Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday… The Better Late Than Never Edition and a Giveaway

Flashback Friday

So, gang, funny thing about Flashback Fridays… It only works when you remember what day of the week it is! >.<

::DOH!::

Yes, it was one of those weeks, but in what I'll call the Better Late Than Never files, we're bringing you the Speculative Fiction Saturday edition of some of our favorite firsts in the M/M genre.

But first, congratulations goes to last week’s winner, Laura05, who selected Jane Seville’s Zero at the Bone as her prize. Congrats, Laura, and I hope you love the book as much as I do! <3

Now, one of the things I'd wanted to do when I conceived of this is to highlight some of the older books in the genre, but here's the wrench in that plan: we've got more than a few reviewers on the TNA team who are somewhat newer to the world of gay romance. Hence, some of these books don't necessarily fit into the Flashback Files, but the books that Jules and Carrie selected as their picks? I've read every last one of them, LOVE them beyond all reason, and want to feature them for you just in case you haven’t had the chance yet to experience them yourselves.

So, without further ado, here are our Flashback… Fridurday… features. :)

And don’t forget to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of one of our picks.

Good luck!

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TNA_Signature_SadonnaI have to say that I have a tendency to go for Contemporary in my M/M reading. But every once in a while, I’m convinced to try something else. I do like some Urban Fantasy, but for some reason I have never been a science fiction or high fantasy fan. Maybe it’s my super-logical mind that doesn’t like to be tested with something I just can’t believe, but I’ve never been able to get into those types of books. There has to be some really great storytelling and some amazing world building going on to convince me to give it a go and stick with it.

One amazing exception to this rule is a series I came across several years ago from Belinda McBride that starts with a book called An Uncommon Whore. For those of you who haven’t read it, it’s an amazing tale of Helios Dayspring, a missing king who has been kept as a sex slave called Pasha, for a number of years. But one fateful night, his client turns out to be much more than a visiting space pirate. The client turns out to be none other than Griffin Hawke, his former bodyguard and lover, who has been searching for him since he was kidnapped after a devastating battle. There are all kinds of twists and turns as Griffin and Helios try to recover memories and reunite the king with the last of his people on a distant planet.

The second book in the series is called When I Fall, and is written from Griffin’s POV. This book is actually a bit darker than the first, and Griffin and Helios are dealing with the changes in their world, their relationship and their families. Helios is still trying to recover all his memories, determine how best to lead and keep his people safe, while knowing there are still many enemies to confront – both internal and external. But Griffin and Helios make a formidable team, and when things get tough, they don’t turn away from each other.

The last (maybe? I personally hope not) book in the series is called Prince of Faith and was several years in the making, following the other two, and is not necessarily a direct sequel as the main characters are Markus Dayspring and Caius, who are secondary characters in the previous stories. While Helios and Griffin suffer through separation and struggle to regain their relationship and home, Markus and Caius take angst to a whole new level. This one is definitely the darkest of the three main books, but so worth it in my opinion. There is also another companion book that is written in the same universe called The Bacchi, which I haven’t read yet, but it’s making its way up my TBR pile.

I will also add that the stunning covers are done by PL Nunn, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a special limited edition of Volumes 1 and 2, which have additional PL Nun illustrations in them. If you have the opportunity, they are well worth it. I practically chased Belinda McBride around Atlanta and had all my friends on standby to make sure I got one of those coveted paperbacks at the book signing event.

I heartily recommend this series as a wonderful example of character driven story telling that will keep the reader riveted to the end.

An Uncommon WhoreBlurb: “As a general rule, you won’t find the love of your life while you’re on your knees under a table.” — Helios Dayspring

Pasha is a slave, whoring for travelers at the most dangerous bar on Warlan. He has no memory, no future of his own, yet deep inside Pasha knows that that he is meant for better things. The day that Pasha spots the dangerous pirate in the bar, he knows that he mustn’t let the stranger slip away, regardless of what he must do to attract his attention.

Captain Griffin Hawke spent the greater part of a decade searching for his lost king, only to find Helios Dayspring crouched between his knees, swathed in the robes and shackles of a whore. Though he is appalled by the downfall of his king, the hardened officer finds himself falling for the allure of the sensual creature who has taken his place. Returning Helios to his position on the throne is the only right thing to do, yet Griffin knows that in doing so, he risks losing his lover forever.

“A whore is a whore is a whore, unless he’s something else completely. I guess I must be an uncommon whore.” — Helios Dayspring

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TNA_Signature_SammyOh, golly day—I remember thinking that there could be nothing more wonderful than gay werewolves when I read this paranormal story by T.A. Chase. In a nutshell, we had Jacob Tasker—a hunk of burning man-wolf and a rancher, initially despising the nerdy yet gorgeous Oliver Wingate. Oliver, of course, wants to help the wolf population by re-introducing the species into the wild—specifically into Jacob’s back yard. While this is all well and good to Jacob, he knows the slight young naturalist is going to meet stiff opposition from the other ranchers. Little does he know it would come to violence. When Oliver gets beaten and nearly left for dead, Jacob has to give up his loner ways to nurse the man back to health. When Oliver recovers, I was introduced to some amazing man on man/wolf action that nearly made me howl!

Wolf’s Survival was my very first paranormal, and it hooked me in completely. It also was the gateway for other stories about men shifting into other animals, not to mention vampires and other supernatural beings. While I think this genre can get a bit formulaic, I also know it provides some of the best romance stories—particularly in the enemies-to-lovers trope. I really enjoyed this story by T.A. Chase. and it prompted me to check out more of this author’s stories. I am so glad I did!

Wolf's SurvivalBlurb: Fellow ranchers consider Jacob Tasker a lone wolf, a man who goes his own way and who stands alone. They’ll never know just how close they are to the truth. His pack slaughtered by the ancestors of those very ranchers, Jacob’s learned to trust no one and accept his solitary life.

Oliver Wingate loves and respects wolves. As a conservationist, he believes they should be re-introduced into their once-natural habitat. Yet he meets resistance from all the ranchers who feel the wolves will prey on their herds.

When Oliver runs afoul of some of the locals, it’s up to Jacob to ensure the young idealistic man doesn’t lose his life in a battle for the wolf’s survival…and all the while trying to keep from falling in love…

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TNA_Signature_CarrieOnce Upon a Haunted Moor… Oooooooh, isn’t that delicious??? What a name! Of course, I had to buy the book never realizing the addiction the Tyack & Frayne Mysteries would unleash.

I love mysteries. Really, really good mysteries that are all about who done it or things that go bump in the night. I was new to the M/M genre when I first read this book, and I had no idea the quality of writing this genre could hold. Gideon Frayne is a policeman, his feet firmly planted in reality. Lee Tyack is a clairvoyant brought in to help with a missing young girl. Together they must find the answers and save an innocent—whether the dangers are real or imagined.

