In The Spotlight: Varian Krylov and Bad Things (interview and contest)

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There are bad boys and then there are the predators.  Here to tell us the difference is Varian Krylov and the release Bad Things.

Book Name: Bad Things
Goodreads  Book Link:
Author Name: Varian Krylov

Author Bio:

Growing up near Los Angeles, I spent much of my time frolicking in the Pacific Ocean and penning angst-twisted poetry. Now I’m living in sunny Spain writing pathos-riddled fiction.
I’ve always loved the music and substance of words, always loved writing in well-worn notebooks by hand, tapping at the keys of the computer, and, of course, conjuring up stories.

And from my earliest memories, I’ve always been fascinated—maybe obsessed?—with sex and sexuality.
In my writing, sex is the medium, the expression, and the tool of discovery for my characters’ insecurities, the needs that drive them, the comfort they can’t live without, the joy and relish of life that makes each of them intense, strange, and alluring.

Author Contact:

variansfiction@yahoo.com
https://www.facebook.com/varian.krylov
http://variankrylov.blogspot.com.es/
Twitter: @VarianKrylov

BADTHINGS-a-jayscoverdesignsSmallTitle:  Bad Things by Varian Krylov
Publisher: Smashwords
Cover Artist: Photographer: Ekaterina Zakharova; Cover design: Jay Aheer

Sales Links:  Smashwords    Amazon

Bad Things Blurb:

Xavier makes a lot of people nervous. The rest, he flat-out scares. More than his hulking, tattooed body, it’s his predator’s gaze that makes people feel vulnerable, as if he had the power to read their thoughts and see their soul. For his lovers, it’s Xavier’s ravenous appetite for all things carnal—for the taste of flesh under his tongue and the feel of a trembling body under his control, for whispered pleas and muffled cries—that makes him dangerous.

But recently, driven by a festering rage against the men who attacked his sister a decade ago, Xavier has developed a taste for a different kind of hunt and conquest: stalking men who do truly bad things and punishing the predators he sniffs out. The problem with vigilante justice, though, is sometimes the man in your trap is innocent.

Carson suspects he’s playing a risky game with dangerous men. But the lies are convincing, especially when they’re slipped to him among hundred dollar bills. He never guessed how big and dark the secret hidden under all the lies and money could be. And he has no idea he’s not the predator, but the prey, until it’s too late.

And you can’t beg for mercy when there’s a gag in your mouth.

But when Carson escapes from Xavier’s trap, he’s forced to accept that Xavier is far from his most dangerous enemy. Xavier may even hold the key to overcoming the painful past that has kept Carson prisoner for almost two decades.

Book Categories: BDSM, Romance, Contemporary, Crime Fiction, M/M Romance, Erotica, Menage/Poly, Thriller, Fiction

 Bad Things Excerpt:

When Xavier moved in, Carson struggled against the restraints. “Fucking . . . Come on. This shit’s not funny anymore.” Pleading gaze upturned from under his dark lashes.

Xavier laughed. “What’s that look?”

“Come on, Xavier. I know I fucked up. Of course you’re mad. But . . . come on. We’re . . . ”

“What are we, Carson?”

“I thought we were . . . ”

“Did you think we were friends?” Xavier laughed. “Did you think that you sleeping on my couch and cooking me a couple meals makes us friends?”

He breathed in the smell of him. Nervous sweat rising over the scent of soap. He caressed his cheek.

Carson went dead still, then tried to mold his frightened expression into sternness. “You could go to jail for this.”

Carson’s whining was getting on his nerves. Xavier lifted the lid on the chest of dark brown leather and took out the ball gag. Too funny, that perplexed expression on Carson’s face, then horrified incredulity as he figured it out. Sitting on his thighs, gazing into those shimmering blue pools of terror, Xavier got it on him before he could complain much more.

