Andrew Grey on Writing Characters and his latest release ‘Heart Unheard (Hearts Entwined #2)’ (author guest blog)

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Heart Unheard (Hearts Entwined #2) by Andrew Grey
Dreamspinner Press
Cover artist: L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrew Grey here today talking about the challenges of writing a hearing impaired character.  Welcome, Andrew.

 

 ~ Andrew Grey on One of the Challenges of Writing a Hearing Impaired Character ~

There are so many things I want to say about this story.  When I decided to write a deaf characters I expected a number of challenges, but the hardest one wasn’t what I had anticipated.  What I needed to do after Scott’s injury, was develop an entire communication system for him.  He didn’t have a way for people to communicate with him other than through the written word.  I found that stifling and it made me realize just how difficult the hearing impaired have when interacting with the world around them.  I grew up with an aunt who was very hard of hearing.  Most people she barely understood, but the tone of my voice was able to get through to her.  But it took extra effort on my part to make sure she understood what I was saying.  It was that same kind of effort that I had to put into the story to build Scott’s methods of communicating.  The whole process helped me better understand just how hearing loss can cut a person off from the rest of the world and how a little extra effort and care can make all the difference.

Blurb/Synopsis

The attraction between Brent Berkheimer and Scott Spearman peels the wallpaper, but Brent is Scott’s boss, and they’re both too professional to go beyond flirting. Their priorities realign after Scott is badly injured in an accident that costs him his hearing, and Brent realizes what is truly important… he wants Scott.

Scott first pushes Brent away, fearing a new romance will just add to his problems, but perhaps he will find unexpected strength and solace in Brent’s support as he struggles to communicate with the world in a new way.

Just as they decide the chance of a happy future together is worth the risk, Scott and Brent discover darker challenges in their way—including evidence that the “accident” Scott suffered may not have been so accidental.

Excerpt

Scott was in a small room, the bed surrounded by monitors with a number of tubes and cords hooked to him. His usually robust cheeks were sallow, his normally intense eyes closed, his pouty lips pale.

“Please remain quiet.”

“Of course,” Brent said as he pulled forward the small chair and sat next to the bed. He didn’t ask her a bunch of questions about how he was doing because Brent knew she couldn’t really tell him anything without specific written permission.

The nurse checked Scott over and left the room.

“Hey, Scott. It’s Brent. I wanted to stop by and see you.” He blinked as Scott’s chest slowly rose and fell. “I read somewhere that people can sometimes hear things when they’re out like this. So I hope you get better.” He turned to make sure no one was around to hear him, then leaned closer. “I should have told you how I felt.” He sniffed and took one of the tissues from the box on the tray table. He reached for Scott’s hand and slid their fingers together. Brent probably didn’t have a right to do that, but he wanted Scott to know he was there.

To his surprise, Scott’s fingers squeezed his just a little. At first, he wasn’t sure it was real, but Scott did it again. Brent gently rubbed the back of his hand but received no further movement in response.

“Are you Brent?” a man who had to be Scott’s dad asked. He looked so much like him, only an older, more weathered, and very worried version, with touches of gray in his hair.

“Yes,” Brent whispered, setting Scott’s hand back on the blankets, his cheeks heating. “I was just trying to make a connection with him. I think he might have squeezed my hand a little.” He wondered what Scott’s dad—and then his mom as she followed him inside—must be thinking with him holding Scott’s hand.

“He did that last night before we left. It’s the only indication that we’ve had that he’s there and knows we’re here.” Scott’s mother approached, and Brent stood to give her the chair. She sat, gently stroking Scott’s hand. “Is there something between you and my son?” She lifted her gaze, and it was like she was looking deep into his soul. It was immediately evident where Scott got his amazing eyes, even if hers were red and definitely filled with concern. “I heard what you were saying to him before we came in.”

“Don’t mind Carolyn. She has bat-like hearing sometimes.” Reggie stepped to the other side of the bed, looking at Scott. If Brent were to hazard a guess, Reggie was willing his son to wake up. The worry and sheer willpower were written on the lines of his furrowed brow.

“Reggie,” she said gently, then turned to Brent. “Scott talked about you all the time. I think he may have a crush on you.” She looked him over. “I can see why, but aren’t you a little old for him?”

Brent nodded. “That’s why nothing ever happened.” He turned back to Scott, not believing he was having this conversation. “I’m his manager and….” There were so many reasons why he’d never said anything to Scott, though all of them seemed too stupid now. Scott lay on the bed, largely unmoving, and none of Brent’s reasons mattered. All that did matter was that Scott would recover and get better again.

“I see,” she said, as though there were some great meaning behind Brent’s words. “He told me about the time the oil gun sprang a leak and he got sprayed. You got the oil shut off and him out of there and cleaned off so fast, before it could get in his eyes.”

“He told you that?” Brent closed his eyes, stifling a groan, as his cheeks had to be turning beet red. He’d cleaned Scott off and had damn near kissed him just because he was relieved Scott was all right. Just as he’d gotten close, Scott had opened his eyes and their gazes had met, but Brent had backed away. His cowardice had taken over the way it usually did.

Carolyn nodded. “He said you were gentle and made sure he was okay before everything else. Then you apparently took apart the equipment, fixed it, and made sure that didn’t happen again.” She smiled. “Scott tells us stories about work all the time, and many of them featured you.”

What was he supposed to say to that? Brent wanted to hide and lick his wounds somewhere. It seemed that the teasing and flirting Scott had done was more than just playing. Brent had never been sure, but now he knew. Scott had cared and might have been truly interested, but now it might be too late.

“That’s so nice to know.” Brent couldn’t help looking at Scott and wondering what might have been if he had just had the guts.

 

 

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

The Titles Below Are for the Heart Unseen Novels Only

Links go to Amazon

Heart Unseen Book 1

Heart Unheard Book 2

In Our New Release Spotlight: Hurricane (Stormy Weather #3) by B.A. Tortuga (special excerpt)

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Hurricane (Stormy Weather #3) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have B.A. Tortuga back today on her tour for Hurricane, the third Stormy Weather story.  Welcome, B.A.!

✒︎

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things cowboy.

Hurricane is the third in the story of Galen and Shane, and I’ve included a novella set quite a few years later called Bartender Rescue. I hope you enjoy this teaser.

Hurricane, Excerpt

***

“I swear to God, y’all. If you don’t watch your pours, I’m going to start ripping faces off. I can’t afford to run specials if you’re pouring triples on every drink.”

Christ on a sparkly crutch, Shane had a headache. He’d spent the last four days studying the books on his latest project, trying to figure out why the busiest club of five bars was the one losing fucking money.

“But boss….”

He shook his head at Greg, his so-called manager. “Don’t. I don’t care. Fix it, y’all. Now. Or you’re all fired.”

“I’d like to see him do it perfect every time,” one of the little barbacks was muttering, and Shane saw red, right about the time Greg winced.

“Give me a bottle of Bacardi,” he snapped, one hand held out. “And four glasses.”

He poured the four shots—boom, boom, boom, boom—without even bothering to look. Each one of them perfect, right on, and he knew it. “Any questions?”

“Yes.” The newest bartender, a shrewd little redhead with bright green eyes, raised a hand. “Do you do it by count or with the bubble or what?”

“I used to count. Now I know it by heart. It’s practice. Y’all have to get, if you’re getting them fucked-up with two drinks, that’s ten bucks to the till, what? Two bucks to you? Three if you’re lucky? With four or five drinks? That’s twenty-five bucks to the till and more than five in the tip jar.”

“Can you show me one more time?” She was taking the initiative, at least. So he bit back his frustration and showed her.

Four pours. Four shots. Four perfect glasses.

Christ, his head hurt. Bad. And he still had to put out fires at Mickey’s, run deposit at the Spotted Kitten, and approve proofs for the new menus at Bell.

The bar business was booming, even if other things were sliding, like the old bait shop. Galen could run that with one hand tied behind his back and still do all the weird financial shit the man was into. Hell, they’d had it for more than ten years.

He wasn’t sure how he’d ended up like this—how he had ended up owning five clubs. He didn’t even drink hardly anymore.

Hell, right now he was tired enough that he didn’t want anything but caffeine and energy drinks by the case.

“Cool, boss. Thanks.” What the heck was her name? Allie? She winked. Winked at him. Lord.

“I’ve got to go. Greg. Work on this, man.”

“I will. I swear.” Greg could do earnest. Shane just hoped there was follow-through.

He grabbed his laptop bag and headed out. Time for the next stop on his rounds….

Someone stood right in front of his new, sparkly blue Jeep. Leaning on the hood in fact.

He stopped, took a second to admire. Damn. Damn, his Len was fine as frog’s hair. Those long legs went on and on, the ripped jeans and tight polo shirt just right. Galen’s shoulders still looked like they might block the light.

***

Much love, y’all.

BA

Blurb

Hurricane

Stormy Weather: Book Three

Galen and Shane are back in the final installment of the Stormy Weather series, and a tempest of epic proportions is brewing. Once they couldn’t get enough of each other, but now Galen’s long hours are driving a wedge between him and Shane. Lonely and starved for his lover’s attention, bartender Shane falls in with a new crowd that doesn’t have his best interests at heart, and Galen struggles with a workload he can’t manage and an unscrupulous partner who wants to eliminate Shane. He can barely keep his head above water, let alone chart a course home to Shane.

