Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Clockwork Pirate by Lyn Gala

Summary:
Alex hid his unnatural attraction to men for many years. That changes when the pirate Beche takes Alex after capturing his ship. At first Alex believes his fate is death and the only question a matter of how he might die. However, the longer he is on the ship, the more he realizes that Beche hates the world because it is unfair in ways Alex never understood. As Alex begins to respect this strong, independent man, Alex’s dormant desires begin to reassert themselves.

Beche hates the titled classes and their government enforcers. They might have outlawed slavery on paper, but they never came to the islands to free him or his family. Since his skin is black, society has little respect for him. Beche expects no more of this latest captive, but soon Beche begins to realize that Alex is a naΓ―ve and beautiful man who values family and struggles with his own place in society. That poses an even larger problem because Beche does not want to send Alex back to a world that will mistreat him, but he has no place for a lord on a ship full of pirates.


Pirates AND steampunk? What's not to love?  I can honestly say that there is not a single moment of Clockwork Pirate that I disliked.  I especially enjoyed the evolution of Alex, from a naive nobleman to a man who took on a whole fort to rescue that which he loved and Beche, a pirate(perhaps not ruthless but a pirate nonetheless) who gave up everything for those he loved.  Don't even get me started on how much I loved Alex's sisters, their bravery and intelligence something that is often lacking in the age of pirates.  Lyn Gala is a new author for me, which can often be scary for some but for me it's adrenaline pumping and this was no different, can't wait to read more.

Reviewer Note: I have to say that I don't really get the whole terminology of steampunk.  I know what it means and I know it is a sub-genre of science fiction but to me science fiction is science fiction, nothing more, nothing less.  As a reader, I will be putting this and others labeled steampunk on my science fiction library shelf but as a book blogger I will defer to the whole steampunk terminology labeling.  Just wanted to put that out there.

RATING:


Alex stumbled into the captain’s quarters, shocked at the rich carvings and heavy desk. He didn’t know what he expected--or rather he did, and he’d expected piles of stolen goods and a skull or two as this monster showed off his kills. Instead, this was a place where Alex’s father might have worked. The hatches were open, allowing in a breeze that did little to cool the hot air. Doors led to a balcony across the back of the stern of the ship. So he was to be the entertainment for one man instead of the entire crew.

Alex could handle that.

He could.

He could also fly during full moons. Panic was starting to crawl up his throat again, but Beche shoved him forward. He ended up stomach down over a well-made table, and anger derailed Alex’s movement toward becoming completely unnerved.

“You are more trouble than you’re worth.”

“Then put me over the side,” Alex said. He’d never anticipated he would reach a point where he would welcome death, but he did...as long as he didn’t have to face a death like Pieter’s.

“I’m starting to think you have a death wish.”

“No. I have an aversion to pain.”

“Then you might want to avoid attacking me.” Beche yanked at Alex’s hands, and it took a second to realize he was being untied. The only thing worse than being tied up by a pirate was being untied because he didn’t pose any threat. The bindings came away, and Alex went to stand, but the pirate put his hand on Alex’s back and shoved him back down to the table.

“I should have known you were an urning.” Alex spit out the last word with as much venom as he could manage.

“Is an urning someone who is upset with someone else’s poor behavior?”

“An urning is a man who chooses to take his pleasure with another man.”

Surprisingly, the pirate laughed. That was not a word that caused most men amusement, but this Beche was not like most men. “There are no women on this ship. Men can take pleasure in each other, or they can go without pleasure. There’s no other option, not unless you want to get creative with fish. I knew a galley cook once that did that, but I think he had drunk enough to damage his brain.”

Alex shivered in horror. “A fish?”

“The captain tossed him off at the next port,” Beche said, “but the point is that you will not bring your moral judgments here. Having a lord lecture on right and wrong would annoy most of the men on this ship.”

Alex didn’t care whether he annoyed men who held him captive, but he was more than concerned about being on a ship of urnings. The doctor who had explained the term to Alex had said urnings had only partially developed as fetuses. While Alex might not believe in making a man a criminal for his feelings, he certainly didn’t trust someone who openly embraced the idea. “Let me up,” Alex said quietly.

“Not until we’ve reached an understanding,” Beche said firmly. “In case it has escaped your notice, you are not the most popular person with the crew.”

Alex didn’t answer. He would have to be addlebrained to miss the general hatred.

“Right now, the others are willing to leave you be, but if you offend them with your presence, I’m not sure what they’ll do. If you’re lucky, they’ll only toss you off the ship. Honestly, knowing the background of most of these men, I doubt they’d show as much mercy as that.”

“You’re suggesting I should stay here and allow you to unman me.” Alex could feel a rising storm of emotions that he couldn’t identify.

