Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Wednesday Briefs. The Faery of Beacon Lake Part 15



A little reminder. What are Wednesday Briefs. They are short stories, or parts in an ongoing series, of no more than 1000 words, posted every Wednesday by an array of talented LGBT authors.

They are usually written around a prompt which are supplied by the lovely Julie Lynn Hayes. Lately though I've lost the plot a bit so this week I don't have a prompt to promise you, only another installment in the lives of Owen and his fairy husband.

When Owen woke the next morning, it was to sun streaming through the window directly onto the bed. He was boiling, but just as he was about to throw off the covers, he realized he was not alone. His waking sense of calm and tranquillity vanished instantly, flooded out with memories of the previous night.
Bran was curled up in a tight ball, facing away from Owen toward the wall. The covers were tucked tightly around him and he clutched them under his chin with hands that, even in sleep, held on tightly. Rising on one elbow, Owen gazed down at his new husband. Oh shit. He balked from thinking about that. For now, Bran was his…what? Boyfriend? Lover? Hopefully. He smiled and brushed a long lock of white hair back from Bran’s face. Bran whimpered softly and curled even tighter, if that were possible. Owen frowned. What was Bran dreaming of that made him so tense?
The answer wasn’t too difficult to find, but more difficult than it ought to have been. Owen felt like a complete dick. From the very start he’d made this all about him. What he wanted. What he felt. What he was comfortable with. He’d barely spared a moment thinking of Bran. Had he really thought that one conversation would have settled Bran into a comfortable acceptance of his new life?
Bran was a stranger in a strange land. He must be frightened or at least apprehensive, so tense he couldn’t relax even in sleep. It was time Owen stopped being so selfish. It’s not as if it would be a hardship having Bran around. Here in his room, in the bright light of day, some of the ephemeral feyness had vanished to be replaced by a softer but more substantial beauty. Even though the blue tinge had faded from Bran’s skin, it was still almost unnaturally pale, alabaster pure even in bright sunlight.
Unable to resist, Owen touched Bran’s hair. It was so soft and before he knew it, Owen was stroking it, caressing Bran’s head. Bran murmured and shifted slightly, rolling his face toward Owen. Owen gently stroked Bran’s cheek, the skin cool and smooth under his fingers. He watched, entranced as his fingers explored Bran’s face, then trailed over his hair to the swell of his shoulder, nudging the covers back as he did so. Bran sighed and turned onto his back. When Owen glanced up, Bran’s eyes were open.
“Good morning,” Owen said softly, freeing some hair that had stuck to Bran’s cheek and tucking it behind his ear.
For a moment, Bran simply stared at him, then his lashes fluttered and he rubbed his face against Owen’s hand that hand lingered on his cheek. A much happier sigh escaped Bran as he covered Owen’s hand with his own and kissed the inside of Owen’s wrist. “Yes,” he whispered raising his gaze to meet Owen’s.
Owen gazed into the two clear, blue pools and felt as though he were falling. “You have such beautiful eyes.”
Bran smiled. “No. In my world everyone has blue eyes. Sometimes green like the sea. But you… Your eyes are green like the land. Like the leaves of trees, or grass, or flowers. It’s yours that are beautiful. “He lowered his lashes coyly then glanced up again, a light flush warming his cheeks. “Like you.”
“I’m not going to fight you over whose eyes are the prettiest,” Owen said. “I can think of much better things to do.”
“The Lady will hear.”
“The lady? Oh, you mean Gran. Don’t worry, she’s usually out by now. And if not….” He grinned. “We’ll be quiet.”
“We weren’t quiet last night.”
“Then we’ll have to try harder. You can start.” Owen slowly drew back the covers, exposing more and more pale, perfect skin. Bran lay still, hardly seeming to breath as he gazed up at Owen. The only sounds he made were little sighs when Owen reverently stroked his shoulders and chest. His arms encircled Owen and drew him down into a long kiss.
Without raising his head, Owen swept the covers off entirely furthered his gentle exploration. Bran arched into him, his breath hitching. He was so responsive. Owen couldn’t wait to see him completely unravel. His balls ached with anticipation.
Owen moved his kisses down over Bran’s neck and shoulder, brushing his long hair out of the way. When he reached Bran’s nipple, he swirled his tongue around the pert little nub and Bran moaned. He nipped it gently and Bran gave a kind of strangled squeak. “Sorry. Sorry,” He whispered, putting a hand over his mouth.
Owen laughed. “You’re so silly. You don’t have to be completely silent. We’re married now, remember. If Aggie has an issue with sex, then tough on her. She’s going to have to buy earplugs.”
Bran’s eyes widened. “But….” His words were cut off my a moan when Owen pinched his nipple.
“That’s better.” Owen grinned a wicked grin, then went back to licking Bran. He was quickly becoming addicted to his taste of salt and spice. He licked a trail down over Bran’s abdomen, but something wasn’t quite right. It puzzled him, and put him off his stride. Raising his head, he caressed Bran with a heated gaze, that stopped at his abdomen.
“You don’t have a belly button.”
Bran raised his head, as Owen traced lazy circles over his belly.
“A button? No? Do you have button? Do you….” Bran squirmed, and Owen laughed.

“No, we don’t open. At least not there. We’ll talk more later.”

Now, off you go to read the rest of the briefers and see what they have on offer this week. We're a very mixed bunch

Friday, 13 July 2018

Project X - Prequel


Project X, a New Adult book previously published by Wayward Ink, has received a thorough overhaul and will very soon be released by Extasy Books.

Matthew things Morgan is a bastard. Morgan is trying to persuade Matthew to change his mind. Cory sees things from both perspectives but is torn.

As a brief teaser, I've written a very short teaser which introduces you to the three boys a few months before the novel starts. The prequel is free from Extasy

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Faery of Beacon Lake Part 14



A little reminder. What are Wednesday Briefs. They are short stories, or parts in an ongoing series, of no more than 1000 words, posted every Wednesday by an array of talented LGBT authors.

They are usually written around a prompt which are supplied by the lovely Julie Lynn Hayes. Lately though I've lost the plot a bit so this week I don't have a prompt to promise you, only another installment in the lives of Owen and his fairy husband.

