SLAVE is now a full time reviewer for Guys Like Romance, Too!

Please note that SLAVE's Erotic Review is on hiatus to catch up on reviews.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Goddess Fish book Tour with Lori Toland!

Hi everyone, Carson here,
Today we are hosting a stop on the Goddess Fish book tour. Our visitor, Lori Toland, has written a M/M romance called The Long Con. Although this month is dedicated to paranormal romance, Guys Like Romance, Too! makes exceptions for Goddess Fish. :) We asked Lori a question pertinent to our site. So without further delay here is her answer.After her blog our first review will be posted as well. Enjoy!

~*~
How did I work the romance into The Long Con? You know, I wish I could say I had something to do with the characters falling in love. I didn’t! Their eyes met across the room at the gala event and Bradley was lost in Tony’s bright blue eyes. 

In fact, Bradley had a love interest other than Tony when I first started writing this book. This guy, who was one of the con artists, ended up on the cutting room floor. Tony and Bradley lit up my computer screen with the hot, passionate sex they were having. Then Bradley jerked away when he realized he was falling in love with Tony.
Bradley is really scared of falling in love and losing Tony, especially knowing who Tony is, which the son of a well-known Mafia boss. Bradley doesn’t believe in the old adage “it’s better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all.” He has walled himself off for his whole life, never getting close to anyone he could fall for.

This time he has no choice. Bradley’s become a pawn in a game much bigger than himself but when duty calls, his heart may be the sacrifice he has to make.

Thank you, Carson, for having me! I hope you all enjoy The Long Con.

Blurb:
British Agent Nathaniel Bradley is tasked with bringing home a stolen heirloom. After tracking the Faberge egg all the way to a group of criminals in New York, Bradley infiltrates a ring of con artists and gets sucked into the role of a high priced prostitute.

While hoping for a chance to take back what is rightfully his, Bradley’s sole mission becomes to seduce Tony Terranova, Jr, the heir to a notorious mafia dynasty. Though Tony is strikingly handsome, the usually dominant Bradley is hesitant to submit to the sexual whims of a dangerous Mafioso.

What Bradley doesn't expect is for Tony to fall to his knees so eagerly for him, leaving him blindsided by how intensely their dark tastes complement each other. Now Bradley is caught up in a deadly game of lies and desire, where what he truly wants may not be what duty requires.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Excerpt:
 
I walked through the crowd and traded my glass of champagne just as I saw my target. He knew how to dress to stand out, and it wasn’t just the color of his jacket. His thick build was obvious and accentuated by the cut of his jacket. His muscles rippled beneath the expensive material as he lifted a glass of champagne to his mouth. I swallowed my sigh.

He glanced my way, and I froze. Amanda had described him and shown me a few grainy reconnaissance photos, but nothing prepared me for facing him head-on. His dark hair and tanned skin contrasted with his pale blue eyes, and I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

I held his gaze for a minute and then turned away, but his curious expression made my heart pound. I walked toward another display near the one he stood by, a portrait by a famous Russian artist. Terranova noticed me, but he wasn’t being obvious with his interest.

It was this perfect moment where everything seemed to be falling into place, and for one second I worried this was a setup. Always being on my guard kept me alive, especially during drug busts and dangerous missions. I brushed aside the fears and pushed on.

I looked over at him and shot him an enigmatic smile, one that begged him to come and find out what I was thinking. When I saw him walking in my direction, I mentally patted myself on the back and sipped my champagne as he got closer to me. His gaze never left mine.

I could see why this man intimidated people. His eye contact alone would make almost anyone nervous, but not me. He had an aura about him, as if he were a caged animal kept hungry and was just waiting to pounce. Confidence poured from every ounce of his being. I didn’t look away as he came up to me. I couldn’t; he had seduced me.
 
CEO by day, erotic romance writer by night, Lori Toland lives in Orlando where the summers are hot but the romance between her characters is even hotter. Writing since the tender age of 13, Lori somehow finds time to play video games and watch movies while taking care of her beloved cats and a husband who will forever be her hero.

Lori’s Website: Twitter:@ loritoland  Facebook:   Buy The Long Con at Loose ID  Other buy links will appear on her blog as available:


SLAVE’s review

Without giving too much detail or plot away The Long Con was detailed oriented and very easy to follow. I got to know the main character Nathaniel Bradley very well. His relationship with Tony was hot! There was an instant spark like they belonged together.

All in all, it’s a good read. I enjoyed it. Character info: great. Plot: great. Flow: nicely done.
If you have the time to spend on reading a full length novel, The Long Con is for you. I look forward to seeing this character and the writer grow.

3 of 5 pens

Friday, April 27, 2012

Does the path to heaven go through hell?

