain clubs could be more adventurous than anything an author could come up with.
Maybe he should go out today? Blowing off some steam wouldn’t hurt. He’d not gotten laid in quite a while, and a night in one of the mixed clubs sounded too good to resist. It was better than staring at a rerun of a movie.
Alex switched off the TV and stood. “I’m going out, do you want to come with me?”
“What do you have in mind?” Sam looked up from his book. “Dancing? I thought of going to the Downtown.”
“Na, go without me. I’m not in the mood for that crowd.”
“You sure? It’s been months since you’ve been out.” Alex wasn’t surprised, Sam wasn’t one to go out much, and he despised big crowds. The Downtown is a huge mixed club, catering to all kinds of paranormals and humans. Not that paranormals were forbidden anywhere, but they, as well as humans, preferred to stick with their own kind. One of the exceptions was a club like the one Alex was going to visit. A night of dancing, and maybe getting laid, sounded better with every second.

About the Author

We asked Chris McHart “What inspires you or drives you crazy?”

Chris McHart’s Answer?

“Inspiring me is the love to my husband, and every time I see a picture about love. It can be so little as a holding hands, but it might inspire me to write a story about it. I love playing the ‘what if’ game, and the things my brain comes up with.”

Chris McHart is from Germany and, while an accountant, writing is Chris’s real passion.
Chris likes to spend time with family and has way too many animals that demand constant attention. Chris also enjoys landscaping and cooking.
Whenever Chris has a free minute, it’s spent writing on a laptop, a cup of coffee in hand, deeply lost in the worlds Chris’s muses have created.
When coming up for some air, you’ll find Chris on a lot of social networks. Check out Chris’s website to see where you can find out more. Chris looks forward to hearing from you!

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008256641886
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-McHart/326380184192029?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chris_mchart
Blog: http://www.chrismchart.com

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Tour Dates & Stops: July 6, 2015
Parker Williams, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, BFD Book Blog, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Bayou Book Junkie, Velvet Panic, Bike Book Reviews, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, The Hat Party, MM Good Book Reviews, Jessie G. Books, Inked Rainbow Reads, Molly Lolly, Amanda C. Stone, Rainbow Gold Reviews

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: 3 print copies of Alex’s Surprise/Saving Alex.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Prizes and link provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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A BJ Review: The Pillar by Kim Fielding

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5       ★★★★★

The Pillar coverWhen he was just a youth, orphaned Faris was flogged as a thief at the pillar in the Zidar town square and left to die. A kind old man took him in, healed him, gave him a home and taught him a profession. Now Faris is the herbalist who cares for the injured and ill of Zidar. He spends his lonely days haunted by his past and insecure of his place in the community. Until the night he saves a dying slave from the same pillar upon which he’d been flogged.

Boro is a former soldier has spent who has spent his last decade as slave. Faris uses his herbs and ointments to hear Boro’s physical wounds, but both men carry scars that can’t be seen. When these two broken men find solace in each other, constraints of law and social class in 15th century Bosnia make it difficult to sustain the fragile happiness they’ve found together.

From the first page, the imagery in this book grabbed my imagination and created a rich world around me that I could have stepped right into. The story has an almost a fairy-tale feel to it. It’s a simple story at heart, but lush and rich and timeless and full of meaning. Beautifully written. There is certainly brutality, slavery, torture, pain and angst here, but despite that the story didn’t come across as dark to me. It showed the bad, yes, but also the kindness and goodness that can be there as well. Hope and love definitely were the overriding notes this book left with me.

I enjoyed both of the main characters, but also felt that I knew many of the other inhabitants of that quaint little town. I wish I could go for a walk across that bridge with them, into the town where we’d say hi to the townspeople and I feel like I’d recognize them. Then stroll on into the woods to gather herbs. She painted it so well with her words that I’d feel right at home.

This is a beautiful hurt/comfort story. I adored the way the love between these guys grew and deepened as they got to know one another. The perfect way they complimented each other and helped each other to heal inside even as Faris was healing Boro physically. This one totally touched my heart and is one of my favorite by this author at the time of this review.

Seemed to me that the title had a two-fold meaning. . . the obvious one of the stone pillar used for the beatings, but also later there is a reference to Faris, who thought of himself as a worthless thief almost right up to the end, being proclaimed by the town leader to be a pillar of the community. . . and YES, his character totally shined out all through the book but especially with how the whole town rallied around him at the end. So it seemed there are two pillars. . . the stone one in the town square… but Faris was ‘the pillar’ too. And it’s him, more than the inanimate one, that was the center of this outstanding book.

The final chapter’s events fit. From early on, I had a feeling it would end up needing to happen that way or something similar given their world, but I think Faris was right in his assessment that Boro himself needed it to be that way, too.

