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“Ardulum” Series by J.S. Fields || Book Tour, #Giveaway & Excerpts! #FF #scifi #spaceopera #lesfic

 

Happy Saturday, folks! Today’s post is part of a blog tour for J.S. Fields, celebrating her FF sci fi series, Ardulum, and the release of Third Don, book #3 in the series! If you dig stories in space and queer sci fi, definitely check it out. (And seriously, look at those shiny covers! Natasha Snow has worked her magic again.)

 

 

Banner for the Ardulum series, with the covers for First Don, Second Don, and Third Don

 

The Ardulum series blends space opera and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past, and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.

 

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GIVEAWAY:

 

J.S. Fields is giving away an eBook copy of books #1 and #2, AND a special collector’s edition First Don enamel pin to one lucky winner, via Rafflecopter:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

{Click on “a Rafflecopter giveaway” to go to the Rafflecopter widget and enter for a chance to win! Or paste this link into your browser: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4711/}

 

 

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About the Books

 

Ardulum: First Don (book #1)

 

Cover for Ardulum: First Don

 

The planet that vanishes. The planet that sleeps.

When Ardulum first appeared, the inhabitants brought agriculture, art and interstellar technology to the Neek people before vanishing back into space. Two hundred years later, Neek has joined the Charted Systems, a group of planets bound together through commerce and wormhole routes, where violence is nonexistent and technology has been built around the malleability of cellulose.

When the tramp transport Mercy’s Pledge accidentally stumbles into an armed confrontation between the Charted System sheriffs and an unknown species, the crew learns the high cost of peace—the enslavement and genetic manipulation of the Ardulan people. Now a young Neek, outcast from her world for refusal to worship ancient Ardulans as gods, must reconcile her planet’s religion with the slave child whom she has chosen to protect—a child whose ability to manipulate cellulose is reminiscent of the ancient myths of Ardulum. But protecting the child comes at a cost—the cultural destruction of her world and the deaths of billions of Charted System inhabitants.

 

 

Available at these retailers!

NineStar Press (Publisher) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (CAN) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink

 

You can also add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

 

 

Ardulum: Second Don (book #2)

 

Cover for Ardulum: Second Don

 

The Charted Systems are in pieces. Mercy’s Pledge is destroyed, and her captain dead. With no homes to return to, the remaining crew set off on a journey to find the mythical planet of Ardulum—a planet where Emn might find her people and Neek the answers she’s long sought. Finding the planet, however, brings a host of uncomfortable truths about Ardulum’s vision for the galaxy, and Neek’s role in a religion that refuses to release her. Neek must balance her planet’s past and the unchecked power of the Ardulans with a budding relationship and a surprising revelation about her own genealogy.

Ardulum: Second Don blends space opera and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past, and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.

 

 

Available at these retailers!

NineStar Press (Publisher) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (CAN) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink

 

You can also add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

 

 

Ardulum: Third Don (book #3)

 

Cover for Ardulum: Third Don

 

The planet wakes.

Atalant is torn between two worlds. In uncharted space, head of a sentient planet, the new eld of Ardulum now leads the religion she once rejected. Emn is by her side, but the Mmnnuggl war brewing in the Charted Systems, threatening her homeworld of Neek, cannot be ignored. Neek must return to the planet that exiled her in order to lead the resistance. She must return home a god, a hypocrite, a liar in gold robes, and decide whether to thrust her unwilling people into the truth of Ardulum, or play the role she has been handed and never see her family, or her world, again.

 

 

Now available at these retailers!

NineStar Press (Publisher) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (CAN) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink

 

You can also add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

 

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Excerpts!

 

from First Don (Book #1):

“Were we just attacked?” she asked incredulously. Neek took a closer look out the viewscreen. The rectangular cutter that sparkled with pinpricks of light and the wedge-shaped, agile skiffs, were Risalian. The pods—both the smaller purple ones and the frigate-sized, maroon ones—were unfamiliar. Their fomations were just as strange, stacked in columns like stones on a riverbank instead of in pyrimidal and spherical formations like Systems ships would. “Are those all Charted Systems ships?”

Yorden threw up his hands in disgust. “They’re not just Charted Systems ships—they’re Risalian ships. The cutter and skiffs are, anyway. No clue on the pods. What those blue-skinned bastards are doing out here with fully weaponized ships, I can only guess. However, they’re firing lasers. If we lose our armor and take a hit from any of those, we are space dust.”

“Comforting,” Neek mumbled. She hadn’t noticed the laser ports on any of the ships, but now that she looked closer, all of the vessels were covered with armor plating and had at least two laser turrets each.

Neek continued to watch as the pods begin to cluster around a Risalian cutter. A pod ship zipped beneath the cutter, firing wildly at its underside, before making a quick right turn and heading back to a larger pod. Five others followed suit. The cutter’s shielding began to splinter, but the ship remained where it was.

Neek leaned into the viewscreen, still unsure what she was seeing. “The Risalian ships aren’t chasing, they’re just defending. What is going on? If they’re going to appoint themselves sheriffs of the Charted Systems, they could at least fight back.”

Yorden smacked his hand against the wall, loosing a shower of dust. “Something on that Risalian ship is holding their attention. Get us out of here, before either of them gets any closer.” He pointed to a cluster of ships to Neek’s right, and her eyes followed. Little flashes of bright light sparked and then died intermittently as ships were destroyed, their flotsam creating an ever-expanding ring. A large piece of metal plating floated past the Pledge’s port window. The edge caught and left a thin scratch in the fiberglass as it slid off.

“What are they protecting that is so damn important?” Neek wondered out loud and then snorted. “Something worth more than our hold full of diamond rounds and cellulose-laced textiles?” she added cheekily.

Scowling, Yorden pushed Neek’s hand away from the computer and began his own scan of the Pledge’s systems. “Communications are still up, but I don’t think either party is listening right now.” Frustrated, he kicked the underside of the console. “Try one of them. Better than being crushed.”

“Captain, come on. We are dead in space. If another one comes at us, why don’t we just fire at it? It’s better than being rammed.” She pointed upwards at a circular hole in the ceiling. “What’s the benefit of flying a ship so ancient it falls apart if you’re not taking advantage of the grandfathered weapons system?”

Yorden’s terse response was cut off when a short burst impacted the ship. Another group of skiffs flew past, depositing laser fire as they did so. The Pledge banked to port, carrying momentum from the impact. From the direction they had come lay a trail of shattered ship plating.

A panicked voice called down from the laser turret. Neek bristled, steeling herself against the inevitable irritation that came whenever their Journey youth spoke. “That skiff just fired at us. How does it even have weapons? I thought we were the only ones in the Systems with a ship older than dirt.”

Neek wrapped her right hand back around the steering yoke. Each of her eight fingers fit perfectly into the well-worn grooves, and the brown leather darkened a shade as her naturally secreted stuk smeared from her fingertips. She smiled to herself. Flying a geriatric tramp was still better than flying nothing at all.

“Look, Captain,” she said, keeping her eyes on the battle. “I can steer this thing if we get pushed, but that is it. We don’t have any other options. They have guns. We have guns. Well, we have a gun. Why don’t we use it?”

 

 

from Second Don (Book #2):

“You have to tell her,” Nicholas said. He pushed himself out of a lean and pointed to where Emn’s blood had fallen. She’d been interfacing with the ship all the way through the wormhole and hadn’t noticed Nicholas return to the cockpit. That meant Emn was getting a lecture, one way or the other. Annoyed, she tugged at the fabric across her chest, the sensation something she was still getting used to, and turned to look at Nicholas. She’d have much preferred a lecture from Neek.

Nicholas’s eyebrow rose. “This is the fourth time I’ve seen you bleed from interfacing with the ship. If your physiology is so incompatible with it, then Neek needs to know. We need to find another ship.”

Emn dabbed at her ear with a finger, ensuring the canal was clean, and then straightened the front of her dress. She’d already stopped the bleeding. The blood vessel breaks had been small—only minor capillaries affected—and healing was simple first-don stuff. Except, each time she synced with the ship, the pain was worse. What had started as a light buzzing during her time on the Mmnnuggl flagship Llttrin, during the Crippling War, was now a pressure that thumped between her skull and brain. It was ever-expanding, pulsed behind her eyes, crushed blood vessels, and had her leaking maroon from her ears and nose.

After sitting down against the black paneling, Emn looked at her lap. The dress, which she’d managed to keep mostly clean of blood, was tight in areas she’d not anticipated. It clung to her hips and chest, highlighting the most notable changes since her metamorphosis. It was… Could something be uncomfortable and yet comforting at the same time? She was an adult. There was no denying that, not with something so formfitting. Emn enjoyed the visual reminder of who she had become.

“For me to discuss any of this with Neek, she’d have to actually talk to me. Right after the Crippling War, I thought we had broken through that layer of self-doubt, or whatever makes Neek so rigid around me, but I guess not.” Emn went to pull at the front of her dress again before catching herself.

Nicholas ran his hands through his thick hair and shook his head. “You’re telepathically connected. You don’t have to be in the same room to talk.” Just as he had when she was in first don, Nicholas plopped beside her so she could lean into him. The reminder of their friendship helped ease the thumping in her head. She was forever grateful that Nicholas didn’t seem at all uncomfortable with the changes she’d undergone.

“Do you think it looks all right?” Emn asked, looking down at the front of her dress.

Nicholas snorted. “You look like a woman in a dress, Emn. It fits well. Your chest looks normal, if that’s what you’re asking, although you’ll crease the fabric if you keep pulling at it like that. If you want more specific feedback, there’s a different person you should ask. I know you don’t have a perpetually open connection, but even if she’s closed down, you could still nudge her. It’s good for her.”

