Happy New Year!

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Through all the days of the coming year, may your burdens be few and your joys be abundant. May we all welcome 2013 with a spirit of compassion, and may we embrace the hope for change and the progress toward equality for all.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if the year brought about fewer apocalypses, fewer scenes of mindless violence, and many, many more random acts of kindness?

Hugs and many blessings to you and yours,


photo credit: dMad-Photo via photopin cc

Josephine Myles, Self-Published

Have You Read The Hot Floor by Josephine Myles?

If you have and you loved it, go check out Double Trouble, the incredibly naughty little treat she’s offered up to her readers for the holidays. Evan, Rai, and Josh are up to all good in this steamy vignette starring my favorite threesome, wrapped up together in some sexy, sparkly and stripey goodness.

Click on The Cover Image to join in the fun!

Dreamspinner Press, P.D. Singer

Blood on the Mountain (The Mountains #4) by P.D. Singer

Love will find its way
Through paths where wolves would fear to prey. – Lord Byron

For anyone who’s been following The Mountains Series, you know that Jake Landon’s been facing some intimidating fears about his sexuality and what it would mean to come out to his family and live openly as Kurt Carlson’s partner. That fear was a driving force in this installment of the series and a dominant factor in the decisions Kurt made and the ultimatums he laid down. Add to the relationship anxiety the discovery of something sinister brewing on the mountain, something that very nearly eliminates all of Jake’s issues in one fell swoop, and all that did was spell doom for anything that might’ve resembled a decent night’s sleep for me. I didn’t want to put this one down until I was sure everything was going to work out for me. Or at least for Jake and Kurt.

I really could’ve summed up my feelings about Blood on the Mountain in four words: Best. Mountains. Book. Yet. And that’s saying a lot, because I’ve really loved them all, but this one… This one was adrenaline and anxiety all mixed up in danger and fear; not that adrenaline, anxiety, danger, and fear are an especially unique recipe for Jake and Kurt’s romance—these men know that drill pretty well by now—but this one took their relationship into new and unfamiliar territory; it was a trial by fire and a near death experience and a rising from the ashes, and I thought it was pretty perfect in every way.

And that big secret Jake’s been keeping? Well, it turns out the fear of that secret may have been a far gnarlier beast than the secret itself. Maybe not gnarlier than the bear, though. Did I forget to mention the bear? Yes, there’s a bear.

From a sexy archery challenge to start the book off, to a new beginning at the end, and all the action and romance in between, this one was consummate Jake and Kurt and I wouldn’t hesitate to say this is a must read for fans of this series.

Buy Blood on the Mountain here:

Jeff Adams, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Small Gems – Adventures of Jake #1 by Jeff Adams

There is no certainty; there is only adventure. – Roberto Assagioli

There was only one thing I wanted to know when I finished reading about Jake’s adventure with Michael Hammond in this teasing little morsel of a story: when is the next adventure coming?

Jake is a bit of an adorable geek who works at a park and dresses as a Fire Force character in the E-Force attraction. He also works at a comic book store, but that’s not where he first met Michael. No, Michael has been an unattainable fantasy ever since they were in Freshman Lit together. Or at least he thought Michael was out of his league until Michael comes into the store looking for the perfect gift for his little brother’s birthday.

Sometimes serendipity works a little magic into life and gives you all the chances you need to make an adventure out of something entirely unexpected. Sometimes that adventure leads you to someone who thinks you’re pretty amazing just the way you are. That’s the way it worked for Jake and Michael, and it worked for me too.

Jake reminded me just a wee bit of Michael Novotny of Queer as Folk fame, which made me love him all the more, and just like Michael once said, ”The thing you need to know is it’s all about sex,” which this story is, so if that’s not your cup of tea, you might not enjoy this one as much as I did.

I thought it was some sexy fun fiction, and I’ll be watching for Jake’s continuing adventures.

Buy Adventures of Jake #1 here:

JL Merrow, Samhain Publishing

Pricks and Pragmatism by J.L. Merrow

Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have love. – Gabriel García Márquez

Luke Corbin has a very practical attitude toward sex: If it gets him a roof over his head, food in his belly, and a free place to study as he works to get his English degree, then bartering his booty is fair enough trade to get what he wants. It’s okay if he eventually gets pinballed from roomie to roomie as long as he has a warm, dry place to land in the end. And if the man’s good looking, well, all the better.

When Luke’s latest sugardaddy gives him his walking papers, because Sebastian’s met The One, Luke takes it all in stride as part of the give-and-take business. It’s all part of the exchange of goods and services for him. But it doesn’t take long before he discovers that his usual trade routes are no longer viable options for the only thing he has to offer—himself—and he ends up depending upon the kindness of a complete stranger, who apparently isn’t at all interested in buying what Luke’s selling.

Russell Winchester is a chemical engineer, nothing special to look at, nerdy in all the usual ways, and not at all as well off as the men Luke usually ends up living with. And Russell certainly doesn’t have the one thing all those other men had—an ulterior motive. Not to mention he possesses an uncommon patience and kindness, and it doesn’t take long before Luke finds himself questioning pretty much everything he’s ever been sure of, trying to shoot himself in the arse at every opportunity, and wanting—wanting something he’d never wanted before, with the very man who at once was undesirable but now seems painfully unattainable.

I confess that I haven’t read a lot of J.L. Merrow’s work yet, but I can say that what I have read has kept me coming back for more. I’ll also confess that I bought this one for the title but liked it because the author’s characters are abundantly charming, and there’s a current of humor in that charm that I can’t help but love. Pricks and Pragmatism is one of those stories that, oh… Even though I didn’t always love the decisions Luke made, selling himself short at nearly every opportunity, I loved him, and I loved Russell for unwittingly helping Luke to see that he could be more, and that he could face the past, and that he could be The One for Russell, and that, most importantly for Luke, maybe, sex and love can be mutually inclusive events.

There was a slow buildup to this relationship, one that began as friendship and then eventually crossed the line into want and hope. It was sweet and believable, and I ended up wishing there’d been more at the end.

Buy Pricks and Pragmatism here:

Drew Hunt, JMS Books LLC

Colin and Martin’s First Christmas

Christmas magic is silent. You don’t hear it—you feel it, you know it, you believe it. – Kevin Alan Milne

Just open up your heart and let Colin and Martin in. That’s what I did and ended up finding an incredibly touching and sweet story of a love that grows between a blind man, Martin, and Colin, the man who delivers his groceries and makes Martin want so much more than he can ever allow himself to wish for.

Yes, Drew Hunt purposefully manipulates your tear ducts with this story. So what. It’s a Christmas story and therefore is granted unlimited license to play me like a cheap violin, which it did. Martin may not be a man who would ever be described as beautiful on the outside, but he is luminous, and he shines with a need so powerful, a need for friendship, a need for a meaningful connection to another soul so desperately that he became beautiful, not only to me but to Colin as well.

Go ahead and call me sentimental. I’ll own it. I fell for Colin’s compassion and Martin’s pain, and, eventually, celebrated their Christmas miracle.

Buy Colin and Martin’s First Christmas here:


Whichever Holiday You Celebrate In The Month Of December…

Whether it be Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Boxing Day, or Kwanzaa, I wish you all the peace, joy, and love that holiday brings.

May all our days be merry and bright and filled with wonder.

Many blessings to you all.



Dreamspinner Press, Eden Winters

Naked Tails by Eden Winters

Southern summers are indifferent to the trials of young love. – Nicholas Sparks

Oh, possum love. It’s way better than muskrat love, I don’t care what the silly song says.

Why possums? Well, as I hear tell it, this story was born the night Eden Winters had a possum encounter of her very own, and lo and behold, Seth McDaniel and Dustin Livingston were conceived. Their story begins when they’re just little boys and maybe already feeling what would later be called love but at the time was the simple, deep and unmistakable bond between the best of friends. Until that bond was broken by the death of Seth’s parents in a tragic automobile accident, as well as a grandmother whose bitterness over her daughter’s choice in husbands led her to snatch Seth away from the only home and family he’d ever known, to sequester him away in Chicago, isolating him and leading him to believe he was unloved and unwanted.

