Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Delaney and the Autumn Masque by Bonnie Dee & Summer Devon

Delaney, former pickpocket and now a member of the Andrews theater clan, performs magic tricks as Billbo the Magnificent. Hired to entertain at a fancy dress ball, the magician is struck by the lurking, dramatic figure of the Grim Reaper. He follows Death to a quiet room for a glorious, lustful encounter.

With his identity hidden, impoverished gentleman Bartholomew Bancroft dares to indulge in an out-of-character moment to quench his forbidden yearning for another man’s touch. But in the light of day, he can’t dismiss his memories of the mysterious magician or a craving to see him again.

Bartholomew enlists the dexterous conjurer to teach him to pick pockets. His plan: to retrieve his hand-crafted jewelry taken by a vengeful ex-lover. During the lessons, Bartholomew and Delaney yield to desire, certain their affair will last only until they retrieve Bartholomew’s stolen work.

At another costume ball, the gentleman and the magician work together to foil the thief, but when all masks are abandoned at last, can lasting love remain?

Another Dee & Devon collaboration always ticks all my historical reading boxes.  I will say that of the four stories in their Victorian Hearts Collection, Delaney didn't quite burrow his way into my heart as deeply as Simon, Will, and Mike did but that doesn't mean I didn't love the story it just means that if I had to rank the four books, Delaney and the Autumn Masque would be number four.  As with all their collaborations, their detail to history is amazing and makes the story that much more heartwarming and believable.  As for Bartholomew, not even Delaney's light-hearted and vibrant attitude toward life can bring him to step up and speak from the heart until he's faced with losing it.  But is it too late?  Well for that answer, you'll have to read it yourself because as you know, I don't do spoilers, I will say that you definitely want to find out just what Delaney and Bartholomew's story is all about.


“Sir Death?” The conjurer’s voice behind him made him stop but not turn around. “You wish for a private performance? I’d be delighted.” The insinuation in his voice sent a shiver down Bartholomew’s back. Was the magician a mind reader as well?

The sounds of the ball down the long corridor had an eerie quality in this empty corner of the townhouse. Music, a woman’s shriek of laughter, and the babble of conversation washed over the two of them, standing in the dark corridor. Bartholomew moved to the wall and leaned against it, trying to recover his equilibrium. He’d had only two glasses of punch. Perhaps the drink was stronger than he’d supposed. His head felt strange and his body disconnected as if it belonged to someone other than himself.

“Death?” The man stepped into the shadows to join him. He pulled out a deck of cards and shuffled them. He held them up in a mute gesture for Bartholomew to take one.

Bartholomew pulled off his black glove and plucked a card from the spread fanned in the magician’s hand. A knave of hearts. His heart thumped harder. He’d watched this rogue entertain the ladies long enough to know what that meant. He had nothing to say, no reason to deny or confirm that the card fit him too well. But then he saw the gleam of the magician’s teeth, and eyes that glittered behind the velvet mask.

Keeping his gaze focused on those blazing eyes and the sensual mouth beneath the half-mask, which were all he could see of the trickster’s face, Bartholomew took the card and slowly, deliberately tucked it into the cuff of his other glove. An invitation.

“Heavens.” Billbo the Magnificent gave a nervous laugh and stepped closer. “What is a man to think when you do something like that?”
The teasing was obvious. Because of the mask and the dark, Bartholomew couldn’t see Billbo’s face, but the performer obviously knew how to express emotion to a crowd. The message he gave now couldn’t have been more obvious. Lust and availability and… He took another step closer.

Bartholomew’s careful and detail-loving gentlemanly manners sank away, replaced by something reckless, dark, and full of almost-forgotten yearning. The Grim Reaper didn’t make polite requests or play silly games. He boldly took the things he wanted.

A breeze skittered down the hall, from some unseen open window. The scent of autumn might have been the first whiff of a storm coming, and that storm was inside Bartholomew as he reached out to grasp the masked magician’s upper arms and draw him close. The smile on those full lips vanished, but he didn’t pull away. A heartbeat later, Billbo the Magnificent and the Grim Reaper stood pressed together from knees to chest, and the Reaper was seizing the kiss he desired.