Over the years I have had unexplained things happen to me...or 'para' normal experiences. I don't talk about them much because I am very analytical and science minded, and I know everything has a logical explanation. Or does it?


With the growing popularity of ghost hunting shows on television and in the movies, I began to see that I was not alone. 'The truth is out there' if ya know what I mean.

Black Leather Phoenix is about a young man, Gale Hansen, who is tossed into a life of Satanic worship as a very young child by his nutty mom. His mother was a single parent who gave birth to Gale when she was in her teens. Though Gale lives on his own, he tends to draw other individuals who are open to spirits and demonic entities, as well as the spirits themselves. At first Gale does not realize he is a beacon for all things dark, soon he is overwhelmed by their forces, and involved in very black deeds. Although this novel is pure fantasy, it does incorporate some of the battles against good and evil, as well as a young gay man who is trying to come to terms with a messed up childhood and a crazy mother.

I hope you enjoy this dark erotic tale, and get spooked as well as hot!



Blurb:
Even at fifteen years of age Gale Hansen knew when his mother dabbled in devil worship, something very bad was going to happen to him. Without realizing it, Gale’s own practice in dark magic opened doors to the shadow world and he lived his life fighting back the sins of his teens. At twenty he was still struggling, trying to keep away from drugs, getting arrested for his violent temper, and lonely for a true heart that would be the guardian angel he needed to bring him into the light.

Jonathan Strickland, the CEO of a bank in Seattle, noticed the handsome young man during a social gathering at a mutual friend, Muriel Brown’s house. Though Jonathan was married and thirty years older than Gale, he bought the young man’s favors with cold hard cash.

During their brief affair, Gale sensed more demons surrounding him than usual and the fight renewed in him to free himself of the satanic curse he’d been saddled with. Sinking deeper and deeper into a doomed relationship with Jonathan, Gale isn’t getting what he needs emotionally from the older man and soon it becomes obvious it’s about money and what Jonathan can get from Gale physically.

All it took was one fateful evening for Gale’s worst nightmare to come true. He wakes from a deep drug-induced sleep with blood on his hands and his life spins out of control.

Locked up for a crime he did not commit, Gale prays for a strong spirit to beat back the gloom and rid him of the curse his mother had brought upon him so long ago when she unleashed the demons of the underworld. And that guardian angel shows up in the unlikeliest of places. The cemetery.

Can Gale free himself from his past and trust someone enough to let go and fall madly in love? Rise up like the Phoenix from the fiery gates to victory or will the devil himself, take the soul Gale promised him so many years ago?

Sometimes the way to get to heaven is by having to go through hell.
As a special treat to my fans, may I introduce a previously unpublished writer who is making her debut appearance in this novel. I would like you all to meet JC Szot. Enjoy her short story, Breaking Chains.

Sample chapter:

Sunday afternoon Gale rode his Harley to Muriel’s house in Woodway. It wasn’t unusual for him to stop by unannounced. Besides, Muriel claimed to be psychic.

“Darling. What a nice surprise.”

Gale smelled the booze on her from the night before. “Surprise? You should know I’m coming. Aren’t you clairvoyant?” Gale held his helmet in his hand.

“I know you need me. That much I know.” Muriel opened the door for him, inviting him into her black and white tiled foyer. “Leather chaps over soft blue jeans. Nice touch.” She caressed his hair. “You always appear to be a model off the pages for some ribbed or flavored exotic prophylactic.” She grinned broadly.

Gale smirked. “Stop thinking dirty thoughts about me.”

“I never stop, darling, you know that. Give me a kiss.”

He leaned down and pecked her cheek, then set his helmet beside the front door.

“What can I get you?” Muriel’s pink boa feather slippers made shushing noises as she walked to the kitchen. Her matronly figure was draped in a floral print robe.

“Coffee?” Gale admired the spacious rooms as he passed through the hall. A stark comparison to his one bedroom dump in the U-District.

Tipping coffee into a mug at the counter, Muriel asked, “To what do I owe this honor?” She added sugar and cream, the way Gale liked it.

Gale sat on a bar stool in front of it, feeling the touch of her hand again in his hair. “Are you joining me? Or are you just going to stand there and fondle me?”

“Well,” her eyebrow raised. “Is that a list of my options?”

“Sit.” He gestured to the stool across the counter from him.

Once she relaxed with a cup of coffee of her own, Gale could tell Muriel was lost on him, watching his mouth. After a few gulps of sweet coffee, Gale grew annoyed by her dazed expression and cleared his throat. “Muriel. You’re worse than usual. Cut it out.” His skin heated up. He knew she was visualizing him naked. She had told him how often she tried to ‘conjure’ him up for her fantasies.

