Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes old friend Jana Denardo to share her new book, Modified and Scared!
Blurb Lieutenant Addison Hunt is proud to serve the Confederation even if he still feels like he’s on the outside looking in. Addison was illegally genetically modified as a child, leaving him burdened with a sense of shame. Emotionally isolated from his fellow crewmen and recovering from injuries from his last job, Addison is happy to have light duty transporting an esteemed diplomat to a peace conference.
Deveral is one of the Sacred Kin, possessing a psychic ability that his people consider a spark of the divine. Like all the Sacred Kin, he’s led a sheltered life as a temple priest, but his heightened empathic ability makes him the perfect diplomat. Nervous to leave his home, he’s curious about his new companion, Lieutenant Hunt.
Not everyone wants the diplomatic mission to succeed, and a rebel faction poses a real threat to Addison and Deveral. Finding themselves cast adrift on a “lost” colony, they’ll have to fight to stay alive.
Addison wondered about his passenger as Deveral watched Fyria fall away in the view screen. The dossier said the Sacred Kin had not been off-planet except for a few trips to the moon. Deveral’s odd, goat-like eyes with their spooky horizontal-bar pupils grew bigger and bigger the smaller Fyria became. His opalescent skin started turning light gray, blending him into the shuttle seat. Even his hair faded from the same fiery opal his skin had been to the hue of smoke. He realized this change might mean his companion was nervous, but it also fascinated Addison. Was his hair alive? Could it be cut? Did his hair not grow any longer than it was, like a dog’s fur?
After a half hour, Fyria long gone from the screen, the silence weighed on Addison. He had spent his youth in relative quiet and now longed for a constant stream of sound. He studied Deveral, wondering if he waited for Addison to say something. Then a nasty thought struck him: maybe the Sacred Kin didn’t think he needed to speak to the “help.” Addison chided himself. He hadn’t gotten that impression from him when they’d toured the temple gardens. For someone so important, Deveral seemed relatively normal.
Unfortunately, looking at him made Addison’s pulse roar like the aft thrusters on a T-17 Starblazer. Beautiful, graceful, and sexy as hell, Deveral left Addison breathless. What sort of diplomatic nightmare would result if he set out to seduce the Sacred Kin? Addison pictured his aunts skinning him and using his hide as a seat cover for their command chairs. His knowledge gaps when it came to the Fyrian were big enough to pilot the shuttle through, but the dossier had a complete medical profile in case things skittered sideways. While there were several major differences, camouflaging skin for one, they were close enough to humans to interbreed with a little genetic help.
Addison shook his head. He needed to be far more professional in thought than he was at the moment. The motion caught Deveral’s attention because his eyes flicked over, and Addison found himself staring into one of Deveral’s golden eyes rotated much farther to the side than any human could achieve. Fantastic peripheral vision had been one of the line items in the medical profile, an evolutionary adaptation to having once been prey.
Bio Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.
Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes Morticia Knight, on tour for the release of the revised and expanded Copping an Attitude, book 2 in her acclaimed Sin City series.
Survival is all Slade understands until Parker saves him from the terrors of the streets. Too bad the streets won’t let Slade go…
Hustler Slade has had little choice over his fate. Barely twenty years old, he’s had to survive any way he can after being thrown out for being gay when he was still in his teens. As soon as he hit Vegas, Slade was lured into the hopeless world of prostitution where he’s become a virtual prisoner to his pimp, the ruthless Julio Estevez.
It’s another typical night on the Strip when officer Parker comes across Slade. His heart breaks every time he sees someone so young being exploited. Yet something in Slade’s eyes tells Parker the young man might be in real trouble—especially after the recent wave of sex worker killings by a rival prostitution ring.
The two men’s lives become intertwined when Slade is almost beaten to death. The danger grows, but so does the relationship between Parker and Slade. Parker helps Slade to heal from the horrific attack and their bond deepens. But the human traffickers are still on the prowl—and they’ll stop at nothing to steal Slade back.
Publisher Note: This book has been revised and expanded from the original edition that was published under the same title at Totally Bound Publishing in January of 2015.
When I originally wrote the Sin City Uniforms series beginning in 2014, I had six books planned, but a seventh snuck out and the outline for an eighth installment also emerged. In addition, in the interest of publishing and deadline schedules, I either had to cut scenes rather than spend time fleshing them out or not write them at all to begin with. The eighth book never happened, since I’d moved on to other projects that demanded my time. I never forgot about Jamal from Station 32 and how he needed his HEA. But what makes an author decide to go back and revisit an old series?
There are so many reasons why an author might decide to do a rerelease on previous books and series. Sometimes, they didn’t have control over the cover or edits and want to get it done their way the second time around. Other times, they feel their writing has grown so much that they’d rather show off their characters in the best light possible by having a do-over. In the case of a couple of my Uniform Encounters series (which is mostly off the market for now), they were outdated, and/or possibly inflammatory given the current climate in the US. For Sin City Uniforms, I had several motivations.
Let’s talk about covers. My original covers were amazing, I adored them artistically. But again, because of deadline pressures, some of the models were so far removed from the characters in the book, I almost felt like what’s the point of having a guy on there at all? And other than the series’ name, they didn’t convey much as far as the crime/mystery element of the stories. And as silly as this may sound, I’ve become a much better blurb writer. I’ll confess, I had no idea what to do when I first got published. I’d wrongfully assumed a pro would be handling that aspect for me!
But one of the biggest reasons I wanted to revisit all my boys from Sin City, is to get the chance to tell their full stories. Add back in or expand the scenes that I’d originally wanted to be included but couldn’t due to deadlines. Once I began that process, then I just had to tell Jamal’s story! Poor guy. I’ve left him hanging all these years…
Here’s an excerpt from Copping an Attitude (Sin City Uniforms 2) which was just released. The expanded editions of the rest of the series will be coming out one to two months apart the rest of the year, with Jamal’s story arriving the beginning of 2020. This scene is when Parker, a patrol officer on The Strip, and Slade, a sex worker, first ‘meet’ after a foot pursuit:
Right as his quarry rounded the corner to duck down a pathway to Bally’s hotel rooms behind the main casino, Parker launched himself forward. He grabbed the smaller man around his neck, their combined momentum knocking them both to the ground. Parker threw his free hand in front of them, hoping to keep his larger body from crushing the kid as they tumbled down.
A loud whoosh of air was wrested from the young man as Parker landed on top of him, and he knew he’d only been partially successful at keeping his weight off his suspect. The kid struggled and fought like a wild cat. Even though he was smaller than the guy Parker had just arrested, he was much more determined. Desperation seemed to fuel his efforts and the kid’s pleas clutched at Parker’s heart. The young man’s terror seemed genuine and, somehow, it didn’t strike Parker as being caused by the fear of going to jail.
“Please.” His cries were muffled by their continued battle. “Let me go. You don’t understand. You have to let me go, man.”
“Stop resisting, son. You’re only making things worse for yourself.”
“I’m not your son, you fucker! And nothing could be worse…” He strangled down a sob as his voice trailed off. “Nothing.”
His body went limp as if in defeat. Parker hauled him up to a standing position, using one hand to clutch his collar and the other to grip his arm. The boy winced.
“Are you hurt?”
Deep blue eyes lined in black stared up at him, defiant. But behind that façade was a deep sadness that threatened to crush Parker’s heart even more.
“What the fuck do you care?”
He’d tried to make his voice sound cocky, tough. Parker was used to the attitude he received from the various lawbreakers he interacted with daily, but he still believed there was something different about this one. It wasn’t his job to interfere with individuals, only to bring them in and—when appropriate—offer relevant social services information. Personal involvement was off limits.
“I care more than you probably think.”
Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little hearts desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share—her adventures as a published author began in 2011. Since then, she’s been fortunate enough to have several books on bestseller lists along with titles receiving recognition in the Rainbow Book Awards, Divine Magazine and Love Romance Café.
Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the North Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men, she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.
Welcome author Jackson Marsh to Romance Across the Rainbow!
Jackson Marsh has a new gay historical mystery out, book one in the Clearwater Mysteries: Deviant Desire.
The Victorian East End lives in fear of the Ripper and his mission to kill rent boys. Silas Hawkins, nineteen and forging a life on the streets could well be the next victim, but when he meets Archer, his life changes forever. Young, attractive and rich, Archer is Viscount Clearwater, a philanthropist, adventurer and homosexual.
When Archer suspects the Ripper is killing to lure him to a confrontation, he risks his reputation and his life to stop the madman’s murders. Every man must play his part, including Silas.
A mashup of mystery, romance and adventure, Deviant Desire is set in an imaginary London of 1888. The first in an on-going series, it takes the theme of loyalty and friendship in a world where homosexuality is a crime. Secrets must be kept, lovers must be protected, and for Archer and Silas, it marks the start of their biggest adventure – love.
Silas and Fecker, two renters from the East End, have been brought to Clearwater House to discuss their plight with The Viscount Clearwater. Thomas, the handsome redheaded footman, prepares them for the meeting.
They were led into a short passage of closed doors, past a hatstand and into a cavern. At least, that’s what it felt like. The ceiling was arched and high, and the walls tiled. The far wall was taken up by a recess that housed a fireplace and ovens, a row of barred windows lined the top of another and beneath these stood huge dressers displaying pans that glinted the colour of Thomas’ hair. It was all set around a massive table with a central avenue of jars lined regimentally from one end to the other. It was hard not to swear in awe, and it suddenly occurred to Silas that he was warm. It was the first time in weeks.