While they’re floundering and trying to hold their relationship together, a hurricane heads for the Florida coast—and they’re directly in the path of the storm. It’s a crisis that will either finally break them apart or remind them how much they stand to lose if they don’t hold on to each other.

Also included is the free novella Bartender Rescue.

Second Edition

About BA Tortuga

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

Release Day Blitz For The Love of Samuel by RP Andrews (excerpt)

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Title:  For the Love of Samuel

Author: RP Andrews

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: 11/20/2017

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage

Length: 50,500

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Fantasy, eroic gay romance, erotic gay fiction

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

New Yorker and aging gay man Billy Veleber who abhors growing old has lost Jim, his former meth head lover, to his habit, and Gus, the older man in his life and mentor, to despair, when he is confronted with the chance to become 21 all over again, through the magical prowess of the dog tag of a long dead Civil War soldier, Samuel Evans. Young again, Billy abandons Manhattan for Fort Lauderdale where he meets Dare, the love of his life, whose clever quick rich venture first bonds them, then threatens to end their idyllic lives together forever. Billy also faces the reality of having to tell Dare the truth about himself.

Excerpt

Billy Veleber, a 51 year old aging gay mam living in Manhattan, after a number of heartbreaks, decides to put on the dog tag of a Civil soldier given to him by Travis, a clerk in a thrift shop in Boystown, Chicago, who tells him it will give him eternal youth if he has had or has love in his life.  The dog tag had been handed down for generations since it was given to Walt Whitman by a dying soldier he nursed in the Washington, D.C., Armory Hospital in 1862. Over the intervening weekend, Billy begins his transformation to 21, the same age as the soldier, Samuel Evans, whose dog tag he wears, died …

I leave the baths around five, and after a coma nap, a quick Smart Choice Fettuccini Alfredo 400 calorie dinner and a good hot shower – I notice with cocky satisfaction in the bedroom’s full length mirror that my love handles are history, my stomach is flatter, my receding hairline is unreceding, and most of the gray on my head and in my beard and and on  – yes! – my chest is going or gone, I head over in my leather vest, no shirt, and levis and boots for The New Eagle off Tenth Avenue. It’s almost one – a.m. – but as one of my fuck buddies before Gus and even Jim, said, “That’s when they stop window shopping.”

Now it’s called The New Eagle because the old Eagle, along with the Spike and the Lure, the leather triumvirate of my youth and my years with Gus, were gone. They had become the victims of the real estate boom at the turn of the millennium, and had been brutally and sacrilegiously torn down for shiny, gleaming condos and spankingly clean baby carriages.

In the crappy bathroom at the Spike they had stenciled on the black wall in cheap white paint, “Don’t flush for piss.” That said it all. I only hoped some gay historians had saved that piece of the wall before it too became history. Now all we have left is the hole on Tenth Avenue, what us hardcore leathermen sarcastically brand as Genuine “Vi-nel.”

I strut in, my goose-step no longer adopted but my own, and find the same Chatty Cathy cliques – different faces, same old shit – going on like the last time I was here with Gus just after we’d  gotten back from our first class holiday excursion to Athens and Rome and a few weeks before his stroke.

In between the groupies are some of the oldest members of our clan, The Old Guard, usually alone because most of their cronies are already dead, and usually with enough keys hanging from their belts to rival a night watchman at the Chrysler Building, the fucken handkerchiefs hanging from their pockets, so Twentieth Century, or the best of them in faded, stretched out jock straps that should be on Antiques Road Show along with their owners. Yea it’s true, the older some of these guys got, the less they wore. For attention I guess.

Admired or ridiculed, it doesn’t matter; the greatest sin is to be ignored.

I order my nine dollar screwdriver with fifteen cents of vodka in it, and head up the stairs to the second level where just a year before Gus and I had had our leather marriage ceremony.

As I’m going up the stairs some twink in a super short Tux jacket, Bermuda shorts and floppies and one of those Abe Lincoln top hats – I guess he thinks he’s in the Garment District because anywhere else he’d be tire-ironed – and his angelic girl friend, a vision in pink, dressed in a fluffy chiffon skirt, low cut blouse and sneakers, are waltzing down the stairs. They give a funny stare but I stare them right back.

“You,” say I, pointing to the bitch, “don’t belong here.”

“You can’t discriminate against us, fucker,” replies her boyfriend who sounds like he shoots up with estrogen in the morning.

I give him a frumpy look back. Yea, buddy you’re right. The days when a leather bar could stop you from coming in if you weren’t dressed “in code” are over. With the leather scene fading faster than an Atlantic City “Wish You Were Here” postcard, it’s all about selling the liquor.

Period.

There’s less people upstairs, the same Chatty Cathy shit going on or guys on their fucken phones GPSing you but never making a move beyond that, when I see HIM.

He’s tall but not too tall, hairy but not a gorilla like me, older but not old, with an open leather camouflage vest showing a tight, lightly furry chest and six pack out of one of Men’s Fitness cover stories, “Dynamite Abs in Just Six Weeks!”, a scrawny beard and face of a felon who did hard labor, and leather gloves and biker’s cap to complete the whole Neo-Nazi look.

Plus a pair of furry, honey melon buns deliciously hanging from his chaps begging to be tongued.

Fuck!

He’s standing at the other end of the bar, surrounded by clones though he is far and away the pick of the litter. I lock my eyes on him like a laser for a good ten minutes but I get hardly a glance.

Now in the old days before Jim and Gus when I was free as a bird but as timid as a spinster, I would have just moved on. Oh, but this was the new Billy, the ballsy Billy. I walk over and stand two feet away from Mr. Hot Shit and his court jesters and just keep staring.

Finally I get his attention.

“You got a problem, bud?” he says returning the stare of a killer. His cronies do the same.

“Well, I’ve been cruising you for at least ten minutes now and I didn’t even get a fart back.”

“And…”

“So what are you looking for, some fem, or fat boy, or maybe some tough guy with whips, chains and razors hanging from his belt?”

His buddies begin to little girl giggle, but not a muscle moves in Hotshit’s Stone Mountain face.

“I’m not into watching your pubic hairs grow in, buddy.”

“How old do you think I am?”

“Thirty, thirty two maybe.”

Fuck, dude, I’d suck your dick all night just for that. But I continue to play it cool.

“So you get your kicks changing some old man’s Depends, I guess.”

Now Hotshit is the only one that’s laughing.

“Okay, smart ass, buy me a beer.”

He follows me to the bar and after collecting our beers, we move to the other side and sit down on the wood bleachers.

“I gotta tell you buddy -”

“Billy, name’s Billy.”

“Hank, in from LA. Hell, Billy, you’re the first guy I’ve met in a long time that’s got balls for real.”

“Hey, I know what I want, so why waste one another’s time?”

“And you want me?”

“If you can deal with all this.” I glide my hand over the fur on my chest and abs when Hank puts his hand over mine and pushes it further down to my crotch.

And squeezes.

“I dig the fur big time. And most younger guys are so used to deleting and blocking everybody, they don’t know how to talk, Christ, they don’t know how to fart in public. But you – you sound pretty mature for a kid old enough to be my son.”

“You don’t have to be old to have your shit together.”

Hank raises his razor chin. “So how old do you think I am, stud?”

Now with that hard core felon face, I took him for fifty but PR taught me to tell people what they wanna hear.

“Forty.”

“Good answer,” he replies. “I’m 46.”

“l just threw a guy out younger than you,” I say smugly.

“Oh?”

“High maintenance. Wanted it all the time. Hey, what do I look like, some fucking machine?”

“You must be pretty tough.” He smiles for the first time since we connected, a tough guy’s, controlled, but a smile nonetheless.

“Yea, I’m a trust fund baby, do what I wanna do, when I wanna do it, with whoever I wanna do it with.”

It’s refreshing to create whatever past the moment calls for when you know, chances are, you’ll never see the guy again.

“And you?” I ask. “You’re not one of these aging hotties who live off those of us with money are you?” This time I place my hand on his chest, rubbing it slowly back and forth from nipple to nipple. He’s got a nice succulent set.

“You know something,” with his own smart ass grin. “I’m going to really enjoy hearing you howl while I fuck you.”

I get up, pat my ass for his benefit, then sit down again.

“This ain’t yours yet.”

“Okay, fair enough.” He takes my hand, places it on his crotch, a respectable bulge at that. “I’m a set designer in Hollyweird, between gigs which is why I decided go visit New York and see some old buddies …”

“…who you’re free loading off of.”

“If you mean, I’m staying with one of them the answer is yes.”

“Current trans-coastal lover, present or former fuck buddy, auditioning sugar daddy, which is it?”

“None of the above. Just a buddy’s couch and a lumpy one at that.”

“Well then, that makes it easy.” I get down off the bleachers and wait for him to follow. He does.

“Remember.” He taps on the chrome and leather armband on his bulging left bicep.