The cover by Shobana Appavu is absolutely gorgeous and perfectly fitting for this book. Evocative of a fairy tale, just like the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here


Book Details:  

ebook, 144 pages
Published August 12th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN1632160706 (ISBN13: 9781632160706)
edition language English

Amelia C. Gormley’s Strain Universe is Back with Juggernaut-Book 2 (contest)

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Juggernaut by  Amelia C. Gormley
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: L. C. Chase

Sales Link:  Riptide Publishing

 

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome Amelia C. Gormley  here today to talk about Juggernaut, the latest release in her Strain universe.  Welcome, Amelia!

Hi, and welcome to the Juggernaut blog tour!

Almost before I was done writing Strain, my mind began trying to fill in the blanks of the world we saw in Strain, trying to piece together what had led up to that point. I decided I wanted to write a story chronicling the apocalyptic pandemic, both the events leading up to it and the immediate aftermath. The result, of course, was Juggernaut.

On the Juggernaut blog tour, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the world of Juggernaut/Strain/Bane, including several cut scenes from Juggernaut which I felt contained important world-building details that in the end just didn’t fit the flow of the story. I’ll also be sharing a couple sneak previews of the third book in the Strain universe, Bane (coming September 21 from Riptide Publishing) as well as giving away three e-copies of Bane before it hits the shelves!

                                                                            Giveaway

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post including a way to contact you (email, Twitter, or Facebook.) Each stop along the blog tour that you visit offers you another chance to enter.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Riptide Publishing.

Be sure to check the Riptide blog tour schedule for a complete list of other stops. The contest will close Saturday, August 15th, 2015 and the winner will be contacted no later than Monday, August 17th. Any entries made without a way to contact the winner will be invalidated, so please don’t forget to provide your email, or your Twitter or Facebook address. Contest is NOT limited to US entries.
Good luck, and enjoy the tour!
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About Juggernaut

They helped destroy the world. Now they have to survive the new one.Juggernaut_600x900

For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.

Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.

When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.

*****
About the Author

Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.

Blog: “http://ameliacgormley.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ACGormley”
Tumblr:  “http://ameliacgormley.tumblr.com/”
Facebook:  “http://www.facebook.com/ameliacgormley”
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6445292.Amelia_C_Gormley

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About the Strain Universe

In the early 22nd century, the US military created Project Juggernaut. It was meant to solve a hopeless tactical imbalance in overseas wars by providing the US military with supersoldiers while crippling enemy resistance.

Instead, it introduced a deadly pandemic that all but obliterated humanity.

The remaining Juggernaut troops work tirelessly to find and protect the surviving uninfected population—even though they themselves are exiled and despised by those they help. But their efforts are hampered by the vestiges of a dysfunctional government, old prejudices that refuse to die, and those few who would do anything—and sacrifice anyone—to become superhuman too.

Strain and Juggernaut can be read independently, in any order. Bane is best enjoyed after reading both Strain and Juggernaut.

For those who wish to read in publication order, that is: Strain, Juggernaut, Bane.

 

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Charlie Cochet “Thirds” series is back With “Against The Grain”! (author interview, excerpt, & giveaway)

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One of our favorite authors is here today to talk about her latest story, Against The Grain and its inspiration! Welcome, Charlie Cochet!

My Interview with Charlie Cochet

Q . What was the inspiration behind the story?

For Against the Grain, I knew early on in the series that Ash and Cael would be getting their own book. There was just too much going on under the surface between them to not fully delve into their growing romantic relationship. From book one it’s pretty obvious to everyone (except Ash) that there’s more between him and Cael than friendship.

Q. How would you characterize your book?  Alternate universe, dystopian society, sci-fi, or all of them?

That’s a tough one since it has so many different elements. I would say the THIRDS series falls under any of these: Alternative Universe, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Sci-fi with romance.

Q. Do you like to read the genres you write in?

I love to read the genres I write in. I read pretty much all genres of M/M Romance, though admittedly not many zombie or horror romances. There’s always exceptions, but yeah, I read all kinds of genres.   

Q. What sci-fi warrior / soldier comes to mind first when thinking about movies or novels you love?

Captain America is the first one who comes to mind. Who doesn’t love a sexy super-soldier with a heart of gold? I love his character, from the very beginning when we meet a lanky yet brave Steve Rogers who wants nothing more than to serve his country, who’s fighting for all the right reasons without fear, until after he’s transformed into super-soldier Captain America. I’m a big movie geek, and a fan of comic book movies. They’re filled with so many fantastic characters, backstories, humor and angst. Plus their worlds are just so much fun to lose yourself in.

I loved watching Sci-fi / Fantasy movies growing up. So many amazing movies at the time: Tron, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Alien, Total Recall, Terminator to name a few. Then there was the fantasy like The Princess Bride, Legend, Labyrinth, Wizard of Oz, and The NeverEnding Story. They all stuck with me and I still love re-visiting all those amazing stories.

Q. What was the first book you remember that had a huge impact on you as a person and a writer, and it doesn’t have to be the same story.

