Sunday, 4 December 2016

Gifts (Status Quo #1)

For those of you who love the Ripples in the Status Quo stories, a new series is about to begin. Exactly one year after the release of Ripples, the novella Gifts, starts a new cycle and spins us in a different direction.



To celebrate, Ripples will be Free today and tomorrow, on Amazon and Gifts will start life at only 99c (Also on Kindle Unlimited)

Recoil features different characters than Books 1 and 2 and can be read out of order, Gifts starts of an entirely new spinoff and the characters will return in Book 2


Title: Gifts (Status Quo #1)
Author: R. Phoenix
Blurb:

Before Imriel Conti was condemned to a life of slavery, the sheltered young witch had never been with anyone. Now that he is in the hands of Draven Foss and Callia Odessa, a sensual and controversial power couple at the pinnacle of supernatural society, all of that is about to change. Coveting him for his accursed but prized gift, they take him into their household, where he finds his morals and innocence equally compromised.

This novella contains explicit M/F and M/M/F scenes. All characters are 18+.

Review


The first time I read the book, I had an issue. Was it a good book, well written with interesting, well rounded characters? Yes, absolutely. Was it gripping, explosive, sexy, hot and highly erotic? Totally. So what was the problem?

The problem was that I haven't read the other Ripples in the Status Quo book. Gifts left me feeling as if I'd been dropped into a section of a book. It was a fabulous section, with stunning characters and great sex (M/F and M/M/F) but I was confused about what was happening at the beginning and left completely unsatisfied at the end.

Although, that is the only occasion when I can use the word unsatisfied with this book. The sex is blazing hot. I particulary like that it's "different". It's a power-play, it's a deep insight into what the characters think, and when they're wrong, and it's almost literally mind-blowing (for the character). I usually read only M/M, but this woman was no wilting rose. She was very much in charge and it was great to see the way she played her boys.

Of course, now I know it's a spinoff from another series and the start of a new one, it all makes sense. I will definitely be looking out Book 2 because even though it's a very short book and it stops before I would normally expect a book to be really taking off, these character have got their hooks into me and I CARE about them. I want to know what happens next. One of the characters I love, one I want to hate and the other is sexy as hell and straddles both worlds.

I totally recommend this books to fans of the RISQ universe. You will definitely not be disappointed with a sublime short that will have you by the short and curlies very quickly.

Meet the Author

R. Phoenix has an unhealthy fascination with contrasts: light and dark, heroes and villains, order and chaos. She believes that love can corrupt and power can redeem. Her muse is a sadomasochistic slave driver who thinks it's terribly amusing to give her the best ideas when she just got comfortable and warm in bed, and she passes on that torture to her readers. She also tries entirely too hard to be funny, and she mercilessly inflicts her terrible sense of humor upon anyone who speaks to her. She'd love it if you'd say hello!

Website: http://rphoenixbooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RaissaPhoenix
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/r.phoenix
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/raissaphoenix

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Cover Reveal Enigma II Fighting the Man


Book I and II Free for short period on Smashwords


When first published by the amazing Red Haircrow we used one of my own paintings of the inimitable Silver as the cover
2013-02-26-00-08-54-3
When the sequel Enigma II Fighting the Man was released Red designed the amazing cover for it, which I am very fond of
enigma2mid
When I got myself off my backside and got Book III Friends and Lovers ready for publishing Red suggested a revamp of the current covers before the reveal of the Book III one. So he started by designing a stunning new cover for Book I
enigmat
This was a definite improvement on the first cover, and I thought it fitted well enough with the Book II cover - until I saw Red's ideas for the new one. So...here goes. This is the brand new cover of Enigma II Fighting The Man
engfii200300Of course, the model can't encapsulate the fool wonder of Silver, he's much closer and suggest one of Silver's greatest loves and skills - his dancing.

If you are interested in reading Enigma I and II, they are currently free in the lead-up to the release of Book III on 6th December and for a short while after. So, if you haven't got to know Silver and River yet, or if you want to take advantage of the beautiful new covers then head on over to Smashwords and pick up your FREE BOOKS. You won't regret it.

Wednesday Briefs


Sorry guys, I'm not posting today, because of reasons, but here are the other people who are flashing. Go take a look, read, enjoy


Friday, 25 November 2016

Enigma III Friends and Lovers


A number of years ago I published my first book through Flying with Red Haircrow. Prior to this I'd written dozens of novel length stories on Gay Authors Enigma was my favourite out of all those stories and it remains my favourite stories out of everything I've ever written. So far it's the only series I've managed to write, and it's currently on book six with a least one more percolating.

