Monday, 20 August 2018

Last Chance by RJ Scott - Release Blitz




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 5660 words

Blurb

It’s the last year of college and Luke can’t forget the captain of the hockey team, or the kiss they shared as freshman.

Justin has to decide if hockey outweighs his attraction to Luke, because this might be the last chance he’ll have of making things right.
 

*This short story was previously released in the Love For All Seasons Charity Anthology.

Author Bio


RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ is the author of the over one hundred novels and discovered romance in books at a very young age. She realized that if there wasn’t romance on the page, she could create it in her head, and is a lifelong writer.

She lives and works out of her home in the beautiful English countryside, spends her spare time reading, watching films, and enjoying time with her family.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit and has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the following links below:

Email RJ (rj@rjscott.co.uk)





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Saturday, 18 August 2018

Drifting Sands (The Warfield Hotel Mysteries) by C.J. Baty - Promo Post




 Amazon US | Amazon UK

 Available for the first time in Kindle Unlimited


Length: 211 Pages

Blurb

As he approaches his fortieth birthday, Justin Warfield feels alone, drifting like the sand that blows along the beach near his family's hotel. He has done exactly as his father wanted. Married the right girl and carried on the family tradition of running the Warfield Hotel. On paper things seem perfect, but happiness hasn't been a part of his life for a very long time.

Marcus Drummond once spent a summer with his best friend Peter at the Warfield Hotel and fell hard for Peter's much older brother. Five years later he's back, and this time he hopes that Justin will see him as more than his kid brother's friend.


Sparks fly when the two meet again, but there are a few things standing in their way. The closet that Justin has himself buried in and someone on a killing spree, dumping bodies on the Warfield beach . . . victims that indicate Justin may be involved in some way.


Author Bio


C. J. Baty lives in southwest Ohio. Her heart, however, lives in the mountains of Tennessee where she hopes to retire some day. The mountains have always provided her with inspiration and a soothing balm to the stresses of everyday life.


The dream of writing her own stories started in high school but was left on the back burner of life until her son introduced her to fan fiction and encouraged her to give it a try. She found that her passion for telling a story was still there and writing them down to share with others was much more thrilling than she had ever expected.


She has a loving and supportive family who don't mind fixing their own meals when she is in the middle of a story, and a network of friends who have encouraged and cheered her on in her quest of being an author.


One thing she has learned from life and she is often heard to say is: “You are never too old to follow your dream!”




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Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Third Wish by @JewelQuinlan from @EvernightPub

Blurb
Owen only has one wish left. And this time, he wants to ensure it doesn’t come with nightmare side effects like his first two did. Unfortunately, Cleo, the scornful genie granting his desires, isn’t willing help. With the wish deadline fast approaching, Owen must find a way to gain Cleo’s assistance, or he’ll be stuck forever in a tangle of his own making.
  Where You Can Buy It
Or add it to your shelf on Goodreads

