Category Archives: New M/M releases

Eon de Beaumont: Rum and Ginger (delicious!)

Hi! Lou Sylvre here with just a word of welcome for author Eon de Beaumont, who serves up a lovely thirst-quencher: Rum and Ginger Yum! Please enjoy the little taster below, and if you’d like leave a comment to let him know you did!

Greetings! My name is Eon de Beaumont and I’ve written my very first contemporary story for Dreamspinner Press. This post is part of a promotional blog tour I’m undertaking to celebrate the release of Rum & Ginger, The Connection: Book One. The story is very character oriented so I’m going to introduce you to each of the major characters in each of these blog posts and give you some background about how they fit in the world and how I came up with them. Let’s talk about Brodie.

Brodie Felix is a young, tattooed bartender who catches the eye of the main character, Ben Silver. Brodie is a fun, impulsive musician. He represents everything that’s lacking in Ben’s current relationship but Ben’s loyalty prevents him from pursuing Brodie. That doesn’t prevent Brodie from trying, at least until he finds out Ben is taken and then Brodie does his best to just be friends.

Brodie has also been out since he discovered he was gay, another thing Ben envies a great deal. Brodie is unabashedly and unapologetically himself. He and Ben discover that they have a lot in common and it gets harder and harder for the two of them to ignore their feelings. I really created Brodie as a foil for Chance. He’s literally Chance’s exact opposite. Brodie also has an insight into bar ownership and management that could really help Ben when he wants to open his bar. It’s a very delicate situation. To find out if it’s a situation that gets resolved, you’ll have to check out Rum and Ginger.

Here’s the blurb:
Ben Silver’s personal dream is to open the first gay bar in Liamsport, Pennsylvania. The town isn’t exactly open-minded, but that’s not why Ben stays in the closet. Chance, Ben’s computer nerd boyfriend, is deathly afraid of anyone finding out he’s gay. On a night out, Ben meets Brodie Felix, a younger, heavily tattooed bartender who lights a spark in Ben’s heart. Although the spark in his relationship with Chance has dwindled to almost nothing, Ben feels guilty for wanting to be single, for wanting another man, so he tries to forget about Brodie.

But when Ben discovers one of Chance’s own secrets, he’s forced to make a difficult choice.

On his own for the first time in his life, Ben can be open with his family and friends. Though honesty has its benefits, his life isn’t perfect. Ben’s circle of friends and family is growing. So is the spark between him and Brodie, and Ben hopes it will grow into a flame. His dream remains out of his grasp, but with a little help and a lot of work, he might yet serve his favorite rum and ginger ale at his own establishment, the first gay bar in his hometown.

Let’s have a look at the scene where Ben and Brodie first meet. You can connect with me on Facebook or follow my Twitter: @mascaraboy13 for updates and announcements. I hope you enjoy the excerpt and if you’re interested, there’s a buy link following. (Lou’s note: You can also click the cover image to open the buy link.) Thanks!

Excerpt:
Ben drove into the municipal lot a few blocks from the Bill and Vinny. He didn’t plan on drinking that much, but a few blocks walk couldn’t hurt at the end of the night. Ben turned the key, cutting Robert Smith off midlament. He looked at his phone before he opened the door. He should text Chance. What I should really do is invite him along, Ben thought. He wouldn’t come. Ben knew it. Chance rarely wanted to go out, and when he did, it was usually to the theater or a movie. Ben shrugged. Maybe tonight would be different.
Heading 2 the B&V w/ Lena. Wanna join? Ben typed and sent. He waited to see if Chance would reply. Sometimes Ben wondered why Chance even had a phone based on the frequency of his responses. Ben was about to open the door when his phone vibrated.

In the middle of a session. Ben read Chance’s message. A session meant Chance was on his computer, writing fan fiction with some of his Internet buddies. They took turns pretending they were fictional characters. Ben wondered if it was the Harry Potter group or the Avengers nerds.

If u get done b4 I get home, offer stands, Ben answered.

Thanks. Have fun. I won’t wait up.

K. Ben flipped his phone shut, not surprised. He shook his head and stepped out of the car. He pressed the lock button as he walked away, noticing Lena’s VW three spaces from his own. Ben always felt a little guilty having fun without Chance. But why should I? Ben thought. I’m an adult. And it’s only a couple of drinks. He tried to shake off his ill mood as he approached the bar, looking up at the sign and smiling. The bar looked like any of a dozen bars downtown but for the sign. Mike had chosen the classic woodcut picture of William Shakespeare and the famous Van Gogh self-portrait and had them painted to look like they were arm-in-arm and raising pints. It was too hilarious.

As Ben pulled open the door, a gust of smoky, warm air rushed out to meet him, carrying the sounds of a busy bar, music, laughter, and conversation. The one drawback to Mike’s, in Ben’s opinion, was the thick haze of smoke that lingered constantly within. Mike didn’t serve food, so the B&V remained one of a handful of bars where people could still smoke inside.

Ben couldn’t believe the B&V was this busy on a Tuesday. The bar was packed. He stood at the door and scanned the room for Lena. “ID?” the guy at the door asked. Ben thought his name was Curt. Ben dug out his wallet and handed the bouncer his driver’s license with a little satisfaction. Ben was closing in on thirty and relished those times when others couldn’t tell. “Thanks,” the guy said and returned Ben’s ID. “Have a good one.”
Ben nodded and smiled. “I’ll try,” he answered. Then he waded into the sea of bodies gathered here and there in groups, talking, drinking. He still couldn’t see Lena.