Last year, we decided that it might be nice to overhaul the covers because, to be honest the first cover had been a bit of a rush job, and really didn't go with Book II



So, the very talented Red Haircrow designed a new cover.




I love the rainbow in Silvers eye.

With the release of Book III on December 6th Red has designed an amazing new cover for Book II. So join us on 29th November for the cover reveal of Book II and a code to obtain books I and II for free!! That's right! For a very limited period Enigma and Enigma II Fighting the Man will be FREE to enable you to get to knoe River and Silver a little before Book III is released on 6rh December

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Wednesday Briefs Demon Chapter Forty


No prompts this week. Things are hotting up for our boys. I apologise for the little cliffhanger - er, no I'm not :D

“You would dare to interrupt a sacred ritual?” the Druid roars, his voice magnified by the cave walls and sent back in endless echoes.
“You promised you would wait?” Mother says, as father holds back a furious King Aleric.
“I said the ritual would take place at sunrise.”
“The ritual is almost at its end.” Mother has changed since she came from the temple. The Great Mother would not speak to me, so she retired to the inner sanctum alone. She assures me The Mother will save our love, but it’s hard to believe.
“Preparation is not the ritual.”
“You play with words, as you play with people. You have lost your way.”
“My way is that of the land, and not for you to question.”
“The land still belongs to The Mother. It would be wise you remember that.”
As Mother and the Druid continue to argue, I realize that Castien’s eyes are alert. He is no longer in the thrall of the Druid. Why, then, does he do nothing?
Castien holds out his hand to me. Does he want me to go to him? Am I permitted? I glance at the Druid whose attention is all on my mother. My father struggles to prevent King Aleric drawing his sword. What should I do? The Druid is the most powerful man in the land. He controls the magic that comes from the earth. All living things are under his control; his command. What would he do to me if I disobey?
Castien’s eyes darken. He sees the coward I am. That I would stand by and let him sacrifice himself, and our love for…what? What if he does have some higher purpose? What if he is destined to save us? If I selfishly cling to my love, will I doom us all?
Castien’s hand falls and he looks so…defeated. No. It cannot be wrong. This feeling; this love. I would sooner die now than live the rest of my life without him, knowing I stood by and did nothing.
The cave is not big, but it seems a long way. As I run, the Druid turns and orders me to stop, but by the time his words leave his mouth, Castien’s hand is in mine, and they have no more power over me.
“Get back where you belong, boy. Do not think you can defy me or deny me. I will not hesitate to hurt you if I must.”
“Kai, how could you say that?”
Castien squeezes my hand. “We must go into the fire together,” he says and the world holds its breath.
“But…but I can’t. I’m not magical. It would burn me, like the starflower dust.”
“No. It won’t. Will you trust me?”
“But…but you don’t know what it can do. You can’t….”
“No, but…. I can’t explain. She told me not to listen to anyone who says we can’t do this, because we can. We can do it together. We can be together and no one will be able to part us again. I know this is true. Will you trust me?”
How can I trust him? I know what will happen if I go into the fire, but he doesn’t. And yet…. “How? How do you know?”
She told me.”
“Who is She?”
“A lady. She said she’s The Great Mother, or an image of her. She said I’m not Druach but something more. We’ll have power. Both of us. Together we can save both our lands. I know it here.” He takes both our hands and presses them over his heart. “Do you trust me?”
“Yes.” I must be crazy, but I do. I thought our bond had broken but gazing into his eyes it’s easy to see that there are some bonds not even the Druid can break. He is the other half of my soul and if walking into the fire ends my life, at least I will end it with him. The truly crazy thing is I don’t believe it will end me. He says I will be safe, and I believe him.
Castien leads me toward the fissure and I realize for the first time that the cave is still and silent. I glance back over my shoulder and freeze. Everyone else is frozen, too.
“What happened?”
“I don’t know, but we must hurry while they can’t stop us.
As Castien reaches the cleft, the Druid breaks free from whatever spell held him. Suddenly he is there, right beside us. He grabs my shoulder and flings me away. I fall heavily against the altar and pain blossoms in my shoulder. Even so, I struggle to my feet in time to see the Druid strike Castien hard with his staff. Castien cries out and stumbles against the wall, raising his hand to his head. Blood runs down his cheek and I am spurred to do the unthinkable.
Drawing my sword and ignoring the pain in my shoulder, I surge to my feet and strike the unsuspecting Druid with the hilt, driving him back, away from Castien. Then the point of my sword wavers before his chest.
“Touch him again and I’ll kill you.”
I expect the Druid to attack me with his staff, but he simply takes a step back and starts to laugh.
“Your cub has claws,” he says.
Castien tugs at my sleeve. “We must go. I-I….”
I half turn. Castien stands erect, but his face has lost all colour and he sways. I sense, rather than see the Druid’s attach and fling Castien through the gap, leaping after him. The Druid’s staff catches me across the back and I fall to my knees. He grabs my ankle but I manage to kick my foot out of its boot and stumble to my feet, throwing myself forward.
Peach light surrounds me, blinding me. The fire burns, but I feel no pain as I slowly dissolve into nothing.