I’ve read so many books over the years, I couldn’t pick just one. My library card was my most precious possession, and the day the book mobile was scheduled to come to school was the most exciting day of the week for me. As a teen, I devoured romance novels. I loved them. So it wasn’t surprising when I wrote my first romance novel in high school. I still have it. Originally it was written across several diaries then in the age of word processing and computers, I typed it all up. It underwent many, many revisions but it still sits on my hard drive, a reminder of where it all started.

Q. Characters or plot?  Which came first?

Characters. My characters always come before the plot. When I get an idea for a story and I start developing the world and what the story’s going to be about, my characters always pop up before anything else. They’re what drive the plot and the story for me. I love creating characters.

Q. What’s next for Charlie Cochet?

Quite a bit! My schedule is pretty full on right now, so there’s plenty heading this way. On Aug 19th, I have Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts being released, which is a sweet romance novella that centers on a gruff Miami SWAT officer and his brownie-baking geeky neighbor determined to kill him with kindness and baked goods. On Aug 25th, Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy is released. It’s a fantastic anthology with an amazing lineup of authors. My story The Soldati Prince features a smart-mouthed barista who discovers he bears the mark of a sexy yet dangerous tiger-shifter king from another realm. At the end of October we have Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue, a haunting story of a detective/security guard and the mysterious hotel guest he’s drawn to. In December we have the fifth book in the North Pole City Tales series, Loving Blitz which follows best friends Cupid and Blitzen on their adventures from friendship to romance.

For more information on my current works in progress or upcoming releases, you can find it all here: http://www.charliecochet.com/work-in-progress/

Thank you all so much for having me, and a big thank to everyone who’s stopped by!

AboutTheBook

Title: Against the Grain (Thirds # 5) by Charlie CochetAgainstTheGrainFSLG

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Length: Novel, 216 pages

Release Date: August 3rd, 2015

Blurb:

As the fiercest Defense Agent at the THIRDS, Destructive Delta’s Ash Keeler is foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. But his hard-lined approach always yields results, evident by his recent infiltration of the Coalition. Thanks to Ash’s skills and the help of his team, they finally put an end to the murdering extremist group for good, though not before Ash takes a bullet to save teammate Cael Maddock. As a result, Ash’s secrets start to surface, and he can no longer ignore what’s in his heart.

Cael Maddock is no stranger to heartache. As a Recon Agent for Destructive Delta, he has successfully maneuvered through the urban jungle that is New York City, picking up his own scars along the way. Yet nothing he’s ever faced has been more of a challenge than the heart of Ash Keeler, his supposedly straight teammate. Being in love isn’t the only danger he and Ash face as wounds reopen and new secrets emerge, forcing them to question old loyalties.

CommonExcerpt

At one point, Ash felt Cael’s leg pressed up against his, and it was ridiculous how happy the tiny gesture made him. If it was even a gesture. Ash swiftly put it off to being an accident, but then a little later, Cael reached over and wiped a thumb over the corner of Ash’s mouth, telling him he had a breadcrumb.

“You should have seen him,” Dex said with a laugh. “He looked so adorable with his cheetah fuzz shaped into spikes, from his head down to his back. Like a little spotted punk rocker.”

Maddock shook his head at Dex. “It took me two hours to wash all the hair spray off your brother’s fur.”

“We were pretending to be Guns N’ Roses,” Cael explained. “Dex was singing ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ and I was backup sing—er, chirping.”

Ash laughed and playfully bumped Cael’s shoulder. “I’m going to have to agree with Dex. That’s adorable.” Even in his Therian form, Ash thought Cael was the sweetest thing he’d ever laid eyes on. Cael could be in his Therian form among thousands of cheetahs, and Ash would be able to point him out. His little gestures, the heart shape of his nose, or the way he chirped away, as if anyone not in their Therian form might understand him if he tried hard enough.

Dex grabbed Sloane’s arm. “Tell me you recorded that. Doesn’t matter. I have witnesses.” Dex stood and motioned to all of them. “Witnesses! You all heard it. Ash said he agrees with me.”

“Oh, good Lord. We’re never going to hear the end of this,” Maddock sighed, getting up to clear the dishes.

“Do you realize how epic this moment is?” Dex said, helping clear up.

“It’s not really that epic,” Maddock replied.

Dex let out an exaggerated gasp. “Where have you been living? Ash Keeler has agreed with something I, Dexter J. Daley, has said.”

“About your brother being adorable. Not exactly earthshattering. He’s thought that since they met.”

The table fell into silence as they all gaped at Maddock. Well, this was news to Ash. What the hell? Seeming to notice the quiet, or more likely the lack of Dex talking, Maddock looked up.

“What are you, fish? Close your mouths.”

Four mouths promptly closed.

“It’s not rocket science. I’ve known that boy since he joined, and he’s threatened every agent he’s ever met with kicking their ass. Except for Cael.”

Hard to argue with that. It was the truth.

