Yes, we’re back in one of the sexiest lecture halls ever invented—my blog. 🙂 Today we take a look at the fourth major episode in the romance of Luki and Sonny, as recorded in our text, Saving Sonny James..
In the “front matter” (you know, the pages before page 1) of Saving Sonny James you’ll find the epigraph, consisting of lines of poetry Walt Whitman. This is the first, from a poem entitled: “Old War Dreams.”
Long have they pass’d, faces and trenches and fields,
Where through the carnage I moved with a callous composure, or away from the fallen,
Onward I sped at the time, but now of their forms at night,
I dream, I dream, I dream
So yeah, the beginning of Saving Sonny James is a little weighty. With the events reported in Finding Jackie, in the Umatilla where Luki once again faced a life or death situation and the only solution required deadly force, Luki added one more to a lifetime pile of ‘straws’, and it broke his camel’s back… Or perhaps only very seriously sprained it, because the hope is it can be fixed. Sonny of course, would like to fix it—he really, really wants his husband back, but he’s stymied. On page 5 (the beginning of chapter one), we find a sampling from Sonny’s thoughts:
Luki Vasquez had been his usual self when he and his still newlywed husband, Sonny James, had driven home to the rainy Olympic Peninsula from Nebraska, even though he’d been shot in the thigh—again.
Well, Sonny thought as he backed his yellow Mustang—his baby—out of the old barn where he parked it, Luki was mostly his usual self then, when we first came home.
Because at times he’d still been in a lot of pain, and a few times he’d had plenty of—too much—pain medication, and then there had also been those other, weirder times that Sonny couldn’t explain. Luki would just check out right in the middle of a conversation, stay completely blank until he’d suddenly say, “He was just a kid,” or, “He had the greenest eyes.” Those times never lasted long, though, and Luki’s pain got less and less, and Sonny just didn’t expect the thing that happened to Luki not long after they got home. It was almost like Luki… died inside. Like whatever made him Luki drained off and left Sonny a handsome and heart-wrenching Luki-like shell.
It didn’t really matter that Sonny knew psychological trauma did this to others: soldiers, agents of the law, people who relied on violent skills to guard the world against violence. This development in Luki astounded Sonny. The very idea that Luki Mililani Vasquez could be so overcome, so incapacitated that people felt the need to watch over him, medicate him, counsel him, be careful of him, for God’s sake. It was like weaving a wall-sized tapestry, spending hours with it and knowing every warp and weft intimately, and then one day discovering the image had changed from day to night, ocean to desert, rock to dust. How could it make sense?
Sonny can’t fix Luki, of course. That type of broken has to be fixed from the inside out. For a while, Luki just can’t seem to wake himself up from the horrors in his mind, and the despair they’ve engendered. It takes a near disaster for him to (figuratively) give himself a mighty shake and begin to take steps toward healing. Actually, two near disasters.
First he rescue Sonny from the frigid waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. He has to warm him up of course, and what better way than body heat. One thing sweetly leads to another, and then next thing you know, this, from page 18:
He began to lick the remnants of sea salt off Sonny’s skin, starting out sweet and slow, but growing adamant, pushy, demanding. And Sonny gave and took in kind, until the two of them were half covered in marks from sucks and scratches and bites. Sonny started suddenly to move his head toward Luki’s cock, but Luki pushed him back down and said, “No, you.” He licked the length of Sonny’s erection from base to crown twice, then stroked, squeezing a little until precum coated the sweet tip. Taking Sonny’s own hand, he passed it over to gather the crystal lube, then gave the harvest to Sonny, feeding him his juices from his own fingers.
Sonny moaned, sucking the pleasure from his own hand, and Luki growled, then lay down over Sonny, grinding their hard cocks together. Then, as he almost always did, he asked, “What do you want, baby?”
“Fuck me,” Sonny said, with no hesitation.
Well, you can guess that things progress from there, but I’ll leave it there for now so I can forge ahead. (For independent reading, this smutty/sweet section starts on about page 17.) But after the sex, they fall asleep, and that’s when the unthinkable happens, and Luki has to save Sonny from… well, from Luki.