Now go hunt down the rest of the flashers for even more literary delights



Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Wednesday Briefs Demon Chapter Thirty Nine













Another Wednesday comes around and Christmas is suddenly just around the corner Eeek! My demon and his love don't celebrate Christmas and, bless them, they don't have much to celebrate at all at the moment. The prompts I chose this week are more symbolic than literal. Strangely the one on the right is pretty much exactly as I imagined the Druid. Neat






















Where am I? My eyes are obscured by the same grey mist that obscures my mind. I am wandering in nothing, going nowhere. Why? Why am I here? Where am I going? Who…who am I?
“Don’t be afraid. You’re safe.”
The soft voice doesn’t startle me, but I spin because, at last, there’s…something.
The woman is small and delicate. Long hair, flowing over narrow shoulders, is woven with bright flowers as is the girdle of a robe that is so sheer it conceals nothing of what lies beneath. She holds out her hand and I take it. What else can I do?
“You are beautiful, child, as I always knew you would be.”
“What are you? Who am I?”
“Come, sit.”
As if by magic, a grassy hill appears, scattered with the same flowers that adorn my little lady. Somewhere close by a stream bubbles, and trees whisper overhead, even though I can’t see them through the mist. At the foot of the hill is a stone seat, and the lady draws me gently down to sit beside her.
“You must listen carefully, for I don’t have much time. You will remember who you are soon enough. What you are, is a different question. The man who has taken you is powerful, but he has lost his way. His heart has turned to stone, and if you will allow it he will hurt you, and those around you, deeply. He is mistaken in who and what he thinks you are. You are not Druach, but so much more.”
That word. Why does that word hurt so much?
“I don’t want to be a Druach.”
The lady smiles, such a beautiful smile, and lays her hand over mine. “You are not. You are something very different, something unique. Your path is laid before you, but don’t be afraid. It can lead you wherever you want to go and you don’t have to be alone. Your bond will not be broken. Do not be angry with your beloved for being weak. He is bound by tradition and history. He will find his strength when the time is right. He will fight for you.”
“I don’t understand.”
The lady takes my hand. My head hurts with the struggle to remember, to understand. “Why am I here?”
“You aren’t. Not in any real sense. All of this…” She sweeps her hand broadly. “…exists only inside your head.”
“You, too?”
“This form, perhaps, but I am the Great Mother, and I exist everywhere – in the land, the sky, the animals…and I hope still in the hearts of my people. Soon, he will release your mind and you will return.”
“Who is he?”
“They call him Druid, but he is just a man. Don’t think too harshly of him, he lives with great pain. Now, you must listen carefully. When your mind returns to your body the Druid will ask you to carry out certain tasks, believing he controls you. Obey him. Show no sign of resistance until you are asked to enter the flame. Have no fear, the flame will not hurt you, however, if you wish your bond with Tian to continue you must take him into the flame with you. Do not be afraid. No matter what you are told, he will not be hurt. Together, you will inherit a power greater than any alive today can comprehend. Once you have stepped within the fire, all will be clear.”
“I don’t understand.”
“There is no need to understand, my child, only to remember this one thing. Do not enter the fire alone.”
The lady leaned forward and kissed me on the forehead. “Go now. It is time.”
I don’t understand. I want to ask more, to know…. The hill and the lady dissolve into the grey mist and I find myself standing in a nothing place. Another voice filters through. Harsher. Angrier. The pulls me forward and I stumble as I run. Faster, and faster. Then I fall.
The rocky floor is rough under my hands and knees. I struggle to breathe as the wind has been forced from my lungs, whether by the fall, or the breaking of the spell that held me within the mist, I do not know.
“On your feet, boy.”
For a moment, I hesitate, then remember the words of the lady. I must pretend to be in his thrall, until…. I can’t remember. A thrill of fear shoots through me. She told me to remember but I have forgotten.
“Come, we must prepare. Take off your clothes and enter the water.”
The water is cold, shockingly so, but even this is not sufficient to wipe the last of the mist from my mind. My thoughts race as I go through the motions of the ritual cleansing and robing, as the Druid directs.
Finally, I find myself standing before an altar. It is a rough stone block, on which is laid out a cup, a simple white robe, a knife, a cord of gold and blue, and other things I do not recognize. One perhaps an animal horn, although white, like marble.
Behind the altar, the rock of the cave wall is split by a crack, wide enough for a man to walk through. From the crack, warm copper light streams. By the flicker on the walls the light comes from fire, although I feel no heat.
All around me the air is filled with sounds. I choose to believe they are made by wind and not the tormented spirits of the dead.
“Enter the fire,” the Druid commands, gesturing toward the crack.
I hesitate, memory trembling within my head.
“Enter the fire.”
“Stop.”