“Sorry.” She snapped into focus. “You were saying?”

“Tell me everything you know about Jonathan Strickland.”

“Why do you want to know?”

Gale leaned his elbows on the counter to speak more intimately. “I got some strange vibes from him last night. What’s he into?”

“Nothing unusual, my sweet. He’s married, has two adult children, a Cocker Spaniel, a Mercedes, and a nice home in the suburbs. That’s all there is.”

“That’s it?”

“Sorry, dear.” Muriel sipped her coffee. “Did you want me to tell you he’s a closet homosexual who loves leather?”

Gale smiled. “Yes.”

Her eyes lit up in amusement. “You could tempt any man to the ‘dark side’.”

“Don’t use that phrase.” Gale shivered.

“Sorry. The image of your tattoo is like a brand on my brain.”

“I wish I’d never gotten it. How stupid was I?” Gale shook his head.

“You were fifteen and dabbling into drugs and the occult. You won’t be the first, nor the last.”

“I know. But I regret it. I feel as if the shadows won’t leave me alone.”

Muriel waved his comment off. “You know, it’s odd you’re asking me about him.”

Gale perked up. “Who?”

“Jonathan.”

“Why?”

“Because Jonathan asked me to ask you to phone him.”

“He wants me to call him?” Gale’s skin covered in chills.

Muriel studied Gale’s eyes. He assumed she was ‘reading’ him. She claimed it was her favorite pastime.

“He knows you hate your job. Why don’t you meet with him and see what he can do for you.”

“My job? Believe me, if Jonathan wants me to call him, it’s got nothing to do with work.”

“Gale, everyone can see how unhappy you are. You need looking after. Jonathan is just being fatherly.”

“You’re talking such crap. He wants to stick his dick up my ass.” Gale noticed Muriel’s stare intensify. “Fine. If you want, I’ll call him.” Gale shrugged. “I don’t know what you expect him to do for me other than proposition me. I already have everything I need.”

“Your leathers and your Harley.” She smirked.

“You forgot cock.”

“Oh! Heaven forbid.” She rolled her eyes. “There are finer things in life and I want to see you enjoy them all. You need to be spoiled. You’ve had too much misery not to have it good now.”

Gale felt his expression darken. “I’m not miserable anymore. Don’t worry about me.”

“I do worry. You’re such a liar.” She smiled to soften the blow.

Available now in ebook:  and   paperback:

GA Hauser
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When Vertigo stikes you run with it!


Greetings readers, this is Michael Mandrake here to talk about my newest book from Sizzler Editions, Vertigo, my m/m historical paranormal romance. What inspired me to write the book? Well, it started with Saschal Illyvich’s subcall a couple of years ago, asking for gay sci-fi shorts for the anthology, Riding the Rocket. When I sat down to write, I had no idea what I wanted from my characters. Actually, I wanted to try my hand at steampunk but instead, I wrote something totally unique, might’ve been a shifter, some kind of unexplainable being. Whatever it was, it came out a lot different than what I expected.

Once it was printed, I knew my Doctor Hayden and his “monster” had more story so, I sat down and wrote about 25k more for these lovable characters. I gave them everything they wanted; some tension, hot sex to resolve conflicts, and an interesting ending I never would’ve dreamed of. It’s a paranormal with a twist, and you the reader won’t know that until you read further into the story.

What I enjoy most about Vertigo is the chemistry between my characters which I must admit was a little shaky until Sascha assisted me with edits. Once he gave me some pointers, my couple seemed more in sync and I was able to finish book one without feeling like I missed something. During the writing process, I listened to haunting classical and progressive rock band Opeth to put me in the right mindset. When playing their album Blackwater Park, the characters responded the most causing my fingers to fly over the keyboard.

All of my stories have a special place in my heart but this one is my most precious gem. I adore Hayden and David so much they’ve refused to leave me and the readers without at least one more book. So, I’ll be making them happy with book two in April. In the meantime, please enjoy book one.


After losing his lover to mental disorder, Dr. Hayden Curry throws himself into work, silently wishing he could experience something extraordinary in love.  He finds his match in David, a creature Hayden revives after discovering him and hauling him back to his lab.  Upon awakening, David asks Dr. Hayden’s help in discovering more about himself.  Hayden agrees but senses secrets in David.  Will he get to the bottom of things and be able to continue the special relationship he and David have, or will the secrets that come forward tear them apart?

