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.
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.
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 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.
Today, Romance Across the Rainbow joyfully welcomes J. Scott Coatsworth and his blog tour for his new release, Ithani. So good to have you here again, Scott!
The final MM sci fi book in J. Scott Coatsworth’s “Oberon Cycle” trilogy is out – “Ithani”!
Time is running out.
After saving the world twice, Xander, Jameson and friends plunge headlong into a new crisis. The ithani–the aliens who broke the world–have reawakened from their hundred millennia-long slumber. When Xander and Jameson disappear in a flash, an already fractured world is thrown into chaos.
The ithani plans, laid a hundred thousand years before, are finally coming to pass, and they threaten all life on Erro. Venin and Alix go on a desperate search for their missing and find more than they bargained for. And Quince, Robin and Jessa discover a secret as old as the skythane themselves.
Will alien technology, unexpected help from the distant past, destiny and some good old-fashioned firepower be enough to defeat an enemy with the power to split a world? The final battle of the epic science fiction adventure that began in Skythane will decide the fate of lander and skythane alike. And in the north, the ithani rise…
Venin stood under the dome of the chapel, the waters of the Orn rushing past the small island to crash over the edge of the crater rim, where they fell a thousand meters to the broken city of Errian below.
The Erriani chapel was different from what he was used to back home. The Gaelani chapel in Gaelan had sat at the top of a tall pillar of stone, open to the night sky, a wide space of grass and trees that intertwined in a natural dome through which moonlight filtered down to make dappled shadows on the ground.
This chapel, instead, was a wonder of streaming sunlight, the columns a polished eggshell marble with glimmering seams of gold. Red creeper vines climbed up the columns, festooned with clusters of yellow flowers that gave off a sweet scent.
Both were bright and airy, but the Erriani chapel lay under a dome supported by fluted marble columns, a painted arch of daytime sky and the rose-colored sun blazing overhead.
The last time he’d gone to chapel had been with Tazim, before his untimely death.
Long before the troubles that roiled the world now.
Something drew him back. A need to reconnect with his past. To bridge the gap between then and now, between who he was and who he had become. Taz would have liked this place.
The chapel here had survived the attack, while much of Errian had not. The city below was a jumble of broken corrinder, the multistory plants that were the main building stock for the city. They would grow again, but the sight of the city’s beautiful white towers laid low struck him to the core.
So had Gaelan looked, after the flood.
Venin turned back to the chapel and unlaced his boots, baring his muscular calves before he approached the fountain that splashed at its center. The cool flagstone beneath his feet sent a shiver up his spine, and green moss filled the gaps between the stones.
Some builder whose name was lost to time had tapped into the river itself to make the fountain run, and the water leapt into the air with a manic energy around the golden statue of Erro, before falling back down to the pool.
Venin knelt at the fountain’s edge on one of the well-worn pads, laid his hands in the shallow water, and let his wings rest over himself, making a private place to pray.
Erro and Gael, spare us from danger and lift us up into the sky with your powerful wings. He gave Erro deference, being that this was his chapel, but he hoped Gael would hear him too. The god of his own people had been known to intervene in mortal affairs before, and if what Quince had told them about these ithaniwas true, they would need all the help they could get.
Venin’s wings warmed.
He looked up in astonishment to see the statue of Erro giving off an intense golden glow. His mouth dropped open, and he stood and stared at its beautiful male curves and muscles. Maybe the gods were answering him.
Venin reached up and touched the statue’s outstretched hand. The shock knocked him backward onto his ass, and he hit the ground hard, slamming into one of the marble columns.
Venin groaned, stunned, and reached back to feel his wings and spine. He seemed to be in one piece.
Taz would have laughed his ass off at the whole thing.
After a moment he sat up cautiously. He wrapped his arms around his legs and stared up at the statue, his chin on his knees.
The glow was gone.
Did I imagine it? He stood and felt the back of his head. A lump was already forming there. That’s gonna leave a mark.
Something had changed. Venin didn’t know what yet, but he was sure of that much.
He pulled his boots back on and laced them up. With one last suspicious glare at the statue, he turned and stepped out of the chapel, taking a deep breath of the moisture-laden air.
Then he leapt into the sky to soar down to the broken city.
Guest Post: Full Circle
Sometimes things come full circle.
Six years ago, I was an unpublished wannabe writer who had lost his way, knocked down by an across-the-board rejection of his first novel two decades before. I had gone almost twenty years without really writing, following other paths, but always wondering what might have been.
I ran across Robert Frost’s famous poem today, one I haven’t read in years:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
For years I lived with the doubt—the thought that I had taken the easy path, the road more traveled. Could I have made it as a writer, if I had just persevered two decades ago? Or were all those editors right?
Was I a talentless hack? My words, not theirs.
We were on vacation in Seattle, and Mark found out that one of his favorite authors, Rick Reed, was doing a reading at the University Bookstore. We decided to go, and ended up getting four authors for the price of one.
Rick read this really off the wall tale about gay guys and cats… even he said it was “either the best thing I have written, or the worst.” But although it was strange, it was still great to hear him read from his own work in progress—a real live published author.
One of the other authors at the reading was Lou Sylvre. I remember her well. She had such a presence, such an authory something that was immensely appealing to me. She read from one of her “Vásquez and James” books. I remember going up to her and telling her how I wanted to get back into writing, and how much I had enjoyed the reading.
After that, I started writing again, thanks in large part to a kick in the pants my husband gave me. But that reading was an inspiration—meeting these four amazing authors lit a fire under me to become like them.
Fast forward to last fall, when I was boarding a shuttle bus on the way to the annual Dreamspinner Retreat in Orlando—and who should I run into?
We’d both traveled different roads over the previous five years, roads that were not without their twists and bumps, but suddenly here we were.