The roar startles me and I spin. As my gaze falls upon Tian my memory unfolds like petals in my mind and the weight of fear is lifted.

Now go check the rest of the flashers this week

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Massive Sale at Dreamspinner Press


DREAMSPINNER'S ENTIRE STORE
9 - 13 NOVEMBER 2016
(Sale begins and ends based on Eastern Standard Time)

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Wednesday Briefs Demon Chapter Thirty Eight



This week is  a free week so no prompt to consider. Talking of freedom, today America has taken a step back from it. I cannot believe that Donald Trump won the Presidential election. I'm not going to go into any detail on this I just have to say that I'm one step further on the path of losing faith in all of humanity.

Anyway, on to the flash

“What have you done to my son?” King Aleric’s roar startles me, but is nothing compared to the terror I feel at the blank expression in the eyes of my love. Something within me screams in pain as our bond is severed. Somehow, the scream echoes into the room, and it isn’t until my mother wraps her arms around me and presses my head to her breast that I realize I have given voice to it.
“How could you do this?” she sobs.
“Put up your sword,” the Druid says calmly. “Until I release him, your son will remain a mindless shell, so if you wish have him whole and sane, put up your sword and stand out of my way.”
“Please, Aleric,” my father says, “put away your sword. This is not a time to fight, but to talk; to find a way around this.”
“Talk then,” the Druid says. “When you have finished, come to Cave of the Winds. I will perform the ritual there at sunrise. Come.” He commands Castien who follows as he moves toward the door. Aleric blocks him.
“You will not take my son. I don’t know what you’ve done to him and the only reason your body still retains your head is because I might need you to restore him. Make no mistake, I will ensure you pay for this. When The Kingdom takes Coedwen, your head will be the first to decorate the stakes in my castle.”
I shiver, my blood running cold at the thought of war. “Please don’t let him do this,” I plead to my father who shakes his head helplessly.
“I forbid it.” Both my father and I freeze with shock as my mother gently disentangles herself from my clinging arms and rises to her feet. I have never seen her look so angry.
You forbid it? In what capacity? I am not bound by your authority as queen.”
“No, but you are bound by my authority as The Great Mother.”
My father and the Druid gasp. I’m too shocked. I didn’t know Mother is the Great Mother. It’s not a title often bestowed on a queen, but Mother was not supposed to have been queen. She must have taken the oath of a priestess before her bonding to Father. I never knew. I wrack my brain to remember if I have noticed her absence on fasting and feast days. Perhaps. Could it be on all those occasions in the past when I have asked Father “Where’s Mother?” and he said “She’s about somewhere”, what he really meant was “She’s secluded in the grotto communing with The Great Mother”? Have I truly woken? Surely this must be nothing but a fever dream.
“You would invoke Her here? For this?”
“You speak as if the love of a mother for her child, of a father for his son, or of two young people whose spirits have bonded, is of no great import.”
“Love? Love counts for nothing. It has no value.”
“Kai, stop this, I beg of you. Have you changed so much? Forgotten so soon? Allis would weep to see you now.”
“How dare you speak her name?” the Druid roared. “Where were you when she was taken? Where was your precious Goddess when her life bled out at my feet? Love means nothing. Love makes us weak. I refuse to acknowledge you. I refuse to bow to the authority of your cold mistress. The Cave of Winds at Sunset. The ritual will be performed whether you are there or not.”
The Druid makes a sweeping motion with his staff and Aleric stumbles to the side as if someone had shoved him. Without pausing the Druid sweeps from the room with Castien following mindlessly. No one is able to move until he has disappeared into the corridor. Then, when Aleric tries to follow, his path is blocked by frightened and apologetic, but steadfast healers.
Mother collapses into Father’s arms, weeping. “Oh my love, what has he become? What have we done?”
Father strokes her hair. “I had no idea he’d become so bitter. We should not have postponed our trip for so long.”
Castien’s father continues to yell and threaten but I can’t listen any longer. I curl as small as I can, and cradle my hands close to my body. For once, I relish the pain as it distracts me from the pain in my heart, which is worse. My love is gone. He believes me to have lured him here with false promises and betrayed him. How many times have I sworn my faithfulness when he doubted, unable to let himself believe? He was right. I was not to be trusted. I was faithless. At the first test of our love, I failed.
“Hush, child.”
I was not aware of weeping, until my mother’s hand, stroking my hair, sooths me to take control of my sobs.
“I…I betrayed him. I failed to protect him, and I promised I would. I swore I would keep him safe. I believed it, Mother. I believed there was nothing that could stand between us. I never foresaw this.”
“Be easy child. It will come right. The Great Mother does not abandon her children. She does not steer them this far wrong.”
“Father knew.” Sudden clarity bursts on me like scalding acid.
“I don’t understand.”
“On the journey here, he told me there was something strange about Castien. I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t think at all. I believed nothing could come between us, could challenge our love. If I had known….”
“If you had known you would still have fallen in love with him, but it would have ripped out your heart.”
“It has ripped out my heart. He hates me, and with good cause. I have failed him.”

