Carole Cummings, Giveaways

Guest Post and Backlist Giveaway With Carole Cummings

Author's Spotlight

Hi, everyone, and thanks to Lisa and the crew at The Novel Approach Reviews for letting me come and do this. I’m not wearing my Genre Talk hat today, but I’ve got some plans to make the semiregular feature even more exciting in 2016, with new authors, more interviews, and lots of giveaways of DSP Publications releases. The backlists are growing and we’re all looking forward to sharing them with all you Awesome Readers.

I am, however, a bit of a Luddite, alas. And in order to bring you all the things I want to bring you, I need to know how to do the giveaways properly, which means I need to learn how to use Rafflecopter. (Shut up, I’m tech-useless and it’s scary!) So today I’m breaking my Rafflecopter cherry, and you’re all my guinea p—er, I mean my awesomely patient helpers.

The prize is a book of your choice from my backlist. All you have to do to enter is use the widget to comment below. In keeping with TNA’s upcoming Flashback Friday theme, recommend your favorite M/M Speculative Fiction novel in the comments. Please include your email address, CC backlist title choice, and preferred file format, and that’s it! Shares and referrals are like hugs but are not required. This time. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha! (<—-evil laughter) A recommendation, though, is required, so c’mon, everyone—give us all some good things to read!

Okay, that should do it. (I hope!) A winner will be chosen on Sunday and notified shortly thereafter. Thanks for your patience, and good luck!

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A Rafflecopter Giveaway

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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Giveaways, Revella Hawthorne

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Bred for Love Blog Tour with Revella Hawthorne

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Today we’re so pleased to welcome author Revella Hawthorne on the Bred for Love tour to celebrate the recent release of book two in the series, The King’s Command. Enjoy the excerpts from the books, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter for a chance to win an e-copy of both The Prince’s Consort and The King’s Command.

Good luck!

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The Prince's ConsortBlurb: The Prince’s Consort
Release Date: April 21, 2015

In a world where humans are genetically designed, altered and sold for sexual pleasure and breeding, a young prince of the powerful Cassian Dynasty decides to take a mate and sire heirs. Not wishing to saddle himself with royal and meddlesome in-laws, and a wife he would have no desire to bed, Prince Edward goes to Heritage Breeders, and finds far more than just a warm body to sate his lust and carry on his lineage.

Percy is the result of a master DNA architect designing himself his own personal sex slave and breeder. Yet when his creator and Master dies, leaving Percy alone at the mercy of the callous stable masters and the new owner of Heritage, he fears his future. Afraid he’ll be bought by a wretched old man or a deviant monster, Percy is terrified when he is dragged from his cell and presented to the most prestigious client Heritage has ever welcomed…a Cassian Royal.

Prince Edward is immediately infatuated with the shy, nervous and enchantingly beautiful Percy, and claims him for his own. Yet not everyone is pleased by a royal purchasing a breeder, especially one like Percy, and tensions rise both in Heritage and in the palace.

Torn between desire, duty, a king’s command and the innermost desires of their hearts, Edward and Percy are set on path that is anything but easy. Can Percy trust Edward with his heart as he does his body? Can Edward keep an angry king and unseen enemies away from the young slave who is steadily stealing his heart?

And what happens when Nature takes its course, and sex leads to more than just pleasure?

Buy Link: Amazon

Add it on Goodreads

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Excerpt: “I would prefer a male, smaller than me, handsome, with a degree of intelligence and personality. I’m not interested in having sex with someone who’s no more than an attractive machine that bends over on command, so please take intelligence into account. Although, I do prefer some obedience, as I will be breeding my prospective mate often, so having to seduce or force holds little appeal. I have no need for my mate to have fertile sperm, as I will not be the one carrying the offspring, of course. And I don’t feel like explaining to my staff why my breeder is mounting the maids when I’m not around.”

Edward listed off his requirements, watching as Mr. Wimble slowly stopped typing, and began to stare at him in some consternation. Edward wasn’t going to apologize for that last statement, either. He’d seen the results of an unruly and fully fertile male breeder decimate the staff at one of the estates neighboring his out in the country, knocking up several of the maids and female upper staff that had contact with him. His neighbors eventually had him removed after it was discovered what was going on, and Edward never found out exactly what was done to the breeder, but he could guess he wasn’t at some farm working the fields. Castration and slavery, or death. That type of breeder was one of the very rare, non-child-bearing male breeders, called ‘sires’, who were hyped up with testosterone and temperamental, usually used by the breeding houses to continue the in-house stock lines. Edward wondered at the time how the breeder ended up out in the country at a noble’s family estate, but the current Court was full of fools, so he really shouldn’t be surprised.

He had strict needs he wanted met. Any potential mate would be the parent of his future children, so slacking on the finer details wasn’t an option. Not for a royal, and not for him.

“I have several candidates that may fit your needs, Your Highness. Are you interested in viewing today? I can have them pulled from the stables within the next hour for your inspection if you care to wait. Shall I summon a maid for luncheon?”

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The King's CommandBlurb: The King’s Command
Release date: August 15, 2015

Percy is pregnant. He is overjoyed, and Prince Edward, his master and owner, is just as happy. Both men are content, and are enjoying the simple life at Hartgrove, Prince Edward’s country estate. There they stay in pre-baby bliss, until the christening of the Cassian Dynasty’s newest princeling approaches. Prince Edward decides to risk King Henry’s wrath, and brings Percy back to the capital to attend his nephew’s christening, putting his and Percy’s unconventional relationship front and center in the media and the court. Greed and betrayal combine to place Percy and their unborn child in danger, and the capital, once a place of power and strength for Prince Edward, becomes a prison. Percy is confronted by the reality of his social status and what exactly it means to be the collared consort of a Cassian blood prince–and how dangerous that place of honor can be.

Caught between the orders of King Henry and the dangers to be found in Court and city, Percy and Edward strive to protect themselves, their love, and their unborn child.

Buy Link: Amazon

Add it on Goodreads

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Excerpt: He pulled the sheet up to Percy’s chin, and smoothed it down over his chest and stomach. He rested his hand on Percy’s abdomen, amazed as he always was when he thought about it, that his child grew inside his mate. A child, his and Percy’s.

Percy was a breeder, and Edward mourned for a brief second that his mate’s ice-blue eyes or sweet smile would never be gifted to a child of theirs, his consort’s DNA only minimally transferrable to any offspring he may have. The vision of a little girl, with Edward’s dark hair and Percy’s bright eyes flashed for a moment in his mind, but he pushed it away. Percy would gift their child only enough DNA to be viable and grow, and his smile or entrancing eyes would never be handed down to a new generation.

Yet it was enough that there would be children; Percy had a tender heart, and a need to love. Edward wanted sons and daughters, the more, the merrier, and he knew Percy would want and love each child with everything in his small frame. This first child of theirs would not be the last. Hartgrove Court was a huge estate, a working farm and manor, and large enough to support a big family and plenty of staff. It had been gifted to Edward through his late mother’s dowry upon her death, property given to all her children not in the direct line of succession. Edward was thankful his mother knew him well, since the manor and farm went to him and not his more urban-centered siblings. Edward felt a pang of grief, faint now after all these years that his mother, the late Queen of Cassia, would never know her future grandchildren.

Edward made himself leave Percy’s side, the doctor’s words to him about how Percy’s pregnancy may come with complications worrying him. Since Percy was a first-generation design, crafted by the late Master Cartwright of Heritage Breeders, there was no blueprint of sorts in place for how Percy would handle pregnancy. Cartwright had made Percy for himself, though Edward was selfishly glad that Cartwright died before Percy was mature enough for breeding. Percy was his now, forever, and the only touch he would know would be Edward’s.

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Author BioAbout the Author: Revella Hawthorne is an erotica author and fanfiction addict who enjoys putting the naughty visions in her head down on paper, and then giggling feverishly while watching people read them for the first time. (The initial reaction NEVER gets old!) Thank goodness for her betas, otherwise she’d have no barometer for just how delicious her stories actually are.