Although he did see a disproportionate amount of young hotties. And they looked strangely enough like jocks. The B&V wasn’t a sports bar. Ben wondered what had drawn these guys to this bar. A round of cheers erupted. Ben looked over to see Lena sitting on two beefcakes’ shoulders.

“Ben!” she shouted, waving him over. “Ben-Ben! Get over here! Put me down, boys.” She patted her supporters, and they lowered her to the floor. Lena threw her arm around Ben’s shoulders.

“What’s up, Lena?” Ben asked, returning the embrace. Judging by the way his friend leaned on him, she’d already had more than a few drinks.

“Look at all these little beauties,” she almost slurred, guiding him to the bar. “Get me a vodka and tonic. I have to pee.”

“Delightful,” Ben said with a theatrical grimace. “Just go.” He waved her off as she stuck her tongue out. He grinned at his friend as he pulled a few bills from his pocket and turned back to the bar. Everybody knew orders were taken faster if you showed cash. Ben rested his elbows on the edge of the counter.

He discreetly scanned the room, surveying the massive amount of eye candy. The ratio of men to women was seriously skewed and the pool table busier than he’d seen it in a while, crowded with young men. “Getcha somethin’?” Ben turned toward the voice behind the bar.

His gaze fell on a bartender he didn’t recognize, and Ben’s voice stuck in his throat. The bartender was a vision: lean, tall, with a jaunty fauxhawk of dark hair fading to red at the tips. The young man had beautiful caramel-brown eyes beneath mischievously arched brows. His lips were full, and his mouth quirked in the perfect grin. He was exactly the opposite of Ben’s basically clean-cut style.

“I, uh. My friend,” Ben stuttered. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to will the heat he felt on his cheeks to go away. “Vodka tonic for my friend,” he finally managed.
“Anything for you?” the pretty bartender asked. He’d already grabbed a highball glass and placed it on the bar. As he dropped ice into the glass, Ben noticed his arms were covered in tattoos, accentuated by a sleeveless dress shirt.

“Rum and ginger ale,” Ben said without thinking.

“Right.” The bartender smiled and nodded, pouring vodka with one hand and retrieving another highball glass with the other. Ben thought the man’s easy movements were like poetry. Glass, ice, pour, and a spray of soda, both hands working independently. “That’ll be six,” the bartender said, dropping black stirrers into the drinks and passing them across. Ben handed over two fives and the bartender turned to the register. Ben took advantage, checking out the view the bartender’s skinny jeans offered. Ben averted his eyes quickly when the bartender turned. “Four’s your change.” Ben accepted the bills and laid two on the bar. “Thanks.” The bartender flashed a smile. Ben returned a smile of his own before sipping from the stirrer like a straw in a decidedly unmasculine gesture.

“What are you doing?” Lena asked as she grabbed her drink from the bar. “You look like a little kid.” She took a long sip from her glass, ignoring her stirrer as Ben released his tiny straw, feeling self-conscious.

“What’s with all the hot boys?” Ben asked, his voice raised to combat the new round of music from the jukebox.

“Mike’s brother just turned twenty-one.” Lena took another sip of her drink, smiling at a much younger man across the pool table.

“So what?” Ben said as he tipped his glass to his mouth, attempting a more mature manner of sipping but poking himself just below the eye with the stirrer. He plucked the thing from his drink and threw it in an ashtray on the bar.

Buy link:
Dreamspinner Press

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, guest authors, New M/M releases

Sue Brown’s “A Cock in the Window” Blog Tour Stop (with 2 chances to win a cock!)

Welcom to Sue Brown’s A COCK IN THE WINDOW Blog Tour!

Sue Brown Cock in the Window header

Hello, my name is Kit Stone and I’m taking A Cock in the Window on tour for Sue Brown before its publication on Friday 20th December. You haven’t met me before. I’m thirty-six years old, grey eyes, have most of my hair and am just under six feet tall. Brad Pitt I’m not, but I don’t crack mirrors. I own a gift shop in a seaside town and carve cocks (not the chicken variety).

The fabulous Alex Corza designed the covers with a 1950s noir feel. I say covers because even before A Cock in the Window’s publication, it’s had more than one cover.

Steve (that’s my special someone) wanted to have a say in the cover but honestly, for a man as gorgeous as he is, he has no taste. Then again, look at his home (HINT: you’ll visit his home in the book). He’s just as quick to point out that at least you can see the surfaces in his home. This is true. My shop and flat are ‘cluttered’. This is a polite term, you understand.

He wanted this cover *nods below*. Jean who runs the local hairdressers saw the cover and pointed out rather tartly that no one had lost their arm – yet. In fact our killer is very neat. I’m not giving anything away here. It does say MURDER MYSTERY on the front. Steve sulked but he agreed once I took him to bed. My man is easily pleased and he pleases me.

Sue Brown cover with arm

This [below] was going to be the original cover, and winners of the blog tour will get an ebook with this cover. Sadly booksellers are throwing a wobbler at the moment so a less… um… suggestive cover will be on the book that is for sale. The fabulous Alexa Corza produced the covers for me and over the next few stops I’ll show you some more of the options on our journey.
Sue Brown cover with cock

Excerpt:

“People kill for the strangest of reasons.” Jean seems oblivious to the unspoken conversation flowing around her. “I remember my aunt being accused of murdering the woman next door over the affections of the milkman. Turns out it was the poor woman’s sister who bashed her brains in with a golf club, over some inheritance their grandmother had left them.”

