Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Excerpt Day - Shattered Glass © AC Katt

Excerpt

Milo raised his hand in a gentle gesture to let Liam know they’d reached the hotel. The driver took them around to the back entrance. From there it was a short underground walk to an area off the hotel’s kitchen where they took the elevator up to the suite.

As the doors closed, Milo pushed Liam against the mirrored walls. “I’ve had a hard-on for six years waiting for you, love,” he said as he ground their groins together. “Feel me.”

Liam placed wet kisses behind Milo’s ear and nipped at his earlobe. “I want you. I need you.”

Milo crushed Liam against him. “I need you too, baby.”

The elevator pinged for their floor. Milo picked Liam up in his arms, kissing him with a passion born of desperation. He fumbled for the key to the suite and, after unlocking the door, he kicked it open, carrying Liam through the suite and straight to a magnificent master bedroom with its huge canopy bed. Milo laid Liam down on the bed gently. A bottle of Dom Perignon sat cooling in a silver bucket at the bedside. The gold brocade duvet cover was strewn with rose petals. 
With shaking hands, Milo began to undress his lover. Liam responded with a torrent of kisses, his hands moving under Milo’s shirt to get at the golden skin he’d craved for so long.

“Slow down, baby,” Milo whispered. “We have all night.”

“I’m so afraid that this is all a dream. I’ve pictured this so many times in my mind, I don’t want to wake up and find I’m alone again.”

“I promise you, you will never be alone again so long as I live.” Milo pulled off Liam’s silk peasant shirt, kissing every inch of the porcelain white skin he exposed. He sat up, pulled off his own shirt, and shucked his pants, leaving them pooled on the floor. Liam lifted his ass to make it easier for Milo to gain access to his throbbing cock, drenched with pre-cum. 
Milo gasped as Liam’s soft mouth explored his chest and landed on a flat golden nipple.

“Liam!” he gasped as his lover bit the nub, then laved the sting with his tongue. Milo swiftly turned Liam on his back. 
“Baby, if you don’t stop, I’m going to shoot. What do you want? My mouth around your sweet cock, or me inside you?” 
Liam brushed his lips over Milo’s eyelids. “I want it all. Then I want to give it all back to you.”

Liam’s words set Milo on fire. He took his beloved’s face between his large hands and kissed him, letting loose the passion he’d walled off for years. Milo followed the line of Liam’s jaw with open-mouthed kisses that burned with the intense desire he’d long denied. His tongue traced Liam’s neck, which tasted of sweat and Liam’s own unique flavor, a blend of the sweet pale skin and spice. His hands moved, caressing Liam’s smooth chest, and stopped at the prominent pink peak that stood up for attention atop the rosy medallion of his nipple. He nipped and laved the tip as he worried its twin with his free hand.

Liam responded with a moan of pleasure and whispered encouragement, his responsive body rising off the bed to meet Milo’s roaming lips. Liam stroked Milo’s chest, running his fingers through the dark golden hair as his mouth found the sensitive spot just under Milo’s earlobe.

Milo groaned in response. “Easy, lover. We have all night.”

“I want you inside me,” Liam begged. “I want to feel you fill me up.”

Milo reached over to the bedside table, where a basket of sensuous toys awaited their pleasure. “Have you ever fingered yourself? Reached inside and tried to imagine my cock encased by your tight channel?”

“Yes! Oh God, yes,” Liam answered, his voice shaking with emotion. Milo kissed and laved his way down the light trail of hair that led to Liam’s long, slim cock, which strained up to reach over his navel. It leaked copious amounts of pre-cum that dripped down the side of his belly and onto the brocade duvet. Milo lifted Liam and swept the cover away, placing Liam on the soft cotton sheet below. With one hand, he grabbed Liam’s cock. He fisted it and stroked in a slow, steady rhythm.

“Milo, I feel like I’m going to burst.”

“Hold it back, baby,” Milo said as he grabbed the base and applied pressure, stroking Liam’s legs, thighs, and ass in gentle circles.

Liam responded to his touch by pulling at his hair and encouraging Milo to move his face toward his needy shank. Milo swept his tongue around the uncut head, lapping Liam’s pre-cum until Liam writhed with desire. Milo opened his mouth and swallowed Liam’s cock, moving his mouth and the muscles of his throat, swirling his tongue over the sensitive underside of Liam’s member. Liam’s hand tightened in Milo’s hair, pulling hard at his curls and pressing his face closer to the black pubic hair that outlined his cock and balls. Milo grabbed the bottle of lube from the basket and covered his hand with it.

He moved his mouth from Liam’s shaft to his balls and took each one in his mouth in turn, rolling them and tasting their texture with his tongue. He followed a leisurely path across the perineum, licking at Liam’s crack, teasing at the rosette of that virgin passage. He took one finger and worked it inward, carefully probing and stretching the small opening with both his tongue and finger.

Liam went wild underneath him.

“Milo, please, I need more! I need to feel you inside of me, hard and deep.”

© AC Katt

SHATTERED GLASS

Author: AC Katt
Genre: GLBT
Publisher: Captiva Press, Placida Publishing, LLC
Buy Link

Can love survive and be rekindled when a heart is broken like Shattered Glass?

Milo grew up in fear, hiding the fact that he was gay. Becoming a rock star with his band Shattered Glass was a dream come true. Finally lovers with Liam, the friend he’d desired since childhood, Milo worries about his image and keeping their relationship a secret.

Liam knew he loved Milo, even as a kid. But their fame and fortune can’t buy him the happiness of talking Milo out of the closet, able to freely express their love. Unfortunately, a fellow band-mate with vengeance on his mind conspires to break the lovers up in the most vicious way possible, destroying the couple’s relationship and shredding Liam’s peace of mind.

Six years later, Liam is older, wiser, and has rebuilt his life after the devastating loss of Milo and the band. Forced into a tenuous working reunion, Liam knows his heart still belongs to Milo. Working together to uncover the web of lies that pulled them apart, now all they have to do is survive the psychopath intent on silencing Liam and his music forever.

Contains hot rock star manlove, mysterious motives, and a brotherhood of friends strong enough to forgive.

 

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Monday, 28 June 2010

Review - Queen Of The Orcs – King’s Property © Morgan Howell

Title – Queen Of The Orcs – King’s Property

Author – Morgan Howell

Publisher - Del Rey

Main Character – Dar

Born into hardship, Dar learns to rely on herself alone. When her family betrays her, Dar is conscripted into King Kregant's army and its brutal campaign to conquer a neighboring country. Now she is bound as a slave to a dreaded regiment of orcs, creatures legendary for their savagery and battle prowess.
Rather than cower, Dar rises to the challenge. She learns the unique culture and language of the orcs, survives treachery from both allies and enemies, and struggles to understand a mystical gift that brings her dark, prophetic visions. As the war escalates - amid nightmarish combat and shattering loss - Dar must seize a single chance at freedom.

My Thoughts

I found this book just by chance and just from reading the blurb I was hooked. Dar is given into conscription by a family that had little materially and even less morally. Without a choice she accepts her fate and marches into the unknown.

Those starts Dar’s journey into a period of her life where she not only has to grow but use the gift of swift thinking and guile to get through the days. From the moment she meet the bulk of the regiment, she is branded and introduced to the harsh realities of life for a woman in the kings army.

She was now property with a price on her head if she runs. Being the new scabhead in the women camp she has no benefits except for the fact that she is fresh “meat” and soon comes under the eyes of the man in charge, but Dar has been there and done it before and she has little trust for men. That ultimately only leaves the Orcs, the inhuman beings that defends the king as decreed by their queen, Dar makes friend with one of the unlikely souls and ingratiate herself into almost every aspect of the orc’s life's – and this is what will see her through the long days and even longer nights.

Her spirit is as strong as ever and she gets into more problem and than anyone could think she would and it all comes with repercussion.

When a new girl is subscripted into the regiment, Dar takes her under her wings and eventually into the camp of the orcs, but there are eyes upon her and all of them means no good. Dar is alone and with a young girl to protect she uses all she has to survive, however when her protectors are marked for death she knows her time may also be drawing neigh. 