There are five books in the series so far, each is a stand-alone mystery (Note: but to get the full benefit of Gideon and Lee’s relationship, read the series in order), and all are excellent. Thank you, Harper Fox, for great mysteries and for sealing my love affair with the M/M genre.

Once Upon a Haunted MoorBlurb: Gideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.

But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.

Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.

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TNA_Signature_JulesI was pretty excited when I found out the theme for this week’s Flashback Friday was Speculative Fiction. Up until very recently I was the girl who, at least as far as the M/M genre is concerned, had only read contemporary fiction. I’m not sure why, really, as my EXTREME love for Harry Potter and other mainstream spec fic should have proven to me that I’m comfortable stepping out of that ‘contemporary box’…But, for whatever reason, I was reticent to try anything ‘different’ in the queer fiction world. Until I finally read Widdershins. So, I’m here to shout out my love for Whyborne & Griffin, and tell you that this series is EVERYTHING.

Here were my initial reactions upon finishing books 2-4:

Re: Threshold – This was some of the craziest, most awesome shizzle I’ve ever read. The end. Seriously, though… Sooooo goooood. Whyborne and Griffin are amazing. But, Whyborne…GAHHHH. I. Love. Him. Bring me the next book!!

Re: Stormhaven – This series keeps getting better and better, and Whyborne keeps getting cooler and cooler.

Re: Necropolis – This book was everything. Smart. Sexy. Scary. Funny. It was gorgeous, brilliant, heart-racey goodness. I’m seriously at a loss for intelligent words. Love these guys so much.

Widdershins was published about three years ago, but I didn’t read it until about seven months ago, which allowed me to DEVOUR the entire series up until that point, in basically one weekend. So enchanted by Jordan L. Hawk’s genius, and the amazing world she had created, I could not put these books down. I’m confident that anyone who hasn’t read them will also completely fall in love. I cannot recommend enough that if you haven’t given this series a try yet, do it. I promise you’ll thank me, and become the crazy Jordan L. Hawk fangirl or boy that I am now!!

I think it’s safe to say that my life was altered that weekend. No longer are contemporaries enough for me. Now my library includes paranormal, fantasy, alternate universe, shifters, steampunk, and more!

WiddershinsBlurb: Some things should stay buried.

Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.

So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.

As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?

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TNA_Signature_LisaAuthor Ginn Hale is…everything. I’m a fan of many of the Speculative Fiction authors in this genre, but I freaking worship at the altar of Ginn Hale. And it all started with her 2007 release, Wicked Gentlemen. It’s the first M/M Spec Fic novel I ever read, and since then I’ve fallen in love with Lord of the White Hell, The Rifter Serial, Feral Machines, her novellas in the anthologies The Irregulars and Charmed and Dangerous. In short, Hale is nothing less than a brilliant wordsmith.

When I read Wicked Gentlemen–the first time in 2010–and all the subsequent times thereafter, the one thing that stood out in the novel (which is actually two novellas in a single volume) is Hale’s ability to create worlds that are so fantastical, so magical, and to build and layer her characters with so much depth that it’s impossible not to lose yourself in their lives. This author crafts scenes in such a way that I want to wallow in each and every word of them. Captain William Harper and Prodigal Belimai Sykes are evocative, provocative, and their scenes together are sensual without being overtly sexual in any way:

“I held the shot glass up and watched the way the liquid distorted the image of Captain Harper’s face. There was something fascinating about the way it flawed his features. It only took a tiny shift, just a curve of glass, to ruin him.” – Belimai Sykes

Little did Belimai know at that time it would take far more than that to ruin Captain Harper, but oh, the journey to discovering all the ways in which Harper would sacrifice and bring himself to near ruin for his drug addicted demon lover is utterly gorgeous, regardless of which angle one looks at it from.

And he was cast out onto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him…

And they became the Prodigals, the least of these who were called from the depths of hell and now reside in Hells Below, a place where there is no dark and there is no light, keeping themselves to themselves to avoid the Inquisition and the prayer engines which torture and carve words of salvation into unholy flesh while dragging forth the confessions of the innocent who are guilty of little more than being who they were born to be. This story is flawless, gorgeous, and I want you to read it so you, too, will know its beauty.

Wicked GentlemenBlurb: Belimai Sykes is many things: a Prodigal, the descendant of ancient demons, a creature of dark temptations and rare powers. He is also a man with a brutal past and a dangerous addiction.

And Belimai Sykes is the only man Captain William Harper can turn to when faced with a series of grisly murders.

But Mr. Sykes does not work for free and the price of Belimai’s company will cost Captain Harper far more than his reputation.

From the ornate mansions of noblemen, where vivisection and sorcery are hidden beneath a veneer of gold, to the steaming slums of Hells Below, Captain Harper must fight for justice and for his life.

His enemies are many and his only ally is a devil he knows too well. Such are the dangers of dealing with the wicked.

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A Rafflecopter Giveaway

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5 Stars, Andrea Speed, Astrid Amara, Charlie Cochet, Ginn Hale, Jordan Castillo Price, Jordan L. Hawk, KJ Charles, Lou Harper, Nicole Kimberling, Reviewed by Lisa, Rhys Ford, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy – Edited by Jordan Castillo Price

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Title: Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

Authors: Rhys Ford, Ginn Hale, KJ Charles, Nicole Kimberling, Jordan L. Hawk, Charlie Cochet, Jordan Castillo Price, Andrea Speed, Lou Harper, Astrid Amara

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 509 Pages

At a Glance: With a lineup like this, how could this anthology have possibly gone amiss?

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

Rhys Ford – Dim Sum Asylum
For Detective Roku MacCormick, working Arcane Crimes is his passion. Now cleared of any wrongdoing for shooting his last partner, MacCormick is given back his badge… as well as a new case and partner. Trent Leonard isn’t exactly what he’d expected, but then nothing in San Francisco’s Chinatown ever is.

Ginn Hale – Swift and the Black Dog
When Jack Swift killed a tyrant and won the revolution he became a national hero. But someone in the new government prefers dead heroes to living, swearing, cynical wizards. Caught between bullets, revenge and desire, Jack had better be swift indeed.

KJ Charles – A Queer Trade
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Waste paper seller Ned Hall can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the wasteman and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

Nicole Kimberling – Magically Delicious
Occult attacks against NIAD agents aren’t remotely Keith Curry’s department. But when his lover, Gunther, is assaulted, Keith refuses to just sit back and fill out paperwork. He’s on the case—even if that means enraging powerful mages, crossing leprechaun picket lines, or braving dinner with Gunther’s goblin parents.

Jordan Castillo Price – Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns
Psychic medium Victor Bayne can spot a ghost any day of the year, but Halloween holds some special surprises. His psych-groupie boyfriend Jacob coaxes him to the location of an old spirit sighting, but they can’t ghosthunt without enduring a cheesy “haunted house” that’s even more disturbing than they realize.