Twenty years later, one boyfriend lighter, his beloved Auntie Irene having shifted for the last time, Seth returns to Possum Kingdom, Georgia as the sole heir to her estate, what amounts to a rather substantial estate, as well as the inherited leadership role of the shifter clan—as long as he can be convinced to fulfill his legacy and assume the role of Jack to the passel. There are a few fairly substantial obstructions to that fulfillment, however: Seth has no idea he’s carrying the latent shifter virus, has no clue that he’s the heir apparent to the possum throne, nor does he have the slightest inkling that his ancestors were what amount to possum royalty. Upon Seth’s return, his role is being temporarily filled by none other than Dustin himself, Seth’s first love and the boy he left behind with a longing backward glance but little more. Twenty years of no letters, no phone calls, nothing that would lead Seth to believe Dustin ever cared about him at all. Or so he thought until his grandmother’s manipulation is exposed.

Naked Tails is a sweet and sometimes downright laugh-out-loud romance, touched by just the teeniest bit of bittersweet before the happy making ensues. The town of Possum Kingdom is populated by some seriously wonderful residents, including my favorite female character in quite a while, Monica Sims, the six-foot-tall, pull-no-punches, half-breed possum goddess who gets Seth whipped into fighting shape to claim his destiny before the greasy Junior Timmerman can usurp him and turn the town and the entire shifter world on its ear.

This is a story of a man who is finally given the gift of a home and family, even though he didn’t know for sure that’s what he wanted. It’s the story of a man who is given the gift of a past in which he was loved so well, even though that gift hurts to be received too late for him to return it in kind. It’s the story of a man who accidentally becomes a furry, cricket eating, naked tailed marsupial, and becomes the King of his own destiny.

I can pretty much guarantee a passel of human possums—or possum humans—is an all out original in the wide world of shifter romances. These critters were really just a passel of fun.

Buy Naked Tails here:

Dreamspinner Press, K.Z. Snow

Xylophone by K.Z. Snow

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly. – Mary Howitt

K.Z. Snow has done it again, written a beautiful and compelling book, of which there’ve been way more than a few that I’ve loved over the years, this one a story of the quiet strength born of the horror of lives darkened by the taint of men who preyed upon children, adults who abused their authority and seduced two impressionable young boys into their sickly webs, stealing their innocence and making them victims, only for Dare Boothe and Jonah Day to be left years later without the satisfaction of justice nor the ability to forget the Situations and Incidents that left them with capital I-Issues.

Both in their mid-twenties now, the two men have done their best to survive, has each gone his own way in trying to reconcile his past with the present; Dare by allowing his sexually fluid persona, Pepper Jack, to come to life on the stage at the Sugar Bowl; Jonah by recovering from alcoholism and the relentless promiscuity that covered for the fact the sexual abuse he’d suffered left him unsure of who he was. Until he met Dare and they each confessed their pain and shared their fears and anger, and eventually began a slow dance of absolution set to a music written only for them.

I love, love, loved this story of hope sprung from the depths of tragedy, of love grown in a common ground, of healing begun in a light that eclipses a dark past. In spite of the serious subject, K.Z. Snow never gets heavy handed in the telling of the story, never reduces the characters to the single dimension of their shared horrors, and manages not to take this story into what could very well have been an overwrought melodrama. Xylophone does its job perfectly—shows the feral and predatory nature of child sex offenders, demonstrates how easily the Spider tempts the Fly to its web by preying on weaknesses and feeding on needs, but, in the end, celebrates the triumph of love over that terrible evil.

Buy Xylophone here:

Allen Mack, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Small Christmas Gems – Just Call Me Kris by Allen Mack

At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year. – Thomas Tusser

Oh my, but did Christmastime just get a whole lot naughtier? And did the month of December just get a whole lot hotter? I think it did for Mike and Karl, and for me too, thanks to a very special delivery from a certain very hunky man dressed in red velvet and white fur. You know, if Kris Kringle were anything at all like the Kris in Just Call Me Kris, I’m thinking every day would be Christmas, and the playing and the making of good cheer would just be a given because everyone would be naked. Everybody make with the merry!

This short story is a hot little morsel of holiday fun, when Kris comes calling with a bag full of adult toys for both the good doctor boys, and then shows them exactly how much more fun can be had when three join in on the merriment. It’s just the right prescription to kindle a flame under Mike and Karl and get the home fires burning for Christmas.

Just Call Me Kris is just plain old sexy fun. Like Kris says, ”You never know what you might enjoy until you try it.”

I tried this one and can tell you I enjoyed it very much.

Buy Just Call Me Kris here:

Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Small Gems

Small Christmas Gems – Mending Noel by Charlie Cochet

We’re all like broken toys in the repair shop, waiting for that one person to come along and fix us. – Unknown

Tim has no idea why Noel hates him. It didn’t start out that way, but the kinder Tim was to Noel, the grinchier Noel was to Tim, until Tim was going out of his way to avoid Noel as much as he could. But when the man who apparently hates you is also your supervisor and is bigger than you, and you’re just an underling at the Abominable Administrative Department who’ll never be more because you’re only average, nothing special, and at two-hundred-forty-five years old, you have no calling, and the only reason you have your job is a little bit of nepotism… Well, there’s not much that elf can do to win Noel over, is there? Unless he uses the magic of kindness and compassion to piece together the broken parts and make them not hurt quite so much anymore.

But, oh, there’s danger afoot in North Pole City; someone’s trying to kill Tim and Noel, but Rudy, the squadron leader of Kringle’s flyboys, is there to save the day along with Jack Frost. And isn’t there a story there? Why yes, yes there is. And you’ll just have to read to find out.

Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what Mending Noel is made of, and it’s just as sweet as can be and purely fun, because Charlie Cochet has taken some favorite holiday images and themes and characters and woven them into a lovely and lively little tale about a couple of elves who mix like candy canes and coal lumps, but end up going together like hot cocoa and marshmallows and a cuddle in front of the fire.

You can buy Mending Noel here:

All Romance Ebooks, Amy Lane, T.A. Chase

Some More Free Books Just In Time To Stuff Your Stockings!

Let me tell you, being a creeper on the internet sure can pay off sometimes! I just got the lowdown on a couple of FREEBIES and thought I’d hurry up and share.

Available for a limited time–possibly for a very limited time–T.A. Chase’s Pestilence (The Four Horsemen, Book One) can be downloaded one-hundred-percent free. Have a look at the blurb:

Click On The Cover Image To Go Straight To All Romance Ebooks

For Pestilence, the White Horseman, love becomes the most powerful cure.

Having lost his wife and child during the Black Death, Pestilence accepts the fate destiny has given him as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For centuries, Pestilence did his job, spreading plagues and disease around the world. He does it to keep the balance between good and evil, yet he hates every minute of it. He longs to be left alone, but suddenly fate seems to have a different plan for him.

When Bart Winston stumbles into an Amazon clearing, he’s terribly ill and sure he’s going to die. A tall white-haired man with unusual black eyes catches him in his arms and Bart’s life takes a turn into the unbelievable. Blaming the whole situation on his illness might have worked, but as he gets better and learns about the strange man who heals him, Bart must accept there are more things in the world than he ever guessed.

Pestilence and Bart heal each other, and begin to wonder if there can be a future for the White Horseman and the mortal he’s fallen in love with.

Sounds pretty good, yeah?

And coming on the 22nd and 23rd of December–if you haven’t already read it–Amy Lane’s Dex in Blue will be available for a free download as well. Here’s the blurb:

Click On The Cover Image To Go Straight To All Romance Ebooks

Ten years ago David Worral had plans to go to college and the potential for a beautiful future in front of him. One tragic accident later, he fled to California and reinvented himself as Dex, top porn model of Johnnies.

Dex’s life is a tangled mess now, but the guys he works with only see the man who makes them believe even porn stars can lead normal lives. When Kane, one of Dex’s coworkers, gets kicked out of his house, the least Dex can do is give him a place to stay. Kane may be a hyperactive muscle-bound psycho, but he’s also a really nice guy. What could be the harm?

Except nothing is simple—not sex, not love, and not the goofy kid with the big dick and bigger heart who moves his life into Dex’s guest room. When they start negotiating fractured pasts and broken friends, Dex wonders if Kane’s honest nature can untangle the sadness that stalled his once-promising future. With Kane by his side, Dex just might be able to reclaim the boy he once was—and if he can do that, he can give Kane the home and the family he deserves.

So mark your calendars for that one. And happy reading!

