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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Humpday with Dreamspinners Press: Jaime Samms

First off, thanks for sharing the blog. I’m thrilled to have a chance to talk about titles that might not be new but are still dear to me.

Angel Requiem was a special story right from the start. I knew it was going to be a hard sell, even as I was writing it. As the first book in the Wings of Faith series, it sort of came to me in flashes of pretty language a lot different from how I normally write, and with characters I don’t usually write about.

Besides the fact some of them had wings and were a long way from home here on earth, one of the characters is a priest who can hear the death dirges of the angels only he seems to believe in any more. This isn’t a story about relationships and love so much as it is about what faith does to a person when it is shared, when it isn’t and when it is actively ridiculed. Not your usual romance fare, for sure, but with enough of the truth of love in it to make the happily Ever After necessary.

Blurb: In a world without hope that kills what it can't understand, a solitary priest who has lost all he ever loved may be the last man to still believe in Angels. In the end, his belief may be all that can safeguard the fate of two Angel lovers—and restore his own faith in the power of love.

Angel Elegy is more of a love story that isn’t quite over yet (there’s one more book in the series) And that one is a story about how love wrecks us all at some point. When the final book comes out, love, faith and being true to yourself will prove that you can make a leap of faith and trust love to build your wings on the way down.

Twin Angels Jophiel and Ariel are servants of Heaven bound to help the humans of a world headed for ruin. But for them to become the independent Angels they need to be, their bond must first be broken.

Jophiel takes his duties seriously, answering a call from an artist struggling with his dominant, sadistic nature. But Ariel, embittered after being tortured and killed by human captors and returning to Heaven in shame, hesitates. The choice is taken from his hands when he is sent to Earth, wingless and without any memory of who or what he is. Until he regains the faith in the humans he’s meant to help, he’ll never reach his full potential and be readmitted into Heaven. From somewhere within himself, Jophiel must find the courage to let go of his twin and trust Ariel to be strong enough to Rise again… or they will never be together.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hump Day with Dreamspinners Press: Andrew Grey!

For the past week or so I have been at Rainbowcon, a GLBTQ convention in Tampa Florida.  This convention reminded me once again how important it is to meet people face to face.  There are few things as enjoyable or fun as spending meeting someone face to face that you’ve known on Facebook or through email.  As an author, the thing that amazes me on a regular basis is how many people are interested in meeting me and the smiles I get when they do. 
In school I was the kid who was picked on all the time.  I swear I could fold myself to fit inside any size locker.  Now as an adult and an author, it sometimes overwhelms me how wonderful, warm, kind, thoughtful, and sweet readers are.  I shared hugs with dozens of people, genuine, warm hugs that indicated a real pleasure at meeting me and I’m always just as pleased to meet them.   I even shared a few jump up and down, squee happily moments this past week and I squeed right along with the reader because I was just as excited as they were. 
Writing can be a lonely profession.  We exist mostly in our own heads, getting our stories onto paper.  (or more accurately in the computer)  Meeting and talking to readers helps to reinforce that I’m helping to bring happiness, pleasure, and love to the world.  What greater reward can there possibly be?

Aspiring orchestra conductor Marshall is exhausted after months of auditions without a single job offer. Marshall’s friend, Terry, recommends a change of scenery and points Marshall in the direction of a dude ranch run by former bull rider Indigo Santana. Marshall is understandably skeptical, but his friend is convincing, and Marshall needs a break, so he agrees to go.
Indigo captures Marshall’s attention but leaves him confused. Indigo’s confidence is shot after an injury ended his rodeo career, and he walks with a slight limp. He hasn’t been anywhere near a bull since he was hurt, and he’s not the most accommodating host. After all, the only reason he keeps guests is because his family ranch is all but bankrupt.
Marshall’s attraction doesn’t go unanswered, which leaves him with a huge dilemma. He’s torn between the possibility of love, something he’s searched for all his life, and the career he’s worked toward for as long as he can remember, which is miles away. From his side of the fence, Indigo doesn’t see how the ranch could ever be enough.

