Sunday, September 3, 2017

Week at a Glance on Padme's Library: 8/28/17 - 9/3/17

Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: The Penitent Pirate by Jules Radcliffe

The Caribbean, 1664

After peaceful months ashore strengthening their new union, Perry and Quinn are ready to return to the life they love best--roving with the buccaneer ship Audacious. Quinn is still haunted by his torture in a Spanish dungeon, and Perry hopes being back at sea will restore his matelot to his old self.

In Port Royal, they are swept into intrigues--the worthies of Jamaica are conspiring against the buccaneers, a baby is found on their doorstep, and a mysterious gentleman has a secret he will kill to preserve.

Just when Perry and Quinn hope to sail and leave it all behind, Quinn is asked to become the sailing master of Night Hawk, captained by the dashing Raphe Ashburn, his former lover. Charming, aristocratic, and witty, Captain Ashburn is everything Perry wishes he could be. But Night Hawk is a valuable ally, so Perry convinces Quinn to go.

All goes well until Perry is taken by an old enemy. He is certain he will never see his matelot again, for Quinn is not a man to brook deceit or infidelity from a lover. And Captain Ashburn is waiting in the wings to pick up their old affair.

When everything in their path seems intent on keeping them apart, will Perry and Quinn find their way back to each other?

I've always been a sucker for pirates and with the Starz series Black Sails concluding this past spring, I knew I would be feeling the absence.  Well!  Lucky for me just as the hole the show left was at it's deepest, lo and behold Jules Radcliffe's The Penitent Pirate crossed my social media timeline.  I fell in love with matelots Quinn and Perry so hard in book one The Puritan Pirate so what could go wrong with a follow-up?  In a word: NOTHING!

In book two we find the devoted duo recovering on land while they wait out the rainy season but they long to get their sea legs back.  So I'm not going to go into the plot too much, lets just say there is plenty of intrigue, lust, pain, lust, angst, lust, friendship, lust, new characters and old, oh and did I mention lust?  Well all kidding aside, there is plenty of lust between Quinn and Perry as well as Kit and Raphe, who happens to be a man from Quinn's past too, but most importantly there is tons of love between the men.

Jules Radcliffe has outdone herself with this sequel and I don't know what her plans are for this series but I would not be against more of this historical pirate universe.  If you haven't read Puritan, I suppose you could start with Penitent as it does have it's own journey but I would have felt a little lost having not experienced what the pair went through to get where they are and knowing what Quinn was put through just makes his pain and attempts at recovery flow better so it is this reader's opinion to give book one a read first.  You won't regret it.


Some minutes later, Perry emerged back into the street with a full waterskin.

“I had to purchase this,” he grumbled. “Hold out your hands for me. Nothing is free in Port Royal, is it? Not even bloody charity.”

“Not for a buccaneer,” replied Quinn with a snort.

He held out his filthy hands, and Perry poured water over them. Under the cascade, Quinn rubbed them clean of sand and filth. Then he took the skin, rinsing out his mouth before drinking deep. Plastering a reassuring smile on his face, Quinn took his matelot’s arm and steered him along the High Street.

Arm in arm, he and Perry turned up Honey Lane and entered the Three Tunns. At the top of a narrow set of stairs was a private room, furnished as a dining parlor. They were the first to arrive, and Quinn immediately went to the sideboard arrayed with glass onion bottles and several fine pewter goblets. Sniffing at the bottles, he found neat rum and poured himself a measure. He knocked it back, feeling the welcome sting in his throat. He poured a second, but this one he drank more slowly, looking around the room for a place to store his weapons.

In the center of the room, a sturdy oak table was surrounded by matching chairs, and Perry was hanging his weapon-heavy baldric from the back of one. Quinn unslung his own baldric and hung it from another chair.

“This is the chamber I first met Kit in, oh, near a year since.” Perry shook his head. “’Twas a lifetime ago. Forsooth, I’m not the same man I was then.”

“But you are,” said Quinn, smiling gently. “’Tis the shell that has gone, not the true Thomas.”

Perry gave Quinn his shy smile. There was a commotion at the door, and Perry snatched away the hand he had started to lift to Quinn’s face.

Sam Hopkins, the Black Wolf’s manservant since childhood and now steward aboard the Audacious, bustled in. He carried another bottle and a bowl of warm water for hand-washing, which he set on the sideboard. From the new bottle, he poured what proved to be a fine burgundy into goblets. Quinn took the one offered to him and sipped appreciatively—it was not often fine wine made its way to the New World undamaged by the heat.

“Where’s Kit?” asked Perry.

Sam folded his lips in disapproval. “He’s only just risen. I sped my way over, knowing you’d be waiting.”

“The morning’s full gone—Kit’s no slug-a-bed,” said Quinn, mildly surprised his friend had not yet made an appearance. He contemplated the little man, whose face was twisted with what he could only interpret as worry. “Is himself ill?”