Dex frowned at Ash. “You threatened to kick Hobbs’s ass?”

Ash nodded. “Yep.” Was it his first week of being on the job? He was pretty sure it was the first week.

“Dude, that’s not cool. Hobbs is awesome.”

“He can also be a pain in the ass. Plus when we first met, I didn’t know he had selective mutism. I asked him a question, and he wouldn’t answer me. He’d whisper to Calvin, who’d answer for him. I got pissed off and told him if he didn’t tell me himself, I’d kick his ass.” Ash had never met a tiger Therian as big and insecure as Hobbs. The whole encounter had left him confused. Here was their new demolitions expert, and he couldn’t talk. How the fuck was he going to communicate with his team? Ash wasn’t proud to admit he’d had a shit fit. He understood the THIRDS was about equality and representation when it came to hiring, but he had been genuinely concerned about the safety of his team. Not long after, Ash had seen how wrong he’d been about Hobbs. Not that he’d admitted it.

Dex let out a sound of disgust. “Dude, not cool.”

“I said I didn’t know. I apologized afterward, and that’s saying something.”

Ash got up to help clear the dishes, with Dex going on about how he should really think about using some of those scented candles Rosa had gifted him. Ash proceeded to flip him off.

When Cael stood to help, Ash put a hand to his shoulder.

“Relax, I’ve got this.”

He gave Cael a wink and walked the dirty dishes to the kitchen with Dex yammering on behind him. The guy was like a fucking mosquito buzzing in your ear and trying to suck the life out of you. Ash placed the dishes in the dishwasher, giving grunts and one-word replies. He grabbed the dishes from Dex and put those in as well. He wished he could stick Dex in there. Finally someone up there decided to give him a break, and Dex left the kitchen, singing some stupid song about a lion sleeping tonight or something.

Ash frowned at Maddock. “Does he never shut up? How the hell did you live with this for so long?”

“It’s called patience,” Maddock replied. “Not exactly your forte.”

“Oh, I can be patient. That’s not what’s required when dealing with your oldest. I’d say sedative is more the word you were looking for.”

Maddock laughed. “Just get in there, Keeler.”

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AboutTheAuthor

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Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

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A MelanieM Review: The Pinch of the Game by Charley Descoteaux

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

PinchOfTheGame[The]FSBeing a witch doesn’t mean one can beat the devil forever.

Jeffrey Overton, unemployed IT professional turned poker player, pushes his luck once too often and runs afoul of the host of an illegal card club. The man sent to escort Jeffrey to a “meeting” about his supernatural winning streak arrives at Jeffrey’s crappy North Portland apartment, lock-picking tools in hand and a charm to block Jeffrey’s magick.

Head muscle for said host, Mike Wells, is a Daisy from Daisyville. He isn’t a witch. What he lacks in magickal talent he makes up for in brawn, so he doesn’t expect the guy he’s after to overpower him. But once Mike renders Jeffrey helpless, he’d rather seduce him than bring him in.

Jeffrey and Michael ditch the “meeting” and end up hunting some of the same people they ran from, trying to get Jeffrey back into his own body. And that’s only part of the adventure. The pair travel halfway across the country on the quietest road trip in history and find missing people, empire-building witches, and maybe even the families they’d both thought lost to them.

I really like Charley Descoteaux because even as sections of this story had me grinding my teeth in frustration her characters of Jeffrey Overton and Mike Wells are so endearing and charming that they swayed me over to their side and kept me there for the duration of The Pinch of the Game.  No matter how many times along the narrative path I wanted to stop due to poor universe construction or illogical character traits, their engaging ways and winning natures carried me through one bumpy writing obstacle after another.

We start off in an alternate universe that’s never really given any explanation or foundation.   There are  witches, but of what type and magical basis we just don’t know.  There are non-magical humans as well, like Mike, but again, little background or history is given.  At first (I missed the note at first), I thought The Pinch of the Game must be part of a series I had missed.  As a stand alone that lack of foundation and grounding in world building leaves this story feeling as though it is the middle part of a much larger story.  What’s worse?  The knowledge in the foreword that this story started out as a short story and was enlarged to this version.  *shakes head*

Jeffrey is a Stumptown witch and “A Stumptown witch doesn’t go far from the source of his power”, except when he does.  In search of his mother, another witch in a bad situation that is never quite explored and whose resolution comes far too quickly for the buildup.  There is some stomach churning body switching and more, none of which really makes any sense which is probably ok because neither does the plot.  I just liked reading about Jeffrey and Mike and their developing relationship.  That saved this story for me.

Of course, the whole thing came close to being derailed one more with a little scene at the end where unexpected and sort of jaw dropping facts came out about Jeffrey.  With no basis laid anywhere in the story for this and no way to substantiate their truthfulness or weigh the impact upon Mike and Jeffrey’s relationship because the story just ends, the reader is just left hanging, wondering again what they had just read.