Excerpt
“…Maybe if you’d executed my first two wishes better I wouldn’t be so strung out.” Wrong thing to say. If I could have punched myself, I would have.
Cleo stiffened, eyes wide. And then they narrowed, and I could almost see the millions of ways she was killing me in her mind right now. I braced myself for a barrage of scorn mixed with profanity. If there was one thing I’d learned about Cleo in the past couple of months, it was that she had an extensive vocabulary of swear words. Not only was her range impressive, it was also interestingly exotic. I was well acquainted with it because it’d been directed at me on the frequent occasions I managed to get her to come out of the pill box. I’d thought I’d heard it all at this point in my life, but she proved me wrong. And somehow, whenever she directed her skill at me, I couldn’t help but feel that every term she used was eminently fitting.
“I’m so sorry you’re dissatisfied with your first two wishes, Master,” she drawled in an uncharacteristically chilly tone that made me shiver. “I shall return to my vessel and spend my time reflecting on how to do better with your third wish.” She turned and moved away from the door.
Fuck. The lack of profanity made me panic. I leapt up the stairs in one bound and grabbed her arm in desperation. If she evaporated back into the box, I’d have a hell of a time getting her to come out again. “Cleo, I’m sorry. Don’t go. I’m an asshole, okay? A dick. I’m—I’m every foul word you’ve called me since we met.”
The skin of her arm was soft beneath my fingers, but the biceps was firm. Did she work out? Would a genie even need to, being able to shapeshift and all? There was a small strange golden tattoo on her arm. I watched, fascinated, as it shifted from a crescent moon, to some intricate round design that reminded me of snowflakes, and then into a symbol of some kind. This close, her scent was warm in my nostrils. It was a mix of jasmine, incense, and something spicy that I had yet to identify. The intoxicating medley had visited me in my dreams more than once.
“Take … your hand … off me.”
The words were spoken slowly and in a deadly acid that had me snatching my hand back as though I’d touched a hot exhaust pipe. She glared up at me and twitched her arm as if to dislodge any germs I’d left on her creamy skin.
“Sorry. So sorry,” I said, my words coming out light and breathy as though I might set off a bomb. I took a half step back from her, lifting my hands in front of me in that universal I’m-not-armed gesture. “Please don’t go,” I pleaded. “I really need your help. Please.”
There were less than three days left for me to make my third wish, and I was desperate not to fuck it up.  I’d made the first two rather quickly, and they hadn’t turned out exactly as I’d hoped. Well, no, I can’t say that. I’d gotten exactly what I’d wished for. I was now ridiculously wealthy and famous. The problem was that both of those things had come with a lot of problems, like fleeing from people who were trying to kill me for reasons I had yet to determine. And I really didn’t want to spend the rest of my life using my new, magically-granted resources running, hiding, and generally having to look over my shoulder for the rest of my days. Of course, I could always wish to undo the first two wishes. But who in their right mind would do that? I ran a hand through my hair, and pleaded with her with my eyes.
Cleo made a scoffing noise and raked a critical gaze from my black biker boots, over my favorite well-worn jeans and grey t-shirt, and finally to my face, which no doubt looked more haggard than ever from worry and an overgrown five o’clock shadow. “And why should I help you? Out of the goodness of my heart?”
I scrambled to think of something to say, but my mind was blank. I was a mere human. And before she’d come into my life, I was only doing a passable job at being that. There was nothing I could give her that she couldn’t give herself, not even freedom.
“I can’t think of anything,” I said, feeling deflated. “But maybe you can.” It was a shot in the dark, but worth it. There was a faint glimmer in her caramel-colored eyes that signaled I was on the right track. Inspired, I pushed forward, desperate. “Is there something?”
She relaxed her stance, making hope soar within me. Then she dropped her gaze to the floor as if—No. Could it be?—as if she was reluctant to say it. I closed the gap between us again, feeling bolder, but I didn’t touch her. “Tell me,” I urged in a low voice, fascinated. “I want to know. No, I have to know. What I could possibly give you that you would want?”
About the Author
Jewel Quinlan is a bestselling paranormal and contemporary romance author. Since her debut in late 2013, she has published fourteen stories and has many more to come. Restless by nature, she is an avid traveler and has visited sixteen countries so far. Lover of ice cream, dark beer, and red wine, she tries to stay fit when she’s not typing madly on her computer drafting another romance novel. In her spare time, she likes to do yoga, hike, learn German, and play with her spoiled Chihuahua, Penny.

For more information about Jewel Quinlan
 Or join Jewel’s monthly newsletter to receive updates on
new releases, read exclusive excerpts, and enter to win giveaways.


 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Sky Full of Mysteries by Rick R. Reed - Release Blitz




Length: 76,456 words

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Design: Reese Dante

Blurb

What if your first love was abducted and presumed dead—but returned twenty years later?

That’s the dilemma Cole Weston faces. Now happily married to Tommy D’Amico, he’s suddenly thrown into a surreal world when his first love, Rory Schneidmiller, unexpectedly reappears.

Where has Rory been all this time? What happened to him two decades ago, when a strange mass appeared in the night sky and lifted him into the heavens? Rory has no memory of those years. For him, it’s as though only a day or two has passed.

Rory still loves Cole with the passion unique to young first love. Cole has never forgotten Rory, yet Tommy has been his rock, by his side since Rory disappeared.

Cole is forced to choose between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. How can he decide? Who faces this kind of quandary, anyway? The answers might lie among the stars….


