An Ali Audiobook Review: Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Welcome to Dim Sum Asylum: a San Francisco where it’s a ho-hum kind of case when a cop has to chase down an enchanted two-foot-tall shrine god statue with an impressive Fu Manchu mustache that’s running around Chinatown, trolling sex magic and chaos in its wake.
Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division faces a pile of challenges far beyond his human-faerie heritage, snarling dragons guarding C-Town’s multiple gates, and exploding noodle factories. After a case goes sideways, Roku is saddled with Trent Leonard, a new partner he can’t trust, to add to the crime syndicate family he doesn’t want and a spell-casting serial killer he desperately needs to find.
While Roku would rather stay home with Bob the Cat and whiskey himself to sleep, he puts on his badge and gun every day, determined to serve and protect the city he loves. When Chinatown’s dark mystical underworld makes his life hell and the case turns deadly, Trent guards Roku’s back and, if Trent can be believed, his heart… even if from what Roku can see, Trent is as dangerous as the monsters and criminals they’re sworn to bring down.
Fae are my some of my favorite paranormal creatures and I rarely find them done in the m/m genre so I’m always happy when this author does paranormal books because she does Fae well.  This was an urban fantasy story that developed from a previously done short story.  This is set in an alternative San Francisco and I thought the setting and world building was just fantastic.  Everything was described in such rich detail that I felt like I was there.  I could imagine all of the narrow, crowded streets, the different kinds of people and fae, the dragons that guarded the buildings.  It’s the type of story telling you need to read slowly so you can savor all of the words.
I really liked Roku as our main point of view.  He’s a complicated man with a tragic past, one of which unfolds over the course of the book.  I was a big fan of his from the very beginning of the book.  His partner Trent was a nice addition to the story and I ended up liking him as well.  There a host of side characters and they all are well developed in their own way.  They were also vividly done.
I thought the mystery aspect was really good.  It was fast paced and filled with action and adventure.  This book would make an excellent movie.  It was one high octane moment after another.  My only complaint was the romance aspect was insta-love.  I found this hard to by into with Roku’s horrible previous losses.  If it had been up to me I would have liked to see this be an ongoing series with a much slower developing romance.  But….since it’s not up to me, I just rolled with it.  They were sweet together and they both deserved some happiness.
This audiobook was narrated by Greg Tremblay and I felt like he did a very good job on this.  His voice has a nice cadence which I enjoy.  I felt he did an equally good job on all of the many voices and I enjoyed his narration a lot.
This cover was done by Anne Cain and I think it is a lovely cover.  I was immediately drawn to the rich purple and gold/orange colors on it.  I also think it is a great representation of the plot.
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published July 21st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 9th 2017)
Original TitleDim Sum Asylum
ASINB0742FWZMV
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersRoku MacCormick, Trent Leonard settingChinatown, San Francisco, California (United States)

TJ Nichols on Plotting and Planning and their latest release Olivier (Order of the Black Knights #7) (guest post)

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Olivier (Order of the Black Knights #7) by T.J. Nichols
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Buy links:   Dreamspinner Press |  Kobo | iTunes | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have T.J. Nichols here today to talk about the latest in the Order of the Black Knights series, Olivier and share some insight into the author’s writing process.  Welcome, T.J.!

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Plotting and planning by T.J. Nichols

I like to get to know my characters and have an idea about where my story is going before I start writing. Because Olivier is part of a series written by several authors there were also some basic rules that I had to follow, such as including the prologue (about the Knight’s last life and how he died) and also the detail about how Olivier became a Black Knight.

Aside from those couple of things the world was my own to create. It is less fantasy than my other works, but I love a cursed hero and the lure of including past lives was too great for me to pass up the opportunity.

The first thing I did was work out why Olivier signed on with the wizard. Who did he want revenge on and why? Then I needed to show an echo of that in the prologue and have him confront that issue once again in the actual story. After all those lives of killing and seeking revenge without understanding why, he has to eventually learn the lesson.

With one character established I then had to work out who it was that Olivier had been killing over and over again through the centuries. What had this guy done in the past and who was he now? While he hadn’t signed on with the wizard he’d been dragged into the curse.

I knew when I started that I didn’t want the breaking of the curse to become part of the Happily Ever After. It had to be another complication that only makes things worse for Olivier and Cody.

Somehow as I was writing it all got rather tangled and I had to go back to my reliable method of fixing a plot: make a list of every scene with a one sentence summary and a note about whose point of view it’s in. This method has saved many a story as I can see quickly when someone is taking over, or when scenes are missing, or need deleted. What I usually find is that when things get messy I’ve jumped ahead and missed scenes or I’ve taken a wild wrong turn and I need to rewrite one scene to put it back on track. Writing this list also helps me remember what the story is about and to keep true to that instead of trying to make it something else.

With this story one of my problems was working out how to deal with Cody’s father. I couldn’t let him walk away, but I also knew that he was too slippery for the police. Once I’d worked out what to do with him the ending came together—though not as I’d originally planned.

Olivier

Order of the Black Knights

Olivier Merlo works for a dangerous man. He does what he’s told without asking questions because he needs to protect his sister and niece. When someone gives his boss trouble, Olivier does what he does best. It’s a routine hit—until the victim’s brother starts poking around.