Jordan L. Hawk – The Thirteenth Hex
Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Charlie Cochet – The Soldati Prince
Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

Lou Harper – One Hex Too Many
Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Andrea Speed – Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom
It’s a boring night at the Quik-Mart for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

Astrid Amara – The Trouble With Hexes
P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.

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Review: If you’ve looked at this lineup of authors and thought to yourself that there’s no possible way this anthology could fail…you’d be absolutely right. For fans of speculative fiction, Charmed and Dangerous is a collection of wild wonderment that’s been long overdue. This company of ten of the genre’s consummate storytellers dug into their depthless cache of talent to ensure each of these tales lived up to the challenge presented to them: to create new worlds, to introduce both new and familiar characters within the allotted word count, and to do so without sacrificing a single iota of detail, imagination, or compromising the quality of each tale.

Mission: Accomplished

For me to give you a thorough rundown of every story in this omnibus would take more words than I’m positive you’re willing to read from me, so I’m not going to try. There are enough adjectives of a superlative nature in the English language that I can heap on this collection, and upon the heads of its authors, which could, and does, apply to every story in Charmed and Dangerous. Magical and mysterious, clever and charming, witty and wonderful, each of these stories is filled with curses and hexes and creatures of the mythical and metaphysical sort, and, in turn, the authors have given their characters the outlet to explore each of their worlds: where the impossible is made reality, where these men form a bond against a backdrop of danger, action, suspense, humor, dark and deadly magicks, and are given second chances at love.

Nine of these ten tales share a more common thread in their magic, while Charlie Cochet’s The Soldati Prince (what I feel is the most romance-centric of the collection) is a heartfelt and touching shifter fantasy that adheres to the mate bond theme inherent to that sub-genre. A theme it does share with several other of the stories, however, is sacrifice in the name of love. And may have made me a little teary eyed before its end.

From Rhys Ford’s mayhem-laden, humorous and action packed turn at a sex-cursed statue in an Alt U San Francisco Chinatown (which could have come only from the delectably madcap and marvelous mind of this author); to the post-revolutionary dystopian brilliance that is the genius Ginn Hale’s story of betrayal and salvation, Jack Swift and the Black Dog; to the always marvelous KJ Charles’ foray into hex magic and treachery and the promise of a new love (plus, that first line hooked me!); to the hyper-imaginative Nicole Kimberling’s extra-appropriately titled Magically Delicious, and its Lewis Carroll/Midsummer Night’s Dream world filled with leprechauns, mermaid-flesh dealers, goblins, and a deadly pixie dust mystery; to the extraordinarily talented Jordan Castillo Price and my beloved Victor Bayne and Jacob Marks, and a ghost clown all wrapped up inside a misogynist meninist’s wet dream; to the eloquent and fabulous Jordan L. Hawk’s perfect The Thirteenth Hex, a story for which I’m already begging a sequel because these characters and this world are oozing with everything that makes reading a magic unto itself; to the flawless Lou Harper’s unparalleled and all-consuming mystery One Hex too Many–the story that kept me on the hook from start to finish in not only its imaginative world building but in my love of its detectives Mulligan, Fox and Leslie; to the never to be outdone Andrea Speed’s oddball-in-only-the-best-way, strange-things-are-afoot-at-the-Quik-Mart, Josh of the Damned world where anything goes, from vamps to werewolves to zombies to human-sized lizards to giant animate mustaches…well, you get the picture; to the excellent The Trouble With Hexes, Astrid Amara’s beautiful close to the anthology, a story that’s dark magic and pure emotion and encompasses what it means to make the ultimate sacrifice for the one you love—these stories, each and every one of them, deliver a reading experience that’s meant to be devoured and savored all at once.

Whether you’ve only read one of these authors before, or, like me, you’ve read all ten, Charmed and Dangerous is a spec fic lover’s Wonderland… Or whatever it is you call that place we go during those not-quite-aware-of-reality moments when we lose ourselves in a great book.

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You can buy Charmed and Dangerous here:

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Rhys Ford

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Charmed and Dangerous Blog Tour with Rhys Ford

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Today we’re pleased to welcome author Rhys Ford back to chat about Dim Sum Asylum, her contribution to the upcoming anthology Charmed and Dangerous, featuring some of the premiere spec fic authors in the genre. Enjoy Rhy’s post, then be sure to leave a comment right here for the chance to win a $25 Gift Card to the e-tailer of the winner’s choice.

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

Good luck!

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Charmed and Dangerous

A lot of us feel like we’re the left side of weird.

To be honest, many of us are and there we find ourselves, one another actually, standing on the left side of weird and thinking; you know this would be a good place to set up camp.

That’s kind of what it feels like to be a writer amongst writers. And sometimes, if you’re very lucky, you get invited to some really cool places to camp and some fantastic people to share a fire with. Marshmallows! S’Mores! Crazy insects out for your blood! But still, a universe of stars not only above you but around you.

When Jordan Castillo Price asked if I’d be in an anthology she was heading up, I said sure, mostly because I figured if JCP wants something, you give it to her. Kinda like a genre Wookie. Not because she’s gonna rip your arm off but mostly because let’s face it, Wookies are kind of cool.

She did NOT tell me who else was going to be on the docket. And I will admit—and have often admitted—that when she put out the list, I took a mental paper bag and huffed into it a few times because damn the line up. Shit hell, what have I gotten myself into? Said my little brain. Because one does not simply walk into this anthology and not have a really damned nice ring to toss into the lava.

Charmed and Dangerous was born. A vast land of possibilities and oh-my-god moments just waiting to happen. And we were off.

I’ve read all the other authors. And marveled at them. And fretted. Really, so much of writing is fretting.

Look at this lineup and say, sure… no worries, I can hang.

Astrid Amara, KJ Charles, Charlie Cochet, Ginn Hale, Lou Harper, Jordan L. Hawk, Nicole Kimberling, Jordan Castillo Price, Andrea Speed

Hah. I fret.

Then well, deadlines looming, I began to write. So did the others. Suffice it to say we all kind of blew past our 8,000 word mark. When it was all said and done, the anthology sat at over 100,000 words and oh the stories… damn the stories.

See, usually writing is a loner sport. Kind of like cross-country running. I think. I wouldn’t know. I grew up in a place where there wasn’t a lot of cross-country anything. You quickly run out of island after a bit. But still, writing…loner sport. It is. Even if you’re writing with someone, you’re kind of struggling to form words and ideas out of nothing and then passing that on for other people to see, hoping that you’ve hit the mark.

Guess it’s more like archery than running. But definitely as exhausting as running.

When we got the ARCs to look over our stories, I had the chance to read through the anthology as a whole and was humbled by the mastery of word and story from the other authors. Everyone talks about bringing an A-game to an anthology and in this case, it was more of everyone delivering proto-lingual skills because I truly believe this is one of the most innovative, fantastically crafted anthologies I’ve ever had a chance to read.

