Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Desmond and Garrick by Hayden Thorne

Desmond & Garrick Part 1
It’s 1815. Garrick Mortimer is a scholar extraordinaire, an underemployed and starving genius, who agrees to sign on as tutor to Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of a vampire family living in Yorkshire. Desmond, heartbroken by another boy’s callous treatment of him in school, rebels against Garrick’s attempts at educating him and does everything he could to chase Garrick away, which proves to be a greater challenge than he first thought.

When Desmond’s older brother returns from Italy for a visit and brings with him a small group of talentless and self-absorbed poets, life in Dryden Abbey turns upside-down, mainly when Desmond meets Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a sullen vampire poet.

Throw into the mix a desperate mother’s plea for grandchildren, a family-owned torture chamber, a cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle, and a grumpy family magician, and Garrick finds life in the Hathaway household to be a great deal more than he bargained for.

Desmond & Garrick Part 2
As the vain and self-absorbed poets continue their campaign of destruction in Dryden Abbey, Garrick finds himself struggling in the classroom, with increasingly distracted pupils eroding all of his hard work and reducing him to using all things dead and decaying in order to keep Desmond and Lavinia’s minds on their lessons.

Meanwhile, with Phillip Priestley’s unexpected appearance, Desmond’s world unravels as infatuation, lust, confusion, and revulsion drive him into wilder mood swings. Mr. Sherbourne’s coldly distant yet attractive presence in Dryden Abbey further complicates things, prompting Desmond to do something he never thought he’d ever do: reach out to unlikely allies for help.

In the midst of the wild goings on around them, Garrick and Desmond will realize that the chasm separating them as distinct species will not only teach them important lessons of understanding and acceptance, but also forge a stronger bond of friendship than they expected.

Desmond & Garrick Box Set
Complete Books 1 & 2 in collection.

Desmond & Garrick Part 1
Desmond sat in the ruins and waited and felt himself slowly die of embarrassment because he could see Lavinia watching him from her bedroom window, laughing and pulling faces and even sketching him. Mr. Guiderius also frowned and turned all shades of red from his bedroom window as he gaped at the sorry scene. Meanwhile Melpomene Vasilakis sat amid the abbey’s scattered rubble, scribbling non-stop. She’d brought a few quill pens along with a little bottle of ink, all of which sat on a conveniently flat-surfaced stone beside her.

Every so often, she’d stop to share the lines she’d just written, which, because of the distance between them, she was obliged to read in a loud voice, which Desmond knew could be heard by all of Yorkshire, completing his shame.

“Trapped, so trapped, I feel inside / With this cursed thing I call the mind --” Desmond noted she pronounced cursed as ‘cursed’ with two syllables. “It haunts and rules my very soul / Some peace, though little, I cannot find ...”

Desmond swallowed, nodding. “That’s -- quite good, Mrs. Filbert,” he said. “Oh, begging your pardon -- Melpomene, ma’am.” He thought he saw Mr. Guiderius shudder violently. For all the gentleman’s expressions of outrage and horror, however, it appeared as though Mr. Guiderius couldn’t pull himself away from the grisly spectacle -- drawn to it, Desmond realized, the same way that a really horrific carriage accident would draw morbidly curious onlookers. So the family magician stood at his bedroom window, gaping and helpless.

“Why, thank you!” Melpomene said, grinning. Then, as though catching herself doing something unfashionable or illegal, she quickly wiped the smile off her face and sighed, her expression shifting with amazing speed from pleasure to unbearable distress. Her posture, just a moment ago straight and alert, suddenly drooped till she looked like a wilting flower amid the wreckage of a long-vanished abbey. “I strive, as you know, to do my best to capture the blackest and profoundest emotions that a human heart is capable of. I’m obliged to you, young Ganymede, for appreciating my efforts.”

“My pleasure, I’m sure,” Desmond grumbled, drumming his fingers against his leg. How much longer did he have to put up with such a humiliating moment? He exhaled loudly. At the very least, he thought, his parents weren’t around to witness his tragic fall.

“Why, Desmond! Are you helping dear Mrs. Filbert with her artistry, my dear?”

Desmond’s heart dropped. “Oh, damn.” Withering, he glanced around and found his parents, along with some mortal visitor, whom Desmond suspected was hired to do more damage to Dryden Abbey’s grounds, standing amid the ruins.

“Where did you come from?” he demanded, his voice coming out in a high-pitched whine.

“Why, we’re giving Mr. Smedley a brief tour of the grounds,” his mother said with a bright grin.