“So two tops can have fun,” I say matter of factly, taping on my neoprene version, also on my not quite as bulging as his left bicep. “Who ends up on the bottom bunk is a matter of luck and timing.”

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

RP Andrews spent most of his life in New York City as a public relations executive before relocating to Fort Lauderdale in 2002, where he enjoyed a brief second career teaching writing at a local university.

All his works of erotic gay fiction and non-fiction are available at amazon.com.

His first work of erotic gay fiction, a collection of edgy short stories called “Basic Butch,” was originally published by San Francisco-based GLBT Publishers in 2008. Basic Butch features characters who go down life paths that, in the end, they wish they had never explored.

His latest works of serious gay fiction include:

“The Czar of Wilton Drive,” the story of Jonathan Antonucci, a twenty-one-year- old, barely-out-the-closet gay man from suburban New York who overnight finds himself a multimillionaire, thanks to a bequest by his late gay uncle. Uncle Charlie has unexpectedly died of a heart attack, leaving him the sole owner of several of the most successful bars in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale’s gay ghetto, making Jonathan the Czar of Wilton Drive.

Flying down to Lauderdale to claim his bequest, Jon encounters Uncle Charlie’s dubious friends and business associates, and is immediately submerged in Lauderdale’s scene of unbridled sex and heavy drugs. He also discovers his great uncle’s memoirs which reveal truths not only about Jon’s own past but also what may have really happened to his uncle. In the end, Jon is torn between avenging Uncle Charlie’s death or loving the man responsible for it.

“Not In It For The Love,” set at the turn of the new millennium. Josh, a young street-smart Florida drifter is snatched from his dead-end existence as a male hustler in a cheap Key Largo motel by Bishop, a Wall Street power broker who sets him up as his trophy boy in Manhattan society. There, Josh, after leading a promiscuous lifestyle within New York City’s gay sub-culture, meets Hylan, a young, bi-racial, down-on-his luck, wheelchair-bound musician who awakens in Josh what love can be between two men. But their chance at happiness and the lives of those around them are forever changed by 9/11.

“Buy Guys,” published in 2015, is the story of Blaze and Pete, two handsome young drifters with nothing and nothing to lose. Blaze convinces Pete, who is falling in love with him, to leave dreary New Jersey and lead free and easy lives as male prostitutes in sunny Fort Lauderdale. Blaze, however, soon pulls Pete into a much larger, more dangerous scheme, a scheme that eventually threatens to destroy them both.

RP Andrews’ daily social commentary blog on gay life in America has been running since 2010 at str8gayconfessions.com, and a second edition collection of these commentaries is available as an e-book on amazon.com. Confessions of a Str8Gay Man is RP Andrews’ unvarnished, unorthodox views of Modern Gay America which are often counter to today’s political correct gay media.

In addition, there is “Furry Man’s Journal,” his erotic memoirs as a hirsute gay man as told through his experiences with the dozen iconic men in his life.

For more info, visit eroticgayromancebyrpandrews.com.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail

 

 

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Love Murder Mysteries? Second Chance at Love? Check Out Hell and Back by Dirk Greyson (excerpt)

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Hell and Back by Dirk Greyson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Release Date: Oct 27 2017

Book Links: AmazonBarnes and NobleDreamspinner Press

Blurb/Synopsis:

Seventeen years ago, Forge Reynolds fell in love… and had his heart broken.  When Gage Livingston was brought into Forge’s Army field hospital, temporarily paralyzed, Forge sat with him, read his letters, answered his mail, and formed a connection he thought would last. But Gage was sent home, Forge transferred to a new post, and Forge’s letters to Gage went unanswered.

Now, in the middle of a bitter divorce, Forge is sick and tired of his husband’s manipulation and is almost ready to make any sacrifice to get closure, and then he finds Granger murdered execution-style in their home. Forge had no idea about Granger’s illicit activities, but the killers don’t believe that. They think Forge has something they want, and they’re coming after him.

When Forge’s lawyer arranges for professional protection, the last face Forge expects to see is Gage’s. Can he even contemplate a second chance for them after almost two decades or will hoping only lead to more heartache? Before they can explore the possibilities, they must figure out what information Granger had—and others are willing to kill for—or that possible heartache could become a certainty

Genre: M/M, Paranormal Romance, Shifters
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print

Excerpt 

Gage went through the house to turn out the interior lights before settling in the family room in front of the television with the volume on low, listening for anything out of the ordinary. One thing the Army had done a good job of training into him was patience. He could sit in a mostly empty house and listen for nothing for hours.

A lot of his jobs were hurry up and wait. This one had seemed like it would be more active. When the call had come in to the office, he’d been about to go off duty. Margie, his receptionist, had relayed who was calling and what they needed.  That woman never seemed to sleep and had forwarded the office phone to her cell..  There had been no one else available, so he’d sprung into action and hurried home to get a bag together. It wasn’t until he’d been driving and Margie called to give him the particulars that he’d heard the name and nearly run off the road.

After all these years, to run into Forge again, and under these circumstances….

He turned toward the stairs and got up to make a round through the house, then checked outside just to ensure everything was quiet.

Forge Reynolds. Gage sat down, turned off the television, and retrieved his bag to pull out his iPad so he could read for a while. After a few minutes of reading the same page over and over, he set it aside, leaned back, and closed his eyes. Concentration wasn’t something he had at the moment.

Almost instantly he was lying in a hospital bed.

He’d been hit with shrapnel, a ton of it if what he’d been told was true, and a piece had nicked his upper spine. He couldn’t walk or use his arms at first. And he’d never forget the day a man, about his own age, sat in the chair next to his bed and picked up the pile of letters on his tray. They hadn’t wanted to transport him in case it caused more damage, and his family couldn’t visit him where he was, so old-fashioned communication was the best way.

“Would you like me to read them to you?” The man’s voice had been mellow and gentle, at odds with most things in the Army.

“Please,” he’d said softly. At least he’d been able to talk.

Forge had opened the first envelope and read Gage the letter from his mother, then a second one. The third envelope contained one from his mother and one from his dad, and Forge read both. Gage had been tired and fallen asleep, but when he woke, the man was still there. He picked up a pen and paper and asked if he wanted to write a letter. “My name’s Specialist Forge Reynolds, by the way. I never did tell you.”

“Gage Staff Sergeant Livingston. Gage,” he’d croaked, hating the way his voice sounded. He remembered feeling useless, helpless, and wanting to die. And when he’d dictated that first letter, all of it had come out in a burst of self-pity and loathing that Forge had faithfully written down, showed to him, and then ripped to shreds.

About the Author

Dirk is very much an outside kind of man.  He loves travel and seeing new things.  Dirk worked in corporate America for way too long and now spends his days writing, gardening, and taking care of the home he shares with his partner of more than two decades.  He has a Master’s Degree and all the other accessories that go with a corporate job.  But he is most proud of the stories he tells and the life he’s built.  Dirk lives in Pennsylvania in a century old home and is blessed with an amazing circle of friends. 

Author Links

Other Works by Dirk Greyson

Yellowstone Wolves Series

Challenge the Darkness

Darkness Threatening

Darkness Rising

Day and Knight Series

Day and Knight

Sun and Shadow

Dawn and Dusk

Standalone Titles

An Assassin’s Holiday

Flight or Fight

Playing With Fire

Lost Mate

Hell and Back

Bru Baker on Getting to know Tate, Werewolf camp counselor and her release Camp H.O.W.L. (author guest blog)

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Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Release date: Nov. 1, 2017

Buy links:

Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Bru Baker here on her Camp H.O.W.L. tour.  Welcome, Bru.

 

Getting to know Tate, werewolf camp counselor by day, hermit by night

Hi, I’m Bru Baker, and I’m continuing my release tour for Camp H.O.W.L. here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Thanks for joining me, and thanks to Melanie, Stella, and the rest of the review crew here for having me here today.

I introduced everyone to brand  new werewolf (affectionately labeled fail!wolf in my  notes because he’s a late bloomer and in denial at first) Adrian yesterday on Love Bytes, so today I’m going to talk about Tate, the werewolf psychologist/camp counselor to troubled werewolf teens who Adrian ends up accidentally bonded to.

Tate went into psychology to help ensure that no wolfling had to deal with the same kinds of trauma and neglect he was raised in as part of a remote pack of werewolf supremacists who shunned human society and lived ruled by their baser instincts. It was no place for a reserved, thoughtful guy like Tate, and he escaped as soon as he was old enough to board a bus on his own and set out for college.

He’s been at Camp H.O.W.L. for years, and while he does have friends on the staff, Tate uses the camp as a crutch to help him avoid relationships. He spends his days surrounded by teenagers in the middle of the forest–it’s safe to say Tate isn’t known for putting himself out there with other adults. In the excerpt I’m sharing today, we see Tate trying to talk himself out of his attraction to Adrian, but his friend and mentor at the camp isn’t having any of it.

Blurb

Moonmates exist, but getting together is going to be a beast….

When Adrian Rothschild skipped his “werewolf puberty,” he assumed he was, somehow, human. But he was wrong, and he’s about to go through his Turn with a country between him and his Pack—scared, alone, and eight years late.