Beche pulled Alex upright and turned him. They were the same height, which surprised Alex because Beche felt larger than life. In reality, he was five feet and ten inches. “If you’re a man, nothing I do would unman you.”

“So I should accept you using me as a woman?” Alex lifted his chin and dared Beche to even suggest that.

Beche had the gall to look satisfied. He was entirely too easily amused. “You are not a woman, so if I use you, I will have to use you as a man. And as of right now, I don’t intend to use you at all. I am not the monster you seem to presuppose.”

“No doubt you entered piracy hoping to pursue it for altruistic purposes.”

“I am going to assume you’re being sarcastic and showing a poor attitude since I don’t know all those words,” Beche said, and for some reason Alex was surprised. Beche struck him as being frighteningly intelligent as well as entirely too strong. Alex felt bruised from top to bottom after their fight. “So let me explain your life, young lord. You will clean my rooms, mend my clothing, and some day you may move up in my trust enough to clean my weapons and care for my contraptions. You will do all this with a good spirit. You will show humility when crew are here until you earn their trust, and then I will be able to send you on chores.”

“You want me to be a cabin boy,” Alex said. He had never been so offended in his life. He was no twelve-year-old to tend some man and sleep on his floor.

“My last cabin boy has been recently promoted to work in the galley and run powder for the gunners, so yes, you are a cabin boy. Now do you still need to use the privy?”

Alex felt quite a bit of satisfaction as he announced, “I urinated on the wall of the closet.” His mother would collapse if she’d ever heard such language from him, but it felt amazingly good. The look of horror on Beche’s face was even better.

“That’s disgusting.”

“Next time I warn you that I need to use the head, perhaps you’ll listen.” Alex might not have the power here, but he could still make his displeasure known, even if he had to do it in ways that made him as uncivilized as the pirates who had taken him captive.

“Next time you’ll hold it, or I’ll find one or two ways to force you to,” Beche warned. Alex frowned, not even sure he understood that threat. “Now we have the issue of your attack upon me.”

“I am a prisoner. I am entitled to attempt to free myself.” Alex expected punishment, but that didn’t mean he had to accept it quietly.

Beche stepped back and crossed his arms, once more looking very amused. “And if you had fought your way out of that closet, where would you have gone?”

“I’m sure you have multiple launches,” Alex said. “And I am equally sure you stole them and stole this vessel, so I would not feel guilty about stealing them again.” A ship this size had to be one of the warships retired when the militaries started switching to airships. Either Beche was clever enough to steal a military ship from the military or whoever had been ordered to sink the ship after it was decommissioned had failed badly.

“You planned to set out in a launch with no navigational equipment, no maps, no provisions, no concept of our current location, and no idea the direction of the nearest land. That is a remarkably stupid plan, milord.”

“I would have died on my own terms.”

“I find it best to avoid death at all,” Beche offered, “so please refrain from any more suicide plans masquerading as escape attempts. Right now we need to discuss your punishment for that incident.”

Alex gritted his teeth and glared at the pirate.

“You have three choices. I can punish you like a man, which would mean a flogging while being tied to the mast. I can punish you like a cabin boy and put you over my lap for a spanking, or I can punish you like crew and put you on biscuit and water rations for five days. Your choice.”

It seemed obvious, but Beche held up his hand before Alex could say anything. “I believe you’re about to make an uninformed decision, so understand that the punishment is not the biscuits and water. The punishment is the absolute agony in your bowels when they try to move and they cannot. It sometimes requires the application of an oil enema to get things moving again.”

Alex stared at Beche in horror. Not only did polite people avoid discussion of bowels, but they would never use bodily function as punishment. Never. Alex had been captured by the worst sort of barbarian. Worse, he called that a crew punishment, which clearly implied he’d used it in the past. Alex felt a little ill at the thought.

“Your choice?” Beche asked.

Alex was being asked to choose between internal bowel pain, the agony of a flogging, or the humiliation of being treated as a child. There was no answer that would preserve any sort of dignity, so what was the point of asking him to choose? It was like asking him which leg he would like amputated. Barbaric. Alex was truly stuck on that word. He narrowed his eyes, and a new thought came to him. No matter what he chose, he would regret it, and if he had chosen the punishment, he would--no doubt--come to hate himself as well. Beche might be a barbarian, but he was a very clever one.

Alex crossed his arms. “I have no intention of playing games with my dignity or your twisted wit. Whatever you will do, you will do. I will not participate other than to endure the punishment you dole out.” And if it was biscuits and water, Alex was determined to avoid eating for five days. He would never allow someone to perform a procedure on his bowels, no matter how stuck they might become. Alex had good cause to be protective of his anatomy.

“You do surprise me,” Beche said in an almost admiring tone that didn’t make much sense. “This is your last chance to either choose a punishment or remove one from consideration.”

