Posts Tagged ‘riptide publishing’

Reviewed by Elizabetta

Bump in the Night, edited by Rachel HaimowitzTITLE: Bump in the Night
AUTHORS: Heidi Belleau, Ally Blue, Kari Gregg, Peter Hansen, Laylah Hunter, Brien Michaels & Sam Schooler
EDITOR: Rachel Haimowitz
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 210 pages
BLURB: Turn off the lights . . . and turn on your darkest fantasies.

Demon pacts. Ghostly possessions. Monsters lurking in the depths. The things that go bump in the night frighten us, but they also intrigue us. Fascinate us. Even turn us on.

Join us as fan favorites Ally Blue and Kari Gregg bring over-amorous aquatic beasts to life with their mythic twists on the Siren and the monster in the lake. Erotic horror pros Heidi Belleau, Sam Schooler, and Brien Michaels show us just how sexy scary can be with a pair of demon deals destined to curl your toes and set your heart thrashing. And literary masters Laylah Hunter and Peter Hansen weave haunting worlds where ghosts and dead lovers can touch our hearts (and other, naughtier places too . . .) and teach us lessons from beyond the grave.

By turns exciting, evocative, and exquisitely explicit, the stories in Bump in the Night are sure to scratch your sexy paranormal itch. Explore your wildest fantasies with us in this collection of dark erotic tales.

REVIEW:

This is one of the strongest and most provocative anthologies I’ve read in the slash genre. Each story is unique in its own special horror and all are well crafted. Warning: this is more horror than erotica. And while there’s little to no romance, there’s plenty of sexual intoxication. There are a lot of disturbing elements. If rape or dubious consent is a trigger, proceed with caution.

The endings are more ‘happy-for-now’ or even ‘this is as good as it’s gonna get’. But isn’t that what life in the ‘Twilight Zone’ is about? I have to admit that I gobbled these up, thrilled by the story-telling.

There is a common thread through the stories summed up by a line lifted from one of them, “I hadn’t stopped to consider the cost.” Just in time for Halloween, this is highly recommended for those who want a darker, no-holds-barred read. Please heed the tags.

Overall anthology rating – star_review

Resurrection Man by Laylah Hunter
Tags: historical, paranormal, gore

An interesting turn on the Frankenstein story, this is a perfect example of the adage, “be careful what you wish for”…  A young man desperately in love, practices the dark art of necromancy and sells his soul to bring a beloved lover back from the dead.

“The flesh is scarcely the trouble… the installation of a soul in flesh is the domain of God.”

This feels like a chapter out of a larger piece (which means I want more) but works fine as is. Chillingly horrific and melancholy.

Rated: four-stars_0

Mating Season by Kari Gregg
Tags: paranormal, monsters, tentacle-sex, slave/captive, non/dubious-consensual/rape, cock/ball torture, gore, bondage, medical kink

Oh*my*freaking*lord

This is over-the-top wickedness with a cherry on the top, and the bit of devious plotting keeps it from being purely torture porn. The author throws everything but the kitchen sink into this feast of tentacle sex depravity…

A lusty monster with very active suction-cupped appendages…

“… the suckers on the underside of the tentacles nuzzled and guzzled down my cock like dozens of tiny mouths slurping… siphoning… tenderly squeezing…”

Deception, bondage, non-con/dub-con/rape, mpreg, stuffing, fisting… torture…you name it.

Did I like it?

Yes… yes, I did.

It starts off innocently enough. Danny is on a back-to-nature camping trip in a bucolic setting… cue birds, bees, butterflies…

Then begins a descent into nightmare-hell as he is tricked and forced into an evil experiment and… let’s just say he finds a special connection with a large, slimy, tentacled lake monster. It’s not pretty. I can’t say more. Read it.

This comes so close to my (so-far) favorite tent-sex read, Charlotte Mistry’s Gay Tentacles from Outer Space! (discerning tent-sex readers will already know this one). But Kari Gregg (I Omega, Spoils of War) offers up her very own special brand of delicious torture in the tent sex genre.

It’s just all kinds of… no… and, yesssss… Read it, but heed the tags.

Rated: star_review

Flesh and Song by Ally Blue
Tags: contemporary, paranormal, gods/demons, sailing, tropical island

Noah Rose is a restless man. He has everything he could want, a thriving surf holiday business in Costa Rica, a beautiful sailboat, and an eight month vacation cruising around the Caribbean. He’s been searching for a mythic island, “La Terre de la Belle Mort” (Land of the Beautiful Death), but what exactly is he searching for? He has been desired by many men “who wanted to own him but couldn’t” yet he is alone, adrift on the sea, searching, until…

”… here he was, facing the island the old men swore would give you your heart’s most secret desire. For a price.”

A naked man shows up on the island’s pristine beach and Noah is called to him. The lure of the siren song, here with a twist, changes Noah’s life as, once more, someone wants to own and bind him. Has he found his “heart’s most secret desire”?

“Then the stranger spoke again, the words like bells and nightingales… making his heart race… intoxicating song words Noah didn’t understand but already needed the way he needed air and water.”

The story is well made, but in the end it felt like an interesting interlude. Noah is in a dangerous situation, we see it even when he doesn’t, but we don’t know or learn enough about him to really care. Points for the descriptive writing and Noah’s fall into a kind of madness— that was fun.

Rated: 535px-3-5_stars-svg

Out From Under by Brien Michaels
Tags: contemporary, paranormal, demons/monsters, slave/captive, bondage, vine sex, non/dubious-consensual/rape, three-way, stuffing & sounding, torture, gore-fest

Brant has been enslaved and imprisoned in an old, decaying mansion cellar by an evil demon that can take different physical forms. It can even manifest itself by turning the cellar into a lush, verdant forest, sprouting foliage and sex-crazed vines. And it is hungry, it needs a certain type of nourishment. One guess what that is…

“… leaves sprouted beneath my feet, moist and lush… the first string of cum jettisoned from the tip of my cock, and the leaves glowed where it landed.”

The author outdoes himself, this is such a randy gore-fest of demon badness. And Brant is no innocent. He’s a pain-loving nympho, hooked on vine sex, reduced to procuring men for the monster, keeping its secrets; he’s sold himself for it and is lost to the pleasure.

“… the demon’s curse amplified every feeling, made me need that caress so badly I ached.”

And yet, there are lines like, “This nymphomania was really a burden sometimes. It made life so much harder…” and… “(the demon’s) head walked toward me (saying): “Things may not have worked out quite the way I’d planned.” The cheeky humor is welcome and balances the nightmare nicely.

The author switches back and forth in describing the demon’s sexual appendages… are they vines or tentacles? Confusing and irritating. Discriminating tent sex readers will want an important detail like this kept clear and consistent!! *nods* For this reader ‘vine’ works just as well as ‘tentacle’.  I have to add that the demon’s ghastly, human form with its tattoos that could ‘peel away on command’ into 3-D vines— so cool. I also liked the ending, how things resolved for Brant, though there is a lot of gore to wade through to get there. Be warned!