Dr. Tate Lewis’s werewolf supremacist father made his Turn miserable, and now Tate works for Camp H.O.W.L. to ease the transition for young werewolves. He isn’t expecting to offer guidance to a grown man—or find his moonmate in Adrian. Tate doesn’t even believe in the legendary bond; after all, his polygamist father claimed five. But it’s clear Adrian needs him, and if Tate can let his guard down, he might discover he needs Adrian too.

A moonmate is a wolf’s missing piece, and Tate is missing a lot of pieces. But is Adrian up to the challenge?

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 238 pages
Tags: Gay; M/M; werewolves; Dreamspun Beyond

Excerpt

 

 

He’d expected living with Adrian to be difficult, but it wasn’t. And that upset him more than the thought of sharing space with someone who inconvenienced him. Adrian didn’t inconvenience him. Not in the least. Tate liked having him there. They’d been living in each other’s pockets for two weeks, and by all rights Tate should be climbing the walls—but he wasn’t. He looked forward to coming back to the cabin and having someone there to talk to. The way their scents had mingled in the shared spaces was maddening, but also comforting. For the first time he could remember, the cabin felt cozy and welcoming.

They were on the same page almost across the board—when they liked to eat, what they did in their free time, balancing quiet time with time spent hanging out. Adrian had slipped into Tate’s daily routine seamlessly. He was the ideal roommate, which should have been a good thing.

It wasn’t. Not by a long shot. Because along with the inside jokes and comfortable companionship came smoldering looks and flirty banter that made Tate’s inner wolf sing—and the rest of him shy away.

“Tell me again how it annoys you that he puts the cap back on the toothpaste,” Kenya drawled, and Tate scowled at her from his place on the floor.

“Don’t make it sound childish,” he snapped, aware he was being incredibly juvenile even as he said it.

“It sounds to me like you’re just looking for reasons the two of you aren’t a good match,” she said, and he threw the balled-up sock he had in one hand at her.

She caught it deftly, unfurled it, and examined it. “I was looking for that one!” she said triumphantly, matching it to one in her basket and folding them together.

“Remind me again why I agreed to help you fold your laundry?” Tate asked as he sought out more socks from the pile.

“Because you’re having an existential crisis, and I told you I couldn’t counsel you officially because the existential crisis is about one of my patients?”

Tate threw the unmatched socks back on the pile and lay back down, spreading out on her carpet. “It’s not an existential crisis.”

“It isn’t,” she agreed. “It’s not a crisis at all. It’s a good thing, and you don’t know how to deal with that. You, Tate Lewis, actually don’t know a good thing when it bites you in the ass, and that’s partly my fault. I should have made you go out and do more things before you installed yourself here as the camp hermit.”

He rolled up to his side and glared at her. “I am not the camp hermit.”

“You never leave the grounds. That makes this your hermitage.” She frowned. “Is that a word? Hermitude? No, that would be your hermit-y attitude. Hermitage, I’m sticking with that. We’ll get you a plaque made to put outside your cabin. Tate’s Hermitage.”

He groaned and rubbed his hands over his face. “And you can’t make me do anything, anyway. I’m my own man.”

“Sure you are, sugar,” she said sweetly. He didn’t doubt that if they’d been close enough, she would have patted his hand. “So be your own man on this and man up and make a move!”

Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker

About the Author

Bru Baker spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Dirk Greyson on Turning Personal Experience into Characters and his latest novel ‘Hell and Back’

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Hell and Back by Dirk Greyson
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Book Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Dirk Greyson here on his Hell  and Back tour. Welcome, Dirk.

 

I often get asked how much of myself I put into my stories and sometimes I’m not really sure.  I’m not a lawyer and I’m not ex-military turned detective, but I do like to think that I have a big heart and I think that’s where I insert myself most often into the stories I write.  Okay, I’m going to tell you something that I rarely go into online.  My school years weren’t happy ones. I was alone much of the time.  The kids at school picked on me and that made those years really tough.  As a reaction, I turned quiet in introspective.  I stayed away from others and didn’t open play with them because I never knew when the next trick or insult was coming.  It was a pretty miserable existence.  But I think that period of my life also helped me develop a real heart felt understanding for the underdog and those that are having a difficult time with life because I’d been through it.  I really feel for my characters and throw my heart into them, quite literally.  I really hope that comes through to you as well.

 

Blurb/Synopsis

Seventeen years ago, Forge Reynolds fell in love… and had his heart broken.  When Gage Livingston was brought into Forge’s Army field hospital, temporarily paralyzed, Forge sat with him, read his letters, answered his mail, and formed a connection he thought would last. But Gage was sent home, Forge transferred to a new post, and Forge’s letters to Gage went unanswered.

Now, in the middle of a bitter divorce, Forge is sick and tired of his husband’s manipulation and is almost ready to make any sacrifice to get closure, and then he finds Granger murdered execution-style in their home. Forge had no idea about Granger’s illicit activities, but the killers don’t believe that. They think Forge has something they want, and they’re coming after him.

When Forge’s lawyer arranges for professional protection, the last face Forge expects to see is Gage’s. Can he even contemplate a second chance for them after almost two decades or will hoping only lead to more heartache? Before they can explore the possibilities, they must figure out what information Granger had—and others are willing to kill for—or that possible heartache could become a certainty

Excerpt

Gage went through the house to turn out the interior lights before settling in the family room in front of the television with the volume on low, listening for anything out of the ordinary. One thing the Army had done a good job of training into him was patience. He could sit in a mostly empty house and listen for nothing for hours.

A lot of his jobs were hurry up and wait. This one had seemed like it would be more active. When the call had come in to the office, he’d been about to go off duty. Margie, his receptionist, had relayed who was calling and what they needed.  That woman never seemed to sleep and had forwarded the office phone to her cell..  There had been no one else available, so he’d sprung into action and hurried home to get a bag together. It wasn’t until he’d been driving and Margie called to give him the particulars that he’d heard the name and nearly run off the road.

After all these years, to run into Forge again, and under these circumstances….

He turned toward the stairs and got up to make a round through the house, then checked outside just to ensure everything was quiet.

Forge Reynolds. Gage sat down, turned off the television, and retrieved his bag to pull out his iPad so he could read for a while. After a few minutes of reading the same page over and over, he set it aside, leaned back, and closed his eyes. Concentration wasn’t something he had at the moment.

Almost instantly he was lying in a hospital bed.

He’d been hit with shrapnel, a ton of it if what he’d been told was true, and a piece had nicked his upper spine. He couldn’t walk or use his arms at first. And he’d never forget the day a man, about his own age, sat in the chair next to his bed and picked up the pile of letters on his tray. They hadn’t wanted to transport him in case it caused more damage, and his family couldn’t visit him where he was, so old-fashioned communication was the best way.

“Would you like me to read them to you?” The man’s voice had been mellow and gentle, at odds with most things in the Army.

“Please,” he’d said softly. At least he’d been able to talk.

Forge had opened the first envelope and read Gage the letter from his mother, then a second one. The third envelope contained one from his mother and one from his dad, and Forge read both. Gage had been tired and fallen asleep, but when he woke, the man was still there. He picked up a pen and paper and asked if he wanted to write a letter. “My name’s Specialist Forge Reynolds, by the way. I never did tell you.”

“Gage Staff Sergeant Livingston. Gage,” he’d croaked, hating the way his voice sounded. He remembered feeling useless, helpless, and wanting to die. And when he’d dictated that first letter, all of it had come out in a burst of self-pity and loathing that Forge had faithfully written down, showed to him, and then ripped to shreds.

About the Author

Dirk is very much an outside kind of man.  He loves travel and seeing new things.  Dirk worked in corporate America for way too long and now spends his days writing, gardening, and taking care of the home he shares with his partner of more than two decades.  He has a Master’s Degree and all the other accessories that go with a corporate job.  But he is most proud of the stories he tells and the life he’s built.  Dirk lives in Pennsylvania in a century old home and is blessed with an amazing circle of friends. 

Author Links

Other Works by Dirk Greyson

Yellowstone Wolves Series

Challenge the Darkness

Darkness Threatening

Darkness Rising

Day and Knight Series

Day and Knight

Sun and Shadow

Dawn and Dusk

Standalone Titles

An Assassin’s Holiday

Flight or Fight

Playing With Fire

Lost Mate

Hell and Back

BOOK BLAST – Blackbird Fly Home (Doyle Global Securities #1) by Kendel Duncan (excerpt)

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Title: Blackbird Fly Home

(Doyle Global Securities #1)

Author: Kendel Duncan

Genre: M/M Romance

Release Date: September 19 2017

Cover Design: Dare Press Editing

Photographer: Dan Skinner

Blurb

Sometimes life will surprise you

Sometimes it will disappoint you

Sometimes it will kick you in the balls

Sometimes it will make you so happy you feel like you can fly

And sometimes, just sometimes, it will do all of those things.