What a read, from the first few pages in I was hooked. When I was introduced to Dar I could tell this book was going to be a read where I had to be strong to get through bits of it.

The world building was very very good, however once I put the name to the players involved and got the lay of the land – I really got into the story more and more, and  I was seeing the magic of this book.

The book is a fast paced read, with some dastardly deed happening at all points of the day, Dar is not only strong but she has a stronger will to live. I was really impressed with her character – she alone carries the weight of this book.

There were a few things that stood out in the book for me, the Orcish language was one and a nice touch I thought – it somehow humanises the orcs and not make them feel like the killing machines that they were. The fact that the book was about ground level troops – so the march, the harsh living, the unimaginable events was an eye opening experience and of course the things that men do in the name of king and country is always a thrill to read. 

The side cast are as different as day is night, ranging from new born naivety, age old crafty experience and men with to much  sadistic tendencies. There was nothing funny in this book, no coming of age, no path that one must follow, Dar makes the rules up as she needs to and I was loving it.

KING’S PROPERTY is a wonderful first start to a series that is a great introduction to Howell’s work, but also a book that does what it intended. There was no over the top fluffing with characters or plot, and with the market infiltrated with fantasy of all kind – this very minimalistic dramatic tale was without a doubt a perfect read for me. 

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It’s Monday – Sometimes Less is More

 

A weekly event hosted by Sheila - Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week.

Books I completed last week are

Gwenna Sebastian - Lost and Found

Carolyn Brown -  I Love This Bar

Jan Irving – Wylde

AKM Miles – Stone Canyon

Anne Bruce – Parker’s Price

Joseph Kaster - The  Wisdom of Ancient Egypt

Recommending a series

This week I was trying to catch up on some of the books that are next in series that I am reading and one thing is clearer than ever, it is really a journey of pain and pleasure for us readers that follow series.

Pain at the wait that we inevitable have to endure for the next book and Pleasure when the next one rolls around and we get stuck in and hope it’s best one yet, hope some of the issues are resolve and pray we don't have too much cliff hangers for the next waiting period.

I am currently awaiting a book by Morgan Howell due out in December and thought I ‘d recommend a series by him that is so good. It’s a trilogy, so it’s all done and dusted – you don't have to wait for another book.

Any series you want to recommend

Queen of The Orcs (Trilogy)

Morgan Howell

(Summary of the series)

Enslaved by King Kregant’s army, Dar survived by befriending the fierce orcs who were also forced to serve. Now she has escaped–only to find that the price of freedom may be her destiny.
Calling on her untried leadership abilities, Dar guides the surviving orc soldiers to the safety of their homeland–but the clan leaders refuse to accept her unless she can release their queen from Kregant’s fortress. Shaken by her growing gift for dark prophecy and a fate she feels unprepared to accept, Dar must infiltrate the very heart of the despot’s empire. There she will discover unexpected treachery and an ancient power that threatens the future of all.

Up next on the reading deck

One Reckless Summer – Toni Blake

Sugar Creek – Toni Blake

LORD OF THUNDER – Linda Mooney
(Book 1 of the Thunder Trilogy)

PASSION OF THUNDER – Linda Mooney

(Book 2 of the Thunder Trilogy)

WINGS OF THUNDER – Linda Mooney
(Book 3 of the Thunder Trilogy)

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Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Sunday Salon – Family, Reading and England

Dear lord it’s almost the end of the month already, where does the time go – Literally. It feels like last week I was talking about audio book month and all the other things we celebrate this month.. Ahhhhhh, it just means I am getting older when the time flashes by like this.

Reading update

This week has been one of the poorest reading week for me since year – I am not off my game I just am trying to work up  some reviews and sort out some schedule to get them up. As much as I have not read as much as I normally do, the books I went through were really great, check back in the morning to see the list of what I got through.

I even read a non-fiction.

Family update

It’s almost the school summer holidays here in the UK, another three weeks and then parents girdle your armour, the onslaught will begin. Do I sound fatalistic,  I probably do and it’s probably because I am. The youngest boy child who just happen to be 12 going on 50 just topped out at 6ft 1inches the last time I did the height chart on Monday.

My child is growing and faster than I can feed him whatever it is that is bringing on this growth spurt. He did not have a happy first year at his new school and I think he is really ready for the holidays – I so hope the new school year will be better for him, alot of his unhappiness had to do with the fact that he is literally head and shoulders above 95percent of the class.

That said, Summer is a healer of a lot of teenage wrongs – lets hope some of his classmate go through some major growth spurt and bring back normality to my child school days..

My youngest  is off to a culinary day school for three weeks this summer - I am hoping he have fun. He does like to putter around the kitchen with me alot, hopefully this experience will tell both of us if this is a path he wants to go with is future or it might just be a teenage interest. I do hope not, I am quite proud of my kitchen mate.

The older one is taking a holiday from the younger one – so while my little chef is at summer school he’ll be hanging out with the game console and kicking ball against the side of the house. Let’s see how long I can bare it before I pack him off somewhere.

Ohhh the joy of parenthood..

Somethings on the web

I don't normally do promo stuff on my Sunday Salon, but here’s a heads up on some things happening around.

Rae from In The Forest – is having a GLBT week, so far she has brought to my attention a YA read that does sound intriguing. YA is not my first reading choice but I do like to spread my wings every now and then. Then I have spent money on a T-Shirt as well, as I couldn’t wait on the giveaway…   

 

JennJ from Sapphire Romance Realm is having a great giveaway promoting her new design blog SAPPHIRE BLOG DESIGN - HERE. I am giving this a bump because JennJ is the designer who will eventually do my header when wonder lust stops running through my vein and I can settle on one thing that I  will not change every three month..

 

Cover alert - TBQ

Between Us Two

Author: AKM Miles

Publisher: Torquere Press

Buy Link

In this follow up to Between Us, Matt is back from Gatlinburg and Jason is thrilled that they can be together now. He’s ready to see if they can become a couple for the long haul. It seems that Matt feels the same way, so things should be fine. Well, until the police think that Matt has kidnapped a child from the school where he works.
It hits the fan and there are many things to be sorted out before they can get down to building a life. Matt falls for Jason’s two dogs, Jock and Audrey, and the photo shoot takes place, as promised. It’s autumn and the area around Nashville is beautiful. Matt and Jason’s love is a beautiful thing, too. Their love is strong, but can they work everything out?

 

Lastly

England is in a must win match against Germany today – All I will say is

COME ON ENGLAND

Enjoy the weeks peeps…

Until next week – cheers


From  site –
What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....
That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book

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Saturday, 26 June 2010

Weekly Geeks – I read your work and loved it

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking part in a author blog crawl organized by Kassa from  3 AM Blog.

She said

Instead of emailing your favorite author with your fan letter, why not post it on your blog for everyone to see?

It’s a well earned pat on the back to the author and perhaps readers will pick an author, book, or genre they might not have otherwise.

Kind of a give-back, win/win situation for all.

And we did.

30 bloggers wrote fan letters to the authors that made an impact on their reading – See the list of blogs that took part HERE and the letters they wrote. Following in that same vein I challenge the Weekly Geeker’s this week to

A. Write a letter of appreciation to a new to you author whose work you have read and was really impressed with

Or

B. Write a letter to a firm favourite author of yours, preferably someone alive – letting them know how much you either admire or even love their work.

 

image

 

 

Here’s my letter to an author whose work I found last year. 

Dear Ms Rebecca Vickery

A little over 17 months ago you commented on a Ning discussion group that we were both apart of with the following phrase:

When the hero and heroine start out as enemies, have special gifts, and have to deal with a mystery...I am there.

At the time I didn’t know who you were, you were just another lover of books who just happen to be hanging out in the same group that I was.

To be honest I am not sure what it was about you or that phase, or it might be something you said during our subsequent chatter  that made me Google alert your name. Whatever it was I did the alert and as soon as your first book SURVIVING WITH LOVE hit the shelves I snapped it up.

It was great, a first time published author and you really raced off the blocks with a winner. Your characters were not only strong, but nicely balance in how much they give and how much they took. You stretch them to the fullest limit of themselves and I loved them. You also showed what can happen to a plot when some decent research is done and a big part of my enjoyment of this book  was really in how defined you made the details of the hunt and the chase.