Cody Anders left his family behind a decade ago—along with their wealth and influence—to live on his own terms. Still, he knows his twin didn’t die of a drug overdose, and he’ll do anything to find the truth. What he uncovers is a conspiracy that will topple his family and leave him staring down the barrel of a gun.

Olivier must decide if he’s going to obey orders or free himself from the curse that has guided his hand for centuries. Cody, who challenges Olivier’s notion that no one can love him, holds the key to breaking his chains. But when the truth finally comes out, it might be more than Cody can accept.

About the Author

TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer, TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels, it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily, writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the every day. TJ enjoys writing novellas and novels and has a series, Studies in Demonology, coming out with DSP Publications.

With two cats acting as supervisors, TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Website: www.tjnichols-author.blogspot.com

Twitter: @TobyJNichols

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TJNichols.author

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cO-YRz

Andrea Speed on Soundtracks, Writing and her latest Lochlann (Order of the Black Knights #6) (guest post and excerpt)

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Lochlann (Order of the Black Knights #6) by Andrea Speed
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrea Speed here today. Andrea is talking soundtracks for her stories, specifically her latest novel in the Order of the Black Knights series, Lochlann.  Welcome, Andrea!

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Soundtracks for Lochlann by Andrea Speed

I love making soundtracks for my stories. I have a ton of them, and I’ll admit they’re mostly pretty weird. I know people are supposed to mellow out as they get older, but I’m just getting stranger.

Music played a big part in my Infected series, but less so in my other stories. But just because music doesn’t play a direct part on the page in my Josh of the Damned series, doesn’t mean I didn’t have a soundtrack in mind. (Josh went through an embarrassing emo phase that he refuses to talk about.) The same is true of Lochlann, where music plays no part in the story, but I’m keenly aware of what should be there. I’ve already put together an online soundtrack you can listen to, but I’ll pick out a couple of songs to highlight Lochlann’s musical taste. .

To my way of thinking, Lochlann is a fan of gloomy music. Dark ambient stuff that lasts twenty minutes or so, longer than ever necessary. Stuff you think should be over long before it is, but is still undeniably creepy.

The Inward Circles – The Soul Itself A Rhombus

https://youtu.be/myk_wALF0_0

If you’re saying to yourself “What the hell is this” – congratulations! You have grasped dark ambient as a genre. I feel I can say that as I like quite a bit of it myself, but there’s no dismissing the fact that most of it can be boiled down to “why does this exist” and “who is this for”. An argument could be made it exists for soundtracks, but truth be told, dark ambient isn’t used in soundtracks like it should be, because people who put them together aren’t aware of the genre? Or don’t want to creep people out. Really good dark ambient can freak you the hell out. That’s a feature, not a bug.

Arovane & Porya Hatami – Becoming

https://youtu.be/dwPYry0v0q8

Now this is really dark ambient stuff, in that it’s a concept album. Yes, a collection of subtly shifting tones and notes is somehow a concept album. A really good one too! I encourage you to sit down and listen to the whole thing. I never really considered what a micro-organism might sound like, but this is probably close.

Verge – Deluge

https://youtu.be/y_833qIfDGI

A mild cheat, as this often falls under experimental, but it is very dark ambient sounding. Sometimes you do get genre creep with this style of music, as it is so damn strange. It also sometimes gets filed under electronic or metal, depending on whether it’s heavier with keyboards or guitars, alternate, post-rock, and a few other genres as well. It comes down to opinion of the artist or the listener a lot of the time. In that way, there’s a freedom to dark ambient that is kind of intriguing. It’s hard to define, but you know it when you hear it.

Lawrence English – Hard Rain

https://youtu.be/IrxDvJbZ9VQ


Another one that gets slotted into experimental more often than not, and that’s fair, as all his music doesn’t sound like this. But this is definitely dark ambient style experimental, and I feel that should be encouraged.

I think this puts you into Lochlann’s mindset quite easily, and I hope I encouraged at least one person to look up more dark ambient music. Because believe me, it’s so easy to write to, especially if you’re working on a dark or dramatic story. Let the creepiness commence!

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Blurb

Violence has been Lochlann O’Connor’s companion since he was born into a family of old-school Irish terrorists. From there he is recruited into Alpha, a secret government agency dedicated to fighting terrorism—with extreme prejudice. Lochlann’s bravery, efficiency, ruthlessness, and the natural dead eye that lets him hit anything that moves, quickly make him one of the shadowy organization’s most valued operatives.

Cas Vega joins Alpha because it’s marginally better than a prison sentence. He’s a former drug cartel assassin—or at least that’s his story. But Lochlann is suspicious. Despite an irrational and overwhelming attraction to Cas, Lochlann has questions, and they soon lead to a deeper and deadlier mystery. What is Alpha’s true purpose, and why does it seem they want to eliminate Lochlann?

Lochlann and Cas must work together to get to the bottom of Alpha’s scheme and escape it—and all while Cas keeps secrets that could cost him his life if they’re revealed. But it’s not an alliance that can last. Duty turns the men into enemies, even while fate compels them into each other’s arms. Before they can contemplate which will prevail, they must figure out how to survive.

 

Excerpt

 

Lochlann knew the mission had gone bad the second before Anze came over his earpiece and said, “We’ve been comp—” The rest of the sentence disappeared in a burst of static.