He was made to wash his hands in a sink and do what he could to tidy his face and hair while Thomas stood over him and Fecks waited for his turn. It took Silas a full five minutes to scrape the crud from beneath his fingernails. Luckily for him, the kitchen smelt of pie and herbs, and it masked the smell of his clothes. He was grateful that he’d not been made to take his shoes off.
Thomas gave Fecks instructions to wash and wait at the table before he beckoned Silas to follow him through to another room.
‘You pissed off with me, Tommy?’ Silas asked, when they were alone in the servants’ hall.
‘Do not speak until you are…’
‘Yeah, I heard you.’
Silas helped himself to a chair at another long, worn table, but Thomas told him to stay standing facing a passageway and a staircase.
‘I thought we got along fine last night,’ Silas said, doing as he was told, but choosing to stand directly beside Thomas and close.
‘Be quiet.’ Thomas took a step forward and away.
‘Your dick was happy to say hello.’
‘I said, be quiet.’ It was more of a hiss than a sentence.
‘Why you being mean to me, Tommy?’ Silas inched closer.
‘Please, shut up.’ Thomas took another step.
Silas caught up. ‘At this rate we’ll be in the front garden by the time you tell me what’s pissing you off. Is it ‘cos you fancy me?’
‘Or is it ‘cos you find my kind… What was the word? Disgusting.’
‘Stop it,’ Thomas insisted. ‘Now kindly…’ He was interrupted by a sensation completely new to him and gasped. ‘Get your hand off my backside.’
‘Want it on your cock instead?’
Silas slid his hand towards the front of Thomas’ trousers, but the footman turned on him, grabbed him by the throat and held him against the sideboard, rattling crockery.
‘What are you playing at?’ Thomas whispered through gritted teeth.
Unconcerned by the hold Thomas had, Silas grinned. A swift kneeing and the man would be in agony, but instead of raising his leg, he raised his hand and cupped Thomas’ crotch.
The footman’s green eyes bored into him, and their anger intensified.
‘Why are you doing this?’ Thomas pleaded. His cock was hardening, his cheeks flaming, and his grip tightened.
‘What do you want?’ Silas leered.
He searched Thomas’ face, but found no answer. He didn’t want to hurt the man, he just wanted to know where he stood, but there was only one way out. Silas pulled Thomas to him by his cock and pressed their mouths together with a clash of teeth.
‘Oh.’ Fecker appeared in the doorway. ‘I hear noise, but it is only you fucking.’
Thomas immediately released Silas and pushed himself away. He straightened his hair and wrestled with the front of his trousers.
‘You safe, Banyak?’ the Ukrainian asked.
‘Go on with you, I’m fine,’ Silas said, gasping for air as he stared hard at Thomas.
‘I wait in here.’ Fecker returned to the kitchen and Thomas returned to being a footman.
‘You are His Lordship’s guest,’ he said with great restraint. ‘You will not behave like that again.’
‘Thought you’d like it, Tommy.’
‘And stop calling me that, you guttersnipe.’
Whatever Silas had been trying to achieve, he forgot about it when footsteps overhead suggested Fecks had intervened just in time. Sexually charged though he was, Silas stood behind Thomas and left him alone. It was only fair.
Whoever was coming was taking their time, and the footsteps stopped at the top of the stairs where a muffled discussion took place. It gave Silas time to clear his thoughts, but it was in vain. He couldn’t move them on from Thomas, what had just happened and how it left him trembling. Where had the need to kiss him come from? He thought that he had picked up from Thomas a possibility of something new, perhaps something physical that was outside his normal boundary of sex for money. Thomas had potential for… for what?
Silas was confused. Maybe he wanted more than sex, but he had Fecks for companionship, he didn’t need anything else. Thomas was someone new, an unknown quantity and gave an impression of being amenable to Silas’ advances, but what did that all mean? What was this incomprehensible longing gnawing his insides? It wasn’t just physical attraction to other men, it went deeper and was disturbing. The conundrum occupied him until the mumbling upstairs stopped, and Thomas stood to attention as the viscount entered.
The click of the footman’s heels broke Silas’ thoughts and he looked up into the eyes of the most striking man he had ever seen. At that moment, knew his life would never be the same.
Unique Post: Who is Jackson Marsh?
Lets’ start with the basics. My name is James Collins, and under that name, I have published 12 books, four are travelogue memoirs, and the rest are novels, though with gay and straight characters. Wanting to develop my interest in gay lit, I came up with the name Jackson Marsh so as not to confuse my other readership. James’ novels have gay friendship storylines, but they are not romances, as such. I wanted to be free to think and write my main characters and many of the others as gay. There are simply not enough good mysteries and action stories where the hero is gay. There are plenty of romances and erotica, but I write mashups with the action story and the friendships between characters as the most important themes. There’s love and some sex, some of the stories are classic romances where love is the driving force, but all have some kind of mystery or thriller plot.
Deviant Desire is a perfect and timely example. It starts in 1888 with Silas, 19, the son of an immigrant searching for money in the gutter. Meanwhile, Viscount Clearwater (Archer), for reasons of his own, is instructing his butler and footman to trawl the East End to find a rent boy who looks like a drawing he has made. Archer is 29, so already we have the age gap I love to explore, and in this case, we have the upstairs/downstairs world of a grand, Victorian noble house contrasted with the down-and-out East End. Add in the fact that a madman is ripping rent boys, and we have a plot. As Silas becomes involved in whatever it is Archer is up to, the pair fall in love – the prince and the pauper in a gay world if you like.
The story continues with a love triangle that must resolve, a new love that must blossom and a twisting thriller made all the more twisted because we don’t know what Archer is doing until about halfway through, and I mean in both love and action plots. The two combine at the climax (excuse the pun) and both are left flowing forward to part two, Twisted Tracks, due out in May of this year.
But, to answer your question about who I am. Jackson Marsh is my pen name for my gay novels, but strangely, he was born in the same place and at the same time as James. That was 1963 on the Kent coast in England. The Romney Marshes to be precise where growing up gay was about as acceptable as malaria but where I attended excellent schools. Or rather, schools with excellent teachers, particularly in English and Music. Leaving home at 18, I went to work in various places around the country. I didn’t get into drama college as I hoped, mainly because I was no good, and so I fell into social work and later, housing (yawn).
I kept up the creative output though, starting at 14 by writing a school musical, at 17 and 18 by writing and producing two student reviews. Later, settled in London, I joined a gay theatre group, wrote and performed cabaret (gay political) and set about writing more musicals. I ended up in Brighton by which time I’d written four musicals, several reviews and a trunk full of cabaret songs and other performance pieces. But I was still working nine to five and had only written one novel. When I was 34, I was interviewed for a senior position at the company I worked for, and they asked me what I wanted to be doing in five years. I said, ‘Sitting on a Greek island writing novels.’ When I was 39, my partner and I moved to Greece and when 40, I made it permanent. We’ve been here 16 years now, we’re married, and I think I’ve got life sussed.
Thanks to turning 55, and working for that same company for years (I got the job) I now have a small private pension. It makes me feel old but it means I only have to work if I want to. I freelance for some adult review sites to earn extra money and then spend the rest of the day writing for pleasure.
I hope my pleasure in writing becomes your pleasure in reading because, as I always tell my readers, “As long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.”
Jackson was born in 2017 as the penname for me (James) so that I could publish my new gay fiction independently from my other writing work. I was born on the south coast of England during a blizzard, but now like to warm thing up with MM romance novels, gay mysteries and some occasional erotica. In 2007 I was awarded and EGPA award for my erotic short stories, and in 2018 I won a Best Screenplay award for one of my films. I am a diverse writer with thrillers, comedies and horror stories under my James belt, and now romance and mystery under my Jackson belt.
At the moment I am concentrating on two genres: older/younger MM romance, and youth mysteries with early 20s main characters and a love story included.
I live on a Greek island with my husband. My interests outside of writing and reading are outdoor pursuits, traveling, piano and genealogy. That’s probably why my books tend to involve characters who are musicians, writers, mystery-solvers and rock climbers; there’s a bit of me in every one.
Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes author Jay Hogan, on tour with her new installment in the series Auckland Med., Crossing the Touchline. We’ve got the links, an excerpt, and a unique post from the author!
A contemporary New Zealand romance from Dreamspinner Press
What if you’ve worked your whole life for a dream, to play rugby for the most successful sports team on the planet, the New Zealand All Blacks?
What if that dream is so close you can smell it?
What if you meet someone?
What if you fall in love?
What if your dream will cost the man who’s stolen your heart?
And what if the dream changes?
Reuben Taylor has a choice to make.
Cameron Wano is that choice.
(Part of the Auckland Med. series that includes ‘First Impressions’
Can be read as a standalone.)
I parked my screaming muscles on the ludicrously small chair beside
my locker, sweat dripping from every square centimetre of skin, and
shocked stupid by the brilliant game I’d seemingly squeezed out of
nowhere. The roar of fifty thousand screaming fans was still ringing in
my ears from the final whistle, and the official prize-giving was already
a forgotten blur. Except the part where I won man of the freaking match. Holy fucking shit.
I’d done a brief stint in front of the media for that little gem, but
the coaches had taken pity on me after that, and following an obligatory
few comments about how I was just one of the team and how honoured
I felt, blah, blah, blah, I was allowed to sneak off to the change rooms
relatively unmolested. And that’s when the whole shebang really hit me,
and why I’d yet to move a muscle off the damn chair.
Nothing in my body or brain was firing how it should. I was so
damn shell-shocked by the experience, I could barely string a couple of
words together. And when I was finally able to drag my attention from
the floor to my fellow teammates busy eyeing me with amusement… and
yeah, approval, I nearly burst out of my skin with pride.