“When you two boys have stopped fooling around, perhaps you would take your husband to bed before he freezes solid at the kitchen table.”
Owen seized up. “Bed?”
“Did you think he was going to sleep on the hearth like a dog, boy?”
“N-no. Of course not. I…. No.”
Bran was cold in his arms, but the shiver that went through him had nothing to do with the weather. Owen was pretty sure Bran was thinking just about the same thing he was.
“Do you want to go to bed?” Owen whispered against Bran’s hair.
“Oh yes,” Bran whispered back.
Owen glanced up and caught Aggie with a soft expression on her face as she watched them. As soon as she noticed, her face hardened  and she frowned at him.
“Just sleeping mind. I may be old but I’m not deaf.”
His cheeks blazing, Owen took Bran by the hand and led him upstairs.
Bran wandered around Owen’s room, peeping into cupboards and opening drawers.
“There’s not much to see,” Owen said from his vantage point on the bed. He lay at ease against the pillows with is arms behind his head. He shivered when Bran bent to sniff whatever was in Owen’s bottom drawer. Owen readjusted himself and made a mental note to get Bran some pyjamas; to get them both some. For the moment, Owen had compromised by slipping on a pair of boxers, but Bran had refused point blank and Owen didn’t blame him. They were way too big. But that meant Bran was naked, and naked Bran was a real distraction.
Bran straightened and gave Owen a shy smile. “It’s so different.”
“Not what a faery prince is used to, I guess.”
“No. There’s so much more colour. I like this one.” He picked up one of Owen’s sweaters and rubbed it against his cheek. Owen thought the sweater was ugly. Orange marl, like someone had tipped a jar of marmalade on it. He could see why Bran might like it though. From what he’d seen so far the predominant colours of Bran’s world had been blue and sea green. There would definitely not be much fire under the lake, and to be fair the jumper did make him think of flames – if he squinted.
“You can have it if you want.”
Bran’s head jerked up. “I can? But it’s yours.”
“And I’m giving it to you.”
Bran beamed and hopped up onto the bed, still hugging the jumper. He crawled up to Owen, who was frozen with something like fear, and kissed him in a purely joyful, unsexual way. Owen’s arms moved automatically to cradle Bran’s slight form against his body and before he knew it the nature of the kiss changed, and his body flushed hotter than the imagined fire.
Bran moaned softly against his lips and buried his long, slender fingers in Owen’s hair, massaging the back of his neck, idly and melted into the kiss.
Pulling Bran closer, Owen caressed Bran’s back as Bran slid over him, tangling their bodies, cool skin against hot.
Bran’s breathing hitched, and Owen panted. He flipped over, pinning Bran under him, straddling his thighs. Bran gazed up at him, his expression startled but so open it took Owen’s breath away. For a moment, all he could do was stare at the breath-taking beauty beneath him. Bran lowered his eyes, looking coy and fire surged up through Owen’s gut. With a moan, he lowered himself onto Bran and took possession of his mouth. Bran echoed his moan and arched up to meet him. They rolled together, and the fire was about to carry Owen away when a loud banging startled him. He froze.
“I told you, just sleeping,” Aggie’s voice called up the stairs. She gave a few more thumps on the ceiling, probably with the handle of the brook, then a shocked silence descented.
Bran began to snigger. Owen couldn’t help but follow suit and in moments they were laughing joyfully in each other’s arms.
Owen sobered and gazed at his husband. My husband. Bran stilled, the smile fading from his lips to be replaced by a pensive expression. Owen smiled and brushed the hair away from Bran’s face.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “She goes out a lot.”
Bran’s smile was hesitant. “It will be alright, won’t it?” he said tentatively. “All this. I didn’t think. I…. It’s very different, and there are people. Many people.”
“Don’t worry about any of it,” Owen said, pulling the duvet around them. “I’ll take care of you, I promise. Yes there are people, lots of people and we’ll have to go back to the city eventually, but we have all summer to get you used to that, and I’ll always be there with you.”
“I wish I could show you my world.”
“Maybe one day.”
Bran smiled softly. “Maybe.”

Settling down, with Bran’s head tucked into the crook Owen’s arm, neither took long to drift to sleep.

Now, off you go to read the rest of the briefers and see what they have on offer this week. We're a very mixed bunch

Friday, 6 July 2018

REVIEW Alpha Blaze by Quinn Michaels


Blurb

Both will betray the pack. Can they save each other?

In the Louisiana bayou, the bond between alpha and omega burns hot and dangerous.

Kevin was a beautiful contradiction of vulnerability and fury wrapped in pure sex appeal.

"It was all I could do to hold my wolf in check. If I pushed too hard, I'd lose. I couldn't afford to lose Kevin. Already, this omega had become precious. I hadn’t come here to find a mate. That didn’t matter. The omega was mine and I was his, whether we liked it or not."

His name was Blaze, and Kevin was playing with fire.

"Our eyes met. It was just dinner. Blaze kept to the boundaries of our agreement, but I wanted more. I’d never felt this way about an alpha. Blaze was everything I wanted and everything I couldn’t have."

Alpha Blaze is an action-packed mpreg romance novel of 64,000 words with hot werewolf bikers, bad language, smutty-times, knotting, and men who get pregnant. Warning: this book contains a tough-as-nails omega struggling to overcome a painful past (incl. rape trauma and miscarriage) and a strong, sensitive alpha who will do anything to win his omega’s heart.

If you love your mpreg romance with a dollop of angst and a healthy helping of action, start reading Alpha Blaze today!



Review

Alpha Blaze by Quinn Michaels 4*

The Scions are a nasty biker gang/werewolf pack, who are involved in plenty of shady dealings including drugs and racketeering. Blaze is an alpha, infiltrating the ranks of the Scions, trying to find out if Red, pack leader, is intending to go to war, or what else he might have up his evil little sleeve. One of the things Blaze finds, that surprises him very much, is his fated mate, Kevin, Red’s nephew. Poor Kevin has been abused by Red (not sexually) since the deaths of Kevin’s parents when he was a child. Kevin is cowed but not broken and he has plans of his own.