Excerpt

Cole patted his back pocket, making sure his wallet was still there. He hoisted himself up from his seat and left the train’s air-conditioning for the humid night. There were several trains in the station, all huffing and puffing as they idled, reminding Cole of dragons. Even this late, there were still people hurrying to and fro on the platform.

Cole headed for the stairs and hurried down. Home was only a ten- minute walk from the station, and Cole was now actually grateful for the nap. If that boy’s not up when I get home, he thought with a grin, I’ll just have to poke him awake.

Cole was certain Rory wouldn’t mind.

When he reached the courtyard of their building, the exhaustion Cole had felt on leaving work entirely vanished. He was ready to howl at the moon. He wished only he’d thought to stop off at a convenience store or something so he could have brought Rory a little surprise, maybe a box of Swedish Fish or a roll of SweeTarts. He’d have to find other ways, he supposed, to thrill his sugar-loving man. He’d give him some sugar, all right.

Cole unlocked the front vestibule door and headed into the cool tile lobby of their building. He loved the 1920s vibe of the lobby and the building in general, glad no one in all the ensuing decades since it had been built had decided the gem of a vintage building needed updating. He loved the mica-colored wall sconces and the Mediterranean floor tile. He even loved the battered brass mailboxes along one wall.

He stopped to check the mail, found the box empty, and headed for the elevator.

Out front, Cole hoped Rory had left the door unlocked for him. No such luck. He fished his keys from his pocket and quelled his first impulse, which was to shout, “Honey, I’m home!” at the top of his lungs. If the poor guy was asleep, Cole reasoned, let him sleep. There were subtler and much more pleasurable ways to wake him.

As he made his way through the living room and toward the bedroom, he dropped clothing as he went. He also shut off the lights Rory had thoughtfully left on for him. By the time he reached the closed bedroom door, he was smiling and sporting an erection.

He opened the door slowly. It took his eyes a moment to adjust. They had, in fact, thumb-tacked a sheet over the sole window, so the room stayed pretty dark.

Cole groped his way to the bed, suppressing a giggle.

But when he got there, the giggle died on his lips. He felt around the surface, up, down, left, right, as though his own hands deceived him. He frowned and then turned to the light switch on the wall and flicked it. The room filled with warm yellow light. No Rory. Cole hadn’t expected that, and he cocked his head. Absurdly, he looked around the room, thinking maybe he’d find Rory sitting on the chair they used to pile their clothes on before hopping into bed for the night. Maybe he’d rolled out and was fast asleep on the braided rug they’d positioned beneath it.

But the room was empty. Unusually neat—the bed made and no clothes lying on the chair in the corner. Cole crossed the room and opened the door to the single closet. Maybe Rory was hiding from him? One of the things they both loved about the apartment was the size of the bedroom closet. It was walk-in, with rods on either side, shelving above, and even a window that looked outside. Rory could be weird. Maybe he lay within, naked and waiting, ready to pull out all the stops on yet another fantasy.

But the empty closet mocked him. Where was he?

Cole retreated from the bedroom. “Rory? Babe?” Cole made a quick tour of the small apartment, knowing as he did it that the search would be wasted effort. And it was. Rory wasn’t in the living room, the dining room, kitchen, or bathroom.

Cole returned to the bedroom and ran his hands along the top of the dresser. Rory usually left his wallet and keys on top of it. But just like the rest of his search, this maneuver was only an empty gesture. Rory’s keys and wallet were gone, indicating he was still out there somewhere.

That was odd. Cole glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand and saw it was approaching twelve thirty. Cole knew Rory had to be up early for work in the morning—he had flex hours at his job and liked to work the earlier spectrum—usually seven thirty to four. And Rory loved his sleep! Sometimes he dragged Cole to bed as early as nine o’clock. Cole never complained.

So what was he doing out so late on a school night?

Cole plopped down on the bed, head in his hands. Don’t panic. Don’t even worry. It’s most likely nothing at all. Maybe he got over his aversion to gay bars and is down on Halsted Street, living it up, downing shots backed up by beers. The thought made him chuckle, as that scenario was about as likely as Cole being on a jet bound for Paris, France. Still, in spite of its improbability, the notion did cause a stab of jealousy to jab at Cole—right in his solar plexus. Sure, Rory might be one of the few gay men their age Cole knew who actually didn’t like to go out to bars, but he still could have. It was possible, as he might say if queried on a witness stand in some court of law. Cole felt sick to his stomach as he allowed himself to think what was lurking at the back of his mind, like some black shadow. It was also possible that Rory had gone out and hooked up with someone and lost track of time.