Desmond blinked. The itch on his backside returned, and it damned near killed him not to break his pose despite his ever-spiraling mortification. It was all he could do to shift a little, but it did nothing to ease his ordeal. “Whatever on earth for, Mama?” he asked, frowning. “We’ve no more walls for him to tear down!”

“A graveyard, Desmond,” his father said with a look of pleasure that equally matched his wife’s. “Your mother and I have decided to plant a graveyard in the eastern side of the grounds. Mr. Smedley’s been kind enough to go over the possibilities and some of the problems of strewing the ground with gravestones.

Desmond & Garrick Part 2
Garrick walked at an idle pace, occasionally looking up from his book to observe his pupils, who were currently lost in their lessons. It was a miracle, to say the very least.

For that day’s activities, Garrick had proposed Lavinia and Desmond examine plant life that was common in churchyards, and for the day’s excursion, he’d taken them to St. Lucy’s. When he’d suggested it earlier that day, the two visibly lit up, their energy returning. They’d appeared in the library with slumped shoulders and slightly dragging steps, after all, and after Garrick’s announcement, they nearly dragged him out of Dryden Abbey and if they could, would’ve turned themselves into bats and carried him off to St. Lucy’s.

Now brother and sister were in the churchyard, climbing yew trees or falling on hands and knees and peering into the weeds or through shrubbery.

“Lord, Mr. Mortimer,” Desmond said as he sat on one of the branches of a yew tree, “I think churchyard trees are the luckiest trees to be planted.”

“And why’s that?”

The boy’s grin brightened. “Because their roots are absorbing all those organic things that come from mortal bodies buried here. Don’t you see? That grave over there…” Desmond pointed at the nearest gravestone. “I’m sure the poor wretch buried in it has long been tree meal.”

Garrick stared at him, unable to think of anything to say, but Desmond didn’t seem to be aware of it as he continued to prattle on about, literally, mortal food.

“So -- I’d imagine that the trees growing in churchyards are a great deal healthier than trees that you see anywhere else. That’s quite the diet, don’t you think?” He paused, a momentary frown darkening his features. Then he pressed a hand against his stomach. “All that talk of food has got me hungry. May we have tea when we go back, sir?”

“I’m rather put off the idea of sustenance at the moment, Master Desmond, but I see no reason why you and Miss Hathaway can’t enjoy some,” Garrick said, his own stomach turning.

Desmond nodded, looking unnaturally cheerful, as he leaped down from the tree and ran off to explore another part of the churchyard. “This is a brilliant lesson, Mr. Mortimer!” he cried, his words echoing a little. “I wish we did this from the first day you demanded our presence in the schoolroom like condemned prisoners on their way to the gallows! And we don’t have to write anything down!”

Desmond vanished around the corner, but he kept calling out. “Oh, here’s a tree that looks unusually fat! How many corpses has it absorbed in its trunk, I wonder?” He followed that with a loud cheer. No doubt he was about to clamber up its branches or fall on his knees to peer carefully at the tree’s roots, determined to find traces of human remains in its physical make up. “If I were to cut off a branch, Mr. Mortimer, do you think I’ll find blood in it?”

“I should hope not, for God’s sake!” Garrick called back, now completely nauseated. “And do keep your voice down, Master Desmond! This is a graveyard! Have a little respect for the dead!”

“Pfft! They’re dead! Why would they care if they can’t hear us? Look at this root!”

“Oh, this is hopeless,” Garrick muttered, sighing and grimacing. He remained at the spot where his pupil had left him, waiting for the nausea to go away. Eventually it did, and he went back to reading his book, grateful for the diversion that could only be had from Latin text.

Author Bio:
I've lived most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area though I wasn’t born there (or, indeed, the USA). I’m married with no kids and three cats, am a cycling nut (go Garmin!), and my day job involves artwork, crazy (read: incomprehensibly fun) coworkers who specialize in all kinds of media, and the occasional strange customer requests involving papier mache fish with sparkly scales.

I’m a writer of young adult fiction, specializing in contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy, and historical genres. My books range from a superhero fantasy series to reworked folktales to Victorian ghost fiction. My themes are coming-of-age, with very little focus on romance (most of the time) and more on individual growth with some adventure thrown in.