Mother kisses me. “You have failed no one. Come, rise and we shall go together to consult with The Great Mother. She will show us the way.”

Now go check out the rest of the flashers this week

Friday, 4 November 2016

Walking by Faith by A M Leibowitz


Synopsis:

For Becket “Cat” Rowland, falling in love has never been easy. The summer he meets Micah Forbes, the intensity of his feelings brings back all the memories of eight years earlier.

Following a brutal attack that left him nearly dead, Cat is a mess inside and out. To cope with the trauma and with his view of himself that he’s nothing but an empty shell, he’s taken three vows: simplicity, chastity, and silence. His once colorful, trendy, and often feminine wardrobe has been replaced with jeans and t-shirts, and he’s sworn off men. He locks himself away from the world, using the memorized prayers of his childhood as his only speech.

Cat is lost to himself and everyone around him until another hospitalization introduces him to nurse David Simms. David takes Cat’s silence in stride, caring for him without pushing and slowly building Cat’s trust.

Outside the hospital, Cat discovers he has more in common with David than he knew, and they begin to build a friendship. As it slowly grows into love, David reveals his own need for someone to take him as he is. Cat begins to let go of his vows one by one, only holding onto the silence.

Despite how far he’s come, Cat’s increasingly severe panic attacks threaten to undo everything David has helped him build. Cat’s only hope is to break the final vow and tell the truth about the night of his attack. When David fails to keep a promise he made to be there for him, Cat has to stand on his own and prove to himself he’s strong enough to survive.

Amazon
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Supposed Crimes Publisher

Excerpt:

Cat wriggled into the trousers and buttoned the shirt, tucking it in before adding a belt. From the recesses of his closet, he took out the one tie he owned. He hadn’t worn it in years, and he didn’t recall why he had it in the first place. Probably a gift from his Nana. At his dresser, he fumbled with it until he finally had the knot done properly. He paused with his hand on his jewelry box, but he didn’t open the lid. No earring today, and no lip gloss either. He turned around to look at himself in the full-length mirror on the back of his door and gasped, tears springing to his eyes. He hated what he saw.

He looked like a man. An ordinary, professional man, someone who went to an office every day and put numbers in a computer. He didn’t want to be the person in the mirror. He wished desperately that he could add a bit of makeup and paint his nails, anything to make him look less dull. With a heavy sigh he sat down on his bed to pull on his socks.

At the light rap on his door, he stood up to open it. LR stepped in. She smiled, but it appeared more pitying than pleased.

“You look…nice,” she said.

“No, I don’t.” Cat returned to his dresser to fiddle with his hair, combing it into something equally boring as his attire.

“You do,” LR insisted. “But you don’t look like you.”

Cat spun around to face her. “Bryce was right.”

“Uh…okay. About what?” LR frowned.

“He always said I was girlie.” Cat swallowed. “He was right, though, wasn’t he? I am.”

“Yes,” LR agreed. “Very much. So what?”

“So—” Cat stopped in his tracks. So nothing. A smile crept across his face. “It’s not a bad thing.”

LR laughed. “Of course not!”

“I mean, it’s true. I always wanted to be like you, in a way.”

“Nah.” LR shook her head. “I’m the only one who can pull off being me. You have to find who you are, Kitty-Cat.”

He exhaled on a light laugh. “I’m not even sure. You know, I tried looking it up. There are all these words for who I might be—fairy, femme, gender-bender, gender fluid, genderqueer…genderfuck.” He giggled.