I liked the characters of Blaze and Kevin right off the bat. It would have been easy to make them caricatures – Kevin the downtrodden, abused omega, and Blaze, the knight in shining armour. Whilst both were true, that’s not all they were. Kevin had a backbone, a brain and a smart mouth. Blaze had darkness and enough negative qualities, such as hot-headedness, jealousy and even pettiness, to almost throw things off their track once or twice. In other words, the characters were well rounded and believable. There were other very “real” characters of note, of which I liked Carlos and Ricky best, two opposite ends of a scale.

There were a lot of quirky “extras” that brought a touch of spice to the recipe. In particular, the other omegas were a pretty mixed bunch. They all had their very individual characteristics. My only complaint is that the author engages in too much physical description in “list form”, that sometimes come quickly, one after another.

Some of the characters, however, did straddle or even fall over the line into caricature. Jeremy was just too evil, and Red wasn’t entirely believable. Some of the plot points were also a little strained.

That being said the book was a solid read, with good pacing and decent editing. It was smooth and exciting, and the story carried me through from beginning to end.

If you want something just a little bit different from the usual Alpha/Omega, or even if you just want a nice dollop of escapism, then this is definitely the book for you.

And if you enjoy the book, the author has a special treat for you because he’s released a very short Epilogue that picks up with Kevin and Blaze a few months later, just to check in on how they’re getting along.



Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The Faery of Beacon Lake Part 13


Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, a happy band of flashers who, each week, spin you tales of love, life, loss, and lust in handy bite-sized pieces of no more than 1000 words.

I've been out of the loop for a while because of reason, but here is the next installment of the Faery of Beacon Lake, which is my own personal take on the old Welsh legend, The Physicians of Myddfai

Enjoy

Owen resisted the temptation to look out of the window. He knew Aggie had gone out because the front door had slammed as he was climbing the stairs, not stomping up the stairs like a child throwing a tantrum over some unwanted command. Instead, he’d thrown himself onto his bed and simmered.

The simmering had cooled down some time ago, and Owen was now straining his ears for movement outside the cottage. He heard nothing until the front door banged as it closed. He had neither heard them approach nor open the door. Instantly alert and nervous he stood up and began to pace. No sound came from below. Had Aggie found Bran? Had she brought him back? If they were talking, it was too soft to hear.

Owen crept out of his room, avoiding the creaking floorboard just outside his door, and hunkered down at the top of the stairs. Aggie was moving around. At least she wasn’t banging and slamming things, which suggested she wasn’t angry anymore. She didn’t seem to be talking to anyone either.
Owen’s heart gave a little flip at the thought that Bran might not have come back with her. If not, where was he now? Back with his parents, or still wandering, cold and alone on the mountain. Wait, hadn’t he told Owen he was no longer able to go back until Owen broke the contract. He hadn’t laid a finger on Bran, which meant the contract was still in force and Bran was trapped on land. Oh shit.
What had he done? Without bidding an image of Bran’s pale face, his vivid eyes and his shocked expression popped into his head. He thrust it aside impatiently. He’d been perfectly reasonable in reacting the way he had. Bran’s family were killers, and while he might not have had a direct hand in any deaths he at least was willing and able to justify them.

“He’s fae, you foolish boy. They have a different set of rules. I warned you not to get mixed up with them, and it’s too late now to start thinking about what that difference means.” Owen almost jumped, as if Aggie were actually there, instead of lending her voice to his conscience. This time, he didn’t need to tell him how stupid he’d been.

“I know you’re up there, boy. Best you come down. I don’t like lurking.”

Owen descended the stairs with a heavy heart and dragged his feet to the kitchen. He was shocked to find Bran, wrapped in a blanket, hunched over the table with a mug of something hot between his hands. Aggie was busy at the oven, as she often was. The smell of something sweet and spicy had already begun to fill the room.

Owen took another step and Bran’s head jerked up, turning to face him. Owen almost physically recoiled from the expression of fierce hope and fear. Oh God, what had he done. He noticed Bran’s hands were shaking, whether from cold or fear. Neither could be good. A wave of…something, washed over him. He had no name for it but whatever it was it told him in no uncertain terms what a damn fool he was. Bran seemed smaller, less magical, less beautiful. No, not less beautiful. Less gilded, more natural. Ah hell, he was lovely and the raw vulnerability that filled his eyes made him even more so.

Shit. This was his husband.

“I’m sorry,” Bran whispered, his voice cracking. “I-I can’t change that. I can’t change them, but I can change me, and I will, I promise.”

“What did I tell you?”

“No, that’s not what I want.”

Aggie and Owen spoke at the same time, and Bran shrank from the vehemence in both voices. Where was the arrogant prince now?

“I don’t want you to change,” Owen said softly, moving closer. “I want you to be yourself. We come from different worlds, but we can fix things. We can learn about each other. I’m going to make mistakes. I know I’m. I’m a fool, but if you’ll stick with me I know we can make it work somehow.”

“Do you love me?” Bran whispered.

Owen opened his mouth to say no, to explain that love is something that has to grow over time. Then he caught Aggie’s eye over Bran’s shoulder and bit back the words.

“Yes,” he said, putting as much sincerity as he could muster into his voice. “I love you. You’re my husband and I love you and I’ll take care of you.”

The strangest thing was that, when Bran threw himself into Owen’s arms, dropping the blanket, Owen suddenly found all the sincerity he could possibly want as he whispered into Bran’s hair, “I love you.”

The other who are flashing this weeks can be found here

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Dos and Don'ts When Writing Dialogue



Don't Use Names Too Often

Think about it. When you're talking to someone, how often do you use their name? Sure, when you're calling them or are emphasising something, or maybe expressing frustration or warning, but in general conversation...? Listen to people around you, and see how many times names are mentioned. 

This was one of my biggest issues when I first started writing. It made complete and obvious sense to me once I was told, and has now become one of the biggest indicators of immature writing for me.

Take a look at what you've written. Examine every name that appears within dialogue and ask yourself, "Is this really necessary? Can I take it out without altering the sense or meaning of the sentences?" If the answer is "yes" then take it out. 

