Blog Post and Giveaway for Taking Shield Series by Anna Butler

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Penny Plain

I’m a bit of a nerd, really. I like knowing stuff. I like details and fun facts, and, well, I am a bit of a control freak. I have to have things sorted. Docketed. Filed away for future reference.

No, really. When it came to Taking Shield, I was looking up such wonderfully esoteric things as interferomatic dispersion, what actually happens if an airlock blows out in a vacuum, and sketching out on paper how the Gyrfalcon’s hangars and launch tubes work.

I love research.

Partly for its own sake, because it’s innately satisfying to learn how a naval flag office works or browse through the SF writing handbooks gawking at the inventive methods people have come up with (fictionally, I mean) to overcome Einstein’s pesky limitation that nothing can travel faster than light. But mostly I love it because it helps me visualise and describe the world I’m building, and because I think those worlds are stronger and more vivid from the details I’ve been able to add to them.

This isn’t about that old chestnut of ‘suspending the reader’s disbelief’. It’s quite the opposite: it’s about getting them to believe. There’s far more to being a writer than just sitting down to the keyboard and letting rip – you have to seed that urge to write with research. And then you have to look at all those lovely, juicy things you’ve learned and prune them away, despite the ache in your heart and the tears, to leave just the right amount to thread through your story to make it come alive. To make it tuppence coloured, rather than just penny plain.

The trick is to know what to put in (only just enough) and what to leave out (probably most if it, but I had fun researching). Feed through enough detail to give the created world completeness and coherence and make the narrative three dimensional and rich. Do it right and the little gems of knowledge inform the story, catching at the reader’s attention—hopefully subtly and naturally. It makes the world live. It’s all about balance: blend imagination with all that stuff so painstakingly collected together, and seed the details through the story so quietly and seamlessly the reader just sees the whole, complete world and never has to worry about things like the scaffolding holding it all up in the background.

For me, half the fun is sharing research with readers. I use glossaries, author’s notes, Pinterest, blog posts, website background notes… If I were a little less technologically challenged, I’d probably include animated slideshows and book trailers, too. But I am, so I don’t. The ways of sharing these fascinating world-building snippets have gone well beyond the old days when all a reader got was a fold-out map at the end of a book, if they were lucky.

You’ll find extra snippets of information on Taking Shield at my website. Do explore them to find out fascinating things such which dreadnought heads up the Ninth Flotilla, or how the chain of command of the Albion Defences work, what the medals for valour are and what colour uniform an Infantryman wears. I hope you enjoy reading it all as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link


Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas


Hate buying books in a series until the whole thing is done? Then check out the Rainbow Award-winning Taking Shield series, just released as an e-book boxed set. Not only do you get the entire series, there’s a very nice saving on the cost of the individual books! Anna’s dropped in today to tell us more.


About Taking Shield


Earth’s a dead planet, dark for thousands of years; lost for so long no one even knows where the solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, has grown to be regional galactic power in its own right. But its drive to expand and found colonies of its own has threatened an alien race, the Maess, against whom Albion is now fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war that’s dragged on for generations.


Taking Shield charts the missions and adventures of Shield Captain Bennet, scion of a prominent military family. Bennet, also an analyst with the Military Strategy Unit, uncovers crucial data about the Maess to help with the war effort. Against the demands of his family’s ‘triple goddess’ of Duty, Honour and Service, is set Bennet’s relationships with lovers and family—his difficult relationship with his long term partner, Joss; his estrangement from his father, Caeden, the commander of Fleet’s First Flotilla; and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, who, over the course of the series, develops into Bennet’s main love interest.


Over the Taking Shield arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanity’s enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. Some days he isn’t able to tell friend from foe. Some days he doubts everything, including himself, as he strives to ensure Albion’s victory. And some days he isn’t sure, any longer, what victory looks like.

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. She’s supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

 

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Release Blitz and Giveaway for Taking Shield Series by Anna Butler

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link


Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas


Hate buying books in a series until the whole thing is done? Then check out the Rainbow Award-winning Taking Shield series, just released as an e-book boxed set. Not only do you get the entire series, there’s a very nice saving on the cost of the individual books! Anna’s dropped in today to tell us more.


