Rainbow Gate Book Blog is happy to be a stop on the Rocking Thin Ice blog tour. Welcome, Z. Allora!
Can a sexy rock star show a relationship-phobic ice skater that there’s more to life than gold medals?
When ice-skating’s bad boy Blaze first glimpses Drake, every fantasy he’s ever had flares to life. Not only is rock star Drake sexy as sin, his songs awaken a longing in Blaze that he’s denied for years. But Blaze Parker doesn’t believe in relationships—at least not those that last more than twenty minutes.
Drake Keys has dreamed about the sensual ice skater for years. When Drake is kicked out of his band because of his bisexuality, he drives across the country to finally see the man he’s had a crush on skate live.
Though the attraction is instant and intense, both Blaze and Drake have baggage that puts any relationship on thin ice. Blaze is driven by a long-ago betrayal to prove himself a champion, and Drake, uncertain about the future, hopes to resurrect his music career. As they take a road trip together, Drake romances Blaze, hoping to melt his heart and show him that love is possible… but not without some tough decisions.
I love rock stars. It’s no secret. I have two different series (The Dark Angels & Made in China) and now Rocking Thin Ice. There’s just something about a person who has the courage to stand in front of a crowd and sing out my feelings. Of course, add the cool/bad guy appeal and well, you’re in my happy place.
One of my gateways into M/M romance was a rock star story. It was perfectly imperfect and threw me down the path of lustful adoration. When I was in China, I spent hours (days… okay weeks… months) watching the Adam Lambert tour cross the USA.
I was fascinated by I could tell how homophobic the state they were performing in was by how they handled the song Fever. Did Adam Lambert and Tommy Ratcliff kiss? Did they makeout? How much did they play with each other? The tour embarked on their overseas tour and I followed it again. That song was still a good predictor of homophobia but when they headed to Malaysia and people protested because they were afraid he’d make their kids gay. I decided I had to start sharing my work.
The music industry is far from tolerant when it comes LGBTQIA people. Though as we’ve seen in the last few years more out rainbow people. Lil Nas X, who is openly gay is the rap star who went country and just won Song of the Year at the MTV Video Music.
I believe music can help people bridge gaps… therefore books about musicians can really get the job done!
Rocking Thin Ice came to be because I was enthralled with a Johnny Weir video where he skates to Lady Gaga in an exhibition. He’s all defiant and sexy… just by showing the world exactly who he is he fights and wins a war.
Blaze Parker from Rocking Thin Ice skates to music that sends messages to the judges, audiences, and the world. I struggled with who could balance and appreciate all that my skater is and wants to become… A rock star stood up for the challenge.
Drake Keys is super laid back. He likes girls, guys, and guitars. No biggie as long as everyone is happy… until the band’s homophobic manager dismisses him. He finally decides to see Blaze Parker skate live. He decides attending a skating event wasn’t stalking even if you had been crushing on the guy since you were a teenager.
Blaze doesn’t do relationships longer than twenty minutes so his decision to take a very high guitar player home was more about responsibility than spending time with a hot guy. His brother is joking about Blaze and Drake’s wedding on their first official date could easily be ignored, but even his dog (who takes the world on teeth first) loves Drake. It’s a conspiracy! But not a bad one.
About the Author
Z. Allora believes in happily-ever-afters for everyone. Z. met her own true love through the personals and has traveled to over thirty-four countries with him. Z.’s lived in Singapore, Israel, and China. Now back home in the USA, Z.’s a strong supporter of those on the rainbow in her community. Z. wants to promote understanding and acceptance through her actions and words. Writing rainbow romance that explores the spectrum within each letter of the LGBTQIA+ community allows Z. to validate and open hearts as well as bring a greater understanding of orientation and gender.
Facebook: Z Allora Allora and join Z.’s Yaoified Love group (for fun, character chatters, giveaways, and silliness)
I’m one of those authors who can’t work in silence. I’ve got music playing pretty much all the time in some way, even when I’m playing games or the like. Lately, I’ve gotten sucked down the kpop rabbit hole (which has inspired another story!), but that’s for a different blog post. 🙂
There is an amazing number of songs about the end of the world in some way. Some use the verbiage but aren’t really about it. Some are, but only allude to that idea. I honestly have still not found any specifically about a pandemic, though I’m probably just missing it. If you know of any, please let me know! I’m always looking for new music.
Of those I have found, one of my all-time favorites is So Cold from Breaking Benjamin.
It’s one of the more ambiguously-worded songs and as such fits really well. I have a couple of different genres represented on the list (this seems to happen pretty often with my story playlists), but in the end I’m most partial to whatever they’re calling the one Breaking Benjamin, Linkin Park, etc. belong to. I’ve given up on understanding the labels.
There are two other songs on this particular list that aren’t directly related to the pandemic, but rather more about Mark and Duncan’s relationship. In Healing, Duncan struggled with not showing his feelings for fear Mark would run away—justifiably so—and Mark struggled with his abandonment issues. If you haven’t read Healing, I won’t spoil how Duncan manages to convince Mark to stay, but the song Give in to Me made me think about them a lot. I was introduced to the song by my oldest son who has always had a thing for American Idol. He showed me the performance, then linked me to a YouTube of the studio version. Something about Allison’s version that really gets to me and made me think of these two.
(Please note: I much prefer to link official videos when possible. I have this song on my Spotify playlist from Allison, but there isn’t an official video on YouTube that I can find. Sorry!)
I tend to drive my family nuts when I’m in the middle of writing a story because the playlist for it is going pretty much constantly—when I write, yes, but also when I cook, drive, clean… everything. I’d feel sorry for them, but, well, it’s good music so… wink
Thanks to Lou for the space today! I hope you’ve enjoyed the mini-tour and keep an eye out for the rerelease of Hope, Forbes Mates #5 soon!
Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.
The second half of the acclaimed Vasquez and James stories is out today from Changeling Press, following the release of Volume 1 last month. Vasquez and James Volume 2, sporting another brilliant cover, completes the long, flowing, beautiful love story of Luki Vasquez and Sonny James. Stick with them as they face suspenseful episodes, laugh with them as humor rears its marvelous head even in the toughest of moments, and rejoice with them as they come through the hardships stronger and closer than ever, with a happy ending any couple might envy. The sexy romance continues to blaze even while the suspense can chill you to the bone. Maybe that explains why Nadine said the novella Yes was “like some kind of magical incantation,” and the opening sentence of Nickie’s 5-star review of Saving Sonny James on Goodreads:
“What can I say about Lou Sylvre’s book Saving Sonny James? A veritable work of art. I laughed. I cried. I set on the edge of my seat. It was awesome.”
And here’s what Jules, of The Novel Approach review site, said in her review of the series’ final book, Because of Jade:
There is such a beauty about the way Lou Sylvre writes these characters. A pureness. A sort of reverence. If I had my way, there would be new Vasquez & James books until the end of time.
Get Vasquez and James Volume 2 today from Changeling Press and save 15% off an already great price. (And if you prefer buying through Amazon or another online retailer, the links are right there on the publisher’s catalog listing.)
