Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Children of Lightning by Annie K Wong

Title: Children of Lightning
Author: Annie K Wong
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Release Date: September 27, 2014

Secrets beget secrets. The curse that befell the Hollows clan has left them incapable of producing male offspring. To extend their bloodline, they have formed a covenant with the serpentine Ophidians, who give them children. In return, the Hollows must keep these monstrous creatures well fed, though the details of the procurement are so abominable that the truth is never revealed to the other clans. In their homeland of Matikki, they live like outcasts.

Through a series of chance discoveries, the secrets of the ancient curse unfold before a warrior named Writhren Hollow. Is her purely female clan the result of a lapse of divine providence, or are the Hollows themselves victims of an enslavement scheme?

If Writhren frees her clan from the covenant, she risks the wrath of the Ophidians and the future of her bloodline. If she keeps the truth of the curse to herself, she is a traitor to her own kind. Either way, she will suffer for what she must do.

This is not a story of redemption, but regret. This is Writhren’s story.

1. What is the biggest influence/interest that brought you to this genre?
About ten years ago, when I was struggling to figure out my ability and identity as a writer, I ended up having a late night bizarre conversation with my friend Amanda and became very emotional.

I wailed in my car and told her how I would never make it as a literary writer, that I hadn’t read enough books, didn’t have the academic qualifications to write anything intelligent or relevant.

Amanda said, “But why do you want to be a literary writer?  You don’t even like literary fiction that much.”

I said, “But what other kind of writer could I be?”

“I think you should be a genre writer.  All your story ideas involve some kind of time travel or magical transformation, and these are the common themes in fantasy stories.  You are not a literary writer, Annie.  You are a fantasy writer.”

I heaved until I stopped crying.  From that night on, I have been a fantasy writer.

Later, when I began developing the story for my current book series, the prequel of which is Children of Lightning, I told my friend Sid that my new story would have strong female characters.  He has been a fantasy bookworm all his life, and he recommended to me, Garth Nix’s Sabriel and China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun.  I have since become a fan of these authors and the fantasy genre.

TGFF!  (Thank God for friends)!

2. When writing a book, what is your favorite part of the creative process (outline, plot, character names, editing, etc)?
Every part of the writing process is enjoyable in different ways.  Since I write to explore (ideas, otherworldly worlds, for example), I find each moment of discovery exciting.  This happens when I come up with a new twist to the plot, or a character’s brilliant comeback when writing a scene.  As an author, I am my book’s first reader, and I have the double pleasure of writing and reading the story at the same time.  It’s the best thing in the world.

3. When reading a book, what genre do you find most interesting/intriguing?
I have read literary fiction, weird fiction, fantasy and non-fiction, and any book that is well-written, has ideas that are original, exciting and resonate with the readers is a good book regardless of its genre.

4. If you could co-author with any author, past or present, who would you choose?
If I could, I would collaborate with China Mieville on a story based in China.  His book, Perdido Street Station, blows my mind.

5. Have you always wanted to write or did it come to you "later in life"?
I discovered my talent in storytelling in college, but I did not pursuit writing as a career then because I was lazy and afraid.  Writing is not for the faint of heart.  The writing process can be grueling, the rate of failure very high.  I was not ready for the challenge as an undergrad.

Unbeknownst to me, this urge to write had remained dormant in me for more than a decade after I left college and reared its (ugly) head in my mid-thirties when I was older, more matured and perhaps more capable of tackling the difficulties of a writing life.  Being the fighter that I am, I battled against this inner voice that beckoned me to be a writer.   I did that for a year and lost.

I was reluctant at first, but once I put my fingers to the keyboard, I discovered a new me, an explorer of brand new worlds and dangerous, complex situations.  I became hooked onto the adrenaline of every story twist and turn unfolding before my eyes.  Yes, writing continues to be difficult, but the difficulty is what makes it so, very rewarding.

Author Bio:
Annie K. Wong was born in Hong Kong and lives in Canada, in the west coast city of Vancouver, BC. She has a BA in Business Administration and Creative Writing from Houghton College as well as a Diploma in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia. Although she explored careers in advertising, television and office administration, the desire to write overtook her at the turn of the new millennium. In 2003 she earned a Post-Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College and has been crafting stories ever since.