Even though that first awakening ended in near disaster, it’s a step toward healing, and the next day, Luki is prepared to see Doctor Sonny James off to Paris where he will show his tapestries and lecture on fibers and dies and weaving amazingly beautiful things. Sonny is prepared to believe Luki when he promises to do everything he can—everything he’s supposed to do, for a change—to get well. But first Luki promises Sonny that their last day together will be a good one. And, oh God, yes, they have a little fun. For instance, this, from page 44.
He’d meant what he said to Sonny back at the cemetery. He’d do everything in his power, expend every last drop of his energy if needed, to give Sonny the Luki he wanted today. His thoughts turned to sex, and he knew that if he could pull that Luki out of the magician’s hat, it wasn’t going to be at all unpleasant for him, either.
You don’t deserve pleasure, Luki.
Oh, fuck off.
That little exchange between the halves of his brain, so to speak, struck Luki’s funny bone, and he laughed out loud.
“What?” Sonny said, drawing his brows together in puzzlement, though he smiled. “What is it you’re thinking? Tell me.”
Luki skipped some stuff but he didn’t lie. He stretched in his seat. “Well, sweetie, I was thinking about… oh, this.” He pinched Sonny’s nipple through his T-shirt, making it pucker up and poke out the butter-yellow fabric instantly. Sonny gasped, but his driving didn’t stutter. Luki leaned closer—an easy reach in the small Mustang, and grabbed a handful of Sonny between his legs. That made his sweet husband jump! To his credit, nothing changed in his driving—Luki had known it wouldn’t—but he got a very serious look on his face, a look that Luki loved, treasured. Vintage Sonny.
Sonny put his foot down, figuratively speaking, and the tone of his voice indicated he mentally had his hand on his hip, even though physically one was on the steering wheel and the other on the gear shift. “Luki, don’t do that. I’m driving.”
“Oh, okay,” Luki sighed. “Well, I guess I’ll just do this, then.” He leaned back in the seat and spread his legs as wide as he could, then rubbed his crotch with both hands.
“Fuck!” Sonny said, which was sort of an event all by itself. “Honey, stop! I have to drive!”
Luki laughed again and stuck one hand down the front of his own pants.
“Luki! What the hell is going on with you?”
Luki chuckled once more, removed his hand, and adjusted his clothes and position. “Well, sweetie, it’s like this: I’m either going to laugh with you today, or I’m going to sleep, or panic, or rage, or cry. My ‘just be normal’ mode isn’t working very well. And I want it to be a good day for you, for us. So I’m being a little silly. And when we get home I’ll be putty in your hands…. Orgasmic putty. Okay?”
Sonny giggled, which seemed like a reward. Then he said, “Luki, you’re never putty. You somehow manage to top from the bottom.”
“Not at all.”
They fell into a good-natured silence, a calm that felt good, but almost foreign to Luki—or forgotten. Still, he decided, one could consider it a gift horse, and he wasn’t about to look it in the mouth. He settled comfortably in for the remaining half hour of the drive, and even though he had to keep pushing away intruding thoughts and disturbing images and unwanted emotions, he felt more relaxed than he had for a long time. At some point he noticed that he and Sonny had joined hands, rested them together on the gearshift. By the time they got to Port Clifton, he felt almost too relaxed; he could easily have slept instead of making love, but the idea of sleeping brought a whole slew of scary what-ifs.
We’ll have to stick to fucking. He surreptitiously looked over Sonny’s body… long, sleek, beautiful body. Not an unpleasant choice, that.
They parted of necessity so Luki could retrieve his car from Margie’s parking lot and drive it home. But Luki thought about Sonny and sex for the entire drive. They arrived home together. On the almost quarter-mile walk from the car barn, or garage, as Sonny insisted on calling it, to the house, Luki stopped Sonny, wound his hand through Sonny’s long, thick hair and used it to pull him in for a kiss. More than a kiss, it involved sucking and licking and biting, and it carried with it instant heat that flashed straight to the groin. Luki certainly felt it, and he felt Sonny’s skin flame. Not really breaking their embrace, he started them moving again toward the house.