About the books:
Troubles strike, Romance sizzles, Love endures, A family is made.
Saving Sonny James: The events of the last couple of years have begun to catch up with Luki — loving Sonny James and letting Sonny love him back have left gaps in his emotional armor. Sonny says yes to a European tour with Harold Breslin, a dangerously intelligent promoter whose obsessive desire for Sonny is exceeded only by his narcissism. When Harold’s plan for Sonny turns poisonous, Luki must break free of PTSD and get to France, fit and ready in time to save his husband’s life.
Yes (A Vasquez and James novella): Professional badass Luki Vasquez and textile artist Sonny James have been married for five years, and despite the sometimes volatile mix, they’re happy. From their first days together, they stood united against deadly enemies and prevailed. But now the deadly enemy they face is the cancer consuming Luki’s lungs. Sonny tries to control every thread just as he does when he weaves, but still Luki dances with cancer alone—until he gets a startling reminder of the miracle of life.
Because of Jade: Still cancer free after five years, Luki finds out his nephew Josh and wife Ruthie have met a tragic death. Luki and Sonny must help each other learn to parent an unexpected child, Jade, and still nourish the love that has kept them whole for the past ten years. A relative’s claim to Jade threatens the new family, and even if they prevail in court, they could lose their little girl unless they can rescue Jade from evil hands and true peril.
From Saving Sonny James
The cemetery lay quiet in heavy mist, autumn leaves breaking the gray with fiery shades. Sonny picked up some leaves and twirled them one by one in front of him, and Luki knew his mind was busy with ideas of color. They stood together at the foot of Delsyn’s grave, looked at the still new headstone with its simple engraving: a medicine wheel with eagle feathers in each of the four directions, and the name—Delsyn James Bull.
Luki said, “I didn’t know his last name wasn’t James.”
“He preferred James,” Sonny answered, shrugging. “He didn’t like his father.”
“So why is your name James?”
Sonny grinned, “I didn’t like my father either!” Then the smile disappeared but not the good humor, and he added, “And my stepfather, whose name I had on my birth certificate, didn’t mean anything to me. When my mother died and I was living with Melvern, I wanted his name—Melvern’s—and he got it changed for me. I’ve never been sorry. I don’t feel like any other name but James would have been mine.”
“I think you’re right,” Luki said. “You’re definitely Sonny Bly James, the most beautiful thing that ever happened to the world. And I love you.”
Sonny smiled and hugged Luki, then leaned his chin on his husband’s shoulder. “I love you, too, Luki Mililani Vasquez, the hottest badass that ever happened to the world.” He took a deep breath, held on really tight. “Why are you different, Luki?”
Luki’s wrapped his arms tighter around Sonny. He stayed quiet.
“Should I not have asked?”
Finally Luki found some words. “It’s fine that you asked, baby. I just don’t know how to answer…. Do you…. Are you asking why I’m different since I… since that kid—”
“Guard,” Sonny said. “He wasn’t a kid, he was a guard. No, I think I understand that, at least in theory. I’m asking why you’re different today. You’re… good. Have I blown everything by going there? Are you not going to answer?”
“No. You haven’t, and I will. Just not right this second.”
“Okay. Don’t worry, husband. No rush, and besides, I wanted to smudge over Del’s grave…. Damn, I hate saying those two words together.”
“Yeah, that’s hard. I’m sorry, baby.”
Sonny gave Luki a puzzled look, as though he could see something beyond those words that didn’t quite make sense. Luki thought, Please don’t say anything about it, Sonny, and perhaps Sonny was sensitive to that, because he said nothing more about it.
“Husband,” Sonny said, and the way he said it, Luki felt himself blush. He knew that was silly, but when Sonny called him that, in that certain way, it sort of made him tingle. He resisted a stupid grin, and Sonny went on. “Will you help me with the smudge?”
“Sure. What do I need to do?”
“Not a lot, really.” He reached into his backpack, fiddled with some things, and then held out an abalone shell filled with cedar and some other dried plant material Luki didn’t recognize. “Hold this,” Sonny ordered, “This is just sage, with the cedar. And a little sweetgrass.” He held a Bic to the mixture and set it to smoldering, making a plume of sharp but very sweet-smelling smoke.
Luki fought a smile again—almost lost the battle.
Sonny once again gave him the puzzled look. “This seems all mysterious, you know, but really it’s just a way of being clean. Body, mind, and spirit, so they say. I’ve never smudged all that often, nor did I go to sweat lodge or smokehouse to pray. But Delsyn did. Him and Melvern…. Watch how your holding that shell, Luki, it gets hot on the bottom.”
“Ouch! Shit, burn!”
Sonny took the shell from him, and Luki felt completely foolish. He’d been so distracted by the sweet smell of the smoke and crackle of the cedar, the pretty burn, he hadn’t even noticed the shell heating up. He looked up sheepishly to find Sonny peering at him through narrowed eyes, his lips pursed in a slight, pensive smile.
“You like this smudge, don’t you, Luki? That’s good. Put your hands in the dew.”
“Quick, honey!” Sonny sounded a little annoyed but obviously concerned for Luki’s welfare. “Put your hands in the dew on the grass—wet and cool, for the burns.”
“Oh, well, probably too late now. They’re not that bad, anyway. That was a really good idea, though.”
In answer, Sonny gave him another one of those bemused looks—this time, just out of the corner of his eye. Luki was trying to figure out what those looks meant at this point, but it didn’t appear he was going to be getting that information.
Sonny produced a medium-sized feather from the vest pocket of his leather jacket. “You know what I should do for you, Luki? I should have Jim Standing Bear come up and put you in a sweat with fifty-two rocks and a long-winded leader.” He chuckled. “Either fix you right up or put you in the hospital. Just kidding, of course. But to clean the grave—which sounds stupid but I think Del would like it—we have to be clean first. So I’ll do you and then you do me, okay?” Luki’s eyebrows went up.
“Smudging, Luki. We’re talking about smudging. Get your mind out of my pants!”
“Never, sweetie, but okay. Smudging. What do I do?”
“Just stand there mostly, while I get the smoke all over you…. Okay, lift up one foot… the other. Okay, you’re done. Smoke’s still going good. Do me?”
“Whoa, Sonny! Right here in the graveyard?”
Sonny laughed and smacked Luki’s bicep. “I meant the smudge, Luki. And you know it.”
“Oh, okay.” He knew a smile could be heard in his voice and he let it play there. He started to move the feather, washing Sonny down with the cleansing smoke. This whole thing, this day, this smudging as Sonny called it—it all felt so good. Luki didn’t want it to stop, ever, and he didn’t care if his beloved husband knew that. He hoped Sonny knew. He didn’t think he was well, cured, absolved. He knew he wasn’t, but just for now he felt brand new. He thanked Delsyn in his thoughts—this wasn’t the first time Delsyn had brought him and Sonny closer, or adjusted Luki’s focus. He’d done it more than once while alive, and it didn’t even really surprise Luki that he’d reach from the other side of the veil to wake him up.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll enjoy this second batch of Luki and Sonny’s adventures! Coming soon, a new series! Vasquez Inc, The J&B Stories, featuring the suspenseful trials, lustful heat, and poignant love story of Jackie Vasquez, Brian Harrison—with plenty of appearances by veteran characters Luki and Sonny! Feel free to comment on the blog—your thoughts are always welcome. Happy reading, everyone.