Not that it mattered. He knew what Anze was trying to say. And yet he barely quickened his pace as the emergency siren ripped through the building. Hoping security hadn’t been shut down yet, he ran Dr. Waters’s ID keycard through the door scanner. It beeped, and the light turned green as the lock released with a faint clunk. He opened the door and ducked inside as lights pulsed on the walls.

He was in the lowest level of the Kishigawa Pharmaceuticals building in Prague, which was actually a needless detail, as the building could have been any one of the two dozen or so Kishigawa Pharmaceutical buildings across the globe. The layouts were cookie cutter, exactly the same, which made it easy to find points of entrance and egress. But getting into the building was never the hard part of any operation. Getting what they came for and leaving were the issues.

He was on the second sublevel, which, according to the official records, was an empty storage area but was actually a secret lab, cooking up a biological weapon that made sarin gas seem like hot sauce. Alpha wanted to get the formula before Dr. Laska put it on the open market. That was Lochlann’s job—to neutralize the creator, and retrieve the only known sample of the finished product. And get out alive, which was the biggest challenge.

A lab assistant wearing thick glasses ran up to him. “Dr. Waters, do you know what’s going on?”

He was supposed to neutralize any witnesses. He had his Glock 30SF and his tactical knife, or he could simply punch the assistant in the larynx and kill him with a single blow. He would be neither the first nor the last innocent bystander Lochlann had killed.

So why didn’t he?

“Fire,” he said, jerking his head back toward the door. “Evacuate immediately.”

The assistant looked confused as Lochlann continued down the corridor. “Sir, what about you?”

“I’ll be right there. I have to get Dr. Laska. Go outside.” The comms were off. That burst of static that cut off Anze sounded like a jamming signal. If you couldn’t receive, you couldn’t send either. So officially none of it ever happened.

Laska’s lab was at the end of the hall. It was an airtight room with its own filtration system and its own inner airlock. No one ever asked why Dr. Laska needed those precautious. It was an idiosyncrasy everyone tolerated without knowing the reason behind it.

Dr. Laska’s assistant, Tinordi, turned to face him as Lochlann entered the room. “Dr. Waters, you’re not—”

Lochlann punched Tinordi square in the throat, crushing his larynx and windpipe. He crumpled to the floor and made terrible rasping sounds in lieu of breathing. He had to die—he worked on the project—but at least he’d die fast.

Laska was in his inner lab with his back turned to the outer chamber. That allowed Lochlann to cycle the airlock without being noticed. In there he couldn’t hear the emergency alert siren, which seemed like a tragic oversight. Laska would never know.

Once the airlock irised open, Laska, without turning around, said, “Bring me a number three flask, would you?” Laska assumed Lochlann was Tinordi. He didn’t know his assistant was dead in the adjoining room.

Lochlann didn’t answer immediately. He pulled out his Glock first. “I’m not your assistant.”

The strange voice made Laska spin on his heels, and he froze the second he saw the gun. His small eyes narrowed until they almost disappeared into the soft, white moon of his face. “Who do you work for? The Russians? The Chinese?”

Lochlann didn’t answer. Instead he fired, put a neat hole in Laska’s forehead, and blew his brains over the white wall behind him. Crimson bloomed messily and dripped down the wall, while grisly chunks splattered to the ground. Laska crumpled like a marionette that just had its strings cut. Lochlann stepped over the body and made his way to the wall safe, where the sample dubbed “formula X213” was stored.

Alpha had infiltrated Laska’s home and business computers a while before. The tech team had stolen all data on the formula and destroyed it, damaging the research from the inside out. They knew the safe code and all Laska’s other codes, because when Alpha targeted you, you were as good as dead in every sense of the word.

The safe opened with a pneumatic hiss, as it was temperature controlled, and Lochlann found the formula inside a vacuum-sealed thermos. He held it in his hand as he scanned the room and saw the incinerator in the corner.

A huge metal box, plastered with warning stickers, it used microwaves and intense heat not just to bake an object, but essentially to vaporize it and leave barely even a char mark. That was how Laska got rid of his previous failed formulas and kept industrial spies from taking even the tiniest samples of his work. Nothing survived that incinerator, not even clues.

Why did Alpha want formula X213? At the briefing Number One instructed them to wipe out all records of it, along with the scientist who created it. It was too deadly. A teaspoon of the stuff could kill everyone in a crowded mall, and in the open it could contaminate soil, air, and water for decades. But they wanted the sample. Yes, they had the formula, so they could make it themselves, but there was something tricky about the mixture. He didn’t know what. He didn’t need to. He was a field operative, not a tech.

The operation had never felt right to him. Alpha had plans for it, and he didn’t trust Alpha. They were supposed to be the good guys, but questions had been eating at him since the Rome incident. Alpha worked in deception. Could anything that relied on obfuscation be exactly what it seemed?

Before he could think about what he was doing, he went to the incinerator, dropped the thermos in, and activated it. He had to step back because the heat it shed was impressive, and the noise it made, while brief, was incredibly loud… which might have explained why Laska’s lab was soundproofed.

He had no idea what he was going to say to Number One, but he’d figure it out. Working for Alpha had made him an excellent liar.

He planted the explosive charge and shed his lab coat and fake Dr. Waters ID. Then he grabbed Dr. Laska’s security badge from his bloodied corpse and left the lab. Lochlann kept up his normal stride, as though he were leaving at the end of a shift, but he still had his gun out, held casually down at his side in his left hand. According to his trainer, he was one of the rarest of people—a truly ambidextrous shooter. He could use either hand with virtually the same results.