A pair of Predator boots stopped in front of mine, at the same time
as a hand clapped me on the back. “Fucking A, Taylor. Where the fuck
you been hiding that all week?”
I locked eyes with Andrew Simons, who was wearing the same
shit-eating grin I’d had plastered on my face since the final whistle.
“Thanks, man. I’m just so damn glad I didn’t disappoint, you know?
Not like you didn’t have a great game too, though. Fucking amazing
tackle on McKenzie. He was a shoo-in for that try if you hadn’t brought
Andrew shrugged. “Maybe, but it hardly compares to the two tries
you brought home for us, you glory-grabbing bastard. And where the
hell did you learn to offload like that? Johan’s still grinning from ear to
ear. Not often a prop gets to score under the posts. We’re not gonna hear
the end of it—you understand that, right?”
I did. I laughed. “Fuck. And you don’t even have to share a room
with him. Hey, I must qualify for a room upgrade now, though, right?
The guy’s snoring is intense to say the least.”
Andrew snorted. “Fuck off. He’s gonna drive us all nuts with that
try shit. If anything, you’ve earned yourself a longer sentence.” He
roughed up my hair and moved on, doing his congratulatory rounds of
the change room.
Head coach Gary Knowles—hardly the most talkative of men—
approached with a sly smile and a proffered hand. “Well done, son. You
did us proud. We want to see more of that in the future.”
Hell yes. I’d take that. It damn near constituted a sermon of praise
from Knowlesy. Pride swelled in my chest and my hand automatically
reached for my phone, but as desperate as I was to share my high with
Cam, I was worried how awkward it might be for him since we hadn’t
I thought of calling my father instead. Didn’t. Fuck him. He hadn’t
even bothered to contact me since the game ended.
An incoming text buzzed in my hand and I glanced down. Cam. Yes!
Just seeing his name damn near brought tears to my eyes.
It had been his win as much as mine, and tomorrow I’d tell him exactly that.
Every time things threatened to go pear-shaped on that field tonight,
I thought of him and what he’d tell me. His sass to my ear. And it worked.
Congrats! Two tries. Fucking brilliant. So proud of you. See you
The lump in my throat threatened to choke me. Proud. Cam was
fucking proud, of me. It was the only message I needed. His, the only
opinion that truly mattered. Grinning like a loon, I wanted to see him so
badly. I’d have given anything to walk out that dressing-room door and
have him waiting.
Jay Hogan on New Zealand, Rugby, and Writing
When I first started writing mm romance, ‘Crossing the Touchline’ was the story I really wanted to write and get published but it didn’t feel like a ‘first book’. To that end, I wrote and had published ‘First Impressions’, the first in the Auckland Med Series, and it is in that book that you meet the character of Cameron Wano for the first time.
New Zealand is a rugby mad nation, (including me), and the All Blacks with their 120 year history, really are arguably the most successful sports team on the planet. They have a win rate of over 77%. They are not a national team. They are an international representative side so all their wins are against other top-flight international teams. They don’t play together in any national competition.
The mystique of the All Blacks is buried deep in the NZ and international rugby psyche. Maybe because we are such a tiny nation, 4 million-ish give or take, but we punch well above our weight in international sport, nowhere more so than in rugby. It is a full-contact, hard sport and physically punishing, a fact that has only added to its tough-man image. There are no pads, no helmets and no subbing on and off the field to give anyone a break. You get subbed off, you stay off.
To this day there has never been an out gay All Black, although there have been lots of rumours of course. The rugby scene is slowly becoming more diverse and inclusive, and all the protective policies are in place. The NZ Rugby Federation even got the rainbow tick but they have yet to be tested at All Black level so we shall see. I for one cannot wait! The All Blacks and NZ Rugby have earned a rainbow tick for their inclusive policies but they have yet to be tested, and although on principle the openness and policies are in place to welcome the concept, it is likely to be the rugby mad public, both nationally and internationally that will offer the biggest challenge.
What is interesting about that, is that the All Black aura is so powerful that having an out gay All Black will likely carry more weight internationally, and attract more press interest (read huge) than an out gay player in any other international rugby team.
Ma’a Nonu, an All Black who played over 100 tests and who simply liked to push the fashion boundaries a bit, caused an international stir when he ran out onto the field once wearing guyliner. It rated headlines from South Africa to Taipei, everyone wondering if the incident would put a dent in the All Black tough man image. Honestly!
It’s like the rugby world is holding its breath for the day, and I think that creates an added pressure which will make it even harder for that first player to come out. In ‘Crossing the Touchline’, I also wanted to push that boundary even further, wondering what would it be like if that first out gay player had a partner who didn’t and wouldn’t pass for straight. After all, saying rugby is ready for an out gay player isn’t necessarily the same as saying it’s ready for Cameron Wano.
NZ as a whole is a fairly inclusive country with a longer history than many of championing LGBT rights protected by law. Marriage equality happened in 2013 but more importantly there has been a good representation of the LGBT community in parliament itself. Georgina Beyer was the world’s first openly transgender Mayor 1995-2000 and went on to be the world’s openly first transgender Member of Parliament 1999-2007.
There is, nevertheless, a strong pocket of homophobia still present in NZ, especially within the rugby/sporting arena. I loved writing this book and especially developing the character of Cameron Wano. He will always be one of my favourites: sassy, strong, mature, living his truth, and playful with gender and dress.
But more importantly for me, was the idea of developing the relationship between Cam and Reuben, with Cam playing a very strong lead physically. I love that switch up. It went along with challenging the rugby stereotypes too. When we say the All Blacks are ready for an out gay player, I think most people think of a very masc type of guy (which would probably be true for the All Black partner due to physique requirements etc) but what about their partner? Is rugby, the nation and the international scene, ready for someone like Cameron Wano? We won’t know till that happens.
About Jay Hogan:
Jay Hogan is a New Zealand author writing in m/m romance, romantic suspense and fantasy. She has travelled extensively, living in a number of countries. She’s a cat aficionado especially Maine Coons, and an avid dog lover (but don’t tell the cat). She loves to cook- pretty damn good, loves to sing – pretty damn average, and as for loving full-time writing -absolutely… depending on the word count, the deadline, her characters’ moods, the ambient temperature in the Western Sahara, whether Jupiter is rising, the size of the ozone hole over New Zealand and how much coffee she’s had.
Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes J. Alan Veerkamp on his Innocence and Carnality blog tour. Read on for blurb and links, an excerpt, and a unique post from the author.
J. Alan Veerkamp has a new MM steampunk book out: Innocence & Carnality.
Innocence is his only currency.
The gilded cage of propriety where Nathan grew up as a member of the Deilian aristocracy became a true prison when, at fifteen, his homosexuality came to light and created a terrible scandal. His parents see only one way to preserve their reputation amongst the other noble families: fit Nathan with a chastity belt to increase his value to a potential partner and marry him off as soon as possible.
The recipient of that prize is Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III. After a hasty wedding, Rother whisks Nathan away to the strange and seductive land of Marisol, where Nathan will begin a new life, free to explore the pleasures of the marriage bed, though his life is still not his own.
But Rother’s Delaga House is a place of secrets, dangers, and depravity Nathan can scarcely comprehend. Where friends are few and peril waits around every corner, Nathan must employ all the manipulation he learned from high society, along with his talent for clockwork. Most of all, Nathan must adapt, compromise to survive, and cast off the preconceptions of his homeland.
Because only he can orchestrate his freedom, and it’ll come at a cost.
“Who told you?” My mother, Lady Margaritte Valencus, huffed in disgust—or at least as much disgust as her practiced expression allowed. Perched on the settee’s edge, she sat tall with her poised back never touching the tufted, embroidered upholstery. A woman of her standing could be expected to do no less.
“Not the person who should have.”
Her lips pursed into a tiny, painted frown. “So in other words, your brothers are the culprits. Sometimes I think they delight in tormenting you, Nathan. I swear they’re like a pair of gossiping old women at times.”
My chest pinched at the news. “So it’s true.”
She paused for a moment and sighed. Having been through this herself, she must have understood my concern. “Yes. Yes, it is.”
I knew this day would eventually come, but the proof brought me to a morose silence. Amongst the elaborately decorated furniture of my mother’s salon, on the end table next to her rested a handcrafted hourglass. The elegant glass bulbs were suspended between a framework of brass and gears. All the fine sand had emptied to the bottom, marking the time left to choose my own future. I wanted to invert it, to start my chances over once again.
Mother turned to the small canvas atop the nearby easel and began dabbing a slender paintbrush to the surface. It was an affectation. The bristles were void of paint, and in my twenty years, I’d never seen her finish a single painting. The possibility of staining her sable and gold brocade gown was unthinkable. Women of Deilian lords were expected to fill their days with arts and crafts, while providing the proper trophy for their husbands.
I played along with her fiction, giving myself time to absorb my own reality. Finding the brass dial embedded in the wall along the ebony wainscoting, I gave it a slow turn. The tension of hidden cogs thrummed under my fingertips and the gaslights grew brighter, illuminating the sanguine, patterned fabric lining the walls, giving her more light to pretend to work with. In the late spring afternoon it wasn’t necessary, yet I did so out of polite habit.
“Thank you, Nathan.”
I leaned against the mantel, fingering the edge of my waistcoat. The layers were snug and tailored, the fine wool properly adorned with buttons of fine metal, befitting a young man of my status. In another hour or two, I would be expected to change into formal dining dress to eat. There were clothing standards for every aspect of our lives. Only certain hobbies were permissible, and employment outside of family investments was unacceptable for the nobility.