Finn Marlowe, Smashwords

Not His Kiss to Take – Some FREE Kink From Finn Marlowe

Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. – Potter Stewart

I’m going to be one-hundred percent honest here and tell you I almost stopped reading this book at least a half dozen times before I even made it to the halfway mark. Yeah, it was like that. This was a really difficult storyline for me to get rah-rah-happy about because I felt like some dirty old perverted lecher for reading it. It made me want to go shower repeatedly. And then I liked it. Oy, the conflict.

Not His Kiss to Take contains what might be considered some seriously difficult subject matter to wrap your head around: off screen rape, the repeated predatory pursuit of the victim—the straight victim, by the way—by the man who has assumed the role of the young man’s doctor and caretaker, auto-erotic asphyxiation, enema play, and then, on top of that, the book boils down to what is essentially an extended sex scene that begins immediately with the doctor penetrating the victim’s anus with fingers and that enema nozzle, and sprouting wood while he was doing it. See? I had a hard time getting beyond the fact that Dr. Evan Harrison would not only cross the line of ethics between doctor and patient, but that he’d obliterate that line in his want of Jamie, a man fourteen years younger than Evan, and a man who’s not only vulnerable and reliant upon Evan, but is also seemingly compelled to submit to Evan’s authority. At least in the bedroom.

But then… Then why, if I had all these squickalicious greasy-brained feelings, did I end up reading this book in a single sitting, getting a mere four hours of sleep because I couldn’t put it down? I can’t say it’s because it’s the best book I’ve ever read, because, while I liked it, it’s not. I can’t say it’s because these characters have darted their way to the top of the list of my all-time favorite couples, because, while I liked them (or eventually did), they haven’t. I can’t say it’s flawlessly written, because it isn’t—but it’s free, so I’m definitely not complaining. So why did I start justifying things in my mind? Things like, Evan isn’t technically a practicing physician because he suffers from migraines, so that being the case, has he really breached the doctor/patient code of ethics? Can there be a breach of trust if the very damaged person you’ve brought into your home doesn’t really trust you in the first place? Things like, hey, these guys are two consenting adults, so who am I to question what constitutes stepping over that invisible moral line, even though Jamie’s consent felt more than a little manipulated at times by Evan’s sexual magnetism.

Then I finished the book and decided I’m still not sure what drew me in, at least nothing I want to examine too closely, like the fact that it was incredibly (and maybe inappropriately?) provocative and erotic. But beyond that, I truly did want to see if Evan would ever come to the conclusion that what he’d done was in any way questionable, if not flat out wrong. And he does. And I needed to see that Jamie was okay with the way his relationship had evolved with Evan. And he was. Eventually. Was it convincing? Mmmm… sure, why not? I was honestly happy for them in the end, which I’m not sure I believed would or could happen in the beginning, considering I wasn’t even certain I’d finish the book to find out.

So, if you feel like putting on your kinky-boots and not having to pay a lot of money for it, give this one a try.

You can download it here:

Dreamspinner Press, Rhys Ford

Sinner’s Gin (Sinner’s Gin, #1) by Rhys Ford – Leave A Comment For Your Chance To Win An ARC Of The Book!

Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing – August Wilson

I suppose I ought to do something like, say, tell everyone I was a lucky, lucky girl and got to Beta this book. And I suppose I ought to do something like, say, tell everyone that I love this author dearly not only as a writer but also as a friend. I should, but then it would sound like a disclaimer and I don’t want that because when I say I fell in love with Miki St. John and Kane Morgan, and the entire Morgan clan, for that matter, (Donal’s mine, just sayin’) I don’t want anyone to think I’m saying it only because I feel obligated to. I’m not and I don’t.

Sinner’s Gin is the first book in the Sinner’s Gin series and much the same way things happened when I first read Dirty Kiss, I immediately understood two things—the first being that I was drawn into the language and the flow and the tone and rhythm of the writing. I loved the humor and the intrigue and the chemistry between these two men in the same way I fell for Cole McGinnis and Kim Jae-Min. The second is that, again, much like Cole and Jae, I was also entirely aware that Miki and Kane weren’t going to have an easy go of their relationship, due in large part to Miki and all the things he’d endured, not just recently but over the course of a life that’s seen some brilliant moments but seem too few when compared with the bleak.

The band that had become the only family Miki could claim is disbanded in the worst possible way; in a limousine crash that leaves him the only survivor. A broken body and a battered soul is now the currency Miki has to offer as payment for that survival. But beneath the scars are strength, an immense amount of strength, and a slow recovery. Being alone seems to be his destiny, but that solo trip is waylaid by a dog named Dude, a dead body in Miki’s car, and a cop who’s one part charm, one part tenacious, and one part totally hooked on a guy who could use some good in his life. I know that only adds up to three parts, but they’re all the best parts of Kane Morgan. Well, he’s pushy too, which is another good part, though Miki doesn’t always think so.

Mystery, murder, suspense, romance, danger, twists, turns, surprises, and more than a little heartbreak along the way are a great start to this series, which, oh… Trust me when I tell you there’s so much more to look forward to coming up in the next three books. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend adding this one to your stockpile of holiday reading material. It’s dropping on December 24th at Dreamspinner Press, just in time to give yourself a treat for being naughty and nice this year, but you could win a FREE ecopy of the book right here, just by leaving a comment on this post. :-D

Contest deadline is 11:59pm Pacific time on Saturday, December 22, 2012. One winner will be drawn at random on December 23rd. And don’t forget to leave your email address in the comment so Rhys knows how to deliver the prize. Good luck!

Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press

Turkey in the Snow by Amy Lane

What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out? – Alfred Hitchcock

Most of the time, Amy Lane’s books make me feel like my stomach and my heart are being pinched into a tiny little fluttering mass of anxiety that then makes my brain wonder if it should engage the failsafe stop-the-madness-drama-mama kill switch before it’s too late and I develop a permanent tic and a bad drinking habit. It’s pretty much what I live for, that feeling.

Well, Turkey in the Snow didn’t make me feel that way at all. It did make me feel fluttery, though, and a little punch-drunk happy, because it’s a Christmas story and that’s what Christmas stories are supposed to do; they’re supposed to be goodness and light, and they’re supposed to remind us of all the small gifts we see every day but that seem to just shine a wee bit brighter when we see them through the hopeful eyes of earthbound miracles.

Hank Calder’s life is a rich one, composed of all the acts that are part and parcel to the human play. But like so many of us who have a hard time seeing our small miracles for what they are when we’re buried deep in the drama of family and relationships, not to mention instant fatherhood, Hank just needed a little faith and trust, and to be on the receiving end of kindness and a smile that begins to feel a lot like the pole star that his entire sky moves around. And that star is called Justin, and he is not the twinkling star Hank wants to orbit, but Justin becomes the one who marks Hank’s way through the dramas the man so desperately tries to steer clear of, even though Justin himself is a little bit of drama all by his onesies.

Turkey in the Snow is fairy lights and a fire on the hearth and a cup of yuletide warmth, Amy Lane style. It came without ribbons; it came without tags; it came without packages, boxes, or bags, but my heart may very well have grown three sizes in the reading of it. It’s the story of a man who will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. And with his North Star pointing the way, he will dream each day to its fullest, all the good, the bad, and the somewhere in between.

Buy Turkey in the Snow from Dreamspinner Press.

Dusk Peterson, Self-Published

Pleasure (Master/Other) by Dusk Peterson

All fits of pleasure are balanced by an equal degree of pain. – Jonathan Swift

Dusk Peterson’s Pleasure (Master/Other) is a story of slavery set in an alternate universe, though the setting isn’t really as important as the fact that it’s a story based around men and women whose lives include little more than working to see to the comfort and pleasure of the man who owns them. There is one man, however, a slave named Egon who works very hard to see to his own physical pleasure and in doing so, deceives himself, convinced that his sexual gratification gives pleasure to the many women he beds. Egon must learn how to turn his pleasure outward, to learn to give pleasure and in doing so, learn to derive pleasure from this unselfishness. There is one man who will make sure Egon learns that lesson well, and in doing so, Egon will learn the pleasure of submission.

This is a story of servitude and is, in the end, an unconventional and unexpected love story between two men who aren’t free in any sense of the word, but who nonetheless forge a loving bond.