The kick in the balls, both literally and figuratively, happened to Noah Pierce a long time ago. Ten years to be exact, when, to cap off a brutal and horrendous four-year relationship with the man who claimed to love him, that man buried a butcher knife in his side. It was the final wound in a seemingly endless cycle of bruises, cuts, breaks, sprains and other things that sent him to the hospital. He thought he was going to die. But when he opened his eyes in that ER room and saw a stranger with kind yet determined eyes looking back at him and with his boyfriend nowhere in sight, Noah knew that life was going to change for him. And it did.

For ten years he was stronger, he was better, he was……hollow.

He didn’t realize that last part until he saw one man. One pair of haunting blue eyes beside the very man who had ruined Noah all those years ago. One pair of frightened eyes. One pair of hollow, hopeless eyes that Noah couldn’t have walked away from if he tried…..because someone else hadn’t walked away from him all those years ago.

Noah didn’t realize it at the time, but by saving Jesse Miller from the clutches of his ex, he was going to learn to fly….

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Buy Links – Available on KU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads

Excerpt

Excerpt: “Fuck,” Noah whispered as he tucked back farther into the shadows and rubbed his hand over his face, as if he could scrub those memories away with a swipe of his hand. Like that was ever going to happen.

He should walk away. He should just fucking walk away. Walk out of this club and leave Jacob Knight behind, like he’d done ten years ago.

But he couldn’t.

Because Morgan hadn’t.

And because he knew this kid, with those blue eyes that were so striking you could see them even in the dim lights of the club, would haunt him for the rest of his life.

He pulled out his phone and dialed.

“Hey there. How are you doing? I heard the Op you did was a little intense,” Morgan said when he answered the call.

Fucking Caleb.

Noah squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath. Yeah that Op had been intense. He hadn’t been expecting that. It was supposed to be easy: pose as an escort, get fucked by the mark – Cole Gillette and place the listening device. Easy in, get laid, easy out. No problem, right? But then he’d felt Cole’s turmoil, his pain, his….the way he was so haunted by the man that he’d stared at on his TV screen while he’d fucked Noah, the man whose name Cole had called when he came in the condom in Noah’s ass: Kelly. Yeah, it’d been intense.

He chose to ignore Morgan’s comments, even though he knew the man would want to revisit them later. Time was of the essence here.

“I need your help,” he said, getting straight to the point.

He heard Morgan suck in a breath, “Anything Noah, tell me what you need.”

“I’m at Brubakers right now.”

“Brubakers, the club? Yeah, I know it. Are you drunk? Did something happen?”

“He’s here, Morgan.”

Dead silence answered him for at least half a minute. Noah had no doubt that Morgan would know exactly who Noah was talking about without saying the man’s name.

After a mumbled curse, “Has he seen you?”

“No.”

“Get out, Noah. Leave by the back door if you have to but get the fuck out.”

“I can’t.”

“What? Why not?”

“He’s got someone with him, Morgan and he looks, fuck, he looks just like me,” he said, the last word coming out like a choked sob.

“You mean like a twin?”

“No, I mean like a shell, like a robot, like a dead man walking. He can’t be more than twenty-five, Morg. I can’t leave him here with him. I have to help him.”

There was a quietly growled curse from Morgan and then, “Okay, I’m on my way. But do not do anything until I get there is that understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“If he sees you, do not confront him. Just run. Am I clear?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Do not engage in any way, do you hear me?”

“Yes, Morgan, I’ve got it,” Noah said with an eyeroll. Like he’d ever disobey any order or request from Morgan. He and Morgan both knew that. The idea of it almost made him snort out a laugh.

“I’ll call you when I’m in my car. I should be there in about fifteen.”

“Okay, and Morgan?”

“Yeah?”

“Hurry.”

The call ended and Noah continued to watch the young man for a few minutes.

When someone tapped him on the shoulder, he gasped and jumped in his seat.

“Relax, I’m a friend of Morgan’s. I’m Jake Brubaker, this is my place. He just called me. When he asks for my help, I don’t question, I just say yes. What do you need?” he said as he gave Noah’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

Noah opened his mouth to say nothing but then he noticed that some of the servers were walking around with Brubakers ball caps on.

“Do you have any more of those hats?”

“Absolutely,” he said as he turned towards the bar, “Hey Amy, can you hand me a hat, please?”

The young woman ducked down behind the bar and then stuck her arm out to Jake, who grabbed the hat and handed it over to Noah.

“Anything else?”

“I don’t know yet. I might need a place to hide out for a bit.”

“My office is yours. It’s got an electronic lock on it,” he said then he told Noah the code to open it. He looked back at Noah with a raised eyebrow as he waited.

“Can you up the alcohol content on the drinks you send to that table?” Noah said as he lifted his chin towards Jacob’s table.

Jake looked over his shoulder, “Done.”

“He’s a lawyer. This could get….messy.”

Jake snorted a laugh, “Please, I was a prosecutor for ten years. I used to eat assholes like him for breakfast. Don’t worry about me or my place.”

Noah nodded to him as he pulled the hat down low over his head, “Thanks.”

“If you need anything else, just holler. I’m always around.”

Noah nodded to him again and then watched as Jake leaned over the bar to say something to the bartender and then she added more booze to the tray of drinks on the bar in front of her. One of the servers picked it up and brought it over to Jacob’s table. As they were handed out, he saw the young man next to Jacob lean in and whisper something into his ear. He watched as Jacob started to stand with him but then the other men at the table laughed and said something to Jacob that made him frown and Noah knew that they were giving him shit about not letting his boyfriend go to the bathroom by himself. He knew it because Jacob had done the same thing to him.

After listening to the other men teasing him, Jacob turned to his young man and placed his hand on his cheek. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to the young man’s ear and Noah knew that he was giving him explicit instructions to not make eye contact with anyone, not speak to anyone, to go in and piss, wash his hands and return to the table without haste. Hell, even though it had been a decade, he could almost hear Jacob’s deep voice in his own ear whispering those same commands to him and a sick feeling shivered through his body like a snake.

Fuck.

This was his chance, this was going to be his only chance. It was now or fucking never.

He didn’t turn his head, just let his eyes track the young man as he made his way through the crowd and to the darkened hall that led to the restrooms. Then Noah’s eyes swung back to find that Jacob was doing the same thing, his eyes glued to that dark hall like a hawk.

Fucking hell. He couldn’t slip down there now or Jacob would see him for sure. How the fuck was he going to do this? He was beginning to worry that he’d have to come up with another plan.

Until….

Luther stepped in front of Jacob and blocked his view.

“I brought backup. Go,” Morgan said as he stepped up to Noah’s table and turned to watch his husband engaging Jacob and the other men at the table in conversation.

Noah knew that Luther would keep those men occupied for a while because even though Luther Santiago was no longer in his old line of work as a mob boss, he was still a highly respected, and feared, man who could command the attention of any room that he stepped into. And he currently held the rapt attention of those six men in that booth.

Noah slid out of his corner and ducked around the wall into the dark hallway and down into the men’s restroom.

He still wasn’t sure what he was going to say when he pushed the door open and saw the young man at the urinal but he knew he had to choose the right words or the young man would be lost. Forever.

He silently closed the door behind him and took a deep breath, “I used to be you,” he said quietly.

The man’s head whipped around and the terror in his eyes broke Noah’s heart. “What?” he whispered.

“I used to be you and he nearly killed me.”

The man’s eyes went wide and Noah could see not only the fear in them but also a thousand questions. But he knew the man wouldn’t ask him a single one of them, though, because that was how Jacob had trained him. Noah knew this because Jacob had trained him the same way.

“I, I’m not supposed to talk to anyone,” he mumbled as he quickly zipped up and moved over to the sink.

“What’s your name?” Noah said as he stepped closer to the man who was mumbling to himself as he washed his hands. As Noah got closer he realized that the man was counting how many times he rubbed the soap over his hands, like Jacob had burned it into his brain that if he didn’t wash long enough he wasn’t clean. Fucking bastard.

“J-J-J-Jesse,” the kid mumbled as he resumed his counting.

Noah stepped up to Jesse’s back and reached over to close his hands over Jesse’s, causing Jesse to hiss in a breath, “Broken ribs, three broken wrists, five concussions, two broken arms, two broken ankles, and a punctured lung from when he stabbed me with a butcher knife.”

“He, he doesn’t really hit me,” he whispered.

That surprised Noah for a brief second but then he realized…. “No, but he does other things that make you feel hopeless, helpless, humiliated.”

“I, I, I m-m-make him angry. I’m bad.”

“No, Jesse. I never did anything wrong and neither did you. You don’t have to live like this. I can help you. Let me help you, please.”

Jesse’s tear-filled eyes looked at Noah in the mirror, “How?”

“Come with me, right now. I’ll take you someplace safe where he’ll never find you, I promise.”

Tears spilled over onto Jesse’s cheeks as he looked down and ran his fingers over his forearm, “Yes he will, he’ll always find me.”

As Noah’s eyes darted down to Jesse’s arm, realization hit him like a freight train, “Fucking hell, Jesse, did he put a tracking device in your arm?”

Jesse silently nodded his head.