Her current project is a fantasy series, the prequel of which is Children of Lightning.

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Handyman by Claire Thompson

Title: Handyman
Author: Claire Thompson
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Romance Unbound
What can a sophisticated Wall Street trader and a simple handyman possibly have in common?

Handsome, sexy and gay, Will Spencer uses and discards lovers as easily as he trades stocks. He is used to taking what—and who—he wants.

Jack Crawford, a recently widowed handyman, never thought of himself as gay. Frightened by an erotic encounter years before, Jack has never embraced his deepest sexual longings.

In an unlikely pairing, Will and Jack explore an incendiary relationship, sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always scintillatingly erotic. Jack is forced to confront feelings he’s hidden for a lifetime. Will is faced with something he isn’t sure he can handle—love.

Warning: Hot, delicious male/male erotic romance. Danger: Explicit m/m sex.

     Will awoke with a start, his body jerking in response to a half-remembered dream. He was sitting in his living room, an empty brandy glass still clutched in one hand. After he sent Jack away he’d proceeded to pour himself way too much brandy and drink it all, cursing himself all the while.
     I had him. He was reaching out to me. And I rebuffed him. I sent him home like we were characters in some stupid romantic comedy from the fifties. Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Now he’ll go home, sober up and thank God he got out of that one. I’ll never hear from him again. I’m such a fucking idiot.
     Will sighed and pressed his hands to his head, which was throbbing dully. Wearily he stood and made his way to the kitchen. He poured himself a glass of water from the new faucet Jack had helped him pick out and stood silently admiring the space.
     Jack was more than a handyman, more than a carpenter. He was an artist. The room was elegant, functional and pleasing to the eye. One would never have looked at the burly, masculine Jack and assumed he was capable of such artistry. Will realized he was holding on to a stereotype in reverse—assuming a straight man like Jack wouldn’t be capable of creating something beautiful.
     Will drank the glass of water and poured another. Yes, he’d sent Jack away but, though he’d maybe lost an opportunity, he knew he had done the right thing. Any potential erotic feelings Jack was experiencing were too tentative to be taken advantage of while he was under the influence of alcohol. He might have been able to squeeze a one-night something out of it, but that wasn’t what he wanted.
     For whatever reason, he had to admit he wanted something more with Jack. Unlike Paul and all the other sex partners he’d had over the years, he felt a connection with Jack he couldn’t explain. It made no sense when he tried to analyze it—Jack wasn’t particularly handsome, he was too old, he was straight, or even if he wasn’t, he came with a lot of baggage to shuck off before they could really have a meaningful relationship. Why would Will want to bother with someone like that? Why waste his time and energy? He could have his pick of men—why choose one so unlikely?
     Why indeed? What made a person fall in love? Was it really something so simple as the way the other person smiled when you talked? The way he stroked the wall before applying paint, feeling for any hidden roughness he would sand away? Was it the way he’d touched Will’s elbow as he stood close behind him at the pool table, guiding him with a gentle, sure touch that spoke of his quiet self-assurance? Was it his scent, a sexy combination of male essence and whatever soap he used, mixed with the fresh laundry scent of his faded, soft denim work shirts?
     Am I in love?
     Surely it was too soon to say. Will knew he was in lust. He knew he wanted to explore Jack’s newfound interest, if that’s what it was. He was dying to pick up the phone and call him—just to see if he got home okay, if he was okay with what they’d talked about. He looked at his watch. Two a.m. was a little late to be checking, seeing as he’d sent the guy away hours before.
     With a sigh, he hauled himself off to bed.
     In the morning a single beam of light fell onto Jack’s face, waking him. Before he was fully conscious he knew something had changed. Something had happened that made him feel different, though still in a semi-sleep state, he couldn’t recall what it was.
     He became aware of the chirping of birds outside his bedroom window. He sat up and opened his eyes, squinting in the bright sunlight to see two robins, their red breasts proudly puffed as they whistled their springy duet. Jack smiled. He’d always regarded seeing robins as a sign of good luck.
     He glanced at the clock. It was after nine. He rarely slept this late. Must have been all that brandy.      The night returned to him with a flash, scrolling across his brain like a silent movie. He lay back against the pillows and put his hands behind his head. Just what exactly had gone on last night?
     He tried to recall Will’s precise words. I feel a kindred connection, something between us that sometimes I imagine you feel too. I have this crazy idea maybe we could explore it—together.
     Men didn’t say that sort of thing to one another. Not straight men, anyway. Yet when Will had said it, Jack hadn’t recoiled, though he hadn’t known how to respond. He felt the same way, really. At least as far as feeling a certain connection—an easiness he rarely felt with anyone.