Cole licked his lips, mouth suddenly dry. He had a lot of gay male friends and acquaintances and knew fidelity was a fairly rare thing, even among the ones who claimed to be in committed, monogamous relationships. Why, some of those fellas had even come on to Cole when the boyfriend was out of town or just out of the picture.

Maybe their relationship wasn’t as solid as Cole thought? Rory could have been tempted. It was possible. He was a cute guy who didn’t know it, which made him even cuter. He could see him being hit on— and maybe if he was lonely or bored, he might have given in? Are any of us truly immune to temptation?

No. Not Rory. Cole knew in his heart of hearts that Rory would never cheat. He just didn’t have it in him, literally or figuratively.

So where are you? Cole stood and began pacing. He pulled aside the sheet tacked up over the window to look outside, hoping against hope he’d see Rory down there on the beach. He did see someone, a guy, sitting on the sand at the edge of the beach, his feet pushed into the waves. But even from up there, Cole could tell the guy had at least fifty pounds on Rory, if not more. And he was smoking....

A woman walked by. A big dog, maybe a pit bull, dashed ahead of her, splashing at the edge of the surf. Cole could see the leash in her hand. She called the dog back, and it sounded to Cole like its name was Pashmina.

There was no one else on the beach this late.

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband. 


FIND RICK ONLINE: Facebook Page | Twitter  | Google+  | Blog  | Website  | Bookbub 







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Monday, 13 August 2018

To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen - Release Day Review




293 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | IBooks | Riptide

Blurb

Survival is hard enough in the outer colonies—what chance does love have?

Life can be harsh and lonely in the outer colonies, but miner-turned-farmer Abraham Bauer is living his dream, cultivating crops that will one day turn the unforgiving world of Alkirak into paradise. He wants more, though. A companion—someone quiet like him. Someone to share his days, his bed, and his heart.

Gael Sonnen has never seen the sky, let alone the sun. He’s spent his whole life locked in the undercity beneath Zhemosen, running from one desperate situation to another. For a chance to get out, he’ll do just about anything—even travel to the far end of the galaxy as a mail-order husband. But no plan of Gael’s has ever gone smoothly, and his new start on Alkirak is no exception. Things go wrong from the moment he steps off the shuttle.

Although Gael arrives with unexpected complications, Abraham is prepared to make their relationship work—until Gael’s past catches up with them, threatening Abraham’s livelihood, the freedom Gael gave everything for, and the love neither man ever hoped to find.

Review

For some reason I’ve never thought of a Science Fiction story in terms of it being a sweet romance. After reading To See the Sun that is going to change. This book is swoon-worthy romantic in the best possible way and I can honestly say I loved it from start to finish.

In Bram and Gael we have two main characters in desperate need of someone to love, someone who will love them, someone to take them away from the misery their live has been so far (Gael) and someone to complete the live they’ve started to build for themselves (Bram).

Gael’s circumstances broke my heart from the moment he was introduced. Locked into a world deep inside a planet and locked into working for crime lords, his life appears hopeless, desperate. His one wish—to see the sun— appears as humble as it impossible.

Bram’s life on Alkirak is bleak, because the whole planet is bleak and hostile, but nowhere near as desperate as Gael’s. Now that he is well on the way to creating a good life for himself, Bram wants more; he yearns for love and a family. Gael appears to be the answer to his prayers, and Bram arranges for Gael to travel across the universe to join him.

A mail-order partner inevitably comes with a host of issues, even without having a hostile living environment to content with. Bram and Gael know nothing about each other when they first meet. Both of them take a blind jump into the unknown in the hope that their risk will pay off and that they will find themselves face to face with someone who not only offers them what they are so desperately lacking in their lives but who will also turn out to be someone they can and will love.