                           
Excerpt:
Before I went to my haven, I glanced outside my window. Outside, the rainfall reduced to a drizzle, coupled by slow moving clouds over the moonlight. The trees blew after only a few gusts of winds, ripped the leaves off and made quite a mess on the grass underneath.
These would be the nights I would cherish with him most. After relishing in the afterglows of new inventions and glasses of wine, there were mind blowing affections to follow.
Such a good lover…
Once I got to my place of work, I immediately began searching for the vials I had for the latest concoction. When I did not see them, I lost my head rather quickly.
“Where on God’s green earth,” I screamed and walked from one end of my laboratory to the other. "Where are those samples I just had? Libertina!"
Immediately, the pale and slim maiden with dark hair ran to my aid.
"Yes sir, have you lost something again, sir?"
"I have Libertina. The tubes I examined the night before. They seemed to…oh."
Within moments, my dearest uncovered the missing necessities I searched for, right underneath my novel, The Bounded Scientist.
I shrunk back and smiled wryly. "Thank you Libertina, ahem, that will be all my sweet."
"Yes sir, if there is anything you need, I'll be tending to your clothes, sir." Quickly, she curtsied and scurried off, closing the door behind her.
Ah, what a fine young maiden I have. If I were more attracted to the ladies, then I might give her go, but only gentlemen tickled my fancy these days.
I could not be that upset even in this pitiful state. Not that many people understood me when they came to know me. Throughout the years, many thought they should have thrown me in the local mental ward because of the ideas I'd had.
Nevertheless, my determination and visions had made me one of the most recognizable names in London, apart from the fact I inherited my father's large fortune.
Still, even with all the money and notoriety, I had always felt something was missing from my life. I longed for something new to happen. Whether it was a new discovery or invention it had to be different from what I had already seen.
I looked at the experiment I had been working on for seemingly weeks in disgust. Things hadn’t been the same anyway since Lawrence departed but I was determined to move on with my life’s work despite what happened to him. I had to hold on to the hope he would return.
After around the fifteenth trial of not receiving my desired result, I retreated to my bedroom to sleep. Unlike times before, I decided not to read before bed but instead lay there until my eyes got too heavy.
I hoped the nightmares would not start again since after they occurred I stayed awake staring at the ceilings of my room, often needing a drink of the alcoholic variety to put me to rest. I felt myself becoming rather dependent on the beverages. Certainly, doing this sort of thing would cloud my senses and not allow me to function properly. Many men of science I knew had become like this and I refused to become one of them.
I’ll never.
I always reassured myself that I wouldn’t continue to down this dangerous path, however, everyday, being alone with only yourself to talk with could be a detriment to one’s mental state.
Although fully capable of doing everyday things, I’d come to accept that I was different. After all, for one, I wasn’t attracted to women. Two, I enjoyed reading more than being outside playing in games.
In fact my mom would frequently say that she wished I’d be like “normal” boys and go play ball instead of reading. This from the same woman who didn’t know how to read until after she birthed me. With the help of my caregiver, I taught myself how to read the written word thus showed my mum in the process. Still, even afterwards, she didn’t consider it as an important skill. “I’ve always had people to do things like read for me,” she said, giving illiteracy credence. Totally absurd but true.
If I wasn’t able to read and learn I might die.
Such is true of me, Doctor Hayden Curry. I preferred to have my mind stimulated before anything else. This isn’t saying that I didn’t enjoy the sins of the flesh because I did, but, books were like gold to me, more important than any penny I owned. I’d inherited most of it which allowed me to live the lavish lifestyle and work on experiments instead of seeing patients to cure their ailments. I wasn’t interested in short term solutions anyway. I wanted results that could change the world and mankind forever.


Hope you enjoyed this post. Here is the blurb, Booktrailer,  Vertigo is available at Sizzler, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
 
Michael Mandrake is the author of several novellas including his latest, Vertigo from Sizzler Editions. His next books, True Meaning 2: The Complete Portrait from XOXO and Under the Gun from No Boundaries Press are due out in 2012. To find out more please visit http://tabooindeed.blogspot.com




Monday, April 23, 2012

A werewolf that doesn’t eat meat? You betcha!

What kind  of werewolf doesn't eat meat?

According to Kyle Slidell, the hero of my M/M romance series Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat, it’s a real one. Kyle is a vegan werewolf, the mate of his pack alpha, and he’s one stubborn guy.

In the universe I’ve created for the series, werewolves eat meat because it’s what wolves eat in the wild, but also because of the excess protein they need to recover from their shifting. Kyle is stubborn enough to overcome the natural urge to eat meat, though he and his inner wolf don’t really agree on the subject. For the protein he needs, Kyle, like most vegans, relies on alternate sources like soy, quinoa, and nuts.