Desmond & Garrick Book 1

Desmond & Garrick Book 2

Desmond & Garrick Box Set

A Matter of Trust by Jill Blake

Title: A Matter of Trust
Author: Jill Blake
Series: Silicone Beach Trilogy #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance Suspense
Release Date: November 7, 2016
Venture capitalist Vlad Snezhinsky excels at two things: making money and being a dad. Still struggling to get over a disastrous marriage, he has zero interest in starting a new relationship. That is, until he meets Klara Lazarev.

Klara’s done living in her older sister’s shadow. Determined to forge her own path, she completes a prestigious fellowship program before returning to college. Now scrambling to fulfill her graduation requirements, Klara has no time for distractions like Vlad and his daughter. Especially after an unfortunate first encounter leaves Klara doubting Vlad’s integrity.

But when a shocking murder throws their world into chaos, can they trust each other enough to uncover the truth and embrace the possibility of love?

**Content warning: For mature audience only. Rated 18+ for occasional profanity and explicit sex scenes. Also includes off-stage murder (though no graphic description of violence).**

It was the day after Christmas, and the store was packed. So much for doing a quick grocery run.

Klara maneuvered her cart around a woman with a screaming toddler, and headed for the cereal aisle. She turned the corner and nearly ran into another cart coming from the opposite direction.

Blue eyes met hers. He sported several days’ growth of blond stubble across his cheeks and jaw. Dressed up, he was handsome. But dressed down, in faded jeans topped with a long-sleeve navy Henley that hugged every muscle, he was devastating. His fingers tightened on the handle of his cart and he nodded. “Hello, Klara.”

The gravelly tone sent her pulse fluttering. “Vlad.”

She stifled the impulse to smooth her hair. Santa Monica wasn’t that big. She’d known there was a risk of running into him at some point. Just her luck that it happened today, when she’d left the house without even bothering to check the mirror. On a grooming scale of one to ten, where ten was evening gown and one was yoga pants, she was probably a negative three: the roll-out-of-bed, throw-on-some-baggy-sweats, and try-not-to-forget-the-keys-and-wallet look.

Good thing he was married and off limits. Otherwise, she might have been embarrassed.

She bit her lip and glanced around.

No wife in sight, but there was a young girl with blond pigtails and gamine grin who grabbed his hand and pointed to a box on a nearby shelf. “Papa, look! Can I have this?”

He broke eye contact and picked up the box in question.

The girl bounced on her toes as he read the side panel. “Can I, Papa? Please?”

“Yes,” he said, placing the box in his cart. “Where’s ‘thank you’?”

“Thank you,” the girl dutifully repeated, before skipping ahead, toward the end of the aisle. He followed. As he passed Klara, he smiled and shrugged, as if to say he wasn’t the one in charge.

She saw them again in the dairy section, stocking up on yogurt. They were counting out loud. She slowed and stopped, pretending an interest in—what the hell was horchata?

A surreptitious glance around showed that she wasn’t the only one watching. Other women followed their progress past display cases filled with milk and eggs. In a town swarming with aspiring actors and models, physical beauty alone generated little attention. But the novelty of a preschool-age child skipping down a supermarket aisle with a man who looked like he’d just stepped off the cover of People’s Sexiest Man Alive issue? That turned heads.

Beyond the Ivory Tower #1
2016 IAN Book of the Year Award Finalist

If there’s one thing math professor Anna Lazarev believes in, it’s the value of higher education. So when her younger sister announces she’s dropping out of college, Anna places the blame squarely on the man who inspired her sister’s rebellion.

Venture capitalist Ethan Talbot claims the US academic system is broken. His solution? Pay top students to “opt out” and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams without wasting time and money on a university degree.

In a passionate battle for the hearts and minds of a new generation, Anna will do whatever it takes to prove Ethan wrong. But when his demands take a more personal turn, will she sacrifice her principles to come out on top?

Sweet Indulgence #2
2016 East Texas Writers Guild Book Award, Romance Category Finalist

Becca Markham spent the last six years trying to please everyone but herself. So when she ditches her cheating boyfriend and quits her high-stress job as a software engineer, she decides it’s time to pursue her own dreams. At the top of her list? Transforming her life-long love of baking from a part-time hobby into a full-time business.

Leo Kogan spent years scrambling to escape a life of poverty—first in Russia, then in the U.S. Now a successful surgeon, he needs just one thing to complete his American dream: the perfect woman. But making the leap from casual friends to lovers proves harder than he expects.

Despite a sizzling attraction, Becca and Leo disagree on important things—like love and money. She’s looking for sex without strings; he wants a partner for life. She stakes her future on a risky new business; he’s obsessed with financial security.