With little to spend my time on, I’d grown restless and found hobbies my parents frowned upon. However, if I gave them little trouble, they were content to allow me my eccentricities. How odd they must have found my love of clockwork mechanisms. The precision. The order. Given the expectations my parents laid at my feet, one might think I’d be more attuned to my future requirements. The prospect of a marriage held the hallmarks of opportunity and disaster all at once.
“Do you know who he is?”
“A business associate of your father’s. Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III from Marisol.”
“So far away?” I didn’t want to whine—I was accused of it often enough—but this house and land were all I knew. For all my complaints, I wasn’t prepared to abandon it and my family.
Mother gave me a dismissive shake of her head. “Marisol is an airship ride away. Not far at all.”
“Do you know when?”
“Lord Rother will be coming in two weeks to meet you and hopefully accept your father’s offer. I’ve made an appointment with the clothier. We want you to make a good first impression.”
Well, as if that didn’t make me feel like a commodity. “At least I’ll get to meet him first before I’m shipped off.”
Mother slapped her dry brush onto the end table in her displeasure. “Don’t be droll, Nathan. You know perfectly well how things are done.” “And what if I don’t like him? Will Father force me to go through with it?”
“Most likely. This is an important union for our family.” “He can’t do that.”
She paused for a moment for effect. “Of course he can. Under Deilian law, until you are married or turn twenty-five, your father has final say.”
Pacing in a circle, I waved my hands in the air. “Wonder of wonders…. All hail the land of Deilia.”
Her delicate snarl was sharp and potent. “Stop that. Given your… orientation, there have been pitifully few options in this area to find a suitable mate for you. You don’t remember because you were an infant, but since the plague struck, Deilia has been focused on repopulating. The Monarch demanded it. And because you are unlikely to bear children—”
I stopped and glared at her. “That’s not my fault.” Layers of ire deepened my anger. I hated when she spoke to me like a vacuous noble who’d never been taught a smidgeon of Deilian history. The mention of the Monarch in this context only made it worse. As if I could forget the day I met him and my fall from grace began.
Mother pulled a brooch from her collar. With a touch of her thumb, it spun itself out, expanding into an exquisite fan with translucent blades. Another affectation. I’d been scolded enough over the years to know she didn’t require fresh air to have an uncomfortable conversation. “No, it isn’t your fault, but it’s the situation you’ve been saddled with. It is our duty to follow the plan laid out for us.”
Reasearch for Innocence and Carnality
A Unique Post from J. Alan Veerkamp
Once I sat down to seriously plot out Innocence & Carnality, I had to start world building. The story revolves around Nathan and his arranged marriage to Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t suspend disbelief enough to make this into a historical novel. Two men couldn’t legally marry in this fashion until just recently. So, I needed to make the setting an alternate world.
But even if we’re in a fictional setting, I wanted it grounded in reality. I wanted readers to forget these countries didn’t exist and immerse themselves into the book.
Nathan was always designed as a young nobleman married off to a man he’d never previously met. I needed a baseline for his upbringing, and I started, of all things, from watching Downton Abbey. (My partner and I are big fans.) Edwardian England held so many aspects I wanted. It wasn’t archaic in a medieval sense, but still contained all the social restraints. Nobles were wealthy and free to do as they pleases, but standards had to be maintained.
This made for a wonderful template to design Nathan’s world and character around. From the show, I looked into other websites of Edwardian England, taking the best parts and creating an etiquette for the aristocracy that would be grounded in reality, in though the lovely country of Delia doesn’t exist. This gave me a springboard to write about a young man of privilege who resists the demands made of him via his newfound betrothal, but finds himself with little choice over the matter. I even stole the British Royalty rule of the Royal Family being unable to wed without the King or Queen’s permission until the age of twenty-five, again to cement the situation in something people could connect with.
Another bonus of writing in an alternate world? It gave me the inspiration and opportunity to write in a steampunk setting.
I started on Wikipedia which clarified two different takes on the genre. Would I make the world more steam powered, or take the direction of clockwork driven technology? Clockwork sounded more elegant and gave me a hobby to give to Nathan.
After that I dug into several websites, but my favorite was the Steampunk Tendencies page on Facebook. I found some of the most gorgeous things! Wardrobe, furniture, and fantastic vehicles all sampled in a lovely, lovely package. Top hats and goggles, fine instruments, and technological marvels. Every one of them lent an atmosphere to the novel, giving me a visual reference to make the story richer.
It was a fine balance not to overdo the steampunk elements. Steampunk it is, but I’ve always believed the genre should be the setting and not drive the story. I wanted the delicate fan Nathan’s mother loves that expands from a simple brooch on her dress to be automatic rather than a sensational moment that diverts attention away from the tense discussion between her and Nathan. The clockwork details are woven throughout, but Nathan tells the tale. It is his story after all.
Ultimately, the research shaped the novel’s world, giving me the rules the plot needed to follow. And that’s essential to good world building, right? Nathan’s motivation are based on a life bound by duty. Making that world palatable for the reader as well as myself, makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.
While spending years more focused on visual arts, J. Alan Veerkamp never let go of his innate passion for storytelling, wanting to write and draw comic books when he grew up. Once he discovered M/M fiction, a whole new world opened filled with possibilities. Why couldn’t you have fantastic and dynamic sexy tales with an M/M cast? He started reading the online tales of authors like Night Tempest, Rob Colton, and Alicia Nordwell, which only fueled his need to create. Eventually he found GayAuthors.org, and with a little coercive nudge, started sharing his tales with an unexpected level of positive response. The experience and support gave him the courage to cross his fingers and aim for the world of M/M publishing.
Born and raised in Michigan, J. Alan continues to type away, wishing it was practical to use a noisy old-fashioned keyboard that clacks with each strike, if only to annoy his loving partner and spoiled miniature dachshund.
Today Romance Across the Rainboy is happy to welcome author David C. Dawson, here with a sweet and intriguing excerpt from his October, 2018 release:
For the Love of Luke
A handsome naked man.
Unconscious on a bathroom floor.
He’s lost his memory, and someone’s out to kill him.
Who is the mysterious Luke?
British TV anchor and journalist Rupert Pendley-Evans doesn’t do long-term relationships. Nor does he do waifs and strays. But Luke’s different. Luke’s a talented American artist.
With a dark secret in his life.
“Evening, Mother,” Rupert called as he entered the large scullery off the main kitchen. “I’ve come to give you a hand with supper.”
Lady Cynthia Pendley-Evans peered around the open kitchen door into the scullery. She had a pair of reading glasses perched on the end of her nose.
“No you haven’t,” she said. “You’re here because Luke told you we should have a little talk.”
She turned from the doorway and stood with her back to him at the large wooden table in the middle of the kitchen. “Although, now you’re here,” she said, without turning around, “you can scrub some potatoes for me. I’m making a potato salad to go with the gammon.”
Rupert could not remember the last time he had seen his mother cook. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in the kitchen. He unhooked a large pot from above the stove and carried it to the sink to fill with water.
“Don’t keep me in suspense,” he said. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Oh, darling, you are funny,” said his mother. “I want to make sure you’re going to carry on seeing Luke, of course.”
Rupert set the pan of water on the stove with a clatter and lit the gas. He turned and leaned against the worktop with his arms folded. “I have no idea. Does it bother you?”
Lady Pendley-Evans put down the large knife she was using to slice tomatoes and looked at him over her glasses.
“Stop being so defensive, darling,” she said. “I asked a perfectly simple question. He’s a charming young man. Your father and I would be very happy to see you two together—”
“Father would?” asked Rupert. “I can’t believe that for a second.”
“And why the devil not?” said a voice from the hallway. Rupert’s father appeared at the kitchen door, a bottle of gin in his hand.
“Ready for a snifter, old girl?” he asked Lady Pendley-Evans. He looked across to Rupert. “What are you drinking, my boy? Gin?”
“I’ll have a gin and tonic, thank you, Father,” replied Rupert. “Can I help with them?”
“No, no,” replied Lord Pendley-Evans. “You stay with your mother. And tell her why you think I’m such an old fart.”
“I didn’t say that,” protested Rupert.
“No, darling,” said his mother. “But we know that’s what you think of the pair of us.”
“Well,” said Rupert, “I have some reason to.” He pulled a bag of small earth-encrusted potatoes from the cupboard and tipped them into the sink. He began scrubbing fiercely with a brush to remove the soil. “You’ve made it very clear for years that neither of you approve of me being gay.”
“Don’t take it out on the potatoes,” said his mother. “They’ll have no skins left if you carry on like that.” She picked up her knife and resumed slicing the tomatoes. “And you’re being grossly unfair. Of course, we were rather shocked when you sprang it on us. But that’s fourteen years ago. Please bless us with a little intelligence to have thought about it since then.”
Rupert set down his scrubbing brush and turned to look at his mother. “Then why haven’t you said anything before?”
“The subject never arose,” replied Lady Pendley-Evans. “Whenever I’ve asked you about your life in London, you’ve told me very little. I learn more from the Daily Mail about your night life than I do from you.”
Rupert laughed. “No wonder you don’t approve of me, if you believe what you read in that rag.”
“Darling,” said his mother, “it’s not that I don’t approve of you—”
“Well, maybe a little,” interrupted his father. He entered the kitchen and set down a tray of drinks on the table.