About Taking Shield


Earth’s a dead planet, dark for thousands of years; lost for so long no one even knows where the solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, has grown to be regional galactic power in its own right. But its drive to expand and found colonies of its own has threatened an alien race, the Maess, against whom Albion is now fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war that’s dragged on for generations.


Taking Shield charts the missions and adventures of Shield Captain Bennet, scion of a prominent military family. Bennet, also an analyst with the Military Strategy Unit, uncovers crucial data about the Maess to help with the war effort. Against the demands of his family’s ‘triple goddess’ of Duty, Honour and Service, is set Bennet’s relationships with lovers and family—his difficult relationship with his long term partner, Joss; his estrangement from his father, Caeden, the commander of Fleet’s First Flotilla; and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, who, over the course of the series, develops into Bennet’s main love interest.


Over the Taking Shield arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanity’s enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. Some days he isn’t able to tell friend from foe. Some days he doubts everything, including himself, as he strives to ensure Albion’s victory. And some days he isn’t sure, any longer, what victory looks like.

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. She’s supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

 

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Release Blitz and Giveaway for Day Of Wrath (Taking Shield #5) by Anna Butler

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Length: 106,470 words
 
Taking Shield Series



Gyrfalcon (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Heart Scarab (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Makepeace (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Chains of Their Sins (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


In less than a week, Bennet will finally return to the Shield Regiment, leaving behind the Gyrfalcon, his father, his friends… and Flynn. Promotion to Shield Major and being given command of a battle group despite the political fallout from Makepeace the year before is everything he thought he wanted. Everything he’s worked towards for the last three years. Except for leaving Flynn. He really doesn’t want to leave Flynn.


There’s time for one last flight together. A routine mission. Nothing too taxing, just savouring every moment with the best wingman, the best friend, he’s ever had. That’s the plan.


Bennet should know better than to trust to routine because what waits for them out there will change their lives forever.

Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.


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Series Recap Blitz/Cover Reveal – Taking Shield Series by Anna Butler

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The award-winning Taking Shield series comes to an explosive conclusion in the fifth book, Day of Wrath, to be published on 28 June 2018.

First that cover. Designed by Adrian Nicholas, whoís been responsible for creating the Taking Shield brand, this cover features a faceless drone, one of the cyborg soldiers sent against humanity by the Maess:

About Day of Wrath

In less than a week, Bennet will finally return to the Shield Regiment, leaving behind the Gyrfalcon, his father, his friendsÖ and Flynn. Promotion to Shield Major and being given command of a battle group despite the political fallout from Makepeace the year before is everything he thought he wanted. Everything heís worked towards for the last three years. Except for leaving Flynn. He really doesnít want to leave Flynn.

Thereís time for one last flight together. A routine mission. Nothing too taxing, just savouring every moment with the best wingman, the best friend, heís ever had. Thatís the plan.

Bennet should know better than to trust to routine because what waits for them out there will change their lives forever.

Pre-order Day of Wrath

Want to win some loot? Pre-order The Day of Wrath at a digital store (Amazon, Kobo, Nook etc) and send a copy of the email confirmation (or a screengrab of it) to annabutlerfiction@gmail.com and

(i) Anna will send you the first chapter and some deleted scenes by email. The deleted scenes will be exclusive until the end of the year;

(ii) the first twenty to respond will get a little bag of Taking Shield loot; and

(ii) your name will be entered in a draw to win one of seven signed first edition paperbacks of Taking Shield 02: Heart Scarab. Winners will be announced on publication day.

Preorder here: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Kobo | Smashwords

 

Excerpt from Day of Wrath

As Bennet angled over to starboard, Flynn gave his own Hornet a metaphorical boot in the backside, and tagged along faithfully at Bennetís port wing. He stayed close and tight. Pity the ensigns werenít there to see how it was done. With finesse. Panache. And sheer, mind-boggling talent.

The Hornetís navigational computer helpfully overlaid a representation of Aglaia with the usual spherical latitude-longitude grid, pulling the planetary data from the database. At least they had the figures for known planets logged and stored and the nav-com didnít have to make it up. Which it could, of course, by designating the poles with an arbitrary north and south label, locating the equator, and inventing an arbitrary prime meridian to work with. According to legend, the system originated on Earth before man took to the skies, so old it was invented for sailing ships. Given Earth was ten thousand years gone, Flynn put a lot of emphasis on ëlegendí. Their flight navigation systems were built on bloody folklore.