Emn returned the half smile, imagining how Neek would react if she just started chatting to her through their link about mundane things, like constellations or cellulose biometals, or if she actually asked about the dress…

As if Neek had been listening, the door abruptly slid open, and the room was filled with the distinctive sound of booted feet. Emn and Nicholas stood up.

Neek took a moment to stretch, reaching her hands up over her head and letting her sixteen fingers, eight per hand, brush the ceiling. This was the only room in the small Mmnnuggl pod where any of them could stand upright, and it was blissful to do so. Stretching pulled the fabric of the flight suit taut against Neek’s chest and Emn let her eyes linger, careful to ensure the image did not leak across their bond. They needed Neek in the cockpit, captaining, not hiding in her room. She didn’t need to know about Emn’s burgeoning…something. Not yet, anyway. Still, Emn followed the tightly braided red-blonde hair to her narrow shoulders and then to her wide hips partially hidden in a baggy flight suit. Neek had her sleeves rolled up to her elbows, and Emn wrinkled her nose without meaning to. The lighting in the pod did not go well with Neek’s olive-brown complexion. Realizing that she had probably stared for a bit too long, Emn walked back to the viewscreen.

“Looks like such a harmless planet from out here,” Neek said as her arms fell to her sides. Currently filling the floor-to-ceiling viewscreen was Risal, its orange algae oceans and brown landmasses looming above them. Risal’s two moons, the red Korin and white Rath, buffered the planet on either side. At their current position, the shadows from the sun overlapped Risal in two intersecting crescents, leaving a thin hourglass shape of lit land. Two cutters were in orbit around Korin, docked next to one another near the moon’s north pole.

Emn knew more than she cared to about those moons. She had no firsthand memories, but being synced to the late Captain Ran’s cutter had given her data on both. Rath was used as an andal plantation, although it was not a very successful one. Korin, in contrast…Korin was likely where she had been born. Emn probably had had siblings there, perhaps other genetic parents as well. They’d be dead, of course, like all the Risalian Ardulans, but that didn’t make the moon any less oppressive.

Her focus was suddenly returned to the cockpit. Confused, Emn blinked, trying to clear her vision, and then realized what was happening. Her thoughts must have leaked. Now, instead of Korin, she was seeing herself through Neek’s eyes, their connection taut. It was strange to see herself from the back—a woman in a knee-length, gray dress with shoulder straps and a flared hipline, tracing a finger over the moon’s image. Her black hair held only hints of the red that shone in her youth, and the moonlight highlighted the dark veins that streaked across her translucent skin. Patterns emerged, if one looked long enough—and Neek was—patterns of geometric shapes bound tightly together, distorted and intersecting. Several words bounded across their link despite Neek’s best efforts to rein them in. One in particular struck Emn as odd.

Beautiful.

Except, calling the markings such belied their daunting mythos and marginalized Neek’s history. Emn tossed the word aside, conscious of its relevance but unwilling to call it to Neek’s attention.

 

 

from Third Don (Book #3):

I dislike this flight suit,Atalant muttered as her stuk absorbed into the rough material. The Ardulans did not refine the andalrayon as much as Charted Systems manufacturers did, and the fabric was full of rough, lumpish slubs.

If you could find some time for us to be alone and do away with the memories for a few hours, I’m sure I could arrange for my dress to make an appearance. The images that accompanied her statement flushed Atalant’s cheeks.

Maybe if we met onboard the Scarlet Lucidity , in orbit around Ardulum, where no one could interrupt us and I felt a bit freer… Atalant’s thoughts drifted into that delightful possibility. The Lucidity had soft chairs in the cockpit, wide beds in the quarters, a small bin of andal in case Emn got hungry…

Andal! Atalant’s priorities came crashing back down around her. The planet caught her wandering and whispered dreams of its own, dreams of saplings in open fields, of thick rains and busy pollinators. The collective consciousness of Ardulum sent a yearning desire for family, for a new place to call home.

“Home is overrated,” Atalant whispered.

“I don’t think so. What about your parents, Atalant?” Emn whispered into her ear, misunderstanding Atalant’s words. “Your father and your talther miss you, I’m sure. Your brother is there, waiting to see his sister.” Emn’s lips brushed Atalant’s forehead. “All the things you said at those political rallies, all the times the president cut you down, your exile, your uncle’s teachings… Could you just let all this hang? Can you let the truth, that you worked so hard to uncover, remain a mystery to the rest of your people?”

Atalant didn’t answer. When Emn didn’t press further, Atalant reached over Emn and lifted the window open to its full height. The sounds of reptiles croaking filled the silence between them. Atalant let the heaviness of her eyelids sink her into drowsy memories. She thought of the Lucidity, berthed and awaiting her return in a suburb of the capital. She thought of the gold robes she now regularly wore, of their similarities to the Heaven Guard robes she had so coveted in her youth. She thought of her brother, his pursuit of andal science over Ardulan religion, his urging her to join the Heaven Guard of Neek. She thought of soil barren from andal plantation farming, the decline of the forests on her homeworld, and the death of the Keft ecosystem. She thought of her uncle, the High Priest of Neek, of his teachings, the holy books, and of what the return of living gods could do for her stagnant planet.

The sound of Emn’s even breathing relaxed the remaining tightness in Atalant’s shoulders. As she drifted off into sleep, her mind wandered to the possibility: what would it be like for Ardulum to return to the planet Neek? What havoc would the mystic, traveling planet play on her world’s religion? On her family? Would she be welcomed as a hero, or still branded a heretic? Would she be shot on sight? Gold robes of the Eld or gold robes of the Heaven Guard? Did it matter?

What would it be like for her to come home?

 

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About the Author

AUTHOR PHOTO - J.S. FieldsJ.S. Fields (@Galactoglucoman) is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. She enjoys roller derby, woodturning, making chainmail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, but prefers female pronouns.

Fields has lived in Thailand, Ireland, Canada, USA, and spent extensive time in many more places. Her current research takes her to the Peruvian Amazon rainforest each summer, where she traumatizes students with machetes and tangarana ants while looking for rare pigmenting fungi. She lives with her partner and child, and a very fabulous lionhead rabbit named Merlin.

 

Author Website: http://www.jsfieldsbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Galactoglucoman

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16484795.J_S_Fields

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-s-fields/

 

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New Release! “The Dragon of Ynys” by Minerva Cerridwen || Blog Tour & Character Interview!

 

Happy Tuesday! If you love dragons and stories with fairy tale flair, check out this brand new novella: The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen. And if you want more asexual, aromantic, and trans characters in your library, this one’s for you. 🙂

For a fun little treat today, I’m excited to share an interview with Sir Violet from The Dragon of Ynys. (Thanks to Violet for taking the time to hang out with us! It’s so great getting to know you.)

Today’s post is part of Minerva’s blog tour, so don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour, as listed below!

 

 

 

Title: The Dragon of Ynys
Author: Minerva Cerridwen

Release date: May 16, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy tale
Length: 21,000 words
Published by: Less Than Three Press
Cover artist: Kirby Crow

 

Every time something goes missing from the village, Sir Violet makes his way to the dragon’s cave and negotiates the item’s return. It’s annoying, but at least the dragon is polite.

But when the dragon steals a person, that’s a step too far. As Sir Violet ventures out to get the missing baker back, however, he quickly realizes things are not at all what they seem…

 

 

Now available at:

Less Than Three Press (Publisher) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | Bookstrand

 

You can also add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

 

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~ Interview with Sir Violet from The Dragon of Ynys ~

 

 

Today on the Web we have an interview with Sir Violet, knight of Ynys. Welcome, Sir!

Thanks! Just call me Violet.

 

The novella you appear in is called The Dragon of Ynys, but you’re not the dragon, are you?

No, I’m a little short for that. And not scaly and toothy enough.

 

So what’s your role in this tale?

Well, they tell me I’m the main character, but… I’m basically just tagging along. You see, being a knight in a small village like Ynys is really more like being a detective. Holly hired me to find Juniper, her wife. She’d disappeared and obviously we needed her back, because who else would bake all those wonderful treats for us?

But the truth is, I’m not a very skilled knight. I wouldn’t have gotten far without the help of my friends.

 

When did you decide to become a knight?

When I was a teenager, everyone else either had these great passions they wanted to pursue, or they sort of rolled into their family’s business. But my biggest passion was food, and running a restaurant myself sounded way too stressful. Too many people with high expectations and no way of hiding from their incessant chattering…

And it’s not like our village needed a restaurant critic. Word of mouth will do the job when you’ve got all of two restaurants.

So when Lady Edelweiss was looking for a trainee, I decided I could make myself useful that way. Solving puzzles from gathering clues sounded like fun, in theory. It turned out the job wasn’t overly exciting, but… Then the dragon turned up.

 

What was your first impression of him?

It was pretty dark in the cave, so I couldn’t see Snap that well. And, no offence, but I think that was probably for the best. His teeth look kind of… sharp.

 

Does he eat humans?

Ha, no. As Juniper would put it, he’s a big sweetheart.

He might bite off my head for telling you that, though.

 

Then let’s move on to safer subjects. What’s your favourite food?

Juniper’s cinnamon rolls!

 

Ideal gift?

A flight in a hot-air balloon. I wonder how different it really is from travelling by dragon.

 

Weapon of choice?

I’d say my sword, but… Those things are awfully heavy. I prefer situations where I don’t need a weapon at all.