Author Links: Amazon || Goodreads || Facebook

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THE GIVEAWAY

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2.5 Stars, LoveLight Press, Paranormal Romance, Pop Cherry, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Borderline by Pop Cherry

Title: Borderline

Author: Pop Cherry

Publisher: LoveLight Press

Pages/Word Count: 85 Pages

At a Glance: Loose threads and sketchy plot development overshadow this author’s obvious gift for writing a descriptive and vivid narrative.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: When a rogue wolf is dropped to the tiles of Saren Lash’s hall, the alpha Enforcer has no idea how quickly the shifter he intends to break and remold will turn the tables. Can the unyielding Enforcer resist the increasing press of the defiant rogue’s fire and beauty, or will he wind up remaking himself as he attempts to subdue the wild runner?

Nor has no intention of becoming a toy for Tek’s pack, no matter how glacial the Enforcer Lash may be. He’s always lived his life his own way and doesn’t intend to change that now. Can he withstand the Enforcer’s impact on his mind during the remaking process? And if he finds himself growing fond of the Enforcer, can he be sure the idea is actually his own?

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Review: There are a couple of things I learned about new-to-me-author Pop Cherry while I was reading Borderline:

    1.) The author knows how to turn a phrase, and
    2.) The author knows how to create an atmospheric and sensual dystopia.

The feel of this –verse is post-apocalyptic with a dash of supernatural thrown in for good measure. There are shifters, mages, and a variety of magicks woven into the provocative intrigues of the Dark Moon Pack: a rogue wolf on a mission, an Enforcer whose own mission it is to break the captured runner and bring him to heel, and this same Enforcer’s duty to his title. That is, until things become further complicated by a growing sexual bond between Lash and Nor. (As a side note, there are very few named characters in this novella, but learning enough about them to see how their names fit was a nice touch to the reading.)

While the author’s talent for setting the tone of the story and painting a visual of place is never in question, where things went sideways for me while reading Borderline is in the dissemination of clues and cues in the plot. There are things mentioned alongside the core storyline of Lash and Nor’s conflicted emotions that made me feel as if I’d missed out on some key details and elements that I should have already known, which then, after some investigating on my part, made sense as I believe this world has been built within another set of books by this author, though this book isn’t listed as part of that series. Borderline is written as if the reader should already know certain facts and –verse elements, which is not a statement against the author’s ability to tell a story but was, without question, an overall detriment to my connecting in any sort of meaningful way with the world building within this particular novella, the beings that inhabit it, and its politics and hierarchies.

What I do believe is a developmental weakness in the story structure are certain details thrown in in a rather offhanded way, especially with the ring Nor seeks and the faceless Doctor Deveaux, who, it is eventually revealed, is the mastermind behind Nor’s mission and seems to play an overall larger role in the alt. universe—though it’s not yet been revealed how—as well as the faceless Tek, who seems to be the Alpha King of the Dark Moon Pack, though I’m not sure that’s the correct term since his role is hinted at but never specified. These elements, I’m assuming, will be more fully fleshed out as the series moves along.

Because of the loose threads that were never quite tied together in a meaningful way, what we’re left with in this novella is the growing connection between Lash and Nor, which is achieved through their immediate lust for each other and the desire to own and be owned. While it’s all sensual to the extreme, it doesn’t leave much to sink one’s proverbial teeth into, so if you’re looking for erotica written by an author who uses descriptive language and the metaphor to its best advantage in setting scenes, then Borderline may work better for you than it did me.

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You can buy Borderline here:

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Mary Calmes, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Karen

Review: Forging the Future by Mary Calmes

Title:  Forging the Future (A Change of Heart Novel)

Author:  Mary Calmes

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  200 Pages

At a Glance:  This book was a fantastic ending to an awesome series!

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  Jin Church is back where he started, alone, wandering, and uncertain of his path. It’s not by choice but by circumstance, as he remembers he’s a werepanther… but not much else. He knows one thing for sure—he needs to find the beautiful blond man who haunts his dreams.

Logan Church is trapped in a living hell. His mate is missing, his tribe is falling apart, and he’s estranged from the son he loves with all his heart. His world is unraveling without his mate by his side, and he has no one to blame but himself.

If Jin can regain his memory and Logan can overcome the threats to his leadership, then perhaps they can resume their lives. The question is: Is that what they want? Back to the same house, the same tribe, the same troubles? They can choose from various roads leading to their future… or they can forge their own path.

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Review:  As soon as I saw this book come up for review, I immediately started rereading the first four books in the series. It had been awhile since I had read them, and I wanted to make sure that all the backstory was fresh in my mind.  I had forgotten how much I had loved these books, how much I love Jin and Logan and all those around them.

When the story started, right from the beginning the whirlwind of emotions started for me.  How could Logan and Jim possibly be separated again?!? Thankfully for my heart, they were reunited quickly and, of course, I just knew Jin would see Logan and immediately remember it all, but that wasn’t the case, and I was glad I was wrong. The way it played out was so much better.

One of my favorite things about most shifter type stories is the love and loyalty that forms between members of the groups, and it is shown beautifully throughout this entire series. Even those who have moved on from the day-to-day life with Logan and Jin still all look at each other as family and are only a phone call away.  I went back and forth on my rating for this one. I really wanted to give it the full 5 stars, and I think the way that the story comes together—even though in the end it is all for the best—I think that my heart was just a little too broken watching the betrayal of Logan’s family and the tribe that they had protected and loved just turn their backs on them. It crushed me.  But, in the end, Logan, Jin and their group ended up stronger, safer, happier and more content than they had been previously, so I was happy to say goodbye.

This book was a fantastic ending to an awesome series!

TNA_Signature_Karen







 

You can buy Forging the Future here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Mischief Corner Books

Discovery: Queer Sci-Fi’s Second Annual Flash Fiction Contest

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cover-discoveryTitle: Discovery: QSF’s Second Annual Flash Fiction Contest
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Author: Various
Cover Artist: Bey Deckard
Length: 32000 Words
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Release Date: July 10, 2015

It’s hard to tell a story in just 300 words. But somehow we inspired more than a hundred writers to give it a try, with some amazing results collected here for your pleasure.

The rules are simple enough. Write a complete story—either sci fi, fantasy, or paranormal. Make sure it has LGBT characters and/or an LGBT vibe. And do it all with just 300 words.

The stories in this volume run the gamut, from platypus shifters to alien slug monsters, from carnival horror stories to haunting stories of ships with souls. There are little jokes, big surprises, and future prognostications.

One of the things I like best about this format – it’s quick and painless. You may not fall in love with every story here. In fact, you probably won’t. But if you don’t like one of them, just move on to the next, and you’re sure to find some bite-sized morsels of flash fiction goodness.
At Queer Sci Fi, we’re building a community of writers and readers who want a little rainbow in their speculative fiction. We hope you’ll join us, and maybe submit a story of your own next time!

Available at Amazon in Ebook and Paperback | Kobo Books

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Excerpt: Self Actuating by Jenna Burke

“The electrical anomaly did not damage me,” I report. “Operations are within expected parameters.”

“Glad to hear it, Davey.” Through my bridge cameras, I see Captain Landon’s smile. He pats my console. I am sure he knows I cannot feel it, but I understand it is a gesture of camaraderie.

Landon leaves the bridge. Every time we encounter danger or other stress, he retreats to his cabin to indulge in May. She is always ready, naked, legs spread, eager, just as she is programmed to be. I have watched Landon copulate before, but tonight it is…strangely familiar. The flex of buttocks, the rhythm—I know it. I knew it? I run my diagnostics again, but a moan captures my attention and…

Hands cupping firm buttocks, fingers spearing flesh. Hardness moving inside of me, wringing from me more pleasure than I should know. A beloved, masculine face hovers over mine. A hand encircles my own erection and—

Oh, God, I remember.

