I love writing romance – the stories I love to tell all seem to involve two people finding one another and (eventually) making one another happy – and I love writing m/m romance in particular because I feel much freer of the conventions of the romance genre. My stories are about relationships between two real, fully realized people, not a strong-but-tormented hero and a spunky-yet-vulnerable heroine. But the Soulshares also stand on their own as urban fantasy as well as erotic romance. (They really are serious urban fantasy, though sometimes I have to explain that to people who have only seen the covers – maybe in my next contract I’ll be able to negotiate to supply my own covers!) I like to say that the Soulshares are m/m erotic romance for lovers of urban fantasy, and urban fantasy for lovers of m/m erotic romance.
The Soulshares were born in October of 2011, when Alli Cassatta ran a competition on Facebook called the “Role-Player Olympics” – the challenge was to write a short story, 3,000 words or less, in which someone close to the main character had a secret, and the secret could cost the main character his or her life. I created Tiernan Guaire and Kevin Almstead, the central couple in Hard as Stone, for that contest; then, in November of 2011, I decided to take the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers’ Month) challenge, to write 50,000 words in one month, and expand on the short story I’d written for the Olympics. I didn’t make the goal, but I had so much written by the end of the month that I decided to keep going, and the ultimate result was Hard as Stone. It’s the first of four books in my current contract with Ravenous Romance (the second, Gale Force, is in edits right now, I’m working on the third, Deep Waters, and I have to turn in the fourth, Firestorm, by October 1.)
The premise behind the Soulshares is that the Fae live in a magickal world, which they call the Realm, that was sealed off from the human world over two thousand years ago to rid it of a deadly enemy to the Fae race. There’s one portal that enables the Fae to pass through to the human world, called the Pattern, and when a Fae passes through it, his soul is torn in half. Half he keeps, and half goes out into the human world, to be reborn in a human. In order to be whole again, the Fae has to find, and love, the human who holds the other half of his soul. The catch? – Fae don’t love.
Hard as Stone is really the story of two "firsts". Kevin Almstead is the human lead; he’s a young lawyer whose entire romantic and sexual experience to date has been with women. But once he meets Tiernan Guaire, his Fae Soulshare, that changes very quickly. The excerpt below is part of his first meeting with Tiernan, as he experiences the instant sexual attraction that’s part of the Soulshare bond. But their encounter isn't only a first for Kevin. It’s the first time Kevin has experienced sex with another man, yes, but it’s the first time Tiernan has ever experienced love with anyone. And of the two, I think it's very safe to say that Tiernan has the harder time learning to cope.
Hard as Stone is available through Amazon, B&N and Ravenous Romance and I’m told there will be a print-on-demand edition available soon as well.
As for me, I’m on Facebook and I have a blog. I’m also on Twitter @RoryNi, though I have to admit I’m not much of a tweeter (technologically speaking, I’m the despair of my 16-year-old son).
Finally, an excerpt from Hard as Stone. Enjoy!
“Enjoying the show?”
The voice was right next to his ear, low and rich and carrying just a hint of laughter. Kevin straightened, his drink sloshing over his hand; he took a deep breath, and turned.
And stared. Into the bluest eyes he had ever seen. Long blond hair framed a chiseled face, a strong nose, full sensual lips. Odd, he’d never thought of a man’s mouth as being particularly sensual before, but this one could be nothing but. And even more so when smiling, as it was now.
“The show? Remember?” The man chuckled, a wicked sound barely audible over the music from the dance floor. Somehow, the fact that he had to strain to hear it made it even more wicked. Decadent. “The boy was holding your attention well enough a moment ago. Have you become distracted?”
The blond had an accent, one Kevin struggled to place. Scots? Irish? Not that he could tell the difference between the two, but trying to puzzle it out gave him an excuse for closing his eyes, turning away. Distracted? Hell, yes.
“I’m sorry.” The laughter that lingered in that voice told him that the speaker was anything but sorry, that he was enjoying Kevin’s reaction. He’d bet anything that when he opened his eyes again, that devastating blue gaze would be locked on his. Anything. Fuck, I hate being right sometimes.
“You’re incredibly sexy when you blush.” The blond didn’t sport nearly as much metal as most of the patrons of Purgatory, just three gold rings in one ear and one in his eyebrow. And damned if he didn’t want to run his tongue over that one, just to see what it would feel like.
Wait… he wanted to what? “You might want to find a different come-on. It’s too dark in here for you to see a blush.” Kevin’s throat was tight, his heart was hammering loud enough that this guy could probably hear it.
“You’d be surprised how perceptive I am.” Suddenly, there was a hand resting on top of Kevin’s on the bar, the hellish light playing over it. And two fingers, sliding under the lapel of his jacket, lifting it slightly. “Armani, isn’t it?” When Kevin didn’t answer, he leaned closer, nostrils flaring. “The scent, too. Acqua di Gio.”
Fingertips stroked the back of his hand, gently, possessively, and Kevin fought to suppress a shiver. Not hard enough, though, because there was that smile again. A lazy, sensual smile that absolutely should not be on the lips of anyone he hadn’t spent at least twenty-four hours having mind-blowing sex with. Which short list did not include anyone of this seductive blond’s gender.
As if he’d heard Kevin’s thought, the blond arched that ringed eyebrow; the grip on his hand tightened, a thumb slid around to stroke his palm. “You don’t even know why you’re here, do you?”
“And I suppose you do?” His voice came out gruff, harsh; the air thrummed around the two of them, tingling with a kind of dark electricity.
The blond chuckled, that sound like warm honey. “You’re buttoned down tight, lanan. And you came in here because…”
“Secretly, you want someone…”
Damn, damn, DAMN…
“Someone like me…
Long thick blond hair. Black leather jacket, gleaming with a sheen like melted butter in the flickering light from the bar. White muscle shirt. Jeans first painted on and then sliced half off. God damn.
“…to unbutton you.”
Get up. Walk away. The voice in his head was calm, level, reasonable. This isn’t for you. He isn’t for you.
Yeah, the voice was reasonable. And it was the voice of the miserable bastard who’d never dared to want anything for himself in his life.
“I don’t even know your name.” The hoarse whisper was a surrender, and they both knew it.
The blond leaned in and kissed him gently. “Tiernan Guaire. And you don’t have to tell me yours if you don’t want to. Although I’ll own, I’d like to be able to scream it as I come.”
Kevin’s eyes closed, almost in pain. Almost. “Kevin. Kevin Almstead.” Esquire, he nearly added, like an idiot.
Another kiss brought his eyes open, to meet that haunting blue gaze, alive with the promise of pleasure. “Kevin.” Tiernan’s teeth caught gently at his lower lip, tugged. “Did you drive, lanan? Because I didn’t. And I’m impatient.” A low throaty laugh seemed to hang in the air between them.