 

What’s your favourite moment of the story?

My fondest memory is the night outside in the forest. Not because of the forest—that was uncomfortable and awful. I don’t understand how the animals that live there ever get a good night’s sleep.

But Snap and I sat by the fire and we had a decent talk for the first time in ten years. He told me where he came from and I was honoured he opened up to me. It felt like the true start of our friendship.

 

How have things changed for you since your adventure?

I think for me as a knight the big change is that I’ve had an adventure. I’d never really left my village before. I never thought I’d say it, but it made me want to see more of the world. Fortunately, I get to travel for my new quest.

 

Is there any specific place you’d really love to visit?

I know I’d have to dress up warm, but I’d love to be on top of the world’s highest mountain at some point, just to enjoy the view. As long as I don’t have to walk there myself.

Apart from that, I’d like to try food specialties everywhere! I’m a lot more adventurous when it comes to delicacies. I think that’s something I have in common with my author.

 

And aside from the changes concerning you profession, how did the experience affect you on a personal level?

I made new friends and I’ve learned a lot. For example, the Web taught me I’m aromantic and asexual. I’d never experienced attraction nor felt a wish to be in a non-platonic relationship, and it’s nice to have words for that. Talking about it is easier than just hiding behind Snap every time the subject comes up.

 

I can imagine. Thank you for the interview, Violet.

Thanks for having me! Now let’s move on to the important part.

 

Yes, I can’t wait to try those famous cinnamon buns!

 

You can read about Violet’s adventure in The Dragon of Ynys, published by Less Than Three Press on May 16, 2018, and available for purchase here.

 

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Schedule for The Dragon of Ynys Blog Tour!
May 15 – 28, 2018

 

May 15

 

May 16

 

May 20

 

May 22

 

May 28

 

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About the Author

Minerva Cerridwen is a Belgian writer and pharmacist with a great love for fantasy, science fiction and fairy tales. She enjoys baking, drawing and handlettering. Since 2013 she has been writing for Paranatellonta (http://paranatellonta.tumblr.com/). Her first published work was the queer fairy tale ‘Match Sticks’ in the ‘Unburied Fables’ anthology. For updates on her newest projects, visit her website (http://minervacerridwen.wordpress.com/) or follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/minerva_cerr).

 

You can also visit Minerva on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minervacerridwen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15904760.Minerva_Cerridwen

 

 

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“Masters and Mages” Series by Alexis Duran || Book Blitz, #Giveaway & Exclusive Excerpt!

 

Hi, everyone! Today’s post is a book blitz for Alexis Duran’s “Masters and Mages”, an MM fantasy romance series that she’s re-released in the last month. She’s also sharing these brand new covers for the series! Enjoy, and don’t forget to check out the exclusive excerpt and giveaway below.

(And pssst… The 1st book is FREE on Amazon until May 18th!)

 

Covers for the three books in the Masters and Mages series by Alexis Duran

 

 

BOOK ONE
Title: Touch of Salar
Author: Alexis Duran
Series: Masters and Mages #1
Re-Release Date: May 6, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, MM Romance, novella

 

Cover for "Touch of Salar" by Alexis Duran

 

BLURB

In a world ruled by tyrannical kings and fickle gods, the young monk M’lan finds himself at the center of royal intrigue as his healing powers attract the attention of his superiors. When he learns the handsome warrior whose body he’s tending to is not only a noble, but a king’s assassin, any attachment to him might prove fatal. Despite the danger, he can’t stop himself from falling in love. Can he risk the abandon of passion when a slip of the tongue might force his lover to execute him?

Major Jamil Jarka comes to the temple with one intention—heal his wounds so he can return to the fight against the rebellion. When the monk assigned to him turns out to be stunningly attractive, he sees this as a pleasant distraction, no more. But soon he finds himself becoming obsessed with M’lan and is torn between the fear of betrayal and the lure of love.

Sinister forces strive to turn the monk and the warrior against each other—a conflict neither will survive if they cannot trust their lives to love and the healing power of Salar.

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

** FREE on AMAZON until May 18th **

Available on Kindle Unlimited

 

 

 

BOOK TWO
Title: Blood of Salar
Author: Alexis Duran
Series: Masters and Mages #2
Re-Release Date: April 19, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, MM Romance

 

Cover for "Blood of Salar" by Alexis Duran

 

BLURB

M’lan, headmaster of the order of Ka’alar, and Jamil Jarka, king’s assassin, find their impossible love challenged to the utmost as a rebellion sweeps them apart, sending Jamil on a dangerous mission to assassinate the rebel leader, General Charvat. Unknown to anyone, Charvat is on his way to the temple to exploit the headmaster’s magical abilities.

When the rebel army arrives, M’lan is thrust into a struggle against political and personal dominance as Charvat attempts to break his resistance. Violence and death mount, awakening within M’lan both the powers of destruction and the desire for revenge.

On the trail of his prey, Jamil begins to question his devotion to M’lan as his once innocent lover transforms into a mage and invades the assassin’s thoughts and dreams. The closer Jamil draws to M’lan, the more he puts his life and his very soul at risk. Jamil soon realizes that his lover might prove to be more deadly than the man he was sent to kill.

A final confrontation between assassin and monk might destroy them both, but Jamil is relentless in his determination to rescue M’lan, knowing that only his love can master the mage.

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

 

 

 

BOOK THREE
Title: Curse of Salar
Author: Alexis Duran
Series: Masters and Mages #3
Re-Release Date: May 7, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, MM Romance

 

Cover for "Curse of Salar" by Alexis Duran

 

BLURB

In the kingdom of Jahar, the rule of mages has been overthrown. Prince Dezra Luzan is being held prisoner in the ancestral palace. In order to stay alive, he pretends to be a drug-addicted wastrel, trusting no one, not even his lovers. Into his lonely existence comes a man who should be his sworn enemy; Captain Rayn Nevar. Dezra is irresistibly drawn to the rough soldier and his longing for a simple sexual encounter quickly builds into a dangerous obsession.

Captain Rayn Nevar knows he should stay away from Prince Dezra, but his desire for the beautiful young man overrides all common sense. Rayn soon finds himself protecting the prince from a plot to destroy the last of the mages. When treachery leads to Dezra’s escape, he is at last free to unlock his long repressed powers. Only the arrival of a mysterious monk with powers greater than Dezra’s stops the prince from using sorcery to destroy all who stand in his way, including Rayn.

As Jahar edges toward another war between masters and mages, Rayn must question his devotion to his increasingly deadly lover while Dezra must decide if ultimate power is worth the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

 

* You can also find Masters and Mages on Goodreads! *

 

♥      ♥      ♥      ♥      ♥

 

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT
from Curse of Salar

 

Ancient words he should not have understood and yet did floated into his consciousness.

Those who would serve Ka’alar must enter his temple with no intention other than to submit to the serpent god.

Those who would serve Ka’alar must offer body and soul to the serpent god. Ka’alar, ever hungry for blood, will decide their fate.

There was nothing Dezra could do now to alter his fate. The god would decide whether or not he was worthy. Bathing wouldn’t help.

Still, he was glad he was dressed as a warrior even if he didn’t feel like one. He was glad to have Rayn’s simple blade at his side, rather than some fancy knife designed purely for ritual. He only wished he could have killed his enemy, Toroth, before offering himself to the god. What had Dezra done in his life besides living off the backs of his people?

All that would change now. Or he’d die at the will of Ka’alar.

“Prince Dezra, son of Khiros and Isara, Chosen of Ka’alar, Divine Hand of the Spirit of the Armazin, Living God of the Armazin, Earikk, and Tovald Peoples, I welcome you to the well of Ka’alar.”

Gaze locked on the ground at his feet, Dezra hadn’t realized he’d stopped walking. He raised his eyes and looked at the man who’d addressed him. He’d never seen a priest of Ka’alar in the flesh. The man wore a sleeveless crimson robe. Snakeskin tattoos coiled up his arms all the way from his wrists to his neck and across the back of his shaved head. He had small, bright blue eyes, and he stared at Dezra with a combination of raw hunger and awe.

This is real, Dezra thought and froze in place. The priests waited for him. The wind whistled through the narrow valley and chilled Dezra to the core. The soaring peaks jutting straight up around them made him feel as if he’d already fallen partway down the well.

“Have you prepared your soul for the offering?” the priest inquired.

“Yes,” Dezra lied. This was happening much too fast. He needed guidance, training, purification. He clenched his teeth to stop from shivering or laughing wildly.

“Follow me.” The priest picked up a torch waiting in a bucket of oil, and an assistant lit the tightly wound cloth. Small flames consumed the tip and fluttered in the wind. The raiders started to murmur a chant, which for some reason made Dezra want to throw up.

Instead he forced his legs to move and trailed after the priest in a falsely confident manner.

 

***

 

EXTRA EXCERPT from Touch of Salar!

 

Jamil strode through the cool temple corridors and noted that his hamstring had loosened and there was no sensation of a catch as he walked. He’d had the symptoms since that day fourteen passages ago when his instructor had struck him down. Maybe there was something to this healing-energy business after all. His mood felt lighter than it had in ages as he entered the treatment room, once again awash with the amber tones of dawn.

The monk M’lan stood just out of reach of the sun’s rays, head bowed. Strands of blond hair glinted as a gentle breeze stirred them. He did not react as Jamil entered, and he kept his eyes down, as was proper. This gave Jamil a chance to observe him more closely. The monk had been in his thoughts since the other morning, as a constant irritation and source of pointless distraction. All harmless enough, though time moved ever slower as he waited impatiently to feel the monk’s hands on him again.