Only Charley Descoteaux’s terrific imagination and two main characters saved this story from a lower rating.  I love this author but this story was just too disorganized and jumbled to make any sense.

Cover art by AngstyG is wonderful.  I love the design and 20’s feel.  Great job.

Sale Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon |The Pinch of the Game Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 98 pages
Published June 24th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632169068
edition languageEnglish

Take An Alternate Path to Love with Obsidian Sun by Jon Keys (excerpt and giveaway)

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Obsidian Sun by Jon Keys
Release Date: July 10, 2015

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Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

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Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press  |  All Romance  |  Amazon  | Google Play  | Barnes & Noble

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Differences must be put aside when vengeance becomes all-consuming.

Anan, a spellweaver of the Talac people, returns from a hunting trip to find his village decimated, his mate dead, and everyone else captured by Varas slavers. The sole survivor is Terja, a young man without the velvet that covers most Talac, marking him as a spellspinner. Since Talac magic requires both a weaver and a spinner, Anan and Terja must move beyond their ingrained mistrust. All that remains is revenge and a desperate plan to rescue their tribesmen before they are sold to Varas pleasure houses. A goal Anan and Terja are willing to die for.

With the blessing of the Talac gods, they discover new and surprising ways to complement each other’s power. But as they race through terrain full of enemies and dangerous creatures to reach their people before they pass into Varas lands, they must take drastic steps to face the overwhelming odds against them. Understanding their connection might be their only hope.
Pages or Words: 200 pages

Categories: Alternate universe, Fantasy

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

ANAN EASED into bow range. He’d been hunting for a fingercount of days and stalking this daggerhorn since the early gray of predawn. He waited until the animal turned away before rising to a crouch. The lethally armed grazer would feed him and his mate for days. He brought his bow up slowly and drew the bowstring to his cheek.

His body convulsed with pain that felt as if he’d been stabbed with a red-hot iron blade, and his arrow shot several lengths above his quarry, which disappeared into the deep grass.

In the next instant, Anan knew. His mating-bond with Silbre had snapped. Agony filled him, sending him to his knees as the bow slipped from his numb hands. Gasping for air, he dropped forward onto his hands as waves of loss and pain overwhelmed him.

I have to find Silbre. What happened? Our mating-bond can’t be broken. Unwilling to believe the horrible truth, Anan had to find his mate.

He staggered to his feet, looping the bow over his shoulder as he took the first stumbling steps toward home. The surety of his pace came back to him, and he gained speed until he was sprinting toward the clan’s encampment. Time became irrelevant. He walked when his legs refused to run and ate when his body demanded it.

Dusk came on him stealthily, but he refused to stop. Silbre can’t be gone. We’ve been together since our adult velvet. Anan’s chest tightened at the thought of losing his mate. His mind swirled with fear, horror, and anger. If their teachers hadn’t sent him on yet another hunting trip, maybe he could have saved Silbre. No, he refused to believe he’d lost Silbre. There must be another explanation. He pushed down the rush of emotions and focused on the run as night deepened. With the rise of the moons, he picked up speed, desperate to reach home.

Anan neared the last of his endurance when he saw the familiar featherleaf trees that lined the river bend where the Kuri clan spent its summers. He topped the river embankment and dropped to his knees at the sight before him. Complete devastation. The warm morning breeze carried the scent of death. The raucous voices of carrion birds as they fought over bits of his clan reinforced his horror.

He struggled down the steep embankment to splash through the shallow river that circled most of what had been the Kuri’s summer encampment. As he waded to shore, he found the eyeless face of a childhood friend. Anan stumbled to one side and emptied his stomach. He retched again and again as he surpassed the limit of his emotional endurance until each twist of his stomach yielded nothing.

Silbre! Where’s Silbre? Anan renewed his headlong flight to find his twining mate.

He ran through the devastation, sending flocks of birds into the air. With each heartbeat his desperation grew as he ran to their tent. He has to be alive. I can’t survive without him. He rounded a pile of debris and found the familiar woven pattern of their summer lodge. His world died. Entangled in the remains, Silbre’s body bristled with a fingercount of crossbow quarrels. Varas slavers. Those are their bolts. The iron heads and spiral fletching left no doubt. But they had never come this far into Talac territory.

Anan dropped to his knees and pulled Silbre tight against him. Anan’s breath rasped between clenched teeth, his chest tight with grief as he rocked with his mate in his arms. A freshet of tears rolled over the plush hair covering his face. The dull drone from hordes of green burrowing flies and the cries of carrion birds surrounded him. But grief paralyzed Anan.
His sorrow merged with anger, and he screamed toward the implacable sky. “Why have you let this happen? Why did you cut his threads so short?”

Anan dropped his chin against his chest and sobbed. He rocked his mate slowly, tracing the tips of his fingers along the swirls of a spellweaver created in the short tan and brown hair covering Silbre’s face while he fought to ignore the fatal wounds.