This is the third of Dusk Peterson’s works I’ve read now, and I’m beginning to sense a pattern, at least in the books Life Prison, Debt Price, and now Pleasure. The common thread in each of the books is the author’s use of a single word, or in the case of Life Prison, two words, and then building an entire story around those words; sometimes distorting and twisting them into a contradiction of their definitions, but always finding a way to turn them into words layered with meaning and emotion.

This author’s books make me think. I can’t help but to try to read between the lines and look beneath the surface to see what I can find. One thing’s for sure, I manage to find something of interest every time I look.

Pleasure is available for purchase here:

Celia Kyle, Small Gems, Summerhouse Publishing

Small Gems – Joy & Pain by Celia Kyle

It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure. – Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade

A little light BDSM works its way into Joy & Pain, a Daddy/sub story of a twenty-two year old ex-ballet dancer, Tevin, who makes his living as a stripper, seducing an audience of men for tips. Zeke is the man, nearly twice Tevin’s age, who claims the boy as his own.

I have such a love/not love relationship with short fiction; I love the instant payoff, but sometimes it’s hard for me to take the stories for what they are and not want much more from them than the author intends for me to have. This one has made me go back and forth quite a bit over whether I really liked it or whether I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get to learn more about Tev and Zeke, because what was there did nothing more than make me want more of them; I liked them that much.

Taken as it is, Joy & Pain is an erotic vignette that paints a picture of a Dom who sees the man he is determined to have, and sets about making that a reality. It’s also the story of a young man who wants to sub, who wants that Daddy play, but also is determined to establish his own rules because he’s willing to submit and because he loves that play, but it also means he has to make Zeke understand that he, Tev, has some limits on how and when and what he’s willing to submit to. It works and works well if you’re willing to go into the story knowing that the start of a brand new relationship that has no backstory happens, if my calculations are right, in less than 40 pages. Not to mention the fact that I’d also have loved to know exactly what happened that forced Tev to give up ballet.

What I got in these four short chapters, I liked, and I’ve got to say that for a FREE story, one I happened across entirely by accident, I’m pretty glad I gave it a chance.

You can download Joy & Pain here:

Abigail Roux, Aleksandr Voinov, Andrea Speed, Anthony Paull, Beau Schemery, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Carole Cummings, Charlie Cochet, Hayden Thorne, J.C. Lillis, Jamie Samms, Lorraine Ulrich, P.D. Singer, Rhys Ford, T.D. McKinney, Terry Wylis, The Year In Reviews

The Best of 2012 – Part Deux

How about some cover art, yeah? Right or wrong, I’m going to be the first to admit I have a hard time not judging a book by its cover. Sometimes a beautiful cover will make me pick up a book I might otherwise not have, and on the other side of that coin, I know I’ve passed on more than a few books that are probably quite good but I can’t get past the images that were chosen to represent the work inside. I’ve read books with covers that were better than the books themselves; I’ve read books that were infinitely better than the trappings they came in.

There are some really great covers I came across as I was compiling my “Best of 2012” list. Some of the best covers are from books that didn’t quite make my list (and maybe some of them should have :-/) but I think they deserved to be recognized here. They aren’t in any sort of order, some are plain some are more elaborate, all are ones I thought were pretty. :)

What do you think? What are some of your favorite covers from books you’ve read this year? Do you judge books by their covers too?

Arabesque by Hayden Thorne – Cover Art by Ms. Rosek

Mechanical Magic by Lorraine Ulrich – Cover Art by Anne Cain

Desmond and Garrick Books 1 & 2 by Hayden Thorne – Cover Art by Ms. Rosek

The Wolf’s-own Series by Carole Cummings – Cover Art by Anne Cain

The Rare Event by P.D. Singer – Cover Art by Anne Cain

Infected: Shift by Andrea Speed – Cover Art by Anne Cain

Roses in the Devil’s Garden by Charlie Cochet – Cover Art by Charlie Cochet

Dark Soul: Volume One by Aleksandr Voinov – Cover Art by Jordan Taylor

Stained Glass by Jaime Samms – Cover Art by Paul Richmond

Outtakes of a Walking Mistake by Anthony Paull – Cover Art by Kyle Cross

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Cover Art by Chloe Foglia, Mark Brabant & Sarah Jane Coleman

Dirty Secret by Rhys Ford – Cover Art by Reece Notley

The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux – Cover Art by Reece Dante

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis – Cover Art by Mindy Dunn and Andrea Sabaliauskas

The 7th of London by Beau Schemery – Cover Art by Beau Schemery

Kissing Sherlock Holmes by T.D. McKinney & Terry Wylis – Cover Art by Trace Edward Zaber

Abigail Roux, Aleksandr Voinov, Amelia C. Gormley, Amy Lane, Andrea Speed, Anyta Sunday, Astrid Amara, Ava March, Beau Schemery, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Carole Cummings, Charlie Cochet, Cornelia Grey, Dani Alexander, Diana Copland, Eden Winters, Edmond Manning, Elyan Smith, Ethan Day, Ginn Hale, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Belleau, J.C. Lillis, J.H. Trumble, J.P. Barnaby, Jennifer Cierra, John Goode, John T. Fuller, Jordan Castillo Price, Josh Lanyon, Joshua Martino, Kaje Harper, L.B. Gregg, M.J. O'Shea, Maria McCann, Marshall Moore, Mary Calmes, Missy Welsh, Nicole Kimberling, P.D. Singer, Paul Alan Fahey, Piper Vaughn, Rhys Ford, S.A. Reid, The Year In Reviews, Violetta Vane, Z.A. Maxfield

2012 – A Year In Reviews

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time of year when we all wonder where the days and weeks and months have gone, the time to reflect on some of the great books we’ve read throughout the year, the time of year I scratch my head and wonder if I’ll ever live long enough to read all the books I want to read (The answer? Pfft. No.), the time of year I wonder how the flip I manage to read as many books as I do in an entire year, and then wonder how I’m supposed to compile a list of favorites that doesn’t include more books than some people read in a year’s time. Top Ten? Piffles. I can barely pick the top ten in a single sub-genre, let along manage it for an across the board list. So, do I get a little creative in my selection methods? Probably. Is it honest? Definitely. Do I feel badly for leaving some amazing books off my list? Certainly. But I have to draw the line somewhere. ::sighs:: And for that I apologize to all the very deserving authors out there who should be recognized and celebrated for their brilliant work.

Quite a few of the books that made my list this year weren’t even published in 2012; that’s just when I finally got around to reading them. ::slow:: There is one book, however, that was published in 2012 that has managed to make me do something I’ve never been able to do in three years of putting together a year in reviews list: name a top pick for Best Book of the Year. Yep, that’s a first for me.

And since I’m always looking for the “next great read”, if there are books you’ve read this year that didn’t make my list, leave a comment and share so I can add it to my ginormous reading pile. :)

So, without further ado, here’s my list of Favorite Books of 2012:

Category One: Best Contemporary by a New To Me author

1. Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
2. A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland
3. Aaron by J.P. Barnaby

*Honorable Mention: Inertia and Acceleration by Amelia C. Gormley*

Category Two: Best Contemporary by a Favorite Author
1. Armed & Dangerous by Abigail Roux
2. Sidecar by Amy Lane
3. Acrobat by Mary Calmes

*Honorable Mention: The Rare Event by P.D. Singer and One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea*

Category Three: Best Historical – 20th Century
1. Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov
2. Protection by S.A. Reid
3. Roses in the Devil’s Garden by Charlie Cochet

*Honorable Mention: Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper

Category Four: Best Historical – 19th Century or earlier
1. As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann
2. When the Music Stops by John T. Fuller
3. The Affair of the Porcelain Dog by Jess Faraday

*Honorable Mention – His Client by Ava March

Category Five:Best Young Adult/Coming of Age (Contemporary)
1. End of the Innocence by John Goode
2. Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trimble
3. How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

*Honorable Mention – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz*

Category Six:Best Young Adult/Coming of Age (Fantasy and/or Historical)
1. The 7th of London by Beau Schemery
2. The Winter Garden and Other Stories by Hayden Thorne
3. (In)visible by Anyta Sunday

Category Seven:Best AU/UF/Fantasy
1. Infected: Shift by Andrea Speed
2. Mnevermind 1: The Persistence of Memory by Jordan Castillo Price
3. A Token of Time by Ethan Day