One of the most common errors is starting dialogue with the name of the person you're speaking to.
"Billy, I just wanted to tell you...." Or "I just want to tell you, Billy...." The context should make it perfectly clear who you're speaking to,

Use Language That Fits The Character

Don't have a sixteen-year-old talking like your Great Aunt Lucy, or vice versa. Teenagers rarely speak in complete sentences, let alone use proper grammar. Let yourself go. Forget everything you learned about how to write "correctly". All the rules go out of the window when you're writing dialogue. "I do speak more proper than what you do," she said. "Innit, mun," he replied. "Fuck yeah."

There are certain words that young people just don't use, and if you're looking for authenticity you need to avoid them. One that I've pulled my co writer up on more than once is "atop". There is no way you'll find your run-of-the-mill teenager saying. "I fell ,and landed atop him." More likely. "It was funny as fuck. I tripped over nothing and landed on Johnny so hard his eyes popped out." "More like my lunch, arsehole." 

It's all about authenticity. The same thing applies the other way around. If you have an elderly character or one who is particularly formal or aristocratic, you have to use words and structures they would use.

For example, someone who was young in the sixties might still be using words like "groovy" or "far out". Someone brought up in the eighties might rave about something that is "choice" or "phat" (I got quite depressed reading the list of words from 70's and 80's no longer used because they take up most of my vocabulary.

For someone extremely formal, consider taking out contractions. "Indeed, I am certain he is entirely correct in his assumption that it was an entirely unsatisfactory conclusion" For ideas, you might read the classics such as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Dickens, Thomas Hardy.

Dialect

Following on from using the correct level of formality, is using the correct dialect. If you write a character who comes from Scotland, they are extremely unlikely to use American words such as trashcan, trunk(of a car), even parking lot and they definitely won't say elevator. Yes, is usually Aye, or Och Aye. No is Nae or Na. It's also good to sprinkle a few classic phrases like "Bonnie wee bairns", "Sweet little children". Bonnie lass", "Pretty Girl etc.

Another idea is to find some classic phrases in general use. For example, many British dialects, especially working class ones, use "like" a lot. "That's the thing, like. It's like not what you fink, like, izzit." In Ireland it's "hi" "Sure an, dat's the t'ing, hi. It's not what ye t'ink" In Welsh it's "mun" or "butt" "That's the thing, mun. It's nor worr ewe think, izzit."" "That's the thing, butt. It's nor worr ewe think, izzit." As you can see, the English like this most.

Another thing to consider, is how much dialect do you put in there. Not enough and it doesn't distinguish the character or "sound" the accent, that is, when the reader reads, they "hear" the dialogue as the character speaks it. Too much and the reader just can't understand, in the same way as many people fail to understand when someone with a thick accent speaks.

In my opinion, the key is first to be consistent, and secondly to pick out certain characteristics and repeat them. For example, Celtic people such as Scottish, Irish and Welsh tend to add "be" to words and phrases (I'm sure it has something to do with tenses but that's not my strong point) such as
"I won't have it." is "I won't be having that." "I'm off." is "I'll be off then." "I'm going." is "I'll be going now."  Oh, and that reminds me. Quite often words and phrases don't mean quite the same as you're used to. A great example is the Welsh "now". "I'll be there now," can mean anything from, "I'll be right there," to "I'll be there when I'm damn ready and you can bet it isn't going to be in the next five minutes." "Now in a minute," is even worse. Yes, we do say "I'll be there now, in a minute." and the only thing you can be sure of is that we definitely won't be there in literally one minute, or anywhere close.

Don't forget, there are no Moms. In England, they can be anything from Mum, to Mummy, to Mother. In Scotland, Ireland and Wales they're Mam, or Mammy, or Ma. To make it even more difficult, in some English dialects they can be Mam or Our Mam. She can also be known as "The Old Girl", which can also be used for a wife.

My best advice is to find a television program or film, or look up a video on you tube, of a native speaker, or at the very least look up a list of slang words and make sure to sprinkle some in. It would be better though, to look at the construction of the language. The same goes for young people, who often have a construction, or deconstruction of their own.

The greatest danger is falling too deep down the rabbit hole and making your character sound like a stereotype or a strange mix between similar dialects. For example, a Glasgow accent is different to an Edinburgh one. A north Welsh accent is different from a south Welsh. A London accent is different from a south London accent, an east end (of London) accent etc.

My current Irish character is giving me a hernia trying not to tie myself in knots and I've decided to give up trying to work out if something is Belfast or Dublin and just let him run roughshod over them all, which is what Connor does anyway.

Authenticity

This comes on the tails of the accent and fits in with the general context of the story, and the formality with which the character does, or does not speak. If you're writing a character or an area, particularly if it's a country you're not familiar with, it's worth doing a bit of research into the culture of the place of origin.

For example, a vast number of words and phrases from Scottish, Welsh or Irish will either relate to being drunk, giving someone a good seeing to (beating or sex), being hungry or sarcastic. If you're writing a Celtic character and they're not being rude, lude, violent, sarcastic or drunk you're doing something wrong. Also, we navigate by means of pubs and churches.

As a more sensible example, a young person from the Welsh Valleys, or from rural areas, would never go clubbing, unless they travelled for it, bearing in mind public transport is crap. If you're in the Welsh Valleys you'd pretty much have to go to either Cardiff or Swansea to find a decent nightclub. In addition, there is only one train line with trains every half hour that stop at eleven o'clock. The busses stop even earlier. For more rural areas it would be even more difficult. The culture is based more around pubs and clubs (Very different from nightclubs. Usually working man's clubs or political clubs eg Ton Labour Club or Aber Con club).

I'm quite sure that everything I've said about writing British dialogue relates to different areas of the US and other countries, too, which is why I would never attempt to write a character who is not British. I've yet to write a truely authentic Welsh character because it would do ewer head right in, wouldn't it, mun.