 

 

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About the Author

Kendel Duncan is the pen name for author Dara Nelson. Both her Healing Hearts series (Dara Nelson) and The Black Ops Heroes series (Kendel Duncan) garner such praise as: “Ah-mazing!”, “It’s a keeper!” and “One of the best books I’ve read”

A long-time reader of the romance genre, Dara (Kendel) writes tear-jerking, sigh-inducing romance and heart-pounding, exciting erotic fiction and lives with her husband on a small farm near Tacoma, WA. You can reach her on Facebook at either of her author pages listed below

Some of her favorite authors include Riley Hart, Ella Frank, Devon McCormack, Aimee Nicole Walker, Sloane Kennedy, Dan Skinner and too many more to name.

Social Media Links

Facebook Author pages Kendel Duncan and Dara Nelson Books

Amazon Author pages – Dara Nelson and Kendel Duncan

Blog Site – Love Unchained Book Reviews

 

BOOK BLAST SCHEDULE

BLACKBIRD FLY HOME SCHEDULE

October 26

Bookaholic & Kindle REVIEW

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author REVIEW

Megan’s Media Melange REVIEW

Tangents and Tissues

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

MM Good Book Reviews

October 27

Zipper Rippers

My Fiction Nook

We Three Queens

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Stories That Make You Smile

October 28

Bayou Book Junkie REVIEW

Gay Book Reviews

A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog REVIEW

MJ’s Book Blog and Reviews

Lily G Blunt

 

Hosted by Gay Book Productions

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Julia Talbot on Historic Mining Hotels and her release ‘To Hell You Ride’ (guest post)

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To Hell You Ride by Julia Talbot
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Reese Dante

Buy Link:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Julia Talbot on her tour for her latest release To Hell You Ride. Welcome, Julia.

Hey y’all!

I’m Julia Talbot, and I’m talking about To Hell You Ride today, which is a historical I wrote a while back and Dreamspinner is putting it back out for me. I love this book, y’all. I do. I love historicals, and I love the wild west, and this book is all about hard rock mining in Colorado’s San Juan mountains.

Clancy, one of the main characters in the book, is enamored of fancy hotels. The late 1800 saw a boom in places like Colorado and New Mexico with grand hotels. Each little mining town seemed to have one, and they all had their own character. I’m kind of obsessed with old hotels myself, so here are my top five.

5. The Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, Colorado. Great staircase. OMG haunted. Seriously. There’s this hallway back to an annex they built to have more rooms… Something awful must have happened there. You get physically ill. Creepy!

4. The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. This one would be higher on the list if they had any kind of air conditioning! So hot in July. Just sayin’. However, it is the inspiration for the Shining, and it plays the Shining 24/7 on the TV, so I can live with it. Super architecture and an amazing view from the porch.

3. The Strater in Durango, CO. So pretty. Just a lovely hotel with antique decorated rooms. Call ahead and make sure the elevator is working. Be sure to sit in the lobby for a while and watch for the man in the tailcoat and top hat. He has no idea he’s dead.

2. The Hotel Colorado, Glenwood Springs CO—Don’t stay here. Stay at the Hot Springs Lodge. But! Go have a drink on the outdoor patio. Check out the amazing lobby, and if you can, the ballroom. Theodore Roosevelt stayed here. It’s very cool.

1. The New Sheridan Hotel in Telluride. Such a neat old building in the historic district. You have to see the bar! The woodwork is amazing. The backdrop of the San Juans ain’t bad, either.

Thanks for reading, y’all!

XXOO

Julia Talbot

Blurb

Big Roy is a hard-rock miner with a not-so-secret love for the theater, so when he hears a new troupe of actors are coming to the Telluride Opera House to put on a Shakespeare play, he saddles his mule and makes the trek into town to see it. The play doesn’t disappoint, but the beautiful lead actor, Edward Clancy, certainly does. Clancy is rude and arrogant, and Roy figures he’d never have a chance with such a man. He’s wrong, because Clancy needs some entertainment himself, being stuck in a hellish mining town for the long, snowy winter. Come spring, though, Clancy knows he’s going to want to move on, and he thinks Roy will be easy to forget. Then tragedy hits, and Clancy has to rethink his entire life. Can these two strike gold?

Second Edition

First Edition Published by SCREWDRIVER An imprint of Torquere Press, January 2007.

About the Author

Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner Press and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find her on the web at www.juliatalbot.com

https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

https://twitter.com/juliatalbot

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Eli Easton on Tender Mercies (with an Exclusive Excerpt)

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Tender Mercies (Men of Lancaster County #2) by Eli Easton
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Release date: Oct 27, 2017

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Eli Easton here today on her Tender Mercies tour.  Welcome, Eli.

Exclusive Excerpt: Samuel comes out to Eddie

By Eli Easton

I’m celebrating the release of TENDER MERCIES, a romance set on a farm very much like the one I live on with my family. It’s the second book in the “Men of Lancaster County” series, though it features a new couple and can be read as a stand-alone. What each book in this series has in common is being set in Lancaster County, a rural area of Pennsylvania where there are a lot of Amish and Mennonite.

The protagonists in TENDER MERCIES are Eddie, a city guy who moved to the country to start a farm sanctuary,  and Samuel, a young Amish man kicked out of his community for being gay. Samuel, having nowhere else to go, finds a job as a farmhand on Eddie’s farm.

I’ve long wanted to write an Amish protagonist. Growing up myself as the daughter of a conservative minister in the Midwest, I can relate to the frustrations and perils of growing up in a very restrictive, limited environment. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be for a young boy who knows he’s gay.

Below is one of my favorite Samuel scenes in the book, in which, for the first time in his life, he comes out to another person.

EXCERPT – Samuel comes out to Eddie

Samuel became very absorbed by books. He and Eddie read in the evenings, letting the cards languish on the dining room table. Samuel would read a book that wasn’t embarrassing when he was sitting in the living room with Eddie, and Eddie would read on his Kindle. It was sure good to have company, even if they didn’t talk a whole lot. It was like there was an extra stove in the room, this one thawing some cold and neglected piece of Samuel’s heart. Sometimes Eddie would laugh and then read something out loud to Samuel. Sometimes he made popcorn.

But no matter how nice it was to read in the same room as Eddie, Samuel would go to bed early, and there he would read a book he’d snuck from the right wall section of office shelves—the romances. There was no way he could be in the same room as Eddie and read those! If his blush didn’t give him away, other parts of him would.

He read a romance about a woman and a pirate, which was very, very dirty. It had crazy names for body parts like “manhood” and “cave” and “the milk of love.”

Then he read one about a woman who owned a big sports team. He found the information about the sports teams almost as interesting as the sex in that one. Almost.

Then Samuel found the other books. They were on the bottom three shelves of that right wall section. When Samuel pulled the first one, he saw two men on the cover. He pulled another and another. He read the back of the books. They were all about two men who met and…. Surely not. It couldn’t be what it looked like.

Eddie was in the kitchen making dinner when Samuel found those books. Heart pounding and half-afraid of getting caught, Samuel quickly picked one book and put back the rest. He went up and hid the book in his room. That night he went to bed real early, consumed by curiosity, and he read it.

In the story one man played ice hockey and he was famous. No one knew this man was gay because hockey players weren’t supposed to be that way, and he’d lose his job if they found out. The other man was a reporter, and his family and friends knew he liked other men, and they didn’t care. The reporter met the hockey player, and they started having sex and fell in love. It was a tough situation because they had to keep it secret and couldn’t be seen out together and such like.

Samuel didn’t touch himself when he read this book. He cried. He cried so hard he had to bury his face in the pillow because he was afraid Eddie would hear him all the way on the other side of the house.

He was overwhelmed by thoughts and images. Someone wrote a book about it, about men who like other men. And in the book, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It was a thing some people didn’t accept, but the men in the book were still characters worth writing about. Their story was worth telling. They were not terrible people or sinful or perverted or abominations. They were handsome and nice, and they tried to do the right thing. It was all right there on the page, that was what was so amazing. It was printed there as if the story of two men who loved each other had just as much right to be written and made into a book and printed on good paper as Beauty or Treasure Island.

That meant so much to Samuel his body couldn’t contain the feeling of muchness. So he cried.

For two days Samuel thought about that book as he went about his chores. He didn’t even want to read any more books right then; he just wanted to think about that one book and what it meant. He thought about what it meant that Eddie had the book, and a bunch more like it, in his library. He thought about how it might be connected to the fact that Eddie was not married and had no children, even though he said he was twenty-eight years old.

Those thoughts made Samuel feel itchy and twisted up inside. He liked Eddie and respected him. He respected Eddie’s kindness and his principles when it came to other creatures, he really did. Even if Eddie’s sensitivity about animals seemed excessive to Samuel, he could admit such compassion was more Christlike than many of the things Samuel witnessed growing up. But if Eddie turned out to be like that, gay, Samuel wasn’t sure how he’d feel about it.

He always believed “being gay,” as the romances called it, was something to be ashamed of, and he didn’t want to lose respect for Eddie. But the books also made him think his father, his church, had been wrong. It didn’t have to be a sinful, degenerate thing done in the cover of night as if hiding from God. Two men loving each other could have a normal life just like any other couple, just like in his fantasy of Green Valley. For real.

And if Eddie were gay, then….

Then.