* * * * *
This was not at all how Delaney had expected his evening to play out, clasped in the strong arms of Death and kissed to within an inch of his life. He could well believe this truly was some supernatural entity rather than a mere man in a costume. But he supposed the actual Reaper’s kiss would be cold and deadly, while this man’s was flaming with passion. Good Christ, the man was fierce and somewhat desperate. His lips pressed hard against Delaney’s, and his tongue swept inside to dominate. Delaney happily ceded control, clung to the broad shoulders, and let the Reaper carry him away. Almost literally. For the party guest pulled Delaney along with him out of the exposed corridor into the secrecy of a sitting room.

Death pushed the door closed behind him with one foot and reached down to lock it. Except there was no lock. He was forced to let go of Delaney long enough to grab the nearest chair and slip it under the knob so no one could enter.

This gave Delaney time to draw a breath and put away the deck of knaves still clutched in one hand. It also gave him time to consider the wisdom of what they were about to do in the house of a woman for whom he was working. If caught, the Reaper would disappear. He was, after all, some lord or baronet who would not be held accountable for enjoying a little party game of his own.

But Delaney might well be kicked out without pay, and Lady Margaret might complain of his behavior to Simon. Good old Simon wouldn’t fault Delaney for the sex but for the choice of time and place, since he’d gotten this job for him.

These thoughts raced through Delaney’s mind in moments, just long enough for him to discard them all with easy nonchalance. What the hell. He was standing in a vacant room with a handsome—from what he could tell—sexually potent man who desired him. He would bloody well take advantage of it. After all, he’d never been known for his foresight and caution. Delaney operated on impulse. The only aspect in which he was careful and calculating was his magic tricks.

He rushed at the dark-robed figure and flung his arms around him, demanding more kisses. The Reaper obliged, pressing lips and swirling tongue, while his hands moved restlessly up and down Delaney’s back.

Delaney pushed back the huge cowl to uncover tawny hair. One would expect Death to have coal-black locks. But the pale strands were lovely, shining in the faint glimmer of a gaslight, which had been turned far down in this unused room. Delaney grasped the back of the man’s head. The short hair slid between his fingers, and underneath, he encountered the uncompromising hardness of his skull. Every inch of the man was hard like stone, but not as cold as death. He was warmly alive and clutching Delaney as if he couldn’t get enough of him. When was the last time this poor sod had been satisfied?

Pale eyes gleamed behind the skeleton mask. Hard to tell if they were light blue or hazel in this poor lighting. Delaney reached for the mask, eager to see the rest of his romance du jour, but Death gripped his wrist, stopping him.

“No. Leave the masks on. It’s better.” His voice was rough and dark and dangerous, thrilling Delaney to his very marrow. Yes, sir! he wanted to squeak like an obedient slave, but he nodded instead.

His hands had felt every bit of the Reaper’s body he could reach, but there was far too much robe in the way. What he wanted was naked flesh, but in this precarious, forbidden situation, it was probably best not to strip down to skin. They might need to scramble back to decency at a moment’s notice. So Delaney gathered up the yards of black cotton robe that stretched all the way to the floor, only to reveal shoes and trousers. So mundane. He’d hoped and half expected to find this extraordinary creature naked under the robe. Instead, there were more layers to be breached.

Author Bios:
Bonnie Dee
I began telling stories as a child. Whenever there was a sleepover, I was the designated ghost tale teller. I still have a story printed on yellow legal paper in second grade about a ghost, a witch and a talking cat.

Writing childish stories for my own pleasure led to majoring in English at college. Like most English majors, I dreamed of writing a novel, but at that time in my life didn't have the necessary focus and follow through. Then life happened. A husband and children occupied the next twenty years and it was only in 2000 that I began writing again.

I enjoy dabbling in many genres. Each gives me a different way to express myself. I've developed a habit of writing every day that's almost an addiction. I don't think I could stop now if I tried.

Summer Devon
Summer Devon is the pen name writer Kate Rothwell often uses. Whether the characters are male or female, human or dragon, her books are always romance.

You can visit her facebook page, where there's a sign up form for a newsletter (she'll only send out newsletters when there's a new Summer Devon or Kate Rothwell release and she will never ever sell your name to anyone).