“Don’t interrupt, Clarence dear,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “It’s not helpful.” She turned back to Rupert. “I’m worried about you, Rupert darling. You go to all those dangerous places with your work. We see you on the television in Yemen or Iraq or somewhere equally terrifying. The next moment we read about you in the newspapers, flitting from one nightclub to another. Then once in a blue moon you come back here and spend the whole time being grumpy.”
She took the drink her husband offered her, and tasted it. “Heaven.”
Lady Pendley-Evans took off her glasses and looked at Rupert. “I just want to know when you’re going to settle down and be happy.”
“And we’d like to think,” added his father, “that this young chap might be the one to do it.”
Rupert could scarcely believe his ears. He accepted the tall glass his father handed him and drank from it. He was grateful Lord Pendley-Evans had been generous with the gin.
“When did you change your mind about me being gay?” asked Rupert. “Because I know damn well you hated ‘having a poofter for a son,’ as you so charmingly put it.”
“Yes, well,” said his father. He coughed loudly. “I suppose I’ve had a few years to think about everything—”
“It helped a lot when Roger told you he had a boyfriend,” added Lady Pendley-Evans.
“Roger?” said Rupert with incredulity. “Your school friend who was in the Guards? You never told me.”
“Well, you never asked.”
“Why on earth would I ask you if Roger was gay?”
“I thought maybe you chaps had a sixth sense about these things,” said his father. “Because I certainly didn’t. Mind you, he seems very settled with Jeremy. So it’s all for the best.”
“And their wedding this spring was absolutely heavenly,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “All those beautiful young men in uniform. I simply swooned.”
Rupert turned to his mother. “All right. How do you explain me away at All Saints Church these days? Are you still telling them I’m waiting for the right girl to come along?”
“Oh, don’t be so silly.” Lady Pendley-Evans put her glasses back on and resumed preparing the salad. “Reverend Whittaker left years ago. The Reverend Kenneth might be a little progressive for your father’s tastes, but I find him charming. And it’s so convenient that his partner is the organist and choirmaster.”
Rupert nearly dropped his glass. “The vicar of All Saints is gay?”
“I’m sure I’ve told you,” said his mother. But Rupert was certain she had not. “He’s so charming. And he’s marvelous with the flower committee. Anyway. You haven’t answered my question. Is Luke the one?”
Rupert was speechless. Partly because of everything he had just learned from his parents. But mainly because he was unsure of the answer to his mother’s question
“I really don’t know, Mother,” he said at last. “We’ve known each other for such a short time—”
“That’s got nothing to do with it,” interrupted his father. “I knew with your mother the moment I laid eyes on her. As soon as I asked her to dance, she was the girl for me.”
“And I knew I wasn’t going to get any better than your father,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “He was quite a catch that season. Luke seems to be a lovely young man. And he’s very smitten with you. Are you smitten with him?”
Rupert set down his glass and leaned back against the sink. He thought back over the last few days. He had never felt so happy in his life.
“I suppose I am,” he said. “But Luke’s got a lot of problems in his life.”
Lady Pendley-Evans crossed the kitchen to where Rupert stood. She put her arms around his waist and reached up to kiss him on his cheek. “My darling boy. We all have heaps of problems. Life’s like that. But they’re so much easier to face when you’re with someone who loves you. I think he could be very good for you.”
“Hey, hey,” said Rupert. But he could not help smiling. “Aren’t you rushing ahead just a bit? Let me take things at my pace. It’s been a very eventful week.”
“Of course, darling.” She patted his chest and looked up at him. Her face wore the same expression he remembered when she came into the nursery to say good night when he was a boy. “And when the time comes, Reverend Kenneth will be very happy to offer his blessing on you both.”
“Mother,” said Rupert. “Just….” He put his arms around her waist and hugged her. “Hold your horses, eh?” Rupert dropped his arms and wiped his eyes. “But thank you.”
He turned to his father. “Both of you. I wasn’t expecting to hear any of this tonight. And as for the vicar of All Saints—”
He was interrupted by a loud thumping on the front door.
“Who the devil’s that?” asked Lord Pendley-Evans. He put down his drink as the banging on the front door sounded again. “All right, all right, I’m coming as fast as I can.” He stomped off to the hallway, followed by Rupert.
Standing on the doorstep was Christian. He looked past Lord Pendley-Evans to Rupert. “Thank God I’ve found you. Where’s Luke?”
“What on earth are you doing here?” asked Rupert. “I brought Luke here to get him away from London. Just like you said. What’s happened?”
“It’s Pa,” replied Christian. “I think he’s tracked him down. He wants to kill him.”
Author bio: David C. Dawson writes contemporary thrillers with gay heroes in love at their core. His latest book For the Love of Luke is a romantic suspense about an American who falls in love with a British man in London. His debut novel The Necessary Deaths won a bronze medal for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. Rainbow Reviews said it was “an exciting read with complex characters”. The second in the series, The Deadly Lies, was published last December. David worked for the BBC as a journalist. He lives near Oxford in the UK, with his ageing Triumph motorbike and two cats.
Romance Across the Rainbow is pleased to welcome Natsuya Uesugi with a December 2018 release, The Seer of Ice and Sky. Read on for all the usual info plus a bonus excerpt!
Natsuya Uesugi has a new queer dark fantasy book out in his “The Seer of Grace and Fire” series: The Seer of Ice and Sky.
Surviving the devastation of DarkFall, Timorn is now rightful King of Faerie. With evil lurking at the fringes between the kingdoms of the humans and the elves, the dark mage Dalannin travels to Dragonreise to forge an alliance with the Dragon King.
Timorn’s travelling party sets off on request from an elven emissary but dissent grows as the party passes through the human city of Ekhrine. As they stop at the Ecclesiastical University where the cleric Kabal translated The Legend of Arden prophesy, a demonic aura haunts their path.
Can Timorn forge an alliance with the dragons to ensure peace or will darkness drive a wedge between him and his magical twin Ethesian as they journey through the elven lands. Transgender heroine.
A human cleric translating an elven prophesy must bring the work to the high court at Kannon in faerie before DarkFall, the solemn anniversary when all the male faerie newborns were murdered 17 years ago. If the translation does not arrive in time, all is lost. Timorn, a 17 year old ranger travels the human towns hiring out his services. A mysterious elven woman hires him to take her to Kannon before DarkFall, and only he can lead her with his purple faerie eyes.
The evil Valkyris is amassing an army to attack Kannon at DarkFall insisting she possess the prophesy. Sending her dark mage Dalannin to infiltrate faerie, he marches his demon hordes towards Kannon and sneaks into the palace. Ethesian, the 17 year old faerie daughter of King Ailon plays the dragon lyre, a female magic. Yet recently she has started having prophetic dreams as if she were male. When a lie is revealed, Ethesian is tasked to study magic she must master before DarkFall. Will Timorn reach Kannon before the Valkyris and Ethesian master a magic she shouldn’t possess? Secrets and lies, revelations and wizardry, DarkFall is coming and so too the reluctant faerie who would be king. Learn more in the first book of the dark fantasy trilogy, The Seer of Grace and Fire.
The Seer of Grace and Fire starts the dark fantasy trilogy reviewers have called “Enthralling” and “A beacon of light for readers young and old.” The series continues with release of The Seer of Ice and Sky book 2. Book 3 The Seer of Flesh and Death will be released early 2020.
Natsuya is giving away an ARC of book one in the series – The Seer of Grace and Fire – enter via Rafflecopter:
Timorn squinted as he studied the elven emissary, Arhlamanel dressed in finery, yet his stance and mannerisms were less refined then Ihel’s. He sensed deception. His ranger skill told him the elf was concealing something about his identity,
“I am aware of dragon riders, but not of a dragon king in Arenth,” Timorn said, turning to Eanna, his mother the First Consort, for confirmation. Eanna shook her head, also unaware.
Arhlamanel nodded. “The dragons are elusive and secretive, Your Majesty. Only a few high elves dare to venture up the perilous paths into the ice mountains to entertain them. It is treacherous as the dragons carefully guard the priceless gems within their lands.”
Timorn gripped the arms of the throne, leaning forward. “At DarkFall, we saw an adult dragon. A rider in black sat atop its monstrousg form. Luckily the brunt of its power was stopped before it could let loose with abandon.”
“It is as we heard. Thus, the dragon king requests you come to Akrisia, to the mountains in the North. He has sent me as emissary, in partner with the high elves, to bring you to hear his message. A party of your choice is invited to travel along, including one named Ethesian, who is also summoned. But be warned. One who wad banished many years ago has returned and is making inquiries in the dragon lands. He goes by the name of Dalannin. There is much suspicion amoungst the elves. Do you know of him?”
Timorn gasped. If Dalannin was with the dragons, that could only mean danger. Timorn spoke authoritatively, immediately deciding based on the elf’s report. “Yes, we know Dalannin, and yes, my party and Ethesian will accompany you to Akrisia. Lady Eanna will remain and keep watchful eye on the crown.”
“Yes, my lord,” Eanna acknowledged the decree.
“You must come dressed as a ranger,” Arhlamanel added. “That is how they will know you: by your clothes, your faerie daggers, and your sword. The dragon king and his half-dragon army will join you at the dragon court, high in the mountains. The trek up the expanse is arduous and will require a full day of walking to reach once we arrive.”
“Had Dalannin already recruited dragon riders to his cause? Timorn hoped for a negative answer.
“Unknown your Excellency. I hope, for our sakes and all of Arenth he has not.”
The Cleric Kabal at the Ecclesiastical University Library
Kabal tapped his foot in annoyance holding the large leather bound Elven dictionary as the Sexton Eskelan engaged him in the hallway. Patience wearing thin, Kabal rolled his eyes trying to disengage from the conversation.