I want to say all your books have since been winners with me, they have not – however you do have a style that is all yours and it does come across in all your books and this makes it no hardship to reach for your books as soon as they hit the shelves.

I am sure 2009 was a great year for you, but it was an even better year for me as that was the year I found this new to me author call Rebecca Vickery that wrote one of my top ten read of that year.

Your fan

E.H>

 

Have you guys found a new to author recently that you would like to say – I enjoyed your work. Let me know in comments or better yet, write them a quick letter on your blog..

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Friday, 25 June 2010

Review – I Love This Bar – Carolyn Brown

image

I LOVE THIS BAR

Author: CAROLYN BROWN 

Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated

Genre: Contemporary Western

Buy Link

Funny, sexy, and sure to appeal to the huge audience of country music fans, this new trilogy features the Honky Tonk beer joint and its succession of lovelorn owners. Serving two counties, one wet and one dry, the Honky Tonk is the gathering place for every hothead, thirsty rancher, and lusty lady looking for a good time. Owner Daisy O'Dell vows she'll run the place until they drag her cold dead body through the swinging doors. That is, until the day Jarod McElroy walks in, looking for a cold drink and a moment's peace from his ornery Uncle Emmitt.

The minute Jarod sees Daisy, with her hot looks and smart mouth; he knows he's met not only his own match, but Uncle Emmitt's as well. Now, if only he can convince her to come out from behind that bar and come on home with him.

All the air escaped Daisy’s lungs in a whoosh when the cowboy collapsed on top of her body. She sucked in air

and pushed at the weight, but her arms were pinned. She opened her eyes to see a head full of dark hair and felt

the sharp bone of his nose pressing into her left breast. He raised his head and looked over at her, his face only inches from hers, his eyes zeroing in on her lips.

Hot damn! That’s one sexy face, they both thought at the same time.

She shut her eyes and started to lean in for the kiss, then reality hit. She had fallen flat on her back on the floor of the Honky Tonk beer joint and taken the nearest cowboy down with her. She popped her eyes wide open and wriggled back away from the sexiest gray eyes she’d ever seen.

Oh, shit, who saw us? Daisy looked up to find everyone staring down at them, the cowboy’s body still touching her from breast to toe, even though he had rolled to one side. The blush that filled her cheeks had nothing to do with afterglow.

The joint was as quiet as a tomb. It was a hell of a time for the jukebox to go silent.

“You all right?” Tinker, the bouncer, asked. He was hovering over the two of them, worry etched in his face as he bent to touch her shoulder.

“I’m fine. Make sure he is too,” she panted. he’d seen the girl slip in the same slick puddle of spilled beer and grab for him.

Daisy forced a smile. Tinker held out a hand and in one swift movement the cowboy was on his feet. Tinker picked up Daisy carefully and set her on a barstool. “You sure you’re all right?”

“My dignity is in tatters and I might have a bruise or two, but I’ll live,” she said.

© Carolyn Brown

Review

Contemporary western is a genre that has never really held much appeal for me, however when I spot the cover of Ms. Brown’s latest release it called to me – yes that little voice that said nekkid man on cover come and hear his story and so the fickle reader that I am took the plunge.

I LOVE THIS BAR  bloody well rocks.

The book starts out simply enough with Jarod McElroy walking into the local and only Honky Tonk in the area to get a drink and if truth be told to get away from his cantankerous uncle. Little does Jarod know that one accident with the owner of the place will turn his life upside and all in a good way.

The Honky Tonk is owned and operated by one Daisy O’Dell and she has a take no prisoner attitude when it comes to her business and the men in her life, if there was a man in her life that is. From the moment she bumped into Jarod she went all a fluster, but not being one to simper and act all girly like Daisy resorts to the golden rule set down by Mable, the woman who took in Daisy when she needed someone to lean on, and keeps Jarod at a save distance, but with friends, customers and underhanded people like those in her  life she did not stand a chance.

Jarod just want to get his job done, which is helping his uncle get his place up to date and out of the dark ages. He has no time for a woman in his life, more over he has no luck with woman - he has had three failures so far to prove it. Despite this he has not given up on finding that one person for him and he is liking the looks of one Ms Daisy alot.

With Daisy not playing ball and Jarod trapped out on the farm with his uncle Emmitt a few people just have to take matters into their own hands and set the wheels of this romance in motion. With a set of triplet who seems to have no life of their own, a sneaking underhanded best friend and an old man who is more here than there Daisy and Jarod did not know what hit them.

If you are looking for a book that just hits the spot and pops all the right button I LOVE THIS BAR is the book to read. I would be nitpicking if I said there was anything of worth that I didn't like about this book.

The characters were all over the place and they somehow worked in the Honky Tonk  setting. Daisy is my kinda girl, no lily liver, simpering miss of a girl was this woman, she was something else. Confident in her abilities, assertive in her position as a bar owner and a vet and she only feared giving her heart to the wrong man – did I forget to mention that she knows how to use the business end of a shotgun as well.      

Jarod is so lucky Daisy already claimed him or there would be a fight out in the boon docks for him, he was a great character. Courteous to just about everybody, generous with his time, comfortable in his own skin and most importantly he has not let life’s disappointments get him down – as I said Daisy is a lucky girl.

The eclectic mix of support cast made this book for me, who knew that I would enjoy a book with a set of triplet who were constantly underfoot, toss in a scheming little minx and a good lot of interfering family and Daisy and Jarod really didn’t know whether they were going up or down.

I love that there was no drama in this book, it was just a really fun read. Ms. Brown does move the action out of the bar setting for those people who are oppose to that sort of environment and I saw both protags hard at work, hard at play and in some rather emotional scenes as well.

I connected with more than one person in this book but one especially stood out for me, Uncle Emmitt. I thought his character was not only fully developed but was integrated into the plot really well.  

Lastly there was an over abundance of country music artist and songs tossed in to fit the scenes or the mood that the characters were in. I can see this being annoying for people who are already familiar with the music type or for people who are just turned off by name pimping in books – for me I loved it.  I have already put together a neat compilation of songs based on the flow of this book.

Bottom Line

All in all Brown and I LOVE THIS BAR jump started my interest in a genre that I have never thought I would like much less love. Sexy cowboys, sassy woman and in between that mix in much fun, and a barrel full of laughter.

Love it.. 

 

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Review - Stone Canyon © AKM Miles


Stone Canyon
Author: AKM Miles
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre:GLBT
Rancher Micah Stone shows up at Private Detective Able Kenton's office with a letter from his late mother. Micah wants answers. Able has his own letter to show Micah. Together they set out to find who killed Micah's mother and why. Their first clue leads them to an attorney and the police. Micah and Able fall in love while going back and forth from the ranch to the city, from one crisis to another. The characters at the ranch keep things hopping with their own lives filled with comedy, tragedy, and love.
They get their answer, but it comes hard.
"It's good to see you again, Mr. Stone. The car you ordered is waiting and the GPS has been set with the address you requested. I'm sorry for your loss, sir. Ms. Lizbet, she was a grand one."
"Thank you, Harry. She was that." Micah said, trying not to wince at hearing more condolences. He'd heard that people felt numb after a while, and he was waiting for that. Right now, thinking about what he'd lost with Lizbet's death was still fresh and painful.
He glanced back at the plane before heading for the car that waited. The Stones had used this small airport on the edge of Oklahoma City for years, and Micah knew most of the staff there.
"I don't know how long I'll be. I trust you to keep it ready for me," Micah shook Richard's hand.
"You know I will, sir. Take care."
Easing the luxury sedan onto the road, Micah punched in the number for the ranch on his cell, knowing Momm would answer.
"Stone Canyon. This you, boss?"
"Is that how you answer my phone, Momm?" There was a tiny bit of amusement in the question. As amused as Micah could be in the circumstances. He felt like he was living under a dark cloud of sadness, grief, and anger.
"Of course not. I'm usually completely professional. I figured it would be you. What can I do for you? I know you didn't want to take the big bag, but I packed for any occasion. Promise you'll hang those things up when you get to where you're going. I can't believe you left looking like you did."
"Why? I don't have to be dressed up to fly a plane, you know. Listen, I want you to be extra careful while I'm gone. If you notice anything unusual, you call me immediately and keep in close contact with Ronnie and Batman, okay. I'm serious, anything out of the ordinary. Don't take any chances. Don't let anyone in that you don't know."
"As if. You know I'm a big weenie. This is my safe place and the only person I feel comfortable having here is you, and sometimes you scare me."
"Bullshit."
"Okay, maybe not anymore. You're a softie, but I know better than to let anyone else know that. You take care of yourself, Micah. This place can't run without you. We'd all be lost. I'll hold down the fort here and you kick some ass up there. This sucks big ones, really." Momm was, as usual, eloquent.
"Colorful as usual, but true in this case. You take care, Momm. I'll be in touch." Micah started to hang up, but he heard Momm mutter.
"I wish."
©AKM Miles
My Thoughts
Recently I have been reading alot of romance suspense and when this popped into my in box I was quite pleased to see that one of my favourite authors has taken the plunge with her first suspense book and with a new publisher for her as well.
 