Xavier grinned. “You’re not the first guy I’ve had cuffed to this post. And that gag in your mouth isn’t the only toy in my box of treasures. But it is one of my favorites, because it means I don’t have to listen to a bunch of whining and begging. I mean, I love whining and begging. I get hard for whining and begging. But only for the first few minutes. Then it gets incredibly fucking tedious.

“But the thing I really love about the gag is, it’s so much easier to get to know someone when they’re being quiet. Just watching their face. Looking into their eyes. Without a bunch of blah, blah, lies, blah, blah rationalization to muddy the truth.”


Tour Dates/Stops:

9/22: Rainbow Gold Reviews
BadThingsBadge9/23: Velvet Panic, Multitasking Mommas
9/24: Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings
9/25: Cathy Brockman Romances
9/26: Michael Mandrake
9/29: My Fiction Nook
9/30: Amanda C. Stone
10/1: It’s Raining Men
10/2: Romance the Night
10/3: Queer Town Abbey
10/6: Decadent Delights
10/7: Wake Up Your Wild Side
10/8: MM Good Book Reviews
10/9: The Novel Approach
10/10: Parker Williams, Iyana Jenna
10/13: Nephylim, The Blogger Girls
10/14: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
10/15: Love Bytes
10/16: Inked Rainbow Reads
10/17: Prism Book Alliance, Dawn’s Reading Nook

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: Ebook copy of ‘Bad Things’ by Varian Krylov

Review: Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Know Not Why coverHowie’s social life is suffering, along with everything else not going on in his life.  Howie’s back home, living with his mom. He hopes his support will help her adjust after the car accident that caused the death of his dad. But  leaving school and his hopes behind has left a fierce void in his life.  He lacks a girl friend, a job, even just a motivation to get out of bed every day.  So when the idea comes to him that he can find girls by getting a job in a craft store full of girl employees then he acts on it.  Sounds great, right?  But getting a job at Artie Kraft’s Arts ‘N Crafts doesn’t work out quite the way Howie thought it would.

Sure there are some cute girls working at Artie Kraft’s Craft store, but neither is what he expected.   Sure Kristy, blonde, bubbly, adorable Kristy, seems perfect,  But she is oblivious to Howie’s charms, more friend than date.  And Cora?  Wild, tiny,  super pierced, fierce force of nature Cora?  No, not to any stretch of Howie’s imagination would that work.  And then there is his boss, store owner Arthur Kraft.  Arthur just confounds Howie.  Howie is only a few years younger than Arthur but Arthur seems so much older in outlook and actions.  Arthur just rubs Howie the wrong way, sure the guy is cute and all.  He is kind and knowledgeable and very gay.  So why is the very straight Howie spending all his time thinking about Arthur?

Who knew that a small time craft store could cause such an upheaval in Howie’s life?  Everything starts to change whether Howie is prepared or not, including himself.

I had been hearing good things about this self published story by Hannah Johnson but I was unprepared for how much I really liked it.  Before I knew it, I was heart deep in the lives of Howie, his friends Amber and Mitch, as well as Arthur Kraft, and all the employees of Artie Kraft’s Arts ‘N Crafts.  Johnson’s narrative is witty, light hearted and topical.  The dialog of the characters just snaps with the verve and idiomatic phrases of youth.  What fun, what joy in characters and a story well told! Oh how I enjoyed that.

Know Not Why is told from the point of view of 22-year old Howie, English Lit major at a community college.  Howie is an intelligent, somewhat sarcastic young man. A verbal acrobat who is bitter over his current situation, Howie makes an amusing, snappish narrator. His is a voice that overflows with current cultural references from indy movies to popular songs, throwing in lines, plots and authors most likely found among the syllabuses for English Literature majors at college.  Think about a narration along the lines of Ferris Bueller, and you can begin to get a feel for the type of flow you will find in Know Not Why.

But Howie is not the charming, immensely likable Ferris Bueller, not by a long shot.  One he is older and his living situation is far more serious than Ferris’.  A tragic car accident has cost him his father and his mother is still mourning the loss even as she supports them through a new terrific career as a romance writer and teacher at the same community college Howie now reluctantly attends.  He has a wonderful relationship with her, the same goes with his best friend Amber.  But as a young man desperate to connect with the opposite sex, he comes across as a little sketchy in his approach and lack of understanding to women outside his small circle.