It’s a very good feeling for an author when a new book releases and some positive reviews roll in right away. Because Vasquez and James Volume 1 from Changeling Press re-releases a second edition of three books, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the way of reader response. It’s early yet, but there’s some good news! Check out these reviews from new readers. You can find the full reviews on the book’s listing page on Amazon.
Her characters are very well written, very believable for the most part. The stories will run you through a gamut of emotional ups and downs. In 1 minute you’ll be crying over a sad thing, then just have to laugh along with Luki or Sonny, as they try to find humor to help each other through the pain, or sigh over the sweetness of their love for each other. It can take them time to spot the vulnerabilities in their partner, but they eventually do.
The action/suspense in these stories is very well written. Lou has obviously done her homework here. Everything from kidnapping to small homemade bomb building. AND all the emotions evoked in the characters suffering these things are very believable as well.
This is a fantastic pairing of two MCs who seem like opposites on the surface. and yet they have so much in common. Number one of which is that neither is looking for a relationship! They have trials and tribulations galore as they make their way into each others’ hearts. This is a fantastic set, and the books should be read in order. There is danger, drama, trauma, grief, and love. I was unfamiliar with this author before I picked up this set, and I am so glad I did.
The Vasquez and James books that got such high praise from reviewers, readers, and fellow authors is back in a brand new format with a brilliant cover, courtesy of Changeling Press. Today, 6/28/19, the first three stories in this blazing romance between two extraordinary men comes out in an ebook box set, Volume 1 of 2, with the remaining 3 stories due out July 27. In each book Luki Vasquez and Sonny James meet danger in a thrilling episode of suspense, and despite it all their love grows a little bit stronger, glows a little bit brighter.
Get Vasquez and James Volume 1 today from Changeling Press and save 15% off an already great price.
Discover why author Kade Boehme said what he did in his Goodreads review of the first edition of book 1: “Luki is infuriating but god I love him. And Sonny… How appropriate is that name. He’s got a bad past hiding in there somewhere but he’s all light and “bubbles”. Just what that hard ass Luki needs. Lou Sylvre’s writing is also phenomenal. What chops. Very eloquent while still maintaining the masculine voices of her characters. Now THAT is talent. I’m smitten.”
About the books:
When badass meets artist, sparks and bullets fly. Blazing romance, chilling suspense, enduring love…
Loving Luki Vasquez: Renowned but reclusive weaver Sonny Bly James masters color, texture, and shape in his tapestries, but when he meets Luki Vasquez, an ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, his heart and desire spin out of control. The heat between them won’t be denied. United by danger, can Sonny and Luki put fear and anger aside, and fight together to save Sonny’s nephew and their own lives?
Delsyn’s Blues: Devastated by loss, Sonny James listens to a voice singing the blues from beyond the grave. Convinced he’s failed in an all-important life task, he tries to shut out Luki Vasquez and love just when he needs him the most. But when Luki finally breaks through Sonny’s fortress of grief, it’s just in time for the newly reunited couple to face a new, violent, escalating danger.
Finding Jackie: When Sonny James asked Luki Vasquez to marry him, Luki’s “yes” was accompanied by a request — a wedding in Hawaii. Months and many trials later, their hilltop island ceremony is poignant and funny, and every bit as beautiful as they’d hoped. The honeymoon is all sex, surfing, and sunshine… until Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew is kidnapped by a sadistic killer. When it all comes to an ultimate showdown with evil, it’s not only love at stake, but their lives.
Excerpts (Beware of sexy hotness in the one from Finding Jackie):
From Loving Luki Vasquez
Oak Flats, Nebraska, 1982
A MUD-SPATTERED pickup in the front yard of a weathered house. Summer-gold hayfields rolling back farther than the eye could see. In the west, a sinking sun screened by a line of trees—cottonwoods and willows. Under those trees, a band of children just into their teens, whooping and laughing in that way that kids do in the summer when night is just on the edge of the next breath.
Luki ran faster than all the rest, and then looped back to taunt them. Excitement like electricity ran through him. Something about this day, this hour, this prelude to night, was special. “Maria,” he yelled. “I’ll race ya!”
It started a stampede, all seven of the boys and Maria, the one girl who always hung out with them, running as if they could fly, thrashing through brambles and over sticks and stones as if they couldn’t feel them. Out onto the Old Granary Road, onto the bridge, right over the rail and into the river, just as they’d done hundreds of times before.
Luki swam underwater for as long as he could hold his breath, which was longer than anyone, except maybe Maria. When he came up, laughing and spitting, and slicked his hair back out of his eyes, all of the other boys had gathered at the shore, whispering, or maybe arguing. Maria hadn’t even gone in, and now she was worming her way down the steep embankment from the road to the river.
The sun sank under the skyline, and the river turned dark, and Luki felt a chill run through him.
“Hey, Luki, c’mon over here, man.” It was Ronny Jemison, the boy that was a bit taller, a bit rougher, a bit meaner than any of the rest. Maybe the leader, if they had been a gang. “We’ve got something for you. C’mon.”
Ronny scared him when he was like this. Luki had seen the bully push Little Jimmy down the bank, yank Maria’s hair hard enough to put her on her knees, kill birds and frogs and rabbits—anything that lived—just to be killing. But, scared or not, Luki knew he had to choose: go and fight and maybe get hurt, or be deemed a coward and so get picked on—probably for the rest of his life.
So Luki went.
Before he quite made it safely to dry land, Ronny smacked him hard in the face with a balled up fist, and yelled one word, spit it at Luki as if it was made of acid and would flay him.
From Delsyn’s Blues
SONNY knew he should care a lot more about getting arrested for things he no way could have done, about people breaking in, about all of that. But he didn’t want to care. Luki—obviously—was thoroughly busy with the problem. Let him have it. Sonny had other things he wanted and needed to think about. Like Delsyn dying. Like Delsyn living.
Like Delsyn playing the blues.
He didn’t want to rush things, so instead of popping the cassette tapes into an old player, he took them to Port Angeles to a shop where they’d convert them to CDs. In the process, he discovered a 16mm tape he hadn’t noticed before. He had that converted to DVD. He successfully ignored Luki’s investigation for another twenty-four hours, then hopped in the ancient F-150 his uncle Melvern had left him as a legacy. After the key didn’t even crank the engine, he took it out of gear and hopped back out, gave the truck a push downslope, hopped back in and popped the clutch. On his way to P.A. to get the finished product, he didn’t think about Delsyn or various crimes. He thought about replacing the starter.
He drove through Port Clifton, which wasn’t quite on the way home, to stop at the store. He contemplated something alcoholic to help him through the hard parts. God help him, he once again contemplated dope, but he quickly discarded both ideas and settled for Rocky Road ice cream and a great big tin of Scottish shortbread cookies. Because, he freely admitted to the cashier, he was a little crazy. Making a last stop, he had a raspberry latte at Margie’s.