Stone Canyon is actually a ranch owned by the Stone family for years now, one of the main premise of not only the ranch but their life is helping people who are down and out for whatever reason and they have passed this principle onto their son Micah. This was no hardship for Micah himself because this was how he himself came to be at the ranch.
 
When Mrs Stone dies Micah is barely managing from the loss, so when he gets a letter telling him that his mother was murdered and she knew who did it he is livid. The letter while quite detailed does not give him answers for those he has to find Private Detective Able Kenton to get the rest of the information that he needs.
 
Meeting Able only seem to compound Micah's ire, because even those he is grieving he is still furious at his mother for living in fear for weeks and him on the ranch getting on with the day to day business. Unfortunately for Micah the mystery does not end with Able, it doesn’t even start with him either - what it does is set a steamroller in motion that will eventually see people dying before it rolls to a stop.  
 
Able is a pretty decent investigator left with just enough information to be curious but not enough to make him step out side of his remit as an investigator. When he meets Micah, guilt is his first emotion because he  probably/could have done something with the info he has and none of them would be where they are now. His second emotion his lust because Micah is one sexy cowboy and Able want some of that.
 
It does not take long before both men are burning up the sheets, but their time together is not the stuff of happiness and light because someone knows the can of worm on a evil that has gone on too long is about to be blown open and they will do anything to keep the lid on – including murder.
 
STONE CANYON is certainly something different from what I am used to from Ms Miles. Literally from the first few pages Ms Miles laid out her game plan. This is a murder mystery plain and simple with a romance that might not makes it, not because there is no interest but because they all may die before they get the chance to feel what’s it’s like to make a go of a relationship.
 
All the old predictables that I am used to from Miles are there in STONE CANYON, the cause that the main protags are either fighting for or against, the super sweet characters and of course the author tosses in a pet this time – A huge one at that. Some people might find this off putting , however predictables are like welcome arms for me with some authors – so I really like that aspect of the book. 
 
The main characters themselves were likable enough and I started off liking them alot however as the plot evolved they fritter out to just being backdrop because as much as I knew Micah’s story, Able was a little harder to accept as I really knew nothing about him.
 
There were two young lads in this book - Avery and BJ whose story runs right along side Able and Micah. I really enjoyed having them in the book and to be honest they held much of the book together for me. That said, they were young men and yet I felt their characters were written like teenagers and I ended up getting frustrated with how peppy they were. 
Along with those four there are other characters that were important to the plot and some that just made up the numbers, After awhile I stopped trying to figure out who was who and really wanted to find out who was making life miserable for a whole lot of people.

This might be just my own pet peeve, but there was an over load of “GAY” in this book, not the people – there were a few of those yes, but the assumption of what gay is like and that really drove me crazy. There was the cute apartment the awesome pictures, the kissy touchy me  and of course the obligatory pet, too much.
 
The sex scenes weren’t overly graphic or even too much for me, they were just as expected to be honest however, Avery and BJ journey to intimacy was more a story in itself and I really enjoyed watching that side of their relationship come together.
 
Lovers of romance suspense will have issues with this one, the tension was not there, the details were not defined enough and as a reader I was not privy to much. While I thought the toing and froing from big city to small town was a nice touch once the action came to them it was too easy and wrapped up too conveniently for me to say wow. 
 
Bottom Line
The plot is a new area for me with Ms Miles and I really liked the murder mystery concept, It had possibilities. The first third of this book held together, with mayhem, murder and a early morning scare – the later sections however just got overrun with the personal issues of the multiple cast and the ineptitude of the bad guys.
 
STONE CANYON didn’t come together as it could have as the good guys were too cute and the bad guys were too disorganized even in their stupidity. I say this because the bulk of this book is the mystery.
 
Lovers of Miles work you will immediately see the difference in this body of work compared to her other stuff, while not darker it is a different path, but missing alot of the stuff that usually leaves me with a smile. First time readers I would suggest starting with something else by this author before venturing into this new world that Miles has step into.
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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Excerpt Day - A Certain Pressure in the Pipes © by Clancy Nacht

Excerpt:

To Governor Lloyd, his son was a political and personal embarrassment. "Your mother indulges you. That's your problem. Too much indulgence. What you need is the rod."

"Quite. I believe a rod is what I was attempting to obtain prior to your intervention."

"Impossible. You're impossible. Don't think those big blue eyes are going to help you forever. One day I will send you away."

But his father never did.

Not even this night when Sheriff Cook sent out word to the Governor to explain he yet again had his son in jail. The charge—performing unnatural acts.

Conrad sighed and dropped his head against the wooden wall. The decrepit panel creaked.

In the cell next to him, a savage stood dressed in a most peculiar fashion for his people. He wore a sharp camel tweed suit cut exquisitely to his broad shoulders and tapered waist. He stood several inches taller than Conrad, posture impeccable even for these Victorian times. His dark eyes scanned Conrad, pausing at his face and again just south of his waistcoat.

Conrad had never been so near a savage. Even when he did see them, they were in the distance—all leather and red skin, sweating, with glistening black hair feathering down their muscular backs. Again, he had to adjust himself.

The savage cleared his throat. "Is your stool uncomfortable? I suppose a posterior such as yours rarely rests on something so hard."

Conrad eyed the well-spoken savage. Given the disparity in their stations, he should protest a savage speaking to him, particularly in so familiar a manner. But liking the look and attitude of the man rather than his color, the corner of Conrad's mouth curled up.

"I assure you, this posterior has pleasurably rested on many a hard thing quite comfortably."

The savage smiled, his thin lips parting over surprisingly white, straight teeth. He stuck his dark hand through the bars.

"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ezhno."

Conrad was raised well enough to take a hand when offered. This interaction would horrify his father, which made it even more gratifying.

"How do you do, Ezhno? My name is Conrad. It is a wonder to meet the likes of you in a place like this. You are a rather unusual man. I don't know I've ever seen a savage in a suit before."

Ezhno wrinkled his nose at the word savage and Conrad made a mental note not to use it again. With his agreeable manners and dress, Conrad didn't think he was a savage. At least, not the way he understood them.

"Indeed, fine sir. I apologize for my ignorant words. We don't see many Indians around here and never alone."

"I am unusual. A loner. My name means 'solitary,' which is what I am." Running his huge hands down the tweed lapels, he said, "This suit suits me, don't you agree?"

There was a creak of complaint from a deputy leaning against the wall, "Won't tell where he got it."

With middling regard to his prisoner's desires, or perhaps because the prisoner's desires were becoming more obvious, Sheriff Cook butted in. "We know they don't make no tweed on them looms, so we just wanna know who it needs to go back to."

Ezhno sneered. "It is my suit. I bought it."

Conrad watched the interaction with interest. Ezhno didn't have a trace of an accent. He sounded as well bred as Conrad himself.

"Oh sure. You just hunted outside in your loincloth and traded wampum until you could get a whole suit and dress like a white man, did you? As soon as we find out who that suit belongs to, you're gonna hang." Sheriff Cook folded his arms.