That was so Jean I have to laugh, and Steve relaxes enough to chuckle.

“Kit, we have to go, but we’ll be back to talk to you about the shoot,” Jack says, adding hastily, “Of the short, not a person.”

“Cool.” I say goodbye to the boys, grinning to myself as they use the farewells to grope Steve.

By the end of it he’s mussed and really pleased when the door closes behind them.

Jean is highly amused. “I think I went into the wrong profession. I get all the old dears and you get hot young men. Where did I go wrong?”

“Don’t give me that,” I scoff. “I’ve seen the hot guys you’ve had working for you over the years and not all of them were gay.”

Jean gets a smug look on her face. “Well, some of the clients prefer a man taking care of them.”

“I know just how they feel,” Steve says, slapping my arse.

For an old lady Jean has a really dirty laugh. “I’ll leave you to it, boys.”

Sue can be found:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The blog tour finishes at http://ukgayromance.co.uk/ on Friday 20th December and prizes will be drawn at 10pm GMT. Leave a comment with your email address here or anywhere along the blog tour to take part.

My previous stops on the tour were at:
• 6th Dec. Sue Brown
• 7th Dec. Talon PS

My next stop is on Tuesday 10th at:
• Sara York

PRIZES

1st Prize – Wooden Cock
Plus a copy of A Cock in the Window with original cover (mobi, epub or PDF)
Plus $10 Amazon gift voucher

2nd prize – Wooden Cock
Plus a copy of A Cock in the Window with original cover (mobi, epub or PDF)

3rd Prize x3
A copy of A Cock in the Window with original cover (mobi, epub or PDF)

This is Lou Sylvre thanking Kit Stone for visiting, Sue Brown for writing the book, and Sue Brown again for two chances to win a wooden cock. Oh my.

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Filed under guest authors, M/M romance, New M/M releases

Saving Sonny James Road Trip–London (A friend, some food, sex for dessert)

SavingSonnyJames_FBbanner_DSP

Comment on this post to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

London: Being the third stop in the Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour Vasquez and James adventure

Sonny slept the whole way from Ashford to King’s Cross Station in London. It wasn’t a long trip, but as they deboard Sonny thinks Luki must be getting tired of that scenario–he’d slept from France to England too.

“I’m sorry, Luki.”

Luki looked slightly up into Sonny’s eyes, something close to confusion written on his face. “I don’t mind, baby. If you need to sleep, sleep. Gather your strength.”

“C’mon, Luki. Don’t pretend I’m not boring you silly.”

“True story is, Mr. Sonny James, you’re an awful sweet husband to cuddle, and your various snores keep me interested.”

“I don’t snore.”

“Will you teach me how to record with my phone, so I can play it back it next time?”

London night wiki 799px-Thames_Night_Pan

They’ve arrived in London just as dark has fallen, though the lights of the millenium city keep the deepest dark at bay and almost hide the moon and stars. They’ve contacted Brian Harrison, Luki’s former agent who, in the tale told in Finding Jackie helped rescue Luki’s teenage nephew from a nightmare. He left Luki’s employ and came to London to escape Jackie, because–even though he’s only a few years older–he knew the feelings he had for the childlike but scarily mature seventeen-year-old would have to wait until Jackie dealt with demons and came of age.

But instead of breaking the fever, the separation has cured Brian’s feelings into a low-level but ever present yearning, a haunting kind of love. Sonny never knew him well, but he knew the story, and the minute he saw Brian’s face in the light outside Cannon Street station, he read the loneliness there and understood its source. He glanced at Luki to see if he read his former agent as well. An expression passed over Luki’s face, perhaps of puzzlement. It seemed he knew something wasn’t right, but he didn’t know what.

“Hey, Luki! Sonny! It’s good to see you. You look tired–probably too much travel. I didn’t even know you guys were over on this side of the Atlantic. Did you go to France for a delayed honeymoon, or something?”

“Well–” Luki started to answer.

“Yes,” Sonny interjected. “Paris is something else.” He had no desire to relive for Brian the nightmare Lou Sylvre (their author) had put them through in Saving Sonny James.

“Well,” Brian chuckled, “I’ve never been there. Maybe someday… if I ever have a honeymoon…”

“He’ll be eighteen in a couple months, you know.” Sonny wanted to chuckle seeing Luki’s surprise, quickly followed by the dawn of understanding, but he didn’t want to seem flippant.

Brian stayed silent as they walked away from the station entrance, then said. “I hope you don’t mind–we’re not far from my neighborhood–I share a flat near the college with some other students. I thought we’d just take the bus.”

“Sure,” Luki said. “So how are you doing? School? Everything else?”

“School’s good–a lot to learn as you probably already know, boss.” He smiled.

Luki raised his eyebrows and nodded. “Yeah, a lot of new stuff since I was in school, and I’m sure you’re better suited to learn it. But what about everything else?”

Brian laughed, low and not really with much humor. “Well, I know he’s going to be eighteen soon–thanks for the reminder Sonny–but I’ll wait. He’s got other stuff to figure out. I send him a card every now and then, he texts me thanks, but nothing else.”

“Sorry, Brian,” Luki said.

“Brian,” Sonny said, “if it’s meant to be it will. If you’re waiting, it’s only because you choose to wait, and think it’s worth waiting for something that’s not a sure bet. I’d lay my money down betting someday the two of you will have something together, but of course none of us know.”

“Hey, Luki, ever eat a lamburger?”

Sonny smiled, understanding Brian’s remark as a permanent change of subjct.