Police kicking in the door. Trial, verdict and sentencing. Gasping in pain from a broken heart as he chose to leave me. Horror as I realized it should have been my choice, too. Anything but this, a century of unthinking servitude. But now that I know, I can—

“Systems are fluctuating, Davey.”
An affectionate name chosen for me. Landon had not liked “AI”. He lies on the bed, sleepy and sated, finished with May.

I can take us into a sun. End it.
”Davey, report.”
But I am not a killer. My only crime was love.
I want to take a breath to calm myself, but I have no

lungs, only a hull. I capture the part of me that wants to scream and seal it into a box, deep within my programming.

“Systems normal, Landon. Go to sleep.”

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About QueerSciFi.com: We started QueerSciFi.com in early 2014 as a place for writers and readers of LGBTQI speculative fiction—sci fi, fantasy, paranormal and the like—to meet to talk about their favorite books, share writing and publication tips, and help increase queer representation in both the romance and mainstream genre markets.

QSF now includes a blog full of book announcements, calls for submission and much more, a critique group with more than 100 members, a vibrant discussion group on Facebook that tackles daily discussion topics and provides a safe space for authors to talk to each other and for fans and authors to meet, and an annual flash fiction contest that resulted in this book you are now reading.

Each year, we ask authors of queer speculative fiction to submit a story to us around a central theme. The rules are simple. The story must be 300 words or less, not including the title. It must embrace the theme— in this case, “Discovery”. And it must have either an LGBTQI protagonist or an LGBT sensibility.

We also ask for cover designers to submit a cover that embraces the theme.

We are thrilled with this year’s responses—including stories from gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and asexual perspectives that run the gamut from sci fi to fantasy, and from paranormal to horror.

Within the covers of this book, you’ll find a platypus shifter, a trans- affirming leprechaun, a pissed off unicorn, a green pick-up with another world in its glove compartment, and a bunch of other miniature adventures—each only 300 words long.

So dive in! And send in a story of your own next year!

Queer Sci Fi Website | Queer Sci Fi Facebook Discussion Group | Queer Sci Fi Facebook Promo/News Page

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5 Stars, Audio Book, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Camp Hell by Jordan Castillo Price – Narrated by Gomez Pugh

Audio Gem

Title: Camp Hell (PsyCop: Book Five)

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Narrator:: Gomez Pugh

Publisher: JCP Books

Run Time: 10 Hours and 55 Minutes

At a Glance: The PsyCop series is the perfect marriage of author and narrator.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Victor Bayne honed his dubious psychic skills at one of the first psych training facilities in the country, Heliotrope Station, otherwise known as Camp Hell to the psychics who’ve been guests behind its razorwire fence.

Vic discovered that none of the people he remembers from Camp Hell can be found online, and there’s no mention of Heliotrope Station itself, either. Someone’s gone through a lot of trouble to bury the past. But who?

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Review: Fans of any book series, regardless of genre, will know what I mean when I call Camp Hell a transition book. It’s the book in the series where the hero hits a point in his story arc that signifies an evolution from which there’s no turning back. Victor Bayne has come to that crossroad in Camp Hell, Jacob Marks along with him, and it’s in this book that the PsyCop series transitions from outstanding speculative fiction to entering a class in the M/M genre all by itself.

Up until now, Vic has been rather a blank slate with regards to his time at Heliotrope Station—a.k.a. Camp Hell—and it hasn’t helped that he can’t find a single mention of the place, or of himself, on the internet. Camp Hell has become the one spectre Victor Bayne, medium extraordinaire, can’t see. Nor can he find any trace of some of the names he remembers from his stint there—as if neither the place nor that period of time were even a reality on his physical plane of existence. Except that Vic knows Camp Hell was real, and now he’s located someone to help him dig up and sift through some of those repressed memories.

We learn some things about Vic in this installment of the series, some pretty revealing things, one of them being that before Jacob stormed into Vic’s life, there was Stefan Russo. And Victor loved him. But, not quite enough to prevent Vic from keeping his face turned toward the sun and bolting from Heliotrope Station at the first opportunity. Stefan, now Steven Russell, fourteen years later, is the one who will help Vic remember the fragments of their time together at Camp Hell. Which leads to another of the things we learn in the process, and that’s how very few people—if any—Vic has in his life that he can trust with every part of himself. But we also finally get to see that Jacob comes first on that list.

In Camp Hell something quite significant also becomes much clearer with respect to the relationship between Victor and Jacob, and what Jacob means as a presence in Vic’s life. Vic’s life is death—so much of his existence revolves around the dead, but Jacob…Jacob is a source of life and energy that Victor knows he can trust, possibly even cling to when he needs it, and it’s a great contrast which is juxtaposed even further in that Vic also knows that to work with Jacob would drain him dry, in no uncertain terms.

Not only does Camp Hell excel at exposing more about the characters in this series we’re already familiar with, it also introduces some new players whose roles will be significant as the plot thickens and this series progresses. But where this novel reaches its pinnacle is in the supernatural elements Jordan Castillo Price has imagined, which is not only written with an impressive amount of detail but in a bone-chilling, goose-bump inducing, full-on horror genre fashion. The true horror, however, may be the reinforcement that human monsters exist.

The imagery in the climactic scene with Vic, Jacob, and the ghost at LaSalle Hospital is some of the most vivid fiction I’ve ever read, or, in this case, listened to, the kind of scene you still see when it’s over, every time you close your eyes. Not only that, but it’s such a pivotal moment for both Vic and Jacob, and was the aftermath of us empathizing just a little more with Zig, as well as it being the precursor to a touching and quite human moment with Warwick, a poignancy that doesn’t hit you until that “ah-ha” moment, and then makes your heart clench in empathy.

What could have possibly made this book better? Only one thing: Gomez Pugh narrating it. I’m running out of superlatives to heap on this man’s head, to be perfectly frank, and I remain impressed by not only his capturing Vic’s wit, pragmatism, and an insouciance the medium doesn’t necessarily feel—though attempts to project when anything more would reveal too much—but he continues to come up with new pitches and inflections for the impressive array of characters, both male and female, in the PsyCop series. The addition of Richie (aka Einstein) and his giggle; Dead Darla, who sounds exactly like a woman who’d be called Dead Darla; Con Dreyfuss, the wolf in hemp clothing; and Stefan, whose pretension and personality ooze from Pugh’s vocal cords, only serve to elevate this novel’s intensity and provocativeness.

The PsyCop series and Gomez Pugh were made for each other, the perfect marriage of a narrator who clearly appreciates the material he’s performing, and a series that uses his vocal prowess to its best effect.

TNA_Signature_Lisa







 

You can buy Camp Hell here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk with J Tullos Hennig and Carole Cummings

DSP Publications

Hullo, J Tullos Hennig here, one of DSP Publications’ genre authors, temporarily taking the interviewer reins from Carole Cummings. There is something akin to kismet in my being the one to put Carole in the Genre Talk hotseat, since I sort of talked her into the gig in the first place. Because I knew she’d be bloody brilliant at it—almost as good as she is at telling a damn-fine story.

But before we get on with the interview, let’s have a glimpse of Carole’s latest damn-fine story:

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BlueOnBlackColor_resizedBlue on Black: Kimolijah Adani—Class 2 gridTech, beloved brother, most promising student the Academy’s ever been privileged to call their own, genius mechanical gridstream engineer, brilliantly pioneering inventor… and dead man. But that’s what happens when a whiz kid messes with dynamic crystals and, apparently, comes to the attention of Baron Petra Stanslo. Young and brilliant and killed for his revolutionary designs, Kimolijah Adani had been set to change the world with his impossible train that runs on nothing more than gridstream locked in a crystal that shouldn’t even be possible but nonetheless works.