I am still shocked to be a part of it.

And very thankful.

Mostly thankful. So with much gratitude to Jordan Castillo Price, I extend my heartfelt thanks for including me. It was great to write a story and be included in Charmed and Dangerous. We were all given room to stretch our weirdness and found we could fly. So thank you for that too.

Charmed and Dangerous drops on Aug 25, 2015. I hope you grab it because I think it’s a buffet of tasty tasty words cooked up into the most delicious of dishes. Served up, of course, just on the left side of weird.

Purchase Charmed and Dangerous at Amazon.com

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charmed-cover-200Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

Take a cauldron full of magic, add a pinch of humor, a dash of snark and a huge dollop of m/m goodness, and what do you get? Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. This all-new collection is packed with arcane action and intrigue, and every story will whisk you away to a fantastical world where the hero finds his prince and the paranormal investigator always gets his man.

Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

Rhys Ford – Dim Sum Asylum
For Detective Roku MacCormick, working Arcane Crimes is his passion. Now cleared of any wrongdoing for shooting his last partner, MacCormick is given back his badge… as well as a new case and partner. Trent Leonard isn’t exactly what he’d expected, but then nothing in San Francisco’s Chinatown ever is.

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Ginn Hale – Swift and the Black Dog
When Jack Swift killed a tyrant and won the revolution he became a national hero. But someone in the new government prefers dead heroes to living, swearing, cynical wizards. Caught between bullets, revenge and desire, Jack had better be swift indeed.

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KJ Charles – A Queer Trade
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Waste paper seller Ned Hall can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the wasteman and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

Nicole Kimberling – Magically Delicious
Occult attacks against NIAD agents aren’t remotely Keith Curry’s department. But when his lover, Gunther, is assaulted, Keith refuses to just sit back and fill out paperwork. He’s on the case—even if that means enraging powerful mages, crossing leprechaun picket lines, or braving dinner with Gunther’s goblin parents.

Jordan Castillo Price – Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns
Psychic medium Victor Bayne can spot a ghost any day of the year, but Halloween holds some special surprises. His psych-groupie boyfriend Jacob coaxes him to the location of an old spirit sighting, but they can’t ghosthunt without enduring a cheesy “haunted house” that’s even more disturbing than they realize.

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Jordan L. Hawk – The Thirteenth Hex
Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Charlie Cochet – The Soldati Prince
Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

Lou Harper – One Hex Too Many
Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Andrea Speed – Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom
It’s a boring night at the Quik-Mart for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

Astrid Amara – The Trouble With Hexes
P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.

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Andrea Speed, Astrid Amara, Charlie Cochet, Cover Reveal, Ginn Hale, Jordan Castillo Price, Jordan L. Hawk, KJ Charles, Lou Harper, Nicole Kimberling, Rhys Ford

Cover Reveal: Charmed and Dangerous Edited by Jordan Castillo Price

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Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

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Releasing August 25, 2015, pre-order your copy now at Amazon

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THE LINEUP:

Rhys FordDim Sum Asylum

Ginn HaleSwift and the Black Dog

KJ CharlesA Queer Trade

Nicole KimberlingMagically Delicious

Jordan Castillo PriceEveryone’s Afraid of Clowns

Jordan L. HawkThe Thirteenth Hex

Charlie CochetThe Soldati Prince

Lou HarperOne Hex Too Many

Andrea SpeedJosh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom

Astrid AmaraThe Trouble With Hexes

Dividers

BLURBS:

Rhys Ford – Dim Sum Asylum
For Detective Roku MacCormick, working Arcane Crimes is his passion. Now cleared of any wrongdoing for shooting his last partner, MacCormick is given back his badge… as well as a new case and partner. Trent Leonard isn’t exactly what he’d expected, but then nothing in San Francisco’s Chinatown ever is.

Ginn Hale – Swift and the Black Dog
When Jack Swift killed a tyrant and won the revolution he became a national hero. But someone in the new government prefers dead heroes to living, swearing, cynical wizards. Caught between bullets, revenge and desire, Jack had better be swift indeed.

KJ Charles – A Queer Trade
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Waste paper seller Ned Hall can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the wasteman and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

Nicole Kimberling – Magically Delicious
Occult attacks against NIAD agents aren’t remotely Keith Curry’s department. But when his lover, Gunther, is assaulted, Keith refuses to just sit back and fill out paperwork. He’s on the case—even if that means enraging powerful mages, crossing leprechaun picket lines, or braving dinner with Gunther’s goblin parents.

Jordan Castillo Price – Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns
Psychic medium Victor Bayne can spot a ghost any day of the year, but Halloween holds some special surprises. His psych-groupie boyfriend Jacob coaxes him to the location of an old spirit sighting, but they can’t ghosthunt without enduring a cheesy “haunted house” that’s even more disturbing than they realize.

Jordan L. Hawk – The Thirteenth Hex
Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Charlie Cochet – The Soldati Prince
Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

Lou Harper – One Hex Too Many
Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Andrea Speed – Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom
It’s a boring night at the Quik-Stop for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

Astrid Amara – The Trouble With Hexes
P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.

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TEASERS: 

We were just kids,” Jack muttered.

Shafts of afternoon light speared through the blinds, illuminating the hard angles of his lean face. He exhaled a cloud of pale blue smoke and ignored the glare of the well-dressed diners seated at other tables. In a moment a maitre’d would appear and smoothly suggest that he remove himself from the building.

Then, inevitably, David would intervene, flashing his ministry badge and pronouncing Jack’s full name a little too loudly, a little too officiously. A halting apology would be offered and followed by requests for autographs and photos. Behind it all Jack would hear the whispers.

That’s Jack Swift?

God, did you see his hand?

He looks like some ragman from the Bone Ledges.

I’ve heard he’s a queer.

Lifting his scarred hand, Jack drew the smoke down to ring his fingers. Let the surrounding diners see that the ragman in their midst was a wizard. They didn’t need to know which one. Any wizard was too much trouble for most decent folk.

-Swift and the Black Dog by Ginn Hale

§§§§§

From his square jaw and beefy build down to his dirty blond fade haircut, everything about the guy screamed ex-hardcore military. He moved as if expecting a riot to break out on the upper loft, icy blue eyes scanning each of us, stopping only long enough to mark our presence before moving on to the next cop.

He found me first and then again, last. His gaze pierced through me, assessing and judging in a way that did not say cop. I wasn’t sure what was found wanting, my shaggy mane or my odd ommatidia-faceted pupils, but something made his nostrils flare. I definitely spotted the moment he saw my pupils’ copper-green sheen. His head jerked back a few millimeters and his chin jutted out.

If my new partner had a thing against fae or fae-bred, we were assuredly going to have a problem.

-Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford

§§§§§

“Mr. Kopecky?”

“Yes, that’s….” Dominic began as he lifted his gaze from the paper. Then his tongue tangled, and he forgot how to speak.