“So, Sonny, why are you driving that rusty bucket?”
“Mustang wouldn’t start,” he said, lying and pretty sure Margie could tell.
“Well, that’s kind of lucky, don’t you think? I mean, your Uncle Mel would have wanted to go along.”
Sonny laughed, and after that Margie found room in her freezer for his Rocky Road and chatted with him—or more accurately, at him—in the old way, not mentioning anything at all about death, murder, jail, dope, Luki, or anything else remotely related except her new PT Cruiser. But then at the end, she gave him another latte, free of charge. “You’re not the only one who misses him, you know. You’re certainly the one who has lost the most, but you’re not the only one who is sad, or hurt, or wondering how to fill up the hole in the world Delsyn left behind.”
“You miss him too.”
“I do, but I wasn’t talking about me. It’s good to see you in here again, by the way. I still wonder why you drink those silly coffees, though. See you soon, dear, and don’t forget to tell Luki I’ve always got a cup of coffee for him, black and sweet.”
Sonny parked the pickup in the yard, refusing the crotchety old thing the right to live in the barn with the Mustang, the Harley, and his auntie’s ridiculous but fragile ’72 Honda Civic. He wasn’t sure why his mood had lightened at least three shades, but he didn’t spend much time thinking about it. He wasn’t really the kind of person to get so very bogged down in misery, and now he had plans. He’d clean up the studio first—the rancid dyes had actually begun to smell up the rest of the house, and his fingers were starting to itch for the touch of silk and wool. Once he had his tools and space in order, he’d know what he wanted to weave. And what a relief.
Then he’d watch the DVD. See Delsyn again, he hoped. Hear his voice. Keep loving him, just as if he was alive. Maybe not, but better than nothing at all.
In the end, though, he didn’t deal with the studio at all. He let the screen door bang behind him as he ducked into the mud porch. Ignoring the strips of bark and thankfully dead but now useless cochineals, thankful that he’d at least dumped the smelly, spoiled dyes, he walked through to the kitchen to put the ice cream away and pried off the lid of the shortbread tin to eat a cookie. He thought about checking to see if it improved his fake Scottish brogue, but it never had before. The coffee pot was on, the coffee hot and smelling fresh, but Luki was nowhere in sight—not in the kitchen, the bathrooms, the bedroom, etcetera. Sonny thought about looking for him outside, or thought maybe he wasn’t there after all; maybe Rona had come to get him to figure out some legal thing that Sonny refused to notice.
But no. His shoulder holster was hanging on the back of the bedroom closet door. He wouldn’t have left it. Without having to think about it anymore, he knew where Luki was. Sonny could move almost silently, and he made it a point to be as quiet as he could on the way back to Delsyn’s room. It wasn’t that he wanted to surprise Luki. He only wanted to see him without the guard he would put up if he knew he was being watched. Maybe not nice, but Sonny didn’t care about that just then.
The door to Del’s room was open, the blue walls strangely aglow in the light that poured around the edges of the plywood he’d used to cover the broken window. The small lamp in the corner by Del’s bed had been switched on, and in the circle of light it cast, Luki sat in a T-shirt and striped pajamas, chewing his bottom lip and stroking the wood of Del’s old, now broken, guitar, tracing the scratches and scars on its surface as if reading it like Braille.
Of course, Luki became aware of Sonny instantly, and put the instrument down. It took him a minute to look up, and when he did, the look on his face gave away Luki’s feelings—a rare event in itself. Luki grieved. Sonny couldn’t understand now why he hadn’t seen that, expected it, even. The two of them had grown close—Luki and Del. Sonny had been happy for that at the time.
“He loved you,” Sonny said.
“You sent me away.”
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it.” Sonny thought of how lame that must sound, but he had no solution and just then he felt overwhelmed with all the things he’d done wrong—even if you just counted the last few days. But he tried to explain. “Luki, it was like… it hurt, but the pain was all I had of him toward the end. Stupid, I know, but I couldn’t share it.” He didn’t know what else to say, so after a moment’s silence, he added, “But I love you. And… will you watch Delsyn’s DVD with me? Want some Rocky Road?”
Luki sent him an almost-smile, nodded. “Sure. But hamburgers first. I’ll make ’em. You have to have something solid in your stomach before the shortbread.”
“You and your hamburgers,” Sonny said. “And I didn’t say anything about shortbread.”
“I need hamburgers to keep my strength up. You’ve got crumbs in your beard.”
“I don’t have a beard.”
“I know, but if you did, there would be shortbread crumbs in it
From Finding Jackie
LUKI and Sonny had checked into their hotel room before they went to the market, but they’d only had their bags placed inside the room; they’d never even gone in. They had decided to stay this time at a different hotel altogether, thinking the Fairmont was beautiful but the memories of their previous stay mostly not so good. At the Monaco, they’d been offered the Ambassador Suite, but Sonny had insisted the purple furniture would prevent him from sleeping, so they ended up with the Monte Carlo suite. They walked back to the hotel after their business and pleasure at the market was done, and Sonny sighed.
Luki said, “What?”
“Nothing,” Sonny said, sounding like a martyr. “It’s just… interesting wallpaper.”
“Baby,” Luki said, not understanding at all but willing to go to any lengths to please his man, “If you hate it—”
“No, no, I don’t. I mean, it’s not bad—it’s probably even good. I just need to get used to it. The colors in here are gorgeous, truthfully. And you know what?”
Luki’s eyes followed his husband, who paced from side to side, peeked around curtains and walls, opened doors. He made a sound, something like “Mm,” knowing Sonny wasn’t really looking for a response, but would appreciate knowing Luki was paying attention. He also smiled. Something about the quirky way Sonny settled himself into a space was too sweet for words.
“You know what I need to do, honey?”
Luki noted with glee that Sonny had begun to strip. This time, when he said, “Mm,” he didn’t have to feign interest.
“I need to get in that bathtub—do you see that thing? It’s like a swimming pool. I need to get in there and soak, all nice and relaxed, and take in that wallpaper until it seems normal to me.”
The man is fucking crazy, Luki thought, both disappointed and surprised. Sonny was already in the bathroom, fine-tuning the water temperature. Luki put his hands in his pockets—not a characteristic posture at all, but he was at a loss. He literally jumped when Sonny whooped and yelled.
“Yes! There’s bubble bath in here!”
Now, Luki was so nonplussed that he sat down on the couch, rather hard. When he tried to think of something he might be doing the only two things that came to mind were jerking off—which he dismissed immediately—and eating a hamburger. He considered the hamburger carefully, decided against, and got up to wander into the strangely wall-papered, thoroughly lavender-scented bathroom.
“This is a big tub, Luki.”
Luki stepped closer to Sonny and pushed a long strand of dark hair off his chest, letting it join its fellows falling down Sonny’s back.
Sonny grabbed Luki’s belt at the buckle and made as if to undo it. “Get in, Luki. There’s room. Look.” He lifted a foot out of the water. “See, my feet don’t even reach all the way to the other side. Not crowded at all.”