Anan’s throat tightened as more tears rolled down his cheeks. He lowered Silbre gently, as if he were sleeping.

The aftermath of the attack must be dealt with. He had no choice. He steeled himself to the carnage around him and struggled to understand. How did the Varas unravel the protective web that surrounded the village? Especially those of the Kuri clan, who have some of the most skilled spellweavers of the Talac people. Even if they had broken the spell, a warning would have been felt, and people would have boiled out like stingers from their nest. Something in the web of Anan’s reality shifted as he wondered how the Varas were able to decimate a Talac village.

Anan called on his spell vision and tried to trace any threads, but they were gone. If there were survivors, they were no longer connected to the village weaving. He began moving in a haze of disbelief.

All the people he’d grown up with were gone. Saritua who taught him his first weavings, Trebea who knew the perfect day to harvest wood for bows that wouldn’t wrack in the fall rains—gone. He’d never hear Poza talking with her imaginary friends as she toddled from one rug to another pretending at grownup, or her wonder when the spring gliders migrated across the savanna.

He’d seen the carrion birds pecking the flesh from their lifeless bodies. The horrors no longer registered, as his surroundings became part of an unending cascade of atrocities. At some point he would break and mourn. But not now; he was too numb, too overwhelmed. The bits of his being that weren’t focused on what he had to accomplish in this moment hid in the corner of his mind, gibbering in near madness. Silbre couldn’t come to the rescue this time. The task fell on his shoulders. There was no one else.

Screaming birds took off and revealed the burned arms of a spellspinner. With this final revelation, the last warp threads of Anan’s reality snapped. All the Kuri spinners would be dead. When spellspinners in battle ripped the matama from the attackers, they condemned themselves to death. Akhir gave their attackers a painful end, but the backlash left the spellspinners burned and dead. He moved closer and saw the velvetless skin that marked them from birth as spellspinners. But the curse, or gift, of akhir created the final separation between the Talac spinners and weavers.

Anan’s questionable skill at spellweaving didn’t matter any longer. Without a spinner, there was no one to take the deathspinner eggs and harvest silk for the matama threads he needed for his weavings. Only the spinners knew how to combine matama with silk harvested from the most feared animals of the savanna. Without spun threads, Anan’s years of training didn’t matter.

Lucid thought came to an end with yet another gruesome discovery. His mind rebelled, and the final threads of his former life broke one by one. He locked away his emotions to sort through them when he could take the luxury.

Anan recognized the end of his second day when the sun’s deep red orb rested on the treetops, covering his world in the color of fresh blood. Darkness would come soon and with it the possibility of larger predators. With the clan spell webbing gone, nothing would keep them out.

He knew his duty. He must gather the dead and perform the most sacred of weavings. He would create the final unraveling ceremony for most of the village.

Anan struggled to his feet and began his task. Taking Silbre first, he carried his mate’s body to the center of the camp. He ran the back of his fingers over his twining’s face, the cold ache of loss constricting around his chest until his breath came in gasps and tears rolled down his cheeks again.

Hesitant at first, Anan carried the remains of each member of his clan and laid them side by side. Lastly he moved to the spellspinners’ tents. He understood their importance in the clan, but their aloof manner and vanity over their birthmark velvetless skin had been reason enough for him to avoid them in the past. But his duty was to the village, and his personal disdain had no place. Following the sense of duty hammered into him by his parents, he afforded the spellspinners the same reverence as the other lost.

As he moved toward the final dwelling, and its content, he couldn’t help but note the remains of Varas attackers littering the encampment. Some resembled colorless grubs, the sign of a spellspinner calling akhir. The pale Varas bodies also meant there would be a burned spellspinner close by. Akhir extracted a horrible toll. Only in the legends of First Spinner and First Weaver did anyone survive calling akhir.

He grabbed the wrists of a spinner and found the touch of bare skin against his palms… odd. Anan had never touched a spinner before. There had never been a reason to do so. They didn’t encourage contact. After steeling himself, he squatted to gather the last of the bodies, when he heard a moan.

Anan spun, knife in hand. When he realized the sound didn’t come from attacking Varas, he sheathed his knife and waited, listening for signs of life. A few heartbeats later another barely audible sound leaked from the wreckage. Anan dug through a pile of tent cloth and found a storage cache. Another groan drifted from inside the partially exposed opening, followed by rustling as if a mouse ran across a stretched kuri-skin drum.

Anan eased himself forward, peering into the opening. At first he could see nothing but darkness, but then two brilliant blue eyes peered up at him.

He waited, recognizing the color of a spellspinner’s eyes. How did this spinner survive? Why did he hide? Compassion returned to Anan. Regardless of how this spinner survived, he is also Talac.

“You hurt?” Even to Anan’s own ears, his words sounded brittle and desolate of emotion. He waited for a response, but when none came, he reached inside.

“Here. Let me help.”