The man standing in front of his desk was…well, he’d never thought of a man as beautiful before, but it was the only word that came to mind now. The white of his shirt collar contrasted with rich, brown skin. Silky black locks brushed his shoulders, and wide lips shaped into a rather cheeky grin.

“…You?” the man prompted, when Dominic only stared.

God! He dropped his eyes quickly, willing his reaction under control. He couldn’t forget himself at work, in full view of everyone. As he glanced down, his eye snagged on the badge pinned to the man’s vest.

A familiar? Here?

-The Thirteenth Hex by Jordan L Hawk 

Dividers

AUTHOR BIOS:

Astrid Amara
Astrid Amara lives in Bellingham, Washington. She’s a former Peace Corps Volunteer, an advocate for animal rights, and a bureaucrat by day. After work she can usually be found writing, riding horses, hiking, or else sleeping. Her novel The Archer’s Heart was a finalist for the 2008 Lambda Literary Award. http://www.astridamara.com

KJCharles
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.
http://www.kjcharleswriter.com

Charlie Cochet
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.
http://www.charliecochet.com

Rhys Ford
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats, a bonsai wolfhound, and a ginger cairn terrorist.

Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a red Hamilton Beach coffee maker.

But mostly to the coffee maker.
http://www.rhysford.com

Ginn Hale
Ginn Hale resides in the Pacific Northwest with her wife and three cats. She spends many of the rainy days tinkering with devices and words and can often be sighted herding other people’s dogs, bees and goats. Her novel Wicked Gentlemen won the Spectrum Award for Best Novel and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.
http://www.ginnhale.com

Lou Harper
Under a prickly, cynical surface Lou Harper is an incorrigible romantic. Her love affair with the written word started at a tender age. There was never a time when stories weren’t romping around in her head. She is currently embroiled in a ruinous romance with adjectives. In her free time Lou stalks deviant words and feral narratives.

Lou’s favorite animal is the hedgehog. She likes nature, books, movies, photography, and good food. She has a temper and mood swings.

Lou has misspent most of her life in parts of Europe and the US, but is now firmly settled in Los Angeles and worships the sun. However, she thinks the ocean smells funny. Lou is a loner, a misfit, and a happy drunk.
http://www.louharper.com

Jordan L Hawk
Jordan L. Hawk grew up in North Carolina and forgot to ever leave. Childhood tales of mountain ghosts and mysterious creatures gave her a life-long love of things that go bump in the night. When she isn’t writing, she brews her own beer and tries to keep her cats from destroying the house. Her best-selling Whyborne & Griffin series (beginning with Widdershins) can be found in print, ebook, and audiobook at Amazon and other online retailers.
http://www.jordanlhawk.com

Nicole Kimberling
Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington with her wife, Dawn Kimberling, two bad cats as well as a wide and diverse variety of invasive and noxious weeds. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She is also the author of the Bellingham Mystery Series.
http://www.nicolekimberling.com

Jordan Castillo Price
Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal sci-fi thrillers colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to rural small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” girls with tattoos and boys in eyeliner.
http://www.jordancastilloprice.com

Andrea Speed
Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)

In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!
http://www.andreaspeed.com

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Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

Infinitely Re-Readable Retro – “Wicked Gentlemen” by Ginn Hale



“Even the most degraded and ruined Prodigal is still closer to divinity than are any of us born of Adam’s flesh.” — Ginn Hale



And he was cast out onto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him… And they became the Prodigals, the least of these who were called from the depths of hell and now reside in Hells Below, a place where there is no dark and there is no light, keeping themselves to themselves to avoid the Inquisition and the prayer engines which torture and carve words of salvation into unholy flesh while dragging forth the confessions of the innocent who are guilty of little more than being who they were born to be.
Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Astrid Amara, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale, Josh Lanyon, Nicole Kimberling

Irregulars by Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Astrid Amara, and Ginn Hale

It took me a while to decide, but I think I can honestly say I’ve never read an anthology quite like Irregulars, four novellas from four talented authors who’ve woven each of their stories together to create an Urban Fantasy/Urban Fairy Tale world where goblins, vampires, brownies, fairies, pixies, demons, witches, and all other manner of extra-human creatures reside to tell the story of the NIAD, the NATO Irregular Affairs Division, the agency that regulates and manages mythical artifacts and all things magical.

Starting things off is the one author in the collection with whom I was unfamiliar, Nicole Kimberling. Her story, Cherries Worth Getting, does a great job of setting up the premise and the world building for the entire novella. If you buy this book and are at all tempted to read the stories out of order, don’t. I think it’s really important to read everything in sequence, not only because some characters overlap, but also because, well, this is really a fine story.

Keith Curry and Gunther Heartman are former lovers who are teamed up on a case involving culinary crimes—really disgusting culinary crimes, actually. Their break up wasn’t necessarily the end of a relationship; it was more the end of a “co-workers with benefits” arrangement that came about because Keith was carrying some really heavy baggage, and Gunther was keeping a fairly significant secret.

Though Keith doesn’t want to be partnered with Gunther again, their investigation into murder and black market protein draws the two men closer to catching the criminals, drawing them closer to each other as a result, as goblins, vampires, and humans provide the danger, and Keith and Gunther work to overcome the things that had torn them apart.

I thought this was a fast paced and well told story, a strong intro for the other authors to build upon but not overshadow as the rest of the tales unfold. – 4 Stars

A fae/human hybrid with a demon kink and an obsession with magical artifacts stars in Green Glass Beads, Josh Lanyon’s contribution to this compilation.

Archer Green is the curator of the Museum of State-Sanctioned Antiquities, who also was, at one time, affiliated with the more radical Society for the Rescue and Restoration of Indigenous Magic, which leaves him a prime target for Commander Rake’s scrutiny.

Rake is the new head of the Vancouver branch of NIAD, and he has more than a passing interest in Archer’s methods and reasons for collecting the artifacts he does. Archer has become Rake’s prime target to help prove that the SRRIM is still alive and thriving and participating in the illegal acquisition of highly dangerous artifacts. Rake has an axe to grind and he’s not above using Archer as his sharpening stone to do his job. But, Rake also has a secret of his own that hides behind his glamour.

The search for green glass beads, an artifact with very personal ties to Archer’s own ancestry, leads to danger, manipulation, and an act of betrayal that, in the end, provides for a touching reunion between Archer and Rake.

This was a sexy and satisfying read that also has a bit of a tie-in with Ginn Hale’s story. – 4 stars

Astrid Amara’s No Life but This kicked the WHOA! factor into overdrive for me in a murder mystery that tells the story of Deven Shaw, who, at the age of ten was sacrificed by his own father in a show of political loyalty to Lord Knife, the ruler of the underworld realm of Aztaw, at the time.

Deven’s father was the NIAD ambassador to Aztaw, and he allowed his boy to become a symbol of blind dedication to his cause, after Deven was kidnapped by Lord Knife’s rival, Lord Jaguar, and was then sentenced to death, an act the elder Shaw fully supported to further his own agenda.