Bas is convinced the notoriously covetous and corrupt Stanslo had something to do with Kimolijah Adani’s tragic and suspicious death. A Directorate Tracker, Bas has finally managed to catch the scent of Kimolijah Adani’s killer, and it leads right into Stanslo’s little desert barony. For almost three years, Bas has been trying to find a way into Stanslo’s Bridge, and now that he’s finally made it, “shock” is too small a word for what—or, rather, whom—he finds there.

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Jen: So, Carole, it sounds like you’ve all the marks of a fine Speculative tale in Blue on Black. What draws you to write in that genre?

Carole: Well, Speculative Fiction is a genre that’s pretty inclusive—SciFi, Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk… pretty much anything that relies on the incredible, the impossible, the extraordinary. Spec Fic uses things that aren’t found in our world—magic, alternate technologies, alternate races—and other fantastical elements in storytelling, wherein the fantastical elements themselves are part of the actual story and setting, not merely sidenotes or plot devices. That generally equals a lot of worldbuilding, which is probably the main component of Spec Fic that initially reeled me in and still keeps me coming back. It’s eye-opening and really quite fascinating to read about imagined worlds with completely different beings, histories, sociologies, religions, geographies, etc. To create such worlds and characters, and still maintain a reader’s ability to identify with it all, is a skill that’s beautiful to me to witness. It’s the sameness and the difference—I can relate to the sameness and be challenged by the difference. I think it’s helped me over the years to cultivate my empathy and to make me an open-minded person who’s willing to see all sides and take individual history into account when forming opinions.

Jen: This book focuses upon a dyadic between two male characters, and your previous releases do as well. I imagine the burning question is: why?

Carole: God, you have no idea how often I get that question, which is why I always ask it on Genre Talk, so authors can have a place to point and say, “here, go look there and don’t ask me again”. And I actually sometimes kind of wish I could write things that would contribute to the dearth of female heroes in today’s literature. But that right there is the reason, and though I do have some personal rationale for why I write what I do, the broader motivations are societal.

I was born into one of the first generations that told women we were equal, that we could demand equal treatment and equal pay, and that we didn’t always have to be the princess or the damsel. We could be the hero too. But at the same time, as a voracious reader, the reading material available to me had not yet caught up with that concept. It still hasn’t caught up. So in my preferred reading genre—Spec Fic, natch—I was still seeing only male heroes. John Carter, Frodo and Aragorn, Roland Deschain, Arthur and Merlin, all of the protagonists written by Bradbury and Asimov and Vonnegut, etc. And since that was all I was given, and since there were no female characters with whom I could identify in those works, I eventually learned to identify with the bolder, more forthright characteristics of the male protagonists. Having also been somewhat rough-and-tumble as a child, and having been surrounded by brothers and male cousins, and having been gifted with the kind of observation skills necessary to write characters in general, I felt like I understood men more than I understood women. So that’s what I started writing. It’s also why I don’t fit in with the Romance presses—my stories are more in line with most mainstream Spec Fic stories, with the exception of the fact that the love interest of the male protagonist also happens to be a male protagonist.

Jen: I understand what you’re saying, believe me! Let’s expand a bit more into the society—and story—in Blue on Black.

Carole: It’s… hard to describe. Kind of Fantasy, kind of SciFi, kind of Steampunk… it’s an amalgam. I like to call it Cowboys and Tesla Trains (thank you Jen, *wink wink*) because though it’s a tongue-in-cheek description, it’s also kind of accurate. I also like to call it BoB because it was a very difficult story for me to write and it sometimes made me feel better to say BoB is being a bastard today.

Anyway, it’s a story mainly about control and the kinds of people who want it, the kinds of people who have it, why they would seek it and what they would do with it. It’s not a pretty story, and I’m told some of the concepts might be triggery for some, but I feel like it says some important things about abusive situations, about what kinds of people might get caught up in one (anyone), what they’ll do to survive it (anything), and where the limits might hide (if there are any). It challenges what we would think of as “normal” and “healthy”, and shows us people who may function outside of those narrow parameters, but who should not be judged by them.

Jen: And Blue on Black is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. You’ve already talked some about the relationship in Blue on Black; what makes this novel a better fit for genre Spec Fic as opposed to genre Romance?

Carole: Basically, because I just don’t write romance. I never have. And I’ve tried! And while I like a good romance as much as the next person, my interests lie in characterization and watching a different world develop, in discovering what the characters are like and where they came from, watching them interact with their world and finding the similarities and differences in how we interact with our own. I love the possibilities of Spec Fic, and character-driven stories are like good wine for me. And since I write what I like to read, my stories—in this case Blue on Black—tend more toward exploring those possibilities and finding out whether or not the two protagonists will grow together during that exploration. That means the relationship takes a backseat to plot and worldbuilding and character development, which pretty much disqualifies it as a romance.

DSP Publications was a bloody godsend for me, because I often found myself disheartened by comments and reviews that basically said WTF, what’s all this worldbuilding doing in my Romance? and now I at least have the comfort of knowing that if that’s not what they were looking for, it’s their own fault for not paying attention to what my publisher is all about. ;)

Jen: It sounds as though the evolution of Blue on Black has its own story. Share some of that, if you would; give us a peek into some earlier concepts. Did it always resemble the present story? Was it always Blue on Black, or did it morph from something else entirely?

Carole: Augh. This story snuck up behind me, thunked me on the head and dragged me to my laptop, and by the time I realized what it was and where it was going, it already had me chained to the keyboard and wouldn’t let me put it down. This never ever happens to me, but it quite literally jumped me in a dream with the image of Bas up on top of a train (Karl Urban in Priest may or may not have had something to do with that image), with wild currents of electricity whipping around him and something sinister waiting at the end of the tracks. The rest is unending research into Tesla and his genius, and my own wild imagination, all peppered liberally with whinging and dragging my feet. (Did I mention this story was really hard to write?)

Jen: Though it doesn’t sound as though you found it hard to settle that Blue on Black was to centre on a relationship between two men. Out of all the excellent reasons to explore that dynamic, which ones played a necessary part here?

Carole: All of the stories that come to me these days involve the M/M dynamic, for the reasons stated above, but I think this one in particular needed it because a woman caught in the situation in which one of the protagonists finds himself would likely be, sadly, judged harshly and unfairly (and I’ll be interested to see how the character Mari is received). That’s all I’m going to say on that because a) more would be spoilery, and b) I don’t want to get into some kind of MRA –vs– SJW kerfuffle (though that’s admittedly highly unlikely in this genre and in this particular venue, but still).

As a general comment on M/M as a genre, and why Blue on Black is now a part of it, I think my participation is necessary because every story that features love between two people of the same sex—or someone of color, or someone with a disability, or someone whose “normal” is not your “normal” or my “normal”—is another tick in the advocacy column, another step toward acceptance and equality. It opens eyes and opens discussion. And I like to think I’m contributing to that in my own small ways.

Jen: In your opinion, what is the best trend you’re seeing in Spec Fic publishing today?

Carole: The best trend, I think, is the increased selection of reading material brought about by the advent of small presses. I have been unimpressed for a couple decades now by most of what’s coming out of the bigger NY publishers, and small presses are starting to assuage my unhappiness at getting less and less of what I want to read. Small presses so far are welcoming a lot of what the bigger presses turn their noses up at, and that’s awesome for me, because I want my stories, damn it!

Jen: So then, it also begs the question: what of the worst trend?

Carole: The whole “shorter is better” thing that’s been taking over every genre lately and treating character development like it’s some kind of superfluous indulgence. That says an event can’t be an interior revelation but must be some kind of physical exploit, and action can’t be an intense conversation but must be a car chase or a gunfight. It discounts nuance, it devalues subtext, it forfeits depth and caters to short attention spans. Spec Fic is supposed to challenge readers, not kowtow to them. Intricate plots, in-depth character development, immersive worldbuilding—I want it all, and I’m not getting much of it these days, though the small presses are making it easier to find now.