Alex thought about taking the bread and water option off the table, but at the last moment he closed his mouth tightly. He would not be tempted to engage in this farce.

Beche’s smile only grew. “Well, don’t complain if you find you don’t like my choice,” he warned.

Alex raised his chin and braced himself for the worst. He could survive any of the punishments, and more than that, a punishment would not deter him from trying again.

“One day I’m going to correctly predict what you are likely to say, but that day is not today,” Beche admitted.

“Do not presume to know me.”

“Oh, I think I will know you very well before long, milord.”

“Margrave.”

“You’ll live longer if you claim no title,” Beche said. “And to that end, you will remove that clothing.”

“Excuse me?” Alex took a step back, but found his retreat blocked by the table.

“We’re close enough to the same size that you can wear some of my poorer clothes, but if you walk around here in a silk tie and vest, someone is going to take offense.”

“I don’t care. Besides, you said I was going to stay in here.”

“You are, but the crew does come in here, so off with that clothing.” Beche walked to the side of the room where a bed was tucked between carved pillars. Below were drawers, and he started searching for something.

Alex looked around wildly for some sort of weapon, but unless he was willing to attack a man armed with a sword and gun using a fountain pen or a letter opener, he had no options.

Beche turned around with a loose white longshirt and trousers in his hands. “You’ll change into these.”

“Not here,” Alex said desperately. He was not going to get naked in front of any man.

Beche tossed the clothing at Alex and crossed his arms. “You’ll change here. And I will watch every moment, so if you have more of your sister’s clever contrivances hidden about you, you will not be able to transfer them over.”

Alex’s hand went to his spider.

“Take your punishment well, and I’ll allow you to keep that toy,” Beche said.

Alex hated himself for having shown even that much weakness. “You’ve just made it clear I own nothing, so don’t pretend otherwise.” He took the pin that attached the spider to him by way of a chain and then carefully unhooked the tiny mechanical feet from his jacket before putting it down on the pirate’s desk. The loss of that little spider hurt more than the loss of his ship or his freedom, which made no sense, but then Alex suspected he was already suffering from some weakness of the mind. His father had always told him he was too feeble to take up manly duties, and perhaps this proved his father right.

With trembling hands, he stripped free of his coat and vest. He worked on the shirt. It was stained by sweat and smelled too strong for good company, but then Alex didn’t figure this was good company. When he had bared his chest, he grabbed the longshirt he’d been provided and pulled it over his head. It would give him some cover as he changed his pants.

He felt terribly vulnerable in his thin cotton drawers. He grabbed for the rough trousers Beche had provided.

“Stop,” Beche said as he moved forward. Alex was so shocked by this that he did as ordered. “Since you’re my cabin boy, let’s use a cabin-boy’s punishment. Bend over the desk, and we can get this spanking out of the way.”

“What?” Alex’s voice rose dangerously high.

“I know you’re not deaf, so I have no interest in repeating myself.” Beche lunged so fast Alex didn’t really notice before Beche grabbed his arm and shoved him against the wood. Either Beche had some magical powers or Alex was not tracking reality well. Maybe both.

Author Bio:
Lynsey "Lyn" Gala started writing in the back of her science notebook in third grade and hasn’t stopped since. Westerns starring men with shady pasts gave way to science fiction with questionable protagonists which eventually gave in to any story with a morally ambiguous character. Even the purest heroes have pain and loss and darkness in their hearts, and that’s where she likes to find her stories. Her characters seek to better themselves and find the happy ending (or happier anyway), but it’s writing the struggle that inspires her muse. When she isn’t writing, Lyn Gala teaches in New Mexico.

She first cut her teeth on fanfic: gen, slash, het, and femslash. She prefers to focus on plot: mysteries and monsters and disasters, oh my, but sex can and does happen. Some of her stories focus on power exchange, bondage or bdsm. In her worlds, tops and bottoms are all mature, consenting adults. In fact, stories where they aren't squick her badly, so don't expect to find abuse stories in her journal.


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Release Day Blitz: Assassin PI by Elizabeth Janette

Title: Assassin PI
Author: Elizabeth Janette
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: March 23, 2016
Summary:
For a Private Eye like Jack Gaines, a man with old-fashioned morals and a wicked thirst for justice, being paid to eliminate bad guys has its perks. Nearly getting killed isn’t one of them. It’s enough to make Jack contemplate retirement in the Bahamas. But that’s before his ex-lover graces his doorway. One kiss is all it takes for Jack to postpone retirement and agree to take on her case: find and assassinate her husband’s killer.

It’s not the corrupt police force that he’s afraid of. Or the Fed hot on his heels. It’s her. She’s the only one with the power to bring him to his knees. And Angie’s harboring a deadly vendetta that threatens to destroy him like a bullet to the heart. Getting out of this mess (preferably alive) will take more than just his wits, good looks, and an arsenal of gumshoe novels.