An act of courage and quick thinking, something Lord Jaguar could respect, is the only thing that saved Deven’s life that day, and he spent more than a decade in Aztaw, training as an assassin and dreaming of the day he’d be rescued by NIAD agents, but eventually coming to the realization that he had no one or nothing to rely on but himself and his own willingness to survive.

Lord Jaguar’s death after he’d bestowed his house power to Deven led to a sacred vow and Deven’s eventual escape from Aztaw in order to fulfill that oath, but after so many of his informative years spent outside the human realm, his return to society leaves him uncertain of how to behave or react in a human way.

Being partnered with the surly and disagreeable Agent Silas August to investigate the murder of August’s partner Carlos, and Carlos’s sister, Beatriz, takes Deven to Mexico City, where a dark and sinister magic with connections to Aztaw puts the men directly on a path marked for death.

Deven is the prime target of Night Axe, Lord of Hurricanes, the bogeyman of Aztaw, who has returned from exile to steal the power that Deven possesses so he can claim control of a war torn and nearly decimated Aztaw. And Night Axe will use every means at his disposal, up to and including Agent August, to gain Deven’s compliance.

Astrid Amara’s brilliant imagination and vivid prose left me entirely in awe, from start to finish of this story. The relationship between Deven and August builds slowly and believably but the action and suspense is nothing short of driven, as the two men get closer and closer to resolving the mystery, something that could ultimately prove fatal for August, and leads both men to discover that there are things worth dying for, but there are also things very much worth living for.

A sinister betrayal also proves to Deven that one’s word is his bond, only when the one he’s given his word to is worthy of that loyalty.

I loved this one, plain and simple – 5 stars

Not to be outdone, and rounding out this anthology beautifully is Ginn Hale’s Things Unseen and Deadly, a story that just tugged at my heart strings in the most sublime way.

This is a story that loosely ties into all three of the other books, overlapping characters and storylines, and tells the tale of a revenant named Half-Dead Henry Falk, who works with NIAD in both the shade lands and the human realm, and the Stone of Fal, a sidhe legend revolving around a stone hidden within the body of a princess’s child, the child with the only legitimate claim to the sidhe throne.

Jason Shamir is a man who, as a young boy, witnessed the brutal murder of his father by goblins, a truth that led to years of psychiatric evaluation both in and out of mental institutions, and eventually led to him hiding the fact that he could see the truth, truths that no one else can see beneath the façade of the extra-human beings that walk in the human realm.

Jason holds a powerful magic within himself, one that he’s entirely unaware of, one that’s tied to synethesia, the ability to see shapes and color in music, a power that he will come to discover with Henry Falk’s help, a power that will come to light and reveal that Jason is very much more than the average and forgettable man he appears to be.

Henry and Jason are each so lonely and lost within their own worlds, but it’s the power Jason possesses to see the truth that lies at the core of men that gradually draws them closer together. Henry’s betrayal at the hands of the man he loved and whom he thought loved him in return led to a painful and bitter betrayal that left Henry straddling the realm between life and death, and left him unwilling and unable to see himself as being capable of trusting, let alone loving, again.

Greed and human trafficking leave Jason vulnerable to the dangers that await him in both the human and sidhe realms, and Henry makes it his personal mission, in life and in death, to protect Jason at all costs. Theirs is a relationship that becomes priceless in the only way a connection can be when a man who had nothing and gained everything is willing to sacrifice it all for the sake of the other. Theirs is a connection born in need and loneliness that will endure and strengthen together.

Things Unseen and Deadly left me wanting more of Henry and Jason. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Ginn Hale may resurrect them sometime in the future – 5 Stars

This was a thoroughly impressive collection of stories, a true collaboration in every single sense of the word. All four novellas tied together beautifully to make for one wildly entertaining read.

Available at Weightless Books

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5 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

His Holy Bones (Rifter, #10) by Ginn Hale

His Holy Bones (Rifter, #10)His Holy Bones by Ginn Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So it began and so it ended, at well more than 1000 pages of nothing less than outstanding character exposition, world building, dialogue, narrative, humor, action, terror, violence, heartbreak, romance. This was the Chronicles of Basawar and was everything great speculative fiction should be. While each installment of the Rifter series might not have stood as strongly as others, individually, the sum of each of its parts, collectively, is simply stunning.

This is a sweeping story of sacrifice and duty, of the ultimate corruption of power and the perversion of a religion that persecutes indiscriminately and seeks to propagate its authority through the violation of its followers. On the opposite side of the coin, it is a story of devotion to the earth god and the reluctant, arduous, and fearful journey of a man who becomes a deity. It is a story of love and loss and redemption. It is the story of divination and of altering the future through acts of free will and conscience and commitment, proving that nothing is preordained where there are choices to be made.

His Holy Bones and the Rifter series itself is a complex journey that is, at its most simple, a story of the power of love and the deep spiritual connection between two men that defies the bonds of death. Ginn Hale sends her readers on an incomparable adventure through time and space, to a land threatened by unseen forces, to a place where our own world is seen as the Promised Land, to a place where sorcery is both salvation and destruction, to a point where unconditional faith delivers miracles.

The series all comes down to a pivotal moment, when the key to the future becomes the will to survive for the love and compassion of mankind, and for the love of the one who is your destiny.

BUY LINK

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5 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

The Iron Temple (Rifter, #9) by Ginn Hale

The Iron Temple (Rifter, #9)The Iron Temple by Ginn Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And finally, we are at the beginning of the end. Or is it the end of the beginning? Perhaps when dealing with shifts in time, as Ginn Hale has done throughout this series, it is both. There is one certainty, however—John, Jahn, Jath’ibaye; the reluctant god; the manipulator of earth, air, fire, and water; the humble man in all his reincarnations is about to unleash his righteous fury upon Basawar. And it will be beautiful to behold.

The Iron Temple delivers readers to the very brink of this epic story and leaves us poised in the rift between the past and the present, hanging in the balance between death and life and a future that is yet to unfold completely. We are at the crossroads, at the point where Ravishan and Kahlil and their two separate but joined lives will meet in divine retribution against a curse blade and against the hungry bones that Laurie has created.

Jath’ibaye will bear the mortal wounds that threaten to steal the man he loves from him, not once but twice, or as many times as it takes, perhaps, to cheat death and keep Kahlil with him. There is a parallel between what has happened and what will happen, and the only question I have at the moment is whether or not the past will be altered again, and will that shift again affect the future? I have quickly learned that anything is possible when Ginn Hale is weaving the threads of an awesome story, and will accept any change in the pattern she chooses to make because I trust it will be perfect.

A chasm that cannot be breached has formed amongst Parfir’s worshipers. It is now time for those who lead with conscience and those who manipulate through fear and greed to take their respective sides and fight for that in which they believe. What one side covets, the other reveres; one side will face certain annihilation, the other will take its place at the right hand of the Rifter to carve out a new world from the destruction of the old.