Can love bring two headstrong people together…or will their differences end up tearing them apart?

Author Bio:
Jill Blake loves chocolate, leisurely walks where she doesn’t break a sweat, and books with a guaranteed happy ending. A native of Philadelphia, Jill now lives in southern California with her husband and three children. During the day, she works as a physician in a busy medical practice. At night, she pens steamy romances.


A Matter of Trust #3

Beyond the Ivory Tower #1

Sweet Indulgence #2


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Prince of Honor by Nancy Gideon

Title: Prince of Honor
Author: Nancy Gideon
Series: House of Terriot #1
Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance
Release Date: October 24, 2016

**Content Warning: Sex & Violence**
The hunter becomes the prey, a prisoner to his own desire . . .

Turow . . .

Strong, silent man of integrity content to serve his new king as a prince in the turbulent shape-shifter House of Terriot. A tracker and relentless hunter, he’s used to running trails alone until charged with returning a traitor to their mountain top home to face the unforgiving judgment of their clan. On the run with the bad girl he’s loved forever, the choice between duty and desire has never been more difficult . . . or deadly.

Could the bargain made to save their lives become reality?

Sylvia . . .

Manipulative schemer or victim caught between a mother’s ambition and a rogue prince’s lust for power? Trust is almost as foreign as the idea of love, but to save herself from certain death, she must risk both on the good man who deserves them . . . from someone worthy. Trapped by the only one who believes in her goodness, will she betray him and run for her life . . . or stay and destroy him with a long hidden truth?

“Turow. I know you can hear me.”

He answered with a low rasp. “You have nothing to say that I want to hear.”

“You’d be wrong.”

Slowly, he lifted his head to regard her, his stare a searing blue against blackened eyes. “I doubt it. Why would I believe anything that came out of your mouth?”

“Because I don’t want to see you die.”

“Then don’t watch.”

She struggled not to wince at the harsh slash of his tone. “I’m trying to save your life.”

He stared at her, betraying no reaction.

“Did you hear me? He’s going to kill you!”

A soft laugh. “What did you think would happen? There’s no way I was coming out of this alive.”

And Sylvia would never be able to close her eyes if she was the cause of his death.

“What if I let you go?”

Her calm question shocked a response from him. He blinked, brows lowering in a moment of confusion. “Why would you?”

“You stood up to Cale when he would have killed me. Granted, you were willing to let him torture me, but you saved my life. I’d return that favor.”

“James would know it was you. How do you think that would end?”

“Badly. Unless I went with you.”

He concealed his surprise better this time. Slowly, his eyes narrowed. “With me where?”

“Home. I want to go home. This,” she gestured to their cold, grimy surroundings, her voice thinning with desperation, “wasn’t what I signed on for. Cale forced me to run, to leave everything dear to me behind. My mother. . . my mother is dead. I have nothing else, nothing to lose.”

She looked sincere. She sounded hopeful. But she was lying.

Turow knew better than to believe what she wanted him to see. What he wanted to see. He ached all over from his last lesson. Better to die with some dignity intact than to lead this lovely serpent to the bosom of their family.

Sylvia unfurled a cat-in-cream smile. He stared at the key she dangled before her. To his cuffs and his freedom.

“When he finds it gone,” she continued with less amusement and more trepidation, “I’ll be in his sites, too. Swear you’ll protect me, Turow, and we can go home.”

Such a sweet, deadly deal, one like everything Sylvia offered, too good to be totally true. He had no desire to remain chained to this chair until James arrived with a machete. But, once burned and scarred by this female more deeply than any of his brother’s tortures, he didn’t jump at the opportunity.

“There’s only one way I can protect you if we return to the compound.”

She regarded him warily, sensing bad news behind his smooth offer. “I agree to whatever it is.”

A slow, grim smile. “You’d better hear it first.”

She swallowed then tipped her chin up to an arrogant angle. “What is it?”

“You return to our mountain wearing the mark of our bond.”

Prince of Power - January 2017
Prince of Fools - Spring 2017
Prince of Dreams - Summer 2017

Author Bio:
Nancy Gideon is the award-winning, bestselling author of over 60 romances ranging from historical, regency and series contemporary suspense to dark paranormal, with a couple of horror screenplays tossed into the mix, and is currently testing the “Hybrid Author” waters of self-publishing. When not at the keyboard, this Central Michigan writer feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin and fowl. She also has written under the pen names Dana Ransom, Rosalyn West and Lauren Giddings.



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