Madness.

Still, at least he couldnít get lost.

He followed Bennet into a high orbit along Aglaiaís equator, skimming along for a moment before going down into the atmosphere. And by skimming, he meant they bounced along like stones skipping over water before they burst through into a storm system. A big storm system. The air roiled in great waves and billows, buffeting the Hornets, and lightning cracked and sizzled off their hulls. The flow of the clouds was fierce, the turbulence greatest at the boundaries between cloud layers. And the winds! More than fierce. They were a howling, raging, relentless savagery that threatened to overwhelm even the Hornetís engines. The Hornet bucked and balked against the winds, and it took every ounce of skill Flynn possessed to fight her into obedience, to keep her flying in the direction he wanted. He couldnít rely on relaxed experience here. This was active, constant readjustment to make her respond. He dropped back a trifle, giving Bennet and himself room to ride out the bucking and bouncing. He wasnít so much flying through Aglaiaís skies, as cavorting through them.

Gods, it was fun!

Anna : what you, dear reader, might expect from the Taking Shield series

Gay literature is a growing genre. And the biggest element of that, just as itís the biggest element of literature generally? Romance. Love, hearts, kisses, and happiness. M/M romance, in particular, is booming.

Now then, if Iím reading a romance, I have certain expectations. I want to see two people attracted to each other, overcoming some obstacle to being together, being faithful and loving. And at the very least, the book must close with a Happy-For-Now ending even if the story canít quite make it Happy Ever After. En route they can have all sorts of things happen: murders, mystery, mayhem. Doesnít matter. What matters is theyíre together and I can put the book down feeling good about the outcome.

But this is where things get a little sticky. Because if youíre looking for pure romance, then I have to confess that the Taking Shield series wonít deliver it. Shield isnít romance. It is a love storyóa very deep and, at times, intense love storyóthat covers five or six years of interstellar war and billions of miles of space travel. This is a classic space opera. All the staples of old school sci-fi are here: big spaceships, infiltrations of enemy bases, cool Shield suits, and lots of people running around shooting their lasers.

And it has two men in love. Oh wait. Not as old school as all that, then.

Across the whole of the series, there are two main story themes, intertwining with each other: the war against the Maess and, set against that, the relationship between Shield Captain Bennet and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn. The Maess war and everything Bennet has to do there gets equal billing with the slow unfolding of his relationship with Flynn.

So something of a niche appeal, here! But if you like sweeping sagas and big love stories where the obstacles the heroes face are big and sweeping too, I do hope youíll give Bennet and Flynn a try. They arenít perfect, but a couple of guys with all their warts and faults, all their brilliance and intelligence, all their courage and loyalty and great hearts, all their beauty and all their uglinessóand they love each other. They love each other a great deal, despite every parting, and every reverse and upset in their relationship. And now, at the end of the series, perhaps theyíll get their chance.

Do come on the adventure with them. I donít think youíll regret it.

About the series

Taking Shield started out as a simple set of ëwhat ifí questions. What if, in some AU universe, Earthís been a burnt out dustball for the last ten thousand years? What if thereís a riff on the Exodus and remnants of humanity escape, but led by Pharaohs? What if the new world they found, Albion, is at war with an enemy no one has ever seen? What if the hero is a member of Albionís special forces and the Military Strategy Unit? What if he finds something that seriously threatens Albion? What if he falls in love with a Fleet pilot and has his life turned upside down?

Earthís a dead planet, dark for more than ten thousand years; lost for so long no one even knows where its solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, has grown to be regional galactic power in its own right. But Albionís drive to expand and found colonies of its own has threatened an alien race, the Maess, against whom Albion is now fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war thatís dragged on for generations.

The Taking Shield series charts the missions and adventures of Shield Captain Bennet, scion of a prominent military family. Over the Taking Shield arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanityís enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. Some days he isnít able to tell friend from foe. Some days he doubts everything, including himself, as he strives to ensure Albionís victory. And some days he isnít sure, any longer, what victory looks like.


Note: the novels are not standalones and should be read in order.

 

Taking Shield 01: Gyrfalcon ó Earthís last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesnít need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his fatheróor with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesnít expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.