Ginn Hale has skillfully delivered us to the summit of this monumental journey, where the reader can now see what was and perhaps speculate on what is yet to come. One thing is certain; it will be both a wonder and a disappointment to come to The End.

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4 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

The Silent City (Rifter, #8) by Ginn Hale

The Silent City (Rifter #8)The Silent City by Ginn Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the path to becoming the Rifter, John joins the Fai’daum resistance, swearing his allegiance to their cause and training with the witch Ji Shir’korud in an effort to learn to harness the immense power he possesses.

The Silent City is the continuation of John’s journey to becoming Jath’ibaye, the name in which he will find refuge from the knowledge that his life as John is now complete, that Basawar is where he will remain, and that home is now nothing more than a distant memory. Home is now Ravishan and the land he is connected to, the land he is connected to which he controls with his thoughts and emotions, the land that is divided between the haves, the have nots, and the religious regime that wields its influence and might like a weapon to control and induce fear. This is the land that dies a little more each time the Gate to Nayeshi is opened.

This is the place where John and Ravishan might have one day found peace and a modicum of acceptance, a place where they could have lived and loved but for the way fate and circumstance are intent on keeping them apart. And now that we know what is to come, now that we know how their love story ends and then begins again as two wholly different people, it makes the anticipation of what is to come all the more frightening and wonderful.

This is the beginning of the race against time to make the impossible possible, as they must rescue Laurie from a fate far worse than death, and as John must prepare for the consequences of her loss, her anger, and her retribution.

The Silent City is another prologue in the midst of this series that underscores the events of the past and the present. It is another line that connects the dots on the way to completing the entire picture, and again, while it might not stand as strongly on its own, tied into the entirety of the saga it is both essential and excellent.

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4 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale, Uncategorized

Enemies and Shadows (Rifter, #7) by Ginn Hale

Enemies & Shadows
Enemies & Shadows by Ginn Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading Enemies and Shadows was a little bit like standing in Hades and watching Sisyphus push his boulder uphill, seeing it strive toward its ultimate destination, holding your breath and hoping…only to have it roll back down to the bottom of the hill again. And this is a good thing? Yeah, it is.

Enemies are disposed of in this installment of the Rifter series, quite handily, I thought, all things considered. So handily, in fact, it caught me a little off guard, wondering, did Ginn Hale just take the easy way out of avoiding an all out Armageddon here? But I should’ve known better. It goes entirely against series canon to believe that anything will ever come easily to these characters in this harsh and unforgiving world. So, I mistakenly allowed myself to be lured into a false sense of security, then, like the master of my emotional wellbeing that she is, Ms. Hale threw me to the hungry bones and left me languishing there as she transported me to the past again to show me that something, something is going to juxtapose these two storylines between John and Ravishan, and Jath’ibaye and Kahlil. And it all seems to hinge on the golden key, a single word, “Don’t!” and the opportunity to save the savior, atoning for past mistakes.

And now, the true battle will begin, as the most dangerous enemy Jath’ibaye may have ever faced comes to the fore, an enemy who was once an ally, a good and trusted friend who will divide Jath’ibaye between his honor and conscience, and his sense of duty and love for his land, his people, and above all, his love for Kahlil.

If I were to make only one judgment against this installment, because honestly, there is only one in this otherwise brilliant series, it would be that Enemies and Shadows might have worked better tacked on to the end of book #6 or the beginning of book #8. This is the only episode so far that didn’t work as well as a standalone for me. Added to the whole, however, it is purely sublime.

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4 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

Broken Fortress (Rifter, #6) by Ginn Hale

Broken Fortress
Broken Fortress by Ginn Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Broken Fortress – The Interlude – This is the perfect place to catch your breath and digest everything that has happened up until now. Pluck what you know of the past and apply it to the present, because the future is sure to be a dangerous, dangerous place, and it might help you to navigate your way to the cusp of the war that looms.

This segment in the ongoing saga picks up on Jath’ibaye’s ship, where we left him and Kahlil to travel back to Rathal’pesha earlier on. Everything that has happened up until now is necessary information to understand the evolution Kahlil experiences after his resurrection, as he came through the Gates decades beyond where John had landed some thirty years before. Understanding how Ravishan and Kahlil’s lives both parallel and intertwine, how Ravishan sacrificed everything he was to become in order to save the man he loved, as well as how John’s presence in the past affected certain outcomes in the future, will not only bring clarity to the bond between Kahlil and Jath’ibaye, but it will also cement the significance of that connection, which in turn makes the relationship between the two men incredibly poignant and entirely significant.

Broken Fortress is definitely more informative than action packed, to be sure, but the material is delivered through compelling and intelligent dialogue, giving each of the characters weight and importance and dimension, regardless if how minor their role may be as the series continues. This book is the road map, in a way, that gives direction to everything there is yet to come. It is the means of tracing the line from where everyone has been, to where they will proceed in this long, winding, and wondrous journey.

There is a wicked political agenda broiling, a heinous plot underway to rid the world of the Rifter, a dark supernatural spell evolving, as a onetime friend attempts to alter events of the past, and a battle poised on the horizon that could very well destroy every living thing in its path. The strategy is unfolding, luring a dangerous enemy into the midst, and separating Jath’ibaye and Kahlil. Will this be a scenario where history repeats itself, or will Kahlil incorporate what he has learned from the past and use it to influence a better future?

That remains to be seen.

BUY LINK

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5 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

The Holy Road (Rifter, #5) by Ginn Hale

The Holy Road
The Holy Road by Ginn Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5+ Stars

I am, by turns, frightened and fascinated at this point in the saga, which sums things up pretty concisely and accurately.

The Holy Road is darkness defined. This is the point in the journey where John discovers everything there is to be discovered about who he is and the purpose he will serve in the future of Basawar, and how it connects to Ravishan, who is, indeed, a man John knows as another, not the least of which is lover and savior.

It’s impossible to have made your way to the end of this book without drawing some parallels and contrasts between this great story and the greatest story ever told. John has died the figurative death. He is no longer the man he believed himself to be. Now the Rifter must suffer and die for his sins, but those who will execute his punishment know not what they do or whom they have condemned. John was his own Judas, betrayed by his own confession of a murder that, for all intents and purposes, could be justified as self-preservation, as well as defending the man he loves. John will sacrifice himself, willingly, for the greater good. But in his confession, John also implicates another, which will solidify Fikiri’in ‘Bousim’s hatred and need for vengeance, turning a once terrified boy into a sworn enemy.

The intimacy that has evolved between Ravishan and John has eclipsed the demand for secrecy. Their bond is one that was prophesied and goes well beyond the physical realms of attraction, to something that is spiritual and, I presume, wholly necessary in order to see this adventure through to the end. Ravishan becomes John’s savior on the Holy Road, as he is set to burn for his transgressions, a very unholy method of punishment by those who consider themselves the moral authority.