The deputies laughed behind the sheriff. The noisome cackle made Conrad wonder if he should rethink his use of the word savage. These men certainly seemed to warrant it. He tapped his plush lips in thought, noting the familiar cut and line of the suit. The tailor's work was as familiar as his own handwriting. If that particular tailor had made the suit for one of the other narrow-shouldered Brits, it would not fit this broad-shouldered Indian so elegantly.

"I think you'll find the suit was made by a Mr. Gerald Wexler off of Darby Street. Rather than look for a non-existent dead body, why don't you ask Mr. Wexler if he's sold any suits to any Indians?"

The deputies looked to the sheriff who shrugged and sat heavily on his wooden chair in front of his desk. He hadn't given an order, but one of the guards grabbed his gun, presumably to head into town to question Mr. Wexler.

Though Conrad was excessively pleased with himself, Ezhno pressed his lips together, jaw clenched. He leaned as close to Conrad as the bars between them would allow and whispered, "I promised I wouldn't say who made my suit for me. It could get him in trouble."

"Get in trouble for what? Gentrifying? I should think he deserves an award for convincing anyone to put on something so itchy and constraining. But especially you. Your traditional attire better suits the climate." Conrad paused.

Ezhno's brows were furrowed, eyes to the side. "I'm trying to decide if that's a compliment or an insult."

"Oh a compliment! You are quite handsome in your suit and any tailor should be proud his art is worn on such a shapely body."

Ezhno turned his head, cocking it to one side and making it difficult to tell how the compliment went over. Conrad wrung his hands; certain this meant he'd added insult to injury. He was forming an apology when he heard what must have drawn Ezhno's attention away from their conversation— the distinctive sound of the copper coil springs Conrad had designed and installed into his father's coach. The coils were just one of the upgrades Conrad installed to lessen the ruggedness of the terrain on the posterior of the passenger.

As the coach drew closer, the soft bell-like ringing of the protective shields for the horse's hooves—another of Conrad's creations— filled the air with a musical tinkling. They were small amongst his prodigious amount of tinkering. Much of the coach's customizing was purely cosmetic. He'd even edged the carriage with brass and copper, with a gorgeous redwood inlay. It was the only truly magnificent coach in the area.

Inside, he concocted a very simple banded system that connected two propellers—one outside of the carriage and one inside. The hard winds that often blew through the county kicked up dust and often necessitated keeping the windows of the coach closed from the wind and the sun. The propeller caught those winds and spun the small fan inside, creating a pleasant breeze that kept the rider comfortable.

His father had acted quite put out that his son had done something as plebian as physical labor in order to outfit the coach. He'd hoped his son aspired to something better than a coach-maker. But the overall effect was quite grand and so the Governor rode in his coach at every opportunity.

Conrad backed away from Ezhno and sat on the stool, watching the door steadily as the creak, clomp, and tinkling of the coach grew louder and louder.

It seemed the coach had barely stopped before the door swung open with a loud bang. His father's booming voice broke through the awed silence.

"I should leave you to rot in there, you lazy, good-for-nothing prat!" He reached through the bars to box his son's ears, but Conrad stood beyond his reach. "There's an election coming up! What am I going to do with you?"

© Clancy Nacht
 

A Certain Pressure in the Pipes
M/M Steampunk Erotic Novella 
Author: Clancy Nacht

Publisher: Noble Romance

Release Date – June 28th

Conrad Lloyd's father, Governor of an old west town, wishes his son wasn't so interested in inventing, or men for that matter. It isn't until Conrad meets Ezhno, a Native American inventor, that Conrad thinks he can find sexual and intellectual fulfillment all in one man. Will they find their way together despite the societal and familial divide that threatens to keep them apart? Or will Conrad have to satisfy himself with his steam-powered Pleasuring Machine?

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Excerpt Day - Max and Me © Barton Paul Levenson

Excerpt

The Birth Lab was enormous. A huge, circular space, the size of a football field or better, with little huts here and there and a big central building. In a ring outside the huts and the building stood tanks, and the tanks held things.

Fetuses. In green liquid.

“I can’t take this,” Max said, looking away. “I’m not gonna look.”

I didn’t blame him. Immediately in front of us floated a series of cat fetuses—black cats with a white saddle and white paws, at different stages of gestation. Early attempts at building Max. A few had grotesquely huge skulls, some with human-appearing brains spilling out the top or through the earholes. An attached device on each held a viewscreen and a keyboard—case notes, like in a hospital.

One fetus was a partial twin, two little, closed-eyed kitten faces growing from the same shoulders.

“Why would they keep these?” asked Sam wonderingly. “They should have been able to tell they were abnormal at the embryo stage.”

“God knows what they were trying to investigate,” I said. “I know for bioengineers, uterine environment plays a huge role, even aside from genes. They were probably testing different settings for the artificial wombs.”

It wasn’t what we were looking for, but we started to walk to the right, circling the tanks counterclockwise. The things held a grim fascination. If you want to have nightmares, look through a textbook on teratology just before you go to bed. Aside from the pure ickiness of malformed bodies, things like partial twinning and conjoined twinning play with your sense of personal identity. Disturbing.

Max after Max after Max, and then, suddenly, human fetuses—girls. Some showed partial cat features, tails or furry heads or whiskers. There were some cases of partial twinning, one cyclops with its nose missing, an anencephalic with her head missing above the eyebrows... Weirdness everywhere.

We came to a front desk, just like a nurses’ station in a hospital. A young woman stretched out on the floor in front of it, using the counter behind her for a pillow. Dark hair. She was short, no more than one hundred and fifty or one hundred and sixty centimeters tall. She held a Pad, reading intently.

“Miz?” I said, forgetting to speak Euroslavic.

She looked up at me and saw the gun. “Good morning,” she said in English. “Are you here to kill me?” Her voice was calm.

“No, of course not. We just didn’t know what we’d find here.” I put the gun down on the counter.

The woman stood up. “Grace and peace to you through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”

“Uh...thanks. I’m, uh, I’m Gunnar Dahlquist, from Ceres, this is Samantha Jeffries, and this is Max.”

“Hi,” Sam said shyly.

“Hello, brother,” the woman said.

Max stayed silent.

“Don’t you know me, Max?” asked the woman.

Max looked up at her. He shook his head.

“I’m Galina. Galina Kartseva. I’m your sister.”

“I, I...” Max said. “Oh, God, Galina. Galina, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I thought you were dead.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for.”

“I forgot all about you and Natasha. I just wiped you both out of my mind completely when I heard the doctor was dead. I assumed the Belters had gotten... I don’t know what I assumed. I forgot you completely.”

“Max, it’s all right.” She went to the cat and stroked his head. She picked him up and cradled him in her arms.

“Galina, ti zabil.” Galina, I forgot you.

“You were supposed to, Max. It was part of the plan.”

© Barton Paul Levenson

Max and Me
Author: Barton Paul Levenson

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Buy Link

A cat’s life isn’t always leisurely...especially if you’re a talking one.

"Gunner" Dahlquist makes a living piloting his freelanced ship, The Rockside Hopper. A cynical, but optimistic veteran of Beast War III, Gunner brought one good thing away from the wars – his roommate Max.

Max just so happens to be a talking cat.

Together, Gunner and Max pick an odd set of allies in their quest to find the truth to Max‘s creation. First, there’s the veterinary student who’s a martial arts expert and may be falling in love with Gunner. Then the Bioengineered Eastern Orthodox mystic who claims to be Max’s sister. Next is a coarse and sullen failed shape shifter experiment. Last is the infant “cereborg” who’s trillions of times more intelligent than humans...but is she a friend to Gunner and company, or is her very existence a threat to the human race?

 

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Excerpt Day - The Wolf In The Woods © Marisa Chenery

Excerpt

Chapter One

Now she’d gone and done it. Red Stanwood knew without a doubt that she’d gotten herself lost. She cursed under her breath as she turned in a circle. All the trees looked the same. Just great. Her grandmother was going to kill her, if she didn’t worry herself to death first.

Red looked up at the sky high above the tops of the trees. The sun had already started its downward descent. How could she have screwed up so badly on the first day of her camping trip with her grandmother?