Bonnie Dee
EMAIL: bondav40@yahoo.com

Summer Devon
EMAILS: summerdevon@comcast.net

Delaney and the Autumn Masque #4

Simon and the Christmas Spirit #1

Will and the Valentine Saint #2

Mike and the Spring Awakening #3

With Ties That Bind by Trisha Wolfe

Title: With Ties that Bind
Author: Trisha Wolfe
Series: Broken Bonds #2
Genre: Adult Romance, Thriller
Release Date: October 11, 2016
A new threat has descended upon Arlington, and lead medial examiner Avery Johnson is in its sights, being targeted by the city’s latest serial killing menace known to the public as the Alpha Killer.

Whether urban legend or reality, the Alpha feeds into the media craze, orchestrating a killing spree to stamp out all rivals. And when Avery’s tangled web of deception pulls her further into to Alpha’s sadistic game, there’s only one thing she fears more: losing Quinn. With just as many secrets to guard as the elusive crime lord, Avery’s time is running out to reveal the truth to Quinn, the stubborn, by-the-book detective bent on protecting her at all costs.

As a lead takes the ACPD task force deep into the bowels of a corrupt law firm, the discovery of a vast criminal network with far-reaching connections threatens to unmask many players. How deep does the corruption go? How far does the Alpha’s reach extend? While the team races to catch a killer, Detective Quinn is faced with an impossible choice. Will he betray the woman he’s fallen for, or seek his own vengeance outside of the law?

Author Bio:
From an early age, Trisha Wolfe dreamed up fantasy worlds and characters and was accused of talking to herself. Today, she lives in South Carolina with her family and writes full time, using her fantasy worlds as an excuse to continue talking to herself.

For more information on Trisha Wolfe and her works, please visit her website.

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Oak & Mistletoe by JZN McCauley

Title: Oak and Mistletoe
Author: JZN McCauley
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Release Date: October 11, 2016
A Druid Curse, A Prophesied Love, A Consuming Vengeance…

Catherine Green, along with her twin sister and older brother, travels to Ireland on a college graduation trip. Her vacation takes a permanent turn when she lands her dream job at an art and history museum on her beloved Emerald Isle. She meets a handsome stranger named Bowen, an expert of sorts on local ancient studies. Though their first meetings are turbulent at best, Catherine finds herself drawn to him.

Unaware that she is the key to breaking a hidden curse, Catherine unleashes the evil madman Conall and his druid followers, imprisoned since ancient times. Tragedy and loss ensue, sprouting within Catherine the deep seeds of rage that thrust her onto the damaging path of vengeance. Confused by the enigma that is Bowen, his mixed signals, and her own feelings, she is swept away with him on an unexpected journey surrounded by myth and long-forgotten knowledge. In order to stop the evil plans of Conall and his reunified army, Catherine must entwine her fate with peril. Her survival is trivial to her as long as Conall dies. She’ll do whatever it takes.

What was your inspiration for Oak & Mistletoe?
One day, I was studying ancient Roman history, and somehow I was led to articles regarding Pliny the Elder, and Julius Caesar’s account of the ancient druids. It was fascinating. Reading the only ritual known from them, the ritual of oak and mistletoe, I suddenly imagined the basic plot of my book.

Which character in Oak & Mistletoe do you identify with most, and why?
I suppose that would be Catherine, my main character. For many reasons, but we both love Ireland and strawberry ice cream.

What was your favorite part about writing Oak & Mistletoe?
I loved it all, but I will say it was especially fun writing the villain scenes.

What was the hardest part about writing Oak & Mistletoe?
Writing Conall’s character was a struggle because it was easy to make his special level of crazy go too far. Luckily my editor helped me bring it back a bit and smooth it out.

What’s one thing you want readers to know about Oak & Mistletoe?
This is a book about many things. Different sides and levels of evil, suffering, loss. But ultimately it’s about good vs evil, love and having the courage to keep going.

Who is your favorite rogue character from a book, TV show, or movie?
So many, but I'd have to say Killian (aka Captain Hook) from ABC's TV show Once Upon a Time.

Author Bio:
J.Z.N. McCauley resides in lovely New England, where she loves wearing jackets and boots in the unpredictable weather there. She is a wife and mother who enjoys life to the fullest. Also, being a nerd across many genres is something she expresses openly.

McCauley spends most of her spare time writing, drawing, or reading. She loves archeology, mythology, history, music and many other forms of art as well. Always having a variety of interests and talents, she could never pick just one. When the chance pops up to travel to any of her favorite places, she takes way too many pictures. Otherwise she is exploring a mystical land in a daydream. Which all provides fuel to her immense joy of writing.



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