Those what-if thoughts lurked hungrily on the edges of his mind, but they were too audacious to think directly. Samuel felt skittery and guilty anytime he started to think about them. As if Eddie would know somehow.

No. Those ideas were too big to dwell upon. It hurt too much to want like that. And it wasn’t right by Eddie. The man deserved more respect than to become a figure in Samuel’s sexy dreams.

But Samuel was curious about why Eddie had the books. Maybe it was just because he liked all sorts of things. Eddie wasn’t a pirate, after all. Maybe all English had such books. Curiosity started to eat Samuel up. He figured it was best to just come out and ask so he could stop fretting about it one way or the other.

So on the third night after he found the gay romances, when Eddie was putting supper on the kitchen island, Samuel slipped upstairs and got the book. When he sat down, he did what Eddie had done all those weeks ago with that towel. He put it on the counter facing Eddie. Then he picked up his fork.

Dinner that night was spaghetti with a tomato sauce and a salad. Samuel focused on his food and refused to be put off by nerves. He was hungry.

He’d finished half his meal before he looked up to find Eddie watching him warily.

“Are you asking me about the book? Or do you have something to say about it?” Eddie asked in his most careful voice.

Samuel thought about that. “Did you read it?”

“Yes.”

“What did you think of it?”

Eddie still looked wary. “What did I think about it? Hmm. Well. It’s not my favorite gay romance, but I liked it. I thought the relationship development was well done.” He paused for a moment, then gave what looked to Samuel like a forced smile. “The hockey player was hot.”

Samuel felt a wave of embarrassment and looked down at his spaghetti. He felt himself blushing. He ate a few bites, chewing and swallowing more slowly than usual. Samuel thought the hockey player was “hot” too. But if Eddie thought so, did that mean he was gay? For sure?

All of a sudden, Samuel wished he hadn’t brought it up. Because he wasn’t sure he could not make a fool out of himself over the answer. It felt too important. He felt a little nauseous, truth be told. He put down his fork and twisted his hands in his lap, stared out the window.

“That’s not really what you wanted to ask me about, is it?” Eddie said. “You want to know why I have gay romance in the house. You want to know if I’m gay.”

Samuel’s heart thudded thick and heavy in his chest. “Ain’t none of my business.” He suddenly didn’t think he could stand knowing, one way or the other. It would be too much.

“Well. I am. I’m a gay man. I was in a relationship for a long time, but, well, now I’m not. Is that going to be a problem for you?”

Samuel felt faint. Was that relief he felt? Or shock? He hadn’t thought Eddie was gay, much less expected him to admit it so easily. How had he not guessed? Samuel felt ignorant and unworldly, one of those moments where the gap between his knowledge of the world, and Eddie’s, felt so broad it was a wonder they could talk to each other at all.

Samuel’s ears were ringing, and he was lost in his thoughts. He suddenly realized Eddie was still talking to him.

“Samuel? Can you please answer me? Is it going to make you uncomfortable living here now?”

“What?” Samuel jerked his head around to look at Eddie. Eddie’s face was guarded, and Samuel felt terrible.

“No, I don’t mind. I mean, I’m not uncomfortable.” Lord, he was so uncomfortable. “What I mean is….” He hesitated.

Eddie frowned at him, his face guarded as if prepared for Samuel to say something mean.

“I am too!” Samuel said abruptly, then he cringed. He thought he might throw up. “That is to say, I always felt that way. That’s why my da beat me with the switch that one day. And told me to get out. So it don’t matter to me none if you are.” He closed his eyes and clenched his fists on the counter. He couldn’t sound any stupider if he tried.

Eddie’s hand closed loosely over Samuel’s fist. His voice was soft. “That’s why your dad beat you? That’s inexcusable, Sam. You know that, right?”

Samuel opened his eyes, startled at the touch. But before he could even really feel it, Eddie pulled his hand away.

Eddie was glowering. He rubbed at the center of his chest. “First of all, you can’t help being gay. It’s something you’re born with, like brown eyes. And there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s certainly nothing you should be punished for. I’m sorry your father did that to you. God, that makes me so mad!”

Samuel had no idea what to say. He picked up his fork and twirled it in the spaghetti and chewed it, not hardly tasting a thing. Eddie’s words rolled around in his head like marbles. There’s nothing wrong with it. Eddie sure came from a different world. Samuel liked that world. The longing for it was sharp, a desperate ache. He wanted to be a part of it.

Then he realized that maybe he already was.

“You’re the first person I ever told,” he admitted.

Eddie smiled. “Yeah? How does it feel?”

Samuel considered it. “Like I’m about to have a heart attack.”

I hope you enjoy the rest of TENDER MERCIES.

Eli Easton

About TENDER MERCIES – Eli Easton (Men of Lancaster County #2)

Eddie Graber’s dream of a sanctuary for rescued farm animals was about to come true when his partner backed out at the last minute. Now Eddie risks losing the twenty-five acre property in Lancaster County—and all the hopes he held for it—before the project even gets off the ground. He needs help, he needs money, but most importantly, he needs to rediscover the belief in a higher purpose that brought him here in the first place.

Samuel Miller worked hard to fit into his Amish community despite his club foot. But when his father learns Samuel is gay, he is whipped and shunned. With just a few hundred dollars to his name, Samuel responds to an ad for a farmhand and finds himself employed by a city guy who has strange ideas about animals, no clue how to run his small farm, and a gentle heart.

Samuel isn’t the only lost soul to serendipitously find his way to Meadow Lake Farm. There’s Fred and Ginger, two cows who’d been living in a garage, a gang of sheep, and a little black pig named Benedict who might be the key to life, love, money—and even a happily ever after for two castoffs.

NOTE: This title is set in the same region as book #1 but features a new couple. It can be read as a stand-alone.

About the Author

Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer and a profound sleeper, Eli is happily embarking on yet another incarnation as a m/m romance author. 

As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story.  She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time.  She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows and six chickens.  All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35076747-tender-mercies?from_search=true

Amy Lane on A Memory of Chocolate and her latest release ‘Familiar Angel’, a new trilogy from Dreamspinner Press (guest post)

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Familiar Angel by Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art by Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon 

 

A Memory of Chocolate

By Amy Lane

Because Familiar Angel takes place over the span of 140 years, much of the love story in the present day is twined with events in the past. Like real memories, the important ones don’t always come in a linear development. They often come when someone needs the memory the most. (Shows like The Pretender and Supernatural that stretch long enough for the stars who play the young leads to grow up often run into trouble with this. Fortunately for me, the casting for the young actors are all in your head!)

This is a memory twined with a real-time event. Harry and Suriel are on a “job” or a “mission” to get a group of girls to safety—but time on the road is time on the road, and painful confessions often come to pass.

The real-time moment happens in the aftermath of such a painful confession.

The moment between Harry and Emma takes place long ago, in the past…

A yawn took over Suriel’s body, and Harry had to laugh. Apparently parts of being human took him by surprise.

You want to use the bed, don’t you?” he asked kindly.

Suriel shook his head and settled down more comfortably. “This is fine,” he said through another yawn. “I just… I want you to know. I know you’re still afraid of Big Cass—of having no faith in the world again, of being all alone. But you rebuilt faith in your heart with the love of your brothers, your parents—on that alone. That took more courage than facing Big Cass ever could.”

Suriel yawned again, and then, like a child, fell asleep.

Harry was left with the roar of the diesel engine and the hum of the tires on the tattered pavement as they rumbled through the night.

*

Mornings in Mendocino were frequently cold. It didn’t snow there often, but there was usually a sharp, wet wind blowing off the ocean, and the combination of cold and damp could chill a man to his vitals, make brittle his viscera and bones.

Within a week of moving to the tiny, drafty cabin that would become a mansion—and their home—Harry realized that Emma, who had power at her fingertips to command as an old and studied witch, woke up early every morning to start a fire in the Ben Franklin stove in the center of the room.

The boys had gotten used to sleeping as cats very quickly; they preferred it. Cats woke up fully, in an instant—nobody surprised a cat in the way Big Cass had been known to surprise the boys. And they were furry and, if they slept in a huddle, warm.

Always warm.

But Emma would get up early anyway, stoke the fire, and put on hot water for tea or coffee.

After a week, Harry was curious enough to turn human to ask her what she was doing.

First she greeted him with a warm sweater and thick socks to pull on, as well as a stocking cap and a blanket over his shoulders—the cold was stunning.

Then she poured him a hot cup of coffee, wrapped the tin cup in a towel, and pressed his fingers to the warm sides.

“Now what did you want to ask me, Harry?”

Harry stared at her and tried to keep his face composed. “Nothing,” he rasped. “Just… trying to figure out what we did to deserve all this.”

Emma’s smile illuminated stars and warmed planets—Harry was sure of it. “You boys just… just agreed, Harry. Jumped into my carpet bag as cats and came to start a new life. I just don’t want to make you sorry you took a chance on me, you understand?”

Harry nodded and sipped his coffee.

And realized that love came in the strangest of gestures, the most infinitesimal of signs.

*

They reached Visalia about an hour before dawn, and Harry urged Suriel to stretch out in the back quarter of the truck.

“Come sleep with me.” Suriel yawned. “I’ll set wards, Harry—they’ll wake you soon enough.”