Today the monk’s face was expressionless, a mask of inner peace and outward aloofness. Probably the sensual impact of the treatment was an inadvertent side effect. Slightly disappointed, Jamil wondered if he could cast a ripple across the smooth facade.

“Greetings of the dawn, M’lan,” Jamil said. He was rewarded with a quick, surprised look, a flash of umber eyes that became cold and distant as they lit on Jamil’s smile.

With eyes down again, the monk asked, “How are you feeling, Major?”

“Sore. You did hurt me, as promised. But that old sword wound has ceased to bother me, so it was worth it. Maybe today you can heal my hand.” He held out his injured right hand and tried to flex the fingers. They bent reluctantly, and he winced as he tried to close them farther.

“That, Major, will take time. As I said, we must start at the surface and work our way down.” “That seems backward to me. The sword wound on my leg happened when I was a lad. This is fresh.”

“It is the depth of the injury, not the age, that counts.”

“You’re the expert,” Jamil conceded. He let his robe drop and lay again on the table, determined this time to relax and not fight whatever sensations came, as they appeared to aid his healing.

Again a charge jolted him as M’lan laid hands on him, and then a warm tingling sensation along every nerve in his skin as fingers slid, smoothed, and dug into the seemingly endless knots in his muscles. Today the treatment was more businesslike, though the monk’s touch was pleasant and, in an odd way, comforting. Jamil felt like a pet cat being stroked by an attentive master. Master.

This image made him tense up somewhat. If he relaxed too much, the monk might gain the upper hand. That was ridiculous, but Jamil had rarely allowed anyone full control of his body. It seemed to him that they’d both decided to retreat from the dangerous territories they’d so briefly touched on the previous day.

 

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About the Author

Alexis profile picAlexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing. She’s worked in museums, finance, film production and for several performing arts organizations. Her favorite job so far has been inventorying the collection of a haunted Victorian Mansion. She is the author of the Masters and Mages and Edge of Night m/m fantasy series as well as several stand-alone romances. Her fiction has won several awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference and First Runner Up from Love Romances Cafe. She lives with one dog and four and a half cats. She is always working on the next novel and has several new ideas brewing at all times.

Links: Blog | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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~ BLITZ SCHEDULE ~

 

May 16th

Stories That Make You Smile | MJs Book Blog and Reviews | Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words | Hoards Jumble | We Three Queens

May 17th

Love Unchained Book Reviews | Momma Says To Read or Not To Read | Tangents and Tissues | Triple A | MM Good Book Reviews

May 18th

Bayou Book Junkie | Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews | Making It Happen | Velvet Panic | Archer Kay Leah

 

 

 

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Celebrating 4 Years of The Republic Series! ~~ Anniversaries & An Excerpt from Book #5 (WIP)

Covers for A Question of Counsel, Four, and Blood Borne, on a colourful background with a rose

 

Welcome to a happy occasion: the 4th anniversary of The Republic series! ^_^ ♥ ♥ ♥

In some ways, I still can’t believe it’s been that long. When I decided in 2013 that I would hunker down and concentrate on writing, I didn’t know what was coming. As a kid, I’d dreamed of being a published author. Reading and coming up with stories gave me so much joy, but they also gave me refuge — I was a kid that never really fit in, so stories gave me a place to be happy. I tried to get published when I was 14, thanks to my mom’s help. We subbed out my first novella, and it was (rightfully) turned down. But I kept trying other options later on, most of which didn’t go far. Then university came around and… yeah, I didn’t get much written there except for a few poems, some of a dark fantasy novel (that STILL needs to get published), and a crapload of scientific papers. Creative writing took a backseat to academics. It made for a very, very grumpy me — a key lesson I learned during those 9 years.

Once 2012 happened, priorities changed. With Mom’s death came a very damaged, broken-down me, stripped to the core, where I could do nothing but write creatively. I was useless when it came to doing anything else. I couldn’t even read a simple email without stumbling over and over and crying in frustration, because all I wanted to do was throw the computer out the window. So I lost myself in writing that fantasy novel I’d started in first year, keeping busy while processing my grief. It made for the best therapy, giving me something positive to focus on and feel like I was doing something.

In 2013, I committed to writing and subbed stories to three different publishers — all of whom came back with acceptances, to my surprise! One story was a YA fantasy novella I need to republish. Another was a dark fantasy-horror short story in an anthology. (I’ll republish that story at some point, though I want to make it part of an actual collection.)

The third story, though, was Rule Breaker. I subbed it that year, and Less Than Three Press published it in May 2014 as part of an anthology.

And so The Republic began, even though I had no idea where it was going at the time.

 

Welcome to the World of A Serial Serialist…

I’d had so much fun writing Rule Breaker, and I loved my first taste of writing queer fiction and romance, so when the chance came up to write a story that ran with what I started in RB, I jumped on it! A Question of Counsel happened, which turned out to be a longer novella than RB, and was published in May 2015.

Everything since then has been an explosion of ‘OMG, ALL THE THINGS I CAN DO!!!’

RUN.

FAST.

Because there’s an attack of books coming your way.

This series has just found its hunger to exist, so I’m going with it. Four came out in 2016, a happy “Where the $%#! did this come from?!” that I let take over, and Blood Borne was 2017’s offering — the darkest one of the bunch so far. I don’t have a date yet for when Soulbound will come out, but my guess is early 2019. There’s a lot of story to be edited. (Here’s to hoping my editors don’t dump a truck’s worth of red pens over my head in retribution.)

In the meantime, I have my work cut out for me!

I was hoping to republish Rule Breaker this year, since I got the rights back, but best laid plans and all. I’m still working out the particulars of the new version, which will be built around the original. I loved the way it was, so I don’t want to dismantle it, just expand on it. I’m committed to working it into the series properly, connecting it to the whole with new details. There’s a second book I want to write that revolves around the same characters — Gren and Tracel — as well as introducing their son, Playe, who finds himself in trouble more often than not.

There’s also the matter of considering a second edition for A Question of Counsel. When I wrote AQoC, I was so focused on making sure it fit within the required word count, I missed out on a ton of things. I didn’t write it as fully as I could’ve, and I’ve regretted it for a couple years now. It doesn’t help that I’m so deep in the series, there’s a whole new set of things to throw into the book!

As for Four and Blood Borne: I’m still happy with how those came out. I wrote both with complete abandon, word count be damned, and they turned out even better than I’d hoped. Sure, there are a few details I’d change, but I don’t plan on mucking around with them much… even though some readers wanted to see Tash’s perspective in Four. Trust me, that’s a whole new level of angst that’s better off in Soulbound. *wipes away cold sweat*

 

Now What? Where’s This All Headed?

So, okay, there’s this thing that happened after I wrote Four, because Tash’s story really got to me: my muses decided an over-arching story line was The Thing for this series. Originally the books were meant to stand alone completely… HA, right. That’s out in last year’s trash. The story line has become the WHOLE thing, and it’s been setting fires all over the place. The ideas are piling up and intermingling and growing teeth and getting all scrappy.

The Republic is far from finished. There’s so much more on the way… and some of it is just plain MESSED UP.

Cruel. Did I mention I can be so utterly and wickedly cruel to my characters?

*innocent face*

The series will have a beginning, middle, and end, all of which ties into the what’s going on between the main characters and the Shar-denn… There’s a war coming, and it’ll get nasty. Even more challenging: it’s not a traditional war for this nation. Instead of sorting everything on a battlefield, it’s urban warfare — on the streets, in the corners, and other places they never saw coming.

And magic. Magic is back, folks, and it’ll hit hard.

*cackles and rubs hands gleefully*

The current layout of the series looks like this (* means the book is available right now, while the others are all WIPs ):

 

First set:
Rule Breaker
* A Question of Counsel
* Four
* Blood Borne
Soulbound
Heartfastened

Second set:
Rebel Call
Hunter
Light From Shadow
Witch of War
Touch Unleashed

Third set:
Mortal Coils
Untitled story (Pellon’s)
A Matter of Fate

 

There might be a couple more there: .5s that I have kicking around, but they haven’t manifested into anything solid yet. Those are in the second half of the series, though.

There’s so much wrapped up in these, and they’ll play off of each other like the first books. Ongoing story lines are woven throughout; character arcs that take more than one book to tell. Adren has one of those rolling arcs, as does Gorgan, who readers met in Four. Mayr & Tash’s story takes three books to tell (plus the stuff in between), while Gren & Tracel will have two. Meanwhile, Aeley & Lira’s marriage grows stronger as their relationship matures and their family grows, though readers will see them as they help other characters along the way.

Basically, it’s a full roster with multiple characters that’ll slip in and out wherever they’re needed! You never know who’ll make an appearance… or what they’ve been doing when no one’s been looking.

 

And Now For Teasers of What’s to Come!
(Technically these are teensy spoilers, but they’ll end up in the blurbs or content notes anyway, so they’re not really spoilers at all.)

* Someone finally tames Rathen, Mr. Snark and Snap. It’ll be the only book in the series that delves into BDSM, which I’m just dying to write. A little kink goes a long way. *waggles eyebrows* Although on a more serious note: the BDSM will easily fold into his romance with Nerrik and bring out everything between them, giving them a chance to settle into calm instead of always chasing after life, pissed off that things never seem to change.