Lochlann met no one on his way to the exit. He’d have to kill anyone he encountered. The exit door had a security lock, and there was a chance that, if they’d locked the entire system down, it wouldn’t open even for Laska’s high-clearance badge. Hopefully the interruption to the comms hadn’t completely locked Alpha out of the building’s systems.

The first time he ran the badge through the lock, it made a negative noise and the light stayed red. He ran it again, and got the same response. Lochlann counted down in his head the time remaining to detonation as he ran the badge a third time and it worked. The light flashed green, and the lock released with a clunk. He flung it open and was out in the subterranean parking lot within five seconds. And despite the low lighting, he knew he wasn’t alone.

Buy link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/lochlann-by-andrea-speed-8493-b

About the Author

Andrea Speed is a random collection of newspapers and food scraps that somehow became sentient. Perhaps this explains her fear of goats. If you see her, just nod politely as she tells you how composting is an Illuminati conspiracy, and try not to make any sudden moves.

Author contacts:

RK Staunton On Writing, Stories and her latest release, Gabriel (Order of the Black Knights #5) (guest post)

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Gabriel (Order of the Black Knights #5) by R.K. Staunton
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Available for Purchase at

           

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host R.K. Staunton here today to talk about her latest story, Gabriel, the latest in the Order of the Black Knights series from Dreamspinners Press.  Welcome, R.K.!

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~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words R.K. Staunton Interview ~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think at least a little of myself goes into every character I write or have ever written. We have small commonalities. For instance, at one point in my life I wanted to be a social worker and work in foster care like Lucas in Gabriel. For one reason or another, that never worked out for me, but that early ambition made its way into Lucas’s character.

At the same time, my characters are very much their own people. They have their own voices, and their own ideas that are often very different from what I think they’re going to do. Writers talk a lot about whether we outline or not and how much we outline. I fall somewhere in between in that I attempt to outline important parts but leave a lot of the getting there open, and I say that I attempt to outline because no matter how much I try the characters still seem to somehow change things up in the middle on me.

Gabriel is probably the character who is most different from me. He’s a hard-edged assassin, and I tend to be far more of the caregiver type.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I’ve been voraciously reading romances since I was about 16. I write the kind of stories that I like to read. Gabriel is my first M/M book, but I’ve been a reader for years. Personally, I think it’s essential that you know your genre as a reader before you try to write it.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m a sucker for HEA. I’m a hopeless romantic who wants happily ever after. HFN is okay, but to me, it seems like more of a stopgap along the road to HEA than a true ending. When stories end in HFN, I always find myself wanting to know what happens next. It doesn’t feel like all the loose ends are tied up for me with that kind of ending.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Honestly, I don’t really have a method to choosing covers. It’s all about which one feels like it fits a particular story best. If I had to summarize it, I usually pick photos that look like the characters to me first. Then I’ll get a general idea of what I want as the look of the cover. Often, it doesn’t all come together until I’ve have a title, and that can be at any point in the book. I went into Gabriel knowing the title because all the books in the series are named after the knight featured in the book, but in the past, there have been times when I haven’t known the title until the very end of the book. On at least one occasion, I called the book by one title throughout the entire process then ended up changing it to something I thought fit better at the last minute. Sometimes, that would’ve also changed the cover, but it didn’t on that one.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

Not really. Trying to choose between my stories would be like trying to choose between my friends or even my children. I’m fond of each of them for different reasons. I do have favorite parts in every story that I especially like, but not a favorite book.

What’s next for you as an author?

For the next few months, I will be working on books that I’ll publish under my Ruth Staunton pen name. I publish books that feature spanking/domestic discipline under that pen name and more mainstream M/M books as RK Staunton. Prior to now, everything I have published as Ruth has been M/F, but the series I am working on for the remainder of this year will be M/M. For now, I have informally dubbed it my Geek Love series because at least one character in every couple is a technology geek. Those books will be out beginning in July with a crossover prequel, and the series proper will probably start sometime around September.

As for the next RK Staunton book, I’m toying with a sci-fi idea about a man whose partner disappears and is replaced with his genetic double, but no one believes this man when he says the double is not his partner. I have no idea when I’ll get around to writing that one though.

Excerpt

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” Gabriel went on, and Lucas nodded. He forced himself to unlock the door and push it open, and he felt more than saw Gabriel turn to go down the steps.

“Wait.”

Gabriel froze midstep and immediately turned back to look at him.

“Do you even have my number?” he asked as he stopped in the open doorway and turned back to face Gabriel

Gabriel’s face shifted from confused to blank and back again. He took his phone from his pocket and thumbed through the contacts. “No,” he said after a moment, “I don’t guess I do.”

“It will be hard for you to call me, then,” Lucas teased, and he smiled despite his anxiety.

Gabriel jogged up the steps, and they traded phones and added their information to one another’s contacts. “Sorry. I wasn’t trying to blow you off.”

“I know,” Lucas said. He passed back Gabriel’s phone and pocketed his own. “Now you can call me tomorrow.”

“And I will,” Gabriel promised.

Lucas stepped back. He meant to say good-bye and close the door, but his hand closed over Gabriel’s wrist before his mind was even consciously aware of what his body was doing. “Don’t go,” he heard himself say, sounding like nothing so much as a child begging a parent to stay with them after a nightmare. “I can’t do this alone.”