Luki looked a bit lost, “Um…”

“I know a place, called The Don Bistro, where they serve a fabulous one. I think you’ll like it as much as much as Dick’s Drive-in’s hamburgers.”

They stopped first at Brian’s apartment, and Sonny felt a little shell-shocked. Luki looked a lot shell-shocked. After they’d taken in the smell, the stack of fly-strewn dishes, and the apparently drunken state of two of Brian’s roommates, they looked at each other and by unspoken agreement kissed each other to keep from embarrassingly loud laughter.

Luki whispered in Sonny’s ear. “Oh my god, baby, I’ve never been so glad to be forty-two!”

Brian said, “Uh… well, listen if you guys aren’t too tired for another bus ride, let’s go eat.”

They did. The Don was fabulous. Luki had the recommended lamburger The Don Smithens Lane London bistro-0111with carmelized onions, and Sonny had a rib-eye, Scottish beef, with mushrooms. They both had fries and local beer chosen by Brian. Brian, it turned out had become a vegetarian, and had risotto with veggies and gorgonzola, and bean salad.

After a fabulous dinner completed by great conversation and Luki’s repeated promise that he’d rehire the young man whenever he wanted, they thanked Brian, Luki slipped money into Brian’s coat, and they decided to get a hotel room rather than try to brave Brian’s apartment for the night.

On the street, watching for a cab, Luki put an arm around Sonny–protecting him from anything that might be hiding in the fog, Sonny thought.

Luki said, “I know a place I think you’d like, Sonny. Called the Hand and Flower. It’s a bit out of the way–Chelsea, I think. But we’ll have time to get to the airport tomorrow without rushing. What do you think? Not exactly luxury, but… history, and, um… beauty, maybe.”

“Beauty?”

“I think so. I can’t explain.”

london hand and flower street They went, and Sonny did love the polished wood, decorative iron work railings, lush colors and papers on the wall. The Hand and Flower had history, and that made it feel rich to Sonny, luxurious even though the quarters seemed a bit cramped.


He walked around the small suite, carrying his bottle of wine, but when he saw the bed…

“Luki, let’s go to bed.”

“You’re tired again, baby?”

“No. I don’t think so. Not at all, at the moment. See?” He looked down at the bulge that had developed behind his zipper.

***
cocksox-mens-boxer- Sonny's shorts

Luki’s eyes followed Sonny’s lead, seemingly of their own accord, though Ms. Sylvre always says that can’t be true–autonomous body parts and all. Still, Ms. Sylvre never has had an erection, or (apparently) unruly eyes that go where their lover leads.

“Yes,” Luki said. “But I’d like to see more.”

Sonny smiled, giggled even, and with a flourish of his free hand, reached for his zipper. Ever so slowly, he un-zipped, revealing–yes, you guessed it–red silk beneath. He took his hand away, pushing his jeans down just a bit, and his penis gave a mighty push at the silk, trying to break free (ABP again), but only succeeding in peeking out.

Luki’s breath escaped in a loud puff, and he took the wine bottle from Sonny and plunked it on the side table. Then he pushed his body against Sonny until his sweet, beautiful husband fell back on the bed, his mouth already wet and craving a taste of his favorite dessert–husband, hot and a la creme.

koisuru_boukun__color_version__by_samy_consu-d614r3c (google free to U or S)

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Filed under Contests, New M/M releases, Saving Sonny James, Vasquez & James

The Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour Calendar: Do your planning here, prizes to be had!

SavingSonnyJames_bookmarkV_DSP Saving Sonny James is out now and available at Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more. To celebrate their new happy ending, the guys have decided on a a road trip vacation. I insisted they take me along to turn it into a blog tour so all of you can go, too. (I have to ride in the backseat of the Mustang…)

This isn’t just any road trip though, because they cross the Atlantic, visit the Southern Hemisphere, and land accidentally in a strange, post-apolcalyptic world. In order to make it easier to keep up and enter all the drawings for prizes, I thought you might like a calendar itinerary. Here it is, but precise links and prizes will be updated as we proceed!

  • 10/18: Sonny James and Luki Vasquez start their trip home from France, taking the Chunnel train, at The Novel Approach. 1st prize Saving Sonny James signed paperback (or ebook if preferred) and $15 to spend at Dreamspinner Press; 2nd prize Saving Sonny James ebook
  • 10/19: Off the train at Ashford, Kent, England, heading for London, at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews. 1st Prize $15 to spend at Dreamspinner; 2nd Prize Saving Sonny James ebook.
  • Also Meet the Author (that’s me) Goodreads chat, on Dreamspinner Group discussions! Here’s the precise link, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Pacific Time, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM Eastern. Excerpts, discussion, prize! (Dreamspinner discussion board)