One of the elements I appreciated about Johnson’s characters as well as story development is that we go from a superficial understanding of Howie where he is almost a smarmy, self centered sort of individual to a deeper, more layered character that evolves as more and more details about his situation and past history surface.  And the revelations about Howie keep pace with the growth of the character as working at the craft store and its employees have a marked affect upon his life.

All the characters that Johnson has created here are well crafted and thought out.  Where certain people, Kristy and Mitchell come to mind, could have been so stereotypical in their personalities, these characters come across as layered, and realistic, although it may take a while before the reader realizes it.  Kristy is such an effervescent, naive personality that disliking this character would be the equivalent of kicking kittens.  No matter how much one might be inclined to disparage even the very idea of a Kristy, the character wins you over with unexpected depths and charm of this person.  I can say much the same for all the characters found here.  Superficially they all appear to be one thing, yet as the story develops, so does the superficiality disolve from each one to reveal the well rounded persona that has existed there all along.  Even minor characters like a Heather Grimsby achieves authenticity by the end of the story.

Know Not Why charts the personal and emotional growth of not just Howie, but many of the secondary characters around him.  In a realistic fashion, the events that happen take place over a year’s time.  And the emotional upheavals that happen to each character here are those that naturally occur as relationships change and evolve.  Life is about change, whether you want it to or not.  And whether you are ready for the change to occur or not.  Mothers move past grief and get ready for a new love.  Friends and your relationship with them will never remain in stasis no matter how much you want things to stay the same.  Howie has to deal with all that and more, including his sexuality and love for another man.  Its funny, howlingly so at times, irritating, and so slow in acceptance you could swear you saw a turtle doing laps around Howie as he ponders his attraction towards men in general and one in particular.

And that brings me to the two elements that some readers will find exasperating.  The first is Howie’s narration.  Its long, self involved (at least to start off), constantly rambling,  and assured of its own relevancy and intelligence.  So much so that how you relate to Howie and his personality will reflect in how you feel about this story.  If you love a main character’s almost non stop gamboling storytelling format as well as a well defined realistic personal growth, I think than you will love Howie and his story.  If you lack the patience to deal with this sort of personality and long, rambling style to the point of what may seem self indulgence, than you might be quick to give this a pass.  It’s all in how you relate to Howie.   Love him, love the story.

Secondly, for me at least, there is the length.  I think that it could have been edited downwards, making the story more concise and sharp in tone and format.  In my opinion, Howie rambles on a little too long as the same things are gone over several times in the narrative when, in my opinion, just once would have sufficed.  I understand the author’s need to give full voice to Howie, but wish her inner editor (and perhaps her outer one as well) would have let her cut away some of the excess verbiage to let the many gems found here shine more brightly.

I found Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson so enjoyable that I am now off to seek out what others stories she may have written. I certainly look for more from this terrific author and definitely recommend Know Not Why to y0u all.  It’s a fun, enjoyable read full of characters and dialog that just  sparkle.

Hannah Johnson can be found at http://alaskanandromeda.blogspot.com

Charmingly simple cover, with its yarn heart.  Loved it.

Book Details:

ebook, 317 pages
Published April 23rd 2012 by Smashwords
original title Know Not Why: A Novel
ISBN13 97814

Review: Velocity (Impulse #3) by Amelia C. Gormley

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Detroit handyman Derrick Chance and his lover, Gavin Hayes’ relationship has come a long way since they first met but many obstacles loom on the horizon, each with the power to destroy what they have built and split them apart for good.  Gavin is still waiting for the results of his HIV test since he learned that his ex boyfriend may have given him the disease during one forced encounter between them.  Derrick is facing not only moving from the only home he has ever known but he has been outed to his local hockey team and someone is sending him threatening messages.