*Honorable Mention: Irregulars by Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Ginn Hale & Astrid Amara*

Category EightBest Short Stories/Novelettes – All Sub-Genres
1. Clouds’ Illusions by Hayden Thorne
2. Bounty Hunter by Cornelia Grey
3. Zones by Elyan Smith
4. Portside by Elyan Smith
5. The War at the End of the World by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
6. Same Time Next Year by Eden Winters
7. Tinsel and Frost by Eden Winters
8. Oscar’s Soul by Missy Welch
9. Singing Alone by Jennifer Cierra
10. The View from 16 Podwale Street by Paul Alan Fahey

Category Nine: Best LGBT Non-Romance
1. Fontana by Joshua Martino
2. The Infernal Republic by Marshall Moore

Category Ten: Best Series – AU/Fantasy
1. The Wolf’s-own Series by Carole Cummings
2. The Rifter Series by Ginn Hale
3. The Infected Series by Andrea Speed

Category Eleven:Best Series – Mystery/Suspense
1. The Cut & Run Series by Abigail Roux
2. The Cole McGinnis Mysteries Series by Rhys Ford
3. The Romano and Albright Series by L.B. Gregg

Category Twelve: Best Series – Erotic/Kink/BDSM
1. The Dark Soul Series by Aleksandr Voinov
2. The Bound Series by Ava March

Category Thirteen Best Series – Contemporary
Tied for First place: (Seriously, I can’t choose)
1. The St. Nacho’s Series by Z.A. Maxfield
1. The Johnnies Series by Amy Lane
1. The A Matter of Time Series by Mary Calmes
1. The Tales From Foster High Series by John Goode

And now….

Finally, it comes down to my choice for Best Book of 2012, which goes to the brilliant and beautiful King Perry by Edmond Manning. I can say, with all honesty, I’ve never read a book quite like it in my entire life. Simply put, it is the reason I read and read and read, because every so often I find a book that leaves me both speechless and wanting to shout its praises from the rooftops at the same time. If you haven’t read it yet, do. Soon. Like maybe right now, soon. :)

Now it’s time to get to work on adding to my list for next year!

All Romance Ebooks, Ava March

The Bound Series by Ava March

Seduce my mind and you can have my body. Find my soul and I’m yours forever. – Unknown

It’s official. I’ve discovered my favorite Ava March series. I guess I should qualify that with “so far”, though, since I haven’t had the chance to read everything she’s written. Yet.

Bound by Deception, Bound to Him, and Bound Forever are joined by two FREE erotic vignettes, Deliberately Unbound and Deliberately Bound, in telling the complete and perfect story of two men, friends since childhood, who eventually find a way to claim each other in spite of being bound by the reality that their love is against the law and that one of them, Lord Vincent Prescot, has some preconceived notions to overcome before he can be free to belong to Oliver.

Lord Oliver Marsden is the object of Vincent’s desire, though Vincent doesn’t realize he wants Oliver at all until he believes Oliver is a submissive whore called Jake, because Oliver has manipulated Vincent’s perceptions to make it so. What follows is the seamlessly told story of the redefinition of a relationship. It is the story of a man who must face, albeit rather reluctantly, the knowledge that not only does he prefer men but that he prefers his best friend above all others, which is not a simple task when the possibility exists that he may be obligated to marry and produce an heir to the Saye and Sele marquisate.

Their story is a delicate balance of necessary public discretion and uninhibited lust behind closed doors. It’s a balance of understanding that sexual submission does not equal a complete surrender of control in all things. It’s the story of two men falling completely and irrevocably in love and discovering that the depth of their love has also bred a terrible fear that it could be taken away at a moment’s notice, and in the effort to protect what it is they’ve found, it is a fear that nearly tears them apart.

I love historical romance, and one of the things I think Ava March does so well is romanticizing the Regency Era. Maybe there should be something a little unsatisfying about watching a couple fall in love yet not be able to live openly together and acknowledge that love freely, but there isn’t, at least not for me. Maybe it has a something to do with that love being personal and private, not sharing it with the world but holding it close and protecting it with everything you are in order for it to thrive and survive. It’s a different sort of romantic love and it challenges my contemporary notions of happily-ever-after. Whatever it is, Ms. March hooks me every time, with her skilled storytelling, strong characters, and sizzling love scenes.

If you don’t mind a little BDSM in your historical erotica, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this series.

Find these and more of Ava March’s work here:

Beau Schemery, Harmony Ink Press

In Which Beau Schemery, The Prime Minister of England, The Prince of Blackside & The Seventh of London Sit Down For An Interview With Me. And There’s A Chance To Win A Book Too!

The room at Beauchamps’s Introduction House in which I was ensconced, and which the Madame had so generously offered for my purposes, was uncomfortably warm. I’d removed my frock coat in an effort to alleviate some of my discomfort, though in the interest of at least a modicum of social propriety, I’d kept my waistcoat on, collar and tie in place. I’d have opened a window to allow in the cool evening air, but in this particular part of London, while the breezes could certainly be chilling this time of year, they were nowhere near what could be described as refreshing. So I wilted. And I waited.

Light and shadow danced a minuet in the glow of the fire in the hearth, and the clock on the mantelpiece, an unsolicited reminder that the gentlemen I was meeting grew ever tardier, sang a dissonant and tedious tune against a backdrop of noises drifting up from the street below: a harmony of vendors hawking their wares, blending with the occasional clip-clop of horses’ hooves sharing the cobblestone streets with their steamwork counterparts, Lucius Carrington’s wondrous and nearly silent invention, auto-carriages. It was the rhythm of the city and a tune I knew well.

Although this wasn’t the first time I’d set foot inside Madame Beauchamps’s house, I was there that evening because I had been summoned by Queen Victoria’s Private Secretary and assigned the privilege of interviewing one Mr. Beau Schemery on her behalf, the gentleman who’d recently recounted in stunning detail, the events that led up to and included Her Majesty’s rescue from Sir Barrymore Fairgate’s evil clutches. It was not my place to question Her Majesty’s motives, but rumor had it she was still in a rather delicate condition following her ordeal, and it was my suspicion she wanted me to do what she was unable to do herself—become acquainted with Mr. Schemery on a more personal level without actually subjecting Herself to the discomfort of an audience with him. And then, of course, the Prince of Blackside would be accompanying Mr. Schemery. Propriety dictated the villain not be permitted an audience with Her Majesty, so this was the alternative. I was to submit my completed interview directly to the palace before it went to publication, and was determined to make the most of this rare opportunity to assist the Queen.

Madame Beauchamps had instructed the kitchen staff to lay out a light repast, so I helped myself to a cup of strong tea and a savory tart or two to acknowledge their efforts. “I reckon it’d be a shame to let it go to waste.” I started at the sound of my voice and glanced at the clock. “Brilliant. A quarter of an hour alone in a room and you’re already making conversation with yourself.” I huffed a self-deprecating and rather unattractive sound and went about the business of filling a plate. Of course, I’d just popped one of the warm delicacies into my mouth and hadn’t yet had the opportunity to clear my palate when the door opened and a man walked in, a stranger with flowing ringlet curls I presumed to be Mr. Schemery, followed by what could only be described as an eclectic mix of gentlemen in his wake: William Wrathsbury, the third Duke of Sutherland, and bringing up the rear, the young man known as Seven. The Seventh of London. I chewed and swallowed, and I’m afraid I also stared a bit. I was, after all, in awe of what they’d sacrificed for the monarchy. I must admit I had expected Jack Midnight to be in attendance as well, and was more than a little disappointed by his absence.

Seven crossed the threshold, but before he’d had the opportunity to close the door, I caught a glimpse of a young boy who couldn’t have been more than ten years old, smoking a pipe and apparently assuming the position of guard, which, I must confess, amused me greatly. This could only be the young man previously in Mr. Midnight’s employ, Rat. I caught his eye and nodded an acknowledgment to his presence, which did little more than earn me an eloquent scowl, one that communicated his immediate mistrust of me and seemed to imply my parents may not have been legally wed at the moment of my birth. I looked at Seven, eyebrows approaching my hairline; he looked squarely back at me and then shrugged as if to assure me I’d become accustomed to it, had I the opportunity to do so.