Readers are introduced to Kyle in my novel Salad on the Side, released last June from MLR Press. It was my first M/M novel; previously, I’d written a short story that showed the love interests’ first meeting, but I hadn’t thought I could write a full-length novel in the genre. Then a couple things happened. An editor commented that she liked my writing style. A male M/M author gave me some tips about how to make my heroes both sound like men. And a writing friend asked about another book, “How can a werewolf be vegan?”

In answer to that last question, I wrote a thousand word scene showing a man—er, wolf—named Kyle awakening from his first shift after being bitten by a werewolf, and being absolutely horrified by the plate of meat brought to him by the human-form members of the pack he’d unknowingly been living in the middle of for months. When I added the pack Alpha, Tobias, telling his pack members to bring Kyle the veggie burgers instead of raw meat, I knew there was something between Tobias and Kyle. And I had my story.

Blurb:

Since moving to Boston, Kyle Slidell has met only a few of his neighbors, including Tobias Rogan. Kyle is very interested in Tobias, and is ecstatic to learn that Tobias wants him too. But his neighbors have a secret: They’re werewolves, and Tobias is the pack Alpha. When one of the wolves attacks Kyle in the neighborhood garden one night, Kyle learns the truth in a hurry. Now he’s a werewolf too—and since he’s vegan, he refuses to eat meat. With Tobias’s help and love, Kyle must adjust to his new life and protect himself and his friends from a neighboring pack.

Excerpt:

While Tobias showered, I watched TV. I wanted to go home and go about my normal routine, including possibly trying to reach my boss to find out whether I still had a job. I stayed, though, because I sensed Tobias would need me. When he returned to the living room with damp, loose hair and wearing only a pair of gym shorts, I moved to the side of the couch to make room for him. He sat beside me and stared at the movie I’d put on, some old thing from the 1980s with those two same-named kids who starred together in a bunch of teen flicks.

“Harriet doesn’t have a problem with you,” he said.

“Nope, just with me corrupting her Alpha,” I muttered. I’d thought I knew the Frelichs pretty well, but apparently they’d kept a few things hidden from me. Things I kind of wished I hadn’t found out.

“Not even that.” He took my hand. “Power base, Kyle. She’s known me a long time and she knows how deeply I feel for the people I love. She’s afraid the depth will interfere with my judgment and power as Alpha. She thinks it takes energy to love someone, because for her, it is an effort. She and Frank have reached a place of comfort with each other, but they’re not truly in love. They’re one of the mated pairs that makes no sense whatsoever.”

“Mates don’t have a choice.”

He shook his head. “When you see your mate, you know. Instantly. I don’t know if it’s some past life thing or some machination of the Universe we mere mortals don’t know about.”

“We’re shifters,” I pointed out. “Does that mean we’re mere mortals?”

“We’re mortal. We can die and be killed. Dying just takes longer than for regular humans.” He lay down, feet over the arm of the couch, head in my lap. “Mates are connected from the moment they’re both in this world. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason to who ends up mated with whom. I don’t pretend to understand it. I only know I thought I was in love with Harok, but when I saw you for the first time, I didn’t even remember what he looked like. Love is human, and since shifters are part human, we feel that emotion. Mating is something deeper and stronger.”

“People talk about love at first sight,” I said. “Not the whole, oh, he’s cute, I want to fuck him kind of so-called love, but genuine, romantic, I want to spend my life with this person love.”

“Kind of the same thing.” He shrugged. “Maybe humans experience the mating bond too. They just don’t think of it that way, since mating is more of an animal behavior than a human one. Anyway, to Harriet your gender has little to do with her concern. She’s afraid loving anyone as deeply as she knows I can will weaken me. As peacekeeper, she may be worried about the reaction within our pack and in the other packs to the announcement that our Alpha has a male mate, but it isn’t her primary concern.”

“I’m still getting used to the whole mate thing anyway.” I stroked his hair. The soft strands slipped through my fingers like silk and I resisted the urge to plunge both hands into it and just revel in the softness. Tobias might not have minded, but somehow I had the feeling the sensuality of playing with his hair would lead to wanting to touch other things. Right then, we didn’t need sex, we just needed to be quiet together.

“Me too.” He sighed and closed his eyes. “Stay with me tonight, Kyle.” He nodded toward the window and I realized, to my surprise, that somewhere between our fucking and the phone call to Chal, the sun had nearly set. “I don’t want to fuck you or make love to you or whatever you want to call it. I just want you beside me when I fall asleep and when I wake in the morning.”

I’d lived with my last partner. Every night we’d gone to bed together and every morning we’d woken up beside each other. Sometimes we’d fucked, sometimes we’d just cuddled, sometimes we’d ignored one another completely. And for the entire time I’d lived with him, I’d never been fully comfortable being so close to him for so much time. There had been nights when I hadn’t even stayed in bed with him, but had slept on the couch and then returned to bed before he woke so he’d think I’d been there all along.