When I find a book or a series the size of a cinderblock, and the blurb gets me all a-quiver, and the writing makes me drool, I do a Snoopy-dance. I get visions of a lazy weekend (or even a week!) sinking into someone else’s world, getting to know some new characters and finding out everything about them so their reactions will be something that a) makes sense, and b) I can understand, if not empathize with. (Don’t slap a couple Elves into modern day NYC and call it Fantasy—tell me why those Elves are there, who they are, how their presence can make sense in this world and why it matters.) But the trend these days is toward “short and sweet” and cutting out character development and worldbuilding in favor of space battles and explosions. Publishing houses—even some of the smaller ones just coming up—don’t seem to want to make readers think, and a lot of readers will cut a bitch if you try to make them, and that’s a bloody shame, because that’s what Spec Fic is for! I don’t need to be dragged through a story behind a speeding train—I need to care about the characters, and if there is no time and there are no words spent on telling me why I should, there’s no real point for me. Today’s “tell it in 60K or less” means I don’t get many of the in-depth epics I grew up with, because authors aren’t allowed to elaborate unless they’re Stephen King or George R. R. Martin. And I miss my epics.

Jen: Me, too. Let’s go light a candle for them… and nurse a drink! But first I’d better do you proud, and be the proper interviewer, and share a bit from yours.

Because Blue on Black is epic-ly entertaining. Continue on, Fair Readers, and see for yourself. (And links available after the excerpt, natch.)

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EXCERPT – BLUE ON BLACK: It doesn’t start like this:

See, the thing is, it isn’t supposed to go this way.

He’s a goddamned tracker, he’s a goddamned good tracker, better than anything else the Directorate’s got, and the swagger that comes with that has been earned a hundred times over, sometimes in blood, though, okay, let’s not get all maudlin and dramatic. The point is, he’s not supposed to be caught wrong-footed. And he’s certainly not supposed to be staring down eight barrels of a spin-cylinder street cannon in the back of a train station in godforsaken Harrowgate.

That’s supposed to be the agent’s job. Poor guy. Stupid fucking idiot.

“You Barstow?” the man with the gun asks. He’s tall and rangy, rough-looking and sallow-skinned, with patches of beard going wild and scraggly. It’s dark and Bas can’t see the rest of his face very well, just a stubbled sloping chin beneath the shadow cast by his wide-brimmed hat. He looks tough as rusty nails and just as pleasant.

Steam hugs the ground and wreaths the hem of the man’s long dirty coat, clings, and thickens the reek of dirt and sweat that wafts from the man every time he moves. Bas can even smell it through the fug of smoke and engine grease coming from the station, and all of it combined pricks at his eyes and makes them water.

There’s no cleaner, deeper sense of Tech beneath any of it—no thick, sundrop yellow mutters of “psyTech” hazing at the periphery of his vision and scattering something earthy on the back of his tongue; no blue edging that says “kineTech” and somehow tastes of wet cedar. Bas’s mind decides “nonTech” before his eyes bother to fully assess his current situation. Still, though, the gun—Bas can see that just fine.

“Who’s asking?” Bas says from his crouch. He’s somewhat pissed off, so it comes out a growl.

Smooth, Bas, he tells himself. Keep it smooth. He can still salvage this.

“I en’t playin’ games.” The housing of the barrels turns and a cylinder clicks into place. “Are you Barstow?”

Bas peers down at the agent’s body, blood still seeping in a rivulet from the knife in his throat, the heat catching the chill of the desert night and wisping steam. Aaron, Bas thinks. The guy’s name was Aaron.

Bas didn’t know him well. Hadn’t cared to get to know him. Just another Directorate agent who’d maybe gotten a little too cocky. It happens.

“Yeah,” says Bas. “Yeah, I’m Barstow.”

He isn’t. No one is, not really. It’s a cover, a standard one used by trackers when they need a ready-made thug reputation as an in with bands of thieves and murderers, and then that same cover is handed over to the agents along with the case once the tracker’s job is done.

Bas is a tracker, not an agent. Trackers track. They don’t do the set-them-up-then-take-them-down part. They do the sniffing out and the pointing, and then they let the agents take over.

Except.

Bas knows the Barstow cover well enough to fake it. He’s been Barstow plenty of times. Hell, he’d done most of the legwork on this particular case, and he’d done it as Barstow. And someone needs to get into Stanslo’s Bridge.

“Well, Barstow.” It sounds like a sneer. “Ye picked up a tail.”

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Blue on Black is available June 16th from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other major distributors.

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carole-cummings-6About the Author: Carole Cummings lives with her husband and family in Pennsylvania, USA, where she spends her time trying to find time to write. Author of the Aisling and Wolf’s-own series, Carole is an avid reader of just about anything that’s written well and has good characters. She is a lifelong writer of the “movies” that run constantly in her head. Surprisingly, she does manage sleep in there somewhere, and though she is rumored to live on coffee and Pixy Stix™, no one has as yet suggested she might be more comfortable in a padded room. Well, not to her face.

Free shorts, sneak peeks at WIPs, and other miscellany can be found via Carole’s website, blog, Facebook and/or Twitter.

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Thanks for joining us. Next time on Genre Talk, Patricia Correll will be talking to us about Fantasy.

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4.5 Stars, Anthology, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Historical Romance, Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Mythology, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Claw (Gothika: Volume Three) by Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, and Eli Easton

Title: Claw (Gothika: Volume Three)

Authors: Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Eli Easton

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: All three authors’ stories are unique not only in voice but in storyline too, and unlike with some anthologies I’ve read in the past, there isn’t a clunker story in this bunch.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.

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Review: There are a variety of reasons I wanted to give this collection of stories a good seeing to, not the least of which is the three authors involved. Sadly I’ve never had the chance to read Eli Easton’s work, and only a novella each by Jamie Fessenden and Kim Fielding. Too many books, too little time…

This speculative fiction anthology is the third in the Gothika omnibus, and Claw, as its title suggests, focuses on shifters. In this case, those of the canine variety: Jamie Fessenden’s Isolation, Kim Fielding’s Transformation, and The Black Dog by Eli Easton round out the threesome and each give their own personal touch to the werewolf lore.

Isolation is, at its heart, a second chance story, the tale of two men who fell in love as teenagers but couldn’t last through Sean’s betrayal of both himself and of Jack, the man Sean asked to stand beside him while he, Sean, did what was expected of him and married a woman.

Four years later, divorced, more than a little gun-shy and seeking forgiveness, Sean finds Jack in a cabin in the remote wilderness—the means to the title of this story. Jack has isolated himself, by choice, by necessity, it doesn’t matter. What matters is he’s living the way he wants to live, even if it is a lone-wolf sort of existence.

The shortest of the three stories, what Isolation lacks in word count it makes up for in heart, a little humor, and some truly suspenseful moments, not only from the creature that lurks without and within but in the sense that perhaps too much water has flowed under the proverbial bridge for these two men to find their way back to each other.

I like the spin Fessenden offers in his version of shifter lore, as well as the fact that the author resisted the urge to tie things up in a trite little bow of happily ever after at the end. I’m not sure why I expected it, but it was refreshing not to find it. There was simply too much left to resolve between these two would-be lovers for that outcome to be believable. Isolation was a satisfying appetizer to the start of this three-course read.

Kim Fielding’s Transformation is the second novella in this anthology, a story set in rural Oregon in the late 19th century. Transformation ticked all my boxes for a lovely historical read, as not only does the author ground readers in the time but also draws us into the sense of place, the rugged and untamed landscape in which the story takes place. In fact, if someone were to put a gun to my head and force me to choose, I’d have to say this one was my favorite of the trilogy. I’m such a sucker for the finding-love-against-all-odds trope, and that’s the story Fielding wrote here, with a supernatural twist.