Purchase from Dreamspinnner Press:   

After paying his bill, Marshall left the restaurant and went for a short walk. His phone beeped, letting him know he had a message. He pulled it out and saw a message from Terry, asking him to call. Marshall messaged him back and was about to call when his phone rang.
“I have to get ready for surgery in ten minutes, but I might have a solution for you. How about a vacation?”
“I was just thinking about that,” Marshall said with a smile.
“Excellent. Phillip, one of my rodeo buddies, has a friend who’s just opened a ranch for tourists.”
“A dude ranch? You have to be kidding.”
“Why not? It’s about an hour outside Houston, and Phillip says there’s some rodeo folks in the area. The owner’s name is Indigo Santana. He was a bull rider a few years ago. I saw him ride once. According to Phillip, he inherited the family ranch and is opening it to guests. It should be a lot of fun, with no pressure. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want, but it’ll be quiet and it will give you a chance to think about what you want to do. You also won’t have to go home to face your folks, at least until you hear if you got the job or not.” That did sound appealing.
“My idea of a vacation is an all-inclusive resort with pool boys, fruity drinks with umbrellas, and all the sun I can soak in,” Marshall said. “A ranch is hardly my idea of fun.” He didn’t share Terry’s fascination for all things rodeo.
Terry sighed, and ADaringRide MDMarshall thought he heard a door close in the background. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but according to Phillip, there are few things better-looking than tight cowboy butts in tight jeans and chaps.” He could almost see Terry shuddering. “Now, you are forbidden from telling anyone I ever said that, and if you do, I’ll say you were drunk and don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Okay, I get the point.” The image that flashed through his mind was most definitely intriguing.
“Good. I’ll e-mail you the details, and you can call the ranch. They’re just starting out, so they have plenty of room and should be able to accommodate you for as long as you want to stay. Phillip said they usually book by the week, but they’ll be flexible.” Terry paused. “Go have some fun with the cowboys.”
“Straight cowboys,” Marshall grumbled.
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Phillip said Dante Rivers lives in the area. He was a champion bull rider and is gay. It doesn’t mean anyone there will be gay, but you’re there to de-stress and have a good time, not hook up with everything that moves.”
“Look who’s talking—the playboy heart surgeon,” Marshall countered. “Fine, I’ll call and see what they have to say, but I’m not making any promises.”
“I gotta go, but I’ll text the number in a second.” Terry hung up, and true to his word, a text came through with a phone number and a message less than a minute later: This will do you good. Think of the view. LOL. Marshall rolled his eyes and shoved his phone back into his pocket. He walked back to the hotel, trying to decide if he wanted to do this or not, and he was definitely leaning toward not. His phone rang again and he pulled it out and answered the call.
“Terry,” he said with a smile.
“Excuse me,” He sighed when he heard the voice on the other end.. He should have looked at the display.
“Hi, Mom,” Marshall said.
“How did the performance go last night?”
“Very well. The two halves of the program were really different, but I managed to tie them together and make them work. I just don’t know if that’s what the board wanted. They’ll let me know in a few weeks if I’ve got the job.”
“Well, if you don’t, you can always come work with your father. You know he’ll always bring you into the firm.” That was their answer for everything.
“That isn’t what I want, Mom,” Marshall said. “I hate the thought of that kind of work. It’s dull and uninteresting. I know Dad loves it, but I can’t stand the thought of it. If I come back to New York, it will be to take up a position there with one of the musical groups, not Wall Street.”