And she remembered me!
This time we were both on the published author side of the fence.
We hit it off, and we hung out together and had a great time together at the retreat. And I told her how much she had inspired me.
Sometimes things come full circle, and we find ourselves in the place we always dreamed we would be. I’ve published six novels now with a seventh on the way, and twenty novellas and short stories. I am the author I wanted to be, six years ago in a brightly lit bookstore in Seattle.
And Lou Sylvre, who was there when it started, was also there to welcome me into the pantheon of writers. It’s kinda poetic, pardon the pun.
I finally took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.
Scott lives with his husband of twenty five years in a Sacramento suburb, in a cute little yellow house with a brick fireplace and two pink flamingoes out front.
He inhabits in the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into science fiction and fantasy by his mom at the tender age of nine, he quickly finished her entire library. But he soon began to wonder where all the queer people were.
After coming out at twenty three, he started writing the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Crown Books. If there weren’t many queer characters in his favorite genres, he would will them into existence, subverting them to his own ends. And if he was lucky enough, someone else would want to read them.
His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently than most – he makes connections between ideas that others don’t, and somehow does more in a day than most people manage in a week. Although born an introvert, he forced himself to reach outside himself, and learned to connect with others like him.
Scott’s stories subvert expectations that transform traditional science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something different and unexpected. He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark.
His romance and genre fiction writing brings a queer energy to his stories, filling them with love, beauty and power. He imagines how the world could be – in the process, he hopes to change the world, just a little.
Scott was recognized as one of the top new gay authors in the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and his debut novel “Skythane” received two awards and an honorable mention.
You can find him at Dreamspinner here, Goodreads here, on Amazon here, on QueeRomance Ink here, and on Facebook here.
Note from Lou: Congratulations on the release, Scott, and thanks for that wonderful guest post, which touches my heart. I’m very glad you took that less traveled road and we met upon it. Thanks OWI, and thank you readers for stopping by. As always, comments are welcome.
Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to shine a spotlight on J.R. Loveless’s new holiday romance, Blue Christmas, which sounds like an intriguing read a bit different from the average story of the holiday season. And isn’t that cover a showstopper?
Christmas used to be a time of joy for me, but since my mother’s death three years ago the holiday has lost all meaning, becoming nothing but a harsh reminder of what I’ve lost. I’ve become bitter and skeptical of everyone around me, and the cold aloofness has kept me from being hurt that deeply again. But this year the thought of yet another blue Christmas alone sends me on a path that will change my life forever.
Somehow, I managed to fall into a restless sleep and before I knew it the nurse came in to wake me up and bring me breakfast. I scowled at her as she raised my bed and set the tray on the table before me. I grimaced at the dried out eggs and hard toast. There was no way I’d eat this so I just pushed the table away. “Where are my clothes?” I demanded of her.
“They’re in the closet over by the bathroom, dear. Everything you came in with is in there.” She made a notation on my chart at the foot of my bed and then left the room.
I wanted to be gone before Carter got there. I slid from the bed, gripping the back of the gown closed. Cold air slipped under the hem and I winced at how chilly the tile felt on my feet. Everything was where she’d said. I bundled my clothes together and headed into the bathroom to get dressed. Maybe I underestimated Carter because when I came back out, he sat in the same chair from last night, a magazine propped open on one knee.
He looked up and smiled. “Ah, good, you’re already dressed. I took the liberty of going into your apartment and grabbing a coat for you since you were brought in without one last night. Also the little girl who lives next door to you wanted me to tell you Simba is okay and she’ll take care of him until you get home.”
I tightened my lips into a flat line. “I’m not going anywhere with you. I’ll take a cab home.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m already here and besides we have to stop at the lot and pick out a tree. Oh, I went by my parents’ house and snagged some of their decorations. My mom has so much of them she insisted I take some of hers.” Carter stood and held out the jacket. It was my favorite one, the one my mom had given me the year before she started to get sick. Though a little worn in some places, it still provided enough warmth against the chilly winds and snow.
“Thank you,” I said stiffly. “But I really don’t need a tree or decorations.”
Once again, he didn’t listen to me and waved away my refusal. “You can make me dinner on Christmas Eve and we’ll call it even.”
I shook my head and started to tell him no once again when the door opened and one of the orderlies came in with a wheelchair. “I can walk,” I protested.
“Hospital policy. Please have a seat, Mr. Lords. You’ll be out of here in no time.” The orderly gestured to the wheelchair.
With a sigh, I gave in and settled into it, embarrassed once again. Carter just silently followed along, a smile on his face. Once the papers were signed and I was outside of the front doors, I got out of the chair. I stepped in the direction of the nearest taxi, but Carter grabbed my arm and led me toward the parking garage. “I can walk on my own,” I said, disturbed at his touch and nearness.
“Of course you can. I just wanted to make sure you were heading the right direction,” he soothed. He stopped at a red pickup truck, unlocked the passenger door and opened it, waiting for me to get in. I glared at him, but slipped into the front seat. I breathed a sigh of relief to be out of the cold air, huddling deeper into my jacket.
Carter loped around the front of the truck and slid into the driver’s seat. Christmas music played from the speakers when the engine started. I crossed my arms and turned my head to stare out of the window as he drove.
About the author:
J.R. Loveless is a native Floridian who spends her days in an office physically, but mentally is frolicking between the pages of her imagination. Writing has been a lifelong passion for J.R. and she has pursued it from an early age, even winning awards in school and finally beginning her life as a published author in 2010.
She is a self-confessed Potterhead spending her days with her three furbabies and enjoying the major chapters on her long journey through life. One day she hopes to visit far off places and have grand adventures like those of the characters in her stories.
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!