I’d thought I would be like that the rest of my life, not wanting to completely let anyone in, not wanting the utter closeness that came with being in love. Tobias had screwed that up pretty well and I didn’t mind it a bit. I liked the thought of falling asleep beside him. Waking in the morning with the sun touching his gorgeous hair. Being there in the middle of the night if either of us needed comfort or—well, or anything else.

Tonight, Tobias needed me. Needed someone else to be the strong one for a while. His pack had never taken a hit like this and he blamed himself even though he hadn’t caused Suzannah’s kidnapping. He was Alpha and that meant anything happening within his pack or to any of its members was his responsibility. And the fact he let me into his head enough to hear those thoughts showed just how much he trusted me. I refused to let him down.

“I’ll stay,” I said softly.
Find out more about Karenna and her books on her website

Find Salad on the Side and the other books in the Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series at MLR Press

Friday, April 20, 2012

Zombies and vampires in the old west? Why not!

It all started two years ago. I had just finished watching the first season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” and zombies were on my mind. Then I started thinking about “True Blood,” and how witches were rumored to play a big part in the new season, an interesting mash-up. And I thought, Why not zombies and vampires? Has that been done? Who would win?



And with that, the seed for my novel, Bounty, was planted.


As often happens with my stories, it took on a life of its own. I wanted to get away from the modern day take on vampires and zombies. I wanted to use characters who wouldn’t know what these creatures were, wouldn’t know a stake through the heart would kill a vampire, or a bullet to the head would bring down a zombie. I had to set it in a different time, and I decided that the Old West would make for an interesting place. I had never written a Western before, but the characters and plot kept bringing me back to the Old West, and so I gave in.



 “Bounty,” became the title of the first book in my Venom Valley Series, and it introduces Josh Stanton, an outcast all his life in the small town that allowed him to live there but refused to let him all the way in. Raised by his mother, a rumored witch, on the outskirts of town, he was taken in by the town's spinster school marm, Agnes, when his mother vanished one night.When the book opens, Josh is in trouble. He has found Agnes dead in the house they share, a heart attack maybe, or a stroke. He tells no one, but he sits with his rifle across his lap, and he waits. Because he knows what's coming next, he can feel it. And when she comes awake, as he anticipated, she is different, not the Agnes he knew, and very hungry. With lurching steps she stalks Josh, reaches for him, opens her mouth wide to bite into him... and he shoots her in the head. It's the only way he's learned to bring down the restless dead.


Understanding follows closely behind grief. He realizes no one in town will believe him, not even his best friend growing up, Dexter Wells, who is now a town deputy. So Josh flees into the night, leaving Agnes's body behind.


Meanwhile, in the town of Belkin’s Pass itself, the working girls at the local saloon, the One-Eyed Rooster, are being stalked by a dark stranger. It is a vampire, but none of them know what he is or what to call him, they simply succumb to his powerful persuasion and allow him to feast on their blood. All of them but Glory, a half white, half Indian saloon girl who is protected by a Native American spirit.


Glory tries to save the others, but too many of the girls are fully turned by the time she understands what’s happening in the halls and tiny rooms of the One-Eyed Rooster, and she flees.


Dexter Wells has found Agnes and goes looking for Josh. He knows a sheriff's posse will be coming along behind him soon, and he wants to hear Josh's reasons for himself. He tracks his best friend to the abandoned house where Josh had been raised by his mother, out on the edge of the desert scrub known by the locals as Venom Valley. When he arrives, his feelings for Josh, much stronger than friendship, come to the surface and Dex decides that now is the only time he may have left to speak the words he's kept close to his heart. But what good can they do against such odds?


The characters come together in the barren wasteland of Venom Valley where they figure out some key secrets to battling not only the resurrected dead that haunt Josh’s path, but the power hungry vampire Balthazar who stalks them.


Excerpt:


The terror of Josh's nightmare seeped from his system and he swallowed hard past the dry residue of it lodged in his throat like a clod of dirt. He leaned over the edge of the bed, fingers reaching for the rifle where it lay in a patch of moonlight that spilled in from the window by the bed.


Then a quiet voice spoke from the shadows: “Let me in.”


Gooseflesh broke out over Josh’s body and he froze, fingertips grazing the wooden stock of the rifle. He fought back the fear that paralyzed him and forced himself to finish his movement, grabbing the rifle and sitting upright on the bed.


He scanned the heavy shadows but found no sign of an intruder, so he took a moment to tuck his cock back inside his trousers and use the blanket to wipe himself clean. Sliding off the bed, Josh crouched in the shadows gathered at the foot. Someone was outside, a man from the sound of it, but one whose voice he did not recognize.