I shrugged back at him and smiled, then turned toward Mr. Schemery, offering my hand, “Simon Fletcher, Mr. Schemery, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I assure you I intend to make this as quick and as painless as possible for you.”

“Mr. Fletcher, pleased to meet you.” The author offered his hand and I shook it enthusiastically. “Please, call me Beau.”

“Thank you, Beau. And you may call me Simon.”

“Excellent, Simon. May I present my companions? His Grace, the Duke of Sutherland, William Wrathsbury, recently appointed Prime Minister.” Beau indicated the duke.

“Mr. Fletcher,” the duke shook my hand like a common man. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Your Grace,” I rasped, a bit in awe of the handsome, blond noble. He‘d apparently abandoned the false beard and mustache mentioned in Schemery’s account, the common clothes absent as well.

“No need for such formalities, Mr. Fletcher. You may call me William.”

“Thank you, Your Grace,” I answered without thinking. As a proper British gentleman the hierarchy of our society was ingrained. “William,” I amended. The duke smiled warmly and without the judgment I had become accustomed to from one of his standing.

“We’re challenging preconceptions, Simon,” Mr. Schemery offered. “It takes some getting used to.”

“Indeed,” I responded. “I shall try to keep up.”

“Good man,” Schemery said and patted my arm jovially. “This is our man, Seven.” The author indicated the burgundy-haired youth. “Hero of the children, Blackside’s Liberator.”

“It’s an honor, Mr. Seven,” I took his hand and shook it reverently.

“Just Seven, Fletcher.” Seven retrieved his hand from my grip.

“My apologies, Seven.” I responded. “Please, sit down. The madame has provided treats.”

Introductions made and refreshments partaken of, we settled in and I set about adjusting a series of knobs on my Scribner Otovox, the latest and greatest invention to come along—well, to a journalist such as myself, at least—since ink. Simply put, the Otovox would record our conversation so I could play it back, verbatim, when I was set to transcribe it for publication. The box’s gears stuttered and clicked rather noisily at first, but smoothed out quickly to a quiet hum as the piston began turning the recording tube, the needle hovering over said tube and prepared to do its job.

I reviewed my notes, preparing my questions for the impending interview when the chamber door opened and the madame herself entered the room with a young, raven-haired man in a finely tailored suit to match. “Here you are, Jack,” Beauchamps said. She fluttered her eyelashes at the young man.

“Thank you, Bernie.” Midnight bowed slightly at the waist. “You’re the jewel of Blackside, my dear.” He snatched her hand and kissed her knuckles sensually. “Sorry I’m late,” he addressed our little group. It was obvious to me that he was not in any way sorry to be late and, in fact, he appeared to be gathering enjoyment from the fact.

“Jack,” Schemery rose. “This is Simon Fletcher. Simon, may I present his majesty, the Prince of Blackside, Mr. Jack Midnight.”

“Pleased, I’m sure, Mr. Midnight.” I shook the villain’s hand. The contact sent a thrill up my arm and into my body.

“Aren’t you a delectable morsel?” Midnight stated as he eyed me like a Christmas treat. I giggled in response and Midnight released me, but not before I could disguise that unfortunate bout of tittering with a cough.

“Settle down, Jack,” the author warned.

“Yes. Do, please.” Wrathsbury added. In his account, Schemery had hinted at a relationship between the duke and the villain, and now I could see it firsthand.

“Oh fine,” Midnight sat, waving off their admonishments.

As I focused on the group seated before me, I suddenly realized I was nervous, and not just a little, which did nothing to alleviate the fact I was already covered in a fine mist of sweat. Not only was I in the presence of the men who were instrumental in saving Her Majesty, as well as the United Kingdom, I was also in the presence of the criminal mastermind, Jack Midnight himself. I snuck a rather slantways, and what I hoped was a surreptitious, glance at him, and couldn’t help but be struck by both his appearance and presence. He was, in a word, stunning. I cleared my throat and took a sip of my now lukewarm tea. When I chanced to look his way again, he was smirking and, bloody hell, he winked at me, at which point I aspirated the tea, which did little more than to cause that smirk to transform into a full-blown grin.

I cleared my throat and determined not to humiliate myself entirely before this was done.

“Yes, well, gentlemen—“ I stuttered like a nervous schoolboy about to steal his first kiss and felt the blush that began as something like a flutter in the center of my chest, become a steady warmth that crept northward until my face was surely an unflattering shade of crimson. Four pairs of eyes stared at me with no small amount of skepticism that I was, in fact, even marginally sane, let alone competent enough to carry out the task at hand. But somehow I managed to gather my wits about me, and the following, dear readers, is the result of my time spent with an author, a Prime Minister, a villain, and a young hero.

SF: Beau, why don’t we begin with you telling readers a bit about yourself and how you came to write this adventure?

BS: I’m a storyteller, a raconteur, if you will. I’ve told my stories through art, in words, and on the stage. But I must be quite honest; writing this little adventure was not my idea. I believe it originated with Midnight?

WW: Yes. That’s absolutely correct. Jonathan, pardon, Jack mentioned to me that this was a story that needed to be told and I agreed. So I asked Jack to get the ball rolling, as it were.

JM: And that’s just what I did. I think you were quite keen on the idea once you heard it.

BS: How could one not be? Strong young people fighting against an oppressive system, an evil wizard? Jack himself was one of the big draws for me.

JM: Do tell.

BS: I love the non-conventionality of Mr. Midnight.

7: That’s puttin’ it mildly.

JM: Hush, Seven. He’s talking about me now.

BS: Jack’s nature is something that I’ve only seen tip-toed around in other stories of this nature, and I couldn’t wait to show the world what a real villain could accomplish, if given the leeway.

JM: Well said.

SF: Well then, I’d say that begs the question, were you intimidated at all by working with these gentlemen?

BS: Not at first, but as an author, I’m used to making up the stories myself. No surprises, the narrative goes where I tell it to. It’s quite a different thing when the “characters” are dictating the course of the action. One never knows what to expect.

WW: Especially when Midnight is involved.

JM: Don’t sell yourself short, William, old boy. You gave us all quite a start when you revealed your plans for the Royal Wedding.

WW: Ah, yes. Well. Please continue, Beau.

BS: And when one is working with such an eclectic group of personalities, it’s no easy feat to juggle those conflicts. Although I must say, with few exceptions, these gentlemen, and the ladies- because make no mistake- there were just as many ladies who assisted them; this group of people put aside their differences for the greater good of their queen and nation.

SF: Is The 7th of London your first novel?

BS: Not at all. But it is my first solo novel. I have a writing partner and write under an assumed name. We’ve written two novels and a number of short stories together. An interesting aside; this is the first solo novel I’ve had published, but I wrote another before it. That book, The Unlikely Hero, will also be published by Harmony Ink.

SF: What type of book is it?

BS: It’s a high-fantasy, action/adventure, comedy. I realize what a mish-mash of things that sounds like but believe me, it works. Extremely different from this book but hopefully just as interesting.

7: Is it easier t’make up yer own worlds or start with somewhere real, like London?

BS: It’s much more difficult to deal with existing places. Inevitably there are people who live in those places and will know if the author gets something wrong.

SF: Very interesting. Did it take much research on your part to get the book written? How long did it take you to write?

BS: I did a great deal of research. Not just interviewing those involved, I also studied maps and other accounts of the time. I owe a great deal to Mr. Charles Dickens. His writings inspired people to put together an entire collection of information on the greater London area. I had to research family lineage and how titles are passed from father to son. The book took the greater part of a year to finish. Often I would have to pause and check sources for accuracy and locations. Also bear in mind that as I was writing this book, my writing partner and my alter ego were working on other projects.

SF: I’m in awe that you can keep all these characters and their stories straight. And also, if I may point this out, you’re an artist. Do you see yourself as an artist first and novelist second, a novelist first and an artist second, or do your talents go hand in hand?

BS: I am an artist. I was an artist first but not long after I started drawing, I used those drawings to tell stories. I think my art informs my writing and vice versa. I often begin a novel by doing sketches of the main characters. It helps me flesh them out, get to know them. Likewise before I start a piece of art, I’ll think about the story that led up to that piece.

SF: That’s quite impressive as well. Seven, may I ask how are you faring after this adventure?