Rated: four-stars_0

Sleeping With Ghosts by Peter Hansen
Tags: paranormal, alternate universe, ghosts, violence

An odd, grim alternative universe, this, and slow-going at first as the reader is dropped coldly into it with little preparation.  Brother Yordan Korvechi is a Bookman, he works for the Church of She Who Turns the Page and their job is to protect against the soulless who roam this world (it seems there are a limited number of souls to go around). “Turning the page” being a euphemism for death, and Yordan wielding the power of the Grim Reaper.

What happens when an aged person needs a little nudge, a little help with separation from life and soul? Who you gonna call?

Yordan is dispatched to such a task, equipped for action… “He had a knife up each sleeve and a slim pistol in his coat lining, a garrote in his breast pocket just aching to be unwound.”  His task is critical, as somewhere, an unborn baby is waiting for the recycled soul, must have it.

But when Yordan discovers that he has been used in a political rivalry, he begins to have second thoughts about his work. Things have become more complicated when he is touched by the soul of the not-so-aged man he has just dispatched, and he is forever changed.

This was well written and atmospheric with a brooding sense of tension, dis-ease and suspicion, but it didn’t feel especially horrific or erotic. It left me almost as cold as poor Yordan’s interaction with the soulless ghost… I couldn’t help but feel that a little more info and character development would have greatly helped. (I recall that I’ve read another short by this author (Changing the Guard) which left me feeling much the same.)

Rated: 535px-3-5_stars-svg

Blasphemer, Sinner, Saint by Heidi Belleau & Sam Schooler
Tags: paranormal, demons, rape, ‘shock-value’

Holy cannoli, this is all kinds of messed up. Disturbing and mesmerizing.

Things start off relatively quietly. There’s David who has to sell himself on the streets to get by, and is dying from syphilis, and Tobias, his self-righteous, sanctimonious ex-lover who runs a boy’s orphanage, steeping himself in ‘good works’.

Told from Tobias’ POV, we see that they were childhood lovers, but Tobias was unable to accept his ‘unnatural’ feelings for David. So he abandons him, and buries himself in religious conviction that it’s for the best. David, meanwhile still loves Tobias, and comes asking him for help.

Part-way in I felt that this was looking to be the most romantic of all the offerings in this antho. Yeah, Tobias is a prick, but he eventually enters into a deal with a strange man he meets in a church, whereby he can give David his life back, give him a chance at redemption. It seems that Tobias still cares for his old lover and does want to help him. But are his intentions completely unselfish and in good faith?

This also has an underlying message of the need for compassion— that sometimes there is no choice— that we must accept who we are, and that love is love. Too bad Tobias learns this too late because the bargain he makes for David’s soul turns out to have a horrific and shocking payment. He has literally sold his soul to the devil for it.

Most of the important action happens in a church and there is an act that is so shocking that it stopped me cold… it will offend some, I suspect. But this is some special mindfuckery— that the horror here, lies in messing with our perceptions and boundaries. There is a twist in the act that makes it work in the end, though. In the end, everyone gets what they deserve. But at what cost?

Rated: four-stars_0

Elizabetta’s Overall Rating – star_review

BUY LINKS: Riptide Publishing

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Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ELIZABETTA’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Carissa

18308701TITLE: Good Boy
SERIES: Theta Alpha Gamma #4
AUTHOR: Anne Tenino
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 77 pages
BLURB: Brad “Frat Boy” Feller and Sebastian “Toppy” DeWitt have been together for nine months, and their relationship is as hot as ever. The only cloud Brad sees on their horizon is Sebastian’s stress over his thesis. And their uncertain future together after graduation. And how Sebastian sometimes takes Brad for granted. And Sebastian’s unwillingness to introduce Brad to his father.

Other than that, everything’s awesome.

All of Sebastian’s energy is currently devoted to his thesis, and getting into a top-notch PhD program. Fortunately, his boyfriend takes care of all the domestic stuff and Sebastian’s needs. Any minor strain between them will disappear and they’ll return to the status quo after Sebastian graduates. As long as nothing upsets their delicate balance in the meantime.

Then a friend Brad once had a small fling with is forced to take refuge with them, and Frat Boy and Toppy’s delicate balance topples like an elephant on a waterski. Now Sebastian has to face some truths about how he’s been treating Brad, what he wants for their future, and what he has to do to get it.

REVIEW:

Once again we dip back into the world of Theta Alpha Gamma with this fourth installment in the series.  Bradley and Sebastian, of Frat Boy and Toppy fame, have been living in loving bliss since Bradley came out and Sebastian declared his love.  Well, maybe not bliss.  But they do love each other, and while living together has certainly created friction–and not all of it good–no one is looking for an escape hatch just yet.  Except Bradley has had a nagging feeling that something is missing: a missed connection between what was unsaid and what needs to be said between the two.  And after months of trying to ignore the problem, of hoping that the house of cards they have built is held together with duct-tape and not just sex-hoarse prayers, the arrival of Collin at their door pushes Sebastian up to his breaking point and Brad past his.  Now it is up to them both to lay their souls bare, ‘cause life will be looking far from happy if neither of them can find the words to bind them ever-after.

Picking up Good Boy was like a quick, but heart pounding, visit back into the world of my favorite frat-boys.  And sadly, while this story lacked the majority of the Theta Alpha Gamma House, there was plenty of Sebastian and Brad to get my fill of.  And what wonderful flavors they came in, too.  From hot and spicy bedroom play, to sweet and sultry blindfolded promises, there was a little something for everyone.  Even if that something was the sour taste, much like an over-lemoned lemonade, of long held (not-so) secret grudges.  The abundance of flavors should have clashed something horrible, but instead they all fit together to make a truly interesting and exciting story.

After the end of Frat Boy and Toppy I couldn’t shake the feeling that we hadn’t seen the last of Brad and Sebastian, and while we got glimpses of them in Love, Hypothetically and Sweet Young Thing–which, incidentally, happens chronologically alongside Good Boy–it just didn’t feel like enough.  Something was missing from their story–and as we come to find out in Good Boy, something was missing from their lives as well.  Well, not missing…it’s more like it was floating out there in the ether where both of them could feel, but neither wished to acknowledge.  But Brad comes to realize that even if Sebastian doesn’t want to acknowledge it, Brad needs to hear it.  And that, my friends, is when things get interesting.

And hot.

Frat Boy and Toppy had chemistry…but Sebastian and his boy have a nuclear-meltdown level of heat.  I am a fan of BDSM in my stories, loving the play and dynamics that come into effect when Doms and subs unite.  And while we got hints of this in FB&T, it wasn’t something that was overly talked about, or hashed out–which leads, in part, to the conflict in Good Boy.  In this story, it has to be talked about, or else the relationship could very well crumble beneath their feet.  But when the talking is done, and the clothes come off, these two burn up the pages.