I hope this has given you something to think about. If I've got anything wrong or there's anything you'd like to add feel free to do so in the comments.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

REVIEW Bride of Fire Trilogy Books 1 and 2



Title: Hidden Embers (Book 1 Bride of Fire)

Author: Jane Burrelli

Release Date: 12/04/2018

Taglines: Can blazing passion melt a frosty heart?

An exiled princess, a forbidding lord and a bond that ties them together


Amazon.co.uk
Amazon





REVIEW


I have to admit that fantasy has not been my favourite genre for some time, although it used to be my passion when I was younger. The likes of David Eddings, Terry Brooks and Storm Constantine took me to new worlds, giving me a welcome break from this one. Since then I have swung the other way, preferring gritty realism and confronting the harsher elements of the world in which I live.

For me, although I can’t honestly say this work matches the complexities and skill of my favourites, most certainly reignites my passion for immersing myself in another world. The author has great skill in world building and her writing is smooth and well rounded, rather like Mira.

My biggest bugbear with all books, not only fantasy, is the development of character and dialogue. I can’t get into any book that doesn’t create vivid and well-developed characters, or that has immature dialogue. This book delivered in both categories. Even the minor characters are well rounded, and a rich supporting cast sets a background against which the main character grow and mature whilst keeping perfect consistency.

Whilst we didn’t get to see much of the fire world, there were enough hints to make it real in my mind to the extent I could understand how Mira reacted to the very different ice world, which was drawn very sharply and in keeping with its nature. Unlike many fantasy novels no attempt was made to explain every little detail. We still don’t know the intricacies of the politics and society of either nation, although there have been plenty of hints and snippets. That is not, in any way a flaw as I love the fact that I have not been presented with a slew of information. There are no major info dumps in this story and what information is imparted flows naturally.

My problem lies in the relationship between Zorren and Mira. I accept it is being presented as a D/s relationship and I have no problem with that per se. However, the heart of any true D/s relationship is mutual respect and consent. I did not feel that Zorren had any respect for Mira and wasn't interested in getting to know her or making her feel comfortable in an alien environment. Neither did I feel Mira was giving any meaningful consent to the abuse. I want to be clear that this is my issue and not necessarily a flaw in the writing. This is a barbarian world and a strictly patriarchal society, and that is something I will always kick back about.


All this being said, I very much enjoyed the story, the dynamics of the relationship and the advancement of character and situation. I would heartily recommend it to any lovers of fantasy or those who are undecided. It is definitely a good first dip of the toe into fantasy and is a very well crafted work.



Title: Playing With Fire (Book 2 Bride of Fire)

Author: Jane Burrelli

Release Date: 02/06/2018

Taglines: This princess isn't afraid to play with fire, are you?

An exiled princess, a forbidding lord and a bond that ties them together

Can Mira thaw Zorren's icy heart or will he lose her forever






Review


This series keeps getting better. I talked, in my review of the first book, about the author’s skill in world building and characterization, and she certainly came through in this one. The world building really is sublime. She showers us with delicious detail, with no noticeable info dumping at all. Everything from the place Mira lives, the people she meets, to the touching stories she stumbles across, are consistent and real. The heat of the forge, the icy chill of the city, the echoing silence of the practice grounds are all conveyed with realistic detail.

I felt very much as if I was following Mira through the maze of new experiences and meeting the people she met – some good and some bad. Even her fire-bending (yes, I went there), so alien and fantastical was dealt with in such a realistic fashion – it didn’t come easy, she had to practice, she wasn’t the greatest fire-bender ever.  The characterization was so good, I felt something about everyone, from the servant, to the poor family, the smith, the cook, everyone up to the Ice Lord himself.

Therein lies my problem with both books. I’m sure it won’t be a problem for very many people, but I just can’t slide by without commenting on the way Zorren treats Mira. I struggled to find anything to like in Zorren, and the mysterious incident in his past doesn’t, in my opinion, justify the way he acts in the present. I appreciate this is a barbarian society and Zorren is true to his archetype. In fact, I’m sure it’s something that will endear him to some people, just not to me.

With any other author, I might stop reading here because Zorren would be irredeemable, but if anyone can persuade me to forgive the unforgiveable it’s this author, so I will buckle in and hope for the best. Even if she can’t redeem Zorren, I know there will be rich detail, wonderful stories and Mira will have her happy ending.

All in all, the first two books of this series were, quite simply breathtaking. I haven’t read fantasy in a long time, and this book has reminded me what I’ve missed. It was so easy to read, so enthralling and even that fact I hate Zorren so much is testament to the skill of the writer and the power of the story.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the books to anyone who likes a great story with a good pinch of realism and a touch of magic.


Amazon Author Page UK
Amazon Author Page US


Excerpt


“Then by your own logic what shall your forfeit be for insulting my line and position?” My mouth gaped, realizing that I had been herded into a well laid trap with no reasonable defense. This time when I tugged my hands, Zorren let me go free. The blanket fell from my shoulders and the hairbrush I had been using clattered upon the floor.

You lay so much as a hand on me and I will scream until it wakes the deities themselves,” I snarled.

Zorren raised both brows. “You cannot have it both ways, your Highness, or are you a hypocrite?”

His words rankled and I did not care for them, or the truth they held. He sat back and folded his arms, watching as I paced back and forth like an agitated cat. I shook my head in vehement denial.

“You will not touch me.” Though my voice was not so strong and sure. “I am a princess.”

“Don’t be sure of that, Hellcat, actions have consequences.” Zorren reached for me and I neatly sidestepped him.

“I’ll scratch,” I warned, my eyes flashing while stepping back. Unfazed, Zorren rose to his feet. “I’ll bite.” Another step back, space rapidly shrinking. “I’ll fry you!”

White unsettling eyes never left me, not even for a second. “Duly noted,” Zorren drawled, stalking closer. “While you may scratch and bite the result will be the same. Your bottom over my knee growing steadily redder and redder.”

“You can’t do this.” I dashed around the other side of the bed. “I won't let you.”



Author Bio

When I realised that the world was not hiring for a ‘sarcastic but benign Supreme Ruler of the Universe’ I’ve decided to focus on my passion. By day I work in a UK company’s finance department and by night I become my alter ego Scribble Girl or as my good friends have affectionately dubbed me the 'sex author'. Always armed with a notepad and pen in the black hole I call a handbag, I have been writing never ending stories since the age of 11 and this all stemmed from my love of reading.