“Luki,” Sonny said. “Maybe you could just be in charge as usual. I mean, I want to feel… in Hawaii you said that’s best for you, and…. Know what I mean?”
“I do. But, sweetie, no. How am I ever going to perfect my top-from-the-bottom technique if you don’t bottom-from-the-top?”
Which leads—after further shenanigans—to this moment, on page 48.
Sonny’s entry was sure and steady and not too slow, no stops along the way. Once he was fully sheathed, he rocked, moving his erection inside Luki, making almost but not quite constant contact with his prostate.
“God,” Luki breathed. “Good goddamn, baby! Who taught you that?”
Oh yeah, there’s more, the entire NSFW encounter appears on pages 44 through 49 in your text, for further study.
Unfortunately, not too long after this, Luki realizes that the saving of Sonny James has not even really begun, for a very, very bad man waiting for Sonny in Paris has plans—terrifying plans. If you care to research that history, and perhaps partake of the sweet, hot reward waiting at the end, you can borrow the book from a friend, or maybe click on the cover image above and buy the book.
Hello class! The third level course in Gay Romance according to Vasquez and James commences with a look at the sweet and slightly ridiculous events of their wedding. We’re using book three in the series, Finding Jackie as ‘text.’ As you will recall from Sonny’s proposal (Delsyn’s Blues, read from p. 74 for full context, through p. 80), and Luki’s acceptance (continue through p89), Luki wanted to have the wedding in Hawaii, because his mother and beloved uncle Kaholo come from that Pacific paradise. In Finding Jackie, we join them there for the event, and they are looking good! No that is not them in the picture (which comes to us courtesy a gay wedding firm called Purple Unions). Luki and Sonny were much like that (happy and kissy and sexy) only loads more fabulous and dressed to the nines. On page 9:
Luki’s suit fit loosely, almost blousy, giving him plenty of room for his muscled chest and shoulders, yet at the same time it had been tailored so perfectly that, while it only showed off some of Luki’s curves and planes, it eloquently promised the rest. He wore a tie of barely blue silk, woven by Sonny with a subtle, obscured pattern of lauburu—the Basque Cross… .
Sonny wore white silk, an Italian cut customized for his height and slightly broader shoulders, following closely the slim lines of his elegant frame. He wore a white ribbon shirt, with the remaining three sacred colors in the ribbons—narrow strips of a blue so deep it was almost black, golden yellow, and dark red. They crossed his chest and climbed his shoulders, then hung from his shoulder blades in the back, hidden now under his jacket. The two silk-covered buttons of Sonny’s light-weight, summer wool jacket had been set with diamonds at the center. A silk scarf woven—like the ribbons on his shirt—of the four sacred colors from his tribal heritage, fluttered at his chest in the slight breeze.
After the sexy wedding, it’s the honeymoon, Vasquez and James style, starting with Hawaiian beaches. One interesting encounter in which Sonny demonstrates his relative prudishness (as compared to Luki) begins on page 17 of your text. Note the guy in the photo (courtesy Kauai-gay-massage.com) isn’t Luki or Sonny, but he is freakin’ hot!
“That’s a tough color to match,” Sonny said, finally making some notes when he couldn’t quite duplicate the blue a hundred feet from shore. He wondered, though, if he was only having a hard time because of Luki’s eyes. They were all over him. Even though he didn’t turn to look, he could feel them on every inch of his skin—even the most hidden and intimate. He was getting really warm despite the breeze off the sea, and he really didn’t think it had to do with the sun. He loved the feeling, but enough was enough, and he took hold of Luki’s ice water—why waste his own? He turned and leaned toward Luki, glass in hand, but Luki saw what he was up to. Being ever so much quicker and more capable, Luki simply stopped him, rolled, and stood up.
“Brat,” he said.
“You were making me nervous.”
“I was not,” Luki said as he dusted sand off his rented surfboard.
“Okay. True. You were making me hot.”
“Good, Sonny. That’s good. You’re yummy when you’re hot.”
Sonny laughed and tossed the water from his own glass toward Luki, but Luki evaded it and headed down the beach to the edge of the ocean.