Part of what makes this relationship so incendiary is that you get the sense that you are reading about two people who are a Dom and sub.  Not two people playing at the roles.  It is who they are, and when they finally openly acknowledge that part of their relationship, it is freeing and consuming at the same time.  Bradley’s inner conflict and resolve within himself about his sub tendencies was so well written that I had no problem believing that when he was at Sebastian’s feet, it was the only place he ever wanted to be.  And Sebastian grows so much in this story (he starts off as a complete ass, so up really was the only way to go), and learns just what he needs from Bradley–and what he needs to give to his boy, in order for him to be happy with himself.

I do think that in order to fully enjoy this story that you need to have read FB&T (the others in the series are optional to understanding the plot, though well worth the read on their own merits).  Will the story be understandable without having read FB&T? Probably.  But I very much doubt it will be as fun or filling.  There is just so much of the meat of the relationship–and the issues that pepper it–in FB&T, that to skip it would be like gorging on a steak without even pausing to taste the smoky, barbecued flavor on your tongue.  Sure you will get the occasional sweet lick of perfectly cooked meat over your taste buds, but flashes of flavor is nothing compared to the feel of sweet juicy meat running along your lips, over your tongue and bursting fully into all of your mouth.

While I would have quite happily read another hundred pages about these two, and how they are now going to live in this relationship that they have worked out, I don’t feel like we got short changed by the length of the story.  I think the story needed to give some closure to their relationship, and allow us to see the beginnings of their happily-ever-after.  And after it did that, I liked that it ended (even if I did want to set up camp in their bedroom and then sit and drool over the pair for a bit longer).  This story served as a bookend to Sebastian and Bradley’s story.  At least for us.  For now.

As for what is next, I can only hope that Tenino has her sights set on Toby.  My only request is that we get more of those lovely, if somewhat beer-logged, frat-boys from Theta Alpha Gamma.  I just love them–and if you don’t know why, I suggest you take a gander at Sweet Young Thing.

I recommend you read this book if you want to know just what happened to our Toppy and his Good Boy, or if you just feel the need to nuke your e-reader with highly restrained passion.  And if you feel the need to go back and reread the whole series again after you have hit that final page…well you won’t be the only one.

Carissa rates it – star_review

BUY LINKS: Riptide Publishing

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Carissa is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: CARISSA’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Heather C.

TITLE: After the Fall
SERIES: Tucker Springs #6
AUTHOR: L.A Witt
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 54,000 Words
BLURB: After years of saving every penny, Nathan has finally managed to buy the horse of his dreams. He’s looking forward to a summer of exploring the Colorado mountain trails above Tucker Springs with Tsarina. But on their very first ride, a motorcyclist makes a wrong turn, scaring Tsarina into bolting and leaving Nathan with a broken leg, a broken hand, and a ruined summer.

Ryan is a loner and a nomad, content with working odd jobs before moving on to the next town. Feeling guilty for causing the accident that leaves Nathan in two casts, Ryan offers to keep Tsarina exercised until Nathan heals.

Despite their bad start, Nathan and Ryan soon become friends . . . and then much more. But with a couple of nasty breakups in his past, Nathan doesn’t want feelings getting involved—especially knowing that Ryan will never settle down. But since when do feelings ever listen to reason?

REVIEW:

Another great story from Tucker Springs.

Nathan’s dream has finally come true:  he is now the proud owner of a shiny new horse, Tsarina.  Then, after his first day taking her out on the trails, he is left with a broken leg (Ryan’s fault) and a broken hand (Nathan’s fault) and a horse with no one to ride her for the entire summer…until Ryan, a lonely, wanderer who never stays in one place for long, offers him a deal.

You may remember Nathan since he’s been around from the very beginning as Mike’s receptionist at his acupuncture clinic.  I was really worried that I wouldn’t like Nathan,  but he has changed a lot from the manwhore we all knew from previous books.  No, there is no whoring in this book; it’s just a very slow burning, sweet story…but not the kind of sweet that will rot your teeth.

I was really loving the first half of the story:  all the horse stuff and sexual tension was really working for me. Then, after they started having sex, very hot sex I must add, the story became all about the sex and miscommunications, and less about the horse and them getting to know each other.  I mean, neither man went into this wanting a long term relationship, so when things start to feel more important than either of them ever expected, what do you think they do?  I don’t think I need to spell it out for you.

Another big issue I had with the story was why was Nathan so scared to have sex with Ryan?  It was touched on briefly but it seemed to run much deeper than what had been told. I feel that if his issues would have been further explored, it could of added much more depth to the story.  Instead, it left me with the feeling that Nathan’s fears were borderline ridiculous and just there as a plot device to hinder the growth of his and Ryan’s relationship.  Ah, but it all wraps up nicely in the end.

I’m probably stretching by giving this 4 stars, but I really did enjoy it and couldn’t put the book down. It’s one of those stories I would’ve read all in one sitting if I wouldn’t’ve had to sleep and work.  It’s just still missing a little something…

This book is part of a series, but I still feel that they can be read in any order. Yes, there are brief appearances from previous MCs, but their stories don’t have any big importance to this plot.  I’m really hoping Brad and Jeff get their story told soon; even though I’m not a fan of reading about established couples, I still want their HEA.

Heather rates it – four-stars_0

BUY LINKS: Riptide Publishing

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Heather C. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: HEATHER’S REVIEWS
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Exclusive Cover Reveal for Ally Blue’s upcoming book from Riptide Publishing – “Long The Mile”! The title is one of the four stories featured in Riptide’s contemporary holiday charity collection, “Home For The Holidays”.

LongTheMile_3DcoverLG

BLURB:

Sometimes it takes losing everything to find what you really need.

When Judah went to prison for insider trading, he lost everything he  thought was important: his business, his money, his power. But when he  gets out, homelessness strips him of the one thing he has left: his  self-respect. When another homeless man saves him from a beating, he  begins to learn to rely on the goodness of those around him.

For Toby, life on the streets has become familiar. Comfortable. So  comfortable he wonders if he’s given up on changing his life for the  better. Then comes Judah. Formerly rich, newly homeless, all his pride  and attitude gone along with his material possessions. Helping Judah  feels good. Their unexpected connection—physical and beyond—feels even  better.

Their shared situation nurtures a growing closeness that blossoms into  something deeper. But when change comes knocking, it will take all their strength to keep fear and insecurity from tearing them apart.

LINK: RIPTIDE

Illumination_TourBanner(1)

Reviewed by Elizabetta

IlluminationTITLE: Illumination
AUTHOR: Rowan Speedwell
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 307 pages
BLURB: Adam Craig is burned out. Lead singer of the hard rock band Black Varen, he’s tired of the empty life of groupies, paparazzi, and hotel rooms. Worse, a life in the closet. After the final concert of their latest tour, he flees the after-party in pursuit of memories of lost summers and carefree days, until he passes out on the patio of a shuttered lake resort.

Miles Caldwell is a brilliant artist, tied by agoraphobia and social anxiety to his family’s lodge. Alone but for his parrot, he spends his days illuminating manuscripts and hiding from the complexities of life. When he discovers Adam asleep in a deck chair, he’s furious but intrigued. Adam soon charms his way into Miles’ bed, and they lose themselves in a summer idyll, safe from the compromises and claims of reality.

But Adam’s life, with all its demands, is waiting for him. And Miles, uncertain of Adam’s true feelings, is battling demons of his own. Somehow, the man who’s never home and the man who never leaves it must find the strength to fight for a future together.

REVIEW:

Light, warmth, passion. And some turmoil to make the falling in love even sweeter.

I think I was smiling much of the time reading this.

Miles, is a gifted artist, he illuminates precious manuscripts, turning plain text into decorated works of art, much as church monks of the Middle Ages did before the time of the printing press. He makes his own period pigments, drafts the fancy lettering, and carefully paints in the elaborate embellishments. It’s like lush embroidery on paper. The addition of fine gold leaf elevates it, making the text glow. Miles loses himself in his work, quill in hand, working long hours to bring perfection to the page. His art helps him forget, keeps the fears at bay.

Adam, famous metal rock star, long-haired and golden-eyed music god, illuminates Miles. Fires him up, brings him back into life. Gives him companionship and hope. Adam is a jaded musician but he knows compassion and gentleness.

It is sweet reading, getting to know Miles and Adam. The author nicely balances that early glowing awareness the guys have for each other with the darkness always lurking for Miles… He has memory loss resulting from a horrific, long ago car accident that killed his parents. He’s recovered physically, but his fears have left him an agoraphobic recluse shutting himself away from the world on his lake-side family estate. Lucky for him, Adam, trying to flee all the rock-star crap, drops into his life. Adam sees the sweet guy beneath all the cranky. The mystery becomes how one guy tethered to his home, a prisoner to his fears, can make a relationship with another guy who is always on the move and lives hundreds of miles away.

I loved the set-up, the isolation of Miles and Adam at the lake house, the time they spend together, learning each other. It immerses them and the reader into a kind of dreamy other-world, intimate and protected.

“… he ran his fingers gently over Adam’s cheekbone, trailing them around this ear as if the curve of cartilage were something rare and precious… his eyes gone smoky blue and deep in thought, the way they did when he was thinking about his art. Adam felt… like Miles’s attention was on him the way a curator’s might be on a sculpture he was deciding to acquire.”

These two artists teach each other about their respective work– we feel Miles’s passion for illuminating, we learn about Adam’s obsession with musical theatre. They are awestruck, tender, and caring. They make each other laugh. It felt like falling in love as they fall in love. And yet…

The psychological trauma that keeps Miles shut away informs all his thoughts and actions. His memory loss disconnects him from his childhood when his artistic gifts were taking hold and moving in a different direction. The boy who created glorious paintings is now a man confined to copying an old art form.

“That’s all he does now, copy the way things were done five hundred years ago, as if reconnecting with someone else’s history makes up for lacking his own.”

It is a childhood lost; he is lost and can’t find his way back to a semblance of normal. The second half of the book takes a darker tone because of the limitations this puts on the guys’ relationship.

There are supporting characters, critical to the story, that deserve a mention. Lisa, Miles’s sister, is a caring, supportive force in his life; I really liked her in the story. Doug and Robert are a committed couple and childhood friends of Miles that have stood by him, giving him comfort in an unorthodox way. There’s also Grace, Miles’s African grey parrot, whose mimicking adds some laughs. The author does a fine job building these characters and weaving them into the story.

In general, the pacing is good, there were a few repetitive sections, and there is a lot of information given about the art of illumination, but I was happy for every page. I really got into these guys and their journey. This is not just a fluffy romance. Miles has serious issues that give the piece a dark edge… and yet it is infused with hope and light.

Elizabetta’s Rating:

BUY LINK: Riptide  ::  Amazon (Paperback)

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Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ELIZABETTA’S REVIEWS
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ROWAN SPEEDWELL

Rowan Speedwell lives in a tarpaper shack in the North Woods, without so much as cable TV to keep her warm. Compared to her, J.D. Salinger is an extrovert. She is allergic to publicity and loathes marketing, so her books only sell one or two copies. If you have one, she thanks you, as your purchase enables her to buy cat food for her diabetic feline companion, Kimball O’Hara.

She does have internet, when she hikes to the top of the mountain and fires up her PC Jr., so visit her website or follow her on Twitter at @rowanspeedwell if you need to request a refund for the one book you did buy.

⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹

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CONTEST WILL END ON 6th October, 2013 @ 11:59 PM Central Time!!

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Hello to the Sid Love crew – thank you so much for having me!

My paranormal novella Devil at the Crossroads was just released by Riptide Publishing, and I’m glad to have the chance to chat a little about how this story was born. And, at the end of the post, there’s also a juicy giveaway for all lovely readers…!

I have made a few posts over the last few days – you can check out the blog tour schedule here :)!

 I (heart) short stories!

DevilAtTheCrossroads_150x300(1)When I first started writing, I used to suck at short stories.

I used to get all these vague ideas for long, convoluted stories, picturesque scenes with poignant thoughts and elaborate descriptions . . . and then never get anywhere with any of those. I was a bit too enamoured of my own prose and, to put it mildly, totally unable to plot. I would go on for two pages of flowery description about some inspiring scenery, ramble on a stream of consciousness for another three, insert an oh-so-bohemian dream sequence for another five, all the while basking in just how fancy all those words looked and completely missing the fact that they were, well . . . completely useless. They weren’t taking the story anywhere. Heck, there was barely a story in the first place, just a collage of very picturesque chunks of prose.

Don’t get me wrong, fine prose is a very nice thing, and I even managed to win a couple of prizes because of how artfully I was able to arrange those pretty words to hide the fact that I wasn’t actually saying anything! But . . . it turned out soon that it was not enough. I would ramble on for pages and pages until eventually I would just . . . drift off and towards some new project. Which would, of course, never be completed either. I spent a few years writing and somehow feeling that ‘my thing’ was leaving unfinished stories that meandered nowhere, but did so in a very wordy way – what a depressing specialty!

That was when I started my Creative Writing BA at university. Now, like every degree in an artistic field, this is a potentially very useless one: because nobody can really teach you how to write, or paint, or play music, and nobody can make you do it. What they can do is teach you a set of more or less standard skills or tools, that you are then free to use or not use as you please. They did it in my fine arts high school, and I was able to work for a while just relying on those technical tools, albeit not having any real talent (as I mentioned in my recent post at Fiction Vixen). But, when they did it in the Creative Writing BA, the results were incredibly different, because this time I did have some rough talent that could be harnessed and trained.

What helped me the most were not the lectures about prose style – I was too bogged down with that already! – but courses that focused on plotting, on the bare mechanics of storytelling, on how to make sure that a story works and has a strong, solid structure before adding to it and embellishing it. I realized then that I always used to just slather on the embellishment, but without having any structure under it. Curiously enough, the best course for this wasn’t a prose writing one at all, but one on ‘Writing Short Films,’ where descriptions and long musings were entirely absent and I was pushed out of my comfort zone and forced to work on the substance of the story.

Now, assignments for university were of course very short, and that was when I smashed my nose against my wordiness. For the first year, I hated, hated, hated having to work on short pieces – it was so different from what I was used to! But my reaction was to obsess over it, reading piles of short stories and hammering at the keyboard every day, determined to get it right. I started to appreciate short stories in a way I never had. I had never possessed the ability to sum up something with a few concise words instead of blathering on for five paragraphs, the skill of taking one clear idea and execute it cleanly in a page, such as in the classic Sentry by Fredric Brown, the ability to develope a whole plot, complete with the classic inciting incident, turning point and climax, in a flawless miniature version . . .

I started seeing short stories as bonsai trees, requiring a lot of care and hard work in order obtain a small but precise result, a miniature version of a novel. It was a challenge to know what to prune, where to tighten, what words to discard, what branches of the story would need to be sacrificed – but slowly I started enjoying the challenge more and more.

And, well! The result is that I, the former queen of rambling wordiness and sworn enemy of briefness, somehow ended up specializing in short stories. If you have read something of mine already, you’ll know that I have only published novellas and short stories up until now! I know that they aren’t the most popular format – I too wasn’t a fan until but a few years ago, and it is difficult to find a well-executed short story, at that – but I have just grown to love them a lot. It might partly be because I have some attention issues, so a strong short story can hold my attention in full throughout the whole thing, while with novels I often find myself drifting off along the way. Occasionally, I even find myself wondering if a particular story was watered down to get it to novel length, and I wonder whether it might have worked better as a short.

That is one of the main reasons why I have only written shorter works so far, including Devil at the Crossroads. Those stories seem to just naturally fit the novella/short story format; that amount of words was enough to tell that particular story, so, when it was done, I stopped. I suppose I could have added bits and bobs, stretched scenes, piled on words until the story grew into a novel: but would the work be better for it? I’m afraid I would have a relapse in my blabbering habits of stories past! I’m afraid I will remain specialized in short stories until a plot comes to mind that just naturally fits a novel length. And I promise – when that happens, you’ll be the first to know! 😉

Cornelia xxx

 

!!Trivia Contest!!

Attention, dear readers – this release comes with a trivia contest, and the winners will receive a free ebook of their choice from my backlist!

There are three easy questions, whose answer can be found reading Devil at the Crossroads. Keep an eye for the answers as you read the story, then email me the answers at corneliagrey [at] yahoo [dot] com – do not leave them in the comments, remember, you don’t want to make life too easy for the competition ;)!

The deadline for the contest is September the 30th: I will randomly select two readers among those who emailed me replying correctly to the three questions. The winners will be officially announced on my blog (as well as emailed!) and they will receive a free ebook of their choice from my backlist!

Ready for the questions? Here we go…

1)      What is the model of Logan’s guitar?

2)      Throughout the story, three spider tattoos are mentioned. Where are they located?

3)      Farfarello happens to mention a future birthday of Logan’s. Which birthday is that?

Good luck! And remember, email me your answers by September the 30th to be entered in the contest :)!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cornelia Grey is a creative writing student fresh out of university, with a penchant for fine arts and the blues. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia moved to London to pursue her studies.

She likes cats, knitting, performing in theatre, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it.

You can find her at www.corneliagrey.com

Annd also on [Twitter] [Livejournal] [Blogger] [Facebook]

 

Devil at the Crossroads Blurb:

Devil at the CrossroadsThe devil covets more than his soul …

Six years ago, Logan Hart sold his soul to the devil to become the greatest bluesman of all time—and now the devil has come to collect.

The irony is that Logan squandered his gift. High on fame, money, and drugs, he ignored his muse and neglected his music. And despite managing to escape showbiz in a moment of clarity, it’s too late to redeem himself. All that’s left is to try to go out with some dignity. Alas, the prospect of an eternity in Hell isn’t helping much with that goal.

But Farfarello, the devil who bought Logan’s soul, isn’t ready to drag him down to Hell quite yet. He’s just spent six years working his ass off to whip a bluesman into shape, and he refuses to let that—or the opportunity for more sinful pleasures with Logan—go to waste.

You can read an excerpt and purchase ‘Devil at the Crossroads’ here!

 

Reviewed by Nina

The Crimson OutlawTITLE: The Crimson Outlaw
AUTHOR: Alex Beecroft
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 121 pages
BLURB: Love is the greatest outlaw of all.

Vali Florescu, heir to a powerful local boyar, flees his father’s cruelty to seek his fortune in the untamed Carpathian forests. There he expects to fight ferocious bandits and woo fair maidens to prove himself worthy of returning to depose his tyrannical father. But when he is ambushed by Mihai Roscat, the fearsome Crimson Outlaw, he discovers that he’s surprisingly happy to be captured and debauched instead.

Mihai, once an honoured knight, has long sought revenge against Vali’s father, Wadim, who killed his lord and forced him into a life of banditry. Expecting his hostage to be a resentful, spoiled brat, Mihai is unprepared for the boy to switch loyalties, saving the lives of villagers and of Mihai himself during one of Wadim’s raids. Mihai is equally unprepared for the attraction between them to deepen into love.

Vali soon learns that life outside the castle is not the fairy tale he thought, and happy endings must be earned. To free themselves and their people from Wadim’s oppression, Vali and Mihai must forge their love into the spear-point of a revolution and fight for a better world for all.

REVIEW:

A wonderful, fairytale-like story with richly developed settings and interesting characters – what more could you wish for, right? Hm. Kind of.

I’ll start with the best thing in this novella: the settings. It might be because Romania is a place I’m familiar with, since my parents are Romanian and I visit the country regularly, but every scene came alive right before my eyes. It’s clear that the author’s research is precise and in depth –  believe me, I’ve personally seen rooms, houses and villages like those she describes, and in some places they’re exactly the same today as they were two hundred years ago. Well, with the addition of electricity and running water.

Even the characters’ names are correctly spelled – most of them, at least – and I loved how the author used the Romanian term for food and drinks that exist in the rest of the world too, but with slight differences that make using a specific term necessary. Being pretty nit-picky when spellings and grammar are concerned, I do have to mention the sometimes incorrect spelling of these words and the fact that I think non-Romanian-speaking readers would appreciate a glossary.

To make a story this atmospheric and easy to visualise, I understand that the author felt the need to describe everything very in depth, but personally I think she went a bit overboard on that. In some parts the flow of the story was simply interrupted by mile long descriptions, and that made it even easier to put down.

And here comes my first complaint: the complete lack of tension. It’s an interesting, pleasant story, but there was no thrill to keep me glued to the pages. That is not to say that I was bored, but… well, I was. A little bit.

The characters had me conflicted. They’re original, consistent and easy to empathise with, but they would have needed a much longer story arc to have the time to develop fully. For example, Vali’s conflictual, complex relationship with his father had the potential for great tension; Wadim (oh, here’s the name spelled wrong) is a violent man and a violent father as well, but he has the ability to show affection towards his son in a way that made a sort of grudging respect and trust bloom in him. But was that affection real, or as calculated and cold underneath as the rest of his actions? I got a few clues in regards to that, but didn’t get to find out for sure, because this part of the story was cut short and underdeveloped after the initial scene in a way that some might consider apt and dramatic – others a convenient shortcut.

Vali’s character development and personal growth are more convincing: we get to see him start as a pampered, dreamy, almost childish young nobleman and become someone stronger, with firmer moral principles and a deeper understanding of other people. His relationship with Mihai is intriguing, but, again, underdeveloped.

All of the characters in this story appear colourful, three-dimensional and distinctive; the problem is that I felt as if I weren’t able to get closer to them and get a better look inside their heart and head, and was stuck with a clear but quickly gathered impression.

Summing up, this is a well researched, beautifully crafted and original story with a setting that, at least for me, shone brighter than the (admittedly wonderful) characters did – and while that can be interesting at times, it’s not really what I wanted from this story.

Nina rates it – 535px-3-5_stars-svg

BUY LINK: Riptide Store  ::  All Romance eBooks

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Nina is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: NINA’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Jennifer B.

Catch a Ghost (Hell or High Water, #1)TITLE: Catch a Ghost
SERIES: Hell or High Water #1
AUTHOR: S. E. Jakes
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 300 pages
BLURB: Everyone knows that Prophet—former Navy SEAL, former CIA spook, full-time pain in the ass—works alone and thinks only about the trouble he can cause. But his boss, Phil Butler of Extreme Escapes, LTD., has just assigned Proph not only a new partner but also a case haunted by ghosts from Proph’s past. Suddenly, he’s got to confront them both head on.

Tom Boudreaux—failed FBI agent, failed sheriff, full time believer in bad luck—is wondering why the head of a private contracting firm has hunted him down to offer him a job.  Still he’s determined to succeed this time, despite being partnered with Prophet, EE, LTD’s most successful, lethal, and annoying operative, and even though the case is also resurrecting his own painful past.

Together, Prophet and Tom must find a way to take down killers in the dangerous world of underground cage matches, while fighting their own dangerous attraction. And when they find themselves caught in the crossfire, these two loners are forced to trust each other and work together to escape their ghosts . . . or pay the price.

REVIEW:

I will start by saying that I have loved Prophet from his very first appearance in the Men of Honor series.  He was mysterious but could always be counted on to get the job done and provide whatever support was necessary.  We never actually got very much detail about him; just enough to give a slow build up to this story.  Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.

This book could easily be read as a stand-alone and start to a hot new series.  However, I am a fan of the slow burn, and even though I have zero patience for waiting.  That’s exactly how it felt up to this point.  I’m glad I had the background of the Men of Honor series behind me before reading this.  That’s also why I didn’t feel lost or confused when this story began with a mysterious video.

When we see Prophet this time, he is on forced recovery with two broken wrists.  He is also suffering from a degenerative something or other with his eyes that can only negatively affect his current career in a matter of time.  In addition, he is being forced to take on a new partner, as well as his continual grooming to take over as head of EE, Ltd. (Extreme Escapes).

Prophet has many issues, not the least of which was his time as a POW.  This man can handle torture like nobody’s business, although his body seems to be taking a more permanent dislike to the treatment.  He is a bit unstable because of that, coupled with the other duties he has had to carry out over the years, which is, of course, why I love him so.  He works best alone, has resigned himself to the fact he will always be alone, personally and professionally, and makes no excuses.  He is also haunted by dreams and the ghost of his good friend/lover.

Tom has a few issues of his own.  He’s a bit of a hot mess with his temper issues and the bad mojo that has followed his hot, tattooed, pierced self from his previous jobs.  The current job appears to be a last chance for him, and though the deck seems to be stacked against him from the start, there always seems to be a bigger plan in effect.

Prophet and Tom – talk about hot stuff.  Both fighters, strong and dominant, yet both damaged and vulnerable.  As they investigate their first case, they spend as much time trying to figure each other out.  They fight, joke, take care of one another and tear up the sheets, all while keeping secrets from each other.

The story starts out with the anonymously sent video, but as the story progresses, it becomes about the current investigation, one that is a bit personal for Prophet.  Things come full circle though, and eventually ties all together in one way or another.  As things unfold, Tom and Prophet continue to jockey around having some kind of relationship.  Prophet never makes things easy though, and Tom quickly realizes he is also competing with a ghost.

There is a lot of action in this story, and I was on the edge of my seat through most of it.  While some may disagree, I loved that there was no HEA yet for Prophet or Tom.  Even though I was cursing the Kindle, I was happy there wasn’t even a HFN.  Prophet still has so many issues, and Tom has a few as well.  I never expected things to be easy for them and believe it will be all the more better for it in the end when it does happen, so I’m very thankful the author has taken this route.  The characters are written with so much room for growth, even though they seem to have come such a long way already.

There is a bit of a love triangle here.  While there isn’t any cheating, per se (they aren’t actually in a committed relationship after all), there is other flirting between Prophet and Cillian.  Speaking of the super sexy and mysterious downstairs spook neighbor, Cillian, he and Prophet text and IM, and even flirt quite a bit, but have never actually met until later on in the story.  There seems there could be a whole other story for Cillian, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed (and will gladly beg) that we get it.

A lot of choices are made at the end of this book, leaving me on the edge, dangling with questions and begging for more.  The next book cannot come out fast enough for me, and I’m glad it won’t be too long a wait.  I believe this was the best story yet in this series (I’m including Men of Honor) and certainly am not ready to see the last of any of these characters.

Jennifer’s Rating: star_review

PRE-ORDER: Riptide

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Jennifer B. is one of the newest official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: JENNIFER B’S REVIEWS
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So, here’s the deal for the contest.  S. E. Jakes is giving away three prizes.  The first, the grand prize, is a Kindle Paperwhite. Second prize is a $25 Amazon gift certificate and third prize is a $10 Amazon gift certificate.  You can have multiple entries at multiple places and they will all count.  Below are the ways to enter:
* Leave a comment here today on this post and let the author know what books you bought today, last book you read, etc.
* Leave a comment on any and all blog tour stops (see the list below) – each comment puts your name in the hat another time
* Put a link to the contest on your Twitter or your Facebook and link back to Jakes (either include the author’s twitter handle or highlight her name on FB so she can easily find your post and include it.
So basically, you can get your name in a lot for a chance to win!
Link to the Blog Tour page: Riptide – Catch a Ghost Blog Tour
Susan interviews Alexis Hall with Darian & Ash of “Glitterland”

glitterlandBlurb:
The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

. ≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.

Welcome to the Blog of Sid Love, Alexis Hall, author of the newly released, critically acclaimed “Glitterland”!  And while we wait on Darian and Ash to get here, let’s pick the author’s brain to get some insight and insider information on the book and the quirky and beloved MC’s.

Alexis, welcome! How does it feel to have your first book released and your first blog tour underway? 

AJH: Slightly weird, to be honest. The whole experience of having a book that I wrote that is a book, like a book, a real book that people are reading, is just blowing my tiny mind right now. I know in the grand scheme of things it means absolutely nothing, the world will keep spinning, and the tide will come in, but I still can’t believe it. This is my first blog tour to match my first novel, and I’m very excited to be here.

We at Sid Love’s adored this book!  It was funny and sad, beautiful and ugly, charming and hurtful, lonely and loving all at the same time!  Can you tell us about how the idea came about and how the process of writing this book all the way to its release played out?

AJH: Wow, that’s quite a big question. The book was sort of vaguely inspired by a UK X Factor contestant called Rylan Clark. You can see his performances on Youtube, and I heartily recommend you do. Dancing fashionista pandas. Enough said, right? Anyway, when he was on the show there was quite a lot of backlash against him, both of the homophobic variety and the, in some ways more problematic, wrong sort of gay variety. So although I wasn’t trying to write about Rylan Clark, I wanted to write a book about someone who had the same sort of qualities that I felt Rylan Clark was being condemned for displaying.  But I also wanted to have the character taken seriously, not just played for laughs, which is what led me to pair him with an overly educated, bipolar depressive crime writer.

In terms of writing the thing, it went relatively smoothly, if that doesn’t sound like boasting. But I had a very clear idea of who Darian was and, actually, writing Ash’s voice came very naturally to me. I bunged it off slightly speculatively to Riptide, fully expecting them to say “no way in hell, what is this nonsense about a bimbo and an arsehole” but I guess they saw something in it.

The journey from writing to release was pretty fascinating to me. It involved a lot of things I’d never really thought about like dialogue tags, writing blurbs and having an author bio. I’m actually apparently a bit unusual because I enjoy being edited. I think that might be largely because I have really good relationship with my editor, Sarah Frantz, and I think she’s the bees knees, but there’s something kind of miraculous and humbling about a really clever, insightful person working with you to make your stuff better. The main GLITTERLAND edit was actually the end, but that’s another story and I think I’ve probably already given you far more random information than you could ever need or want.

And for those of us NOT from the UK, what does the significance or even the ‘inside joke’, if you will, of being from Essex mean?

AJH: Oh gosh.  So, Essex is a part of the UK, the population of which is stereotypically seen to be shallow, vulgar, ill-educated and materialistic.  Essex boys are supposed to be loud and drive fast cars. And Essex girls are supposed to be vapid and sexually promiscuous.  I hope I didn’t reinforce those stereotypes too much in GLITTERLAND.

Darian and Ash are so different, aren’t they?  Which do you most relate to / identify with?

AJH: Unfortunately, it’s probably Ash. I worry that I’m basically kind of an over-educated tosser like he is, and I think I share a lot of his flaws and fears. I’m quite invested, perhaps too invested, in having control over my life, and I think this can make me quite difficult to be with sometimes.  The truth is, I’d love to be more like Darian but I’m far too self-conscious.

And speaking of, here they come!  We’re very excited to have DARIAN and ASH, the MC’s from “Glitterland” join us!  Alexis, would you mind if we focused our attention on the lovebirds at hand?

AJH: Be my guest, but if you persist in calling them lovebirds, I fear Ash will leave.

*big smile*…Ok, so I am VERY excited to meet you both!!!! I’m such a fan! WELCOME! 

Darian:  Ahwight Suz. It’s well special to be ’ere.
Ash:  Hello.

Since we’re all so curious about the two of you and your relationship, let’s do a rapid-fire Q&A session, shall we?  Ok, here goes:

What is your favorite thing about your partner?

Darian:  Aw, he’s like proper classy. I nevva fought someone like him would go for someone like me.
Ash:  Well, I am mentally ill.
Darian:  You’re so funny, babes. So, yeah, he’s well funny too, and he went to like a proper university and he’s dead clever, and he’s like read like everyfing. And he keeps pretending he’s a right bell end, but he’s not.
Ash:  …
Darian:  Your turn, babes.
Ash:  This whole exercise makes me very uncomfortable.
Darian:  Oh go on.
Ash: He makes me happy. Can we move on, please?

Awwww….*smiles*. Ok, what is your biggest pet peeve about him?

Darian:  He’s a right monster in the morning. You just can’t talk to him til he’s ’ad his tea.
Ash:  He persists in dragging me along to events like these.

(I think you secretly are enjoying yourself! 🙂 )  If your flat was on fire and you could only grab one thing to take with you, what would it be?

Darian:  I’d take Ash, obvs.
Ash:  I think I am capable of leaving a burning building on my own initiative.
Darian:  Oh great, then I’d take my hair gel cos like if the firemen showed up and my hair looked a state I’d be well put out.
Ash:  There’s a photograph of which I’m rather fond. I suppose I’d take that.
Darian:  Aw, you’re so sweet, babes.
Ash:  I didn’t say it was the one of you.
Darian:  But it is though, right?
Ash:  Next question please.

(*snicker*)  If you could go shopping and purchase an outfit of your choice for your partner, what would you buy?

Darian:  Oh, he totes needs to get a onesie.
Ash:  A onesie is not an outfit. It’s a travesty.
Darian:  But they’re well cosy. Like wearing a hug.
Ash:  If there’s one thing Darian does not need, it’s more clothes.

(pssst…I love Darian’s clothes!!! Sparkly!)   Ok, now, what does the perfect date night between the two of you entail?

Darian:  We like to stay in. I know that sahnds a bit like … rubbish.
Ash:  Oh the exciting life we lead.
Darian:  We make our own excitement, babes.
Ash:  I suppose we do.

If you had to describe your partner in ONE WORD, what would it be?

Darian:  Amazin
Ash:  Orange.
Darian: Oi, that’s bang aht of order.
Ash:  Glittering.

Ha! Well, it’s clear you two are very smitten with each other and make each other happy!  It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you both…and you too, Alexis!  Which reminds me, Alexis, will we see/read any more about Darian and Ash in the future?

AJH:  I hadn’t planned on it. I think the story stands as it is. I enjoyed writing Ash and Darian, and I enjoy thinking about them, but I don’t think there’s anything more to say. There’s a 5000 word short which I’ll be releasing free on the website at some point in the future, probably around the time of Riptide’s anniversary. To be honest, it’s just a piece of fluff and it doesn’t stand alone or contribute all that much to GLITTERLAND itself, but I sort of missed the characters and I felt like indulging myself. It also kind of addresses a couple of things that didn’t end up in the published book, like why Ash dresses like he does, and how Darian feels about the tattoo.

Very cool!  Well, for the story of Darian and Ash’s relationship, written by the talented Alexis Hall, make sure to buy and read “Glitterland” (links below)!  It’s one of my favorite books of the year and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

*hugs all around*

Darian:  Aww Suz.
Ash:  Please don’t do that.
AJH:  *hugs*

hatAbout AJH

Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

You can also find him all over the internet, on his website, twitter, and goodreads.

You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy my book, if you want, at Riptide Publishing.

CrimsonOutlaw_150x300Hello and welcome to everyone who’s reading this, the third stop on the blog tour for The Crimson Outlaw, my historical m/m novella set in Transylvania. If you’re still reading from this point on, thank you for that! And thank you to my hosts here on the Sid Love blog for having me. I hope not to lower the tone 🙂 If you’re following the whole tour, quintuple thanks, and you may find it easiest to do so by keeping up with the schedule on this page.

I thought I’d take a break from the interview questions today and give you an excerpt exclusive to this site instead.

This is our heroes’ first meeting, at a dance in the village hall, while Vali is running away from home, and Mihai is not telling what his secret is:

~*~*~*~

He let his shoulders fall back and his limbs loosen. The girl twirled in place, her skirt spreading out and lifting with the motion to reveal shapely legs. She looked at him challengingly, and, with a cocky smile, he launched himself into the feciorească, clicking his heels and leaping high, stamping and slapping his thighs to show off the strength of his legs, the lightness and wildness of his frame.

At the second leap, the door opened behind his partner, and a man came in who had to bow to fit his head beneath the frame. A giant of a man, made bigger by a sheepskin coat turned skin-side out. The skin had been dyed crimson and covered with swirls of indigo embroidery. It made his shoulders and his arms look huge, but he wore it lightly, stopping just inside the door and raking Vali with a long, hot piercing look. His eyes were a blue so deep they almost matched the stitching on his coat.

Vali felt the gaze all over him like the tingling of nettles, and as he was already dancing a dance designed to show off a man’s beauty and vigour, he doubled his efforts. The girl grinned, and in the crowd three voices called out encouragement, but Vali didn’t stop until he had seen the giant’s mouth turn up slightly at one corner. Then he took the girl’s hand and led her into a couple dance, floating slightly on the knowledge that every time he glanced over, those dark blue eyes would be fixed on him.

After far too long, the dance came to an end. The musicians—Lautari gypsies in long coats, with rosin from their bows whitening their splendid moustaches—took a brief gulp of their drinks. Vali lead the girl back to the girls’ side, parted with a bow, and was just—finally!—making his way over to investigate the little half smile on the big man’s face, when an unwelcome toper with a mild look and a big nose barged into his way.

“Well danced indeed, sir. I am Nicolae, the horse doctor. What can I do for you?”

Damn. He looked over Nicolae’s shoulder, saw that his predicament had only widened the stranger’s smile. Someone had found a table for the man, and even now there was a steady stream of visitors to it, shaking hands, leaving a tot, leaning down to whisper a word or two and get an answer, leaving with thanks.

It’s as though he’s a boyar, holding court with these people as his petitioners. Vali dragged his gaze back to the broken blood vessels on the end of the horse doctor’s nose. “I . . . Um. Yes. My horse was lamed by bandits on the path. He’s at the house of Ilie and Crina up by the orchard. Would you go and look at him, please? And take this in payment both for his treatment and his board.”

Nicolae did not share the old couple’s reluctance to accept silver. He snatched the belt plaque from Vali’s fingers so fast it made them sting. “Of course. At once.”

But he was at least as good as his word, turning to leave, letting Vali make his own visit to the stranger’s throne. Not sure if he was a supplicant or a challenger.

As he approached, the big man took off his hat. His shaggy hair was chestnut brown, full of little licks of fire red, copper red, even crimson. His brows were dark and raised in approval. A generous mouth stretched his amused smile into smugness. Above strong cheekbones, his eyes snapped, full of boldness and challenge and unmistakeable want.

The pull of it brought heat welling beneath the surface of Vali’s skin. Made him breathe hard and wipe his hot hands on his flanks, glad for the long fall of his untucked shirt over his lap. The man was important in some way and could undoubtedly get away with a great deal. Vali was more important, but could not, not if his father ever—

Thoughts of his father—all thoughts, in fact—fled from his mind as the man took hold of his hand and pulled him down to a seat. Vali had been dancing, but the red-haired man’s touch was still scorching against his skin. He’d be a furnace under the jacket. Vali—who had done a great deal of fantasising in his life and very little acting on it—shocked himself by licking his lips and leaning forwards to place an open hand over the man’s heart. His shirt was unlaced, tucked into a great belt of stiff blue leather, and Vali’s thumb slipped beneath the collar. Hot indeed, every bit as hot as he had hoped.

He tried to straighten, draw away, but a big hand came down on the nape of his neck and effortlessly held him in place. “I’m Mihai Roșcat. Normally I’d want an introduction before we went on to fondling, but in your case, I’m willing to make an exception.”

~*~*~*~

Competition:

I ran something very complicated with my last tour. This time I think I’ll keep it simple. If you would like to win your choice out of my backlist titles (any one novel, or two novellas) comment to be put into the hat. At the end of the tour I’ll draw a name from all those who have commented during the week and post an announcement of the winner on my blog, Facebook and twitter so that you can contact me with your choice and your email address, and I can get your prize to you.

Bio:

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

Connect with Alex:

Blurb:

TheCrimsonOutlaw_400x600Love is the greatest outlaw of all.

Vali Florescu, heir to a powerful local boyar, flees his father’s cruelty to seek his fortune in the untamed Carpathian forests. There he expects to fight ferocious bandits and woo fair maidens to prove himself worthy of returning to depose his tyrannical father. But when he is ambushed by Mihai Roscat, the fearsome Crimson Outlaw, he discovers that he’s surprisingly happy to be captured and debauched instead.

Mihai, once an honoured knight, has long sought revenge against Vali’s father, Wadim, who killed his lord and forced him into a life of banditry. Expecting his hostage to be a resentful, spoiled brat, Mihai is unprepared for the boy to switch loyalties, saving the lives of villagers and of Mihai himself during one of Wadim’s raids. Mihai is equally unprepared for the attraction between them to deepen into love.

Vali soon learns that life outside the castle is not the fairy tale he thought, and happy endings must be earned. To free themselves and their people from Wadim’s oppression, Vali and Mihai must forge their love into the spear-point of a revolution and fight for a better world for all.

You can read an excerpt and purchase The Crimson Outlaw here:

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