Already full of self doubt, Gavin’s insecurities bloom and his self worth plunges when his ex, Lukas, returns and wants to involve Gavin in his rehabilitation to Derrick’s consternation.  And the biggest issue?  Although Derrick has professed his love, Gavin has held back his declaration.  So many issues and the holidays are just around the corner.  Can Derrick and Gavin let go of their respective pasts and move forward into their future? Or will the past continue its hold and break them apart forever?

I am going to presume this is the last book in the Impulse series by Amelia C. Gormley and I think this is a wonderful way to see Derrick and Gavin out.  I did have a  few issues with this book but those will  be addressed last.  One constant in this series has been the wonderful characterizations the author brought to her stories.  From the moment we meet lonely Derrick Chance we realize that there is something very special about him.  Traumatic circumstances came together at a developmentally important stage of his young life that helped to isolate this man from the normal societal milestones.  Derrick was left to the care of aging grandparents who later passed away leaving him alone in their house, earning his living by repairing appliances as out of date as he is and doing minor house repairs for neighbors close by.  Here is a man caught in stasis and the author makes him not only relatable but endearing in his way.

Gavin is almost his opposite.  Experienced sexually and socially for all it did him, Gavin’s self image has been battered by an abusive ex to the point that he trusts no one, with the exception of one friend.  And for two books we have watched Gormley slowly bring these two men with their divergent backgrounds together in a way that has seemed not only realistic but true to the core of her characters personalities.  And while most of the battles fought were internal, the last book Acceleration ended with problems from the outside of the relationship starting to press in on the couple.

There are several main issues at work here and Gormley treats them all with sensitivity and compassion, from homophobia to conveying accurate knowledge and clinical histories of HIV and domestic violence .  First there is the problem of homophobia rearing its ugly head at Derrick’s local hockey team.  Now out to his teammates, someone within the team has been threatening Derrick, demanding he quit or suffer the consequences, following that up with destruction of personal property and more.  I loved the way the author dealt with this issue as she went in a direction different from most authors. Given that homosexuality and sports are in the headlines these days, the manner in which this was resolved felt authentic and timely.

Secondly, there is the subject of domestic violence and awareness of the victim mentality that those who have been subjected to DV carry within themselves.  This accounts for a larger portion of the story and again Gormley has done her homework, putting forth not only how domestic violence affects its victims but how it can manifest itself in their behavior and reactions to others.  Much of the information is imparted between conversations with Gavin and Hannah,a victim, as she relates her circumstances and following actions.  I applaud the author’s efforts to get this information accurate and out there but unfortunately, this element of the story came across as more of a information dump.   Also, Gavin’s interactions with his ex Lukas are drawn out too far.  He knows that Lukas is a liar and manipulator and yet he believes his story instead of Derrick’s?  While it might not be implausible (yes, we get it, Gavin has a DV victim mentality), as he reverses himself immediately it just doesn’t ring true with coupled with his other actions.

What does seem real and gritty and painful are the emotions that roll through Gavin with regard to his possible HIV status, his wavering about the test results, and his confusion about his future.  Gormley really seems to have a window into the thoughts processes of a person in this awful predicament and it comes across to the reader as painfully read in every aspect.  Then you hook DV with the possibility of HIV and have the same individual responsible and yes, there is a very good reason that Gavin is an emotional mess.

Another element that surprised me was the depths of pain and humiliation that Gavin requires to be sexually satisfied.  In one scene, Derrick supplies a huge amount of said bdsm elements to their sexual play without discussing it with Gavin first.  No setting of safe words or limitations, just moving right into the scene without too much preparation.  And this, I will admit, bothered me on a couple of levels.  At this point, Gavin has not trusted himself to tell Derrick he loves him or trusts Derrick to go with him to get his test results.  I had assumed, perhaps wrongly, that trust is a huge element in such sexual play and that if he did not trust Derrick in these other areas, than it must be lacking here too.  But after such thought and discussions, I can see Gavin separating his trust issues into compartments and that trusting Derrick sexually (and physically) was different from trusting him with his love and HIV status.  I just am not familiar enough with bdsm to be knowledgeable but it did bother me to a degree while I could still see why it was necessary to Gavin’s character.