Sonny had worried that Luki wouldn’t enjoy the ocean, what with his history with rivers, almost drowning twice, once involving a knife and once involving a bomb. And last year he’d said he didn’t like being on the water, when they took the boat out to Mack Money’s island in the San Juans. He needn’t have feared. Luki took to surfing like he was born to it. And maybe it was something inherited, something hidden in the genes until opportunity arose.
Kaholo had surfed one day before he left, and as old as he was, his body remembered its Hawaiian youth. He let out a “whoop” once, riding just ahead of the crest of a wave, that reminded Sonny of his own uncle, Melvern, at a powwow. So maybe Luki came by his affinity for board and surf naturally. Whatever the explanation, once Luki had a couple lessons, he hardly left the water. He didn’t try any giant combers, of course, and even on a smaller wave his ride didn’t always succeed. He had some spectacular crashes, and sported a gash on his already scarred left cheek from hitting the board fin.
“It figures,” Luki had said, pressing his palm against it.
But even that hadn’t freaked him out about the water and surfing. Because now, here they were, seventy-two hours before they were due to fly out of Honolulu airport, in the heat of the warmest midafternoon yet. Sonny joined Luki in the waves—he liked them well enough. They were so different from the cold, rocking current of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where he swam regularly, or at least took a dip almost every day except in a freeze. Here, the water was a whole different kind of playmate. But after Sonny had played a while, he left Luki to surf the aqua sea, and walked up the beach, raising white sand in the miniscule breeze. He shook out his towel and collapsed onto it.
He lay on the beach, then, letting the sun and breeze dry his skin, his eyes almost closed, drowsy but not sleeping, surreptitiously watching Luki’s play. Because that’s what it was, Luki at play in the surf, and Sonny loved it. Loved the very idea of it. And Sonny couldn’t get enough of seeing Luki overfull of joy. He was just thinking that maybe they should never leave this place, when Luki brought some of that joy—dripping wet joy, it turned out—to share with Sonny. He heeled his board into the sand just like an experienced beach bum, and then flopped down right on top of Sonny.
In one of his most articulate moments, Sonny exclaimed, “Ah! Wet!”
“Kiss me,” Luki responded. “That will be wet, too.”
“Ooh,” Sonny said, because Luki was lying flat on top of him, and there were some interesting contact points.
“I know. Ooh.” Luki wiggled a little.
“Okay, sorry, baby.” Luki started to lift himself off Sonny, but Sonny grabbed him by the shoulders, locking his long arms.
“No! You can’t get up right now. My feelings have become obvious and anybody might walk by. Children. Grandmothers. Lifeguards.”
“Okay, okay. But don’t be silly. There are no lifeguards on this beach—”
“You never know.”
“And I haven’t seen a grandmother around here for at least two days—”
“I’m sure they’ll be back.”
“And I haven’t seen any children here at all.”
“First time for everything.”
“Fine. Try to get ahold of your—”
“Emotions. I’m just gonna move a little to one side, like that”—Luki demonstrated—“so things aren’t quite so… intimate. ’Kay?”
Luki managed little by little to put some distance between them, and both the men sat up. “Phew,” Sonny said, and they laughed.
Knowing the importance of having the most glorious possible honeymoon and doing everything Sonny wanted to do, Luki agreed to a three-phase honeymoon, part two of which was to be a brief stay in Seattle, since Sonny(aka Dr. James) had to be there anyway to lecture on dyes and fibers. By the time they got into their rather posh hotel room at the Monaco, trouble had already begun to rear it’s ugly head, as is unfortunately the way of things with Vasquez and James. Trouble from outside (see the prologue and pages 34 through 37), and of course, trouble from inside, mostly Luki, the twerp (see pages 22-23). But trouble did not stop them from taking a very hot and steamy bath. We’ll start on page 48 to set the scene and move right into the NSFW from there.
Luki’s eyes followed his husband, who paced from side to side, peeked around curtains and walls, opened doors. He made a sound, something like “Mm,” knowing Sonny wasn’t really looking for a response, but would appreciate knowing Luki was paying attention. He also smiled. Something about the quirky way Sonny settled himself into a space was too sweet for words.