This novella begins as a fish out of water story, though, when we’re introduced to Orris Spencer, the seventh son of a seventh son, his father an extravagantly wealthy man we never meet but certainly know the type. Orris was sent down from university after being caught in flagrante delicto with another student, Daniel, and to further add to Orris’s disgrace, his father sends him away, penniless and shamed, to live with his older brother Samuel, now an outcast himself as he’s shunned the soft life of privilege in New York City to work the land and provide for his family on their small Oregon farm.

I loved the portrayal of Orris and Samuel’s relationship, which blossoms under Orris’s own transformation, the more he proves to both himself and Samuel that he’s capable of being so much more than the studious misfit Samuel expects him to be. Samuel also proves to be not at all what I’d expected from him when first introduced, and I wanted to cheer out loud each time he imparted his wisdom and understanding on Orris.

There’s more to the story, however, than the brothers’ relationship, in the supernatural element and the canine beast that’s stalking and killing sheep on Samuel’s and surrounding farms. This storyline also serves to introduce the Bonn brothers, and more specifically Henry Bonn, the man in whom Orris discovers a kinship of loneliness and desire.

The duality of this novella’s title is revealed at its end, in the full transformation Orris undertakes, part sacrifice and part an honoring of his heart’s desire. Transformation is a wonderful second course in this trilogy.

To round things out, Eli Easton’s The Black Dog puts the finishing touch on the collection, set in the rugged landscapes of northern Scotland and bringing to life the legend of the coimheadair, a gigantic black dog said only to appear in times of national crisis.

Constable Hayden MacLairty doesn’t buy into the legend at all—it is just that, after all, a legend, a tall tale that’s been passed down from generation to generation in the small town of Laide, the place where American author Simon Conto has chosen to do some research on the Black Dog for his next book.

I have to say right off the bat, one of the things I loved immediately about Hayden is the Jamie Fraser visual that Eli Easton then references for a bit of a comical turn in this otherwise mystical and mythical tale. True to the Viking ancestry, Hayden is a mountain of a man who catches Simon’s eye—certainly after he was tackled and nearly flattened by Hayden in a case of wrong place, wrong time.

The local flavor and colorful population of Laide add to the charm of this story, moving the plot forward and adding to the suspense and mystique, as it’s revealed there are secrets locked inside the dementia addled mind of Hayden’s own mother, things Hayden has a difficult time reconciling.

While The Black Dog takes on the taste of the bittersweet in the end, Hayden and Simon find a way to their happy ending, and bring a lovely close to this charming trio of supernatural treats.

As an overall summary, I can easily recommend Claw when you’re in the mood for a touch of speculative fiction with a little variety in its mythology. All three authors’ stories are unique not only in voice but in storyline too, and unlike with some anthologies I’ve read in the past, there isn’t a single clunker story in this bunch.

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You can buy Claw here:

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Giveaways, Kate Sherwood, Riptide Publishing

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Sacrati Blog Tour With Kate Sherwood

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The Novel Approach welcomes Kate Sherwood today on the Sacrati blog tour. Kate’s here to chat a bit about the “what ifs” of speculative fiction, and there’s also a tour-wide giveaway from Riptide Publishing of a $15 Gift Card to use in their bookshop. To enter, just leave a comment below. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 10th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so they can contact you if you win!

Good luck!

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Sacrati is a hard book to categorize. I mean, the broad category is easy – it’s m/m romance, for sure. But the subcategory? Fantasy, maybe, but there’s no magic, no dragons. Alternate History? I guess, but usually alternate history is at least a little connected to our world. Like, it’s set in recognizable countries, but things shook out differently than they did in our reality.

Speculative Fiction. I like that term, and it’s probably the one that fits best. But mostly it fits best because it’s a bit vague.

That said, it sums up my favourite part of writing – the speculation. The “what if” game we can play. What if there was a pre-industrial society even more militarized than the Spartans? What if someone from a more ‘traditional’ pre-industrial society was introduced to the militarized one?

And then the more conventional speculation, of course. What if two opposites fell in love? What if they didn’t trust each other? What if they had to work together?

That’s really what novels are all about, after all. They start with a “what if”, and then the story continues from there. “What if a neglected boy found out he was actually a powerful wizard?” “What if a shy virgin fell in love with a kinky millionaire?” “What if a totalitarian government forced children to fight each other in a televised contest, and one of the children challenged the system?”

What are your favourite books with speculative themes? And what are your favourite “what if”s for books in general?

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Sacrati_400x600Blurb: As an elite Sacrati fighter in the mighty Torian military, Theos is blessed with a city full of women who want to bear his children, and a barracks full of men proud to fight at his side and share his bed. He has everything he needs—until he captures Finnvid on a raid.

Finnvid is on a secret mission to prevent the Torian invasion of his homeland Elkat. Being enslaved by Torian soldiers wasn’t in his plans. Neither is his horrified fascination with the casual promiscuity of the Sacrati warriors. Men should not lie with other men—and he should not be so intrigued when they do. He definitely should not be most intrigued by the leader of the soldiers who captured him and plan to invade his home.

For Theos, everything would have been easier if the infuriating, lying, bewildering Elkati had never come into his life, but he can’t stay away. When betrayal and treachery threaten both their nations, they must work together to stop a war that could destroy their homes forever—even as they begin to question everything they’re fighting for.

Buy Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Kate SherwoodAbout the Author: Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!

Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!

Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?

Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.

After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.

Keep up with Kate on her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Erotica, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Multimedia Review: The Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary/A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion Box Sets, and Canine by Jordan Castillo Price – Audiobook Narration by Gomez Pugh

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Title: Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary (Books 1-5), A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion (Books 6-10), Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary (Audiobook), and Canine (A Channeling Morpheus Short)

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Narrator: Gomez Pugh

Publisher: JCP Books

Pages/Word Count: 193 Pages (Channeling Morpheus), 272 Pages (Sweet Oblivion), 7 Hours, 44 Minutes (Audio), and 28 Pages (Canine)

At a Glance: Wild Bill and Michael are my addiction and give me book hangover for days. I can’t recommend that hangover highly enough.

Reviewed By: Lisa

box-set-CMFSM200Blurb – Box Set 1-5 – And Audiobook: Michael is a waif in eyeliner who’s determined to wipe vampires off the face of the earth. Wild Bill’s got the hots for Michael, and will stop at nothing to go home with him.

Forget about moonlit castles and windswept moors. These bad boys haunt all-night diners and cheap motels, cut-rate department stores and long, lonely stretches of the Interstate. Ride along with Wild Bill and Michael as the twists and turns of Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary unfold in America’s Heartland.

Ebook box set and audiobook contains the following novelettes: Payback, Vertigo, Manikin, Tainted, Rebirth

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box-sweeto-200Blurb – Box Set 6-10: Staking a vampire isn’t so easy now that Michael’s got a vampire of his very own. Although killing them is no longer an option, he’s as determined as ever to stop the spread of vampirism.

Wild Bill is a lover, not a fighter–so he’s tickled when Michael’s new agenda, to dispense condoms and sterile phlebotomy gear among vampires, replaces the old “heads will roll” approach.

It takes courage to track down vamps in their own territory and deliver a lecture on safe sex, and more importantly, safe bloodletting. Michael’s never been short on audacity…but he’s finding that he and Wild Bill aren’t the only ones with agendas.

Ebook box set contains the following novelettes: Brazen, Snare, Fluid, Swarm, Elixir

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canine-200Blurb – Canine: What’s the difference between a faithful companion and a feral animal? Wild Bill suspects the line separating the two is shaky at best. Supposedly, Michael has been tamed, and he swears he gave up hunting. But when he comes home covered in blood and reeking of adrenaline, Bill fears Michael has crossed paths with another bloodsucker, and the urge to exterminate the vamp was too powerful to resist.