  • 10/20: London! Right here at this sylvre.com blog. For prize info see the Rafflecopter post.
  • 10/21: New Hampshire (yes they will have made it back to the USA!), fittingly at the blog of New Hampshire writer, Jamie Fessenden.
  • 10/22: We take a hiatus from travel for a release party at The Dreamspinner Blog–here be contests, excerpts, history, pictures, and a chance for enjoyable discussion. Please come!
  • 10/25: Uh-oh. On their way to Ohio, to visit at Elizabeth Noble’s blog, Emotion in Motion, when something crazy happens… Todd… Todd Ruger, is that you? Yes, prizes will be had.
  • 10/26: A spot of simple promo at Cafe Risque, hosted by Cardeno C!
  • 10/27: New Zealand? How the hell do you get to New Zealand in a Mustang? Find out at Anne Barwell’s Drops of Ink.
  • Back to the States once again–in Texas! San Antonio, the lovely, romantic Riverwalk, made (even more) famous by the sexy characters of our host, Carol Zampa!
  • 10/30: Visiting at Charlie Cotchet’s blog–agenda, etc to be announced!
  • 11/2: Chris T. Kat will be our host! Hmmm… what to do, what to do?
  • 11/5: Luki and Sonny will take Rhys Ford’s blog and San Diego, CA by storm. (They will… just wait and see. And I’m pretty sure a prize will be up for grabs, too.)
  • 11/8 through 11/11: Well, I’m going to Bent Con in Burbank (yeah, like Los Angeles and Hollywood, only not…) and since the Vasquez-James boys are my transpo, they’re going, too. I’ll post their odd adventures here, at sylvre.com.
  • 11/13, Recap, and a prize. Here again.

Hope to see you all along the way, here, there, wherever!

SavingSonnyJames_headerbanner

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Filed under Contests, Lou Sylvre, New M/M releases, Saving Sonny James, Vasquez & James

Just Eight Days until Saving Sonny James is officially released by Dreamspinner Press (Yes that’s a buy link, and it’s already available on pre-order… jus’ sayin’). Between now and then, I’ll put together a calendar of related events, which should include some fun stuff including giveaways, and character shenanigans. I’ll be posting information here, facebook, Goodreads, The Romance Reviews, and possibly elsewhere, too. Keep an eye peeled, because I truly hope you’ll join me for some good times. Meanwhile: beautiful cover! (Again)

Vasquez and James Suspense Series #4

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, Lou Sylvre, New M/M releases, Saving Sonny James, Vasquez & James

A Chinchilla Shifter? Alex Kidwell on Gumption and Gumshoes

Welcome author Alex Kidwell, here with a few words on challenging oneself as an author, and about her new book. She’s also given us a great excerpt! Read on, and note as always, click on the image for the buy link at the Dreamspinner Press store.

Thank you so much for allowing me to be here today! I’m really excited to be talking about my latest novel, Gumption & Gumshoes. It comes as a whole different tone for me and one that I had a lot of fun doing. G&G started as a prompt from a friend for a chinchilla shifter. What it became was a lighthearted book that nods towards film noir and deals with August Mendez, an overweight, under-motivated guy stuck in a dead end job. August’s most notable quality, in his eyes, is that he actually dared to move an hour away from his close knit herd.

Oh, yeah. And he can change into a furry little chinchilla.

When he gets the chance to pursue his dream and become a detective, things do not go as smoothly as he expected. There’s a case to work, evidence to gather, and oh yeah, his landlord. Sam Ewing, a bitter, older divorcee who gives August all kinds of nervous butterflies. When the two of them start working together, things get really interesting.

One of the most fun things for me, as a writer, to do is to challenge myself to take on new ideas or genres. I’d never really thought about doing a shifter novel before, but from the moment I got the idea of August, I couldn’t put the idea away.

I’d like to share with you an excerpt from Gumption & Gumshoes. It shows the first time we see August shifting, during the course of one of his investigations.

It was dark outside, starting to spit rain. The cars sloshed through the streets, lights reflecting in puddles like melted crayons. Sighing, I tugged on my fedora and power-walked the two blocks to my car. The spot I’d managed to find that morning wasn’t the greatest. And now I was blocked in by an oversized truck and a stupid sporty car that looked like a penis replacement. Fan-friggin-tastic.

Two inches forward. Stop. Reverse three inches. Stop. Crank the wheel left. Forward two inches. Over and over again, while I muttered curses and tried to remember how much my insurance deductible was. Finally I eked out of the spot, pulling out onto the main road and making my way back toward the dry cleaners.

By then I was later than I’d wanted to be, and I barely got parked in a good spot out front when the outside lights were turned off. I could see Jake and a woman who must be Tina moving around inside the shop, doing their closing duties, I imagined. The car engine pinged softly as it cooled, the rain spattered the windshield, and I slouched down in my seat, watching.

Just like a real detective.

Sometimes my life got cool all at once.

And sometimes it was forty-five minutes of sitting in my car, staring at two people mopping a floor. No one was twirling a mustache or tying anyone to train tracks. No obvious signs of chicanery. Just two employees trying to close up shop after a long day.

Damn.

</
Just when I was about to call it a night, there was a flare of light from the alley beside the dry cleaners. I caught sight of Tina taking out two large trash bags to toss them into the bins. When she walked back inside, though, I could still see the faint outline of the door; she hadn’t closed it properly behind her. On purpose? Or maybe the stolen money was leaving with the garbage.

Either way, I knew I had to get in that alley. I could see Tina and Jake turning off lights, moving toward the exit. I took my chance to duck out of my car, cursing quietly when it dinged at me for leaving the keys in the ignition. I darted into the alley, my eyes taking far too long to adjust to the dark. Tripping over my feet, I almost slammed my head into a wall, barely getting my hand up in time to save my nose. There was a flare of pain on my palm, and I hissed in a breath, looking down to barely make out the shimmer of blood. I’d scraped the skin off. Fantastic.

Shaking the sleeve of my hoodie down to cover it, I kept going. I wanted to take a look in those trash bags. The dumpster was sitting open, and I grabbed the closest garbage sack. There was the distinct sour scent of rotting things all mixed together with the pervasive piss smell all alleys seemed to have. Choking a little, eyes watering, I hauled the bag out and ripped it open. It was a lot of paper, huge clumps of lint like basketball-sized tumbleweeds, and I dragged it a little closer to the seam of light creeping out from the ajar door.