I love reading. Period!

I’m part of the Harry Potter generation and while waiting between books would literally devour any book I could get my hands on. Let’s put it this way J.K Rowling has a lot to answer for. I adore that there is no end in sight to where your own imagination can take you and that between the pages of a book you are transported to another world.

Happy Reading!



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Monday, 18 June 2018

Introducing The Von

Who are The Von?

The Von are a grunge band, fronted by Norwegian Viking, Erik Von Nordgren, and consisting of Erik, his best friend, Billy(drums), a school friend, Joey (Lead guitar) and his girlfriend, Daisy (bass guitar). Currently, they are practicing in Erik's garage to a small band of groupies, but they are going places.

When Erik meets Asher, Daisy's twin brother and fellow Brit, sparks fly - literally when a bored Asher plays with Erik's father's power tools during a practice session. What follows is a series of tit-for-tat incidents that end when Erik knocks Asher into the school pool during a fight and almost kills him.

Poor Billy, who has been in love with Erik since they fooled around as kids, is forced to watch what started as a bitter feud turn into something powerful and intense, while he's left on the sidelines watching a stranger capture the heart of the man he's crushed on for half his life.

The course of true love does not, of course, run smooth. Erik and Asher's on again; off again relationship burns hot and cold because Erik won't come out of the closet, and Asher refuses to hide anymore. What results is a train wreck, but a heck of a fascinating one.

Without further ado, lets meet the members of The Von and find out what all the fuss is about.

Erik Von Nordgren 



Okay, he's lost his head a bit, but that's hardly unusual for Erik!


Birthdate June 3 Sign: Gemini

Born to Norwegian parents, Erik is the first generation to be born in America. He is tall for his age, 6’3” and has light blond hair to his shoulders, light blue eyes, and a muscular build. He is the typical teenager; brash, rude, and full of himself. Ok, maybe not completely typical. He walks around school like he owns the place and keeps his friends very close; because he knows one day he’ll be a mega star and he’ll share the glory.

His love of music has been life-long. He’d sing along to everything he’d hear. Later, he discovered the grunge era of the late 90's, that he missed because he was too young. Throwing himself into it with a gusto, adopting the "look" and immersing himself in the music. He falls in love with alternative sounds, and emulates the grinding voice and grungy appearance, complete with attitude.

Erik is an only child, constantly in trouble but never anything serious. His parents are a little frosty, but his mother is his confidante when he needs to get something off his chest. He is closeted and secretly very afraid to come out publicly. Already, his locker has been broken into, and his tires slashed by kids suspecting his sexuality. His close friendship with Billy (his friend since the sandbox) just makes people even more suspicious.

When he was much younger, he was in love with and had a brief sexual relationship with Billy, but was so afraid of letting the truth out that he broke things off and he was banned from Billy’s house. They made up, but Billy’s parents still dislike him greatly.

Erik has a good heart, but is slow on the uptake. His head is usually in the clouds grinding out songs or dreaming of stardom. To that end, he forms his own band, named The Von, for his family name of Von Nordgren. He goads his buddy Billy, who is a fantastic drummer, into the band, as well as  his guitarist buddy Joey.  Joey has a new girlfriend, Daisy, who is a great guitarist in her own right, and the band is complete.


Daisy Berkley


(I wasn't able to find a citation. If anyone knows one please let me know and I will add. This photograph is for entertainment only as is not meant to convey any commercial intent and is widely shared on the internet.)

Birthday November 9th Star Sign Scorpio

Daisy has lived her entire life in her twin brother’s shadow. She absolutely adores him and every blow he’s received has hit her just as hard. She’s a tough nut and always has his back, even when she seems to spend half her time mediating between her brother and her parents. To be fair, they’ve all been through a lot because of Asher, but she can’t understand why they blame him so much for things that really weren’t his fault. He’s been on his last chance so many times, she’s worried that he might be pushing things too far this time.

The bright spot on her horizon is her new boyfriend Joey, and through him, the band. The Von. She’s not sure how to take the brash lead singer, Erik Von Nordgren, but the drummer, Billy, is sweet, and of course, there’s Joey. She’s happy to be able to showcase her guitar skills, honed on her many nights sitting with Asher or waiting for him, in one way or another. The neo-grunge band suits her down to the ground, with her sunny disposition and vintage style. She’s no one’s pushover though and anyone foolish enough to underestimate this English Rose will soon find out she’s got thorns.
 
William (Billy) Nathan Carp 


(I wasn't able to find a citation. If anyone knows one please let me know and I will add. This photograph is for entertainment only as is not meant to convey any commercial intent and is widely shared on the internet.)

Birthday March 12 Sign: Pisces

Billy is the only child of his parents, Barb and Tom Carp. They had planned on more, but he turned out to be their only baby. He is the love of their lives and they protect their soft-hearted son.

Billy is 5’10”, with green eyes. He has a slim build, but it is offset by his wild, wavy hair. He calls it his ‘fro. It is dark auburn red and wavy and often gets in his face. He wants to cut it at times, but he enjoys the look, so he keeps it.

He is an outgoing, sweet young man. His heart is huge and has been broken badly once already by his best friend, Erik. Yet, it is big enough to let him back in. He loves only one thing more than his folks and his friend, and that’s banging on the drums. He’s been playing since he was three years old and got his first kit at five, along with his first set of real drumsticks.

He joins his buddy Erik’s band to be near him again, and to also have the opportunity to go nuts without waking the neighbors and his parents at the same time. He’s a good boy for the most part, not in trouble much, and is loyal to the core.

Joseph David Miller


(I wasn't able to find a citation. If anyone knows one please let me know and I will add. This photograph is for entertainment only as is not meant to convey any commercial intent and is widely shared on the internet.)