Luki stood silent, chewing his lip. He wasn’t one for shower play, which Sonny knew. It just reminded him too much of lonelier days. He never took baths, especially bubble baths. And, he really, really didn’t want to smell like flowers. But he loved his husband so much, and there the man was, asking for this simple, little thing.
“Luki, take a bath with me. Come on.”
Luki started to strip, tossing his clothes back out onto the chair in the bedroom. He was, of course, hard by the time he was naked, which was something Sonny certainly didn’t fail to notice, even though he said nothing. Luki stood there, feeling confused, never before having realized that deciding how to get into a bathtub and situate oneself was so difficult.
“Luki, you can just sit on that side, facing me so I can look at your eyes and we can talk. Okay? That way you won’t feel so awkward.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s something in that statement I should scold you for, Sonny Bly, I just haven’t figured out what it is,” Luki said while climbing in and turning around and sitting down as instructed. But once he settled, his hands found Sonny’s legs, and he couldn’t help but rub them. And then Sonny found his foot, and as Sonny well knew, Luki’s toes were really sensitive. And Sonny played with them. All the while they looked each other in the eyes.
“Luki,” Sonny said, finally, “you don’t play in the shower.”
“No. What’s your point?”
For answer, Sonny took Luki’s foot and laid it along his own erection, which was one of the sexiest things that had ever happened to Luki. Then Sonny took his size a-very-large-number foot, with its long, nearly prehensile toes, and not too gently stroked it up and down Luki’s cock, and Luki spent a few seconds catching his breath.
“This isn’t a shower,” Sonny said.
Luki nodded. “Right.”
Sonny let a little water out, added some hot to adjust the temperature. “We could fuck here, if we so desired, which I do.” Sonny actually looked hopeful, as if he was a little afraid Luki would say no, or maybe scoff.
Luki wasn’t about to do either one. Sonny was the most beautiful, lovable, eminently fuckable person on the planet, and Luki wasn’t about to fail him. As he’d explained to Sonny just the other day, fucking Sonny happy was his personal joy. He licked his lips. “Come here, baby.”
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll enjoy Luki and Sonny’s adventures!
I’m excited. Luki Vasquez and Sonny James will be back in town in less than two weeks, June 28, 2019. Same stories so many readers gave and reviewers gave 5 stars. A new edit got rid of some of pesky little errors and updated a Camaro (no really), but the guys, their wild rides through suspense-land, and their loving romance is all there in a brand new bundle. Watch this space for links to the ebook market places. It will go up for preorder and release first on Changeling’s catalog.
In this Volume
Loving Luki Vasquez — the story that started it all!
Renowned but reclusive weaver Sonny Bly James masters color, texture, and shape in his tapestries, but when he meets Luki Vásquez, an ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, his heart and desire spin out of control. The heat between them won’t be denied, but love won’t come easy for beautiful but shy Sonny, and Luki wears his visible and hidden scars like armor against romance.
They try to run from lust and love, but soon it becomes clear they have bigger problems. An evil, violent stalker has targeted Sonny, and Luki’s protective instincts take over. When Sonny discovers his beloved nephew is at risk, he must choose to trust Luki’s strength and skills, even though he’d rather stay away and avoid loving Luki Vasquez. United by danger, can Sonny and Luki put fear and anger aside, and fight together to save Sonny’s nephew and their own lives?
Delsyn’s Blues — in which a (literal) cliffhanger is narrowly avoided.
Devastated by loss, Sonny James listens to a voice singing the blues from beyond the grave. Convinced he’s failed in an all-important life task, he tries to shut out Luki Vasquez and love just when he needs him the most. But when Luki finally breaks through Sonny’s fortress of grief, it’s just in time for the newly reunited couple to face a new, violent, escalating danger.
Tensions mount, and suspicion threatens to strain their newly mended love to the breaking point. But no matter what Luki fears Sonny might have done and how it might affect their future, he’s determined to keep the man he loves safe under his watchful eye. Together despite their fears and sorrows, they undertake a wild trip to find a madman, stop a crime spree, and save a friend. If they succeed, can they also save the deep passion and enduring love of their treasured, surprise romance?
Finding Jackie — what you do when a mob hit man is bent on revenge.
When Sonny James asked Luki Vasquez to marry him, Luki’s “yes” was accompanied by a request—a wedding in Hawaii. Months and many trials later, their hilltop, island ceremony is poignant and funny, and every bit as beautiful as they’d hoped. The honeymoon is all sex, surfing, and sunshine… until the shadow of death and danger finds them once again. This time, Luki decides a badge will help him deal with the threat, a choice that spells discord for the newlyweds. Passion shines through, but soon the darkness deepens: a former informant brings Luki a troubling message from a renowned Mob hit man. Then Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is catfished and kidnapped by a sadistic killer, and the honeymoon is well and truly over.
Luki and Sonny know love and family are far more important than their lingering disagreement. United in purpose, they struggle to unravel intertwined terrors and follow the threads that might lead them to finding Jackie. The hunt takes them from soup kitchens and leather bars to dusty desert back roads, and relies on all the strengths, talents, and allies they can muster. When it all comes to an ultimate showdown with evil, it’s not only love at stake, but their lives.
(And then, in July ride along with Luki and Sonny in volume 2 for more love and more edge-of-the-seat suspense.
Lou’s Rainbow Gate Book Blog is happy to welcome Becca Seymour!
Becca Seymour has a new MM contemporary romance out: “Let Me Show You.”
When a veterinarian and a construction worker connect, it takes mishaps, mistakes, and a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Rex to show them they’re made for each other.
Dr. Carter Falon is content living a quiet life in a small town caring for his animal patients. That doesn’t mean he’s not looking for a distraction. After finding himself precariously wedged… naked and at the mercy of a drop-dead gorgeous construction worker, Carter hires his savior to renovate his home.
When Tanner Grady’s best friend and new niece needed him, he uprooted and relocated without a second thought. His life has since been centered on work and spending time with his family, but when he comes to the rescue of a cute vet, Tanner finds he’s a lot more interested in the homeowner than the house he’s renovating.
“Hey, baby boy.” I smiled. In my late twenties, I was far from a baby, but she’d once told me that even at fifty I’d still be her baby. “Good day?”
“Yep. Not too bad. Nothing too hectic or crazy. You?”
“A great one. Your dad’s booked a cruise for our anniversary.” Excitement lit her words. She’d been hinting at Dad for a while about a cruise. I was pleased he’d listened. It didn’t take a lot to make my mom happy; she found joy in the smallest of things,so that he’d organized it all was pretty impressive. Mom usually organized everything, so I knew him booking the vacation for them was a big deal.
“That’s terrific. Caribbean?”
She actually squealed down the line. I pulled the phone from my ear and laughed loudly. “Yes! Carter, I’m so excited.”
“Really? I’d never have guessed.”
“Oh, hush.” She spoke over me as I laughed again. “Don’t sass your mother.”
My laughter continued. “Never, Mom. You’d tan my hide. Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“I should think not. So anything new? Any dates?”
With a groan, I rubbed my face and then stepped further into the kitchen and pulled out a glass. “Mom…,” I sighed.