Harry checked in with Edward, who had been dozing for the last hundred miles anyway and was apparently tucked into one of the bedrolls they’d brought. He told Harry he was setting his own wards and then fell back asleep, as a man or a cat, Harry couldn’t tell.

“Okay.” Harry yawned, trusting. Suriel turned on his side, and Harry went furry and glided up against his chest.

Suriel’s hands, stroking his ears back, smoothing his whiskers flat, reassured him on a primal level.

“When we’re less tired, I would love to do this with you as a man,” Suriel whispered.

Harry lapped delicately at his forearm. Well, yes. But not now. Harry was feeling too raw, too wounded now. He would just appreciate that arm holding him strongly, reminding him that he didn’t have to be alone.

Not tonight.

He woke up semipanicked, Suriel’s spot next to him cool in the morning chill. Someone was opening the door to the cab, and Harry hissed, skittering back, heart pounding, every alarm in his head going off, when Suriel’s voice greeted him.

“I’m sorry, Harry. I went to get you and the boys some chocolate. I hope that’s okay.”

Harry turned abruptly human, perched on his knees on the uncertain ground of the mattress.

“That’s….” Suriel handed him the paper cup, and he took it automatically, smiling shyly into Suriel’s eyes. Harry lost the reason he was frightened and upset and took the hot chocolate, dazed and stunned. Suriel’s eyes, that warm, rich chocolate brown, mesmerized him.

“That’s what?” Suriel asked, teasing.

“You’re here,” Harry said. “In the morning again. That’s wonderful.”

Suriel’s smile spread, went blinding, and Harry felt as though he’d said something brilliant instead of something obvious.

“I’ll go see how the girls are doing.” Suriel placed a pastry bag in his hand.

Then Suriel disappeared, closing the door behind him, and Harry was left in the rapidly heating central valley, drinking hot chocolate and remembering the feeling of his fingers wrapped around a towel-insulated tin cup in a drafty cabin next to the ocean.

Harry wasn’t stupid. He knew what it was that bound the two memories together.

They twined around his heart as he closed his eyes and sipped his chocolate.

Blurb

One hundred and forty years ago, Harry, Edward, and Francis met an angel, a demon, and a sorceress while escaping imprisonment and worse! They emerged with a new family—and shapeshifting powers beyond their wildest dreams.

Now Harry and his brothers use their sorcery to rescue those enslaved in human trafficking—but Harry’s not doing so well. Pining for Suriel the angel has driven him to take more and more risks until his family desperately asks Suriel for an intervention.

In order for Suriel to escape the bindings of heaven, he needs to be sure enough of his love to fight to be with Harry. Back when they first met, Harry was feral and angry, and he didn’t know enough about love for Suriel to justify that risk. Can Suriel trust in Harry enough now to break his bonds of service for the boy who has loved his Familiar Angel for nearly a century and a half?

Excerpt

“Hide!” Harry had just enough presence of mind to grab Francis’s other side to help Edward pull him through the thicket of brambles that lined the river. Bleeding, dirty, breathless, they slid to a halt in a hollow between the blackberry bushes and the hill, lying on their stomachs, Francis sandwiched between them. Francis, who had received a terrible scratch from the corner of his mouth to the corner of his eye, moaned in pain. Harry shushed him, and Edward placed a gentle hand over his mouth.

A woman, clothed in blinding, glowing white, burst into the clearing with a man—man?—draped over her shoulder. His clothes were red velvet, and thick curly hair grew all over his face and large skull, like a goat’s.

His back feet were cloven.

“Leonard,” she begged. “Leonard… darling. Wake up. Wake up. I need your help.”

Leonard—the thing… man—rolled his head, much like Francis had done, and moaned. “Emma, leave me. If they find me with you… if they find Mullins here….”

“Mullins!” the woman whispered. “Mullins—I’m losing him. Oh please—Mullins, he’s losing himself again.”

“I’m losing myself again!” came a terrible growl, and another Leonard-like thing stepped into the clearing—this one very obviously glowing red. “Emma, we need to do the ritual. I can’t….” The monster thing, Mullins, let out a horrifying series of snuffling grunts and growls. “I’ll turn,” he said, sounding tearful—if a beast could be in tears. “I’ll turn and gut you both.”

“I understand,” she whispered. “You’ve been very brave. Here.” She set Leonard on the ground then and started to pull items from a leather satchel across her shoulder. “We’ll do it right now.”

“This isn’t the ceremonial place!” Mullins said, sounding despondent. “It’s not cleansed, it’s not prepared—”

To Harry’s surprise, Emma put a tender hand on the beast’s cheek. “My sweet boy, you’ve been too long in hell. We don’t need the trappings of the spell—although the things in those hex bags should help us focus. We just need ourselves, and our good intentions, and our desire.”

Mullins’s grunt was self-deprecating. “The road to hell is the one paved with good intentions,” he said gruffly.

“That’s only because the demons trying to get to earth walked that path first,” she said, sounding cheeky. In their quiet interaction, Harry got a better look at her. Not young—over twenty—but not old either, she was beautiful in every sense of the word. Straight nose, even teeth, perfectly oval face, and blonde hair that streamed, thick and healthy, to her waist, she was what every boy should dream about when he went to sleep hoping for a wife.

Harry didn’t dream about girls, but he could look at this one and know the appeal.

But it was more than the physical beauty—and she had it all, soft hips, small waist, large breasts—there was the kindness to the beasties. The gentleness and calm she radiated when Mullins had threatened her.

Suddenly Harry had a powerful yearning for his mum, when she’d been dead for nearly five years.

“Here,” Emma said, breaking the sweetness of the moment. “Take the hex bags—there’s ten. Make a pentagram with me and Leonard in the center. I’m summoning an angel, love. You may want to leave when you’re done. I’ve no guarantees he’ll be friendly to you.”

“That’s not news,” Mullins said dryly and began his task. “Do you…. Emma, I know you’re powerful. You summoned my master for knowledge on power alone. But all else you have done, you have done out of love.”

“Including persuade you to our side,” she said. While he set the hex bags, she was stretching Leonard out before her, stripping his shirt with deft, practiced movements. The skin underneath the clothes was smooth and human, and Harry felt nauseated at the abomination of beast and man.

But Emma seemed to care for him.

“It would be worth any torture,” Mullins said softly, pausing in his duties, “to know Leonard will live.”

“Come with us!” Emma begged. “I may not love you like I love Leonard, but you’ve been a good friend to us. Please—”

Mullins shook his head. “It’s not enough to break me free,” he said, and his bestial smile would haunt Harry and Edward for years. “Someone would have to love me enough to sacrifice for me, and make no mistake, Emma. This will come down to your sacrifice. You will be stripped of your power, your youth—are you sure you want to do this?”

Emma let out a sigh. “I would live a mortal lifetime without worry,” she said softly. “But I do not want him all alone without me. ’Twould be cruel.” She closed her eyes for a moment, and then—

Harry gasped and heard Edward do the same.

She was looking right at them.

“I’m about to do something very wrong,” she said, great conviction carrying in her serenity. “But I think something very right too. Carry on, Mullins, but run as soon as you are done.” Her voice dropped. “Please, my friend—I’ll have enough weighing on my soul for tonight’s doings as it is.”

Mullins continued to bustle, and as he set the last hex bag down, Emma began to chant. Mullins traced a circle in the dirt around the outside bags, and then, when the circle ends touched, he pulled out a knife.

Emma nodded unhappily at him and then bit her lip as he cut a line on his palm and let the blood drip on the sealed ends of the dirt line. He and Emma looked at each other again, a strong friendship locking their gaze, before he turned and lurched away, his gait awkward and crippled on his cloven hooves. Harry felt some compassion for him then, poor beast, good friend—but his gaze didn’t linger.

He was too busy watching the white light around Emma grow larger, filling the space inside the pentagram like a bowl.

The light exploded outward, filling the clearing itself, and then one more time, just a few feet more.

Harry and Edward stared at each other, terrified.

They were in the light circle as well.

“Glory!” Edward whispered, and Harry was too shaken to quiet him.

Francis stirred between them and opened his eyes slowly. For a moment Harry feared that he’d startle and scream—Harry certainly would have raised a bloody great hue and cry—but then, Francis wasn’t Harry.

He parted his bruised lips and smiled.

“An angel,” he breathed, and Harry turned his attention back to the center of the clearing.

Where an angel appeared.

Harry’s heart stopped in his throat. Tall—because of course, right? An angel would be tall. Clothed in robes that glittered like diamonds, whiter than pearls he was. His hair was a marvelous flame-gold color, red like a sunrise or an ember. His face was more handsome than sin—bold, straight nose, full lips, a square jaw, eyes of warm, solid brown.

Harry’s groin gave a painful throb, and he almost wept. Those things—those dirty, filthy things that were done to him by rough miners and haughty bankers with gold in their grubby fists—those things were not right here.

Not with an angel.

Not with this angel.

Harry’s eyes burned with the perfection of this angel.

“Suriel,” Emma breathed.

About the Author

Amy Lane has two kids who are mostly grown, two kids who aren’t, three cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.