LR put a hand to her mouth to hold back her own giggle. She lowered her fingers and said, “I like that last one. It suits you, for some reason.”

Review

This can definitely be read as a standalone book, and although it is technically a prequel it can easily be read either before or after the other book in the series Passing on Faith

I thoroughly enjoyed both books which I found to be well written and engaging. The characters were well rounded and the story developed at an easy but brisk pace and there was a nice resolution although there are enough loose ends to lead into the next book.

I loved Cat from the very beginning. A catastrophic event entirely changed his character and I think the character sketching at the beginning was rich and complete enough to allow us to see how drastic that change was and to identify the odd snatches of the "old" Cat when they started to come through. I loved how his stubbornness and steadfastness remained, albeit in a different form.

Cat is a very complex character and there are a number of great foils, including his family that help us see the complete picture. I just loved his inner voice and his inner dialogue is charming even if it's sometimes misguided. Everything makes sense, everything follows, and everything flows.

In the general writing of the book, I can't find any fault at all. It has character, it has depth and it has a coherent and engaging story. The medical aspects were clearly well researched and I learned a lot about the difficulties faced by people struggling with haemophilia something I only knew about in an anecdotal way beforehand.

David, when he was introduced had me falling in love with him immediately and I can see completely how he wormed his way into Cat's closed heart. My one and only complaint about the book arises from his ultimate demise. Such a lot of time was taken over developing his character and showing just how much he enriched Cat's life, his death was almost a perfunctory comment at the end. I appreciate that death, especially like David's, is sudden and shocking and is over in a blink, but I would have liked to see more about how it impacted on those around him, and especially Cat.

I think that if I had read Passing on Faith (the first published book in the series) first I would have had less of a problem as the impact of David's death is mentioned there, but I still think David deserved more.

That being said, it's one aspect, one thread in an extremely rich tapestry and I would have no hesitation at all in recommending this book. In fact I would go as far as to say that if you like rich and interesting books with struggles to overcome and an ending that might not be a HEA but definitely leaves you with a warm feeling of satisfaction then this is definitely the book for you. It's a "feel good" book without any fluff and a very sweet love story.

About the Author:

A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Wednesday Briefs Demon Chapter Thirty Seven


Gosh this week has gone fast. Where did the time go? Here I am again with another flash and another installment of Demon. I have a confession to make. I was really on a roll with this part of the story and I wrote a few installments in one go. There was no way I could fit in any of the prompts this week so I cheated and didn't use one at all :D