There are some issues with editing, and I think that certainly some areas could have been streamlined and made more concise.  But in the end, Velocity is a wonder of a book and a marvelous way to complete Derrick and Gavin’s journey to a full partnership and loving relationship.  The ending was just perfection and it left me smiling long after I put down my Kindle. If this is your first time meeting Derrick and Gavin, go back to the beginning Inertia and see how it all began.  Then proceed immediately to Acceleration as their relationship and events  pick up speed and finally to Velocity where it all comes together with emotions on high.  I really cannot recommend this series enough.  Amelia C. Gormley is a amazing author and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.

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

Inertia (Implulse #1)

Acceleration (Impulse #2)

Velocity (Impulse #3)

Cover art by Kerry Chin.  I love these covers.  They are lush and different and just amazing.

Review of Inertia (Impulse #1) by Amelia C. Gormley

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Rating: 4 stars

Detroit handyman, Derrick Chance, has life just the way he wants it after recovering from period of excruciating loss and emotional turmoil brought on by the deaths of his grandparents and brother.  Safe, unexciting, normal. some would say routine even and they would be right.  Everything in its place, everything in order. and especially no unwelcome surprises lurking to throw up his hard won equanimity.  It has taken Derrick 10 years to get to this point in his life where he feels balanced and safe and he doesn’t want anything to change.  Just look at his home and furnishings.  The house is much the same as when his grandparents had lived there, nothing updated, even the appliances.  Heck, he didn’t even have texting on his phone.

Then Derrick gets a phone call from Gavin Hayes, an accountant who needs his home office outfitted with some shelves.  One look at Gavin, a quick handshake and all Derrick’s comfortable and predictable life is shaken up. Derrick gave up trying to date and all personal relationships when trying to recover from the loss of his family at a young age.  He just didn’t have anything left over to give so why bother? Now Derrick doesn’t know how to handle the emotions Gavin is bringing back to the surface after a long absence.

Gavin too is fighting the impulse to get to know his skittish handyman better.  Gavin has just removed himself from an abusive relationship and the thought of trusting another at this time leaves him uncertain and more than a little afraid, given a secret he is hiding.  It is going to take more than time and an attraction for Derrick and Gavin to decide to risk it all on a chance at love.

Inertia is the first book in the Impulse series that looks to follow the course of a relationship between two men, Derrick Chance and Gavin Hayes. The title of the book is an accurate description of the state of Derrick’s life.  Derrick has remained unchanged, and happily so since the trauma of his grandparents death. Then his brother died as well leaving him so emotionally empty that he was unable to do more than react as his life changed forever.  From that time on, Derrick froze himself into a lifestyle of emotional stasis that comes complete with a house full of relics from his grandparents time, a business based on fixing things from the past, and an isolation so complete that his only friends are his dog, his elderly neighbor and his friend, Devon.  When a work order leads to a meeting with Gavin Hayes, their mild flirting shakes him up, to the point of  Derrick reevaluating his choice of a solitary life.

Gormley does a really nice job of conveying Derrick’s uncertainty about the future and making changes to his life.  From Derrick’s perspective, the future has never held anything but heartache and pain causing him to withdraw from an active social life.  She paints the portrait of a man so hurt, so afraid of emotional pain that he does nothing to move himself forward for fear of being hurt once more.  Derrick has also frozen his sexuality as he has been abstinent for years, remaining a virgin into his thirties. This gives his character a certain innocence that plays off nicely against the character of Gavin Hayes.

The character of Gavin Hayes has also some interesting layers to him.  He is just come from an abusive relationship with a man whose ideas on HIV and AIDS are not only frighteningly self delusional but dangerous.  He too is full of fear for the future and hesitant to start a new relationship. So when the men find they are attracted to each other, each advances forward with all the hesitancy and indecisiveness of ants at a tap dance rehearsal.  For each uncertain foot forward, then is an almost immediate step back, sometimes several so that they find themselves back at the starting point.  But instead of this being a frustrating element, Gormley makes us understand these men and their actions.