“What? I worry about you. You’re so far from home and are there all alone.”
I poured myself a glass of wine and took a sip. “I know you worry, but honestly, life’s good.” Admittedly it would have been nice to hook up, but one, I didn’t do casual and never had, and two, there was no way I’d tell my mom I was afraid my penis would drop off from lack of use. “There’s nothing new either, and that’s okay. I’m likingthe quiet life.”
“Hmm….” That was her tell for not being convinced. “You know, I was talking to Julie last week, and her nephew’s gay.”
“Mom,” I said with laughter, “honestly, no hookups. I do not need my mom fixing me up.”
She ignored me. “Well, he lives quite far away, but maybe a week of casual—” She cleared her throat. “—sex would do you good.”
“Jesus, Mom.” I spluttered on my mouthful of wine. Grabbing a towel, I wiped my face, catching the dribble of red wine on my chin, and wiped the countertop I’d sprayed. “Stop. I don’t need you arranging anything, okay? Please tell me you’re listening.” She was quiet. “Mom,” I said louder.
“Yes, yes, I hear you.” She sighed. “Grandbabies would be nice.”
Holy crap on toast! With wide eyes, I looked at the ceiling and counted to five. I then took a big gulp of wine before saying, “Mom.”
“Yes, baby boy?”
“I have to go. I need to grab a shower. I’m expecting someone.”
“Someone to fix the house up.” I’d heard the interest in her tone, the hope in that one syllable.
“Oh.” This time her voice dropped. I hated to kill her enthusiasm, but geez, I really needed to get off the phone.
“Love you, tell Dad I love him too. And I’ll speak to you guys later. Bye, Mom.”
“Will do.” Her tone was a bit brighter. “Love you too. Bye, honey.”
I disconnected quickly and placed my phone down. My mom, yeah, she was wonderful and drove me to absolute distraction. I knew how lucky I was. Every decision I’d ever made, my parents had always had my back. They supported me unconditionally. It was just that my mom could be a little extreme at times. I laughed into the empty room. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Quickly finishing my wine, I looked at the time. I had just fifteen minutes until the contractor was due. I’d left it late to organize myself, still a little in a tizzafter the conversation with my mom and the mention of babies. I glanced around the room at the disorderly mess. Every time I did so, I regretted it.
I detested chaos,and that was what the house felt like. The place was still strewn with my moving boxes, but I had yet to see the point in unpacking. Not necessarily because I planned to move, but rather, the whole house needed a lot of work, so I knew I’d have to pack my things up for any work on the house to start.
I really hoped this Tanner guy would be the person who could finally help me out. I’d had two other quotes, one local and one from out of town. Both were crazy high,and neither would be able to start for another five months or so. I was running out of options. This guy had come recommended to me by one of my clients, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
I sighed in defeat as I looked around. I’d have to continue ignoring it all until I finally had the place fixed up. I headed upstairs, careful to miss the coupleof steps that had loose boards, and headed to the main bathroom. I had an en suite, but the shower didn’t work, so it was the pearlescent green suite I headed toward. The sickly porcelain made me shudder every time I laid eyes on it. It was clean though, so there was that.
I hopped into the shower, latheredmyself up, and quickly rinsed off. That was when I heard the knock at the door. “Shoot.” I quickly turned off the taps, stepped out and grabbed a towel. In my haste to get myself together and then answer the door, the dodgy floorboard didn’t even register until my foot slammed throughit, snagging my ankle and bringing me to my knees.
I yelled as I fell, and cursed. Wincing, I looked at my predicament, trying to yank my foot out as I did so. A loud groan slipped past my lips. This was no good. I was wedged, and it appeared I’d lost my towel in my fall. Just great.
Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.
Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.
Let Me Show You started from an idea of a meet cute, one that immediately had me grinning. There’s nothing I love more as a reader and a writer than that first point of contact. I love the possibility it offers, adore how one pivotal moment can set the tone and the course for the romantic development between characters.
With this in mind, the meet cute in Let Me Show You, which we find in chapter 3, essentially does that. Not only does it set the tone for the lightness and low-angst nature of the book, but it also introduces almost a whimsical chemistry between the protagonists, Tanner and Carter.
While we have two characters who are opposites on many levels, their journey, as sparked by their meet cute, soon begins to highlight their similarities. Both protective and honest, Carter and Tanner, show their determination to be positive and make the best out of a sometimes crappy situation. Their attitudes about family and loyalty are the same, as is their desire for a forever.
It’s this connection that we see immediately in their first meeting that follows them through the novel. And hopefully, it’s enough to keep you wanting to read on and cheer for this amazing couple.
Thanks OWI and Becca Seymour, for including the Lou’s Book Blog on your tour! Please come back soon! Readers, thank you for stopping by! Comments always welcome.
Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to host Jackie Keswick today, touring with her new MM fantasy romance, Healing Glass. Welcome, Jackie!
A dying city. An ancient, forgotten accord. And two gifted men caught in a web of greed and dark magic.
Despite belonging to different guilds, glass master Minel and warrior captain Falcon are friends. Their duties keep them apart, but when Minel falls ill and chooses death rather than the only known cure, nothing can keep Falcon from his side.
As their friendship grows into more, old wrongs and one man’s machinations threaten the floating city and leave both Minel and Falcon fighting for their lives. Can they learn to combine their gifts to save the city and its magic, or will everything they know and love perish before their eyes?
Healing Glass is an LGBT fantasy adventure with its head in the clouds. If you like medieval backdrops, impressive world-building, three-dimensional characters and a touch of magic, then you’ll love Jackie Keswick’s socially-conscious adventure.
Hi everyone, I’m Jackie Keswick. And I’m very grateful to Lou for inviting me to the blog to chat about my new release, fantasy novel Healing Glass.
Healing Glass, the story of a glass master, a warrior, and a floating glass city, is set in a medieval-style world, which is a historical period I love. It’s also a historical period I like to bend and fiddle with.
Medieval society in Europe was very structured, with each person knowing their place in the world. Tradespeople in particular had organised themselves into a complex system of guilds as a means of keeping skills together, supporting one another, and training the next generation. Those medieval trade guilds were my starting point for the world I’ve built in Healing Glass.
All the traditional guilds exist in my world, but at the heart of Healing Glass are three very special guilds. The Craft Guild, the Warriors Guild and the Merchant Guild are collectively known as the Gifted Guilds, because each guild member has talents that reach beyond their craft.
Members of the Craft Guild create objects and enhance their creations to soothe, cheer, heal, protect or bring good fortune. Warriors shape minds and use their powers to protect and aid each other. And merchants shape circumstance, transform one reality into another one at will. You can hire them and pay them in coin, or in favours – and for countless generations this system has worked very well.
But what happens when you bend carefully wrought magic out of shape? When you change its purpose to suit yourself? Well… then you put a whole world and a floating glass city in danger.
Excerpt from Healing Glass
Half a mile above the surface, a deep, rumbling groan rattled through Favin’s bones and turned his guts to water. The elevator jerked and shuddered—long enough for Favin to wonder whether he’d left his errand too late—before it resumed its stately progress up towards the floating city.