“You know what I need to do, honey?”
Luki noted with glee that Sonny had begun to strip. This time, when he said, “Mm,” he didn’t have to feign interest.
“I need to get in that bathtub—do you see that thing? It’s like a swimming pool. I need to get in there and soak, all nice and relaxed, and take in that wallpaper until it seems normal to me.”
The man is fucking crazy, Luki thought, both disappointed and surprised. Sonny was already in the bathroom, fine-tuning the water temperature. Luki put his hands in his pockets—not a characteristic posture at all, but he was at a loss. He literally jumped when Sonny whooped and yelled.
“Yes! There’s bubble bath in here!”
Now, Luki was so nonplussed that he sat down on the couch, rather hard. When he tried to think of something he might be doing the only two things that came to mind were jerking off—which he dismissed immediately—and eating a hamburger. He considered the hamburger carefully, decided against, and got up to wander into the strangely wall-papered, thoroughly lavender-scented bathroom.
“This is a big tub, Luki.”
Luki stepped closer to Sonny and pushed a long strand of dark hair off his chest, letting it join its fellows falling down Sonny’s back.
Sonny grabbed Luki’s belt at the buckle and made as if to undo it. “Get in, Luki. There’s room. Look.” He lifted a foot out of the water. “See, my feet don’t even reach all the way to the other side. Not crowded at all.”
Luki stood silent, chewing his lip. He wasn’t one for shower play, which Sonny knew. It just reminded him too much of lonelier days. He never took baths, especially bubble baths. And, he really, really didn’t want to smell like flowers. But he loved his husband so much, and there the man was, asking for this simple, little thing.
“Luki, take a bath with me. Come on.”
Luki started to strip, tossing his clothes back out onto the chair in the bedroom. He was, of course, hard by the time he was naked, which was something Sonny certainly didn’t fail to notice, even though he said nothing. Luki stood there, feeling confused, never before having realized that deciding how to get into a bathtub and situate oneself was so difficult.
“Luki, you can just sit on that side, facing me so I can look at your eyes and we can talk. Okay? That way you won’t feel so awkward.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s something in that statement I should scold you for, Sonny Bly, I just haven’t figured out what it is,” Luki said while climbing in and turning around and sitting down as instructed. But once he settled, his hands found Sonny’s legs, and he couldn’t help but rub them. And then Sonny found his foot, and as Sonny well knew, Luki’s toes were really sensitive. And Sonny played with them. All the while they looked each other in the eyes.
“Luki,” Sonny said, finally, “you don’t play in the shower.”
“No. What’s your point?”
For answer, Sonny took Luki’s foot and laid it along his own erection, which was one of the sexiest things that had ever happened to Luki. Then Sonny took his size a-very-large-number foot, with its long, nearly prehensile toes, and not too gently stroked it up and down Luki’s cock, and Luki spent a few seconds catching his breath.
“This isn’t a shower,” Sonny said.
Luki nodded. “Right.”
Sonny let a little water out, added some hot to adjust the temperature. “We could fuck here, if we so desired, which I do.” Sonny actually looked hopeful, as if he was a little afraid Luki would say no, or maybe scoff.
Luki wasn’t about to do either one. Sonny was the most beautiful, lovable, eminently fuckable person on the planet, and Luki wasn’t about to fail him. As he’d explained to Sonny just the other day, fucking Sonny happy was his personal joy. He licked his lips. “Come here, baby.”
Sonny more or less slithered up Luki’s body, dragging his weight over Luki’s flesh until he’d brought his lips even with Luki’s. He stopped, offering his slightly open lips, but waiting for Luki to take them. Luki did, starting with a suck and nibble of Sonny’s lower lip, then licking with just the hard tip of his tongue along the underside of Sonny’s upper lip. He kept it up, nibbling, sucking, licking, lingering at the sensitive corners. Sonny made a move to kiss back, but Luki pulled away, and answered Sonny’s widened eyes by kissing them. He smiled, biting his own lip, made sure Sonny saw the expression, then whispered in his ear. “Just let me do whatever I want to you, baby, okay? It’ll be good, I promise, and when I want you to kiss me back, I’ll tell you. Okay?”