Available FREE at Payhip | A digital bookstore near you

Taking Shield 02: Heart Scarab ó Shield Captain Bennet is on Telnos, an unpleasant little planet inhabited by religious fanatics and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines. Itís about to be about to be overrun by the Maess. Bennetís job is to get out as many civilians as he can, but the enemy arrives before the evacuation is complete. Caught in a vicious fire fight, Bennet is left behind, presumed dead.

His family is grieving. Joss, his long-term partner, grieves with them; lost, unhappy, remorseful. First Lieutenant Flynn has no official ërightsí here. He isnít family. He isnít partner or lover. Heís just broken

Available at Payhip | A digital bookstore near you

Taking Shield 03: Makepeace ó Returning to duty following his long recovery from the injuries he sustained during the events recounted in Heart Scarab, Shield Captain Bennet accepts a tour of duty in Fleet as flight captain on a dreadnought. The one saving grace is that it isnít his fatherís shipóbad enough that he canít yet return to the Shield Regiment, at least he doesnít have the added stress of commanding former lover, Fleet Lieutenant Flynn and knowing the fraternisation regulations will keep them apart.

Bennetís new mission takes him behind the lines to Makepeace, once a human colony but under Maess control for more than a century. The mission goes belly up, costing Albion one of her precious, irreplaceable dreadnoughts and bringing political upheaval, acrimony and the threat of public unrest in its wake. But for Bennet, the real nightmare is discovering what the Maess have in store for humanity. Itís not good. Itís not good at all.

SECOND PLACE WINNER 2016 Rainbow Awards for Best Sci/Fi Futuristic book

Available at Payhip | A digital bookstore near you

Taking Shield 04: The Chains Of Their Sins ó Shield Captain Bennet arrives on the Gyrfalcon to take up his final year’s posting before returning to the Shield Regiment.

On the Gyrfalcon he faces up to the fallout from Makepeaceóethical, political and above all, personal. Will he be able to accept necessity: that knowing what the Maess are up to outweighs the humanitarian issues surrounding the prisoners he rescued from Makepeace? Can he ride out the political furore that follows the loss of the dreadnought Caliban? How will he cope with an entire year of serving under his father, Caeden? And worst of all, how in the name of every god in the Pantheon can he stand to see Flynn every single day, with the Fraternisation Regs standing between them and keeping them apart?

It will be an interesting year. Bennet can hardly wait for it to be over. Of course, things never really do go to plan…

FIRST PLACE WINNER 2017 Rainbow Awards for Best Sci/Fi Futuristic book

THIRD PLACE WINNER 2017 Rainbow Awards for Best Gay Book

Available from Payhip | A digital bookstore near you



Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. Sheís supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

Website and Blog | Facebook | The Butlerís Pantry (Facebook Group) | Twitter | Sign up for Annaís occasional newsletter

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A Paul B Review: The Chain of Their Sins (Taking Shield #4) by Anna Butler

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have really enjoyed the Taking Shield series.  Each book draws me in further into Shield Captain Bennet’s world.  While Albion is fighting its hundred year war against the Maess, and struggling to hold on, Bennet tries to live his life as best as he can.  But sometimes the horrors of war interfere with his plans.

During his last year of rotation out of his mandated three years out of Shield, Bennet is assigned to the Gyrfalcon, his father’s ship.  That only would cause headaches for Bennet.  But his assignment as Flight Captain of the ship would mean he is now in the line of command of Flynn, his lover from the ship.  As a result, he must now spend the next year  (10 months or 400 days in Albion terms) being able to look but not touch when it comes to Flynn.  Add in the fact that Flynn has probably had a fling with his sister and his father suspects that he and Flynn are more than just friends makes life even more difficult for him.

As if the romantic entanglements aren’t enough to make Bennet irritable, the fallout from the Makepeace continues to haunt him.  The president is on the verge of being ousted from office, either through impeachment or the next election.  Some members of the intelligence committee believe that while his theories might be correct, there is no proof that the Maess are getting help.  The man behind the political scenes wants to groom Bennet for a political career, much to Bennet’s chagrin.  And the topping of the cake is the treatment of the rescued humans from Makepeace are being kept on a former penal colony with his partner Felix leading the scientific team seeing what the Maess have actually done to them.  Bennet is counting down the days until he can return to his form of normalcy and back in the Shield fold.