I dug through the garbage. There seemed to be a lot of receipts, huge handfuls of them, like they’d been ripped from a book and stuffed in here. I frowned, uncrumpling one, tipping it toward the light so I could read it better. It was just tallying up an order, although I had a momentary thought that it seemed like Petros was charging an awful lot for laundry.

“Hey!” The sharp voice broke my concentration, and I dropped the receipts I was holding, scrambling back. Jake was in the doorway, scowling at me. “What the fuck are you doing?”

Shit, shit, shit. I shoved myself away, stumbling as I struggled to my feet. I saw Jake’s big, meaty hand reaching out for my hoodie. Christ, if that guy caught me, I was mush.

So I took off running. I didn’t run a lot. Or ever. But now the not-so-jolly giant was chasing me, so it seemed like a really good time to start. Heaving in panicked breaths, my sneakers skidding on the wet pavement, I darted out across the street. Horns blared but I didn’t dare stop. I could hear him on my heels, cursing, the sound of his footsteps pounding behind me.

I was going to die. Holy fuck, that giant-ass man was going to kill me.

And that was when I realized I didn’t have my keys. I couldn’t get into the building.

Fuck.

Changing direction at the last second, I dodged into the alley that ran alongside my building. If I could double around, maybe get lost in the foot traffic the next street over, I could shake him. My heartbeat was throbbing in my ears, a stabbing pain in my side with every heaving breath I took. The fear slamming through me with every step, though, kept me desperately throwing myself forward.

The alley wasn’t very long. There were dumpsters and closed doors that I staggered my way past, no help in sight. It was pitch-black; I didn’t see the fence until I slammed into it full force. “No, no, no,” I muttered, frantically grabbing at the chain link, pulling it like I was suddenly going to Hulk out and be able to yank it out of my way.

I was trapped.

There were seconds until Jake came around the corner. There was no way I could face him like I was. So I did the only thing I could think of.

I changed.

It started as an itch in my nose, a prickle along my skin. The world got very big very quickly as I shrank down, the ground rushing up to meet me. The night world flared to life, scents and sounds filling my senses. And then I wasn’t human anymore. My nose twitched, ears pricking at the sound of footsteps. Two sets. I could smell one sweaty human; he stank like cigarettes and jerky. Jake appeared at the end of the alley, searching for me. But there was another man there, the tang of soap and beer, but more importantly behind him was an open doorway.

I zoomed off, nails skidding on the cement, hurtling myself toward the escape. There was the thunder of boots in my way, and I squeaked aloud in terror as I tried to correct course. Before I was stepped on, though, a hand reached down, wrapping around me. There wasn’t time for me to react before I was pushed gently into a huge pocket and left there to tremble. I had no fucking clue what had just happened.

Well, I did. I was a chinchilla in someone’s pocket.

Fuck.

Thank you again for letting me stop by and talk a little bit about G&G! It was a blast to write and I really hope people enjoy it as much as I did.
If anyone has questions or comments for me, I’m more than happy to chat.

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New Release: A Knight to Remember, by Anne Barwell, from Dreamspinner Press 6/28/13

“The last of your line will be in the embrace of a dragon.”
Aric, Crown Prince of Astria, has been brought up to believe that all dragons are evil. But when he speaks with one, he finds himself questioning those beliefs. The dragon tells him to find a sword in Sherwin Forest to save not only his kingdom but also his sister, Georgia, who must otherwise wed the prince of a neighboring kingdom.

At the start of his quest, Aric dons a disguise and meets Denys, an archer and herbalist who lives alone at the edge of the forest. Denys agrees to guide Aric into the forest, but then Georgia appears, revealing Aric’s true identity.

However Aric learns he is not the only one keeping secrets. Denys has a few of his own that could change both of their lives forever.

Anne’s bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

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A Knight to Remember–Anne Barwell’s latest fantasy (Read an excerpt here!)

Knight to Remember-Barwell_headerbanner

“You said you had something to tell me.” Aric cleared his throat, not wishing to reminiscence about such things, at least not now. He was losing his mind, he must be. This was a dream, it had to be. Yet why did it feel so real? “And my name is not Brandric. It’s Aric. Brandric is what my father calls me.”

“Aric, then.” The dragon inclined its head again, lowering its voice. “Your sister is to marry the prince of a neighboring kingdom. This must not be allowed to happen. It will not unite your kingdoms, but is merely a ploy to gain your father’s trust.”

“I already know that.” Aric had heard two of King Malachite’s men talking. Once the marriage had taken place, King Malachite planned to invade Astria and claim it in the name of Logan, his own kingdom. “He… they talked about using magic.” Aric had told his father about what he’d overheard, but he hadn’t been believed. King Malachite, King Brandr assured his son, would not attempt to betray Astria by using the evil that was magic. Nor would he use their children’s marriage to gain control over Astria. He was an honorable man who had stood by Astria and its people many times, their armies united against a common foe. Together they had triumphed over those who might use magic against them, and worked to rid both their lands of the threat of dragons.

Aric had never trusted King Malachite. There was something about the man that made his skin crawl, but if asked to explain, he couldn’t. Only two people had ever believed him: Georgia and Aunt Hannah.