He didn’t mean to say that out loud. Yes, he was terrified. He couldn’t remember the last time he even spoke to Eric’s father beyond the briefest of pleasantries when he answered the phone. And it was going to be hard enough to go into Eric’s room to find the number. He hadn’t set foot in Eric’s room since Eric had been gone. He wasn’t looking forward to doing that alone. But he wasn’t supposed to say so out loud.

About The Order of the Black Knights

Every century has seen its knights. But there are those who are never seen. They do what must be done—what has to be done—when nobody wants to get their hands dirty. They are called the Black Knights. First created in the 1100s by the wizard Moriel, these men seem cold and hard, and it is said that some have no soul. But for each knight, there is one who can bring out the man who waits inside. The question is whether or not he will kill the individual before he figures it out.

Through the ages, they’ve conquered and ruled and taken what they wanted. And they have adapted to modern times. Instead of being bullies for hire, they have taken their skills further—the Internet, the CIA, government infiltration, hacking, special ops, assassination, but each one of them has a need they don’t understand—to squash, kill, or destroy.

Blurb for Gabriel

Gabriel Ingram is running from his past. It’s common knowledge at the college where he teaches that he’s a former CIA technical analyst, but no one knows the things he really did—or about the rage and bloodlust that are his constant companions. He’s holding on to his normal life with both hands, but he knows someday he’ll lose his grip.

Lucas Craig is a social worker studying to become a family therapist. For reasons Lucas can’t understand, the normally reclusive Professor Ingram takes an interest in him, and Lucas secretly hopes their friendship might become more.

Then Eric, Lucas’s roommate, disappears. Lucas is frantic. The police are no help. With nowhere else to turn, Lucas begs Gabriel for his expertise.

What starts as a simple errand to help a friend becomes a journey into a violent world of gangs and human trafficking—one that will bring Gabriel face-to-face with the forces intent on stealing his soul. But Lucas might be the one who can save him—if Gabriel can get them out alive.

About the Author

RK Staunton rebelled against having a Christmas birthday in favor of making an unexpected debut in early fall, and she’s been doing the unexpected ever since. This tendency has resulted in many adventures, including a ten-year stint as a guide in that strange urban jungle called middle school. While entertaining, that expedition ultimately proved too harrowing. After finally making her escape, she turned to a quieter life masquerading as a crazy cat lady living in a small town in the southeastern US.

RK has lived with a menagerie of characters inside her head for as long as she can remember. In a desperate bid to preserve her sanity, she has begun to transcribe the tales they tell her. This endeavor has proven to be fun, occasionally profitable, and cheaper than therapy. It has also fueled raging addictions to caffeine and chocolate on top of her lifelong addiction to books, but everyone is entitled to a vice or three, right?

RK also writes spanking and domestic discipline romances as Ruth Staunton. Right now, these are M/F, but several M/M stories are coming later this year. You can find out more about those books and get a free story here.

Find her Online:

In Our Urban Fantasy Spotlight: Jaeger (Order of the Black Knights #4) by Evelise Archer (special guest post, excerpt and teaser)

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Jaeger (Order of the Black Knights #4) by Evelise Archer

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Evelise Archer here today to share a little bit about herself, writing, and her latest novel in her Order of the Black Knights series, Jaeger.  Welcome, Evelise!

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A Little Extra…

Once I decide to write a specific type of book, the research begins. I love the search aspect of hunting down the particulars, whether it be about culture, area, profession. Jaeger, a mystery/suspense allowed me to be creative with the part of the world some of the story took place and with the law enforcement aspect. Two things near and dear to my heart.

As a Latina, infusing my culture into the writing is very important to me and as a family of law enforcement/military, as well. Jaeger gave me the freedom to make a gruff individual evolve into a loving man- Jaeger just didn’t know he had honor and integrity deep in his soul until the lovely Latin brought out the best in him.

jaeger_headerbanner

Jaeger Blurb

US Marshal Jaeger Tripp is assigned to the Federal Witness Protection Program. The hurt and destruction he’s seen—along with protecting criminals who are only cooperating with the authorities to keep themselves out of jail—have left him with a bleak and jaded view of both life and people. His current assignment is Wren O’Riley, a computer wizard who witnessed a high-profile cartel hit.

To Jaeger, Wren is the same as any other job. He must protect him long enough to get him to testify at trial, and his personal feelings have no place in his work and must be set aside. But that’s easier said than done. On the run and fighting for their lives, Jaeger and Wren can’t help but grow closer. And Jaeger can’t help seeing beyond Wren’s nerdy exterior to a man who might be just what Jaeger needs to settle his soul and capture his heart—if they survive long enough to get that chance.

 About the series Order of the Black Knights

Every century has seen its knights. But there are those who are never seen. They do what must be done, what has to be done—when nobody wants to get their hands dirty. They are called the Black Knights. First created in the 1100s by the wizard Moriel, these men seem cold and hard, and it is said that some have no soul. But for each knight, there is one who can bring out the man who waits inside. The question is whether or not he will kill the individual before he figures it out.

Through the ages, they’ve conquered and ruled and taken what they wanted. And they have adapted to modern times. Instead of being bullies for hire, they have taken their skills further—the Internet, the CIA, government infiltration, hacking, special ops, assassination, but each one of them has a need they don’t understand—to squash, kill, or destroy.