Bram and Gael’s journey toward each other is slow and cautious. Gael arrived with an unexpected, be it charming, young stowaway in the form of Aavi. But more than that, Bram has no doubts that Gael is hiding things from him. But no matter how much he doubts both Gael and himself, Bram can’t deny that a bond is forming between them and slowly morphing from camaraderie to something deeper. At the same time Gael can’t make himself believe that he’s good enough for anybody, never mind a man as perfect as Bram. But even he can’t stop his heart from developing feelings his head doesn’t really believe in.

Just as things appear to be coming together for Bram and Gael, disaster strikes leaving both men fighting, not only for their lives but also for the fragile but undeniable bond that has formed between them and the family they’d created, almost despite themselves.

There’s so much to love in this book. The slow-burn love story is captivating. Bram, Gael and Aavi are fascinating and fully-fleshed and will worm their way into your heart. But there’s a fourth main character in the form of the planet itself; a hostile place that still turns out to be the perfect home for three characters in desperate need of a place and people to call their own.

This story was the perfect combination of Sci-Fi and romance for me. The world in which To See the Sun is set is described in enough detail to make it real, while the descriptions never take away from the main love story. The against the odds romance between Bram and Gael grows slowly, organically, at times almost against either man’s wishes and is all the more glorious for it.

Long story short: I thoroughly enjoyed this gripping and heart-warming story. Once again, Kelly Jensen has presented me with characters and a story that captivated me and will stay with me. If you like a very well written love story set in an anything but romantic setting, do yourself a favour and pick up To See the Sun.







Saturday, 11 August 2018

Merrick The Art Thief by Michelle Woody - Release Blitz



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS Books

Length: 56,030 words 

Publisher: JMS Books

Blurb

Brilliant art thief Merrick Davidson can steal anything, except Grant Silvan’s heart. Merrick has to keep Grant at arm’s length for fear of revealing his secret. When Merrick’s biggest rival exposes his secret to Grant, the rejected lover returns to win back his relationship with Merrick, but there are obstacles to overcome.

Wyatt Silvan, Grant’s father and Merrick’s employer, is after the famous seven Xanderclied paintings, which all contain clues to a treasure. If Merrick succeeds in obtaining all the paintings and find the treasure, he can retire as an art thief and start a normal, uncomplicated life with Grant.


Together, they hunt the paintings from art galleries to private collections, from city to city, dodging bullets and escaping from life threatening attacks. With danger all around and the FBI on their tails, will Wyatt and Merrick find the paintings and treasure they are looking for? Will Merrick realize love is the biggest treasure of it all, before it is too late?


Excerpt


Rhonda and Grant stood at the end of the hallway, looking around.


Merrick caught Rhonda’s gaze.


“There you are.” Rhonda approached him with Grant following.


“What’s wrong?”


“I don’t like this.” Rhonda leaned close. “I told him you two would look less suspicious with the family around.”


“Oh boy.” Merrick rubbed his chin as he glanced down the hall in hopes Wyatt would be there.


Wyatt’s voice came through the earpiece. “Honey, I can hear you.”


“Where are you?” Rhonda started toward the desk.


“We’ll look around. Bye.” Merrick removed his earpiece. “Let’s try the second floor.”


“Are they fighting?”


“Probably.”


“I’ve never heard them fight.”


Merrick pursed his lips. “Let’s just look for the painting.”


They took the sprawling cream-colored marble stairs to the second floor. The landing branched out to their left and right, walls on both sides lined with framed paintings and photographs. They started down the hall to their right. Only three people moved past the works of art and didn’t seem to pay Merrick and Grant any attention.


Beside him, Grant fidgeted with his watch. He wanted to hold Grant’s hand, to enjoy the stroll through the museum. How nice it’d be if there was no stress or danger, only the feel of Grant’s soft hand, his arm resting against Merrick’s as they walked.


After they passed several paintings, Merrick grinned, bowed his head.


“What?”


He glanced at the security cameras in the corners, then at Grant. “You’re distracting me.”


“I’m not doing anything.”


“You are.”


Grant smiled.


Merrick stared into Grant’s eyes for several breaths. The blue reminded him of the ocean; inviting and healing.


Grant lowered his voice. “Can my dad hear us?”


“Oh.” He looked at the earpiece in his hand. “Maybe.”


Grant nodded as he walked on.


Merrick fell into step beside him, forcing his attention to the art, even though he could feel Grant’s looks.