* Severn gets her day, and that’s important, because she’s not a warm and fuzzy character. I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers don’t gravitate towards her, because sometimes she doesn’t seem emotionally available. She’s all attitude on the outside, but she’s had to be tough for a long time, especially when she’s one of the most powerful people in all of the republic. She has entire armies at her disposal, and she deals with criminals, bounty hunters, and all manners of fighters, day in and day out. She’s not a fluffy kind of girl, and she’s worked her way up through tragedy and devastation. But she’s loyal, determined, and she can be vulnerable in just the right light, with just the right person. At a time of war, she’s exactly who they need.

* Sweet, quiet, I-don’t-want-to-hurt-anyone Gorgan really grows up. He was only eighteen in book 2, completely fresh and new to the Dahe household, but he learns and grows and readers will see his confidence take flight. There’s a lot about him that I can’t talk about because spoilers, but he’s a sweetheart that’s wormed his way into my nerdy little heart.

* Playe, Gren and Tracel’s son, will find out what it’s like to fall in love with the one person he really shouldn’t even THINK about and pegs himself a spot on Mayr’s You’re-So-Dead list. Awkwardness ensues.

* And finally, Cota. Oh, Cota… That’s all I’m going to say. 😀

 

So that’s what’s up with the series! Thanks for hanging out with me, and the warmest thanks to everyone who’s supported this series, whether by reading or commenting or just offering some much needed moral support. These books wouldn’t happen without you. ♥♥♥

 

 

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

And now, an excerpt!
Taken from Rebel Call, book #5 in the series.

* Note: This is raw, taken from the WIP manuscript. All of this is subject to change.

Enjoy!

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The fancy folded parchment simply laid there on the dingy grey doormat, unbidden in all its deep blue jewel and coiled silver ribbon splendour, waiting for someone to take an interest.

To invitation or not to invitation? Dawne stared at the lavishly presented package, careful to maintain three foot lengths between him and the front entrance where the parchment had been slipped through the message slot near the bottom of the black wood door. The parchment’s oddly disturbing presence meant someone had deliberately chosen to open the heavy outer door and slip the message through the thick inner door with the expectation he would read the blasted thing.

No one invited him to anything with such pretty effort, not since he had told his parents to shove their vile existence up the ass of a rather detestable creature—preferably one with an aptitude for spewing rank fluids through every bloody orifice. Invitations were usually a quick ramble of words exchanged with a pleased clasp of the arms and a hasty farewell, usually followed up by a long night of wasted time. Most of those forgettable evenings were nothing more than pretending he gave a wit about living as he sat in a tavern with his work mates after a long week of labouring over stone.

For anyone to request his presence with formal flair was frightening, eliciting more than one dreadful thought. Other than the contemptible entity he was supposed to lovingly regard as family, who did he know that would bother with such frippery?

“Waste of money,” he muttered, his curiosity deciding how the battle would end. Dawne snatched up the message and turned it in his hands, the sharp corners scraping his calloused skin. The glossy white parchment shone in the sunlight streaming in from the semicircular windows above and on either side of the doorway. When he tilted the message forward, metallic threads gave the parchment a surprising blue sheen as if the clearest of summer skies peeked through invisible cracks in the paper. Small square jewels adorned the edges of the parchment, a perfect line of rich blue stones that stopped at the fold and continued over the back. The mass of curled silver ribbon seemed to burst out of the top left corner like tangled bolts of lightning and dangled over the elegant black calligraphy with his name: Dawne Akene.

“Dammit,” Dawne grumbled, tempted to toss the parchment into a fire without a second thought. Whoever it was knew his name—the troublesome parts, anyway. It could have been worse: they could have fully addressed him as Graceling Dawnere Esel Akene. Had they dared, he would have given them a hundred thousand points for being an absolute pain in his balls.

If luck was feeling extra devious, however, at least one citizen in Maiden Mist had been asked for his whereabouts—perhaps even glimpsed the handwriting—and would no doubt pester him later about his lineage. He had spent years living in the city with a single name like everyone else not born to one of Kattal’s wealthy Grand Families, blending in with the comings and goings of republic life as if he were born to his life as a mason. The last thing he needed was for those he considered his peers to see him as anything else, especially when they were sure to get it wrong. To be accused of descending from one of the hoity-toity Grand Families was one thing, but to actually come from a Goddess-touched family that took hoity-toity to heights even the stars could choke on was arguably worse. At least the Grands could fully exist and be open about who and what they were, for better or for worse. The Goddess-touched’s existence still revolved around themselves, the truths of their origins and magic hidden in plain sight even after hundreds of years.

While he hated those secrets, he detested the thought of his identity being known by the people of Maiden Mist. He needed their trust for a little while longer; to feel like one of them until he figured out the rest of himself, whoever that was.

This mess first. Dawne shuffled back through the tiny foyer and turned into the sitting room. Like almost everything else in the house, the room was modest and humble with its limited frills and décor. Heavy charcoal grey curtains hung around the two sets of wide, dark brown casement windows, one set of which overlooked the front yard and cobblestone street, along with his dismal garden of weedy overlords and their crafty wild flower underlings. The windows on the furthest wall opened onto the narrow stone path between his house and his neighbour’s fifteen paces away, leading to the fenced-off yards behind their houses.

The windows were the first things he had replaced the week he moved into the house five years ago, quickly followed by a half-hearted attempt to repaint the inside of the house. Where the walls had once been vibrant green and soft pink, they were now a subtle, creamy yellow with rich, fern-green baseboards. The wood floor he had left dark red, relieved no one had seen fit to destroy it with bright, cheerful colour. The most he had done was polish the boards and add a coat of stain, encouraging the black tinge inherent in the wood to come through. After those adjustments, the house had felt more like his lair than the sickening joyful fantasy he had purchased after a single look-over to ensure it was structurally sound. He had barely cared about anything else, already intending to strip the house apart as necessary to make it his own. His only desire had been to leave his previous life behind, abandoning what he had once shared with his wife and husband.

Dawne quirked his lips as he glanced at the hearth to his left, its mantel nearly bare save for the eight white candles on their black stone bases and the miniature white marble statuettes of the four goddesses. Kikes and Tey would definitely say this was all me. They’d also never let me decorate again. Snorting, Dawne clutched the invitation tighter and glanced around the room. Kinika had never let Dawne decorate their home, arguing he could see the beauty in even the darkest, slimiest cave and would dress the house to match. Teygan had taken her side more than once, insisting that Dawne worry about fixing the broken things and leave the prettiness to them since they were both useless with tools.

Dawne was still convinced those arguments had simply been Teygan’s way of making Dawne get into all sorts of positions while he worked. More often than not, Teygan had stared Dawne’s ass every time—at least those times when he wasn’t staring at Dawne’s naked chest, usually up close with his lips on Dawne’s sweaty, tattooed skin.

He always was the best distraction. Dawne almost laughed, the moment of happy nostalgia difficult to swallow. How he had managed to get anything done with those two around remained a mystery he would never dare pick apart. They had loved hard, the three of them, and life had been the curious links in between, patching their time together from one day to the next.

On his own, living was monotonous and more a question of why and how than when and where. He had chosen a simple house in the city, not far from the city centre, needing nothing more than a few walls to call his own. The sitting room, dining room, kitchen, pantry, and the closet of a bathing room took up the first level. On the floor above, two bedrooms; one for him to sleep in and the other a workshop for projects to keep him busy when there was nothing in the house to mend. Contrary to the few sketches and paintings on the walls and the occasional wood or stone carving, the place was comfortable and well lived-in. If anything, it was more than enough space for a young widow who spent more time outside of it than inside, convinced it was better to work himself ragged than wallow in an empty house with nothing but memories for scars.

She’d still insist I get more furniture, though, Dawne mused, learning against the quaint writing desk beneath the front windows. Had Kinika’s ghost risen and had her way, she would have likely burned the sitting room down just to teach him a lesson in propriety—not that he was unhappy with his choice in twin wicker chairs and their lumpy piles of mismatched yellow pillows, the squeaky black rocking chair that was at least twice his age, and a worn green settee from the elderly couple five houses down. Though he supposed he could make an effort to replace them one day with something Kinika would have approved of. At least something he would have allowed their son to sit in without fearing for his safety…

That’s quite enough of that. He tore into the invitation, banishing the memories he hated more than all the others. Blue jewels adorned the inside edges of the glossy parchment, framing the message written in more of the same fancy hand on the front.

Dawne skimmed the words, letting out a shaky breath that was one part relief and nine parts anxiety-climbing mortification. While he was grateful it was nothing to do with his family, an invitation to the annual Feast of Emeraliss celebration hosted by Eriath Previlyn was almost as horrifying.

Eriath… That explains everything.

 

 

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“Unforgivable” by Elle Keaton || Blog Tour, #Giveaway & Guest Post (+ Excerpt)!

 

Welcome to another Friday! Elle Keaton has a new MM Romantic Suspense book out, and she’s stopped by with a great guest post about her Accidental Roots series. Enjoy, and don’t forget to check out the excerpt and giveaway!

 

 

Title: Unforgivable (Accidental Roots #6)
Author: Elle Keaton

Release date: May 18th, 2018
Genre: MM Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by: Dirty Dog Press (self-published)
Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood

 

No one ever said it would be easy.

Running away from his messy divorce did not bring Ira Fragale the peace he sought. If he is going to get his life together he needs to pull up his big boy pants and take care of business. He’s been hiding out licking his wounds in Skagit for two years now, keeping his head down (except for the trail of twinks he’s left behind). Something’s going to give.