If the Knight pardons an enemy, he will no longer be cursed. If not, he will continue to live the same life again and again, and each life will make him harder and more unyielding. And each life will make it is less likely that he can be saved.

Excerpt

Prologue 1981

Oppressive heat caused the sweat to trickle down Jaeger’s back and pool at the waistband of his camouflage BDUs. For three fucking days, he’d been entrenched in the mosquito-ridden jungle of Colombia, waiting for his mark, Carlos Quintanilla—drug runner, coca grower, and major player in the Colombian cartel. He and his team were paid handsomely to sit, wait, and dispose of a target. And though the original twenty-four hours—in, shoot, and out—had grown to three days, mercenaries were paid to wait under any conditions.

Once the deed was done, he would trek four klicks through the jungle and rendezvous with the team, cross into Venezuela, and transform into a businessman for the trip back to the States. With his payoff, he planned to retire—hang up his hat as a killer for hire and live on an island in peace and quiet. Maybe. If the nightmares stopped and gave him respite.

He watched through his rifle sight as Quintanilla lumbered along the edge of the pool of his multi-million-dollar fortress. Security was a priority for him, but that was of little consequence to Jaeger, who was perched approximately half a mile away from the complex in a makeshift tree stand with his Remington 700, nicknamed Lolita. He waited.

Movement to the right of the pool caught his attention. Jaeger shifted ever so slightly as the slim figure of a man dressed in blue flowered board shorts, a white undershirt, and flip flops approached Quintanilla. The young man couldn’t have been more than twenty-four.

A dirty blond mop of hair fell over his eyes. His skin was only slightly tanned, as though it had been kissed by the sun, and his ass was meant to be grabbed.

Jaeger didn’t have time to ogle over some squeeze Quintanilla kept at his house. Or maybe the young man was the drug runner’s son. Intel reported that Quintanilla’s wife, children, and mistress were away on vacation. So either the young man was a fuck buddy or a returning son, there to see daddy. Additionally, the team had watched the workers and security guards and knew the next few days were the only time that month Quintanilla would be alone. It looked like a vacation from the world. Quintanilla sent everyone else away and stayed to enjoy the amenities he acquired by dipping his hands into blood money. Carlos Quintanilla believed himself so powerful that no one would dare to touch him. He’d soon be proven wrong.

“Target in sight.” Jaeger spoke softly into the mic attached to the lapel of his camouflage shirt. The earpiece in his right ear crackled with static.

“Can you take the shot, Arrow One?” The speaker, located approximately four kilometers away, waited with the rest of the team for Jaeger to complete the deed and return to the rendezvous point.

“Roger, Base One. Shot available, but there’s a slight problem. The target is not alone. Over.”

Jaeger waited for base to confirm or negate his mission. He hoped it was a go, because if not, the sitting in a mosquito-infested jungle, being eaten alive would have been for naught. And that would highly piss him off.

“Can you take them both out, Arrow One?”

Jaeger thought and quickly contemplated the speed of the traveling bullet, the wind velocity, and the reaction time for the second target to move and attempt to take cover and fall at Quintanilla’s feet. He couldn’t guarantee it.

“Negative, Base One. Advise.” Jaeger waited.

Sitting in the jungle required patience, which any mercenary or sniper had in spades. The average man found it torturous to sit in silence for three minutes. Jaeger did it for days at a time. So the five minutes it took for base to get back to him was nothing. If Quintanilla attempted to leave the premises, Jaeger would have to either take him out and leave the young man alive or try to eradicate both of them.

“Base One to Arrow One. Over.”

“Arrow One here.”

“It’s a go, Arrow One. Target first, then the secondary. Take the trip to the destination and see if any cleaning is required. We are still a go for the meet. Over.”

“Roger, Base One. Over.”

Jaeger had the green light. Kill Quintanilla, shoot the young man, and confirm both kills. Jaeger had no doubt Carlos Quintanilla would be dead, but was not sure of the second target. He’d put a bullet in him on sight, if needed.

Jaeger peered through the lens, blinked his eyes to refocus, and stared at Quintanilla. He and his blond companion were seated side by side in chaise lounges. The young man’s hands moved earnestly, as if the talk was at the forefront of his young life. Jaeger inhaled and filled his lungs. The feel of Lolita against his cheek and on his shoulder and the caress of the scope and wood stock comforted him but had also brought him great pain. But this was not the time to become maudlin. He had a job. One that would enlarge his bank account and maybe deliver the solace he’d struggled so hard to find.

Ever so slowly he released his breath as his index finger rested on the trigger. As he let go the last of his breath, Jaeger squeezed the trigger. The whiz of the bullet rang through the air and blended with the cacophony of birds in the untamed Colombian jungle. Jaeger released the shell, inhaled again, and aligned his second shot. Dead-on, the bullet pierced Carlos Quintanilla’s skull, and blood oozed from the hole. Quintanilla fell over in the lounger. The young man dropped to his knees and covered his mouth with his hands. The angle of his body made it impossible for Jaeger to kill him, but he’d maim him until he was onsite and could finish the deed. This better involve a bonus. And not a two-fer-one sale.

The second shot, strategically aimed at the young man’s side, tore through his ribs and pierced a lung, incapacitating him until Jaeger arrived. The man dropped.