Smooth skin slid under Anan’s palms, the first time he’d touched a living spinner. Surprise raced through his system when he found the contact… pleasant. As he helped the slender figure, he recognized this spinner, but not for a reason he might have hoped. The spinner standing before him was the most reclusive. He always avoided contact with any of the Talac who were normal. Who were velveted.

He studied Anan with the suspicion of a young night-hunter, complete with the twitch of his nose. He took the offered hand and scrambled up the side of the cache.

The tension between them grew as their gazes locked. This isn’t about my feelings for the spinners. I must perform the unraveling. He waited a moment, took in a breath, and calmed himself.

“Can you walk?”

The spinner wiped a grimy arm over his forehead, leaving streaks of filth as he tucked his dark hair behind his ears. An instant later he nodded silently.

“I’m Anan.”

This time the young man trembled. “Terja. I am a spinner.”

Anan’s brow lifted. “Yes. I see you.” He considered asking the questions swirling through his mind, but waited.
Terja shuddered again and turned his head slowly. He seemed lost, but Anan granted him time to adjust and waited until the spinner’s focus returned. “Where is everyone?”

“Dead. Or taken as Varas slaves. I found only a few bodies from Kuri our age.”

Terja’s eye’s widened. “Slavers? The screams. I heard… it was….” He stared at Anan.

Anan wondered if this spinner still functioned or if the trauma had overwhelmed Terja. Regardless, he continued. “Varas slavers attacked the village. Everyone is either dead or captured. I don’t know why the web didn’t sound an alert. The herds are scattered. All the Talac clans are in jeopardy.”

“Our kuri and herdweavers? Gone?” Terja’s voice broke at the news.

Anan stared at him. The herds were the least of his concerns. The herdweavers had either died fighting or were captured. But he knew they hadn’t deserted the kuri. They took their role as guardians seriously. But he needed to finish his task, and Terja acted too overwhelmed to help.

Though he moved toward the nearest body, Anan couldn’t stop staring at Terja. The irrelevant question wiped out the last of his restraint. “Why were you hiding? The Varas attacked. Why’d you do nothing?”

Tears flooded from Terja’s eyes. With his breath coming in gasps, he tried to explain. “I tried. Had my staff. People dying. Father put me—” Terja broke into inconsolable sobbing. Anan knew he would get no more information from the spinner.

“At nightfall we’re doing an unraveling for the dead. You’re helping.”

Terja looked shaken, as if it had never occurred to him a spellweaver would address him in that manner. He began to speak, but when Anan glared at him, Terja pressed his lips tightly together.

Anan motioned to the body of one of the older spinners, and Terja moved to stand at its feet. He clamped his eyes shut as he groped for the ankles, shuddering when the tips of his fingers made contact, and hesitated. Anan allowed him what time he could, but before he had to jar him into motion, Terja clenched his teeth and grabbed the dead man’s ankles.

He opened his eyes and glared at Anan, but Anan was far past being affected by anything so minor as the anger of a young spellspinner. With Terja’s help, the last bodies were gathered. Exhausted mentally and physically, he still refused to allow Terja to perform any of the ceremony.

“We need to make a final check. It’s close to nightfall. I don’t want to leave—” Anan stopped and swallowed hard to regain his control. “I want to be certain we’ve taken care of everyone. We can go opposite directions and meet back here. Hopefully, there’s nothing to find.”

Anan waited for Terja’s nod, then started through the encampment. Hesitant at first, he covered the area with speed and resolve. I don’t know how many more victims I can deal with before my mind snaps like a weak warp thread. As he worked through the smoldering remains, he began to think they’d recovered all the bodies.

He returned to the center of the encampment and found Terja hadn’t arrived. Anan moved to locate the spinner. Close to the spinner’s lodges, Anan found him, crumpled into the dust, holding the body of a small child.

His heart cracked when Terja’s eyes met his, tears running down his red cheeks. He held the broken body like a precious jewel, cradling the kit who was long past the issues of this world. The spinner ran his fingers over the deep brown velvet covering the kit’s face as if he were sleeping. He reached down to touch Terja’s shoulder.

“He’s gone, Terja. Add him to the ceremony so his strands can rejoin the others in the Great Weaving.”

Past reason now, Terja’s sobs echoed across the scene of desolation. The darkness flowed over the pair, its edges seeming to ripple in response to Terja’s grief. “You don’t understand!” he yelled, his face contorted with anger. “Akra and I were friends. His father died when a longtooth pack attacked him. We broke fast together each morning. Why would they kill a kit?”

Anan hardened. “You know why. Akra was nothing more than an animal to them. They don’t follow the teachings of First Twining, and we are nothing more than mating slaves to feed their addiction.”

“Akra was a sweet kit. Just a toddler.”

Anan squeezed his shoulder. “Come. It’s time.”

He forced Terja into motion. They came to the central area, and Terja turned to Anan. “Clean him. Please. I know it will take some of the spinnings you have, but please. I cannot stand to think he’s going to the Great Weaving like this. He worried so much about how he looked.”