As she started to walk once more, Red muttered under her breath, “What do you expect? You’re not exactly an outdoorsy girl, now are you?” Busy talking to herself, she didn’t pay attention to where she stepped. Red hissed as she turned her ankle. “Terrific. Why don’t I break an ankle while I’m at it?”

She called herself every bad name in the book as she shook out her ankle and then continued on. A week camping at Algonquin Park, during the Canada Day weekend, had sounded like a great idea at the time when her grandmother had invited her to go. Red thought of it as a chance to get away from her mundane job as a librarian, to experience the great outdoors. The park was three and a half hours away from Toronto, where she lived, and offered her a chance to really get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Now Red wished she’d told her grandmother no.

Red stopped walking as she spotted a boulder that looked suspiciously like one she’d just past not too long before. Great. She’d started to walk in circles. She turned around to try the other direction, but came to a standstill when she saw the large wolf that stood a few feet away. The thing was huge. It had to be a male. She leaned to one side and took a look between its back legs. Yup, the wolf was most definitely a male. His ice blue eyes locked with hers as he cocked his head in her direction. Red’s heart skipped a beat as the wolf took a step closer. She had no idea what to do. The wolf didn’t look as if he were ready to go on the attack. None of his light brown almost blond fur stood up on end around his neck. And so far he hadn’t snarled at her, but that could change very quickly.

Starting to panic, Red did what had to be the dumbest move for a person in her situation to do--she turned her back on the wolf and took off at a run. She could hear the wolf keeping pace behind her as she ran blindly through the trees. Branches slapped across her face and pulled at her long hair. Red took a quick glance behind her, which turned out to be her undoing because her foot caught on an exposed root. With a grunt, she landed on her stomach on the forest floor.

The feel of a cold nose pressed against the bare skin of her thigh just below the hem of her shorts had Red up and crawling to the large tree in front of her. She scrambled onto her feet and pressed her back against the trunk. The wolf stood less than a foot away.

With her heart in her throat, Red did the first thing that came to mind--she took up what she hoped looked like a karate stance. Her hands held in front of her with the side of her palms toward the wolf, she said, “You better watch it. I’m an expert at karate. I’ll kick your butt to next Tuesday if you’re not careful.” That was all she could come up with? She was so full of shit Red had to wonder if her green eyes had suddenly turned brown. As if karate would do anything to stop a full grown wolf from attacking her. And she sure as hell wasn’t a karate expert.

Red stiffened as the wolf lifted his head and sniffed the air around them. Her hands slowly dropped as the wolf’s body started to shimmer and blur. She blinked in disbelief as the wolf’s body changed from that of a wolf’s to a man’s. And not just any man. The man that had taken the wolf’s place could only be described as drop-dead gorgeous. He had the kind of face that would put a male model to shame. The kind of face that made a woman want to thread her fingers through his longish light blond hair, yank his lips down to hers and then fuck him until neither one of them could move. By no means a prude, Red felt her face heat as her body went up in flames. Running her gaze down his clothed large, muscular body, she couldn’t help but notice the impressive hard-on he had in his snug-fitting blue jeans. She felt her pussy start to ache with arousal as she dragged her gaze up his hard abs, well muscled chest and broad shoulders to his face. The tight black t-shirt he wore showcased his upper body to perfection.

He closed the distance between them as his ice blue eyes, which seemed to glow, locked with hers. Red felt wetness pool between her legs at the appreciative way he ran his gaze over her breasts. Her nipples grew taut beneath her t-shirt. They tightened even more when he reached out and circled one of her nipples with his finger. She gasped as he wrapped his other hand around the back of her neck and pulled her lips to his.

Even though she should be screaming with fear, she felt the world fall away until only the two of them existed as he moved his mouth over hers. Had he cast some sort of spell over her? Red groaned when his tongue pushed past her lips. He tasted like pure sin. Her body burned hotter as he shoved his hand up her t-shirt and pushed her sports bra out of the way. He plucked at her nipple with his thumb and index finger, sending shockwaves of pleasure all the way down to her pussy.

More turned on than she had ever been just from being kissed, and unable to find the strength or willpower to push him away, Red arched her back against the trunk of the tree as she pushed her breast closer. Lost in a sexual haze that he’d created, she sucked on his tongue and kissed him back passionately. He cupped her breast as he pulled away and stared down at her. Red panted as she craned her neck to look him in his strangely glowing eyes. He dwarfed her five foot six. He had to be at least six foot seven. She had a weakness for tall men.

Running her hands up his chest, she placed them on his shoulders. The man didn’t have an inch of fat on him anywhere that she could feel. She took her bottom lip between her teeth as she looked up at him beneath her lashes. With a real wolf-like growl, he bent and took her lips once again. Red dug her fingers into his shoulders as he pressed forward to grind his hard cock against her pussy. Wetness leaked down the inside of her thighs as she thought of how good that big cock of his would feel deep inside her.

He pulled away from her mouth. As he licked and kissed a path along her jaw to the side of her neck, he said in a deep, rough voice, “The smell of your arousal is driving me crazy.”

Unable to speak past the pounding need that thrummed through her body, Red could only moan as she rocked her hips against his erection. She soon gasped as he lifted her shirt out of the way and bent his head to circle his tongue around her nipple before he sucked it deep inside his mouth. Red felt her pussy contract as more of her wetness leaked out to soak her panties.

He moved to her other breast and gave it the same attention until Red felt her legs go weak. He put his hands on her hips as he slowly made his way down her body until he was on his knees in front of her. Her stomach quivered as he dragged his tongue across it and down to the top of her shorts. He undid the drawstring and pulled her shorts down past her hips so they pooled at her feet. Using his teeth, he yanked her panties down so they too ended up around her ankles. He ran his hand down one of her calves, then urged her to step out of her panties and shorts, leaving them pooled around her other leg.

The sharp bark of the tree dug into her bare backside as he spread her legs apart. Red soon didn’t notice the discomfort when with a growl/moan he spread the lips of her sex and licked her from bottom to top. She dug her fingers into the bark of the tree as he laved her pussy with the flat of his tongue. He continued to growl deep in his throat as he ate her out. His wicked tongue swirled around her clit before he sucked it between his lips. Red cried out as an intense wave of pleasure shot through her body. Her hips bucked against his mouth as the need to come built inside her pussy.

As if he sensed that she was very near to falling over the edge into ecstasy, he pushed two fingers inside her core as he continued to lick and suck her clit. Red’s head fell back against the tree at her back with a loud moan. With his fingers plunging in and out of her sex while his mouth sucked on the center of her pleasure, it was enough to send her flying over the edge. A keening moan left her lips as her inner walls spasmed around his fingers. Her orgasm seemed to go on forever.

When the last wave receded, Red looked down at the man who had given her the best oral sex of her life to find he had gone very still. He had his head cocked as if he were listening to something. Red couldn’t hear a thing except for the sound of her racing heartbeat.

He quickly stood up. Red tried to reach for him, to cup the large bulge in his pants, but he took hold of her wrists in each of his hands and held them above her head. He then bent his head and took her mouth in a hard kiss before he walked away. Red watched him shape shift back into a wolf and disappear through the trees.

Lost in a daze, she had to wonder if he had been real. Could a man who could shape shift into a wolf be real, or had her overactive imagination made him up? But the way her body still thrummed with pleasure, Red felt as if it had been real. And if it had been real, why hadn’t she run screaming from him instead of letting him have his way with her? God, she couldn’t be that hard up.

At first she didn’t hear the voices calling her name. A cool breeze brushed her lower body. She suddenly realized she stood with her shorts and panties around one ankle with her t-shirt and sports bra shoved up to her chin. The calls were definitely coming closer. With a yelp, Red quickly pulled her panties and shorts back up, then shoved her boobs into her sports bra before she pulled her t-shirt back down.

Now properly dressed, she called, “I’m over here.”