“But you are coming back, aren’t you? And when you’re here, just go in to work with your father one day and give it a try. You’ll eventually inherit the firm, you know.” The thought was enough to give Marshall a migraine. “Someone will have to lead it.”
Suddenly the thought of spending a few weeks on a dude ranch sounded like an appealing proposition. “I’ve decided to take a few weeks’ vacation. I’ve been very tired and I need some time to myself.”
“You can rest while you’re here.” Yeah, rest combined with pressure to do what they want, and guilt piled on every time I say no.
“No, Mom. I don’t think so. Going to New York is not what I think I need right now.”
He knew she was disappointed. His parents were good people, and they wanted the best for him. Unfortunately, what they thought was best was different from his own vision, and Marshall wanted to make his own way, at least partially. Marshall had enough money of his own that he didn’t have to work. His grandfather had founded the brokerage firm his father now ran and owned. He’d also set up Marshall, as well as his cousins, with generous trust funds, so Marshall didn’t need to work for a living. He wanted this job because it was what he truly wanted to do, what got deep down into his soul and moved him. The money was secondary, although it would be nice to earn money for himself rather than requesting funds from his trustee whenever he wanted cash, especially since his trustee was his father. But not for long. Next year he came of age at twenty-seven, as far as the trust was concerned.
“Mom, I’m not staying away forever. It’s just a few weeks of rest and relaxation. I’ll call you when I can, and you have nothing to worry about. I promise.” They talked for a few minutes more and then hung up. Marshall walked the rest of the way back to the hotel. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and he found he was now in a great mood. When he got back to his room, he pulled out his phone and made a call to the ranch.
“Yeah,” the man said who answered the phone.
“Uh, yes. I was given this number as that of a dude ranch. I’m interested in spending some time and was curious about your availability. I got the number through a friend of a friend. Phillip.” He hoped he had the right number.
“This is the Circle R, and, yeah, you got the right place. Hang on a minute.” The phone was set down and Marshall waited. He wasn’t sure what kind of place this was, given the initial reception. But he waited for a few minutes.
“Hello. You wish to stay with us?” said a man with a deep, rich voice.
“Yes. I was wondering if you have any vacancies. I’d like to spend, say, a week at your ranch.” Who knew? Marshall figured he could always stay longer if he liked it, and if he didn’t, he could leave and go back to New York.
A deep laugh followed. “Of course. I’m Indigo. We’ve just begun accepting guests. But we should be able to accommodate you. When did you want to arrive?” A smooth Texas accent, combined with a smooth, almost musically rich voice, had Marshall’s heart pumping for a second. Then he shook his head to return his attention where it belonged.
“Tomorrow, if that’s okay.” Marshall’s answer was met with a pause.
“That will be fine. I’ll put you in the book. I’m assuming you need directions?”
“Just the address. I can use GPS to get there.” Indigo laughed. “I take it there’s a problem.” Now Marshall was worried.
“GPS doesn’t seem to work very well where we are. We’re off the beaten path, and the GPS programs haven’t done a good job figuring out where we are. Have you got a piece of paper? I’ll give you directions you can use that won’t get you lost.” Marshall reached for his folder and found a sheet of paper. He wrote down the directions as well as the other information he needed to know. He gave Indigo his information as well. Then Indigo said, “We’ll see you late tomorrow morning. If you get here in time, you’re welcome to join us for lunch.”
“Thank you, I’ll see you then.” They ended the call, and Marshall smiled. He found he was looking forward to getting away. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Monday, April 21, 2014