Cameron McCulloch needs to knock Ira off the pedestal he’s placed him on. Because he’s older doesn’t mean Ira has any clearer idea about life and the universe than Cam. Cam needs to focus on his own needs and forget about Ira, but he can’t. Bartending at the Loft is easy and he likes the community he’s fallen into since his family rejected him, but if he wants more out of life he’s going to have to go out and get it himself.

Ira didn’t choose Skagit at random, he came to the small city because events twenty years ago set him on his path on today. The mystery of his father’s murder may never be solved but Ira would like to lay his spirit to rest.

None of this explains the upswing of possible hate crime in Skagit. The small town has its share of trouble but someone, or someones, are on the prowl, harassing the LGBTQ community, and Cameron is in their crosshairs.

 

Content & trigger warnings: Unforgivable has an assault (physical and short) scene, harassment, one character especially has to deal with a homophobic stalker.

 

Now available at:
Amazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA | B&N | Kobo

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GIVEAWAY:

One lucky winner will receive an eBook copy of “As Sure As the Sun,” book four in Elle’s “Accidental Roots” series. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

{Click on “a Rafflecopter giveaway” to go to the Rafflecopter widget and enter for a chance to win! Or paste this link into your browser: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d477/}

 

 

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GUEST POST

by Elle Keaton

 

Hi everyone 🙂 thanks for having me today for this part of the Unforgivable blog tour.

When I sat down to write what eventually became Storm Season, over three years ago, I had no idea it would turn into a long series. I figured it would be three and done, bam. Although, over three years ago I was also writing an m/f romantic suspense novel that wasn’t going anywhere. It was soooo boring.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just change the gender/sexuality of my characters and call it good. Most of the original material was tossed out, I did however, keep the imaginary town of Skagit (which even back then had a disproportionate amount of crime to its size). But…when I changed the main characters to mm – I had the story I was compelled to write.

Setting the series in the Pacific Northwest was always my plan, I enjoy writing about where I live. The environment is so rich and quite honestly,moody, it lends itself well to crime and activities that nasty folk want to keep hidden. I mean, we have a kind of hideous history with true crime, one that doesn’t end with Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer.

I always knew I wanted to write a mystery. Adam Klay kind of sprung fully formed from my finger tips and the more I wrote the more I learned about Skagit. Admittedly, Skagit is loosely based on several different small cities in Western Washington so the city wasn’t that difficult for me either. The rest of the series has taken on a mind of its own.

Accidental Roots is, overall, more character inspired and most definitely character driven. These guys always surprise me, I didn’t even know Joey James until the last half of SS and then suddenly he’s all – ‘next one next one’, ‘me me me’ – which if I think about it, is exactly like Joey, I shouldn’t act all surprised. *eye roll*

Are the AR novels based on real people and/or events? To some extent. I definitely borrow from the headlines, although it is a little creepy when I make up something and the next thing I know there is an article in the paper about something very close. This happened with River Home and the working/living conditions I describe on a farm. Right around the time I finished RH local blueberry farm owners were indicted for all sorts of human rights violations. Head slap.

I guess – truth really is stranger than fiction.

 

Thank you so much for having me!

EK

 

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EXCERPT

Ira supposed as he had many times, that his job wasn’t much different than Cameron’s. Cam of the golden brown hair and deep amber eyes. Cam who was so off limits that Ira shouldn’t even be thinking his name. Too young, too smart, too quick to find Ira’s soft spots. Ira’d had a moment of weakness and they’d a freakishly pleasant weekend together but he hadn’t let it continue.

And, yeah, Ira couldn’t stop himself from going to the Loft where Cam worked, but at least he hadn’t gone home with him again. A win for the team.

The door burst open again and, shit, it was the kid from the other night. Ira should have known better, but Ira’d wanted company and he’d made himself very available. Too late Ira realized he had starry eye’s and boyfriend practically tattooed on his forehead.

“Hey, Ira.” He had his hands shoved in the back pockets of his jeans, his hips cocked in what he probably thought was a cute pose. At the Loft, Ira’d thought he was thirtyish. In daylight, he was adjusting that estimate down to barely twenty-one and cursing himself. Ira liked younger men, he enjoyed the enthusiasm, in bed and out, and their worldviews – so different than the scary gay-aids world of the 1980s and 90s that Ira had experienced first hand. The problem was not they were too young but that Ira was too old.

Ira searched his memory, they’d gone to the kid’s apartment and had sex. Ira had left regardless of him telling Ira he could stay, he couldn’t remember his name. Kevin? Shaun? No. Colin?

He finished cleaning another table then made his way to the front counter to help make drinks and dole out pastries. “Did you need something?” he asked Cary – he was sure of it – on his way by.

Cary’s pale complexion flushed a rosy pink. “Oh, uh, not really,” Ira could see him scrambling to come up with an excuse for having stopped by. “I was just in the neighborhood.”

He walked behind the counter where the counter kid was staring at the influx of newcomers, “Sebastian you want to make drinks or take their money?”

“Uh,” Sebastian stared at Ira through the thick lenses of his glasses, stalling out. Ira watched Cary leave without ordering anything. Wonderful, his reputation as a complete and utter asshole was untarnished.

“I’ll do drinks,” Ira said and pushed past Sebastian to get to the machine.

Ira should’ve asked Sara for the day off but he’d hoped an extra shift would keep him distracted, and anyway he had days ahead of him to brood. Nothing could distract Ira from the fact that this was the month that his father had been murdered nearly twenty years ago, and two years since his life fell apart a second time. Over two years since he’d talked to any of his remaining family. To Simon.

The squeal of the steam wand and hiss of the heads as hot water was forced through the portafilters lulled Ira into a kind of calm. He made several espresso drinks, chatting mindlessly with the uniformed cops who were waiting for their caffeine.

A familiar voice insinuated itself past his shell of serenity. Ira had to force himself not to turn toward the sound of Cameron McCulloch ordering a drink. Cameron was at the end of the line, saying hi to a cop standing in front of him. Ira snuck a look to see if he was with anyone. Cam waited, rocking back on his heels with his hands in the pockets of his worn jeans, not talking to anyone else. On his own then.

As he often did, Cam had his long brown-blonde hair tied back in a messy knot. Ira supposed it was a man bun or whatever but on Cameron it was natural and incredibly sexy. Cameron had an air of friendliness, which probably came from being a bartender, or his naturally sweet personality. But he also had a sadness about him, an invisible cloak giving him a shadow. He hid it well, but Ira saw it. Was afraid to learn more about it, knowing that the more he knew the harder it would be to keep him at arms-length.

Cameron saw Ira glance over at him but didn’t crack a smile. He acted like they didn’t know each other. Yep, Ira was an asshole and a hypocrite. And maybe he didn’t have to worry about keeping Cam at arms-length anymore. For reasons he didn’t want to examine, he found the thought unsettling.

Cam claimed his Americano muttering a terse, “Thanks.” Then he went and sat at the farthest open table from the front. Ira went back to what he was doing but he had Cameron radar. He knew exactly where Cameron was in the room and, exactly when another man came and sat down at his table.

Ira felt anger rise, hot and heavy. Cameron greeted the stranger with obvious pleasure, first a handshake before the other man pulled him into a hug. Was it unreasonable to expect that Cameron wouldn’t meet dates where Ira worked? Hypocrite.

The line continued to grow, and Ira spent the next hour with his head down making coffees as quickly as he could. He knew when Cameron and his friend left and forced himself to focus on what he was doing, to not look up and watch the two of them leave together. He was the one who didn’t want anything, who’d seen the compassion and caring in Cameron’s eyes. He was the one who was broken and would make a nice guy like Cameron miserable in the long run.

 

Much later, after his extra-long shift at the Booking Room finally drew to a close, Ira half-heartedly tried to convince himself not to go to the Loft for a drink. It was a Friday though, and he had the next few days off. Cameron had shown up at his work, no reason he couldn’t go to Cameron’s.

Tomorrow he would quit showing up at the Loft, and stop picking up men young enough to be his kid. Stop thinking about Cameron McCulloch. The weekend they’d spent together. God. Ira was such a shit. Yeah and tomorrow he’d get his act together enough to pick up a paintbrush and actually do something with it.

Their weekend together had been incredible. Ira’d been relaxed, happy, comfortable with himself for the first time in years. He’d enjoyed the sex, of course, but he’d also soaked up the conversation, small touches, and Cameron’s genuine caring personality. They’d binge-watched stupid TV shows and compared music playlists. Ira’d teased Cameron about his ratty collection of Jane Eyre novels until Cameron had pulled one from the shelf and started reading aloud to him. Jane Eyre was forever going to be on Ira’s top ten.

They’d snuck out for food, Cameron’s small refrigerator laid bare after a couple rounds in the sack, they’d both been ravenous. Pretending the weekend could turn into more had been far too easy for Ira to imagine. Which is why he’d ended it before it went too far. Ira was damaged goods, somehow Cameron would learn the truth about him. If he let Cameron in Ira didn’t think he could knit himself back together again after he left.

Those two magical days had been a vacation from the unadulterated fuckery that was Ira’s real life. When Sunday evening finally rolled around reality had set in. Ira’d messed up enough lives, he needed to make sure Cameron didn’t think Ira was able to give him anything. So, he’d been an asshole. Yeah, Ira.

He rubbed his chest, it was like he had actual physical pain when he thought about what he had done and the pain he’d caused. He missed them both, so much. The tears caught him by surprise.

 

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Author Bio

Author/imaginator & photographer (also rare Pacific Northwest Native), Elle grew up in Seattle, WA., with the Cascade Mountain range to the east and Olympics to the west.