“Oh!” Sonny’s breath puffed out; then he nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Yes, Luki. Okay.”
The water, hot and ever so slightly silky from the bubble bath, made touching—running his hands along Sonny’s back, over his ass, down his legs—a little bit different than touching had ever been before, for Luki. And by different he meant, damn, that’s nice! And Sonny, who was never, ever still unless specifically instructed, kept squirming and rocking, moving his body side to side over Luki’s. And the water lifted him just a little bit so Luki felt little weight on him, only a teasingly sweet, achingly light friction.
He pulled his lover tight against his chest. “Sonny, baby, you are so damn sweet!”
Sonny was not very coherent. “Mmm, mm… ooooh! Luki!”
Luki chuckled. He couldn’t help it. Then he took hold of Sonny’s forelock and tilted his head back until he was sure he had Sonny’s eyes, and he said, “Stick out your tongue.”
Sonny did so, a little, and said, “Aauuh?”
Luki smiled. “More.”
When Sonny obeyed, he said, “Yeah, like that.” Then he laid his own tongue alongside it, teased it, licking at its tip, and finally closed his lips around it and sucked it into his mouth, meanwhile invading Sonny’s mouth with his own tongue, and touching every part of Sonny he could reach with any limb, and rocking Sonny over him, cock to cock, chest to chest. At some point he said, “Okay, kiss me back, Sonny.” Finally, after a long interval of bliss, or else torture, Luki asked the question he almost always asked when they made love. “What do you want, baby?”
Unlike his earlier efforts at speech, Sonny answered clear and concise. “Fuck me.” Then he buried his face in Luki’s neck, where he commenced licking, sucking, and yes, even biting.
Luki gasped at the sensations that weren’t quite tickle, weren’t quite pain, “So you’re serious, you want to fuck here? In the bath?”
“Turn over, baby, and turn around; get up on your knees. I want your ass right here, up close and personal.”
There’s more to that bath, but that’s it for the lecture. Read on to the bliss in your text for extra credit. If you don’t own the text, click on the cover image up at the top for a link to Dreamspinner. Also available at Amazon, All-Romance E-books, etc (like all the V&J books). Thanks for coming to class… see you next time!
For those who wonder, Gay Romance University resumes class tomorrow with GRU 301; the text is Finding Jackie, Vasquez and James book 3 (for those that like to be prepared).
After GRU studies Vasquez and James we will be moving on to learning about Gay Romance from other characters, by other authors. Should be fun, starting later this month. Stay tuned. (I’m considering opening a new school also, Sexy Gay Romance University. Feedback on this idea welcome.)
I’m working on making a website, of which this blog will be a part, as will pages for the University posts, my published works, free fiction, featured authors, reviews, and who knows! I’m working on having some type of grand opening event. Ideas welcome!
Anne Barwell’s latest novel Shades of Sepia is out from Dreamspinner Press, and I got a rare opportunity to do a release day review. Here it is, followed by the blurb and Anne’s bio. As usual on sylvre.com, the cover photo is a buy link–just click. Enjoy!
5 unrestrained sexy stars for Shades of Sepia! Anne Barwell’s vampires, werewolves, and yes, even humans live vividly in the pages of this novel, and on the streets of a thoroughly reimagined Flint, Ohio. Bonded souls, bloodlust, and murder wreak havoc on the lives of Ben Leyton—a rather happy-go-lucky guy transplanted from New Zealand—and serious, soulful vampire Simon Hawthorne. Attraction is too soft a word for what happens between them when they meet, but little does either of them know that the more they court each other, the more they court danger.
In a world where not all vampires are cold, loveless creatures of the night, it might still be challenging for a human to accept the love he needs from a man who fears his own capacity for violence—even if he vows to use it for your protection. On the other hand, oh-my-god sex might make that a little easier. Author Anne Barwell has written some sexy nuggets before, but she’s given us over the top heat here, both of the slow burn variety and the kind of sex that explodes off the page. In the mix: a park bench, a mirror, some fangs, and a little dominance. That’s all I’m going to say; if you want more—and believe me, you do—read the book.