The groans and jerks came more often these days, on almost every journey. Despite the trickle of ice-cold fear, Favin welcomed the noise and stuttering ascent. He’d raised the alarm weeks earlier, but no one had believed the word of a servant. No one but Councillor Teak, who now clung to the transparent wall on the far side of the elevator, face grey and eyes wide.
The City Council would believe Teak.
“Is… this… why you wanted me to accompany you?” Teak spoke louder than necessary in the tight confines of the chamber bearing them aloft.
“Yes, Councillor. I reported it several times, but—” Favin stopped, loath to criticise the council. “I felt you had to know what’s happening.”
Teak, resplendent in a well-cut black coat and lace cuffs under his scarlet robe of office, didn’t belong in an elevator filled with rows of stacked crates, bins of cloth, and rolls of parchment, even when Favin hadn’t packed the space as full as he usually did. The councillor didn’t need the experience of a full cargo run, of squeezing into a gap just large enough to get in and out of. Never mind that he wouldn’t have fit. The servants joked that were the councillor hollow, one of them could fit inside his frame with space to spare.
Teak enjoyed his food as much as he enjoyed his status and privileges, but he hadn’t lost all sense of his responsibilities. When Favin had asked for his help, he’d only grumbled a little before agreeing to investigate the matter. Now here he stood, pressed against the transparent wall, gaze riveted to the crate in front of him, not daring to look down.
Favin watched the sea and the sky over Teak’s shoulder, wishing—as always— that he could see the city as they made their way towards it. The freight elevators didn’t allow for such a view, and Favin’s work rarely left him the leisure to sit on the beach.
Four levels of squat glass tiers and elegant spires connected by sweeping stairs and graceful bridges, suspended high above the waves by a raft of near-invisible columns… the floating city had stood waiting at the edge of the ocean when the Craft Guild arrived in need of shelter. Nobody knew its builders. Nobody quite understood how it worked. The city kept its occupants warm and dry, the glass walls closing or receding depending on the weather. Fountains supplied water in every square, and in all the buildings. The middle tier of the city—a wide, level space between the double-story, flat-roofed dwellings of the lower level and the skyward-reaching spires of the top tier—had been given over to growing food. All other goods the inhabitants needed came via the trade guilds and the Merchant Guild. The craft masters could have anything that fit into one of the eight large elevators, whether it came by land or sea, while men like Favin ensured the goods arrived where they were needed.
The groan came again, more of a pained shriek now, like the death cry of a material used too long and too well, as an abrupt slip downward hurled both Teak and Favin to their knees.
Then the sounds stopped.
The downward movement stopped.
And the elevator resumed its unhurried climb.
Sweat pearled on Teak’s brow and upper lip by the time the transparent cabin reached its goal. “Can we… not use this elevator?” He stepped off the floating disk before he turned to ask.
“It will delay deliveries, Councillor.”
“How many journeys do you make in a day?”
“Some days as many as fifty.”
“And the noise and the… jerking… have been getting more frequent?”
“Yes. I’m told the other elevators show the same signs of trouble. And in the upper city, the glass is said to be weeping.”
“That’s what I’ve heard, Councillor. I’ve not seen it.”
“No, of course not.” Servants of Favin’s class had no access to the upper levels. “Thank you, Favin, for bringing this to my attention.”
Favin bowed to the councillor before he set about unloading the cargo into the hands of the waiting servants. The council would decide whether to shut down the elevator or keep it running. He’d done as much as he could do, given his station. He’d said his piece and had had a councillor listen.
He continued with his work, until words drifting through a half-open door stopped him on his way to deliver rolls of parchment and ink to the council chamber.
“Weeping is the only way to describe it, Wark. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“And you think it’s going to be a problem?” The clipped tones were the regent’s and Favin froze where he stood, listening.
“Of course, it’s a problem,” Teak argued. “Go and see for yourself if you don’t believe me. There’s liquid glass welling up out of the column and trickling down its length. What do you think will happen if the glass wears away doing that? Or if the whole column turns to liquid? Will it continue to support the upper level in that state, or will it run into the sea and disappear?”
“Calm yourself, Teak. I’m sure there’s no need for panic.”
“You would know, of course.” Teak said snidely. “But I say you should listen. There’s more than one of those weeping spots in the upper city. The freight elevators jerk and groan, and servants are buying out their contracts, happier to make a life elsewhere than work here.”
Then it is serious, Favin thought, glued to his spot. More serious than I knew. Positions with one of the three gifted guilds were hotly sought. Only the king’s court paid better wages, and with the high prices in the royal city and port of Allengi, those wages didn’t go nearly as far.
“We must deal with this, Wark. Before it is too late.”
“Repairs to the city’s fabric are the task of the glass master. I will make sure he attends to the problem.”
“Minel is an outstanding craft master.” Teak bristled as if he had heard something in Wark’s comment that Favin had not. Something he disagreed with. “Most sought after, despite his youth. His list of commissions is near endless and he earns—”
“There are no other glass masters in the guild. Minel is our only choice if we want to fix the problem you’ve brought to my attention.” Regent Wark sounded oddly gleeful.
“No. You can’t— What if—?”
“You can’t have it both ways, Teak. You can’t bring me a problem and then object when I solve it. Minel’s work and his designs pay a large part of the city’s debts. I’m not so stupid I’d interfere with that. But if the fabric of the city fails, all the money and favours we’re owed will be no use to us. It’s fortunate that Minel cares about nothing but making glass. He doesn’t have the stomach for confrontation. I think… I think this will work out very well. Minel will accept that we direct his work and we can add another treasure to our collection. I have waited long enough.”
Jackie Keswick Bio and Links
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.
For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops, or recipes for traditional English food, join her in Jackie’s Kitchen on Facebook or find her in all the usual places:
I’m excited to welcome to the Rainbow Gate Book Blog author Angel Martinez, with her new release Mage on the Hill.
Angel Martinez has a new MM fantasy book out: The Mage on the Hill.
Toby’s wild magic is killing him. The mage guilds have given up on him, and it’s only a matter of time before he dies in a spectacular, catastrophic bang. His only hope is an exiled wizard who lives in seclusion—and is rumored to have lost his mind.
The years alone on his hilltop estate have not been good for Darius Valstad. After the magical accident that disfigured him and nearly drowned Pittsburgh, he drifts through his days, a wraith trapped in memories and depression. Until a stricken young man collapses on his driveway, one who claims Darius is his last chance.
For the first time in fifteen years, Darius must make a choice—leave this wild mage to his fate or take him in and try to teach him, which may kill them both. The old Darius, brash and commanding, wouldn’t have hesitated. Darius the exile isn’t sure he can find the energy to try.
I don’t understand. He should be finding a minor channel at least. Something. He shouldn’t be at this level of physical distress and still be able to throw so much.
We can’t condone pushing on. Dangerous for him and for everyone in a five-mile radius. We’ll have another Darius situation on our hands.
You’ll tell him?
As soon as he’s able to hear it, yes.