Do you believe in ghosts?

Hello everyone,
Jaxx Steele back atcha to bring you my little ghost story, Ghost of a Second Chance. Before I started writing this story had someone asked me if I believed in ghosts my immediate answer would have been: no, of course not. However, my muse and I are hardly ever on the same page.
Although I am still sticking to my guns and saying no way, a trip to the beautiful city of New Orleans has given my muse pause. The city is rich in history, architecture, wonderful food and, of course, voo-doo lure, my muse has decided it could be possible. So, during the course of this book this little disagreement between us carried on via the main characters. The ghost, trying to convince our leading man, Carter, that not only does he exist, but to get Carter to help free him.It is not a ghost story to frighten or keep you on the edge of your seat, or will you have nightares following the 'the end'. This is a story of seduction, acceptance, destined love and the ability to take a leap of faith. If you’re looking for a ghost story to make you go hmmm, this may be for you.

Carter took a few deep breaths. “Are you a cheater?” he blurted out.
Priscilla’s brow rose. “A what?”
Carter pressed his lips together as he thought. “A treater? Teeter? Trimmer? No, wait, that’s not right. I’m still saying it wrong. Treemer?”
Treetar?” she suggested.
“Yes!” he shouted pointing at her. “That’s it. A Treetar. Are you a Treetar…whatever that is?”
Priscilla sat erect with her hands flat on the desk. Her features remained neutral as her eyes seemed to scan Carter’s face.  “Yes, I am, but how do you know that?” she asked with an arched brow.
Carter swallowed loudly. “Well, umm, someone told me,” he answered in a small voice. Her head tilted.
Carter nodded.  Priscilla stared at him for a while longer before she spoke again.
“You’ve been contacted by a ghost, haven’t you?”
Carter was suddenly afraid, but he didn’t know why. He gripped the arms of the chair and pressed himself back. Priscilla was a beautiful, and so far, nice woman. He had no reason to fear her, but he had been feeling an abundance of strange emotions since his first visit to the Ledux House. Forcing himself to relax, he nodded.
“Yeah. How did you know?”
Priscilla smiled. “Well since you have only been in town a day or so, it was safe to assume no person told you, for very few know that I am. Ghosts usually send people to Treetars for help, Carter. We use our magic to help those in need. Do you know who the ghost was?”
“Yeah, he says his name was Jean-Pierre. He used to work in this house for André Ledux.”
His statement caused her eyes to widen. “Really? Then you must have encountered him here on your last visit.”
“That’s what he said.”
“Tell me, has he said anything else to you?”
“Yeah, a bunch actually. He said he and André were lovers and that he didn’t die from a fall. He was beaten by three men and died on the steps from his injuries. Jean-Pierre thinks some woman had him attacked because she found out about them. He died on the back steps trying to get back into the house.”
Priscilla’s mouth fell open. “That would have been a major scandal had anyone found out about Mr. Ledux and Jean-Pierre. No wonder she had him killed. If anyone had found out that Mr. Ledux was gay it would have ruined his reputation thus shutting the door on what she could get from him.”
Carter jumped back with a scoff. “What? You can’t possibly—”
Priscilla raised a hand. “No, no. Of course I don’t agree with her decision. I’m just saying I understand it. Money and power has always corrupted people. Clearly this woman didn’t care that she killed the love of André’s life. It’s also obvious that she didn’t love him. She just wanted him for his money and status.”
“The love of his life?”
“Yes, don’t you remember? I said Mr. Ledux was inconsolable at the death of his butler? Now we know why.”
“Oh yeah.” That also explained the sadness in André’s eyes in the last picture. By then Jean-Pierre was already dead.
“I have just the spell that will send Jean-Pierre’s spirit to where he is most needed. And you’re just the person to help with it.” 
Carter sprang to his feet. “Whoa. Hold on, Priscilla. I didn’t agree to help with any voodoo or anything crazy like that.”
Priscilla eased her chair back letting it bounce on its hinges as she eyed him. “I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time believing all of this ghost stuff,” Carter said, shaking his head.
“A nonbeliever is needed in a situation like this.” 
“A situation like what?”
She sat her chair upright. “Jean-Pierre is not supposed to be here, Carter. He’s trapped here because his life was stolen from him. He sent you to me in hopes that I have a spell that will give him a second chance at life and I do.”
Carter palmed the desk glaring at her. “Jean-Pierre is dead, Priscilla. You can’t come back to life when you’re dead. You go to Heaven or Hell or something!”
Priscilla rose to meet his stare. “If that is your belief, that’s fine. You are entitled to it, but there are things that operate outside of what you are prepared to believe. Jean-Pierre didn’t just die.” She poked the desk accentuating each word. “He was killed. He didn’t live his life out to its end. Someone else ended it and needlessly I might add. His soul needs to be freed.” 
Carter pushed away from the desk with a groan. He paced the floor quietly. “But why me, Priscilla?” he asked, palming his chest. “I don’t even live here. I’m just passing through. Thousands of people must have come through here since he died. Why did he choose me?”
Priscilla shrugged. “I don’t know, Carter. Perhaps he senses a kindred spirit in you. It could simply be because you’re Mr. Ledux’s descendent, or maybe there is something special about you that drew him to you. Your strength, your courage—all of this is conjecture on my part. I don’t know really why, but he did. The question now is will you do what it takes to help me free him?” Priscilla asked folding her arms. 
Carter’s heart raced. Sweat beaded on his forehead as his fingers gripped the back of his seat. Rocking his head back and forth, he played devil’s advocate with his conscious. He closed his eyes against the spinning sensation threatening to overtake him. 
What am I involving myself in? Is this really happening? 
Just get up and leave, man. 
I can’t just leave. Jean-Pierre needs my help.
Jean-Pierre isn’t real! He can’t ask for help.
But he has asked.
I’m going home tomorrow. I can’t be doing whatever this woman has in mind to help a ghost. What if I get hurt doing it? Who will help me? 
Carter’s inner thoughts silenced abruptly when his eyes popped open. He straightened his head to look at Priscilla.
“I’ll do it,” he told with finality.
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