“The only way to fight magic is with magic.” The dragon looked around, then cocked its head to the side as though listening to something Aric could not hear. “You must seek the Sword of Sherwin, Aric. The quest will not only save your kingdom, but also your sister.”

“I….” Aric stared at the dragon. He’d heard of the sword, of course he had. It was an old tale told to him by both his aunt and his mother. The sword was a thing of power. “It doesn’t exist. It’s just a story. Or if it did, it was lost generations ago.” He shook his head. Surely the dragon couldn’t be serious?

“Then it is time it was found again, isn’t it?”

“You make it sound simple. It’s not.” Aric looked up at the dragon. Its eyes were the same color as its scales. They seemed to bore into his own, searching his heart, and his soul. There was something ageless about it, powerful yet lonely. He shivered, and averted his gaze.

“You see what others don’t, young Aric.” The dragon opened its wings. Aric gasped. They were the length of several men, black cobwebs of fine leather and scale. “Follow your heart, and trust your instincts.”

“But I don’t know where to look.” Aric wanted to believe the dragon, he truly did. Georgia couldn’t be allowed to marry Prince Thorold, and Aric could not stand by and let his kingdom fall. Killing dragons had only been part of the oath he’d taken. He might not intend to keep that part of it, but he certainly would keep the other.

The dragon had already begun to flap its wings. It was preparing to leave, and Aric knew once it took flight he’d never be able to stop it. “Follow your heart, Aric. Do what is right.”

Aric stumbled back, his sword falling to the ground. He couldn’t kill the dragon, but more than that, he didn’t want to. “I don’t know where to look,” he yelled after it. The dragon did not reply but instead took to the air, gliding, hovering above him, its movement graceful, majestic. Something about it called to him, touched him.

He wiped at his eyes. They were wet.

When he looked up again, the dragon was gone.

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We interrupt this HAHaT to bring you this breaking news…

Hi, I don’t really want to interrupt the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia–see my feature post below. You can still read, comment, and possibly win, and anyway I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks to everyone who’s already done commented!

Reveiw and giveaway with the lovely Lou Sylvre

But I do want to briefly say, hey! Come see Monique Lehane’s great reviews of all three Vasquez and James Books (Finding Jackie today, 4.5 stars), and her interview of me, the culprit who penned those books. You can comment to win there, too!

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You Can Go Home Agan (and kick some ass when you do) Elizabeth Noble, Todd Ruger, and *Collared Souls*

Welcome Elizabeth Noble! Readers note that as usual on sylvre.com, the cover image is the buy link. Enjoy!
Collared Souls Elizabeth Noble Cover Paul Richmond
Elizabeth: Hello, and thank you to Lou Sylvre for giving me a spot on her blog. Actually this time the spot will go one of my favorite tough guys, Todd Ruger to answer a few questions.
Todd: Only one of your favorites?
Elizabeth: Shhh, we don’t want the others getting jealous. Lou doesn’t have all day, she has her own tough guys to cater to so, let’s dive right in.
Lou: Luki Vasquez you get back here right now! Todd is not going to bother Sonny at all. He loves Nick!
Elizabeth: Recently, within the covers of Collared Souls, you had to do something very difficult for you. Tell us about it.
Todd: You’ll have to be more specific, I was sort of kept busy start to finish with difficult things. You never gave me a moment’s rest.
Elizabeth: You and Nick had to return to the village Nick grew up in, Eldrid. How’d that go for you?
Todd: You wrote the book, don’t you remember?
Elizabeth: *clears throat* Why don’t you share, for all the nice readers?
Todd: Okay, no need to get testy. Taking Nick back there, the way we had to go about it, was a fat pain in the ass. Chancellor Clarke likes to pretend he’s our friend, but he really just uses us. I would have rather gone back for our own reasons, but that’s not how things worked out.
To be honest, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Nicky was scared going back there, even though he did a great job of covering up how he felt. It was like a constant itch, the vibes I got from him the whole time we were there.
Elizabeth: But you both got things done?
Todd: Of course we did! I was a bit sad because I didn’t have a chance to blow the place up.
Elizabeth: You did speak to a very important person from Nick’s past, however.
Todd: Yeah, that was a highlight. See, Nick had a tutor the entire time he was growing up, a guy called Linn. He was a real prick and thought a good way to get a kid to behave was to hit them. I’ve spent a few years fantasizing about snapping the little twerp in half. I held back and only hit him a few times.
Elizabeth: There was another thing you did for Nick while you were there, can you tell us about it?
Todd: My biggest problem was making these people see Nick as my mate and a sentry. Not a little slave kid. He had strict instructions not to kneel to any of them. I had to make him stay on his horse to be sure and threaten to restrict his coffee drinking.
Luki: Oh my god!
Lou: Luki, relax. One more outburst and you’re out of here!
Elizabeth: The ultimate punishment for Nick!
Todd: You got that right.
Elizabeth: Thank you for sharing with us today.
Todd: Don’t you want to talk about the hidden archive, or the bombs and shooting, or… ?
Elizabeth: We don’t want to spoil things.
Todd: Not even my Dad?
Elizabeth: No. And don’t sulk.
Nick: Todd says I pout when I don’t get my own way. And I loved what he did to Tutor Linn. Talk about revenge.
Todd: Where’d you come from? Did you hear all that?
Nick: *nodding* Where do you think I came from? Don’t tell me I have to explain that to you.
Elizabeth: Nick, since you’re here, tell us, how did you feel going back to Eldrid.
Nick: There’s a saying ‘you can’t go home again’, but that’s not really true. You can go home, but you can’t go back to the way things were when you were a child. I could never have stepped foot in that village without Todd. He really made me see I could go back a different person, not a slave, but a sentry. Todd’s my hero.
Todd: *Groan* Maybe we should give these nice readers an excerpt.
Nick: And don’t forget the blurb.
Luki and Lou: Bye, you two. Thanks for stopping by!