     Will had crept up on him. He’d slipped past Jack’s usual reserve with his disarming admiration and open friendliness. Was that all it was? Was Jack merely lonely? Was Will the first person to bother, since Emma had been gone, to push past his defenses?
     Or was there something more? Did he find Will attractive? As a man? As a potential…lover?
     Just the word made Jack flush, though he was alone in the room in his empty house. Did he flush because the idea repulsed him? Or because it excited him? Was he finally ready, twenty-six years after the fact, to explore whatever homoerotic feelings he might have buried beneath a lifetime of denial?
     Jack got up and went into the bathroom, his bladder for the moment distracting him from his ruminations. After he peed, he turned on the shower and waited for the spray to heat as he shucked off his pajama bottoms and underwear.
     He stared at himself in the bathroom mirror. What could Will possibly see in him? He was in his forties, the hair on his chest going gray, the laugh lines around his eyes pronounced, as were the grooves along either side of his mouth.
     His body was still strong and firm, as a result of steady, hard physical work all his life. No gym workouts and tennis games to keep in shape, not for Jack Crawford. He’d built his muscles through the labor of his back and the sweat of his brow. He grinned at himself, aware for a horrible moment he sounded just like his father.
     He turned sideways, consciously holding in his stomach and thrusting out his chest. Then he laughed out loud. He was being ridiculous—acting as vain as any insecure kid.
     He climbed into the shower and soaped up his body and his hair, his mind returning to Will. Will’s body was lean and firm—the body of an athlete. He was definitely good-looking—almost too good-looking, Jack thought. The kind of man whose face you’d see in an ad for men’s cologne or fine Italian loafers.
     Will had the look of an aristocrat, that’s the word Jack was groping for. He was young, rich and smart. Why in the hell was he interested in Jack?
     Was he interested in Jack?
     Will might have meant only and precisely what he’d said—that he liked and admired Jack. That didn’t mean he wanted to have anything more, did it? Just because he was gay didn’t mean he wanted to jump into bed with every guy he came into contact with.
     Jack rinsed in the hot spray and soaped himself up again, this time lingering over his cock and balls. He sighed with pleasure as his cock elongated and hardened beneath his fingers. He closed his eyes, lifting his face to the hot spray as he massaged his shaft.
     Will… Despite himself, Jack saw those brilliant green eyes, fixed so intently upon him. He felt for one ridiculous heart-stopping moment Will was actually there, watching him stroke himself in the shower.
     Would Will like to watch such a thing? Jack flushed at the thought but tried not to censor himself from thinking it. Did Will have sexual fantasies about him? Was he way off the mark about Will’s feelings for him? After all, he’d only said he liked him. He’d said he enjoyed spending time with him.      Yet when he had tried to respond in kind, admittedly in a clumsy, drunken ramble, Will had sent him away—dismissed him. Though part of him was relieved, it rankled nonetheless.
     “My God, give it a rest, Crawford,” Jack said aloud. “For all I know, the guy has zero interest, no intentions. Here I am, gearing up for some kind of gay encounter and Will has probably forgotten the whole thing. Jesus, I’m pathetic.”
     He forced himself to think of a naked woman as he finished jerking himself off. Just as he ejaculated his libido got the better of his conscious mind, thrusting the image of Will, bent over the pool table, his hair falling into his eyes, his lips parted as he prepared for a shot…
     Jack finished his shower and roughly toweled himself dry. If only he hadn’t finished the job at Will’s place already. He prided himself on working steady and fast—it was a big reason he got repeat business, maybe the main reason. He had two jobs lined up for next week, though neither would take more than a day or two. After that, maybe he could call Will, invite himself over with some plans for Will’s master bathroom. It could definitely use some renovation…
     Wait a minute. What was he thinking? Jack never solicited business. He let it come to him. If Will wanted more work done, he had Jack’s number. He wasn’t about to foist himself on the guy just because they’d maybe spoken a little too freely after a little too much to drink.
     If Will wanted to see him again, Will could call. Will, after all, had been the one to send him away. Let him call him back—if that’s what he wanted. And if he didn’t, well, that was that. Jack had been doing fine on his own these past two years. There was no reason to suppose he couldn’t go on just as he had been for the next twenty.
     Jack went about his business, making himself breakfast, eating it in front of the TV as he watched the Friday morning news, washing the few dishes and putting them in the rack to dry. He had a small job that afternoon—some finishing touches on a sunroom he’d built on a house not far from Will’s. Then the weekend loomed.
     As he poured himself a second cup of coffee an uninvited thought slipped into his head. What if you wait for him to call, but he doesn’t? Will you let this second chance slip away like you did the first?
     He had no answer.