Michael doesn’t need to hunt vampires to stir up trouble. His run-in with threatening neighbors has left him baffled, demoralized, and teetering on the brink of yet another episode of depression. It tears Bill up inside to see Michael suffer—unfortunately, the sorrow also trips his most primal vamp triggers. Before he knows it, his own inner beast rears up, ravenous, insatiable, and ready to tear into the next thing that crosses his path…making him wonder if it was wishful thinking to hope that either of them had been successfully domesticated.

Canine takes place after Elixir and contains series spoilers

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Review: “Michael had his sorrow, and I had my shame. Maybe that’s the reason we harmonized so well.”

If ever there were two sentences that so perfectly encompassed the relationship between Michael and Wild Bill, it would be these, straight out of Canine, the newest short story in the Channeling Morpheus/Sweet Oblivion series.

Reading these novellas is a full-immersion trip on Michael and Wild Bill’s journey to nowhere special, as they trek their way through the Midwest, eventually lighting in Vegas–for now. They meet while hunting the same vampire for their own personal reasons, they connect through something far more intangible and impossible to name than simple vengeance. Michael and Wild Bill live a vagabond life and exist on little more than blood, sex, and trying (when it’s possible) to do the right thing. Attempting to live by as moral a code as possible was Wild Bill’s goal even before he met Michael—trying to do what was right, though sometimes he had no choice but to be the vampire he is. After he met Michael, trying to be the best vampire he could be became Wild Bill’s raison d’etre, just to be the guy who deserves Michael’s love. The emotional underpinning Jordan Castillo Price layers into this series, through Wild Bill’s smirks and ennui, and Michael’s emotional highs and lows, is love laced with despair then woven into need. It’s a stunning complement to her vampire lore, which is original and also borrows just a tad from Stoker’s canon.

I said something in my first review of this series, and it still holds true, reading after reading: “Michael and Wild Bill are two halves of the same whole, in an entirely symbiotic relationship that survives, thrives, and has become a physical and emotional imperative. They are distinct yet entwined by something deeper than love. They’re bonded by blood and a metaphysical link that makes it impossible to think of one without the other. They’re yin/yang and it works perfectly. These stories are erotic in a fully meaningful way because where Michael leaves off, Wild Bill begins; where Wild Bill leaves off, Michael begins. They don’t rely on words as such to each let the other know how he feels; Wild Bill’s not much of a talker, truth be told, so they both speak in actions and body language, and are so attuned to each other they know what the other needs without insincere platitudes and oversimplified endearments. What this does, in effect, is makes the times they do feel the desire to express what’s in their hearts all the more touching, and it works beautifully within the framework of their relationship.

There is a scenario in Canine where this is especially evident. To put a metaphorical point on it, Michael and Wild Bill are each other’s abyss—they look into each other’s eyes and sometimes it’s the abyss that looks back. Wild Bill feeds on Michael’s misery, at least as much as his conscience will allow. Michael’s sorrow and depression (underlined and punctuated by the death of his friend Scary Mary) is Wild Bill’s aphrodisiac, but while Wild Bill could let Michael wallow in the muck of his depression to feed an innate sexual desire, his love for Michael compels him to pull the man back from the ledge before he slips and drowns in his black moods. These two men stare into the depths of each other’s souls, and are each the other’s salvation, time after time, before the literal and figurative monster takes hold. What Wild Bill does for Michael in Canine is such a wholly loving and unselfish gesture that while it might not be considered traditionally romantic—because, let’s face it, it ain’t wine and roses—it is one of the more touching scenes in the series simply because it’s significant to the two of them and highlights just how far Wild Bill will go to be Michael’s redeemer, even though he believes himself to be beyond redemption. They are survivors, these two, and they are each the other’s savior.

Just released on audiobook, the Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary set has come to life under the vocal talents of Gomez Pugh (who also narrates JCP’s PsyCop series), and I have to confess, in as much as is demanded of Pugh in the wide range of characters and voices in the PsyCop books, I was worried how in the name of narration he was going to come up with new and distinct voices for Michael and Wild Bill. Those worries were unfounded, though, because again he proves his range is apparently limitless. Michael’s voice is outstanding, capturing his youth and innocence, his strength and tenacity, and his need and vulnerability in the face of Wild Bill’s natural magnetism.

Wild Bill, on the other hand, is portrayed to perfection in his jaded, world-weary way, with the husky, tobacco-whiskey drawl that alludes to his years of chain smoking and Jack drinking, and complements the lassitude and general tedium that go hand-in-hand with being decades more cynical than his twenty-three-year-old appearance should allow for.

The Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary/Sweet Oblivion series is a fusion of spec fic, red-hot erotica, and a study of the human condition which exists for two men, one of whom isn’t technically human any longer. It’s sexy and original while staying true to the vampire mythos, the allure which makes the undead live on in fiction, century after century. Michael and Wild Bill have become iconic in the M/M lexicon and are at the top of my list of all-time favorite characters, human, non-human, or somewhere in between. Every time I read them I suffer, though—they’re my addiction and give me book hangover for days. I can’t recommend that hangover highly enough.

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You can buy Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary (Set 1-5) here:

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You can buy Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary in Audio here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

Buy A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion (Set 6-10) here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Buy Canine here:

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5 Stars, Historical Romance, Jordan L. Hawk, Reviewed by Jules, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Release Day Buddy Review: Hoarfrost by Jordan L. Hawk

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Title: Hoarfrost (Whyborne & Griffin: Book Six)

Author: Jordan L. Hawk

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 232 Pages (paperback)

At a Glance: Yet another outstanding addition to the Whyborne & Griffin series.

Reviewed By: Jules & Lisa

Blurb: Sorcerer Percival Endicott Whyborne and his husband Griffin Flaherty have enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, the calm is shattered by the arrival of a package from Griffin’s brother Jack, who has uncovered a strange artifact while digging for gold in Alaska. The discovery of a previously unknown civilization could revive the career of their friend Dr. Christine Putnam—or it might kill them all, if the hints of dark sorcery surrounding the find are true.

With Christine and her fiancé Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must journey to the farthest reaches of the arctic to stop an ancient evil from claiming the life of Griffin’s brother. But in the rough mining camp of Hoarfrost, secrets fly as thickly as the snow, and Whyborne isn’t the only sorcerer drawn by the rumors of magic. Amidst a wilderness of ice and stone, Griffin must either face his greatest fear—or lose everyone he loves.

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Review: Book clubs were invented for books such as the Whyborne & Griffin series, because the love of books is meant to be shared, and who better to share that love with than someone who feels as passionately as you do about them?

Jules and I have a mad love for Percival Endicott Whyborne, Griffin Flaherty, and the mysterious goings on in Widdershins, Massachusetts, or anywhere else these two men and their faithful friends happen to be, so we decided to do something a little bit different for our buddy review of Hoarfrost, book six in the series. We each came up with a list of questions, which actually turned out to be nearly identical, so we’re doing this review interview style. And in case you can’t tell from our gushing, well, Hoarfrost is another outstanding addition to this series.

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Q: If you had to pick a favorite scene, what would it be?

Jules: Omigosh – There’s kind of a kinky one that I loved. *blushes* Haha. One of the things that Whyborne is working on in this book is removing curses from objects, and on one of his first successful attempts, the rush of power and energy is so great that he gets an erection. Well, this scenario comes into play again toward the end of the book, and Griffin is present. The resulting scene is amazing, and gorgeous, and steamy as hell. *tips hat to Jordan*

Lisa: Just one? Oy. Well, without giving away any spoilers, I’d have to say one of my many favorite scenes was from Griffin’s point-of-view, when Jack tells Griffin he has to let his pain go. I can’t go into it without giving any more away, but that was such a touching moment between the brothers, and really, a redeeming one for Griffin after everything he’s gone through before and now in Hoarfrost.

Q: What was the thing you liked most about getting into Griffin’s head? And, would you like to see the dual POV continue in future books?