Jaeger slung his minipack onto his back, hoisted Lolita onto his shoulder by her strap, and jogged through the foliage. Normally the slight trek would have taken about ten minutes on solid ground, but in the thick of the Colombian jungle, half a mile could take up to an hour. Jaeger didn’t have the luxury of wasted time. He humped the half mile as fast and expediently as the surrounding area allowed and arrived at the fortress in less than thirty minutes.

Careful and mindful of any unwanted guests, Jaeger quickly entered through a low-lying wall on the back side and made his way to the pool area. The silence was welcome, except for the slight whimpers of the wounded bystander. Jaeger verified Quintanilla’s death and turned his attention to the young man who struggled for breath as his lungs obviously filled with blood and his heart enlarged and worked overtime to pump. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. His soulful chocolate-brown eyes pooled with tears as he peered up at Jaeger. Blood, snot, and tears did not detract from the young man’s good looks. In retrospect Jaeger realized he was Quintanilla’s son and not a boy toy.

Jaeger removed his Sig from the side holster and aimed. The young man resignedly closed his eyes. Sadness illuminated Jaeger’s soul at the prospect of taking an innocent, but no witnesses were allowed. And Jaeger was paid to kill. He wasn’t quite sure where his feeling emanated from, but a job was a job, and Jaeger and the team were being paid handsomely. The boy had the misfortune to be born into the Quintanilla family and grow up the son of a notorious drug runner. Maybe not so innocent, then—tainted by his genealogy. Jaeger pulled the trigger. The sound was louder than usual.

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About the Author

Evelise Archer is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She is a new-found lover of tea, and don’t look in her office because what you find may astound you. She currently has twenty tins of tealeaves just waiting to be brewed for her drinking pleasure. She is bilingual, lives in one of the original thirteen colonies, and is a lover of the cold weather and snow. It’s a safe bet that you may find her on the beach in the autumn and winter, but rarely in the summer. She’s been married for over thirty years to a loving man who puts up with her obsession to clean—she currently owns three vacuum cleaners—, read, and spin a tale when the voices speak to her. When she’s not in front of the computer, search her out in the local gym.

An Ali Release Day Review: Jaeger (Order of the Black Knights #4) by Evelise Archer

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
jaeger-by-evelise-archerUS Marshal Jaeger Tripp is assigned to the Federal Witness Protection Program. The hurt and destruction he’s seen—along with protecting criminals who are only cooperating with the authorities to keep themselves out of jail—have left him with a bleak and jaded view of both life and people. His current assignment is Wren O’Riley, a computer wizard who witnessed a high-profile cartel hit.

To Jaeger, Wren is the same as any other job. He must protect him long enough to get him to testify at trial, and his personal feelings have no place in his work and must be set aside. But that’s easier said than done. On the run and fighting for their lives, Jaeger and Wren can’t help but grow closer. AndJaeger can’t help seeing beyond Wren’s nerdy exterior to a man who might be just what Jaeger needs to settle his soul and capture his heart—if they survive long enough to get that chance
This was my first time reading this author and I ended up really liking this.  This is the fourth book in the series and I have not read the first three.  I did not think it would matter as each book in the series is written by a different author.  It turns out I was right and this book worked fine as a standalone.  
As the plot states, Jaeger is a jaded US Marshal who ends up protecting Wren, who has witnessed a cartel hit.  The men couldn’t be more different but being in close quarters leads them to having feelings for each other.  They end up on the run and this part of the story is full of action and was entertaining.  I liked both of these MC’s and they were really great together.  I especially like the opposites attract trope in romances.
This was a shorter story but still managed to contain a lot of plot and it fleshed out a great relationship between the two men.  I enjoyed this a lot and will definitely look for other books by this author.  
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond:  I like the cover.  Each of the books in this series are similar and I like how uniform they are.  I always like when I can look at a book cover and know immediately what series it is from.
Sales Links
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Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: February 10th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635333016 (ISBN13: 9781635333015)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesOrder of the Black Knights #4

Thianna Durston on Inspiration, Writing, and her novel ‘Vespar (Order of the Black Knights #3)’ (excerpt and author interview)

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Vespar (Order of the Black Knights #3) by Thianna Durston
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Thianna Durston

Available for Purchase at

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Also in Dreamspinner Press Paperback

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Thianna Durston here today to answer questions about writing, inspiration, and her release, Vespar (Order of the Black Knights #3).   Welcome, Thianna!

~

Will he kill the one who can save him… again?

  •     Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

You know, my stories usually come out of nowhere. Every once in awhile something will give me a plot bunny, but like with my current book Vespar. I started having dreams about a man who kept living the same cursed life over and over again. Even though I was busy with writing other things at the time, that dream would not let me go. It built into the full Order of the Black Knights series.

  •     Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And  why?

I’ve always been a pantser – mainly because my muse is a prideful so-n-so. And if I try to plan the story, he gets in a huff and refuses to talk to me. I have more works in progress that are stalled because of just that thing. However, lately I’ve found a way to incorporate a tiny bit of planning along with my off the cuff style. I write the book until about quarter of the way through. And then I can see the main parts of the story, write them down in a visual map I made, and then the rest of the story can zoom by fast.  I wrote 6 novels through this system this last fall and it worked like a dream. I look forward to seeing how far I can work with it.

  •     Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

I’m all over the place, both in writing and reading. No one genre does it for me, except for when I’m reading or writing it in that moment. Some times I’ll write two books at the same time – one in the morning and one in the afternoon, to keep things really interesting. In October I wrote a contemporary during the morning and a paranormal in the afternoon. It kept me interested and excited about both story lines. My muse as well – which is always a good thing as when he gets bored? Oh dear. The strangest stuff that ends up getting written.