I have no idea what’s going on. Everything was going so well…well relatively. Now Father is talking of breaking off the alliance, Tian’s parents are falling apart and this man appears to be trying to suggest I break off my relationship with Tian and leave my home to…what? Be his apprentice somewhere in the middle of the forest? I don’t think so.
What hurts is that everyone but Father seems to have given up. Tian looks heartbroken, but he isn’t going to fight for me. Who is this man?
“Please stop discussing me as if I’m not here.” Tian tries to hold on to me, but I pull out of his arms and stand. Something cold and hard settles in my belly. I no longer feel safe here. “I don’t care how long you give us. I’m not going anywhere with you. Perhaps you’ve not been listening, but I am Crown Prince of The Kingdom and I take orders from no one. I am no sapling and I will put down my roots where I choose. As I will bond with who I chose.”
The Druid has a formidable presence but he is not a big man and I barely have to look up when I stand before him, ignoring the quiet pleas of Tian and his parents. It is clear they fear him. I do not. The bitter taste of copper in my mouth, if anything, spurs on my anger.
“Should you lay one finger on me again, my father shall break the alliance, and if you attempt in any way to prevent our return to The Kingdom, my sister will come for us, with an army at her back.”
The Druid sneers. “Do you think I care about your sister, or your army?”
“You ought to. As I recall, you didn’t do so well against them last time we met in war. Perhaps things have changed. Perhaps your magic offers some protection now, but you know as well as I that war would decimate your people and foul your land. And this is before we touch upon how either of us, alone and in a weakened condition, could stand against the threat amassing in the South.”
“Be careful, little boy,” The Druid says, taking a step forward. I quickly hold up my hand to stay my father’s grip on the hilt of his sword. “You May be Crown Prince in The Kingdom, but here you are nothing. You have no power. Here, I am the power. You will come to me. You will serve me.”
“Serve you? Never. Not in three days or three hundred. I don’t know what a Druach is. I understand, perhaps a little, and I might consider studying with you once this situation is resolved, but I will go nowhere under duress, and I will not serve you or anyone else.”
“Castien,” Tian says, sounding distressed. “You don’t understand. A Druach is…is…. When you go to the cave of the winds and…become, you will no longer be as you are. Your role will no longer be to command, but to serve – the Druid and the land – until the time comes when you will be invested as Druid.”
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Am I caught in a nightmare?
“Would you conspire now, with those who seek to bind me? Would you let go our love so easily and abandon me to my fate?”
“No,” Tian’s cry is one of torment and it twists in my heart, but I cannot allow myself to be moved by it. A growing fear leads me to believe that I no longer have any friends here. This man intends to take me and no one but Father and our men will fight for me.
Cold fear leadens my limbs. I have been a fool, blinded by love. I have led my father to this place of betrayal and now we are deep in hostile territory with no prospect of easy rescue, in the hands of our enemies.
“I’m sorry, Father,” I say softly. “It was my impulsiveness that brought us to this. You warned me but I would not listen. When you said demon, I saw what I thought was truth and beauty. I allowed myself to become deluded. I truly believed Tian was faithful and his love was honest. I believed in him and I believed in this alliance. I allowed myself to be led astray, and I led you false.”
“Castien, no. It isn’t like that. I love you, I swear.”
Tian reaches for me but I move beyond. “You swore I would be safe, that you would protect me against anything.”
“You are safe.”
I spin on him, pain at his betrayal fuelling anger hotter than I have ever felt before. “Safe? This is safety? I trusted you. I stood up to the Counsel for you. I defied my father; my sister, and you tell me I’m safe when you would cast me into the hands of this monster to be taken in slavery against my will? If this is your protection, I don’t want it. If this is your love, you can keep it.”
I’ve heard it said that it’s possible to feel a heart break and I could not swear to the truth or otherwise of it, but I can say that in this moment the pain in my chest was so great that there might well have been hands thrust inside my body, tearing my hearts to shreds.
“I will stand with you, Father.” Turning my back on Tian’s anguished cry, I try to sidestep the Druid, my hand already on the hilt of my sword. He slams down his staff, blocking my path and when I glance up the crystal flares into life. I hear voices around me that fade quickly to silence. I feel hands on my body that dissolve into mist. The thoughts in my head swirl and are silent.



Now go check out the rest of the amazing flashers

 

Monday, 31 October 2016

Brougham Hall by Nicki J Markus

 Brougham Hall

Nicki J. Markus

28 October 2016

Fireborn Publishing

Novel/MF/PNR/Gothic/Historical—Regency

Heat Level: 1

A family estate falling into ruin. A young woman thrown into an unfamiliar world. Two brothers at odds over their secret. And an ancient malice that threatens destruction and death.




December 1822, Wiltshire, England

When Catherine goes to live with her highborn cousin's family at Brougham Hall, she expects restrictions on her previously free lifestyle and comments on her lack of social grace. What she does not anticipate is the loss of her heart, nor a web of dark family secrets that threaten the safety of everyone in the house.

Vampire twins Hal and James are Lord Grovely's guests. Though close in some respects, the different approach each takes to his vampiric nature puts a strain on their relationship. Having hoped for a pleasurable sojourn, they find themselves drawn into an unfolding drama in which their brotherly bond will be sorely tested.


ARe: 

Print Promo Offer!

Save an awesome 20% if you buy the paperback direct from Createspace during the first month of release.
Use Promo Code: 8VJLDMWH


Guest Post—Vampire Tropes Revisited
Readers have certain expectations when it comes to vampires in fiction, all of which draw on key works in the genre, from Bram Stoker to Anne Rice to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. In Brougham Hall I employ several of these tropes, the key one of which is the comparison between the vampire who hates his existence and the one who revels in it. Several writers have treated this in different ways, and I hope to add to that literary discussion with my own take on the idea.
Previous writers have considered the difference through the two characters’ love for the same woman, or through one’s great compassion for human life. In my tale, the basis for this discrepancy is far more psychological—for the one who loves his nature as much as the one who detests it—and the reason centres on their shared history. Aspects of the two brothers’ past contribute to their varied attitudes, and I hope that readers will enjoy discovering the reasons behind that over the course of the story. All it not as it first seems between the brothers, in a way that mirrors the dark secrets of Brougham Hall itself.