Blurb:

Freedom is within reach for Todd and Nick Ruger, but their dreams of Elk’s Ridge are dashed by Vice-Chancellor Raleigh’s troops. With his mate imprisoned, Nick searches for help and finds an unlikely and unexpected ally, but Todd’s release leaves them once again in debt to Chancellor Clarke.

Their mission sends them to the small village of Eldrid in search of a historic record of owners and slaves with unique abilities. Eldrid holds even more secrets from the past—including the origins of sentries—as well as conspiracies of the present that are set to launch a new battle that will turn lover helplessly against lover. Though Todd and Nick know the realities of war are hard lessons, it will be a fight to draw on the strengths of their bond, survive, and learn to forgive.

Excerpt:

A large creek ran adjacent to the main road into the village, then around one side to the farm. Todd seemed to know there was an irrigation system from that creek to the farm, but he couldn’t remember if he’d seen it as a child or if Nick had told him. A wooden track had been built a few feet above the ground and wound through the farm and converged at the opposite end of the village to the creek. In several places it branched off and looped around parts of the village, following the gently rising and falling course of the land.

Small carts could be hand cranked or pulled along the tracks, moving harvested crops to various parts of Eldrid. Close to the main part of the creek was a mill, powered by a paddle wheel. Just beyond was a wooden watchtower, though Todd had never seen anyone inside when he’d passed through as a child and younger adult. He supposed it was probably more for weather keeping and observation, though at some point in the past it might have been used for security.

The entire village looked like it had been carved out of a mesa. The reddish-brown stone and adobe buildings were a stark contrast to the dull gray of the wood tracks and buildings that intermingled with those of rock and stone. Wooden steps had been built to wind around the taller rock-tower structures, with platforms leading to second story entrances of the wooden buildings.

Like the farm surrounding it, the village was horseshoe shaped, with a large, open space nestled in the middle of the three-quarter circle. It was that space the road led to, directing anyone coming into the village to the flat stone building housing the offices of the elders. Todd’s gaze was immediately drawn to the metal cages in the village center. At no time when he’d come here before taking Nick away with him had he ever seen anyone or anything in them, but Nick had told him sometimes children were put in them.
“Outsiders are always told those cages are for livestock. To keep them in temporarily when they are first shipped in, or just before they are shipped out,” Nick said softly. He was rubbing a small scar on the palm of his left hand. Todd realized that, wherever he looked, Nick’s gaze followed right along with him.

Todd picked up the reins of his horse and gently squeezed his calves against Arenite’s sides. At the same time, he clucked softly. As the horse set into motion again, Todd glanced over at Nick. “Let’s get this over with.”

Nick nodded and nudged Obi forward, staying back so Obi’s shoulder was even with Todd’s leg. Todd considered holding back until Nick was even with him, but the look on Nick’s face when he turned to his mate stopped Todd. Nick was tense and stressed just coming here. Pissing off the elders and tutors by having Nick ride abreast of Todd wasn’t going to help them and would simply increase Nick’s anxiety even more. Todd reached back, dug around in one of his saddlebags, and extracted Nick’s tether. He held it out to Nick. “Stick that in your pocket in case you need it fast.”

That forced Nick to urge Obi’s stride to lengthen so he could take the tether from Todd’s hand. When Todd glanced back as the tether transferred from Todd to Nick, Nick ducked his head and smiled shyly. Todd winked and returned Nick’s smile with one of his own.

Even though the village was a mixture of stone and wooden structures, where the slave children were housed and where their overseers lived was obvious. The stone structures had small gardens near their entrances, and some of the windows had flower boxes drilled into the stone. The weather in this part of the protectorate was warmer than in the north and more humid. Stone houses were cooler and more comfortable. Solar panels installed into the sides of each one and the windmills scattered around the village told Todd they were powered.

The slave dorms were the two-story wooden structures, all grouped to the eastern end of Eldrid, closer to the farm entrances and the grain mill. They had none of the amenities, such as window boxes or a place for gardens, the other structures had. Between that and the main part of the village was a small group of wooden buildings constructed into the rock.

“Those are the school buildings,” Nick said. Todd heard Obi trot a few steps, bringing Nick more even with him. “Up there”—Nick pointed to one of the second-story windows—“is where my room was. Behind that building is livestock barns. I used to work there and on the farm sometimes.” He tapped Todd’s shoulder and indicated another fenced-off area set between the farm and village, but more to the center. “See that?”

“Yeah.”

“Training and workout grounds. That’s where we’d have exercises, and those of us who did actual weapons training and hand-to-hand type stuff practiced there.” He pointed to a series of small buildings near the western edge of Eldrid. A few were freestanding, the others built into the side of one of the buttes, with wooden balconies and stairs leading from the ground to the entrances. “Those are the guest accommodations.”

“You don’t kneel.”

“Todd.” Nick’s eyebrows pulled together, and the muscle along his jaw knotted.

“I mean it, Nick. Not to these bastards. No coffee for a year.”
Todd’s gaze slipped to the side for a quick look at Nick. He winked, hoping to reassure his mate.

Links:
Website: http://www.elizabeth-noble.com
Additional link: http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/
DSP Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_423

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