Author Bio:
I've been writing for nearly two decades, and have published over 60 novels. I write BDSM romance and non-con abduction tales, spanning both m/f and m/m genres. My love affair is with all things D/s (Dominance/submission). My work began as a romantic exploration of the BDSM life style, and then veered somewhat to the darker side of fantasy. I love delving into the dark psyche of a twisted mind, and gaining insight into what might motivate such a person to do what they do. I don't create all black and white villains and heroes, but rather strive to develop real, complex and flawed human beings. I don't want to simply provide an erotic thrill or evocative description. I seek not only to tell a story, but to come to grips with, and ultimately exalt in the true beauty and spirituality of a loving exchange of power. My darker works press the envelope of what is erotic and what can be a sometimes dangerous slide into the world of sadomasochism. Ultimately my work deals with the human condition, and our constant search for love and intensity of experience.



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Devon Drake, Cornerback by Jean C Joachim

Title: Devon Drake, Cornerback
Author: Jean C Joachim
Series: First & Ten #4
Genre: Sports Romance
Release Date: August 24, 2015
Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing
Cover Artist: Dawne Dominique
Devon Drake, star cornerback, has it all: hot super model girlfriend and pro football career, or does he? A childhood friend wanders back into his life, upsetting his ideal existence. Is it finally time to tell her the truth about what happened fifteen years ago?

Stormy Gregory is on the run from an abusive man. Her best friend offers her a safe place at the shelter for abused women and children. Grateful to be out of harm’s way, Stormy helps with a charitable event, not expecting to run into Devon Drake, her friend’s brother. Will she run again rather than face rejection?

Cracks in his perfect world threaten the cornerback’s starting lineup status. An unwelcome surprise short-circuits Stormy’s attempt to build a new life. Can they pull together or will the secret that separates the former friends keep them on a downward spiral?

“Are you checking me out?”


“Thought you had a girlfriend.”

“I do. No harm in looking.” He popped the top and stared at her. He made a mental note to slow down on the beer, as he needed to work out the next day.

“Here, get a really good look,” Stormy said, pulling her hair back and thrusting her face at him. “You wanna know what happened? A guy hit me. That’s right. End of story.” She dropped the curtain of hair over her bruises and headed toward the refrigerator.

Devon grabbed her arm, stopping her.


He pushed up her sleeve to expose an angry red mark.

“Oh, I forgot that one,” she said, pushing away from him and yanking the fabric down again.

“Don’t be so defensive.”

“I know what you’re thinking.” Her eyes flashed attitude at him.

“No, you don’t.”

“Little slut got what she deserved,” Stormy spit out.

Devon stepped back as if he’d been slapped.

“That’s what my parents said,” she whispered. “I’m going to shut up now.”

Devon closed his long fingers over her shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Stormy. Really sorry.”

Her clear blue eyes clouded, but the tense, drawn quality in her face relaxed. “It’s okay. They don’t hurt much anymore.”

“Where is this asshole?”

“A thousand miles away.”

He patted her unblemished cheek. “Good. Then I don’t have to kill him.”

Devon Drake
Devon Drake spent his childhood running, playing and hanging with his little sister, Samantha, and her friend, Stormy. When he hit junior high, football became his passion and he moved on from his young, adoring female friends.

With hard work and determination, Devon became a star. Always the fastest runner on any team, he chose to become a cornerback. His huge high school success led to an offer, after college, from the pro team, the St. Louis Sidewinders.

In St. Louis, he earned the reputation as a “shut down cornerback” – the guy who could out run, out-perform any wide receiver.