7: Fair enough, I suppose. We all lost a great deal, but we’re recoverin’. My good friend Silas and I are toyin’ with the idea of visitin’ the colonies. So far my world’s only ever been London. I’m curious t’see what else is out there.

SF: What do the plans for the immediate future include for the rest of you?

BS: Shall I go first? As I mentioned before, I’ve a new young adult novel on the way from Harmony Ink. It’s the first in a series. The stories follow an aspiring hero named Ren. While the first book is in editing, my alter ego is working on a contemporary story that will also be the beginning of a series. Those books will center around a local bar and the relationships that are formed in and around it.

And I’m curious to see what Sev and Silas find in Victorica. Possibly the seed of a sequel?

WW: Trouble does seem to follow you, Sev.

7: I’m not goin’ there t’start any revolutions. I just want t’see the New World. Maybe check out the Wild West.

JM: Good luck with that, my friend.

WW: I’ll be visiting France in my capacity as Prime Minister. Nothing exciting I’m afraid.

JM: France? Hmm. I was just thinking about a nice glass of champagne. Maybe I’ll tag along?

WW: Unofficially.

JM: Of course. Or maybe I’ll see what Victorica has to offer as well.

7: No. Please. If trouble follows me, it rides on your shoulders, spewin’ fire and swingin’ a cricket bat.

BS: That’s a valid point.

JM: I can’t deny it, certainly.

SF: Too right. I’ll direct the questions back to you for a moment, then, Beau. If you could choose a single scene from the book, which would you say was the most difficult to write?

BS: Ahem. Some of the more tragic sequences were extremely taxing. An author grows attached to his characters when they aren’t real. When dealing with events such as these, it’s even worse.

SF: Indeed, I can assure you those were the most difficult parts to read as well. And having told us that, now which would you say was your favorite scene to write?

BS: I think my favorite scene is when Silas and Sev went to Austria. What awaited them was nothing like they expected.

7: That’s no lie.

BS: There were some very hilarious moments there.

SF: Yes, I won’t say which, but there certainly was one particular circumstance that I found quite amusing. My apologies if this question is too bold, gentlemen, but how do the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Prince of Blackside continue an association with each other?

WW: Discreetly.

JM: William. You’re so melodramatic at times. Although it has become a bit more difficult with his new role as Prime Minister. Thank God for unmarked auto-carriages and false mustaches.

WW: Lovely, Jack.

JM: Sometimes I make him keep the mustache on.

WW: Jonathan!

JM: What?

Dear readers, the Victorican businessman Phineas T. Barnum has been quoted as saying his theory to success in entertainment is always to leave the audience wanting more. After getting the answer I’d been looking for to that rather delicate final question, I decided he might’ve had the right of it, and declared the evening not only concluded but also a rousing success. There was just one final request I had for Beau.

SF: May I have an excerpt from The Seventh of London to share with readers?

BS: Certainly.

The 7th of London by Beau Schemery

SEV pulled the collar of his secondhand military coat up and wrapped his scarf tighter to block the cold November wind whipping through the streets of London’s Blackside. Sev hated the cold almost as much as he hated the smoke-heavy air this side of the city. Victoria had the slums cut off in 1861. Just before the death of Albert. In whispers they called that period the great spiral. Sev didn’t get the reference, but he understood the intent. The queen’s mum died, and things started to go wrong. Now it was 1865, and Sev slipped in and out of the throng on King Street. He’d been following the man in the stovepipe hat for a few blocks, blending into the shadows to observe his prey. The once-crimson military jacket he wore was almost black with wear from years on the street, but that suited Sev just fine. He knew what it felt like to get noticed. It hurt more often than not, and Sev’d had enough hurt for two lifetimes.

The man Sev trailed was tall and oddly built. His arms seemed too long for his body; his legs towered, but he moved with mechanical purpose. He wore goggles beneath his stovepipe hat and had a beard as black as night to match his clothes. Sev had been watching the man for more than a week now and was completely intrigued by the dark man’s strange errands. Something about the man’s movement seemed wrong. Sev couldn’t explain it, but he knew to trust his instincts, and there might be money in it for him if he told the right person. Sev needed money if he ever wanted to escape Blackside, and he desperately wanted freedom. He’d heard stories of the colonies and how someone with strength and determination could make a living despite the circumstances of his birth. If there were even a chance that was true, it was a chance he was willing to take. The man looked toward the shadows that hid Sev, and Sev pulled his newsboy hat down to shield his eyes. He looked in the window of the bake shop, feigning interest in the window’s contents. Glancing at the emerald-green eyes of his reflection, he pushed his too-long burgundy locks behind his ear before he allowed his gaze to dart back to the dark stranger. He waited for the gangly man to turn the corner before leaving his perch to follow.

Sev had grown up on these streets. His parents emigrated in 1845 like many others during the potato famine in their homeland, and Sev was born a few years after. He could barely remember how happy he’d been as a small child with his family. Although he remembered being branded like it was only yesterday. Funny how the pain could remain so vivid while the contentment faded so easily. Sev escaped after four years of hellish labor and horrific circumstances. Freedom should inspire pleasant feelings, but when he thought back to that day in 1861 when he’d escaped and took Lord Fervis’s eye, his chest tightened with guilt and regret. Sev barely remembered his mother. She’d died in Fervis’s factory when Sev was scarcely nine.

The city was more of a mother to him now, and he knew her streets, could dash along them without thought and know exactly where he was at any given time. Sev prided himself on not being seen. The skill was born of necessity: trying to avoid detection by the Coal-Eaters, Scotland Yard, and Fervis’s Footmen, Blackside’s own police force. Sev spent more time in shadow than in light and excelled at remaining unnoticed. It kept him alive. He stole some things he needed, sold information to get things he couldn’t, all the while trying to set something aside for his escape. Not to mention trying to stand up for the factory orphans, making sure those who tried to take advantage of them met with unfortunate accidents. If only someone had been there for him and his siblings. It wasn’t an ideal existence, dashing from shadow to shadow and avoiding observation, but it beat living in the workhouses and factories like Fervis’s Auto-Matic Cobblery, which sprang up in Blackside, and which Victoria was rumored to have encouraged. Sev would rather die than return to a place like that, and he had no intention of dying. The young Irishman knew, without a doubt, after what he’d done, showing his face anywhere near a factory would be a death sentence.

Sev wasn’t sure if the queen’s intentions were good when she established London’s factory district, and he didn’t care. It was what it was, but as soon as the filth the industries spewed into the air started to encroach on the affluent portion of the city, she’d commissioned giant fans to be placed along the division, keeping the filth in the air over the filth in the streets and away from the nobles and high society. Sev paused on the edge of a roof, hitching up his oversized trousers, reminding himself to tighten the bracers on his shoulders. He regarded the stranger beyond the toes of his boots, which he’d mended more times than he could remember while desperately keeping a lookout for a new pair. The thought brought memories of his father, and Sev swallowed against the swell of feelings still strong after so many years.

The dark man dashed down another alleyway, and Sev skipped along the rooftop following the man’s every move. He loosed the first few buttons of the double row that led down his jacket despite the chill night. The garment beneath was filthy, and he longed to switch it out for his other shirt awaiting him in the small hideout he maintained above the Royal Museum.

Sev’s ability to avoid detection allowed him to pass easily above or below the guarded lines between Blackside and Fairside. He didn’t have much, but he aspired to something more. He managed to slip from his attic hideout into the museum from time to time and had forced himself to learn to read, sort of; he still had a bit of trouble. His thoughts drifted to Henry, the owlet he’d nursed back to health a few months ago. They shared his attic room. Some other streeters, kids who lived as he did, had killed Henry’s mother for food, leaving the tiny owl orphaned and alone. Sev couldn’t allow the tiny creature to starve to death and had saved the little owl chick. Henry hadn’t left Sev’s nest since.

The dark man ducked into Curtis’s Mercantile, and Sev paused, watching from above. He observed the tall man purchase an odd variety of items: cloth, metal, coal, gears, food, water, and oil. The man didn’t leave with the items, and Sev assumed they’d be delivered later. To where? he wondered.