Bennet has become a favorite character of mine.  He is trying the best he can for the war effort in a variety of ways.  While he could have taken a desk job at the Strategic unit doing analysis of data for the war, he is out there sometimes behind enemy lines doing what he feels needs to be done.  What really gets to Bennet’s soul is the consequences of those actions that sometimes are unknown to him until two or three years later.  This goes for not only the militaristic side of his life but the personal.  Flynn notes that he and Bennet have spent sixty-four days out of the past five years (2000 days) together.  Yet somehow Bennet keeps going on.  As his year on the Gyrfalcon is finishing, he must once again go home, away from Flynn, and deal with the ramifications of the fallout from Makepeace with the new president.  I wait impatiently for the next book in this saga.

Cover art again is terrific. Lush and dark, just perfect.

Sales Link

Book Details

EBook, 283 pages

Edition Language:  English

Published:  February 13, 2016 by Glass Hat Press

ASIN:  B01MZ9QQYQ

Series:  Taking Shield

Gyrfalcon (Taking Shield #1)

Heart Scarab (Taking Shield #2)

Makepeace (Taking Shield #3)

The Chains of Their Sins (Taking Shield #4)

A Paul B Review: Makepeace (Taking Shield #3) by Anna Butler

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

makepeace-by-anna-butlerA year has passed since Shield Captain Bennet was rescued from Telnos.  Having spent the past year doing his research at the Strategy Unit and teaching at the Thebaid Institute, Bennet is anxious to get back out into space.  However, he must rotate out of Shield for three years and serve in Fleet.  Before that happens, Bennet comes to a realization that the Maess have been using Makepeace, an old Albion colony that was overtaken over a century before.  If his analysis of the information he took from T-18 is correct, the Maess are holding humans as prisoners on the former farming colony. 

Having passed his theories along to IntCom, Bennet is assigned to the dreadnought Corvais as their Flight Captain.  Having served onboard for almost eight months, Bennet formulates some chilling possibilities what is happening on the lost colony of Makepeace.  Surmising that the Maess are using the prisoners for scientific experiments, he alerts his superiors of his theories.  When confronted with the possibilities of what is going on, the Albion president authorizes Bennet to rescue the prisoners, with the proviso that if the humans are being in any way controlled by the Maess, he is to not only destroy the base but take out the prisoners as well.  The ultimate decision would be his alone.  The prospect of killing almost 200 “innocents” weighs heavily on Bennet.

Bennet is assigned to the Caliban, a dreadnought whose commander happens to be considered an uncle by Bennet.  Warwick has been friends with his father Caeden since they were in the Military Academy together.  Known for his exploits, Warwick cannot wait to get behind enemy lines like Bennet has been doing all along with Shield.  When Bennet gets on board the Caliban, he finds that Warwick has developed a cult of personality around him to the point the crew almost worships him.  They too are excited to get behind enemy lines and attack instead of defending what territory they have left.  Bennet, having been behind enemy lines, knows that there is no real glory to being there and wonders if the crew is in for a rude awakening when they get to Makepeace.  But Bennet has enough to worry about with the prisoners and the side project that has been given to him.  He hopes this far deep into Maess territory there aren’t any problems…

The third book in the Taking Shield series once again has Bennet in the thick of a military campaign while trying to sort out his feelings not only for his family and lovers but also for the new crew of the Caliban.  He alone really knows the full extent of the mission that he is to undertake and the strain of it puts a stress on his daily living.  Because of this and his usual obliviousness to personal situations, Bennet is both surprised and yet in retrospect not shocked at the actions Warwick undertakes during the battle for Makepeace.  The results of the battle have far reaching effects on Bennet not only militarily but personally as well.  Seeing that one of his theories about the colony having been proved correct, Bennet feels isolated as to the decisions he has to make and a having taken a step away from humanity.  Bennet will have to deal with this when he joins his father on his next assignment on the Gyrfalcon.  I am waiting impatiently for the next book in the series.

The cover art by Wilde City Press once again is well done.  It has what has been described as a Maess form inside the standard Shield badge that has been on the previous covers. 