Birthday July 31st

Sign: Leo

Joey is sometimes the quiet boy, and sometimes the party animal. He is enamored with his new girlfriend, Daisy Berkley and does all he can to keep her happy. He is a straight-A student, and the pride of his parents, who have three other children. His calm and quiet personality is often drowned out by the antics of his louder friends, such as Erik, whom he met over a year ago and was drawn to ever since he heard him sing at a high school talent contest. They were instant friends and Joey got to show off his guitar playing ability as well. Together with Erik’s bff Billy, whom Joey considers a very stand-up guy, they form the Von. Daisy makes it perfect.

In his off times, Joey is pretty reserved. With a large house and acreage, he is kept busy with household chores and tutoring his younger siblings. His best times are when his wild Irish cousin Connor comes to visit, and he introduces him to his new friends Erik and Billy.

Beyond music, Joey’s gift for organization and numbers keep his grades up, but his social skills keep his moral high. When the fur flies in the band, he’s usually the one to step in with reason.

Asher Berkley


(I wasn't able to find a citation. If anyone knows one please let me know and I will add. This photograph is for entertainment only as is not meant to convey any commercial intent and is widely shared on the internet.)

Birthday 9th November. Star Sign Scorpio

Although not part of the band, no introduction is complete without Asher, who tends to rival Erik in dominating whatever situation he might find himself in.

Asher is British through and through and never wanted to leave. He’s determined to hate America and everything in it, especially Americans. His only friend is his twin sister, Daisy and he’s not in any hurry to change that. Cursed with an extremely rare eye colour (lilac) instead of the normal blue of the rest of his family he’s had to fight all his life against people who were only too ready to call him “freak”.

He decided a long time ago that if the world wanted a freak he’d give them a freak. He started dressing to the image and the Goth style sucked him in. He quickly made it his own. Another decision that has served him well, was to learn to fight and fight well. He’s been taking lessons in martial arts since he was a pre-teen, although he’s never felt the need to compete or take his skills any further than his love of perfection dictates.

That was pretty much the end of his good decisions. Having fallen in with a bad crowd early in life, he’s got a fair bit of trouble under his belt and a history so dark his parents are at breaking point, and his sister’s a bundle of nerves. The Berkleys are as dysfunctional a family as you could wish to meet, and, although they used to be close, Asher's past has driven a wedge between them that has left  Mr Berkley, in particular, cold and uncompromising as far as his son is concerned.

Asher likes nothing better than to shock, to get in the blows before they fall on him. He’s a genderfluid vision in high heels, lace and leather, with bright blue streaks in his waist-length hair, and of course, his big, beautiful, bright purple eyes, that don’t miss a trick. He’s out and proud and as uncompromising as his father. The only thing that softens him is his art. He’s an amazing artist with a place in art college waiting and a summer job in a local gallery, which he hopes will open doors to hid dream career.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

RELEASE DAY REVIEW - The Recruit by Addison Albright


Title:  The Recruit
Author: Addison Albright
Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Release Date: June 16, 2018
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: Novella / 69 pages in PDF / 22,181 words
Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Vampires, HEA, Gay, Bisexual, Contemporary, Bargain, Hope, Blood Mates

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Synopsis


Albert Manlii has walked this earth for more than two thousand years, but survival on his own was never easy. Now he leads a faction of highly organized vampires who carefully guard the secret of their existence. Unlike the old days, potential recruits are carefully selected and presented with an offer.

Phillip Brewer has weeks to live—if he lets his disease run its course. He doesn’t want to die, but given a choice, will his desire to live outweigh his concerns about the vampires’ ethics?

When the new recruit’s missteps are cause for concern, can Albert control the fallout, or will Phillip’s life once again be torn apart?

Excerpt


The man moved to the bench and raised a brow in a welcoming fashion, silently inviting Phillip to join him. Phillip shrugged. He’d planned to sit here anyway, so why not have a conversation with a pleasant man while he did it?

“My name’s Albert.” He held out a hand, and Phillip shook it. The hand felt cooler than Phillip expected for someone walking on a warm day, but not exceptionally so. Perhaps he had a fever himself, and that made the man’s hand seem cooler than normal.

“Phillip.” He didn’t elaborate. There wasn’t anything he could think of to add. Small talk eluded him.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Phillip.” Albert paused, as if gathering his thoughts.

“Likewise.” Phillip kept his reply simple. Oddly enough, something about the gravity of Albert’s demeanor gave him the impression the man had directed him to the bench with a purpose in mind that had nothing to do with idle chit-chat, so he might as well let the man control the conversation. Albert didn’t give off a crazed serial-killer vibe, not that it would matter at this point as long as whatever he chose to do didn’t add pain to Phillip’s death. Not likely he’d try anything like that in broad daylight with people around, anyway.

Albert looked directly into his eyes with a steady gaze. “Phillip, I want to show you something, and I ask that you keep an open mind and hear me out before reacting.”

Phillip sat back. He hadn’t developed any expectations for this conversation, but if he had, this direction wasn’t anything he would have considered.

“I think we can help each other,” Albert continued.

“I’m dying,” Phillip said. He would have thought his appearance made that apparent, but perhaps not. 
“Whatever you have in mind, I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to make a deal with you.”

“Please, hear me out.” Albert held out an arm. “This seems like an unusual request, I know, but I’d like you to examine my arm. Go ahead and touch it. I want you to assure yourself that it is, indeed, my real arm and not any kind of advanced prosthetic or makeup designed to create a special effect.”
Phillips eyes widened. “Unusual request” was putting it lightly. But what the hell, he might as well add an interesting interlude to his final hours—or minutes, if this man turned out to be a homicidal maniac.

He put both hands on the well-shaped forearm. He felt for a pulse at the wrist and found one. The hairs appeared natural and moved appropriately as Phillip ran his hand across them. Veins were visible where expected. Phillip manipulated the man’s fingers and wrist. The bones on the back of Albert’s hand, and tendons at the inside of his wrist, moved correctly, becoming more or less prominent when the hand flexed. Then he lightly pinched Albert’s skin in various places. It felt perfectly normal, although still slightly cooler than usual.

When Phillip withdrew his hands, Albert lowered his arm. “Are you satisfied that this is indeed my natural arm?”

“Yes.” Phillip eyed him warily.