“Your translation of the Legend of Arden was masterful. The Vicar Josephinian as much as said so. All my night students debated it marveling at the copy in the sacred room in the library…” Eskelan droned on.
Realizing there was no ending this conversation, Kabal decided to force the situation. Clearing his throat and interrupting, “your students are teasing you so you won’t assign Elven translations for homework. They hate that as I hated it many years ago as a novice before doing my rotation with the elves.”
A clerical student in the hallway carrying a stack of books came towards Kabal and smiled, nodding in agreement as he passed, the Sexton none the wiser, his back to the youngster.
“How do you know that?”
“Elven magic,” whispered Kabal with an annoyed chuckle. “My friend, I have tarried long. The librarian will have my head if I do not return this elven dictionary. Two turns of the hourglass passed since I promised her. She will eat me alive. I must take my leave.”
Kabal walked away abruptly as Eskelan remained, shocked. Kabal shouted behind him, waving the annoyance away. “Your students are playing with you. Don’t let them get the upper hand or they will battle you to the death and lose faith. May the Goddess of Learning, Aitreya, shine on your good fortune and guide your teachings.”
Kabal chuckled to himself, knowing he belittled the Sexton, as he quickstepped the utilitarian hallway to the illustrious library, the massive structure off the Provost building, the darling of the Ecclesiastical University in the human city of Ekhrine. With its floor to ceiling engraved mahogany doors with golden dragon carvings, to its stained glass dome in the ceiling showing the elven creation story, and marble intricately patterned tile floor, the countless books that lined its shelves were known through all of Arenth.
Kabal had translated the Elven prophesy, The Legend of Arden in the library before DarkFall, a royal edict from King Ailon of Faerie, the prophesy it revealed had changed Faerie forever and installed the young reluctant ranger Timorn, raised by humble human parents, of faerie nobility to the position of king of all Itheria. It had been but weeks since Timorn had started rule and they had now set off on their journey to the elven city of Akrisia then onto the dragons.
Kabal sighed as he pushed in the doors to the library and saw Timorn seated at a back desk glancing at a book lost in thought. Sauntering up to the circulation desk where the librarian was glaring sternly, Kabal swallowed hard garnering his strength and steeled his nerves for the encounter. The librarian was wearing a red short cardigan over a white striped ruffled shirt and a long brown twill skirt as she stood in front of the circulation desk counter extending her hand, frown deepening as Kabal stepped slowly towards her, trying to draw out the coming attack.
“An Anayalee, es ailan, ie nemalas,” he sung out in the Elven tongue using the highest honourific to ensure no disrespect.
She harrumphed translating his words into the human language, “gracious and humble in spirit, Mistress Anayalee, you, Noble Lady, look exquisite… Don’t start on me, Kabal. Your sweet Elven words do not work. You should know better trying to sweeten the librarian’s ego.”
Kabal lowered his eyes and bowed handing over the dictionary. She went behind the circulation desk and put the book up to be reshelved and picked up an unlit white pillar candle in a metal holder, pulling a small wand out from under the counter wagging it at him.
“Fly right or I will light you up!” She smirked, voice raising and touched the wand’s tip to the wick igniting the candle.
“I know your power, and doubt I could withstand such a force,” chuckled Kabal knowing she would not take kindly to sarcasm. Having given her the wand when she had first come to work as the librarian years ago, he knew she had little patience for him and his bucking the library rules, using its gifts at all hours, not filling the ink well, slapping books closed, scraping chairs, leaving books laying around, and never cleaning up the one desk he used. Though he transgressed often, he knew she had a soft spot for him after all these years.
She picked up the candle and motioned to him to follow her down the side hallway past the Elven tomes back to the sacred incantations room. The hallway grew dark as they passed the relic room and the sacred books behind glass and came to the back of the library. The darkness of the area was caused by the magic that kept the incantations housed. Only those with permissions and a certain level of spiritual training were allowed in the area.
There was a large white sign with black letters above the incantations room writing in Elven, the human tongue and Jannai, the faerie language. It warned unauthorized patrons to keep out. The librarian went into her pocket with a large metal key ring and handed Kabal the candle as she opened the door. Placing her right palm flat on the door, other hand on the key, closed her eyes whispering, “incantations, smart and strong. Key to portals, spells long gone. Aitreya, goddess protect my life, open this room as I go inside.”
A purple circle with a an Elven sigil of warding lit up on the door, as the lock clicked, releasing. She pushed the door open slowly, and it creaked taking the candle back. “Close the door behind you.”
Kabal pulled closed the door, leaving them in a heavy darkness, the weight of spiritual power. Closing with a thud, a purple light rushed up the door frame as the celestial incantation sealed them inside The librarian brought her hand over the candle. “Escarna…” she whispered. The candle light flared lighting the entire room. Filled with magical instruments, Elven and Jannai spellbooks, alchemy tools and ritual items, the librarian walked Kabal over to the left wall with a rectangular spell suspended in a glass frame black text inscribed in the celestial ancient Jannai script used only for magic. A purple mist undulated in the boxy frame swirling around the spell.
Kabal spun taking in the room cluttered with ritual items, absentmindedly getting lost in the pages of an open Elven spell book, he snapped out of his reverie quickly coming over to the librarian waving to him.
“What is it? I can make out the ancient text due to my translation of the Legend of Arden from Elven into Jannai. This is a Jannai spell?”
“Yes, a teacher on his way to Amaralon brought it a few weeks ago passing through.”
“That spell is active. It is safe?”
“Watch…” The librarian brought the candle closer to the picture frame and the purple mist swirled faster revealing an image of a wide open room taking over the frame. There was a person in the view. They watched as the person came closer in a long black robe, thorn crown on their head, glaring red eyes, a faerie by their features.
Kabal’s eyes burst open backing up when he realized who it was. He grabbed the librarian’s arm pulling her. “Move away from it. This thing is evil…”
The frame lost its vision and went back once more to the undulating mist. Kabal dragged the librarian back to the door yanking it open and pushing her out. He carefully closed the door and she locked it with the key, purple light once more running up the frame as it sealed, protecting the room.
He shuffled her back to the circulation desk as she blew out the candle and returned it to its hiding place. “That was the Valkyris I saw.”
“Do not utter her name. Its very whisper is evil. I fear she may spy on the library. Did the teacher say why he gave you the incantation?”
“He said he needed it protected. One of his students delved deep into the darkness, conjured it against his training and was being controlled. The teacher banished the presence haunting the student but he could not neutralize the spell. The only logical remediation was to put it in the incantation room.”
“Do not go near it. I must hurry and tell Timorn. We may not be safe here,” warned Kabal and bowed to Anayalee rushing away.
Kabal slapped his hands on the desk forcing Timorn to look up from his book.
“What is it, Good Cleric? Your face as is pale as bone,” Timorn smiled, his eyes darting around the library fearing danger.
“There is evil magic here sealed in the incantation room. It is too close for my liking. The librarian showed me, Your Majesty.”
Timorn took one of his daggers off his leather belt and set it down on top the table. It was dormant, not giving off a blue glow which it did when there was faerie magic near.
“My daggers are calm. There is nothing to worry yourself about.”
Kabal looked up for a minute as Ethesian, Timorn’s twin, and magic dream seer passed behind him looking at the Elven tomes on the shelves. “Still, my concern lingers…”
“Be still, Cleric. We are safe. If there is faerie magic near, my daggers will sound the alarm and I will notify you immediately. Be at ease,” Timorn smiled and flipped the page in the book going back to what he was doing.
Kabal sighed and walked back to the librarian, wary, unable to be at ease. If the Valkyris knew of Timorn and Ethesian travelling to the elven city of Akrisia for more knowledge of the dragon that attacked Kannon at DarkFall, then once again tragedy could befall faerie.
Natsuya Uesugi is a cybersecurity analyst with an MBA in International Management and a minor in Japanese. He is author of the science fiction grydscaen series, the yaoi novellas and manga graphic noiz and The Seer of Grace and Fire fantasy trilogy. He creates all the illustrations for his books. He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, anime and writing poetry.
Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to host Megan Slayer today, who’s touring her upcoming novella, You and Me Again, Must Love Dogs, book 2. Scroll down for the blurb and a sweet excerpt!
Can love really strike twice?
Colin Dent knows what he wants out of life—his career at the advertising agency and his dog. Love is great, but he needs to know the guys in his life understand his dog is his family. He thought he had the perfect combination when he and Matt were a couple. But Matt didn’t stick around.
Matt Miller didn’t leave Colin because he wanted to—Colin hadn’t wanted him any longer. When Matt’s sister leaves her dog, Willie, with him for good, Matt not only understands separation anxiety, but how much it hurts to be forgotten. Then he sees Colin at the dog park. The old feelings rush in and he wants to open his heart, but he hasn’t forgotten the past.
Colin wants a second chance with Matt, but will the time and distance apart be too much to overcome? Or will the love of their dogs be enough to push these two former lovers back together for good?
Matt locked up before he climbed behind the wheel of the car again. He loved living in a small town. Everything was close enough that he could either drive or walk to most places. Tonight, though, he was too tired to walk to the park. He gripped the steering wheel. Jesus. He’d reverted to talking to his dog like a best friend. He needed to get out more. Oh, well. At least the dog is loyal.