  •     If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?

Oh wow. Good question – and I think it’s Braun Taupesh, the lead character in a fantasy story I had published over ten years ago. It just recently went out of print and I look forward to completely rewriting him. He’s too simplistic. It was my first full length novel. And at the time, instead of just keeping plodding along and figuring things out – I got tired of writing it and just ended the story. Now, I want to go back and flesh out each of the characters. Him. The man whose body he takes over. The dwarf… And really bring out the bad guy as well. Uh oh. Now that I’m thinking about it, I just might take some time…

  •     Can a author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

For me, the favorite character is usually the one I’ve just written. Just like my favorite book is the one that just came out. I can’t pick a fave 😀 It would be like picking a favorite child.

  •     If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?

LaGuardia – ha ha ha ha. Heaven forbid. I’d rather get stuck on a demi-planet. I’d definitely have Jordan L. Hawk with me (All of her works). Heidi Cullinan’s works as well. Ella Frank’s Temptation series. And oh yes – A.E. Via’s Nothing Special series. I could read all of those works over and over and never get bored.

  •     How early in your life did you begin writing?

I was making up stories before I could write. The moment I learned how to write, I started penning them down. I still have one I wrote about a Martian coming to Earth. I think I was 6 or 7 when I wrote it.

  •     Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

My mother read to me and my sister all the time. I remember a lot of Winnie the Pooh. I also read the Chronicle of Narnia books which ignited even more of my love of fantasy.

  •     If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?

Three is Better Than One

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About The Order of the Black Knights

Every century has seen its knights. But there are those who are never seen. They do what must be done—what has to be done—when nobody wants to get their hands dirty. They are called the Black Knights. First created in the 1100s by the wizard Moriel, these men seem cold and hard, and it is said that some have no soul. But for each knight, there is one who can bring out the man who waits inside. The question is whether or not he will kill the individual before he figures it out.

Through the ages, they’ve conquered and ruled and taken what they wanted. And they have adapted to modern times. Instead of being bullies for hire, they have taken their skills further—the Internet, the CIA, government infiltration, hacking, special ops, assassination, but each one of them has a need they don’t understand—to squash, kill, or destroy.

If the Knight pardons his enemy, he will no longer be cursed. If not, he will continue to live the same life again and again, and each life will make him harder and more unyielding. And each life will make it less likely that he can be saved.

Blurb for Vespar

Special ops turned professional killer, Vespar McKauley is hired to take out Marcolm Rogers, son of his employer’s worst enemy. But Marc isn’t like any hit he’s ever done. He’s just twenty-one, he goes to a private university studying English Lit, and for fun he plays computer games with his friends. No drugs, no partying, no crime. The day he bumps into Marc and looks into his azure eyes, the world drops out from under him.

With his father in the Chicago Crime Syndicate, Marc and his mom have stayed out of the limelight, hiding from those that might harm them. He figures he’s safe at a small liberal arts university all the way across the country. Only midway through his senior year, he feels eyes on him and the shadows encroaching. Just as he’s about to run, he meets Vespar and experiences an instant attraction. When Vespar tells him he’s in danger and offers to protect him, Marc wants to believe him. But he’s been hunted before, and this time he isn’t sure he’ll get away. Especially when he finds out he is Vespar’s target.

Excerpt

Cold sweat dampened the back of his neck as he leaned down and picked it up. There it was. While before he killed on orders, within the simple tan envelope was information that would turn him from a military marksman, commanded to kill, into a contract killer.

A sense of unease centered in his shoulders. He ripped the flap up and yanked the contents out. He quickly glanced over the information on the top sheet.

Name: Marcolm Bissini

City: Unknown

Need: Make his death a noticeable hit

Time frame: Four weeks

Vespar grunted at the timeframe. Four weeks to find and kill the bastard. But since they wanted a noticeable hit, he could at least get all his frustration out on the kill. He yanked the cover sheet off and looked at the eight-by-ten photo of a boy not more than eight years old. “What the fuck?” he growled. “I won’t kill kids.” When he opened himself as a killer for hire, he stated what contracts he would not accept, and children and innocents were the only people he categorically refused to take out. Everyone else was fair game. In that way he convinced himself he was taking out someone who deserved it.

No innocent deserved to die. He flipped the image over and spotted words on the back.

This image was taken thirteen years ago. He has been in hiding since. We do not know what he looks like now. Leave this image by the body.

He rubbed his chin with his forefinger as he looked at the words. The kind of men who hired people like him had money and recourse. If they wanted the man dead, he would be dead. And by the age of twenty-one, the chances of him being an innocent bystander were almost zero. But for some strange reason, Vespar wondered why he needed to die. “It’s none of my business,” he snapped, and he shoved the contents back into the envelope. “They want him dead. He’s as good as dead.”

About the Author

Thianna Durston is a writer by day and supernova by night. Or at least that’s what the faeries tell her. And who is she to deny those pesky *cough* lovely little creatures?

She lives in the Pacific Northwest, though her heart belongs elsewhere. In the meantime, until she can return to the place she calls home, she happily lives in a city that still thinks it’s a small town. Thankfully, it has given her muse lots of amusing places to start a story.

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