Then there is the sex.  There are some very hot scenes here as Derrick discovers that his sexuality didn’t die along with his family but has just been dormant, awaiting a spark to come back to life.  Gavin is more than happy to be that spark.  But this is not a teacher/student relationship as Gavin’s former lover has left him with mental scars where their sex life was concerned.  There is a very realistic give and take here between the men as Derrick discovers he has a slight submissive kink and Gavin explores the idea of reciprocity in sex play.

There is no real angst here although from the sound of Gavin’s former lover, it might appear in the sequel Acceleration, Impulse #2. Inertia is simply the story of the beginnings of a relationship.  It may go on longer than necessary. In fact, the entire book could be tightened up with respect to editing errors and repetitive sections.  This is the second edition of this story after all. All of this might be due to the fact that Inertia is a self published book that could benefit from the efforts of a good editor.  That said, Gormley has done a wonderful job with her story and I look forward to the next installment in the relationship of Derrick and Gavin.

Cover:  Interesting cover by Kerry.  Compelling in its own way but also a little rustic in feel.

Olympic Games, the Week Ahead in Reviews and The Michelada Cocktail

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So many things going on to talk about today.  First let’s get right to the Olympics.  Closing ceremony is tonight, bringing to an end one of the best Olympics I can remember.  I have been glued to the television watching this incredible spectacle unfold from the beginning, from the high drama of the swimming pools and gymnastic mats to the cross country course of the Equestrian events to the river and glistening rowers then to track and field, and all the sports in between.  So many athletes, so many stories, so many tears of sorrow to match the tears of joy.  How not to feel a part of something bigger, to feel connected to other nations and nationalities when you see people cheering the athletes on regardless of the colors they wear or the countries they represent.  Oscar Pistorius? Who wasn’t cheering that man on?  Some of my favorites? Katie Ledecky, Misty  and Terri, Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis, Michael Phelps, Gabby and the rest of the US gymnastic womens team,  Misty Franklin….so, so many.

And what will the closing ceremony look like?  Who knows?  After the dancing nurses and their twirling hospital beds, massive shrubbery moving, the Tor, and best torch ever, I am waiting in anticipation to be confounded, baffled, and touched beyond measure.  I know we will all be watching it together.

I am also going into this week with a working generator (dances for joy) so once more I am able to enjoy the rumble of thunder, the darkening skies, the sound of pounding rain for their beauty and music, secure in the knowledge that a storm no longer equals loss of power, food and appliances!  Take that, Pepco.  Now only if I could send you the bill.

Finally, Monday brings my review of Stars & Stripes, the latest in the Cut & Run series from Abigail Roux featuring Ty and Zane.  So many people were trying to download their pre-ordered copies at midnight on the 11th that they crashed the servers over at Riptide Publishing.  Wow.  So was the wait worth it?  Read my review on Monday.  So here is what the week is looking like in books:

Monday:                                Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6) by Abigail Roux

Tuesday:                                Synchronous Seductions Trilogy by Haven Fellows

Wednesday:                         Inertia (Impulse #1) by Amelia C. Gormley

Thursday:                             Brook Street: Thief by Ava March (rescheduled from last week)

Friday:                                   Mending the Rift Series by Valentina Heart

Saturday:                               Word Play Anthology by the Story Orgy authors

And finally our summer cocktail of the week. The Michelada, perfect for grilled foods and watching Olympic closing ceremonies!

The Michelada

Ingredients:

1/4 teaspoon piquin pepper
1/4 teaspoon salsa picante
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) can Mexican lager, chilled

Garnish: lime wedge

Directions:

In tall beer glass, stir together pepper sauce, salsa, lime juice, salt, and lager. Garnish with lime and serve immediately.

Happy viewing and have a great week!