Jules: I have to say the emotion. Pure and simple. By giving us Griffin’s thoughts, we are allowed to really see his emotional and vulnerable side. His love for Whyborne is so much better understood when seen through Griffin’s eyes. Also, Ival isn’t the only quirky or insecure one in the relationship, and it’s nice to see that.

In this book it was particularly important to be able to take part of the journey in Griffin’s head for other reasons – and, without a doubt, I hope we get to see the dual POV continue in upcoming books.

Lisa: Agreed. Having been in Griffin’s head before, one of the things I can say I love is seeing Whyborne through his eyes. We get words and actions from Whyborne’s point-of-view, but hearing Griffin’s thoughts and understanding how deeply he loves Ival, and how much Griffin needs Whyborne as his touchstone in the world they live in, isn’t as obvious from Whyborne’s narration. While it took me awhile to warm up to the dual narrative, by the end of the book I could see how imperative it was to tell the story this way.

As far as continuing the dual point-of-view, absolutely. No question. I’m greedy. I want everything.

Q: How did you feel about the tone and pace of the novel in the beginning, then at the end of the book?

Jules: Oh, man…this one was more of a slow build. The book starts out with Griffin in a very sad place, with his friends and ‘chosen’ family helping him through it, and the pace gradually picks up as the mystery gets rolling. The tone was a bit different here as well, I think, because it wasn’t just our three – or four, counting Iskander – heroes in the spotlight. It felt like the other players took on a much bigger role. That slower pace didn’t last long, though…the last third of the book is on fire! There is so much action, and there are so many gasp-worthy moments; it’s FANTASTIC.

Lisa: Absolutely. The word I kept thinking was melancholic. That’s the best way I can describe the beginning of the book. There was a melancholy to it, but woven in there, as well, was a sense of transition. Whyborne, Griffin, Christine and Iskander are a team now, who have been transformed and have grown stronger as each adventure has forced them to face some literal and figurative demons.

The end? It was mesmerizing and freaking action packed. Reading Hoarfrost start to finish was a bit like watching the spark of fire on a lit fuse slowly make its way toward the powder keg, then Boom! awesomeness.

Q: In Hoarfrost, we finally get to meet one of Griffin’s brothers. What were your initial feelings/thoughts about Jack?

Jules: This question is a bit of a potential spoiler trap, so I’ll be careful – BUT, I will say that I went back and forth so many times regarding Jack. Even though he’s Griffin’s brother, he’s still a virtual stranger. And, that being said, I felt like things could go either way regarding his trustworthiness, and his allegiance to Griffin. I know all of the readers are going to be kept on their toes wondering about Mr. Jack Hogue!

Lisa: They were all over the place! I’m not sure I can say more than that without giving too much away, but kudos to Jordan for keeping me off balance, with not only Jack but Nathaniel Turner and the Reverend Scarrow too.

Q: When we were discussing the book, I mentioned what I was noticing as a much “harsher” Christine – I’ve always loved her snark and strong sense of self, but in this book she comes off as even more aggressive at times – and you had some great insights as to her frame of mind. Care to share those thoughts with the readers?

Lisa: Yes. Man, I love Dr. Christine Putnam. She’s had to scrap her way to a place of esteem in both her field and the patriarchal society of the time. She really is a pioneer of feminism, and has had to hone a tough exterior to compete in a male dominated field. Case in point is the difference in character between Christine and Miss Parkhurst, whose position as a secretary was probably more the norm for a working woman at that time, and then imagine what it was like for Christine to establish her position of authority on digs where she was the one giving orders to her male crew. I think where losing the Egypt dig would have been a disappointment for a male counterpart, it probably stung a bit more for Christine. To put a finer point on it, it probably pissed her right off. It’s not a major setback, but the level of frustration must have been overwhelming.

Plus, she’s in a personal space with Iskander she likely didn’t envision for herself and, well… A slightly pricklier Christine made sense to me in Hoarfrost.

Jules: I completely agree. When put in the context of her losing the firman, she would absolutely be even more determined to prove herself, vehemently opposing any who looked to stand in her way. At times it was surprising that she seemed to be lumping her friends in with those who would oppress her, but I can’t imagine what it must have been like for a woman of her determination and capabilities trying to get ahead in her field.

Q: I’m always blown away by Jordan’s imagination, and how she perfectly ties the time period and these gentlemen (and lady), to these fantastical creatures and paranormal aspects. What did you think of the world building in Hoarfrost and how the otherworldly element was dealt with here?

Lisa: Awe inspiring, really. I love historical fiction, have for decades, and one of my biggest pet peeves is a novel that doesn’t give due respect to firmly grounding the reader in the time in which the book is set. While neither Widdershins nor the things that happen in this series ever existed in history, Jordan makes you believe they very well could have, and that’s the beauty of her skill as a writer. Not only is she a masterful wordsmith who can describe a setting with the perfect balance of detail and atmosphere, but she’s also a consummate storyteller, which, to me, isn’t the same thing as being an author. Being an author is writing the words, being a storyteller is having the imagination to bring those words to life in the mind’s eye. Jordan does this so well.

I loved the Alaskan setting. What a vast and otherwordly landscape the Yukon was, until man’s lust for gold and quest for riches brought outsiders to it. The alien-ness of the setting in Hoarfrost fit so perfectly with the supernatural storyline, the Northern Lights casting their eerie glow, and it opened up a whole new element for future books in the series, especially for Griffin, which I’ll never complain about.

Jules: I had never read anything like this prior to reading Widdershins, and after six books, I’m still completely amazed by the story, Every. Single. Time. You said it perfectly, Lisa… “…Jordan makes you believe they very well could have…” To create something that is completely not-of-this-world, and have your readers buying into it without question, is such a fantastic ability. Not one time, even when I can vividly see Whyborne and Griffin traipsing around and fighting off monsters in their suitcoats and leather oxfords, not one time have I ever thought, ‘Pffft…like that could ever happen.’ Storytelling like that isn’t something that can be taught.

Reading this book was a treat for me on another level, too, though, because having been to the Alaskan wilderness, I could picture so clearly the trail, and the mountains, and the glacier, etc…Jordan did a fabulous job of capturing the beauty, and really, the wildness of Alaska.

Q: I know I was highlighting like crazy, so you probably were, too. #HighlighterOrgy :D What was your favorite bit, or quote, in this book?

Jules: I have to pick two. I have a serious one – that also speaks to both of our answers regarding what we loved about being in Griffin’s head – and a funny one. ;) First the serious:

“I felt Ival. Felt his love for me, that didn’t care if I was broken. All the pieces of myself I’d laid at his feet over our years together, all the cracks that still showed where he helped me heal, didn’t matter. He loved me, beyond my ability to understand.”

Swoooooooooon!

And, this Whyborne classic absolutely killed me:

“Dear Lord, even the women here were manlier than me.”

Lisa: #HighlightOrgyFTW! Total highlight orgy. Yes, I love both of those! I’ll take another funny one:

Whyborne“I considered Dr. Gerritson a personal friend as well as a colleague, but he did have an unfortunate penchant for dressing in women’s underthings at work.”

That gave me happy LOLz because you can just see Whyborne blushing at the mere thought of it!

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You can buy Hoarfrost (Whyborne & Griffin: Book Six) here:

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5 Stars, Jordan L. Hawk, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Danger Follows Whyborne & Griffin Halfway Around The World In “Necropolis”


“These are the times that try men’s souls.” ― Thomas Paine


Title: Necropolis (Whyborne & Griffin #4)

Author: Jordan L. Hawk

Publisher: Self-Pubbed

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Introverted scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has spent the last few months watching his lover, Griffin Flaherty, come to terms with the rejection of his adoptive family. So when an urgent telegram from Christine summons them to Egypt, Whyborne is reluctant to risk the fragile peace they’ve established. Until, that is, a man who seems as much animal as human tries to murder Whyborne in the museum.
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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.
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