He drove to the dog park and tried to calm his mind. The men he knew weren’t loyal. Since he’d split from Colin, he hadn’t found a decent guy who wouldn’t cheat. First, Scott had come along with his wandering eyes, then Tom had followed suit. Tom had felt the need to spread himself around. Maybe Matt had been too choosy? Maybe he wasn’t pushy enough? Maybe he’d set himself up for failure? No one understood him the way Colin had. Would anyone else?
Matt parked in the lot. He had to face his ex. Even if Colin wasn’t there, eventually, he’d have to see him again. He might as well brace himself. He clicked Willie’s leash on his collar, then led him over to the fenced-in area. Once inside the park, he let Willie run. His head hurt. He hated being lonely, but he wasn’t ready to open his heart—not again.
Willie darted by with a white puff. Matt recognized the two pink bows in the dog’s fur. “Judy?” Damn it. He’d hoped that by running late, he’d miss Colin.
“Hi, you.” Colin strode up to Matt. “Seems those two have a radar set for each other.”
“Yeah.” He tensed. Seeing Colin brought up too many tough memories and too much hurt. He’d have to resign himself to being around his ex and his heart being broken each time.
“I brought you coffee.” Colin held up a paper cup. “I thought you might like a drink.”
He tossed the ball for Willie, then turned to Colin. “Thanks, I think.” He didn’t take the cup. “Won’t Mason be upset with you? Bringing me coffee…that’s awfully chummy.”
“No.” Colin offered the cup again. “Here. Take it.”
He complied but glanced about. “Where is Mason?”
“Probably at work.” Colin tipped his head. “I don’t care where he is. He’s not my problem.”
“What?” He knew Colin better than he’d thought and this wasn’t Colin. His ex wasn’t a cheater. “Do you and Mason have an open relationship?”
“Wow,” Colin said. “I didn’t expect you to ask that.”
“Why not? If I were your…person…and you brought coffee to your ex while I knew nothing, I’d be hurt. Won’t Mason be upset?” Matt asked.
“I don’t doubt he’ll be mad.” Colin stepped in close to Matt. “He hates your fucking guts.” His eyes flashed. “For real.”
Matt bit back a groan. He’d guessed Mason wasn’t his biggest fan, but to hate his guts? Lovely. Yet, here was Colin, close to him and grinning. No wonder Mason wasn’t thrilled. He didn’t have a rein on Colin. Matt hated himself. The closer Colin got, the more he wanted to kiss him. Now isn’t that fucked up?
About Megan Slayer
Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and white hot themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM and Best Anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.
When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.
Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes Andy Gallo. Congratulations on the release of Better Be Sure, Andy!
Andy Gallo has a new contemporary MM romance out: Better Be Sure.
When the stakes are this high, you better be sure you can win.
Jackson Murphy lost his parents to a boating accident, but they’re never far from his thoughts. He attends the same university as his parents, joined the same fraternity as his dad, and even lives in his father’s old room, along with his adopted brother Marcus. Life brightens when he meets the man of his dreams.
Edward Knowles trades full-time college for working during the day and community college at night when his father’s factory closes. He intends to stay deep in the closet to keep his job in heating and cooling. But Jack pushes all his buttons.
Jack’s college rival challenges him to bring a date to the upcoming dance. He goads Jack into accepting even though failure means he and Marcus will lose their room and Jack must leave the fraternity.
Jack is falling hard for Ed, but Ed will never agree to go the dance. Ed—not knowing the stakes of the wager—has also made it clear that Jack taking another man will end their romance.
With pressure from friends and enemies alike, will Jack hold on to his legacy… or his heart?
We’re also giving away an eBook copy of (Un)Masked and one copy of Leo Loves Aries, by Anyta Sunday. Comment on the post below or a chance to win.
Jack’s phone buzzed, and he swatted the sound away. Too early in the damn morning. Another buzz. He drowsily pulled himself from sleep. Across the room, Marcus mumbled in his sleep.
Jack checked his phone, body surging to life at Ed’s name on the screen.
Ed: Oh, crap, it’s probably still too early for you.
Jack couldn’t type back quick enough. Ed writing to him this early in the morning, that had to mean something, surely.
Jack: Nah, I’m totally awake. Why?
Ed: Just finished a job. Am close to Harrison….
Jack was already scrambling out of bed, messaging one-handed while he emptied his drawers for a clean shirt.
Jack: Send me your location. I’m in desperate need of caffeine. Bet you could use some too.
Ed sent a grinning dog and his location. Eighteen minutes later, Jack walked into the local Starbucks. He scanned the almost empty store and caught Ed’s broad shoulders at the counter.
Jack strode over and clapped the guy on the shoulder, giving it a lingering squeeze. “I have an eerie sense of déjà vu.”
Ed’s warm shoulder shook as he chuckled. “I haven’t mowed you down yet.”
“No, no, that you haven’t.” Their gazes snagged, and Ed definitely swallowed. Probably too early—in the day and their friendship—to tease.
Jack rocked back on his heels, dug his wallet out of his pocket, and ordered.
When they both had their drinks, they sank into armchairs in the corner of the room.
Ed’s gaze kept dipping to his chest, and Jack’s lips tipped up behind his mocha. “How was your morning job?”
“I was extremely motivated to get the job done quickly.”
Jack’s grin widened, and an ill-timed sip ended up rolling down his chin. He swiped it off. “Do you often have jobs close to Harrison?”
“Not as much as I’d like.” Ed rubbed his palm over the arm of the chair.
“I mean, a lot of the time I have to drive out farther.”
“Well, any time you’re nearby….” He raised his cup.
Ed glanced at his chest again. “I like the look.”
Jack followed the sweep of Ed’s hand and—fuck. His shirt was inside out. “Right. Of course.”
Ed leaned forward in his seat, amusement lighting his eyes as he took in the rest of him. Shivers skittered through Jack, and he held his breath. “I totally woke you, didn’t I?”
The deep laugh Ed gave made it all worth it. “So you’re a high-ranking anchor in your fraternity?”
Jack snorted at the muff. From the way Ed stared at him, it was hard to tell if he’d done it on purpose or really had the term mixed up.
“We prefer to pronounce it ‘archon,’ but either way, I’m one of the fraternity leaders, yes.”
“Do you like it?”
“Which? Being in the fraternity or being an officer?”
Of course he’d want Jack to answer both. “Yeah, for the most part. I mean, there are a couple guys I wish weren’t my brothers, but that’s how it is.”
“How’d you pick that fraternity?”
“There wasn’t really any other option.”
Ed’s brow furrowed. “I thought Harrison had a lot of fraternities.”
“No, not like that.” Jack waved his hand and shook his head. “My dad, both of them were in Pi Kappa Phi. Marcus and I grew up hearing all the stories about their days in the house.”
“Wow, that’s cool.”
“Yeah, they met when they were freshmen and were friends until… well… until my parents died.” He thought he’d been ready to deal with the issue, but confronted with it, he froze.
Ed scooted up on his chair, leaning forward. “You okay, Jack?”
Jack rubbed the ring at the chain around his neck and drew in a calming breath. “Yeah. Yeah.”
Ed seemed to realize Jack needed a change in conversation, because he abruptly started telling Jack how his sister had woken him last night screaming murder. She’d gone to the bathroom at night, and when she walked back to her room, someone was in there, rustling the sheets.
Ed had launched into her room with a bat only to be confronted with their cat. The first time the cat decided not to be shy. In the middle of the night, rolling around Becky’s bed. They laughed so hard, they needed to make a cup of hot milk to settle down again.
“Sounds like you’re a good guy to have around… wayward cats.” And panicking… friends.
Ed sipped his coffee. “What about you?”
“I like to think I’m a good guy to have around too.”
“I’m sure you are.” Ed set his coffee down. “Look, about last night….”
Jack clasped his cup, muscles rigid. Here it was. “Yeah?”
Air blew into the café along with a group of rowdy hipster students toting stainless steel cups. Jack shuffled forward on the cushion to hear Ed better, but Ed’s gaze strayed toward group and his mouth flattened.
Jack cursed the interruption, but it was clear the moment had passed.
“What are your plans the rest of the day?” Ed asked instead.
“The rest of the day?”
Ed laughed, and Jack soaked it up.
“Class, bantering with Brittany—she’s awesome—frat meeting about the spring formal, messing around with the guys. Might squeeze some actual study in there.” A lot of study, actually.
“Messing around with the guys?”
That piqued your interest, did it? Jack smirked. “Play a bit of ball if the weather holds. Get out the PlayStation and hit the video games if it doesn’t.”
“What’s the spring formal?”
Jack groaned. “The bane of my life.”
How Much Is Real?
A Unique Post from Andy Gallo
Thank you, Lou for having me as a guest today.
One of the interesting facets of being a guy writing mm romance is when you’re asked, “how much of this is based on your life?” Some elements are easy to dispel, like parents are dead, billionaire (or hundred millionaire), professional sports player. But others aren’t so easy.
The main character is a top. Is that you? Um… well. The main character likes guys with long hair, or tattoos or drives a Harley. Yeah…. I mean. How much of that is anecdotal? Then there are those things like, pro sports player, billionaire, cowboy etc, where the questions are along the lines of, is that your dream job/guy/lifestyle?
For me, I tend not to use myself as an example. Sure for some things I draw upon my life experience, but no, I never had a crush on my best friend. No really, she wasn’t my type. Yes, there might be a few guys I thought were hot when I was in school, but honestly? I don’t remember who they were or what they looked like anymore. (Okay, maybe I do for a couple, but truly, not all of them.)