He’d watched the man speak with an eclectic group of people throughout the week as well: the nobleman Sutherland; the criminal, Midnight; a prominent madam; three floor foremen from various industries; and a duchess. Sev tried to piece the connections together but could spot no obvious correlation. The stranger dashed ahead once more, and Sev lost sight of the man. Sev cursed and forced himself to run faster, turning the corner only to find an empty wall. The dark stranger was nowhere to be found. Sev scanned the alley for any means of egress but detected none. He dropped to the ground. Nothing, he thought. He’s just gone. Sev removed his hat and scratched his head. Someone shouted from the alley’s entrance, and Sev scrambled up a drainpipe onto the opposite wall.


And this is the part where I announce that one lucky reader will win a copy of The 7th of London, but first I’d like to take this opportunity to give a huge thank you to Beau Schemery for being such a great sport and playing along with my idea to try something different with his interview. I hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit more about him and about a few of my favorite characters from this book. And guess what? Now all you have to do is leave a comment (including your email address) right here on this post to be eligible to win. It’s that simple. Good luck!!

**Contest Entry Deadline is 11:59pm Pacific Time on Sunday, December 16, 2012.**


Artwork posted with permission from Beau Schemery:

Dreamspinner Press, Posy Roberts

Fall Into You by Posy Roberts

The course of true love never did run smooth. – William Shakespeare

Simon Phillips hates Thomas Schultz. Or at least he hates the fact that Thomas constantly sings with his shirt off, which makes Simon capable of doing little more than focusing on the man’s chest rather than paying attention to tending bar the way Simon’s supposed to. But there’s a very good reason Thomas goes topless on stage, a very good reason that Simon discovers one night in a stolen moment in a hot tub, a moment that begins this couple’s bumpy road to true love.

Fall Into You is a story that maps out the first four years of Thomas and Simon’s relationship, both the good and the bad, and then, of course, there’s the worse, as Thomas’s dream of making it big with his band Sparklebottom (yes, you read that right. Hey, they can’t all be as brilliant as A Flock of Seagulls), takes him on the road and leaves Simon behind with a load of hurt and a lot of things that went left unsaid between the two of them. It was a one step forward/two steps back beginning that nearly ended them before they’d even left the starting line.

Sadly, though, that wasn’t the worse of it all. That comes later on in the form of an affliction that leaves Thomas adrift in a storm of doubt and bitterness; it leaves Simon lost as to what to do for Thomas, and once again, sends them careening off course and into an abyss of depression and hurt and anger and despair.

If you’re getting the impression there’s a lot of angst threaded through this story, you’d be right. This is the building of a relationship that starts and stutters and stops and often suffers from things not being said that should have been said in the pursuit of something neither man has ever felt with anyone else. But woven in among all that conflict, there are also quiet moments of love and happiness. It’s a story set to music, a story of patience pushed to its limits, a story of walls that are disassembled one brick at a time until there’s nothing left between Thomas and Simon but the need to be each other’s safe place to fall.

Fall Into You has put Posy Roberts on my list of authors to watch for. Not only did she tell a story that was sexy and dramatic and romantic, but it was also touching and immensely readable, meaning I kind of didn’t want to put it down at all until I was sure Thomas and Simon were going to reach that all important moment where they could find happiness in even the simplest of things. It was an eleven year journey that cost me no small amount of anxiety along the way, but it was worth it.

Buy Fall Into You here:

Dusk Peterson, Self-Published

Debt Price (Master/Other) by Dusk Peterson

Death’s the discharge of our debt of sorrow. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I first became familiar with Dusk Peterson’s work a couple of years ago when I read the book Life Prison. It’s more than a bit of an understatement to say I was impressed with it. It’s more closely accurate to say I was blown away by it. This is an excerpt from my review of that book:

Written in the first person, Life Prison is a dark, eloquent, and absorbing psychological tale that delves into the mind of a killer who, perhaps incongruously, manages to evolve into a sympathetic character in spite of the horror of his crime.

The setting of this story is desolate, the atmosphere devoid of hope, yet the ending leaves the reader with the belief in the transformative power of, yes, mercy and compassion.

With only a few minor revisions, I could easily say the same things about Debt Price. This story is told in the third person rather than the first, but is, in one point of similarity, the story of a sympathetic killer who’s known for nearly the entirety of the book only as the young man.

The young man is an orphan who plays little more than the nameless pawn in the game of others’ whims, first in the orphanage, then in the Commoners’ Army, where he becomes an assassin simply because it was the debt he owed to the one who’d saved his life, but the accumulation of damages against the young man’s karmic ledger becomes a debt he may never be able to erase.

Captured and tried and convicted for a crime he believed he was justified in committing because it served the greater good of the common man, the young man is sentenced to debtor’s prison, where his life becomes a solitary confine of unimaginable horrors perpetuated upon his body and soul by the guards and lords and lord-kin—and soon seemingly anyone else who would take advantage of the opportunity to use and abuse him—as penance and restitution for his transgressions. The young man, at first proud and resolute, is quickly broken by the helplessness of his circumstances, broken in mind and spirit, and, disease ridden, broken in body.

There is one lord, however, one who is different from all the others, who comes to the prison with the intent to collect on his portion of the debt the young man owes, though the lord leaves not only with that debt unsatisfied but now owing his own debt to the young man. When that lord buys the young man’s way out of prison and brings him to his estate, it becomes a story of the young man’s struggles to recover and to understand his place in a world that doesn’t seem to want him.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

Then Debt Price, in the end, becomes a story that shows it’s not only death that discharges our debts and sorrows, but forgiveness and mercy and compassion, as well.

This book is not an easy read, nor is it in any way what would be described as a traditional romance. The young man endures months of rape and beatings, and suffers the emotional and physical aftermath of abuse at the hands of his jailers and those who would demand their pound of flesh. It’s a book that follows the logic that love doesn’t always conform to convention, nor is there always a clear-cut answer to the question, why?

I’m such a big fan of books that make me think and feel, and this book, without question, did both. It is short on hope and long on despair, but in contrast, is also a story of love and compassion and, ultimately, is a promise that sometimes the intent to sacrifice is equal to succeeding in that sacrifice in order to honor a debt.

Buy Debt Price in Kindle format here:

Or in .PDF format here:

All Romance Ebooks, Ava March

Convincing Arthur and Convincing Leopold by Ava March

When we are in love we often doubt that which we most believe. ~ François de la Rochefoucauld

Did you pick up these two books when Ava March was offering them for $.99 apiece at Amazon? If not, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have been at all upset if I’d paid full price for them. Of course, I’m always happy to pad my reading list with a little historical erotica, and this is most definitely both historical and erotica, so score!

Convincing Arthur and Convincing Leopold are companion books and should definitely be read in order. Together they tell the story of two men who’d begun a friendship ten years prior, but because of fear and inaction on Leopold Thornton’s part, that friendship ended before it’d had the opportunity to become anything more.

For ten years, Arthur Barrington found himself as one half of what he thought was a whole relationship with a man. Unfortunately, Randolph Amherst wasn’t in what he thought of as a relationship as much as it was an arrangement that included sex. When Randolph announced he was engaged to be married, with the expectation that he and Arthur would continue their forbidden liaison, Arthur finally understood the truth that not only didn’t Randolph love him, but he also didn’t care when Arthur put an end to their affair.

Ten years of carousing and sleeping with any man who was ready, willing, and able, earned Leopold a reputation, a reputation that Arthur is all too familiar with, and one that Leopold is going to have a difficult time overcoming if he’s to convince Arthur he’s waited ten long and lonely years for the chance to be faithful to him and only him. Leopold has the will; now he must find the way. But first he must also work to convince himself he’s worthy of Arthur’s attention and affection.

Convincing Arthur is the book that builds up to the relationship; Convincing Leopold is the book in which they work to hang on to the new and fragile connection they’re attempting to build. And frankly, they’re making more than their fair share of mistakes along the way. Is their connection based solely on sex, or is it something that goes much deeper than their physical compatibility? Does Arthur love Leopold even a little, or has he found himself in something much like the arrangement Randolph had once had with him?

Their sexual connection and the desire they have for each other is real. But is it enough? Or is there more? They nearly miss the answers to those questions because Arthur and Leopold are afraid of both the questions and the answers.

I haven’t been disappointed by an Ava March book yet, and that streak of good luck continues with Arthur and Leopold. I must have a thing for Regency Era sex and conflict because that’s what this author seems to do best, and it’s why I’m thoroughly convinced I’ll keep coming back for more.

Find these Ava March titles and more here: