Giveaways

Character Interview with Jackson Jablonic & Evan Goodwyn from Bleeding Like Me by Riley Parks + Giveaway!

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Interview with Jackson Jablonic & Evan Goodwyn

My name is Riley Parks and I’m the author of Bleeding Like Mea romance novel about Jackson Jablonic and Evan Goodwyn, two men in rival street gangs who fall in love. I’m lucky to be joined by these antiheroes today.

Riley Parks: Thank you so much for agreeing to sit down with me to talk all things Bleeding Like Me.

Jackson Jablonic: Antiheroes, huh?

Evan Goodwyn: Guess she’s not down for us like she said she was when she started writing the book.

JJ: Guess not.

RP: In all fairness, you guys have done some questionable things in the past, and some things are blatantly wrong. It’s not that you aren’t likable. I like you…

JJ: What do you say about motherfuckers you don’t like then?  

EG: Shit.

RP: Do you want to be heroes? Role models?

JJ: First, that’s two questions. We told you we’d answer five, and you’re going for two right from the jump.

RP: We could call it one.

EG: We could, but we won’t.

RP: Tough crowd.

EG & JJ: (crickets)

RP: All right (clears throat), do you want to be a hero, Jackson?

JJ: Would I get to fly and shit?

EG: That’d be pretty cool.

RP: I was thinking more an “everyday” hero, not so much a superhero.

JJ: The problem with you is you do too much thinking.

EG: Too much limiting really. I’d be down to be a superhero.

JJ: Do you write that kinda shit?

RP: I don’t. I like to focus on more realistic, true to life gritty stories, like yours.

EG: That sucks. Jack would look fucking hot in some superhero shit. That ass would be like, POW!

(all laughing)

JJ: Shut the fuck up.

RP: Me or Evan?

JJ: Both.

RP: Let’s move on. Role models. Do you want to be role models?

JJ: To who?

RP: To anyone.

JJ: That ship’s sailed, capsized and sank, so probably not.

EG: I’d like to be a role model.

RP: Yeah?

JJ: You would?

EG: (shrugs) Why not? Do you only get one chance to be an okay person? Two? What’s the limit?

RP: That’s not for us to decide, I guess. Maybe that’s a question for the reader.

JJ: I don’t give a shit what they say about it. If he wants to be a role model, they’re not gonna tell him that one day he can’t be.

RP: So maybe we don’t call you antiheroes anymore. What should we call you instead?

JJ: You’re the writer.

RP: How about works in progress?

EG: I like that.

JJ: Fine. You got three more questions to go.

RP: What was your favorite part of the book?

EG: I liked when you wrote about how I painted Jack.

JJ: I liked when you wrote about Evan’s dick.

EG: (rolls eyes) Really?!

JJ: That’s quality content right there.

EG: Do you regret interviewing us?

RP: (bites inside of mouth) Not at all. What about your least favorite part of the book?

JJ: You wrote about shit you shouldn’t have written about. That’s all we gotta say about that.

RP: (looks at Evan)

EG: That’s all we gotta say about that.

JJ: Last one. Make it good.

RP: What’s something you want readers to know about you that they may not have learned in the book?

JJ: I don’t want them to know anything else about me. They know too much already.

RP: Evan?

EG: I want them to know I’m trying to be a better person.

JJ: You’re doing fine, Evan.

EG: (shrugs) It is what it is.

RP: Thanks for talking with me.

JJ: We done here?

RP: We’re done.

JJ: Thank fuck. Continue reading

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Categories: Book Promo, Character Interviews, Excerpts, Giveaways, LGBT, Published in 2017 | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Giveaway Winner!

So this post is a little late buuuuuuut it’s time to pick a giveaway winner! Yay!!!

 

So, the winner of a $20 e-tailer gift certificate from Rhys Ford is… Continue reading

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Author Q&A: Cari Z. & L.A. Witt + Giveaway!

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Please welcome Cari Z. & L.A. Witt to The Blogger Girls!! Tell us about the Bad Behavior series, where are you getting the inspiration for each book?

Cari: The Bad Behavior series is romantic suspense, with an emphasis on suspense and police procedure. There aren’t a lot of hot and heavy moments, but we managed to find time to develop the relationship in between the cases. The cases themselves are totally different in each book, which was part of the fun of it. We kind of picked a crime and then built the plot around it—for example, the first book deal with taking down police corruption, the second one has a serial killer, the third one is a kidnapping. It helped keep things interesting for us.

L.A.: What Cari said. And we did still want the romance, but we didn’t want their jobs to take a backseat to their relationship because it just doesn’t work that way with cops. Especially when they’re in the middle of a major case. So we started with the crimes, and let the relationship between the guys – both professional and romantic – develop alongside the cases they were working. Which means getting interrupted at inopportune moments, and stealing fleeting moments whenever they can. Which in turn frustrates the hell out of everyone, so color me happy. Hehehe

Is it hard co-writing a series? Does the process take longer or is quicker than writing alone?

Cari: It was so easy to write with Lori! That hasn’t been the case with, well, any of my other co-authors, but this collaboration was just kismet, as far as I’m concerned. Lori is a pro at working with others, and very adaptable, so I knew I was in good hands, so to speak. And for me it was a LOT faster than writing alone.

L.A.: Definitely not hard! Cari is amazing to work with. I love co-writing in general, and I hope to do a lot more with Cari.

Tell us a little about Romantic Behavior, what are the characters like and how have they changed since the start of the series?

Cari: Aw, this story is the sweet resolution 😊 Darren and Andreas are finally ready and able to commit to each other, and they’re serious about making it work for the long haul. It’s definitely the book with the cutest moments in it. The guys are totally in love, they rely on each other, they have no doubts (well, almost no doubts) and they’re looking forward to a happy future together. *sigh*

L.A.: I’d say Andreas has had to get his priorities straight, both regarding his family and his boyfriend. By book 4, he’s mellowed considerably across the board, and as I said, he’s gotten his priorities straight. As for the Romantic Behavior, it’s basically a chance for the characters to finally have their hard-won happy ending. That’s not to say there aren’t bumps in this one, but no one’s getting shot at or anything this time.

What’s your favorite scene from the book?

Cari: My favorite scene is either the very first one, where Darren is nervous because Andreas is acting weird, or the one where he finally loses it and tells off someone who, quite honestly, really deserved telling off at that point. It felt cathartic.

L.A.: The wedding. Definitely.

And lastly, where do you see the series going from here?

Cari: This is the end of the Bad Behavior series! It’s done, finished, fini, finito, and all the other f-words that mean the end. I’m really proud of how it’s turned out, and hopefully now that it’s done readers who were reluctant to start something without having an end in sight will feel ready to dive in.

L.A.: Yep. I’m not opposed to the boys showing up as secondary characters in other books, but their story is done. We deliberately set out to make this one a trilogy with a well-deserved extended epilogue, rather than making it go on and on. Ongoing series can be fun, but not this one. Even though I am going to miss Darren and Andreas something fierce.

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Categories: Author Q&A, Book Promo, Giveaways, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Author Q&A: Joanna Chambers + Giveaway!

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Hello, book lovers! I’m Joanna Chambers and this is the blog tour for Tribute Act, my new romance which is book #8 in the Riptide’s Cornwall-set Porthkennack series. I’ll be sharing thoughts on writing my first full length contemporary, writing Christmas songs as an extreme form of authorly procrastination and my love of men with sad eyes. Please join me for a chance to win a copy of the book and a $25 Riptide gift card!

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Please welcome Joanna Chambers to The Blogger Girls! Tell us a little about yourself, why did you start writing?

Hi, it’s great to be here – thanks for inviting me!

I pretty much always wanted to write. My first writing endeavour was to try out for my writing badge in Brownies (UK version of girl scouts for little girls) but Brown Owl (troop leader) said my story wasn’t up to the mark! I was 7 years old – my first one-star review! That experience put me off for a while, lol, but the itch was always there. I made a real proper go of it after I had my first child. Something just clicked at that point 😊  

Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

Oh, from all over – I have a constant flow of ideas – the challenge for me is deciding which ones to take forward. I have finite writing time and I’m not a particularly fast or prolific writer. I’m best known for my historicals and a lot of my ideas come from tiny snippets I’ve read – little serendipitous facts that I come across and that intrigue me. Also situational stuff. For example, when I signed up to write A Gathering Storm, my first Porthkennack book, I picked a character to write about (Sir Edward Fitzwilliam) that meant I had to set the book in the 1850s. I ended up researching that period in lot of detail and a lot of the plot was driven by the events and news of 1850-52.   

Why the Porthkennack series? How did you get involved with this series?

Sarah Lyons asked me and when she told me Alex Beecroft had created the universe and written a detailed story bible, I was in – that was even before I knew who the other authors were. Also, it’s set in Cornwall which is an amazing setting.

Is it hard writing in part of a series with other authors even though the stories are standalone?

I imagine it could be, but honestly, Alex’s bible was so thorough, that it was fine.

Now for the story, tells us a little about it in three sentences or less. 

Nathan and Mack meet at a nightclub and hook up for the night. They part in the morning, but less than a day later, they meet again when Mack turns unexpectedly in Porthkennack. Nathan’s a fixer by nature and when he learns more about Mack’s history, he desperately wants to fix things for him, but to do that, he has to overcome Mack’s fear of intimacy.

How does it differ from the other stories in the series?

It’s probably a bit more standalone than some of the other stories in the series as the main characters are all new characters.

And lastly, what else do you have coming out soon or what are you currently working on?

I’ve been plate-spinning a few drafts recently but my new year’s resolution was to put everything else aside and work on my main project, which is a pair of werewolf books with historical settings. I’m wildly in love with this project right now!

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Categories: Author Q&A, Book Promo, Giveaways, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , , | 22 Comments

A Kind of Home & Leaning Into Always by Lane Hayes: Exclusive Excerpts & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from A Kind of Home

by Lane Hayes

“I’ve got it!” Adam sprang to his feet and waved his hand excitedly.

I gave him a weary sideways glance. “Whatever you’re thinking, stop.”

“No, it’s perfect. You teach me guitar and I’ll teach you how to bake something.”

“Tonight?”

“Not necessarily. When we can. The point is I’ll be here if you don’t feel like being alone. We can keep each other sane with wholesome diversions without having to ask ‘What do you feel like doing, roomie?’”

“‘Wholesome diversions’? You’ve been mainlining confectioner’s sugar again, haven’t you?” I quipped.

“Ha. Ha. Don’t overthink. I’ll keep my hands to myself. You’re safe with me. I promise. I just—we’re both adjusting to change. It might be helpful to lean on each other. That’s all.”

“Platonically?”

“Sure. Boston cream pie for a tip or two on how to play a couple Guns N’ Roses classics. What do you think?”

I lowered my eyes as I worked on the row of buttons on my navy shirt. I was touched. I couldn’t remember the last time someone stopped to notice my state of mental well-being and offered to ease my mind. I knew my friends cared, but they were going through the same things I was. All they could say was “Hang on. It’ll get easier.” Adam was offering something more—himself and his time. Platonically.

I wasn’t sure I trusted myself to keep us in the friend zone. Even now I wanted to tackle him to the bed and grind against him. He was solid, familiar, and trustworthy. Just what I needed to keep my mind off my troubles.

“Okay. You’re on.” I chuckled when he let out a whoop before I continued. “But we each get to choose what we want to learn.”

Adam mulled over my suggestion for a moment, then inclined his head. “As long as you know we aren’t making anything from a box.”

“And as long as you know I can only take so many run-throughs of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ before I’ll strangle you.”

Adam gave me a megawatt grin and then held up his hand for a high five. I slapped his hand and then rolled my eyes when he broke into a decent impression of Axl Rose’s version of “Patience.”

“Go,” I said, shooing him out of my bedroom. “I’ve got real-life bullshit to deal with. No more nonsense.”

“A little nonsense is good for you, Isaac. It’s what keeps you afloat so the bad stuff doesn’t drag you under.” He reached for my wrist and pulled me against him so our chests collided.

It was a slapstick maneuver that was too rough to be taken as a sensual overture. Until he backed me against the wall and lowered his head a fraction of an inch, stopping when his nose brushed mine. I held my breath, aware of my thundering heart. My world constricted to the smallest fragment of space. I occupied a place against a wall, covered by a man I’d known most of my life. Someone I cared about and, yeah, lusted after too.

Adam lowered his head again, and this time he didn’t stop. He pressed his lips to mine and went perfectly still as though testing my response. When I didn’t protest, he melded his mouth over mine, careful to keep the connection light. I reached out and ran a tentative hand along his cheek. Adam trembled and leaned into my touch, deepening the kiss ever so slightly. Then he licked my lips in a silent request for entry. I groaned when our tongues glided together and let him pull me under.

I broke for air and pushed his chest. This was ridiculous. We were friends only, and we were destined for heartache if we tried to be something else. “We can’t do this. I told you, I—”

Adam tugged at my belt loop and drew me against him. Then he rested his forehead against mine and went still as though he was wordlessly giving me control. I should have pushed him away, but I couldn’t. I fused my lips to his and moaned into the connection. I shivered when he moved his hands up my chest, then placed them on the wall on either side of my head. He nudged my chin with his nose until I exposed my neck. He traced my jawline with the tip of his tongue and then bit my earlobe before whispering in a raspy voice, “No repeats. I’ll behave. But I gotta admit… I really want to change your mind.”

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Exclusive Excerpt from A Kind of Home

by Lane Hayes

“Hmm. I want to drop this, but…I have one last question. What did you mean about ‘being from here?’ I know San Francisco is home now but this is a nice place too. I always thought it would be kind of cool to move back someday so I could—”

“No. No way. Never,” I replied emphatically.

I tried and failed again to make a getaway. Zane pounced on me and held me down, snaking his arm across my chest to keep me next to him.

“O-kay…where’s this coming from?”

“I can’t explain it. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

“It sounds stupid.” I met his patient gaze, hoping he’d cut me some slack, but he didn’t budge and I had a feeling he wouldn’t until I spit it out. “Fine. I was teased pretty mercilessly for being a geek from kindergarten through high school. I never fit in. I wasn’t blond, athletic, or particularly charming. I was smart. Smarter than I appear to be now,” I huffed.

“Who bullied you? I’m gonna kick some ass. No one messes with my man,” he said, nuzzling my neck.

I chuckled, running my fingers along his spine. “Thanks. I told you it sounded lame. I’m a perfectly well-adjusted adult when I’m not here. And I’m actually pretty good when I come for quick family visits, but this feels different. It feels like I’m being thrown back in time and forced to hang out with the cool kids. Today was a great example. I made a fool of myself out there and I made you mad. Yeah, I was jealous but that was only part of it. I also wanted to prove I’d grown up a little and that I wasn’t the same sunscreen-caked dork who’d sit under an umbrella and read when he went to the beach anymore. I guess I still am.”

“You seem to be forgetting one major detail, Er.”

I traced the laugh-lines at the corner of his eyes and pushed his hair from his forehead. “What is it?”

“I like you just the way you are. I don’t expect you to change and develop a sudden passion for things I enjoy doing. Just be you. And if that means you’d rather finish a chapter lounging in the sand than jump in the water, that’s okay by me.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. It comes with the territory. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with you if I didn’t love all your weird habits,” he teased, pulling us both to sit up.

“Weird? Me? I bet you can’t name three weird things about me,” I declared as I sauntered toward the bathroom.

“I bet I can name ten. I’ll give you my list at breakfast. Jump in the shower while I call housekeeping and ask them to change our sheets.”

I stopped in the doorway and frowned. “Just tell them I spilled water on them or something.”

“Why lie? I’m going to tell them my boyfriend got jizz on my side of the bed and…”

I shook my head mournfully and turned on the shower to drown out his silly speech about being stuck with a messy lover and crusty sheets. I chuckled at his ‘put upon’ tone and called for him to join me before stepping under the spray. I stopped abruptly and backed up to look at my reflection. My cheeks were flushed, my eyes were bright, and my smile spanned my entire face. I was incredibly happy and if I said so myself, it looked good on me.

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Author Q&A: Layla Reyne + Giveaway!

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Welcome to the Relay Blog Tour, presented by Layla Reyne and Riptide Publishing! Relay, by Layla Reyne, is Book 1 of the Changing Lanes sports romance series featuring Olympic swimmers. Relay is an enemies-to-lovers, second chance romance between Alex, the team captain, and his closeted ex, Dane, swimming’s biggest star. Read on to learn more about Relay, Changing Lanes, and Layla Reyne!

*****

Please welcome Layla Reyne to The Blogger Girls! Tell us a little about yourself, what prompted you to start writing?

I wanted better endings. The first time I gave writing serious consideration was twelfth grade, when I wrote an epilogue to Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Presumptuous as hell, I know, but I didn’t like the ending. That trend continued as I dove into writing fanfiction. I was not waiting nine seasons for Mulder and Scully to get together. Ditto Damon and Elena. Now in my original fiction, I write romances where everyone finds love and happiness at the end of their journey. Those are the better endings I want.

Are you a plotter or do you fly by the seat of your pants for ideas?

Plotter. I have to be for the romantic suspense series that I write; the structure also helps with contemporary romance. If there’s not enough structure, I fret that the story is too plotless, regardless of the subgenre. I also adhere pretty strictly to a plotting diagram that follows three act structure. I used to write screenplays, and I watch A LOT of TV, so that flow and pacing is familiar for my brain.

How did you come up with your characters’ names?

Cantu is a nod to my best friend who helped me brainstorm the series. Alejandro is a personal favorite. As for the rest, I’ve been known to raid my phone contacts list for combinations, snag a name off my twitter timeline, or pull names from street signs 😉

How did you get the idea for the Changing Lanes series?

My best friend and I were on our way back from a baby shower (my idea of hell), and she basically talked me down by forcing me to brainstorm this duology. I knew I wanted to do a sports romance, and that I wanted to play with my favorite tropes – second chance romance and enemies-to-lovers for book one, a bit of an age gap and friends-to-lovers for book two. I also wanted to feature a sport that’s not as commonly written about. Thankfully, there are a lot of swimmers in my life, including said best friend.

And last question, describe Relay in three words or less!

Can I have four words, please?! Because it’s perfect… Swim Your Heart Out!

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Author Q&A: Charlie Cochrane + Giveaway!

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Two Feet Under began life as a conversation in a car, when my eldest daughter and I got stuck in a traffic jam on the way to an author/reader event. It gained a criminal mastermind as a result of another conversation in the car with her younger sister. It got its background thanks to the popular television series “Time Team” and a setting care of the northern part of Hampshire. The plot came from the author’s twisted imagination, via a lot of checking. And at least one character is based on people I know. You have been warned.  

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Please welcome Charlie Cochrane to The Blogger Girls! Tell us a little about yourself, what prompted you to start writing?

I’d describe myself as mad and middle aged. My youngest daughter might put another light on me; as she often says, “It’s amazing you’re not in a home yet, mother.” In terms of writing, I’ve always made up stories in my head, either to amuse me or – later on – to amuse my daughters. Once I actually had some time to sit and write, the transition to putting stories down on a screen and sharing them with other people seemed a natural transition.

How much research do you put into a story?

As much as it needs. You have to make sure – first and foremost – that the central threads of the story work, so that’s the initial research an author has to do. And that’s irrespective of whether the story is historical or contemporary, because readers are more likely to spot a goof in a novel set in the modern day. Once that groundwork is done, I tend to research as I go along – you should see my initial drafts of stories, which are full of notes to self along the lines of, “check this”, “is that word too modern?”, “can you get from A to B on the train without changing lines?” They all get picked up second time through, so although that means I may have to make small changes, I haven’t lost the flow of my writing first time round.

How do you come up with your murder mystery plots? Do you always know the end or do you let the story unfold wherever it goes?

I rarely know the end. I let the story unfold as though I’m reading/watching/listening to it and finding out what is happening as I go along. This may seem chaotic (as will the fact I write scenes in a scattergun approach then piece them together later) but it works for me. As for plot ideas, my daughters are great sources of inspiration. “What about a story where a group of archaeologists are deadly enemies of a group of detectorists?” they say. And I go, “Ooh! Let me just give that a whirl.”

What’s harder for you, naming your characters, coming up with a title or finding the right cover?

The second one. Covers are a doddle because the Riptide artists are so talented. Names are also a doddle because if I’m stuck for one I go on the BBC sports website and trawl through some team listings until I find the right surname, then bung an appropriate forename on it. Titles, however…they’re like sweating blood. I’ve had to be rescued so often by my editors because my working title has been, to use a technical phrase, frankly pants.

And lastly, what book would you recommend for a new to you reader to start with?

If they like mysteries, then “The Best Corpse for the Job” makes a nice, gentle introduction to my writing style. (Also good for readers who like big, daft dogs.) If people prefer romance and/or shorter stories, then “Second Helpings” would be a great place to start. Continue reading

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Darkling by Brooklyn Ray: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Darkling

by Brooklyn Ray

The loft above St. Maria’s Catholic Church was inhabited by a necromancer. Some people thought it was riddled with bones and corpses. Other witches thought they’d find skulls and black candles and cobwebs if they ventured inside. Most counted on the irony of the situation to mask the urban legend. A few dismissed it, thankful they’d never needed to knock on a necromancer’s door in search of assistance to begin with.

White witches who weren’t versed in dark magic thought it would swallow them whole if they even looked in its direction. But that wasn’t quite the case.

Ryder stood at the top of the steep, narrow staircase in front of a thick wooden door. His fist hovered inches from its surface, but before he mustered enough courage to knock, the door opened.

Jordan Wolfe shared Ryder’s sharp, fine features. Her cheekbones were prominent and her chin pointed. Her dark, sultry eyes were the same shape as his, tear-dropped and sad; sexy in a way that shouldn’t be, but still was. Except Jordan had Wolfe eyes—brown that was almost black, under gold that was almost yellow.

Ryder had his mother’s, Lewellyn eyes. They were canopy-leaf green, vibrant and startling in the light.

His Lewellyn eyes didn’t make him any less Wolfe, though. But no one needed to know that.

“What’re you doing here?” Jordan asked playfully. Her nose scrunched when she grinned, and she wrapped her arm around his shoulders to pull him into a hug. He’d forgotten how alike they sounded, raspy and graceless.

“I can’t come see my sister?” Ryder mumbled.

Jordan’s ashy blonde hair tickled his nose, swaying in loose curls over her shoulders. She smelled like lilies and blood. “You can, but you never do. What’s up? What’s going on?”

Ryder wanted to tell her, but everything lodged painfully in his throat. The reading. Liam. What it meant. If it even meant anything at all. His magic going nuclear more often than he was comfortable with. Him being a necromancer, but not. Him being a Fire witch, but not.

“Hey.” Jordan sounded sad. She brushed her knuckles across his cheeks. “Hey, no, I don’t like this. You feel like…” Her words were lost somewhere between them.

He stepped inside, and she closed the door. The loft was spacious and lulling. Candles were lit on the nightstand and the dresser. Runes and sigils were carved into the vaulted ceiling beams. A white-chalk circle decorated the floor beneath a round window on the far end of the room. No skulls, no rotting bodies, just odd purple plants, a stereo, and a rumpled bed.

Ryder paced back and forth, free to let his magic spark on the tips of his fingers now that he was with someone who understood it. “What happens if I choose to die?”

Jordan gave him space. She stood next to her bed, swathed in a long black dress. A fresh sigil was carved onto her arm. Part of it might’ve matched the one he’d seen on Thalia at the café earlier.

“If I go through with the Wolfe ceremony, if I die and come back, what then?” Ryder asked. He shrugged off his peacoat. It hit the floor, exposing pale, lean arms. His magic went every which way, abandoning the glamour he wore daily on his chest. The scars didn’t bother him, but it didn’t hurt to cover them either.

“God, look at you,” Jordan said, exhaling on the end. “You look wonderful, Ryder.”

“That’s doesn’t answer my question,” he said. He stopped and stared at the ceiling, reining in the grate of his voice. “Thank you, yeah, whatever, but—”

“If you decide to die, you become a necromancer.”

“And what happens to my elemental gifts?”

“I’m not sure. You’re the first Lewellyn-born Wolfe we’ve ever seen.”

The magic writhed against Ryder’s bones. It thrummed under his skin, loud like gunshots inside him. “What would Dad say?”

“You can ask him yourself,” Jordan said, her tone matter-of-fact. “I’m only a year older than you; it’s not like he listens to me more than he listens to you.”

“Yeah, okay, but you’re…” Ryder gestured up and down, from Jordan’s head to her toes. “You. You’re the darling dark daughter.”

Jordan rolled her eyes. “Are you going to tell me what’s really going on?”

“I drew The Magician and The Tower today.” He paused and licked his lips. “Liam pulled The Devil and The Lovers. Something came for us, and it was dark. Wolfe dark.”

“Ancestors make appearances all the time with young alchemists. What’s the problem?”

“We both felt it. I felt it, Liam felt it. We…”

“Tethered.”

“Yes.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost in Time by A.L. Lester: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Lost in Time

by A.L. Lester

Prologue: 2016

In a quiet room the glow of the surrounding circle of candles gave off a dim warm light.

He sat cross-legged in silence on the floor in front of the silver bowl of water in the center of the circle, palms open, relaxed, hands on his knees. The surface of the water was still. Very carefully, he reached out a hand and picked up the small bottle on the floor next to him. Equally carefully, he tilted it slowly until a single drop fell into the center of the bowl.

It was oily and it spread out quickly over the surface, shimmering darkly. It smelled of cedar and cypress and pine; green depths and rich earthy expectations; still and dark as the forest from which it had come.

He replaced the lid on the bottle and put it back on the floor.

Steadily, he drew in a breath. It was make or break time now. He either gave up and never came back to this, or he pursued the path he’d been following for the last fortnight.

With resolve, he lifted his hands and placed them on the bowl, cupping it. He began, very, very cautiously, to open up his Othersense, breathing in the scent of the oil, aware of the light of the candles falling on his skin in an almost tactile way and letting his focus narrow down to the center of the ring of flame, dismissing everything else as superfluous.

He closed his eyes and pictured Mira, the sense of her.

Dark, strong, beautiful. Headstrong. Driven. Self-centered.

Mercurial. Stubborn.

There. A twist and a push and there it was. A flash, like the edge of a coat or dress disappearing around a corner. A red dress. He rushed after it with his Othersense, grasping, afraid he’d lose it because it was so faint. As he did so he let go of the bowl—it was only a tool to focus anyway—and reached out with hands, as if that would help.

It was faint, faint, faint, and fading. He took a huge breath in, breathed out, and pushed, grabbed for it, caught the trailing edge in his outstretched hand and closed his fingers, both mentally and in reality.

There was a loud bang and shock of cold as the temperature in the room dropped suddenly. All the candles went out at once. He still had his eyes shut but the glow of light on his eyelids was replaced with darkness. He gasped and started coughing as cold, wet air hit his lungs.

Chapter 1: Coming Home, 1918

The empty police office smelled the same. Dusty formality, sweat, exhaustion, and boredom. The sun came in through the high arched windows and turned the dust motes in the air to clouds of golden haze. The dark wooden desks shone and the chairs were in the same positions they had been in four years ago. Even the paperwork piled on the surfaces looked like it hadn’t shifted an inch.

Alec stood for a moment in the open doorway and took it all in, re-acclimatizing. He still felt odd in his civvies, even more so now he was back at work. For four years, ‘work’ had equaled a uniform, webbing, puttees, a Webley revolver on his hip, and a red cap. Now he was in one of his pre-war suits, slightly too small across the shoulders, and an overcoat that smelled of mothballs. He took it off and hung it, with his hat, on the tall umbrella stand by the door.

“Can I help you?” A pleasant, light voice came from behind him as he turned back. A chap leaned in the open doorway on the right of the room, cup and saucer of tea balanced in one hand. He was wearing an immaculately-cut pinstripe suit. Alec immediately felt shabby. He stepped forward, regardless, holding out his hand.

“Good morning. I’m Alastair Carter. The new inspector.”

The other man smiled and moved to put his tea down and clasp Alec’s hand with a warm, firm grip. “Ah, yes, the Super said you’d be starting today. Will Grant. I’m your sergeant. Very pleased to meet you.” He picked his cup up again. “Come and get a cup of tea and I’ll show you around. We’re rather shortstaffed, I’m afraid. There’s just me, Laurence, and Percy. Desperately glad you’ve arrived. We’ve been puttering along, but there’s plenty to get stuck into.”

He busied himself pouring tea from a pot on the desk in the small office he’d emerged from. “I’ve been in here, but I’ll clear out into the main office. It’s the Inspector’s cubbyhole, actually. You were stationed here before?”

“Yes, for a few months. It’s not changed much.” He looked around. Vesper had been the inspector in ‘14. The old man had retired a few months ago, well past the age he should have been pensioned off. During all his time in France Alec had known he’d come back, but he hadn’t thought he’d come straight in again as an inspector. They were desperately undermanned though, Wolsey had said yesterday when he’d gone down to Scotland Yard to see him.

Poplar had always been Alec’s patch even as a uniformed constable and he was happy to be able to slide back into an area he already knew. It was a distance from his house out at Hampstead, but it was interesting, necessary work that included the docks and some poor areas he considered in more urgent need of policing than the richer areas to the west of the City of London. He’d been offered a choice between his old station at Wapping and a new start somewhere further west. Of course, he’d chosen Wapping. Being handed a promotion as well was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

“No hurry to move out just now,” he said to Grant. “There’s plenty of space for me to settle in around you whilst you shuffle paper. Have you been here long? You weren’t here before the war, were you? I don’t remember you.”

“No, I got a Blighty in ‘15 and came back here after I got on my feet again. After a fashion. I was only just out of uniform, over in Holborn when I joined up, but they needed the men and I was it, so Detective Sergeant Grant it was.” He grimaced ruefully. “We’ve been doing a lot of learning on the job, but we’ve managed. A bigger team is a huge relief. And a boss here on site.” He coughed apologetically, hand over his mouth. “And someone who can run a hundred yards without expiring.” Alec raised a questioning eyebrow.

“Belgian front,” Grant replied, with economy.

“Ah.” That had been bad. Alec had seen the results of several gas attacks himself and it would go with him to the grave. It was only too easy to imagine what Grant had gone through both during and after the event. That poet fellow, Owen, had had it down to a tee.

Alec had come across a pamphlet of poems one day a

week or two ago, kicking round Bloomsbury waiting for the Met to get back in touch with him. Graphic stuff that had made him even more grateful it was all over. He considered of mentioning it to Grant and then thought better of it. He didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with the man. If he was as competent as he was pleasant, there was the makings of a good team here.

Chapter 2: The Beginning, 1919

He was cold. And it was dark. Damp, cold air pulling in and out of his lungs. He was lying down, crumpled against cold, wet concrete or brick. He struggled to open his eyes as he pressed himself back against the wall, driven by a terror he couldn’t place as something loomed over him and pushed past. His head was fuzzy, banging with pain, and his body felt like one enormous bruise.

Fear finally drove him to get his eyes open and he relaxed a fraction when he saw he was alone in a small alley, lit only by the hazy glare of a street lamp at the junction with a larger street. He tipped his head back in relief and took a moment to orient himself in the relative safety.

He was unharmed, although his head was pounding and his entire body ached like he had run a marathon or been beaten. But he had no memory of either of those things happening. Bile rose in his throat and he barely had time to fall forward on his hands and knees before he vomited, disgustingly and comprehensively until dry heaves were all he had left.

He rested for a moment, head hanging, the drizzle spattering over him, before he gathered the strength to push himself back against the wall.

What had happened? His mind was a blank. He shuddered.

His name was Lew. What was he doing here? How had he got here? His breathing started to reflect his panicky state of mind and he automatically began counting his in-breath, holdbreath, out-breath before he was even conscious of it.

So, his name was Lew, and he knew how to handle himself when he started a panic attack.

Good. That was good. Useful. Because it seemed like a good skill to have at this particular moment in time.

Time. Time…she’d moved through time. That didn’t make sense. Who’d moved through time? He focused on his breathing again, quietly letting the misty rain settle on his upturned, aching face, trying to pack the panic down deep inside.

There wasn’t anything he could get a grip on. Every time

he reached out to a foggy picture in his head, it moved further away. Memory was slippery and twisted, like silk rope, looping round and leading nowhere.

Finally, the buzzing in his head subsided enough for him to clamber to his feet—with the support of the wall at his back— and after catching his breath, he thought to check his pockets.

Wallet, cards, money. Phone. He switched it on whilst he went through the wallet.

Driving license—Lewis Rogers, twenty-six years old, place of residence London, England. Qualified to drive any category vehicle up to a 7.5-ton truck. A debit card for Barclays. No credit cards. The driving license and a dog-eared organ donor card agreed his next of kin was Mrs. P. Rogers of Brighton, relationship—Mother.

In his jeans pocket was four pounds and twenty-seven pence in small change; and in his wallet, fifty quid in two twenties and a tenner, that looked as if they’d come straight out of the cash-point.

That triggered a little flurry of memory. He’d got it out on his way home, as it was getting dark, from the cash-point on the corner of Garter Row. There was a Tesco Metro there and he’d got out sixty quid and spent some of it on a loaf of bread and some milk. The face of the check-out girl came back to him, her dark hair winging across her eyes as she smiled and handed him his change. He’d shoved it in his pocket, along with the receipt.

His phone had booted and he checked it. No signal.

Typical.

It was still drizzling, the kind of fine cloud of almost-mist that drenched through clothes in no time.

He drew a breath and started to scroll down his list of contacts—splinters and flashes of memory coming back to him as he did so. Regan, a tall blond with a curling Celtic tattoo over his right bicep. Mark, a laughing face in a pub somewhere, after rugby. Katie, a tiny frame, hands dancing as she waved them to illustrate her point. Mira, green eyes and a red dress, a low singing voice crooning an old song…

…and with a thump, the weight of memory hit him, like a sock full of sand to the back of his head.

It left him gasping and near to vomiting again, desperately sorting through the shattered splinters of imagery falling into place.

A coherent picture began to emerge as he forced his breath in and out, in and out.

The Border. Capital T. Capital B.

Another chunk of memory fell into place. The Border was a tool he used and a threat he managed. The memory made his entire skin twitch and his hands tingle.

He had been working The Border, he was sure. Looking for what?

Mira. He had been looking for Mira. The mental image of the girl with green eyes and sleek bob popped up again. Mira was lost in the Shadowlands—something had gone wrong while she was Pulling the stuff of The Border to her will. She shouldn’t have been doing it.

The Border was power, contained in a matrix no one he had ever spoken to even pretended to understand—they knew it was power, it was danger, it could be worked with; and it should not be misused for your own ends because there was no knowing what would happen. It could quickly leap out of your control, perhaps for its own purpose, perhaps manipulated by those who lived on the other side.

They didn’t know enough about it to do, safely, more than Pull a little of the stuff of it to repair where it seemed to be thinning and to use it for small Workings to make life a little easier.

And Mira had wanted more. She had found…His memory stuttered again, too much too soon…a book…a book of rituals? A book of spells? His mind revolted against the description, but that was what she’d called it. She hadn’t shown it to him, although he’d seen a few pages of it open on her table after he had broken into her flat to search for her; and he had tried to mimic what she had seemed to have done with it.

She had told him she knew how to use the spells inside it. He’d laughed at her words. His father, the person who had taught him what little he knew, would have scoffed at the word ‘spell.’ He had talked of Pulling and Working. Mira though…She wanted to manipulate the tangible fabric Lew had dedicated his entire existence to balancing, to smoothing, blocking the holes and gaps that appeared. She wanted to use it for her own ends.

Lew had told her to be careful. That his experience, and that of the people who had taught him, had made him fear the consequences of trying to take a lot of power for oneself and form it to one’s own will. But Mira was confident she could handle it. She had wanted the new job so badly she simply hadn’t listened.

Lew had had to break down her door to get in. He had felt the Pull of her Working from his flat a couple of miles away—it had been so visceral, so strong. He’d rushed to her flat as soon as he could, but she was gone. The candles had still been burning. The book was open at a handwritten page; instructions for getting the job or work you wanted.

He had no idea what had happened then. His memory told him he had put all possible wards and guards in place before he undertook his search for her a fortnight later; and he had blocked all the loopholes he could think of that might open up and allow anything to ooze through from behind The Border. He had made his ritual as concise and tightly formed as he possibly could, to give less chance of errors. So, where the hell was he?

* * * *

There was no one else about—the alley was deserted. He made his way slowly toward the entrance and realized he was near the river, probably downstream a bit, where there were still warehouses. That explained why it was so quiet. He put it to his back and started walking toward what he assumed was the north. He could pick up a cab and get home then, and work out what had happened. His Working must have fritzed out somehow—unsurprising given what he’d been trying to do.

The streetlights were out and the clouds and drizzle made it even darker. So much so he didn’t see the two men until they stepped out in front of him. He went to move around them, sluggishly, but they were too quick, grabbing him by his arms and slamming him in to the wall. He fought back in a desultory fashion, but he was still too dizzy to defend himself properly. They took his wallet and left him gasping on the ground again with a final punch to the solar plexus. He still had his phone though, that was something. If only he could get signal. He checked again. Not even a bar to call 999.

Finally there were streetlights and one or two people passed him, giving him a wide berth—he probably had a black eye by now and he knew he was limping. Nowhere looked familiar. He kept walking north-east, toward what should be the center of town.

It was all unfamiliar. A couple of vintage cars passed him. Was there a rally or something going on? He didn’t remember seeing anything advertised. Everyone was well bundled up against the rain, heads down, hurrying to get home or to work. He realized it was starting to get light—dawn was breaking. Shouldn’t it be busier? It wasn’t even a Sunday for it to be this quiet.

Finally, he hit an open newsagent and fumbled in his pocket for some change. Perhaps they’d let him use their phone and he could ring for a cab. As he was standing outside, his eye caught the stack of papers for sale. The headline screamed “Mrs. Astor elected as MP” in large letters. The date at the top read “29 November 1919.”

Slowly, he put his change back in his pocket and stepped back a little. He put his shoulder to the damp wall and breathed quietly, taking in his surroundings in a way he hadn’t before.

The clothes. The cars. The horses. The hats. The hats gave it away. Everyone had a hat. Caps, tall homburgs, the occasional bowler. All the women with different headgear. The hemlines. The boots. Everyone had boots on.

He was starting to attract attention. He felt sick. He stumbled down another side alley and crouched in a deserted doorway and tried to gather his thoughts.

He was sure he was in London. The one or two voices he had heard, muted by the rain, gave it away if nothing else, but he hadn’t yet placed where he was. He put aside how this had happened, he needed to work out how to deal with the consequences. No wonder his phone couldn’t get signal. He got it out of his pocket and turned it off. No point.

His inventory was lacking. Phone. A few coins. The clothes on his back. Nothing else. What the hell was he going to do?

* * * *

In the end, he walked and walked. Getting out of the city seemed like a good idea, rather than being picked up as a vagrant. Sleeping rough and stealing food from bins was a bad way to live. He stole an overcoat from a man in a café. It had had a few coins in the pocket and he was able to afford a bit of food.

He put aside the thought he was now a thief.

His vague idea he would be safer if he got himself out of London and found somewhere to hide, away from people, led him to Harlow, following the main road east out of the city.

Going over the bridge at Harlow he came head to head with a bloke on a motorbike, going too fast around the sharp corner. The biker braked hard and slid sideways on the icy road. The man went headlong into the river, head and neck already at an odd angle from the way he’d hit the road under the fallen machine.

Lew ended up tangled under the bike too. He lay there in a distressed heap, legs trapped, feeling the exhaust burning against his calf. Panting and struggling he failed to push it off him.

* * * *

His memory was jumbled, like a dream. He could remember being tangled with the bike, in the ditch. He was muzzy, couldn’t remember how he got there—a recurring theme in his recent life, he thought ruefully. The bike’s engine had cut out, which was a relief; but it was on top of his leg, which was painful. Then his memories came back with a thud.

He was stuck in 1919 and it was raining. It seemed to always be raining in 1919. He remembered it wasn’t his bike he was stuck under; and then there was a man shouting at him from the road, which seemed odd, as earlier there was only him and the biker; and he was fairly sure, from the way the biker had been hurling toward the water, there would be no shouting from him.

He’d jumped into the ditch to avoid the bike. Good. That made sense of his immediate situation, if not the shouting man.

He could smell petrol, which wasn’t all that great.

The shouting stopped after a while, which was nice. Then the bike was moved, which was initially excruciatingly painful, but much better once it was no longer pressing into his knee.

Then unstoppable hands were patting him down and pulling him to his feet, a relentless shoulder was pushed under his arm, and he was hauled without ceremony up to the road again.

“What happened, did you take the corner too fast?

Coming up there to the bridge is a bit sharp.”

He didn’t answer, fighting to catch his breath against the pain in his leg, and his good Samaritan continued, “No, no, don’t try to talk. We’ve got you. Not a good night to be out in it, at all. On your way back home?” There was a pause for breath and then, “Good grief, man, let’s have a look at that leg.”

Then there were more flashes of memory; the recollection of being pulled into a car and a woman’s voice saying, “That’s it, Mac, he’s in. I’m worried about his leg, let’s get him to Grimes’s and then worry about his ‘cycle. We can send Grimes’s man back for it.”

And the man saying, “Mind his head, he’s smashed it properly.”

Then it all went mercifully dark for a bit.

His next clear recollection was of an old-fashioned doctor’s surgery, where he seemed to be lying on a leather couch. An older man with impressive side-whiskers was bent over his leg. The trousers that had covered the leg had disappeared.

Disturbing, but he passed out again before he could query it.

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Sin & Saint by J.M. Dabney: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Sin & Saint

by J.M. Dabney

 

 

As they stared out the window, he felt as unsure as his twin, and it was odd. This was all new, and he didn’t know what to expect. Camden wrapped his arms around them from behind.

“So, what do you think? Did I do okay because you two are awful quiet.”

Sin nudged him, and he darted a glance at his twin. “No one has ever taken us away for a weekend before.”

“You’re a little out of your comfort zone, I should’ve asked, I’m—”

“No, don’t be sorry, it’s perfect and it’s really nice.”

Camden kissed the tops of their heads, and they leaned back into him.

“I know works been a bitch lately, and I’m sorry we haven’t been able to spend a lot of time together. Being stuck out at my place can’t be fun.”

“We love your place,” they said in unison.

“But I haven’t exactly been the best boyfriend or partner whatever you want to call me. I’m new to all this, and I want it to work out.”

“I think I can speak for Saint and myself, we want this to work out too. So, what’s the plan?”

“No plan. Just the three of hanging out. I’m not much of wine drinker, but I thought what the hell. The website said there’s shops nearby. We can drink wine. Just spend time without me having to go to the office. I even left my work phone at home. If an emergency does come up everyone knows how to get in touch.”

“No phone? No midnight calls? Just the three of us?” Saint released Sin’s arm, and they turned to look up at Camden.

“I promise, Wren and the rest of the deputies can handle everything. This weekend is about us.”

It sounded so perfect. Camden’s big hand curled around the back of his neck and Camden lowered his mouth to his. It was instant hard-on every time. He didn’t understand how a simple kiss could turn him on so quickly. Camden’s tongue pushed passed his lips, and he moaned as he lifted onto his toes. He fisted his hands in Camden’s t-shirt. The kiss slowly ended, and then Camden turned to Sin, repeating the actions. A few more quick kisses and Camden stepped back taking their hands.

“Let’s go get our bags and head to the winery for dinner and drinks, then we’ll come back here. How’s that sound.”

He nodded, and like always, Camden didn’t pull away from them. He looked at them like he was proud that they were his. He didn’t worry about what was going on at home. He just wanted to spend time with Camden and Sin. This was his family—the three of them.

 

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