And then the voice came again, floating out of the darkness. It surrounded him, wrapped around him, like a soft, black bed sheet loosed from a drying line. The voice pulled him to his feet and toward the door, soothing and chilling all at once. It called to him in a way that made him want to lay down his rifle and step outside. The words were spoken with an eloquent tongue, touched by an accent that hinted at lands far removed from this flat, dry prairie.


“Open the door,” the voice beckoned. “Let me look in your eyes; let me see your handsome face.”


Josh took a step toward the door, and then stopped, shaking his head as he gripped the rifle tight. He thought about Dex, conjured the memory of a summer day spent working around Agnes’s house. He had been able to smell Dex’s work-sweat, could almost smell it again now, that heady scent that made Josh hard in an instant and left his mouth watering.


“I feel you in there,” the voice whispered. “Let me in. I won’t hurt you.”


“No,” Josh said through clenched teeth.


“At least open the door,” cooed the voice. Josh could hear the pout in his words. “It’s so impersonal speaking this way.”


Feet moving without thought, Josh drifted through the dark room to the door. He drew back the bolt as if in a dream and pulled open the door.


Moonlight spilled through the doorway to splash across his feet and he paused, rifle at his side, hand on the edge of the door. The land stretched away in the cold moonlight. Halfway between the house and the barn, the pump stood at the end of its long shadow. The night was silent, unnaturally so. No insects buzzed, no night birds called. It was as if every living thing had stopped and caught its breath.


But someone, or something, was out there, and it was close. Josh’s skin prickled as a wash of cold air curled around him. He shivered and clutched the rifle tight to his chest, his eyes darting around the barren prairie.


“Show yourself,” he whispered, lips barely parted.


“As you wish.”


A black shape filled the doorway, inches in front of him, appearing out of the air and making Josh’s breath catch in his throat. The form blocked out the moonlight and towered over him, standing just outside the threshold. The cold air that had rolled in the door seemed to grow even more frigid, and Josh wondered if he would be able to see his breath.


It was a man, but a man unlike any Josh had ever seen. He was tall, more than six and a half feet, taller even than Dex. In the shadows that cloaked the man’s face, Josh could make out a prominent nose and a heavy brow. He was clean-shaven and pale, his chin pointed beneath the dark slash of his mouth, and his thick, dark hair hung below his shoulders.


In the veil of shadow that concealed the man’s face, his eyes gleamed red as embers. The glowing eyes captured Josh’s attention and held him pinned to the spot.


The stranger stared at Josh, into him, as the chill of the night air sank into Josh’s flesh, biting into his very bones. Inches away, the man turned up a corner of his mouth as his red eyes filled Josh’s vision, became his land, his sky, his world, and pushed into the soft meat of his brain.


“Look what we have here,” the man said, the sound of his voice soothing Josh’s nerves even as the cold rolling off him put Josh on edge. “Where did you stumble in from?”


Josh kept silent, trying in vain to tear his gaze from the man’s eyes. But his limbs were locked, frozen by the chill that surrounded him.


The man leaned closer but remained outside the threshold. He breathed in deep through his nose, closing his eyes. Once those glowing red eyes closed, Josh blinked and shook his head. The fog that had swallowed his brain cleared and he took a deep, freeing breath as the chill within him faded a bit. The man had bewitched him with his gaze.
****

Tom Webb, at A Bear on Books, said this about Bounty, "a fantastically original, rousing story of vampires, romance and the Old West. You won't be able to stop until you reach the end and you'll be left clamoring for Book 2."
The second book, Bait, should be available fall 2012.

Find out more about Hank Edwards:


Buy "Bounty" at Amazon: and at All Romance eBooks:




Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Goddess Fish book tour: Fighting Gravity!

Hi everyone, Carson here,
Today we are doing something different. Guys Like Romance, Too! is now an official stop on the Goddess Fish book tour and today we have our first visitor. Leah Peterson has written a M/M sci-fi romance called Fighting Gravity. Although this isn't sci-fi month (that's August if you have one) we asked her a question that floats through our site a lot to get her take on it. So without further delay here is Leah to answer. Enjoy!

~*~
Hi everyone!
Your wonderful hosts here on Guys Like Romance Too asked me to blog on that topic and I’m thrilled. Why? Because I’m going to turn it around and ask how do you get the romance OUT of sci-fi?
There’s often this perception among non-sci-fi readers that it’s all spaceships and incomprehensible technology and green aliens. Well, there’s some of that, though less than there used to be. But here’s the thing, even green aliens are people(ish.) What’s one thing that people tend to do as a rule?
Fall in love. Hopelessly, or sweetly, or tragically, or any other adverb in the language you want to apply. It’s one of the most common of human (sentient being) experiences. We all do it, or want to.
Think of it this way, what story do you know that doesn’t have some flavor of romance in it? Maybe it’s not romance-novel-formula with its Happily Ever After, but sometimes the most tragic romances are the best. Romeo and Juliet, anyone? 