Sales Links

Wilde City Press

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Book Details

EBook, 330 pages

Edition Language:  English

Published:  July 6, 2016 by Wilde City Press

ISBN:  978-1-925506-19-8

A Paul B Review: Heart Scarab (Taking Shield #2) by Anna Butler

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

heart-scarab-by-anna-butlerIt’s been a year and a year and a half since Bennet returned from T-18.  Eighteen months since he last saw Fleet Lieutenant Flynn.  Things with Joss are just as rocky as ever since his return from that mission.  So Bennet was half relieved when Rosie, his second in command picks up him for his next mission, the evacuation of illegal settlers on the planet Telnos.  The religious sect that settled there believes it is just a government plot to control them.  However, the Maess drones and ships do show up while Bennet and crew are trying to convince one settlement to leave.  Several are killed during the attack, including children, which Bennet sees as a senseless waste of life.  As the Shield team moves the survivors toward the cutter, Bennet is hit in the helmet with a laser blast.  Rosie gets the remaining survivors on board and leaves the planet, unable to retrieve Bennet.

Back on Albion and the Gyrfalcon word spreads of Bennet’s death.  This news hits the family hard, along with Bennet’s partner Joss.  Joss goes into a depression because of the way he has treated his relationship with Bennet over the past nine years.  He regrets the dozens of affairs that he had while Bennet was off on missions.  He makes an ancient sacrifice to the old gods to help guide Bennet’s soul into the afterlife.  Among the pieces he buries is a heart scarab, the symbol of a heart place keeper of a mummy, which Bennet particularly liked.  When the family attends the midnight watch (the equivalent of a memorial service), Rosie suggests to Caeden, Bennet’s father, that they send another mission to rescue whatever survivors were left to honor Bennet.

When his family does not know is that Bennet survived the attack.  He has been living with a group of miners that failed to get off the planet when the Maess attacked.  He and the chief miner Ifan round up what is left of the human population on the planet that they can find and bring them into the mines for safety.  When his comm link buzzes, he realizes that against all normal protocol, Shield has returned and that he will be rescued.  During the rescue however, he suffers a direct laser blast to his knee, once again putting his life in danger.  His family, Joss, Flynn and Rosie must now deal with the consequences of Bennet’s return. 

This second book in Anna Butler’s Taking Shield series deals with the emotional and psychological effects of relationships and war.  Bennet is still trying to process his reunion with his father.  Joss, having used different men to deal with the loneliness of Bennet’s absence, finds that they were all pointless.  When he learns of Bennet’s affair with Flynn, the question becomes if it is worse to have several different affairs that mean nothing or one affair that means something.  Flynn is all confused as to why Caeden is so interested in helping him with Bennet.  After all is said and done, it seems no one escapes this drama without some heartache.

The cover art by Wilde City Press has Bennet superimposed inside a Shield badge against a star filled sky.  I think it is very appropriate for the book.

Sales Links

Wilde City Press

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Book Details

EBook, 396 pages

Edition Language:  English

Published:  July 22, 2015 by Wilde City Press

ISBN:  978-1-925313-25-3

Series:  Taking Shield

Gyrfalcon (Taking Shield #1)

Heart Scarab (Taking Shield #2)

Series Recap Tour & Giveaway – Anna Butler’s Taking Shield Series

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Series Recap Tour & Giveaway – Anna Butler – Taking Shield Series

Gyrfalcon (Taking Shield #1)
 
Earthís last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesnít need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his fatheróor with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesnít expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.

 

Heart Scarab (Taking Shield #2)
 
Telnos is an unpleasant little planet, inhabited by religious fanatics in the festering marshlands and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines up in the hills. But the Maess want Telnos, and Shield Captain Bennetís job is to get out as many civilians as he canóa task that leaves him lying on Telnos while the last cutter of evacuees escapes in the teeth of the Maess invasion.
  Bennet is listed missing in action, believed dead on a planet now overrun by Maess drones. His family is grieving. His long-term partner, Joss, is both mourning and guilt-ridden. And Fleet Lieutenant Flynn? Flynn is desolate. Flynn is heart-brokenÖno. Flynn is just broken.
Makepeace (Taking Shield #3)
 