Grant moved closer so their arms touched. He wrapped his pinkie around Merrick’s, grinning as he turned his gaze away from Merrick.


The simple contact rushed through him. His fantasies of a life with Grant weren’t coming close to how wonderful it felt to really have him at his side.


Grant stopped them. “You’re blushing.”


“See? Distracting.”


Behind Grant, two sets of double doors led to a room where paintings in vivid colors of blues and reds flanked Xanderclied's Despair. He took Grant’s hand. “Let’s look in here.”


As they stepped through the doorway, Merrick studied the rectangular room. With the recent thefts of Xanderclied works, the upgraded security around Despair wasn’t surprising. A wire ran from the bottom of the canvas, probably attached to a motion-activated alarm. Cameras aimed down from each corner of the room. At the two doorways, nestled into the high ceiling, were roll cages, which Merrick presumed were set to drop once the motion alarm was triggered. It was daunting, but nothing they couldn’t handle. What troubled him was whatever trick Jordan had waiting for them.


Grant faced the door, sliding his arm through Merrick’s. “I’m so nervous.”


“Relax. Nothing is going to happen right now.”


Grant caught his breath. “I’ve seen that guy before.”


Merrick glanced at the doorway, finding it empty. “Who?”


A red-haired man with a bushy beard walked along the far side of the hall. Merrick had seen him before, too. He was the flirt from the Cunningham opening. Why was he there, today of all days? Was he a part of Jordan’s game?


Merrick gripped Grant’s hand as he slid his earpiece back into place. “Guys, we have a problem.”


Author Bio

Michelle Woody lives in Springfield, Missouri. Her other titles include Riley, winner of the 2010 National Indie Excellence Award for Gay/Lesbian Fiction, The Scarecrow's Kiss, and Figment of the Heart.


For more information, please visit michellewoody.com.


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Thursday, 9 August 2018

Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch - Release Blitz



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 78,000 words approx.

Blurb

Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray.

When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.


To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?


***


“Magic, folklore, dark deeds, and hot romance combine in this wildly enjoyable, inventive story set in a lovely alt-Victorian Gothic world. More please!”


—KJ Charles, RITA™-nominated author of THE MAGPIE LORD and SPECTRED ISLE


"Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch is the sort of book you want to read again the moment you reach the end. Beautifully written, with a romance that is by turns sweet and scorching, it belongs on the keeper shelf of any lover of paranormal historical."


—Jordan L. Hawk, author of the WHYBORNE AND GRIFFIN and HEXWORLD series


Excerpt

Thornby was walking along the moorland path, calm as you please, nose in the air, apparently admiring the autumn colours in the distant oaks in the park.

“Stop, Lord Thornby! I want to talk to you.”


Thornby walked faster, slight limp becoming more pronounced.


“Stop, I say!”


John felt in his pockets for his vials and pouches, then changed his mind and simply put on speed. He’d come to this remote part of the grounds in the hope of a rest. He’d not slept much last night with the walls of Raskelf muttering and whispering, and the antiquities from Egypt shrieking muffled curses from the other side of the corridor.


The thought of Thornby had kept him awake as well; so resistant to the Judas Voice—that had given John an unpleasant moment—and so unapproachable, with that aristocratic hauteur you could never breach. And so strange. Why did the man wear such peculiar clothes? Today it was tight black pantaloons and a high stock that would have been fashionable forty years ago. And over this bizarre Regency costume was a rusty black greatcoat with wide cuffs, and a tricorn hat that would have looked well in the previous century.


And, yes, Thornby was handsome—heart-stoppingly so—with arrogant grey eyes, a mane of brown hair that almost reached his collar, and a preposterous red mouth. He was tall and thin and carried himself like a fencer. There was, too, something whip-taut about him, some unbearable tension that made you feel he might lash out. Or suddenly kiss you. Thornby had looked John up and down when he was introduced, finally unbending so far as to give John a slight inclination of the head. And John’s mouth had gone as dry as if Thornby had extended one of those elegant white hands and given his balls a gentle squeeze.


It was tiresome, really. It made it so much harder to concentrate. He must make sure he didn’t allow his attraction to the man to cloud his judgement. Possibly Thornby was using a glamour spell. John couldn’t sense one, but sometimes by their very nature they were difficult to detect.