But sex isn’t the whole story, by far. The romance between these two souls is about as haunting—and haunted—as it gets, and though it’s “sweet as” (read the book to interpret that phrase), barriers arise out of both past and present that may never be overcome. As for the suspense? Well, to illustrate, at one point I got so anxious that I slapped my e-reader down and shouted, “Oh my god, Ben! Forget the *&#$ tea!” So yeah, edge of my seat, really. Usually, in a review I like to touch on anything I found held the book back from being the best it could be. In this case, I can’t really put my finger on anything like that—it’s simply a very well-written book with a plot that kept me turning pages.
I can’t say much more without venturing into spoiler territory, but here’s my recommendation for readers. If you enjoy characters that come alive, paranormal M/M romance that’s hot and sexy, emotional, a little angsty, a little funny, and full of suspense, you will certainly love this book. I did, and I plan to love it again, soon.
(Note: Authors Anne Barwell and Elizabeth Noble have imagined this world, called The Sleepless City together, and plan to write alternating novels set here. I’m looking forward to the next!)
The Blurb: A serial killer stalks the streets of Flint, Ohio. The victims are always found in pairs, one human and one vampire.
Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years, and he has never seen anything like it. Neither have the other supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans.
One meeting with Simon finds Ben Leyton falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can’t ignore the growing attraction between them. A recent arrival in Flint, Ben finds it very different from his native New Zealand, but something about Simon makes Ben feel as though he’s found a new home.
After a close friend falls victim to the killer, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away to avoid the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent, either, or both of them, could be the killer’s next target.
About Anne Barwell
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 and 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.
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?”
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 with 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.”
“I think so. I can’t explain.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After an unintentioanal hiatus, sylvre.com is back this week, hosting Grace R Duncan. What better way to break our silence? Take a moment to feast eyes on the wonderful cover by Paul Richmond (who just keeps getting better in this bloggers opinion), check out her bio and links, and then scroll down for Grace’s engaging post. And yeah, there’s swag! (As is usual on sylvre.com, click the cover for the buy link.)
Born and raised a gypsy in the late eleventh century, Teman values freedom over everything. He and his best friend, Jasim, are thieves for hire—until one night they’re caught and their precious freedom is revoked. Given the choice between the dungeons or palace pleasure slavery, they become slaves, but Teman vows to escape someday.
Bathasar doesn’t want the throne. He supports his brother instead, which suits their sadistic father, Mukesh. When Teman, the handsome slave Bathasar has secretly been watching, saves his life, Bathasar requests a slave for the first time. Before long, Bathasar and Teman fall in love. But all is not well. One day Mukesh brutalizes Teman before the court, angering the empress of a neighboring nation. To appease her, he then offers her Jasim as a gift, and Teman decides to stay with Bathasar for now—despite the abuse he may suffer.
The peace doesn’t last. Mukesh plans to invade Jasim’s new country, and Bathasar must find a way to stop the destruction. But if he succeeds, he’ll ascend to the throne and have the power to grant Teman his liberty. Then Teman will surely leave him. What other choice could a gypsy make?
Grace R. Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age—many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children—both the human and furry kind. She also teaches information technology classes at a local college.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance, and other erotica, or even dabbling in art.
Today, I want to talk about another portion of worldbuilding: history and politics. Like any other aspect of creating a world, it requires research because if I wanted to build a reasonably believable political system, I had to have something real to base it on. Politics in Choices matters because it affects the possible outcome of quite a bit
So I had to consider my political system carefully. I knew it was a monarchy, that part was easy, but not all monarchies are made the same and that was where I had to decide how it would work. Yet again, I ventured out to research.
Now, I am a history buff. I love history. I can read some of the driest stuff and still enjoy it more than almost anyone else (except maybe my history prof in college. That guy was quite insane. Wonderful, but insane.). But political systems and the various forms of monarchy soon had my eyes crossing. I decided that since the political system played a part but I didn’t have to be intricate about it, I’d go with a simplified version of the English system with Arabic names.