There is a greater loss in this installment in the series which affects Bill and Laurie, who I’m fairly certain will gain a new identity moving forward and may very well occur as John becomes Jath’ibaye. There’s so much more story left to tell, though, that it’s impossible to predict what events will happen when, or even what will happen next. Ginn Hale continues to surprise and to transcend all my expectations, with every new chapter.

Knowing what has been revealed to this point about the future and the reunion between Jath’ibaye and Kahlil, it seems there will be a rift in their relationship yet to come. That remains to be seen and I’ll be devouring every word to get to the answers.

And the Key. Yes, the Key. It was sent with a note that said a single word, “Don’t.” Who sent it? I have an idea but I’m not sharing. You’ll have to read and find out for yourself.

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4 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

Witches’ Blood (Rifter, #4) by Ginn Hale

Witches' Blood
Witches’ Blood by Ginn Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, if you’ve made it this far in the Rifter series, you know that John, Laurie, and Bill have inadvertently traveled to Basawar, to the year 185, when John intercepted a key meant for Kyle, his scarred, tattooed, and mysterious roommate. The three friends discovered the strange lock in which the key fits, then suddenly found themselves traveling through the shattered gates, to an unknown land. It is a land where suspected witches and revolutionaries are publicly burned, where magic goes hand in hand with danger and lurks in the shadows, where John fights for his and his friends’ survival, where he enters into a bargain that will bring him closer to the key to returning home, but will also bring him face to face with the enemy, revealing the immense power that he wields and bringing him closer to Ravishan, a young man who has become a valuable ally, a source of temptation, and who, I think, has another identity in the future. But I would never presume to believe I have things figured out. Ginn Hale’s imagination is far too sophisticated for me to be that confident.

When Kyle, the Kahlil, attempts to follow John, Laurie, and Bill through the gates to his home world, his journey takes him to a point in time years beyond where John and friends have landed, and where it is slowly becoming evident that their presence in the past has affected a change in the time/space continuum. The trip itself leaves Kyle’s body and memories in tatters, but he is rescued and eventually recovers enough to enter into service in the Bousim household, where he becomes an assassin for Alidas, a man whose life John had saved decades before and who had become the catalyst for John’s service at Rathal’pesha.

Alidas sends Kahlil on one final mission, one he may not survive, one in which he comes face to face with John, now Jath’ibaye, a storyline that is still hanging in the balance, as we spend time in the past in Witches’ Blood, witnessing John’s gradual evolution into the man he will become, with the power to do things he shouldn’t be able to do, things that enflame an enemy and that could very well brand him as a witch.

The more that’s revealed in this series, the more there is to question; the latest and greatest question being who will travel back to Nayeshi, the contemporary world, and who will be left behind. There are bargains struck to hide a potentially deadly secret that cannot be fulfilled if the key is found. There have been some hints as to who remains, but do the others make it out of Basawar alive? That remains to be seen, as a battle looms on the horizon, one that will upset the status quo.

There is as much information as action in this installment in the series, as Ginn Hale continues to artfully weave the past and the future together to create a picture of what is yet to come. This is as much a revelation of what will be as it is an exploration of how it will evolve. Every player seems to be developing into a significant cog in the war machine that is building toward an outstanding climax.

My only regret is that I can’t read fast enough to satisfy my obsession with finding out what’s coming next.

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5 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

Black Blades (Rifter, #3) by Ginn Hale

Black Blades
Black Blades by Ginn Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And the plot thickens.

Prophesies broken, awesome powers revealed, an assassination thwarted, and former allies who apparently have become enemies, these are some of the enticements Ginn Hale offers up in episode three of the Rifter saga.

Told in a non-linear fashion, this installment does a time shift from present to past again, revealing just enough about John, who will become Jath’ibaye, and the one who is called Ji, that the reader is granted an enticing glimpse into a future of power and witchcraft which is only now beginning to take shape, as John and Kyle are reunited and the rules of the game change.

An assassination attempt on Jath’ibaye goes wrong when Kahlil intervenes, and Jath’ibaye offers to bear Kahlil’s wounds to save his life. What will become of the two men, now that they have been reunited? The answer to that question must wait, as the reader is taken back in time to Rathal’pesha, just when the getting was good, to witness John’s evolution to warrior, led by the Payshmura, whose prayers and tenets are based on a particularly interesting foundation.

Who survives? Who doesn’t? Who knows? That remains to be seen, as Ginn Hale continues to entice, seduce, provoke, and weave her wonderful spell.

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4.5 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

Servant of the Crossed Arrows (Rifter, #2) by Ginn Hale

4.5/5 stars

Servant of the Crossed Arrows (Rifter #2)Servant of the Crossed Arrows by Ginn Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading Servant of the Crossed Arrows was a little bit like watching the movie Inception. In other words, I labored under a pervading sense of “what the hell?” for a good portion of the time. But then I realized that there was a time/space continuum thing going on and stories were running parallel, and then things became as clear as Ginn Hale apparently wanted them to be at this point in the series arc, because just when I was starting to get it, just when things were beginning to converge, the episode ended.

Masterful. That’s all that can be said about the writing, the world building, the entire execution of the narrative so far, and it feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the complexities the author has dreamt up for the subversive religious and political plots, and the maneuvering and machinations that will either destroy Basawar or possibly save it. Who knows? There’s so much more to discover, so much farther to go, so much yet to understand, and I’m being led right along, trusting that the person navigating knows where she’s going because, right now, I’m just riding shotgun and enjoying the scenery.

John, Kahlil and company have overtaken everything else on my reading list. That’s the best compliment I can give to the author and the series.

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4 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Ginn Hale

The Shattered Gates (The Rifter, #1) by Ginn Hale

The Shattered Gates (Rifter #1)The Shattered Gates by Ginn Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And so it begins, another Ginn Hale inspired addiction, this one woven somewhere between the contemporary and an alternate reality that is only just starting to take shape as a place of extreme danger, a place where being an outsider might mean a painful death, and a place where John’s enigmatic roommate Kyle has a job to do. So many questions remain unanswered—Why? How? The most significant of which is what, as in what will happen next?

The trap has been successfully baited, and I’m entirely invested in the journey. John, his friends Laurie and Bill, and above all, Kyle and Ravishan are the lure to this otherworld, and Ginn Hale has offered the key to the portal, has extended just enough of the stick to dangle the proverbial carrot ever so enticingly in front of me that it’s impossible to imagine not continuing on the adventure. Basawar seems more than just a place. For John, it seems an answer to an as yet unasked question. It is the secret yet to be discovered. But when?

The Shattered Gates is this author’s forte: an imaginarium filled with impossible magic made believable through engaging characters, creative language, and a fully realized world of risk and intrigue.

This is the tease, the call to action, the invitation. And I gratefully accept.

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