Excerpt
Hal Carrington attended to the harassed barmaid's directions and then proceeded towards the stairs. The tavern was packed and he supposed he should be grateful for that since it meant his entrance was lost amongst the crush of bodies. Even so, he ensured his great coat concealed his fine clothing and waited until he was certain he was unobserved before making his way to the first floor. He doubted his brother had been as circumspect upon his arrival, but at least the crowds would have offered some protection from unwanted scrutiny.
He reached the door and rapped on the wood. “James, are you in there?”
He waited a moment and then knocked again. When there was still no response, he decided enough was enough and tried the handle. The bolt was shot, but a firm shove splintered the wood and granted him access. The scene that greeted him was one of the kinds he had wished to avoid, yet had anticipated all the same. He cast a quick glance left and right and then entered the room. He pushed the door firmly closed behind him. The last thing they needed was for anyone else to pass along the hallway and see this.
“Hal! I suspected I would see you here before the night was through. You arrive in good time. I saved some for you, brother.” James called the greeting from across the room. He could not stand; the half-naked woman seated on his lap encumbered him.

Review
I first read the book as beta reader and I fell in love with it even when it was diamond-in-the-rough. From the start, the story shone through as a fresh and beautiful image viewed through a lens that wasn't quite focused. I'm pleased to say that the lens was tweaked remarkably well and the story focus is now sharp and defined.
The story combines a few familiar tropes before spinning off in its own unique way. It's a regency romance, a ghost story, a vampire story, a mystery and above all a tale of people who have been forced in directions they didn't want to go, and how the cope, in their very different ways, with circumstances life (and death) has thrust upon them.
The main character, Catherine, in endearing from the start. She's no fainting heroine and her inner commentary is delightful. She's a sparky lady who finds herself in a tricky situation which only gets trickier as the book progresses. Nevertheless she never allows herself to fall apart (quite) and is more likely to meet danger with a weapon in her hand (even if it is only an oil lamp) than a bottle of smelling salts.
As anti heroes the vampires are charming. Two brothers, so very different and very well drawn. One relishes his vampiric nature, is deliciously naughty and somewhat bloodthirsty. The other despises what he has become and is sick of cleaning up his brother's messes. Both are attracted to Catherine for different reasons and her fate hangs in the balance more than once.
All of the supporting characters are well drawn and have an important part to play. I focus on the vampires because they are my favourites but there are a plethora of others to take delight in. Some good; some bad and some decidedly deadly.
This is a fabulous read, with plenty of twists and turns and unexpected events, as well as a delicately drawn peep into regency life that is so well done, that although, as far as I am aware, the historical detail is vivid and correct, there were plenty of times when I forgot the historical setting altogether and was simply present with the characters in the here-and-now.

Author Bio & Links

Nicki J. Markus (aka Asta Idonea) was born in England, but Asnow lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Nicki works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel; all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.





Giveaway

I am offering an eBook copy of my MF PNR short story Canção do Amor to two lucky readers. To be in with a chance to win, please comment on this post, telling me your favourite historical period. I will review comments across all participating blogs at the end of the tour and will randomly select the winners, whom I will contact privately by 6 November, as well as announcing them on my FB and Twitter feeds. (Prize value US$0.98 / GB£0.99)

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Halloween Blog Hop


Here are some links to help you find a spooky and fun Halloween read by some amazing writers. MM and MF, Ghosts, Vampires and even a bit of Shakespeare.


Nicki J Markus


New MF and MM paranormal releases from Nicki J. Markus/Asta Idonea in time for Halloween. Plus special seasonal offers and a free read



Rian Durant - Summer's Day Project

Missing summer? “A Summer’s Day: Shakespearean Anthology with a Twist” is 50% down for the Halloween Weekend. All proceeds of this collection go to the It Gets Better Projecthttps://www.amazon.com/Summers-Day-Shakespearean-Anthology-Twist-ebook/dp/B01JH97LVA






Rian Durant - Blog Hop


A strictly Halloween (but not restricted to MM) flash fiction blog hop. Anyone who wants can join/include a link in the newsletter.






Louise Lyons

Happy Halloween! Louise Lyons has lots of goodies on her blog this week, with a signed paperback of her vampire-themed romance novel, and 3 novellas on 1/3 price sale. Check out the blog for a chance to win and for the links to the books on sale









Aline Popescu - Bad Blood

Bad Blood Halloween Price Slash
This Halloween, enjoy the Bad Blood #vampireseries at a discounted price. Between October 30 and November 1, The Edge of Hope is free on Amazon, and the price for the second book, The Breaking of Bonds, has been slashed to 99c. Get them now and delve into this paranormal series!


Alina Popescu - Dawn to Dusk

Dawn to Dusk Halloween Sale
Dawn to Dusk, the first book in the contemporary gay romance series Lover’s Journey, is on sale this Halloween. Get it for only 99c on Amazon and at 75% off on AllRomance between October 30 and November 1.