Elle shares her life with between three to five cats (depending on who’s counting), an extremely patient fiancé and a flock of young adults. She’s lived in four US states, London England, and Hong Kong; always knows what time it is, and has little problem finding parking even in the most difficult places.

Elle’s series made its debut spring of 2017. Accidental Roots is set in the Skagit Valley of Western Washington. Writing has always been a passion but not something she was able to take seriously until recently. Some journeys are longer than others. Now her head is full of ideas and not enough time in each day. As far as we know she wasn’t actually raised by wolves.

 

Website: https://www.ellekeaton.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16549317.Elle_Keaton

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElleKeatonWrites

Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/ellekeatonauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PirateQueenRdz1

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/elle-keaton

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Elle-Keaton/e/B06XJWJRLK/

 

 

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“The Weekend Bucket List” by Mia Kerick || Blog Tour, #Giveaway & Guest Post!

 

Happy Friday! Here’s a little bit about The Weekend Bucket List, a new queer YA book by author Mia Kerick. For readers who want to see more stories about friendships and other kinds of love that aren’t romantic or sexual, here’s one to check out. Thank you, Mia, for kindly providing this wonderful guest post to usher us into the weekend.

And the giveaway is still on! It ends in a couple days, so enter now for a chance to win that gift card. (More info below.)

 

 

Title: The Weekend Bucket List
Author: Mia Kerick
Release date: April 19th, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT
Published by: Interlude Press

 

BLURB

High school seniors Cady LaBrie and Cooper Murphy have yet to set one toe out of line—they’ve never stayed out all night or snuck into a movie, never gotten drunk or gone skinny-dipping. But they have each other, forty-eight hours before graduation, and a Weekend Bucket List.

There’s a lot riding on this one weekend, especially since Cady and Cooper have yet to admit, much less resolve, their confounding feelings for one another—feelings that prove even more difficult to discern when genial high school dropout Eli Stanley joins their epic adventure. But as the trio ticks through their bucket list, the questions they face shift toward something new: Must friendship play second fiddle to romance? Or can it be the ultimate prize?

 

Purchase links: Interlude Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

You can also add The Weekend Bucket List on Goodreads

 

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“You’re My Best Friend”

Guest Post by Mia Kerick

 

 

As a teen, I spent more nights than I can count listening to Queen albums in my family’s formal living room. Seated on the cream-colored velvet couch, set against majestic floor to ceiling sea foam draperies, my feet stayed firmly planted on the shaggy green rug, rather than on the edge of the glossy marble top coffee table, for fear of being caught in the act and banished from the only room in the house equipped with a stereo system. But where my feet were grounded, my imagination floated into the realms of friendship and love.

 

 

For many teenage girls, the romance realm is the preferred place in which to spend one’s daydreams. And Queen ballads such as “Love of My Life” and “You Take My Breath Away” reinforced this. But there was another love song, “You’re My Best Friend,” that looked at love with different eyes.

Although I now know that John Deacon had written “You’re My Best Friend” for his wife, I didn’t know this when I came to love the song at the age of fourteen. And I don’t think it is necessary to know for whom he wrote it, to understand and appreciate the song, as is about a different kind of love: the love experienced in profound friendship.

Let’s look at Deacon’s lyrics to better understand the benefits of friendship…

 

I’ve been with you such a long time

 You’re my sunshine and I want you to know my feelings are true

 I really love you”

Friendship lasts; some even last forever. Deep friendship can provide bright spots in life’s darkest times. And so, to have a best friend is to have an opportunity to love and be loved, in a steady and dependable way.

 

“Ooh I’ve been wandering round
But I still come back to you
In rain or shine
You’ve stood by me, girl
I’m happy at home”

No matter where one wanders, she can always return to the consistent warmth of friendship. Best friends stand by a person in the hard times, as well as in moments of pleasure. Friendship is a happy home.

 

“Whenever this world is cruel to me
I got you to help me forgive”

Good friends can console and help people to forgive those who have wronged them. Pain cannot destroy a person, if he has a friend on whom he can unburden his soul.

 

“You’re the first one
When things turn out bad
You know I’ll never be lonely
You’re my only one
And I love the things
I really love the things that you do”

A friend is the first one a person turns to when things go wrong, as she trusts that he will say and do the right thing to make it better. When one has a true friend, she will never be lonely.

 

“Ooh you make me live
You’re my best friend”

Repeated throughout the song is the phrase “you make me live.” By this, Deacon suggests that friendship gives life necessary meaning for a person’s emotional survival. By offering lasting dependability, unique and steady love, a sense of coming home, compassion in a harsh world, and the knowledge that one is never alone, deep friendship is all a person needs to be resilient enough to live.

Cady, Cooper, and Eli discover the depth of friendship in The Weekend Bucket List. At the story’s beginning, the three teens do not fully understand the value of friendship that John Deacon’s song suggests, and hold onto the notion that romance is more precious. However, as they tick items of their bucket list, they come to understand that friendship is an ultimate prize in itself.

 

 

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EXCERPT

She acts as if this was my big idea, but The Weekend Bucket List has got Cady LaBrie’s name written all over it. She’s persuasive, though—the girl has almost got me believing I came up with the idea to do everything we never did that “normal” kids do in high school, all in the forty-eight hours before graduation. We have a lot of lost time to make up for.

“These fries are so good.” Cady’s eyes are closed like she’s in goddamned ecstasy. I’m not sure why, but I look away.

“How can you eat so freaking much and stay so freaking skinny?” I ask, as Cady starts in on her second large order of french fries. And these are just appetizers.

“I’m petite, Cooper. Not skinny… and you’re skinny, too.”

I shrug and suck futilely on the straw that stands straight in my vanilla shake.

“Whatever.” It doesn’t matter how thick the shake is; I’m in no rush to suck it down. Cady’s the talker in this relationship, so all I’ve got to do is sit here and listen.

 

 

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

Win a $15 Amazon Giftcard

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

{Click on “a Rafflecopter giveaway” to go to the Rafflecopter widget and enter for a chance to win! Or paste this link into your browser: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/391d73bd91/}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—a daughter in law school, another in dance school, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She writes LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-four years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on emotional growth in turbulent relationships. As she has a great affinity for the tortured hero, there is, at minimum, one in each book. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of said tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press and Harmony Ink Press for providing alternate places to stash her stories.

Her books have won a Best YA Lesbian Rainbow Award, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.

Mia is a Progressive, a little bit too obsessed by politics, and cheers for each and every victory in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com. Visit her website for updates on what is going on in Mia’s world, rants, music, parties, and pictures, and maybe even a little bit of inspiration.

Links: Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 

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“Whirlwind” by J. V. Speyer || Blog Tour, #Giveaway & Excerpts! ~~ #FF #lesfic #romance

 

Happy Tuesday! QSFer J.V. Speyer has a new FF romance book out:

 

 

Title: Whirlwind
Author: J.V. Speyer
Release Date: April 14th, 2018
Genre: FF Contemporary
Published by: JMS Books

 

Rock star Jo Avery didn’t have a choice about coming out, but ever since her ex outed her as bi she’s been a proud advocate for LGBTQ+ issues. Most of her family wants nothing to do with her, but her brother has always supported her. When he gets married, he wants her in the wedding party, and she has to accept.

The only problem? Her new sister in law is the daughter of conservative pundit and anti-LGBT warrior Sarah Tremblay. Sarah has another daughter, too, the beautiful and charming Valeria.

Valeria has been in the closet since she was fourteen. She’s always envied Jo’s strength and freedom, if not her path to living her authentic life. She soon finds herself falling for the fierce, pretty rocker, but coming out could cost her everything. How many risks can she take for someone she’ll only know for two weeks?

Can Jo and Valeria turn attraction into love, or will their whirlwind romance blow out before it gets off the ground?

 

Now available at JMS Books!

 

Whirlwind is also available at: Amazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA iBooks | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords | Google Play

 

You can also add it on Goodreads!

 

 

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GIVEAWAY:

JV Speyer is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

{Click on “a Rafflecopter giveaway” to go to the Rafflecopter widget and enter for a chance to win! Or paste this link into your browser: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d476/}

 

 

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EXCERPT #1

Simon shifted uneasily in his seat. “Should I step in?”

Jo shrugged. “Seems dangerous. You’re not being paid to break up fights between conservative media hosts.” She looked up and groaned as she saw Sarah Tremblay making her way toward her. “Just when the fight was getting good.”

Simon straightened up in his seat as Sarah swept into position beside Jo. “This is not the way people should behave at an event like this. It’s supposed to be a joyous occasion, where people give the bride the material she’ll need in her new life as a wife. Not some kind of spectacle for the enjoyment of others.” She sniffed and cast her gaze pointedly at guests who had their phones out, recording the action.

Jo hated the thought of agreeing with Sarah Tremblay about anything, but she couldn’t argue either. “It’s a little bit like watching daytime television.”

Sarah stared as hotel security swooped in and separated the fighting women. The one who’d been kneed in the face was going to need an ambulance. “This is what comes from an overly permissive culture,” she said after a moment. “This is why I fight so hard.”

Jo rolled her eyes. And of course it all comes down to this. “So we can all enjoy a live action version of the Jerry Springer Show?”

Sarah curled her lip. “Do you honestly think any of this would have happened if you hadn’t showed your face here today?”

Jo lowered her eyes and laughed. “Sarah, I don’t even know those women. Any of those women. The great part of being a pariah at things like this is that no one can say they did anything because of me.”