A group of four park rangers stepped into view as she came around to stand on the other side of the tree. One spoke into a radio as they closed in on her. Red looked behind her in the direction the man, wolf, shape shifter, or whatever he was had disappeared. She couldn’t see a trace of him anywhere. She told herself not to be disappointed. Yes, he had given her an intense orgasm, but that didn’t mean anything. Instead of being worried as to what he was, Red couldn’t stop thinking of how good it had felt to be in his arms, to have his mouth on her body. She must have totally lost her mind, because that couldn’t be considered a normal reaction by any standards. As the first park ranger reached her and asked her if she was all right, she glanced behind her once again. She had a feeling the hunky wolf-man would not stray too far from her thoughts no matter how hard she tried to forget what had happened between them.

© Marisa Chenery

The Wolf In The Woods
Author: Marisa Chenery

Publisher: Liquid Silver Bok

Buy Link

Lost in the woods when on a Canada Day camping trip with her grandmother at Algonquin Park, Red finds herself chased by a large male wolf. Shocked when the wolf shape-shifts into a gorgeous man, she is unable to tell him no when he takes her into his arms and kisses her senseless.

Rutgar knew Red was his mate from the first whiff of her scent. Out on his daily evening run through the woods in his wolf form, he can't resist the pull she has over him. The mating urge rides him to claim her as his mate.

Not pleased to find herself bound to Rutgar without her consent, Red soon learns another werewolf forms a greater danger than an unexpected mating ever could

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Excerpt Day - A Demon Inside © Rick R. Reed

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Hunter Beaumont awakened drenched in sweat, striped sheets twisted around him. His heart pounded and an irrational fear coursed through him, disproportionate to the calmness of the dark bedroom surrounding him.

He sat up, rubbing his hand over his slick face, and reassured himself with the same words countless nightmare sufferers have told themselves since the dawn of time: “It was only a dream; it was only a dream.” But it was that same dream again. The one that was part memory, part horror movie. The one where he was camping with his parents and he can see the glow of the campfire flickering on their faces. It’s a lovely scene, at first, romantic and warm. His parents’ voices are hushed, his mother’s laugh tinkling, as the two of them huddle together, the fire keeping the darkness of the woods at bay. But then a shadow falls over his mother and father’s faces and their eyes turn in an instant from contented and adoring to terrified. Then come the screams…and the blood, all the blood. That was when Hunter always awakened.

But this time something more than the nightmare had awakened him. Was someone knocking on his bedroom door? Yes, there it was again, an almost tentative tapping. In his post nightmare state, Hunter imagined the worst—that a monster lurked outside, something needing to be invited in. And once inside, it would rip him limb from limb, gorging on his flesh and drinking his blood.

Hunter allowed himself an embarrassed laugh and attempted to pull himself together. He sat up straighter against the headboard and used a corner of the top sheet to dab at the beads of sweat still gathering on his forehead. “Yes?” he called out.

With a creak, the door opened a crack and Lori Schmidbauer, his grandmother’s nurse, peered in. Even backlit, Hunter could see the kindness in the woman’s dark brown eyes and the concern and sadness on her face. She glanced down the hall and then back toward him, gave him a tentative smile.

“Hunter? Honey, I’m so sorry to wake you. Can I come in?”

Hunter pulled the sheet up further, covering his chest. A new kind of alarm began inside, the dread beginning to churn like something alive in his guts. “Is everything okay?”

Lori didn’t respond. She simply tiptoed into the room and sat down gingerly on the edge of his bed. Hunter leaned over and switched on the nightstand lamp. Lori still wore her scrubs and her curly brown hair was pulled loosely into a ponytail. She looked tired. Hunter repeated his question and added to it. “Is everything okay? Is Nana all right?”

Lori clutched his hand, squeezed it, and let it go. “I don’t think so, dear.” She stared off at a point over Hunter’s head and he could see her eyes glistened with tears.

It felt like his stomach dropped a couple of feet. He bit his lip. “Is it time?”

Lori drew in a quivering breath before responding. “Yeah. I think it is.” She stood. “You better come now if you want to say goodbye.”

“Okay,” Hunter whispered, barely able to find breath to put behind the single word. For his whole twenty-two year life, his grandmother had been his savior, protector, shield, comforter, mother, father, playmate, and teacher. There actually was a monster outside his door, and its name was cancer. That monster was about to rip all he held dear away from him.

Lori waited on the bed, watching him. He could tell she was trying to gauge his reaction, to see if perhaps he would need a hug. Lori was the kind of nurse that was free with her hugs. A good woman. But right now, Hunter needed a moment to himself and he told her that.

“Sure, sweetheart. Just don’t be too long.” She got up and paused at the door. “I don’t know how much time we have.” Sorrowfully, she nodded, her lips coming together in a line indicating sympathy. She took her time leaving his room, then he heard her quickened pace as she hurried down the long hallway to his nana’s bedroom.

Hunter didn’t know if he could do this. Part of him thought if he just stayed here in bed, he could delay or prevent the inevitable. If he could only freeze time at this moment, he would never have to face a world without Nana in it. He shook his head and chastised himself for being weak. To every season, he thought, there is an end.

Feeling numb, Hunter roused himself from bed. He slid into the jeans and sweater he had left on the rocker by the window. He looked outside, where the inky darkness revealed nothing, a void. He knew Lake Michigan was out there and in the morning it would reveal itself in aqua or gray, depending on the quality of light, but right now it seemed as though the huge body of water had vanished. The night’s darkness pressed against his windows like something palpable, aching to get inside.

Barefoot, he padded down the hall to his grandmother’s bedroom. Ever since he had lost his parents at the age of five, this had been his home, and suddenly the big old house seemed strange and unfamiliar to him, as if he were seeing it for the first time. Here was the portrait of his father, painted when Daddy was sixteen, looking young and vibrant, and not that much different from Hunter: the same smile and auburn hair. And there was the old Oriental rug, its pinks, blues, and grays faded, leading the way to the door to his grandmother’s bedroom, which yawned open. Hunter stood for a long while, staring at that doorway and breathing in the smell of sickness that emanated from the room. “Go,” he whispered.

He ducked into the room. Nana lay propped up on her old four-poster bed, the one she had had since marrying Hunter’s grandfather about six decades ago. She looked small and shriveled, vulnerable and nearly lost among the pillows, blankets, and quilts that never could keep her quite warm. Her hair looked like gray straw and parts of her scalp peeked through. A few days ago, they had taken her off the IVs and oxygen, knowing there was no hope. The medical detritus stood in a corner of the room, looking like defeated soldiers.

Lori stood near the bed. When she saw Hunter, she leaned down and whispered to Nana, whose eyes fluttered open at the sound of the nurse’s voice. Although she had not been completely coherent for the past couple of weeks, a combination of the morphine she took to manage her pain and her own failing memory, her eyes brightened when she saw her grandson. She even managed a weak smile, which vanished almost as soon as it arrived, as if the effort to maintain it was just too much for the old woman.

It probably was.

Lori stepped away from the bed and donned a fleece she had left on a chair nearby. She hugged herself and then said, “I’ll leave you two alone. I’m going to run downstairs and call Dr. Blackstock.” She squeezed Hunter’s shoulder as she left the room.

Hunter sat down beside his grandmother on her bed. “Nana?”

“Hunter,” Nana croaked, her voice only an echo of the vibrancy it once had. She tried to lift her hand to his face but it appeared she didn’t have the strength, letting it drop back down to the bedding. She closed her eyes and swallowed; the latter action looked painful and Nana winced.

“Don’t talk, Nana. If it hurts, don’t talk.” He picked up one of her withered hands and covered it with both of his own, trying to impart some of his own warmth to the frail appendage, feeling now as if it had been made of parchment and bird bones. She nodded, staring up at him. She licked her lips. “I just want to go to sleep now. I’m ready. Can you tell the nurse?”

“Sure.” Hunter smoothed her hair away from her forehead and leaned in close. He bit his lips, not wanting to cry in front of the old woman. What if she didn’t know this was the end? He couldn’t be so cruel as to reveal that to her. And even as he thought these things, he knew—deep in his heart—that Nana knew perfectly well what was happening.

“Sleep. That sounds good.” Nana’s eyelids fluttered and closed. Hunter thought she had fallen asleep and simply sat with her for several minutes, holding her hand. Finally, he thought maybe he should creep away, hoping against hope that this was not the final moment. Lori could have been wrong after all.