Angie broke off the kiss and pushed away from him. “What are you doing, Jack?”

He grabbed her by the wrist and brought her back into his arms. “Making up for lost time. Doing what I should have done years ago.”

“You can’t go back and change the past, Jack. You broke my heart once. I won’t let it happen again.”
She was right, but when he was close to her, thinking straight was near impossible. There were a million and one reasons why he should walk away from her, from this case. He headed for the door and yanked it open.


She didn’t budge.

“You’re right. You should leave.” It would kill him to see her walk out his door again, but it was the gentlemanly thing to do. He was giving her an out. One she would take if she were smart.

Angie lifted her chin defiantly. “Not until we talk.”

The tension was palpable. Jack let the door close and engaged the deadbolt. “Suit yourself.”

He strode across the room, pinning Angie to the wall. Tangling his fingers in her hair, he tugged her head back, leaving her silky neck exposed. God, how long had it been since he’d last been with a woman as tantalizing as her? He took a deep breath in. Her perfume beckoned him to take a taste, to throw caution to the wind and give in.

“I warned you. I’m not in the mood to be played with.” Tonight wasn’t about making excuses, or even about making love. It was about sheer lust. Trying to scratch an itch that had lain dormant for too many years. Far too many years.



Author Bio:
Throughout the day, Elizabeth Janette wears many hats: soccer mom, teacher, hula dancer, photographer, and romance writer. When she's not drafting fun lesson plans, she's dreaming up murder mysteries and love affairs to write about. Elizabeth's stories have earned her recognition as a finalist in the 2011 Dixie First Chapter contest and a finalist in the Indiana Golden Opportunity contest. Her debut novel, Redemption For Liars, was nominated as a finalist in the Romantic Suspense category as well as the Best First Book category for the 2014 National Excellence for Romantic Fiction Award.


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The Road To Winterhill by Gloria Gay

Title: The Road to Winterhill
Author: Gloria Gay
Genre: Regency Romance
Release Date: January 10, 2016
Publisher: Kindle Direct
Cover Artist: Killion Group
Summary:
In the silence of St. George’s Cathedral, the clergyman’s voice rang out unnaturally loud: “Do you, Richard Branston, Earl of Berrington, take this woman, Belinda Presleigh, of Hunsley Manor, as your lawful wedded wife, to love and honor until death do you part?”

The few wedding guests crowding around them waited for Berrington’s response which was long in coming. Belinda saw their smirks and heard their muffled laughter.

She felt the sting of tears in her eyes at the long pause and realized she could not undo what she had done. The awful deed had come to roost in her heart.

She wished he would say no. She’d rather be jilted than that awful hesitation in which everyone looked at each other, some with smirks of “I told you so.”

Finally, Lord Berrington’s voice rang out—loud, impatient and clear: “I do.”


Belinda, who had been unable to close her eyes, had during the last few minutes, started to doze off. She froze as the door opened and Lord Berrington walked into the bedroom. Her hands, lying by her sides, shook.

The room shrank in size with his presence, a presence that overwhelmed Belinda with its maleness and authority.

In the dim candlelight she followed his progress as he tossed his coat over a chair and placing a bottle of wine and two wineglasses he had brought with him on a small table, proceeded to fill both glasses with wine. Then he walked over to the bed where Belinda lay, her body as straight and tense as a board, and sat on a chair by the bed. He handed her one of the wineglasses. His eyes raked over her as she began to tremble from head to toe.

"Drink this," Berrington ordered. "It will ease the tension in you. I don’t know what you’ve been told about this night, but it’s obvious you were terrorized by their words. Forget what you’ve been told. This business is very much like learning to swim. The best thing to do is to plunge right into it. It won’t be as bad as you imagine, I assure you.

“Drink all your wine, now."

Belinda straightened up in the bed to a sitting position and with a shaking hand took the large heavy goblet. Then with trembling lips sipped it once and stopped, but without looking at him.

"All of it," he ordered. "If ever anyone needed a glass of wine to relax a little, it is you."

Author Bio:
Author Gloria Gay’s love of painting and writing has always been entwined in her life. Her debut novel, First Season, earned a four-star review from Romantic Times Book Review. She recently published a new, expanded version of First Season under the title, LOVE IN A DANGEROUS SEASON.

Recently, Boroughs Publishing Group published her Regency historical romances, Scandal at Almack’s and Lovely Little Liar.

Gloria published a new edition of First Season under the title, LOVE IN A DANGEROUS SEASON, as well as ENCHANTED SUMMER, a Regency romance and A BRIDGE THROUGH TIME, a time travel romance.

Gloria and her husband Enrique, an architect, have three grown children and six grand-children and they are lucky to have them all living near them in San Diego, California. 


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