Toby drifted from gray misery to scarlet agony, the voices floating to him in fits and starts. His instructors, the director—they were talking about him and they sounded done with him, just like the previous six guilds that had tossed him to the curb. Wild magic. Unplaceable on the web of Arcana. Unsustainable and eventually deadly. The only remaining bets anyone could make now were how many people he took with him when he went out with a catastrophic bang.
Hands lifted him. The familiar sensations of stretcher and rolling followed him down into the dark.
“What’s this?” Toby peered at the papers on the rolling tray, not quite up to focusing through his pounding headache.
The director pulled a chair close and cleared his throat uncomfortably. “We discussed that this might be a possibility someday, Tobias.”
“We’ve talked about a bunch of stuff.”
Director Whittaker let out a sharp sigh.
“Not saying it to be a smartass, sir. I can’t get my eyes to read this just yet.” Toby shifted on the infirmary bed. His fifth stay in this wing of the guildhall and the mattresses hadn’t managed to grow any more comfortable. “Couple hours I should be able to.”
“Ah. My apologies.” The director returned to a concerned parental pose, hands clasped between his knees as he leaned forward. “These are your separation papers from the Montchanin Guildhall.”
Toby swallowed hard. “You’re giving up on me? Already?”
“I’m so sorry, Tobias.” Director Whittaker patted his arm. “The Kovar method is nearly infallible—”
“Nearly. You said nearly.” Despite his pounding head, Toby sat up, hanging on to the director’s hand as hard as he could. “Please don’t do this. You said you’d help me.”
“We said we would do the best we could. Wild magic…. It’s unusual, certainly, but cases of unplaceable wild magic like yours aren’t unheard of. We should have seen some sign of channeling by now. Some directed trickle that would have let us help you find your place in the web.”
Toby let go to fall back against the pillows, hurting, nauseated, and dizzy. His uncontrolled magical explosions, each one harder on him than the time before, had only been getting more volatile and unpredictable. “I don’t have anywhere else to go. Can’t I stay here? Until, well, until….”
“It’s too dangerous for the other students. For the staff and other guild members.” Director Whittaker took his hand again. “Tobias, you blew a hole in the guidance room’s wall today.”
Ten feet of weapons-grade Kevlar and steel—that shouldn’t have been possible. Holy crap. “Did I hurt anyone?”
“Not today. But I can’t risk lives any further. It’s reached that point where we’ve tried everything we could. When you feel up to it, read the packet. There are several wonderful hospice options nearby. Beautiful places where you’ll be cared for and made comfortable. The guild will take care of you and cover any expenses.”
Drugged to the eyeballs so I won’t do any more damage. Allowed to starve to death in the nicest possible surroundings. Toby closed his eyes, his exhausted brain banging up against walls of possibility, trying to find him a way out. All this time he’d been sure one of the guilds would find a way. They were the experts. Now? Now he was terrified. The experts were telling him he needed to accept his impending death. No, no, no, fuck that. “Sir, who’s Darius?”
“Ah, you heard that, did you?” The director sat back and pulled out a microfiber cloth to give his glasses a meticulous cleaning before he went on. “Darius Valstad caused one of the greatest magical disasters in recent memory. He nearly destroyed Pittsburgh. He pulled magic too far from his channelings, the result much like a wild magic accident. The catastrophe was narrowly averted.”
“Oh. That sounds about as bad as it gets. What happened to him?”
“He nearly died. His guild status was revoked, his teaching of any more students forbidden.”
Toby turned that over a few times, his brain fumbling and dropping concepts along the way. “So, but he’s still alive?”
“As far as I know. He lives in isolation, oh, not far from here, with the promise that he will no longer attempt anything beyond personal magic.”
“But he was once like me? And he lived?” Toby knew it was conclusion jumping, but he was desperate enough to reach for anything.
The director’s sigh was slower this time, more melancholy. “Tobias, he found his channels long ago, both his major and minor Arcana. Yes, he lives because as long as he respects the web, his magic won’t tear him apart. He had some early success with teaching unplaceables, but Pittsburgh was the ultimate result of his unorthodox methods.”
“Yes, sir. Of course.”
Director Whittaker rose with one last pat to Toby’s shoulder. “Get some rest. We’ll talk again in the morning. Please keep in mind we’re not simply turning you out onto the street. We want to be certain you’re looked after properly.”
Toby nodded, no longer trusting his voice. He didn’t turn his head to watch the director leave, staring at the white ceiling tiles instead. Ugly ceiling tiles. Places where you have to lie in bed like hospitals and infirmaries should have nice ceilings with meadows and bunnies painted on them. I don’t want to die. Oh gods… I don’t want to die.
In the world of the Web of Arcana, mages live alongside normal humans, sharing most of their society. Groceries, real estate purchases, technology – for most things, a mage’s life isn’t any different from regular humans. But they have authorities and laws of their own in addition to regular human government and some parts of life are necessarily kept separate.
Birth, since magic can get loose during a mage delivery.
School, since mage children need to learn things not in a public school curriculum.
Death—since at the end of things, control can slip.
If you’re thinking that death has been on my mind a lot recently, as in the last couple of years, you would be correct. My mom, his dad, aunts, cousins, in-laws, the cat who had been my companion for twenty-four years, there’s been a bit of it to deal with. While some hit harder than others, when attending multiple funerals in a short space of time, you start observing how people react to death and dying.
That second part is a bigger piece of it than people are ready for. People talk about the stages of grief and funeral arrangements, executors and after-effects. I don’t think we talk enough about the process of dying.
My mom’s deterioration from Alzheimer’s took years, as it often does. For the most part, we kept her home except for a couple of hospital/rehab facility stays because of pneumonia and such. Eventually, she began to lose mobility and her doctor started making house visits and talking to us about hospice. Dad was very resistant to hearing about it. The old view of hospice is that you leave someone there to die. Of course, that’s not the case, and the doctor emphasized something that Dad and I both needed to have said. Alzheimer’s is a terminal diagnosis, even though it takes years sometimes.
There are a lot of hospice options and we opted for in-home. The hospice workers acted as support, physical help, equipment wranglers, and educators. They were wonderful. They helped us, all of us, through this process of dying every step of the way and cried with us when it was over. A few months later, the family opted for in-hospital hospice for my father-in-law, and again, the environment was one of quiet, gentle support and information.
Not everyone needs to or has the chance to go through this process, but it’s made a huge impression on me, as you can probably tell. So when I wrote The Mage on the Hill, I wanted to be sure there was a hospice option for mages at the end of their lives. While their hospice system is also used for another purpose, that’s not the fault of hospice. I wanted to have beautiful, well-run facilities available so that elderly mages and their families could have that choice, to be eased through the process.
Not the most lighthearted post – sorry about that. But when you encounter the hospice system in the story, I hope I’ve made it clear that the wonderful hospices themselves were not the problem.
The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, gave birth to one amazing son, and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.
Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.
Thank you OWI and Angel for including the Rainbow Gate Book Blog as a stop on your tour. Congrats on the release, and best of luck. Readers, I appreciate you stopping by to read, and as always, your comments are quite welcome.
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.
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!