Yes, I wanted to be a pro baseball player, and you know what? I don’t write about closeted baseball players. The billionaire thing? Okay, yeah, I’ll cop to that. It was suggested that I ought to write about cops and prosecutors. Not together, but as subjects in a series. Nope, too close to home. If anyone I know reads those books I’m so sure I’ll get, “so you’re the prosecutor, but who are you crushing on?” No thank you.
So to clear it up, in Better Be Sure, there are no unfulfilled fantasies that are lived out in the pages. It’s just what it proports to be, a story. A good one I think, (hope?) but just a story.
Now, if you ever see a series set in a law firm, well then maybe.
In addition to the tour wide contest, at each stop on the blog tour, Anyta and I are giving away eBook copies of (Un)Masked – which we co-wrote – and Leo Love Aries – the first book in Anyta’s Signs of Love series. To be eligible, leave a comment below and tell us something that you and your parents/children do that connects you bond over. We’ll pick on winner for each book.*
Andy Gallo prefers mountains over the beach, coffee over tea, and regardless if you shake it or stir it, he isn’t drinking a martini. He remembers his “good old days” as filled with mullets, disco music, too-short shorts, and too-high socks. Thanks to good shredders and a lack of social media, there is no proof he ever descended into any of those evils.
Andy does not write about personal experiences and no living or deceased ex-boyfriends appear on the pages of his stories. He might subconsciously infuse his characters with some of their less noble qualities, but that is entirely coincidental even if their names are the same. And while Andy leaves the hard sci-fi/fantasy for his alter ego, Andrew, in his mind a touch of the supernatural never derailed a good relationship.
Married and living his own happy every after, Andy helps others find their happy endings in the pages of his stories. He and his husband of more than twenty years spend their days raising their daughter and rubbing elbows with other parents. Embracing his status as the gay dad, Andy sometimes has to remind others that one does want a hint of color even when chasing after their child.
Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes O. E. Tearman, who is on tour with a unique futuristic sci-fi—sounds fascinating!
O.E. Tearmann has a new MM (trans) hard sci fi/cyberpunk tale out, book one in their “Aces High, Jokers Wild” series: “The Hands We’re Given.”
Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned.
Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in.
Life’s a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you’re given.
The dark shapes of three drones flitted over the junkyard, blotting out the stars. Aidan desperately turned the keys, slamming his foot on the accelerator. The truck’s engine finally revved. Kevin flung open the passenger side door and leapt inside. “Go, go, go!”
Aidan slammed it into reverse and hit the gas. They jumped backward. Once the truck was far enough away from the fence, he changed gears and wrenched the wheel around. They bumped and rattled into the night as fast as Aidan dared without the headlights on. The heat of the engine would make them easy to follow for the drones’ thermal cameras, but the short-range guard drones couldn’t go too far from their base of operation before their programming called them back. Aidan just hoped they could outrun them.
He gripped the steering wheel so hard it hurt. He could feel the suit tightening down against his skin. His heart pounded in his chest. Kevin’s breathing was ragged beside him. Another burst of bullets sprayed the ground right in front of them. Aidan yelped and yanked the wheel to avoid getting hit. The truck jittered to the side. Aidan slammed on the gas. The desert night sped past in a blur of blue and red under the starlight. Slowly, the whir of rotors faded into the distance. Aidan’s grip on the steering wheel began to relax. Kevin pulled his tab out of the bag and set it on the dashboard, watching as the screen flipped through the security channels they’d hacked into, keeping track of the location of dozens of drones.
Finally, Aidan pulled up under an overhang of red rock and cut the engine. The wide-range security drones were due to make their fly-over soon. Better to stop for a while and recover, get back on the road when it was safer.
They sat in silence for a long time, listening for rotors over the quiet buzz of the night insects. Aidan rested his arms on the steering wheel and propped his chin on his wrist, watching the star-studded sky.
“You all right?” Kevin breathed. At some point during the drive, he had deactivated his slick suit.
Aidan sighed and leaned back so he could manually flip his face screen up.”Yeah. Think so. Banged my knee pretty bad. Your shoulder?”
“Bruised. Doesn’t feel severe.” Kevin shrugged.
“Um, good,” Aidan whispered eventually.
So. They were alive. They’d gotten out with most of what they’d gone in for.
At the expense of a bad bruise across Kevin’s cheek, that or worse to his shoulder, and an action that could have caused so much more.
Slowly, some of his anger seeped back. He took a breath. “You scared the hell out of me back there and acted like a complete gamma, Kev. Don’t do that again.”
Kevin ducked his head in a slow nod. “I’m sorry, Aidan. I—When I saw you like that, I guess I panicked.”
Aidan sighed. Kevin was normally so level-headed. He’d been utterly cool on-Grid, when Aidan had been scared shitless.
So why had he acted like this out here?
On the tab screen, the red dot of a drone approached their location. They waited in breathless silence as the long-range drone passed, not even the sound of whirring to announce its presence. The red dot moved out of range.
Aidan breathed out. Kevin looked up with a smile. So close. They were so close.
“That’s the last of them. A very fine night’s work if I do say so.”
Aidan tried to smile, but it faltered. “I didn’t get the holo board. That was the part we needed most.”
Kevin smirked as he pulled the bag up from the floorboard and into his lap. He rifled quickly through the materials they had managed to grab, yanked, and pulled out the board with a wink.
“Oh, I don’t know about that.”
“What? How…?” Aidan breathed, feeling the wave of defeat that had been threatening lift.
“Fell down the pile when you did,” Kevin whispered, grinning. “I simply grabbed it up. After all, I am the requisitions officer. Snatching things is my forte.”
A rush of joy shot through Aidan. They’d done it. They’d gotten everything. Nose to nose with Kevin, he grinned.
“Holy shit, we- Holy shit! You… wow. Kevin, holy shit! This is like one of your vids!”
Kevin’s eyes glittered like silver in the low light. “You know, if this is a vid, I know how the scene ends.”
“Yeah?” Aidan asked, still giddy with relief.
Kevin was still smiling, his teeth white outlines in his grin. And he was leaning closer. Aidan could feel the heat of his skin, his breath.
“Heroes always get a kiss at the end of the adventure. That’s the convention.” Kevin tipped his head, eyes holding Aidan’s. “Would the hero like a kiss?”
Aidan froze. Was Kevin actually… Was he…?
He wet his lips. His voice escaped as a whisper. “Am I supposed to be a hero?”
Kevin’s smile was soft now, and he was so very close. “I don’t see anyone else in the driver’s seat. So you must be.” Then he pressed his lips against Aidan’s.
Kevin’s lips were hot. Aidan’s brain turned inside out. Kevin was kissing him.
Kevin had started kissing him.
This was real.
He leaned into the warmth with a pleasure that was almost pain. This was only going to be a second, but if only this second would last.
Softly, Kevin drew back. “Was that okay?”
Kevin’s whisper barely made it through the buzzing in Aidan’s brain. He gasped in a breath. “Um, okay. Yeah.” He swallowed hard and forced himself to sit up. “We-we should get going home…”
Kevin nodded, eyes still holding his as he drew away. “I suppose we should.”
Aidan Headly wasn’t always the adorable anxious wreck of a commander who’s currently running the Wildcards in the Aces High Jokers Wild series. When he first appeared in my brain before I had any inkling of what his story would become, he was far, far different. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore how he became the character he is today.
Originally, Aidan was meant to be an antagonist of sorts. In his first story (which, thank goodness, never went anywhere), he was one of two point of view characters in a world that, in retrospect, was incredibly poorly conceived. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that he was in the majority instead of the minority. In this original storyline, Aidan was still part of a rebel group, but he wasn’t a leader–and this group wasn’t fighting for freedom.
As second-in-command of this rebel group, Aidan was a confident sharpshooter and spy who would often go on dangerous missions into enemy territory with his sister, Naomi. He was a post-operative trans guy with a little bit of a wild streak.
Not at all what he is today, right?
When I started to put together this new world and storyline, Aidan began to shift. He initially was going to be a side-character as I focused on his sister’s storyline, But then I got too invested in his and Kevin’s relationship and changed directions. I decided I wanted him to be pre-op so I could explore my own dysphoria and discomfort in fiction. So he got a binder and a hormone regimen. He developed anxiety and depression as I realized those things in myself and started to learn to cope with them. In many ways, Aidan became a reflection of myself on the page instead of the vague character I’d originally imagined. With some additional kick-butt leadership and fighting skills.
He continued to grow and evolve as The Hands We’re Given went from rough draft to published book. At one point, I wrote his depression as so bad and so deep that it began to eclipse every other aspect of his personality. Obviously, that had to get toned back and tweaked. He had a bit of a pendulum swing between being a competent leader and hiding in his closet before things settled out into what I hope is a good balance.
There are some traits that stayed the same throughout this evolution, of course: he’s still a rebel, he’s still trans and gay, and he has a similar voice to when we started out. He still cares deeply for his friends and companions, and will still stick his neck out for them.
No matter how much Aidan changed through the writing process, he has always been close to my heart. I’m proud of the way he evolved and became the character who’s out in the world today. It’s a little like watching a kid grow up and sending him out into the unknown.
All I can do now is hope my readers enjoy his adventures.
O.E. Tearmann lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, in what may become the Co-Wy Grid. They share the house with a brat in fur, a husband and a great many books. Their search engine history may garner them a call from the FBI one day. When they’re not living on base 1407 they advocate for a more equitable society and more sustainable agricultural practices, participate in sundry geekdom and do their best to walk their characters’ talk.
This blog is not pornography, however it will from time to time include material suitable for adults. If you are not of legal age in the country where you live, please leave the site. Thank you. Others, proceed at your own discretion, and please enjoy!