“Terja….”

“Please. I’ll replace the spinning. The spell panels on your kilt are close to full. You have enough matama to do this.” Terja turned ashen. “Please. This will be the last thing I ask of you.”

Anan sighed and ran his hand over the complex matama patterns stored on his kilt. Although his state of exhaustion diminished his focus to the point where he had to touch the threads. He deftly created the weaving in the air from the matama stored in his kilt panels. Soon he had the simple weave completed. Once he did, Anan struggled through the ritual steps drummed into him to release the spell and clean the lifeless body. The small weaving dissipated, and Anan let his vision slip away.

The kit before them now could have been sleeping. Anan normally would have refused to use a spellweaving on someone beyond its reach, but he admitted, if only to himself, this final visage of the kit was much preferable to the blood- and gore-splattered toddler that had lain before him a short time earlier. He stared at the kit, then at Terja.
“It’s time to do the unraveling.”

STRW Author Bio and Contacts
Jon Keys’s earliest memories revolve around books. Either read to him or making up stories based on the illustrations, these were places his active mind occupied. As he got older the selection expanded beyond Mother Goose and Dr. Suess to the world of westerns, science fiction and fantasy. His world filled with dragon riders, mind speaking horses and comic book heroes in hot uniforms.
A voracious reader for half a century, Jon recently began creating his own creations of fiction. The first writing was his attempt at showing rural characters in a more sympathetic light. Now he has moved into some of the writing he lost himself in for so many years…fantasy. Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to drawing and cooking, he uses this range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.

Where to find the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jon.keys.773
Twitter: @Jon4Keys
Website: http://www.jonkeys.com/

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A Sammy Review: Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis #1) by Cari Z.

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

I mean, it was one thing to date the guy who’d keyed the principal’s car in high school, but another entirely to get together with someone who was rapidly climbing Panopolis’s Most Wanted list.

Where There's Smoke coverEdward Dinges has always been attracted to the super way of life in Panopolis. It’s a place where the Heroes and Villains meet on a regular basis and the society is as much based on presence as it is the economy. He’d always hoped to meet a hero, but he never dreamed of falling in love with a villain, and one day changes those expectations.

He’s just a guy working at a bank. Except that his boyfriend is a Villain with a thing for bombs and he’s got a Hero who seems to not think that having a boyfriend is a valid reason for the answer “no”. It’s just a matter of time until the world of good, evil, and just plain normal collide.

His eyes were fixed on me, glittering points of light within the matte-gray shadows on his skin. “I’m a bad man.”

“You’re a Villain,” I said. “But that doesn’t make you a bad person.”

So here’s the thing… I loved this! Plain and simple, it was just so much fun that I could hardly sit still from all the giddiness it brought me.

From the very first page (or, well, the dedication actually), I was sucked into this amazing and funky world that Cari Z. created. She took bits of reality and bits of all those fun comic books and movies we’ve all seen and then twisted it into this really fabulous story. In doing so, she was able to both reach deep into this theme and hit some of the topics we all wonder about (like who is the man behind the mask who ever fears) and add in some undeniable humor that again, we all think about (like how completely ridiculous some of the stories behind our favorite heroes and villains are).

She does a beautiful job of mixing characters that we traditionally shrug off as villains and making them real and human. They’re no longer these beings so far off that we can pretend are monsters (well, some of them, because I still think Pinball has some issues), but now they’re people like your brother or sister, your parents, your neighbors.

Maybe it’s not that our Heroes are perfect, maybe it’s that our legal system is broken in the same way they are.

The world felt so tangible to me, especially with the blog posts at the beginning of each chapter, which featured a really sincere and blunt look at the underpinnings of society in Panopolis. They were some of my favorite parts, as they really put things into perspective. I kind of want to know who is behind the blog posts, because I feel like they have an interesting story to tell.

I would’ve loved to see more of the relationship building between Raul and Edward in the beginning, but I was so enthralled by the general plot and world that it didn’t bother me too much. I just wanted to see more of the build up for them. We heard about it in passing, but only got a small glimpse, and I hungered for more. I also think the author could’ve pushed it more at times when it came to how conflicting feelings of love are with knowing what your lover does when he leaves, but that’s just me being picky.

I really hope there’s more than just one sequel, because I could get seriously into this world… like, I could bury myself in it and dance with glee. I’m seriously looking forward to the next one. Great read!

The cover art by L.C. Chase is quite nice. It definitely fits the identity of the Mad Bombardier and helps make it easier to picture him as a villain. My only complaint is the high contrast around the pants, but that’s more of a designers nitpicking than anything else. In general, it’s a lovely cover to pair with a kick-ass story.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing    All Romance (ARe)   Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 88 pages
Published April 27th 2015 by Riptide Publishing (first published April 25th 2015)
ISBN139781626492967
edition languageEnglish
seriesPanopolis #1