Sarah grabbed onto Jo’s wrist with one claw-like hand. “You come walking in here with all of those tattoos exposed. That alone lowers the tone. It tells people, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter what you do.’ And with you flaunting your sin all over the place, disobeying your mother, giving your body to anyone who wants it, wallowing in the sin of Sodom and Gomorra without shame, everyone knows who you are. They know what you do.

“They think to themselves, If she can get away with that, then I don’t have to worry about what I do. I don’t have to live a clean and wholesome life. I don’t have to behave myself in public. And then we get what we had here today.”

“Wow. You get all that from a couple of tattoos and a complete failure at reading the Bible.” Jo snorted. Her hands shook, but they were hiding under the table so it didn’t matter. “Did you miss the part about motes and beams and all that? Or the Samaritan woman? I’m, like, ninety percent sure that those people would have fought even if I’d stayed on tour.”

“You should have stayed on tour. No one wants you here.” Sarah narrowed her eyes at Jo. “If even your own mother can’t stand to look at you, why should the rest of us be troubled with your presence?”

Jo shrugged. “Take it up with Tom. Much as I love hanging out here and being harangued about my sex life, I’d rather be out there with my band mates touring.”

Sarah recoiled, nose in the air. “I can see I’m not going to get anywhere with you. Just stay away from my daughter.”

Jo blinked for a second. Was Sarah really worried about Valeria’s virtue around her? If she was, that must mean she had a reason to be. Maybe there was hope after all. As for the rest of it …

She curled her lips into a wolfish smile and stood up. As Simon stood up beside her, she dropped a hand onto Sarah’s shoulder. “Oh, Sarah. I didn’t realize. I didn’t mean to lead you on. I’m not great with subtle hints. If you wanted to ‘get somewhere’ with me, you should have been more direct. If you want, I can help you find someone who might be looking for someone a little more like you, though.” She walked out of the shower, smiling.

 

 

EXCERPT #2

Jo had never been so grateful for the stereotypical “rock star” treatment in her life. She usually felt ridiculous with the whole limousine, front of the line, special treatment thing. It made her squirm. Sure, a rock star was supposed to be looked at and get attention, but some things just smacked of desperation.

When the guys at the record company gave her a private jet to get from the tour to her brother’s wedding and back, she could have kissed them.

Simon, her assigned bodyguard for this trip, smirked down at her. “You feeling any better now that we’re on solid ground yet?” His dark eyes didn’t rest on her, of course. He kept them on the crowd, the way he always did. No one seemed to have noticed them, but that could change at any moment.

“No.” Jo could be honest with Simon. She wouldn’t have asked him to come to a family event, all things considered, but she’d been more than happy when he volunteered. “No, not really. But it could be worse.” She took a deep breath and found her center, like that therapist she’d seen exactly three times told her. “We’re staying at a hotel. We won’t have to see family more than a handful of times, and those will be super public times when no one will want to cause a scene. So – we’ll be comfortable. Right?”

“Right.” Simon put a hand on her back, right between her shoulder blades. It wasn’t long, but it was just enough to give her the support and strength she needed. “And for the rest of the time, you’re going to rest, relax, take care of yourself, and maybe get a little bit of sun.”

Jo wrinkled her nose at him. “Ick. Sunshine.” They emerged from the terminal to look for their limo.

Jo didn’t see a limo. She did see a car, but it couldn’t have been farther from a limo if they’d tried. The person holding up a piece of cardboard with Jo’s name on it was a woman, a little bit older than Jo herself, and she wore a light purple pants suit. Her dark blonde hair had been restrained in a bun at the back of her neck, and she wore just a little bit of makeup. She leaned against a shiny red Prius.

With the exception of the Prius, she made Jo weak at the knees.

Simon stopped in his tracks. “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.” He shook his head. “No. Hell no. This is not what I ordered.” He stormed right up to the petite blonde, keeping himself between her and Jo. “What in the ever loving hell is this supposed to be, huh?”

The driver looked Simon up and down. “I’m here to give Josiane a lift to the hotel.” God, even her voice was perfect. She grimaced. “Er, Izzy didn’t say anything about two passengers, though. And she didn’t say anything about so much, er, stuff.” She eyed Jo’s baggage cart with suspicion. “Um, were you planning to play a show while you’re here, or…”

Jo looked down at her guitar cases. She’d only brought two. “I can’t imagine anyone would go for that.” She made herself laugh, because she didn’t want the pretty woman to think she was some kind of dour and bitter jerk only five minutes after meeting her. Of course, Pretty in Purple had mentioned Isabelle, so who knew what impressions the woman had already formed. “But I’m going to be here for two weeks, and since I make my living playing the guitar I definitely can’t afford to get rusty.” Her shoulders settled and lost a little of their tension as she got into her topic. She was on firm ground here. “And the one in the flatter case, the electric, is too valuable for me to just leave behind. I trust the rest of the band, but I’d be foolish just to leave it lying around.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Two spots of color appeared in the stranger’s cheeks. “I’m just a little irritated that Izzy didn’t warn me ahead of time. It’s not that I mind having them around, I just probably wouldn’t have said yes if I’d known. It’s going to be a kind of tight squeeze. A Prius only has so much space.”

Simon folded his arms over his chest and scowled down at her. “And who exactly are you again? Because I know I made arrangements with a company I trust.”

“I’m Valeria Tremblay. I’m the made of honor. And you’d be…”

“I’m Simon Parrino. I’m Ms. Avery’s head of security for this trip. I understand that Ms. Tremblay is the bride, but she doesn’t get to override security arrangements. No one does. Does she not get that my team has had to fend off six thousand fifty two persons seeking access to Ms. Avery alone, never mind to the band in general?”

Valeria flinched, just a little bit. “Look, I’m sorry. She asked me to help out and I said yes. I had no idea there was going to be an issue, but honestly I probably should have thought of it. I’m not all that into rock music, but obviously I’ve heard of Whirlwind. I should have realized arrangements would have been made and looked into it further.”

Jo intervened. “Look. Whatever was going on in Isabelle’s head, I’m sure we’re not going to solve it here. Right? And we’re starting to cause a scene. So maybe we can take Valeria up on her generous offer and call the limo company from the hotel.” She added another bright smile, this time for Simon’s benefit.

Simon glared. They’d been working together for so long Jo didn’t need to hear him speak to understand what was going through his head. This is not what we agreed to.

She shrugged. He would know she meant, No, but what are we going to do? People were staring, and it was only a matter of time before someone recognized her. Westchester Airport wasn’t equipped for some of the mob scenes that had sprung up at some of the sites where they’d been. She just wanted to get out of here. She gestured toward the front seat, with the implication that Simon could have it with all of its extra legroom.

After a long and tense moment, Simon rolled his eyes and slid into the unlocked passenger seat. “Fine,” he growled. “But we’re going to have to have a little chat with your sister in law about re-arranging travel plans without permission, do you understand me?”

“Oh, I understand.” Jo rubbed the back of her neck and moved toward the back of the car. After a second, Valeria remembered herself and popped the hatchback. “Isn’t he going to help you put your bags away?” she whispered, loading Jo’s suitcase into the car.

“He doesn’t, usually. The limo driver does.” Jo stuffed her laptop into the vehicle, and then her acoustic guitar. Her carryon came next. The electric would ride with her. “He has to keep his hands free. Plus, he’s in a snit. Please don’t take it personally. The last time someone changed travel plans on our security team like this, they tried to kidnap our drummer.”

“Oh my God!” Valeria gasped as she shut the trunk. “Does that kind of thing really happen?” She opened up the driver’s side door for Jo, and closed it behind her once she was inside.

Something warm sparked in Jo’s chest. She tried to push it down. It didn’t make sense. There was no way, no way in Hell, that Isabelle’s sister was into women. Even if she was into women, Jo was going to be here for two weeks. She didn’t even stay in New York City for more than a short stretch at a time anymore. They weren’t going to start anything up. That just didn’t happen.

“It does happen. All the time.” Simon tightened his jaw and glanced back at Jo. “Jo wasn’t kidding. The drummer’s family had gotten caught up in something back in her country. They were criticizing the occupying forces, and so the regime decided they wanted to send some people for her. It, ah, it didn’t go so well.”

Jo looked out the window. That had been a terrifying incident, and she wouldn’t forget it soon. She figured Simon would remember it a little longer than she would. He’d been the one who’d had to fire his gun.

“So why were you okay with just yelling at me a little?” Valeria changed lanes and cut a taxi off as she spoke. Jo hugged her guitar a little tighter as the taxi honked at her.

“A real assassin wouldn’t have referred to Ms. Tremblay as Izzy.” Simon paused before answering, but he was honest with her. “Also, no assassin would drive a Prius.” Jo caught a little bit of his smirk as he stared out the windshield.

“Excuse me? It’s a perfectly sustainable, sensible choice.” Valeria frowned at him, just a little bit.

 

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Author Bio

J. V. Speyer has lived in upstate New York and rural Catalonia before making the greater Boston, Massachusetts area her permanent home. She has worked in archaeology, security, accountancy, finance, and non-profit management. She currently lives just south of Boston in a house with more animals than people.

J. V. finds most of her inspiration from music. Her tastes run the gamut from traditional to industrial and back again. When not writing she can usually be found enjoying a baseball game. She’s learning to crochet so she can make blankets to fortify herself against the cold.

J. V. can be found on Twitter at @JVSpeyer, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JVSpeyer

 

Website: http://www.jessicawritesonline.com

Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/JVSpeyerAuthor/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jvspeyer

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14108614.J_V_Speyer

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-v-speyer/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.V.-Speyer/e/B074G3SMMB/

 

 

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