“Remember, keep an open mind and maintain your composure. Give me the opportunity to explain what you’re about to see.”

Weirder and weirder. Phillip narrowed his eyes but remained curiously drawn to hearing this man out. 
“All right.”

Albert took a quick glance around, and Phillip followed his gaze. The people he’d noticed earlier were still in sight, but nobody new had appeared.

Phillip held his breath when a small razor blade appeared in Albert’s other hand. Albert slowly drew the blade across the arm Phillip had just examined, cutting deeply enough for the tissue to separate. There was no way it was a fake blade merely drawing atop his skin. He was cutting deeply, but the blood that appeared was black, not red, and the gash closed up within seconds as the razor dragged up the length of that forearm.

“What the hell.” Phillip gasped and fought to keep his respiration steady as he turned to stare at Albert’s face. He’d been so riveted by what was happening to the man’s arm, he’d neglected to check his expression. Had that hurt? Albert’s face was tight, so maybe, although his mask of calm quickly returned.

“Do you trust your own eyes?” Albert asked. The razor disappeared into a pocket, replaced by a cloth handkerchief, which he used to wipe the remaining dark fluid—blood?—from his arm.

“I’ll admit I’m drugged up, but nothing that would explain that.” He’d pointedly requested medication that would not cause him to hallucinate or overly diminish his ability to reason. There was no point dragging out his life if he couldn’t consciously enjoy it.

He’d seen plenty of street magic in his day. Sleight of hand, etcetera, but this transcended all of that. There was simply no logical explanation for what he’d just seen.

“You accept what you just witnessed at face value?”

Phillip pursed his lips a moment before replying. “Okay. Yes. Obviously, there’s something superhuman about you.” Or he wasn’t human at all. An alien maybe?

“That’s one way to put it,” Albert said. “I was once fully human, but now…no, not quite human anymore.”

Phillip sat still as he digested that comment. Albert had “once” been human. He’d also approached Phillip—seemingly sought him out—and he’d said, “I think we can help each other.” Was there more than one logical deduction to make here?

“Please.” Phillip swallowed as a shiver of hope drifted over his skin. “I need you to spell out what you meant—earlier. Before your demonstration.”

Albert smiled. It was the smile of a man who sensed he had his fish on the hook. “About helping each other?”

Phillip nodded.

“You don’t need to die yet. I’ve been walking this earth for more than two thousand years.” Albert spoke calmly as Phillip froze in place, clenching his hands at his belly.

Two thousand years? And he wanted to make a deal with Phillip?

Did Phillip want to? What was in it for him? Everlasting life, apparently. But would it be an existence he wanted? “Who are you? You’re immortal. But how?”

“Immortal in the sense that I, and others like me, won’t appear to become older beyond our age at the time of transition. Nor will we die of natural causes. We can be killed, though. You’ve witnessed my self-healing abilities, but anything that would instantly kill a human will kill me…us, too.”

“So, if I agreed, this cancer would disappear just like that?” Phillip snapped his fingers.

“Like all of our ‘supernatural’ capabilities, self-healing improves over time. As a new convert, you won’t immediately feel better. It’ll take about a day for you to feel one hundred percent.”

That was hardly a deterrent, but Albert was obviously holding back. What facilitated this “transition”? “You still haven’t answered the question. Who are your people?”

Albert hesitated for a moment before replying. “The word you’re searching for is ‘vampire.’”

Phillip burst out laughing. He didn’t know what the hell he’d been thinking Albert’s answer would be, but the existence of some kind of magical immortality potion was difficult enough to believe without throwing in something that absurd.

Albert’s revelation probably should have made Phillip run in the opposite direction—if he’d believed it, or made him angry—because really, what kind of person fucked with a dying man like that? But at least his final hours were diverting. “You had me going there for a while.”

Tilting his head to the side, Albert raised a single eyebrow as he continued to gaze at Phillip. “Not the usual reaction. Intriguing, though. You don’t believe me, do you?”

“Please,” Phillip scoffed and gestured toward the bright sun overhead.

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Review

I enjoyed this book very much. Philip (or Neil) is a sweet character who goes from dying to damn near immortal in the space of a heartbeat and spends the rest of the book trying to process it and learn to become a modern vampire.

There are no monster in this book. The vampires are as civilized as can be and only kill people when they have to. This is one of the hardest things for Philip to comes to terms with and he doesn’t really trust them, right to the end.

There are so many things for new vampires to learn and we learn along with Philip in a fairly smooth way. There are times when it feels a little like preaching but there are no major info dumps and it all felt fairly natural. At the end of the day, when someone comes to a new situation he has to be given a lot of information in a small space of time and there are only so many ways you can space it out and make it sound incidental and natural. The author does this pretty well to be fair.

There are some lovely touches in the book, like Philip’s whole philosophy about dying and the fact that his love for the beauty of the world doesn’t turn bitter when he believes he’s about to leave it. 

There is a kind of romantic pragmatism about him that makes him na├»ve in some ways, even touching on idealistic, but grounded enough to embrace his new life – the good with the bad.

Although Albert, the two-thousand-year-old vampire who turns him, is a main character and is rounded enough to have some connection, he never felt as real as Philip did. There just weren’t the nuances that paint personality with realism. He wasn’t flat, by any means but the reader is left not caring about him as much as Philip. Put it this way, if Albert had died I’d have been…well damn, that’s sad. If Philip had died I’d have been…wtf you did not just do that. Noooo.

The peripheral characters were pretty much squarely part of the background, although I did like Marshall quite a bit. I think it’s inevitable with such a short book and a broad subject, the emphasis has to be on main characters and I think this book has come close to getting the balance right.

There were some nice touches, like the Star Wars movie and the lady with the dogs, and all in all it was an absorbing and entertaining read. There was no sex, of which I was glad, as it meant I didn’t have to skip through any pages, but there was plenty of sensuality and closeness between the characters.

I can definitely recommend this book for anyone who likes their vampires with a twist.

Meet the Author


Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay romance in contemporary, fantasy, and paranormal genres. She generally adds a subtle touch of humor, a smidgen of drama/angst, and a healthy dose of slice-of-life to her stories. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

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