But then Nana opened her eyes, and Hunter thought he needed to speak while there was still time and before he gave in to the tears and sobs that were clamoring inside. He gathered the old woman up in his arms and pulled her close. Placing his lips close to her ears, he thought for a moment, grasping for something profound to say, but finally decided on only:

“I love you so much.”

“I love you, too,” Nana whispered. She slumped back against the pillows.

Hunter covered his mouth. Was she gone? But her eyes opened once more, about half-mast, seeking him out even though his face was only inches from her own.

“Beaumont House,” she croaked.

“What?”

“Beaumont House. Promise me you’ll burn it.”

“What are you talking about, Nana?”

The old woman simply shook her head and he could see a spark in her blue eyes. “Promise.”

“Sure, Nana. Anything for you.”

The old woman closed her eyes and a tremble coursed through her. She turned very pale, and then, as Hunter watched, color seeped back into her cheeks, almost rosy. Had she survived?

But Hunter knew it was over. He bent to place a kiss on her forehead.

Downstairs, the doorbell chimed. Nana’s doctor, Jay Blackstock, had arrived. Not that there was anything he could do now. Hunter turned and smoothed Nana’s eyelids down over the milky whites. He gazed down at her, touched her once more, then turned away.

In the hall, he passed Lori bringing Dr. Jay Blackstock to his grandmother’s room.  The three stopped to regard one another. The young man, who—only the year before—had replaced the doctor his grandmother had had most of her life, had worry stamped on his dark features. He was only a bit older than Hunter himself and Hunter had to wonder if he had seen many deaths yet in his new career. He felt a stab of pity for him.

Lori spoke. “Is she…”

Hunter wondered from where the calm he felt was coming. Where were the tears? The anguish? Somehow, he thought, they waited patiently for him, gathering together in a round room with dim light, a kind of emotional way station. Hunter exchanged somber glances with both of them. “She just passed,” he said softly, biting his lower lip. He stared into the doctor’s brown eyes for a moment. “You’ll want to verify that, of course. But she’s gone.”

“I’m so sorry.” Lori Schmidbauer came toward him, arms outstretched. Hunter stepped back, not ready yet for the comfort the older woman had to offer. “I’m okay. I’m okay.” He nodded and smiled, but knew the smile for the lie it was and he was certain Dr. Blackstock and his grandmother’s nurse did as well.

The doctor hurried into the bedroom and Lori followed. She looked back at Hunter. “I know. It’ll come.” She turned and left him standing in the hallway. Purposely, he did not glance in the bedroom, not wanting to see them hovering over his nana’s body. She wasn’t there anyway.

He hoped she was in a better place, free at last from the pain and agony of the last six months, free from invasive treatments, drugs that made her sick; most of all, free from the beast that went by the name of cancer.

He returned to his bedroom, still feeling next to nothing. When he had imagined this moment coming, as he had over the course of Nana’s illness, he had envisioned hysterical sobbing, choking, a torrent of tears, reddened eyes, and difficulty breathing. When his grandfather had died, many years ago, Hunter had still been a child and the loss really hadn’t registered. In a way, it had been only Hunter and his nana alone in the world for many years. And now he faced being completely alone—no parents, no grandmother, no grandfather, no one. Nana had seen to it that he led a very sheltered life but he knew her intentions were good: she wanted to protect him from the world that had murdered his parents.

He sat down heavily on the bed, as if drunk, although he had yet to experience that particular sensation firsthand. The bed itself was a mess and Hunter realized he must have been thrashing around like a caged wild animal to do this much damage. Besides the sheets and pillows being damp from sweat, the fitted sheet had pulled away, revealing the striped ticking of the mattress below.

The nightmare images paraded through his mind, a macabre circus. The campground. Their tent pitched in the woods, where five-year-old Hunter had lay huddled inside a sleeping bag. The looks of terror on his parents’ faces. The screams. The struggling. Blackness. Dull morning light and his parents lying together, no longer alive, the gory ruins of their corpses…

Hunter gasped. No matter how hard he tried, he could not remember the actual event. Not really, not the details. He had only been five and he knew shock could block or even erase horrible trauma. But over the years, cops, psychologists, and even a professional hypnotist had tried to get him to remember details about the carnage. All to no avail. The memory, as far as Hunter was concerned, was gone.

The case had never been solved.

And Nana, God rest her soul, had never allowed mention of the slaughter in her house, not after the first few weeks, when the police and media had been relentless in pursuing the two of them in and out of Nana’s Evanston home. Nana, over the years, chose not to remember that she had had a son and a daughter-in-law who died. Hunter wondered, leaning back on the bed to lie flat and stare up at the ceiling, if she was in denial herself or if it was all part of her master plan to shield her grandson from further grief and horror.

Whatever it was, she had held Hunter away from the world. He had never seen the inside of a school. Nana had arranged for a succession of private tutors to come to their house. Hunter had never been allowed to play outside unsupervised. Nana had tried to make up for it by being Hunter’s best friend and lavishing him with expensive toys, electronics, and carefully guided tours of world capitals.

And now Hunter was alone. Really, truly alone. And with his grief and despair at the loss of his grandmother held temporarily—he thought—at bay by shock, he had the luxury of wondering just what the hell he would do now.

He was twenty-two years old and—he supposed—rich, an heir to a fortune once made from something as fragile and insubstantial as paper.

The world was his. He thought of a cliché: the world was his oyster. He could do anything. Travel. Go to college. Work. Engage in long overdue rebellion and fall headfirst into hedonism.

He shook his head and the first tears coursed out of the corners of his eyes, to dribble down his face and run into his ears. He sat up and wiped them away. He didn’t know what he would do. He had no idea what he was good for, or good at… he didn’t even know what he wanted. He glanced at the window, where the sky was just beginning to lighten, a band of pink at the horizon. The first day without Nana was beginning. The world out there was not his oyster; it was an enigma.

There was a gentle rap, once, twice, at his closed bedroom door. Thinking Lori had come by once again to see if he was ready for a hug or some words of condolence, he said simply, “Come in.”

Dr. Jay Blackstock entered. Hunter noticed for the first time—and he thought how inappropriate this was—how handsome the doctor was, with black, curly hair cropped short, an olive complexion, and the darkest eyes. His whole look was Mediterranean, belying the white bread Blackstock name.

He smiled at Hunter and took only a step or two into the room. “I just wanted to say I was sorry.” The doctor chewed on a corner of his lip, glancing rapidly from Hunter on the bed to back out into the hallway. Hunter was touched by the doctor’s attempt to offer sympathy.

“I appreciate that. Lori has all the information about, um, final details, so if you’d just take care of...” And Hunter crouched over, the onslaught of tears taking him completely by surprise. The grief hit him like a physical blow. It was a sneak attack; he didn’t have any time to prepare.

Dr. Blackstock laid a hand on his shoulder as Hunter wept. “Don’t worry about a thing.”

And Hunter thought that statement was easy for the doctor to say.

What would Hunter do now?

* * * *

Hunter awakened to bright sunlight streaming into the room. Last night, he thought he would never sleep, but Dr. Blackstock had given him an Ambien and it knocked him right out. He glanced at the clock on the nightstand and saw that it was nearly noon.

Outside, the sun was shining in a pure, blue sky. Hunter got up and stared out his window at the back lawn of the house, a pristine expanse of green leading down to their private beach. Beyond the sand and pebbles stretched Lake Michigan, an expanse of aqua marine that appeared almost tropical. The day seemed out of sorts with what had just happened, as if the sky should be heavy with storm clouds and the lake should be a roiling mass of muddy waters, in deference to Nana’s passing.

Hunter sat down on the window seat and stared out at the day, wondering once more what he would do with himself now that the foundation of his whole life had been knocked out from under him.

© Rick R. Reed

A Demon Inside

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: MLR Press

Genre: GLBT

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Hunter Beaumont doesn't understand his grandmother's deathbed wish: "Destroy Beaumont House." He'd never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother's wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.

But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And who---or what---he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, a caretaker for the estate next door, but is the man salvation...or is he the source of Hunter's terror?

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