He opted to join The Connecticut Kings. At a charity event, he met Jackie Lawrence, a super model. They dated, much to Devon’s surprise. A humble young man, he never quite saw what she saw in him. But super models don’t achieve success hanging on the arm of attractive football players. So Devon had to content himself with a long distance relationship.

Fifteen years after his last encounter with Stormy Gregory, they meet again. Devon knows his behavior to her at their last meeting had been atrocious. Maybe now he could make amends.

His former childhood friend had turned into a beautiful young woman who was fleeing an abusive man. Devon’s heart was touched. Could he make it up to her for the bad way he had behaved? Devon Drake discovers that old feelings don’t die. Can he convince Stormy he’s sincere? And what about Jackie? Read Devon Drake, Cornerback, book 4 in the First & Ten series and find out.

Stormy Gregory
Life hadn’t been easy for Stormy Gregory. The fighting between her parents drove her to seek the friendship of the two kids down the block, Samantha and Devon Drake.

Stormy continued her friendship with Devon and became Samantha’s shadow in high school. Until he broke her heart. They went their separate ways.

After getting her degree in nutrition, Stormy found a job far from home in Bolton, Illinois. She worked part-time in two senior centers, planning meals. She found success and friendship there with the older crowd, and a little romance with the director.

An old acquaintance from high school looked her up, seeking help finding a job and a new start. She did what she could, but resisted his advances. He became hostile, then violent, forcing her to flee.

Not knowing where to turn, Stormy contacted her old friend, Samantha Drake. Sam made space for her friend in the shelter where she volunteered. During an event, she bumped into Devon Drake.

Stormy hadn’t expected the encounter. It had been fifteen years since she’d seen him. Instead of hating him for past hurts, warm feelings resurfaced. Stormy pushed them down, figuring she couldn’t compete with a super model. Simply being near Devon Drake made her pulse jump. She needed to get away, but the man who had hit her showed up at her door. She had nowhere to go, or did she?

1. Chocolate or vanilla? Strawberry, actually.

2. Airplane or train?  Airplane. Love the take-off, kind of like sex. Can I say that?

3. Walking or driving? Driving. Preferably a Maserati.

4. Red or Blue?  Blue, like the ocean.

5. Country or Rock?  Rock. 80’s rock.

6. Dog or cat?  Pug – Brodie. Smart, obedient pup.

7. Lemonade or Iced Tea?  Texas Iced Tea.

8. Vodka or Whiskey?  Gin. Or vodka.

9. Mounds or Almond Joy? Who’s mounds? (laughs)

10. Action movies or Thrillers? Bruce Willis or Will Ferrell movies.

11. Men – brunette or blond?  Brunette, that’s brown hair, right?

12. Women – brunette, blonde or redhead? Redhead, nice boobs, not huge. A nice handful. Yeah. Blue eyes, too.

13. Steak or lobster?  Lobster. Steamed, boiled, broiled, in a lobster roll, in an omelet. Lobster for sure.

14. French fries or Salad? Fries, but I eat salad. Have to keep my weight down. Stormy makes the best salad.

15. Pistachios or Peanuts?  Peanut butter but pistachios in nut form.

16. Beer or Wine? Beer. Ice cold.

17. Beach or Mountains? Beach. Love the waves. Great place for sex, if you’re careful.

18. Oatmeal or scrambled eggs? Eggs. Oatmeal sucks.

19. Sausage or Bacon? Bacon and sausage. Why should I have to choose only one?

20. Pretty or Witty? Both – Love a funny woman. If she makes me laugh, she’s got my heart.

Author Bio:
Jean Joachim is a best-selling romance fiction author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list since 2012. The Renovated Heart won Best Novel of the Year from Love Romances Cafรฉ. Lovers & Liars was a RomCon finalist in 2013. And The Marriage List tied for third place as Best Contemporary Romance from the Gulf Coast RWA. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Married and the mother of two sons, Jean lives in New York City. Early in the morning, you’ll find her at her computer, writing, with a cup of tea, her rescued put, Homer, by her side and a secret stash of black licorice.


Devon Drake, Cornerback #4

Griff Montgomery, Quarterback #1

Buddy Carruthers, Wide Receiver #2

Pete Sebastian, Coach #3

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