The romance in FIGHTING GRAVITY cemented this idea for me simply because it came out of nowhere for me as I was writing. I’d sat down to write this story about a boy taken by a totalitarian government, and I had this idea that the Emperor was young—a teenager, which is still young to me—which heightened the conflict for my similarly-teenaged-protagonist. I already knew they were going to meet, and that there would be tension and surprising revelations for both of them. What I didn’t know, was that they’d fall in love. 

Silly, I know, because I’m the author, I should know these things. But I’m a very character-driven writer, and this means listening to my characters and watching for the things they’re trying to tell me. Jacob firmly reminded me how intrinsic love and attraction are to the human experience. (And that teenage-boy hormones are as dependable as, well, gravity.) Pretty soon I had to admit that, more than anything, this was a love story, because, in the eye of a storm of adversity, that’s what you cling to.
Romance, love, sex, lust, longing, loss, these are commonalities all emotional beings share. When you boil it down to its basics, the difference between contemporary human stories and sci-fi (or any other genre) is just scenery and props and maybe a little creative anatomy. Same difference. ;)
What about you? Do you think there’s anywhere romance doesn’t belong? 


When Jacob Dawes is Selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he’s catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob’s own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely, and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor’s heart, but it’s no protection when he’s accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT

After dinner, a servant summoned me to the emperor. This was now twice in as many nights. Was it about something I’d said the night before? That stupid ring?

I was led to where the emperor was talking with the ship’s captain in one of the hallways.

“Good evening, Mr. Dawes. I see you survived the lift-off.” He walked as he spoke, gesturing for me to accompany him.

“It was an incredible experience, Excellence. This is a nice ship you have.”

“Thank you. It’s not a new ship, there was no time for that. But many things were upgraded, the engines included. They’re the best of the best, I’m told. I thought about you during the lift-off. I wondered what you’d make of it.”

“You did?” I asked, stunned.

“Is there something wrong with that?” he asked, his mouth twisted in what looked like amusement but was probably something more dangerous to me.

“No, sir. I guess not…”

“Does it bother you?” He seemed to be teasing me again.

“Some,” I answered.

He stopped. “Why?”

“Because I’m afraid of you.”

He laughed, and started down the hallway again. But after a sideways glance at my face, he quieted. “You really mean that?”

“Yes.”

“Oh.” His answer was soft, subdued, even. I got the distinct impression that I’d hurt his feelings.

“You must get that all the time.”

“I do,” he answered, but didn’t look at me. I was more and more sure that I’d offended him somehow.

“So why should it matter, then, Excellence?”

He thought for a moment. “I don’t know. I should be used to it. Of course, no one ever comes out and says it in so many words. It’s a bit of a shock to hear it confirmed like that.”

He stopped again, facing me, a slight furrow between his eyes that I would have called uncertainty, even vulnerability, if I hadn’t known who he was. “Why are you afraid of me?”

“Who wouldn’t be afraid? You can do anything you want with my life and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.”

The furrow deepened and he waited, as if I hadn’t explained myself at all.

“You uprooted my life a couple of weeks ago, who knows what you might do tomorrow?”

“You mean, you didn’t want this assignment?” he asked.

Apparently I wasn’t frightened enough to keep my mouth shut. “I want to be here,” I pointed to the ship around us, “but I didn’t want to be reassigned, no.”

“Mr. Dawes...” He hesitated. “I had no idea. I’m sorry.”

I shrugged but didn’t look at him.

“Would you like to be assigned back to the IIC?”

“Yes, Excellence.”

“Then you will be.” He started walking again, gesturing to me to accompany him. My stomach was jittery. I couldn’t believe what I’d just said. But he wasn’t reacting like an angry sovereign. He was acting like just another guy whose feelings were hurt.

“I’m sorry if I offended you,” I tried.

He turned to me. “Actually, you have no idea how much I appreciate your honesty.”

There was no reason for me to believe he was lying or just being diplomatic—and I couldn’t imagine why he would try to spare my feelings—but that didn’t make me feel much better. I was still on edge, certain I’d said far too much.

PRIZE INFORMATION

The author will be giving away a prize to TWO randomly  drawn commenters during the tour: a hat with a replica of an important institution referenced in Fighting Gravity.


Who is Leah Peterson?

Leah Petersen lives in North Carolina. She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like everyone else. She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing.
FIGHTING GRAVITY is her first novel.