Returning to duty following his long recovery from the injuries he sustained during the events recounted in Heart Scarab, Shield Captain Bennet accepts a tour of duty in Fleet as flight captain on a dreadnought. The one saving grace is that it isnít his fatherís shipóbad enough that he canít yet return to the Shield Regiment, at least he doesnít have the added stress of commanding former lover Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, knowing the fraternisation regulations will keep them apart.
  Working on the material he collected himself on T18 three years before, Bennet decodes enough Maess data to send him behind the lines to Makepeace, once a human colony but under Maess control for more than a century. The mission goes belly up, costing Albion one of her precious, irreplaceable dreadnoughts and bringing political upheaval, acrimony and the threat of public unrest in its wake. But for Bennet, the real nightmare is discovering what the Maess have in store for humanity.
Itís not good. Itís not good at all.
Author Bio:
Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.

 

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Anna Butler is Here Talking SciFy, Aliens, Romance and Heart Scarab! (Author Interview, Excerpt and Contest)

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Heart Scarab (Taking Shield #2) by Anna Butler
Release Date: July 22, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

 Sales Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Anna Butler, author of Heart Scarab.
Hi Anna, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

First, thank you for hosting me today. I’m delighted to be here.

Heart Scarab is the second of the Taking Shield series, which charts the life and loves of Shield Captain Bennet. Taking Shield is both a sweeping sci-fi story (old school sci-fi with spaceships and lasers, aliens and handsome heroes) and an equally sweeping love story. I should warn you, though, that it isn’t a romance in the sense that it won’t be what most m/m romance readers would expect.

Thousands of years after an alternate-universe Earth went dark, the people of one of her colonies, Albion, are struggling in a war that’s probably unwinnable, against aliens called the Maess. Although humans have been fighting the aliens’ cyborg drones for over a century, they haven’t seen a real, organic Maess. Set against the war, is the love story between Bennet and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn. They meet in the first book, Gyrfalcon, but for various reasons theirs isn’t going to be an easy love. They meet and part several times before the end. In Heart Scarab, Bennet’s return after being declared missing in action, presumed dead, puts intolerable strain on his relationship with his long term partner, Joss, but paves the way for a reunion with Flynn.
As for me, I worked for the UK civil service for many years as a communications specialist, working on everything from marketing employment programmes to running an internal TV service. These days I’m concentrating on trying to make it as a writer, combining my love of old school science fiction and m/m themes. I live in London with my husband and our cockapoo, Molly. We’re currently house hunting, looking for a country retreat.
• Do you buy a book because of the cover, the blurb, or something else?

That depends. I won’t say that I buy books *because of* either of those things, but if I’m trawling Amazon or a bookshop they do influence which books I’ll look into and which I’ll then consider buying.

I’m a very visual person, so the cover will catch my eye first. Truly, all the advice you read about getting a good cover that tells the reader something about the story, really holds true. Terrible cover, and I probably won’t even get to the blurb to see if it’s worth pursuing.

If the book comes to me as a recommendation, I’ll usually not let the cover influence me too much (beyond a wince if it’s dire).

Best possible tool – the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon, or the sample. That really gives you a feel for if you’re going to get on with this author and book.

• What does ‘romance’ mean to you?

‘Good storytelling’ and ‘strong characters’ and ‘lose yourself for an hour here’—heartfelt emotion and drama, eroticism, sex scenes in which the feelings and the relationship matter as much (more?) than the physical gymnastics, an ending that is happy/enriching/hopeful. Stories about love. Sometimes about loss. But ultimately uplifting stories that leave you feeling good.
• What are your current projects?

I’m currently working on the fourth Shield book, The Chains Of Their Sins. On the current timetable, it will be published around this time next year, so I have a little time to polish it up! In this book, Bennet and Flynn are thrown together again, but it isn’t all hearts and rainbows. In fact, it isn’t hearts and rainbows at all…

• What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

Not to edit as I go along. I have a terrible habit of tinkering with what I’ve written so far, trying to perfect it, rather than ploughing on to the end and then editing in its entirety. It is a bad habit, because I can spend hours dithering over word choices and syntax when I should be forging on with the plot. Scrivener helps because it’s a separate folder and document for each chapter, so going back to the beginning to read is several steps more complex than in a word processing programme like Word. Scrivener is breaking me of some bad habits!

• Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.

I’ve ridden in the circus ring.

I was about five, and my parents took my sister (then about three) and I to a small circus visiting a nearby town. The clowns brought in a Shetland pony, trained to do tricks as part of their routine, and at the end the Ringmaster asked for a volunteer to ride it. I was down in the ring almost before the man finished speaking. I can just about remember noise and light and a lot of people’s faces as I rode three times around the ring, led by the chief clown. He had a red coat and blue trousers and that’s all I remember about him. The pony was called Pickles.

Thank you, Anna, that was wonderful!

Now more about Heart Scarab.

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Blurb:

Telnos is an unpleasant little planet, inhabited by religious fanatics in the festering marshlands and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines up in the hills. But the Maess want Telnos, and Shield Captain Bennet’s job is to get out as many civilians as he can—a task that leaves him lying on Telnos while the last cutter of evacuees escapes in the teeth of the Maess invasion.

Bennet is listed missing in action, believed dead on a planet now overrun by Maess drones. His family is grieving. His long-term partner, Joss, is both mourning and guilt-ridden.

And Fleet Lieutenant Flynn? Flynn is desolate. Flynn is heart-broken… no. Flynn is just broken

Pages or Words: 97,900 words

Categories: Gay Fiction, Science Fiction

Excerpt:

Flynn liked kissing. In fact, Flynn considered himself something of an expert in the art. He’d tried it in all its forms, from the first tentative pressing together of juvenile lips that had you wondering what all the fuss was about, to the discovery that if you just opened your mouth and, you know, kind of moved everything, your tongue suddenly had a lot more positive uses than just allowing you to articulate clearly and swallow things without choking. Flynn got the hang of it, ran with it, and never looked back.

 

Soft kisses and hard kisses; kisses that were wet and slobbery with people who didn’t know exactly how to hold their lips to get the best and sexiest effect, and wet and sexy kisses with people who did. Kisses that turned the blood to molten lava and kisses that cooled you as you came down. Kisses that inflamed and kisses that soothed; feverish kisses and languid after-sex kisses. Kisses that meant only good fellowship and casual affection, and kisses that were desire incarnate.

 

Flynn had not only tried them all, he’d made them his own. He was considered by all the relevant authorities to be rather a specialist in the area.

 

Flynn really liked kissing. He had been gratified by the discovery that Bennet liked it too. Because now he could add slow kisses to the repertoire. Kisses so leisured and intense the world came to a stop while a hot tongue moved over his lips, explored each and every tooth down to the last molar, while teeth pulled at his bottom lip, biting it gently until it was swollen and hot and heavy, and he had to lick his lip to cool it and met Bennet’s tongue with his. Only then, would Bennet’s mouth close over his and start a real in-earnest kiss that lasted several more centuries. Those were kisses Bennet seemed to specialise in.

 

Flynn was always willing to take tips from another expert. A man should always try to extend his technique.

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About the author:

Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.

Where to find the author:

annabutlerfiction@gmail.com
Website and Blog
Facebook
The Butler’s Pantry (Facebook Group)
Pinterest
Twitter

Final

 Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize:

–  a copy of my novella, FlashWired (epub, mobi or pdf) on every stop to one random commentator

–  Chance to enter a rafflecopter for

                      (i)   top prize of an Amazon gift voucher (is $50 overdoing it? It makes for a decent prize!)

                      (ii)  second prize, winner’s choice of a Heart Scarab ipad cover or kindle cover

                      (ii)  third prize, a Gyrfalcon iPad cover

Must be 18 years of 18 or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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Tour Dates & Stops: Wednesdays July 22 – November 4, 2015

22-Jul

Prism Book Alliance

29-Jul

Just Love Romance

Bayou Book Junkie

5-Aug

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

12-Aug

Andrew Q. Gordon

19-Aug

My Fiction Nook

26-Aug

Joyfully Jay

2-Sep

The Hat Party

9-Sep

Inked Rainbow Reads

16-Sep

Velvet Panic

Molly Lolly

23-Sep

Emotion in Motion

30-Sep

BFD Book Blog

Jessie G. Books

7-Oct

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

14-Oct

MM Good Book Reviews

21-Oct

The Novel Approach

28-Oct

Amanda C. Stone

4-Nov

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