So, he mustn’t think about how good it would be to slide his fingers inside Thornby’s old black pantaloons, how good it would be to taste his lovely mouth, and wipe that damned snooty expression off his face. If John had been in London, he would have gone to one of the houses that catered to men of his taste, and tried to forget about it. Here in the middle of rural Yorkshire it was far too dangerous to approach anyone, and in any case, farm lads were not his type. He’d simply leave as soon as he could tell Catterall he’d done his best.


They walked in single file for perhaps five minutes. The path smelt of rotting leaves, and a biting wind began to make its presence felt as they crossed into an open piece of moorland. Splashes of muddy water were spotting the back of Thornby’s coat. John used the close proximity to feel for magic. Like last night at dinner, he could sense nothing emanating from Thornby. There was certainly no demon reek, so Thornby probably wasn’t a theurgist, or if he was, he was a very fastidious one.


But then Thornby didn’t feel like a materials man either, and John could generally recognise his own kind. So, how had Thornby broken those charms? Now John was closer, and had longer to concentrate on Thornby alone, he thought there might be something magical, at the very edge of his awareness, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Most magicians used demons or materials, but there were other ways, so perhaps Thornby used some unfamiliar method.


John charged his ward stone, and put it back in his pocket. He patted his bag of salt and checked his Gelomorous twine and the demon trap, just in case. Whatever spells Thornby cared to throw at him, he was ready. In fact, he was almost looking forward to a fight.


They reached an open place a hundred yards from a small pine spinney. The dark trees were contorted sideways as if fleeing the icy wind. The sun, behind its grey pall of cloud, was beginning to set. Thornby suddenly stopped and swung around.


“Well, Mr Blake? I suppose you’d like to explain yourself?” Thornby’s chin was up, beautiful mouth curved in disdain.


Review

Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a wonderful combination of magic, danger, myth, mystery, and romance with a few comical moments thrown in for good measure. To say the book captured me from the very start, would be a huge understatement. So much is going on between the opening paragraph and the last line and yet, the story never felt overpowering or confusing.

Allow me to list everything that captured not only my attention but also my admiration in this book.

Lord Thornby’s captivity and the fact that it physically hurts him whenever he tried to leave his father’s estate, captured my imagination immediately. The reason why, when the truth was revealed came as a huge surprise and yet was as fitting as it was inspired.

Because homosexuality was still a severe crime at the time this story takes place, the developing relationship between aristocratic Thornby and ‘commoner’ Blake would have made for an interesting story on its own. Add magic and mystery to this dynamic and what you’re left with is a thrilling and unputdownable tale of love against all the odds.

Which brings me to John Blake’s magic. Lee Welsh has created a world in which magic is an ability people are born with and which is further developed through schooling, in the appropriately named ‘Dee Institute’. The idea that practitioners of magic would choose a specialization according to their abilities made so much sense to me. Although I have to admit that the moments when John Blake had to ignore everything he’d been taught and make up new rules to fit the situation fascinated me even more.

If I’m honest I have to admit I’m not sure what aspect of the story captured me most. The (almost reluctantly) developing attraction between Blake and Thornby was fascinating and enticing. Blake’s magic intrigued me, and the mystery of Thornby’s confinement kept me on my toes from start to finish.


It’s always a special treat when I discover a new (to me) author who manages to surprise me, keep me hooked, or is hugely talented at creating a captivating world. In Lee Welsh I found a storyteller who manages to do all three in one intriguing story. Suffice to say I will have to investigate what other treats this writer may have in store for me.

Author Bio

Lee Welch wrote her first book aged seven (a pastiche of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and first had an idea for an m/m romance aged twelve. She loves books and comics, and when she’s not writing, she’ll probably be reading. Her favourite authors include Ursula Le Guin, Graham Greene, Linda Medley, Dylan Horrocks and KJ Charles. By day, Lee works as an editor and business communications adviser, mainly persuading people not to say ‘utilise’ when they mean ‘use’. Her job has led her to work in areas as diverse as mental health, nursing, accident prevention and the criminal justice sector.

Lee loves to hear from readers. You can find her at:

www.leewelchwriter.com
Twitter: @leewelchwriter
Facebook: www.facebook.com/leewelchwriter


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