Part of my research led me to a delightful publication from the Society for Creative Anachronisms. Someone had done a good deal of research on using Arabic forms of address and naming within the SCA and I found it very helpful. It really made it easy for me to choose my titles and such for Neyem’s political system.
It also helped that I already knew I didn’t want to use sheik or sultan. Those titles have been overdone to the extreme in media, especially in romance. I wanted something different. I was very happy to see malik on the list and as soon as I spotted it, I knew I had my titles.
With that, the rest fell into place quickly. There was no malika (or malik’s wife), but I had two amirs – Bathasar, the crown amir and his brother, Seth. I didn’t want things too complicated. The English have an almost ridiculous number of nobility and the titles to go with it. Thanks to A.F. Henley and his research for Honour, I was well acquainted with just how complicated it could be. If I didn’t want to get lost in trying to keep it straight (and if I couldn’t, I knew my readers couldn’t), then I had to simplify.
Following the recommendations from the SCA publications, I chose a few other titles. They never made it into Choices, but will definitely make appearances in Deception. The one title I did use in Choices other than malik and amir was sayyid, meaning Lord. But as I wrote Deception, I had to include more ranks because more of the nobility would be making appearances, so it was time to choose.
Mushir, or duke was to me, a given. I’ve always liked the title of duke and the address of “Your Grace” (name puns not intended) really appealed to me. So that was easy. Next on the list was qadi – loosely count. Every time I hear the word “count”, I have unfortunate images of muppets crossed with Bela Lugosi pop into my head. But the next in line – viscount (naqib) wasn’t much better, so for simplicity, I stuck with qadi and moved on.
Next was one I’d wanted to avoid. Sheik. But I found a different spelling —shayk—that, at least, looked a bit better and I snatched at that one. I know it is, in the end, the same thing, but it worked better in my head. That was the English baron and, as far as the English are concerned, the last of the “Peerage”. From there, it includes Knight, which I liked (or faris) and the aforementioned sayyid.
It’s amazing how much can go into putting together what amounts to little more than a few dozen lines of text. I’d done hours of research and when I sat down to write this and saw how little of it made it in, I had to laugh at myself. Hopefully, it’ll work in Deception, though and it won’t be too wasted.
Neyem is, of course, not the only country in my world. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the other two prominent nations are Saol and Tiantang. Saol was easy. Everything else had been based off of Medieval England and its political system was no different. Thankfully, I didn’t have to get specific as it hasn’t (as yet) been mentioned, so I could simply pick it and move on.
Tiantang, on the other hand, was more complicated. Because their empress was a main figure in the story, I had to give more thought to how that all worked. So, once more, to the Internet.
It turned out to be easier than I thought. Some basic research into Chinese history yielded information that showed that China’s dynastic period wasn’t too far off of a basic monarchy with a single ruler and nobility. It does, of course, change over time, but as I could choose for myself which I wanted to go with, keeping my eye ever on that simplicity, then a basic model with an emperor (or empress), some noble titles and not much else would work well.
It was even better that I didn’t need to consider the nobility themselves – yet. I have promised a short story to a very dear friend of mine featuring Jasim and his empress, Jielan. I have a feeling the Tiantang nobility will be much more prominent in that story. Even so, I can’t leave something like that unresearched and funny enough, when I looked… lo and behold the titles were not-so-amazingly similar to… you guessed it, British Peerage.
Duke (gōng), marquis (hó), count (bó), viscount (zǐ), and baron (nán) were all there. The Chinese didn’t, as far as I researched, include knights or lords so that made things quite neat. This, of course, changed often with the different dynasties, some using no titles and others getting even more complicated, but for my purposes, this worked and made me very happy.
I would never have thought I’d be working out a full political system for a book. When I sat down to write Choices, I had no idea just how much I’d put into it. I’m glad I had the chance to, though, because it was a great learning experience.
Now, if you haven’t fallen asleep, I’d love to hear from you. Do you like to read about these things in fiction? Or would you prefer to leave the intricacies of peerage and titles out of it? Any comments get you entered for a chance to win some great swag!
Donations to date: $500 to Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center!Thank you, readers! I hope Yes touched your hearts. I know our donation will touch peoples lives--in a small way perhaps, but every little bit helps.
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