“Nay, nay,” said Sam, fiddling with one of the bottles. “’Tis naught, Gabe. I swear ’tis naught.”

“Plague take you, Sam, is there aught amiss with him?”

Sam hesitated. “The captain’s taken up with that feathercock Beau Ashburn.”

Incredulous, Quinn said, “You’re never meaning Raphe?”

“Aye, the very same.”

“I thought Night Hawk was at the Isle of St. Catherine with Mansvelt.”

“Night Hawk has returned to Port Royal.”

Quinn chewed this over, more than a little shocked by the news.

Captain Raphe Ashburn was one of Edward Mansvelt’s adherents. Mansvelt had long sailed under marques issued by Jamaica, but he was from Curaçao and most of his crew were Dutch. When Governor Modyford had withdrawn the letters of marque against the Spanish, Mansvelt had left, setting up a base on the Isle of St. Catherine. Night Hawk, pillaging up and down the Spanish Main when the news had broken, joined Mansvelt there along with several other buccaneer ships. Many wondered where their true loyalties lay: with England or the Dutch Republic, or if they would stay neutral in the coming conflict between the two powers.

In Quinn’s opinion, Captain Ashburn—dubbed “the Beau” for his foppish grooming—was not a man who could be trusted. Quinn wondered that his friend had become entangled with him. Then he recalled the Beau as he had last seen him, looking up at Quinn as he stood on the main deck of Night Hawk, bathed in sunshine, his face lit up with laughter. Quinn understood exactly what had captivated the Black Wolf.

“How long has this been afoot?” he asked Sam, scowling.

“Weeks. Since you were up at Varney Hall. Master Kit asked Mistress Nell to invite the man to dine, for seemingly he’s a gentleman, and there are few enough of those here. And gentleman he may be, but I like it not. The captain left with him the next morn and has spent every night since in his bed. And him still grieving for his beautiful lady.”

Quinn wondered what Sam knew of his master’s guilt for what had happened this summer past. It was no secret that the Black Wolf mourned La Calotte Rouge, whose ship had been destroyed in battle along with most of her crew. But few knew that Quinn had been captured in that battle and taken to a fearsome dungeon by the Spanish, where he had been tortured and violated. And even fewer knew why.

In sooth, the Black Wolf had not been responsible for La Calotte Rouge’s reckless behavior in chasing the Spanish prize, egged on by the Defiant’s crew. It did not stop him blaming himself, for it was his own covert work for King Charles that had led the Spaniards to his ladylove. And in his bruised soul, Quinn blamed his friend as well. He fought hard to suppress it, knowing he was being unjust—he had accepted the king’s secret commission himself, all those years ago, and he had always known the risks of being an intelligencer.

Since their return to Port Royal, the Black Wolf had not lacked companions who had satisfied his physical desires. But none had touched him any deeper than that. Quinn wondered if Beau Ashburn had succeeded where the others had failed.

“At least Raphe has tolerable table manners, unlike the last paramour Kit brought to supper,” said Quinn with a grimace. “She put on that many airs and graces and then proceeded to pick her teeth—and worse—at the bloody table. Though at least herself made him laugh,” he added.

“You should be happy to see Kit settle on someone, Sam,” said Perry gently. “Since La Calotte Rouge died, he’s not spent more than a night or two with any companion.”

“That may be, and none of them tempted him to remain in Port Royal neither,” said Sam in repressive accents, “where he’s been fox-drunk six nights out of seven. Of course, he was hunting the fox at Varney Hall every day, though not overly. For Mistress Nell would not stomach a man to be always in his drink, not even her own brother.”

Perry shrugged. “Buccaneers are commonly fox-drunk more or less for the entire storm season.”

“Not the captain,” said Sam firmly. “I’ve not seen him like this for many a year. The last time was when the tyrant Cromwell died, but that was more by way of a celebration, bitter as it was.”

“None of us were properly sober for days then—including yourself, if I recall aright.” Quinn put a hand on the man’s shoulder, adding, “He’s a man grown, Sam. Give him time to grieve.”

“It’s been months, Gabe,” said Sam in a tight voice. “’Tis bad enough that I fear I must hide the rum from him when we rove, lest he—” The steward broke off, biting his lip. “No matter, no matter,” he continued hastily, turning so Quinn could not see his face. “I’ll see what’s to do in the kitchen. Alice has promised us a feast.”

They could hear him clattering down the stairs. Perry turned to Quinn.

“I have no acquaintance with this Captain Ashburn. It seems you know him well.”

Grimacing, Quinn was not certain what to say. “I did, once,” he said finally, stealing a glance at his lover. “He was… But that’s a conversation for later.”

Perry gave him a speculative look. “What sort of man is he?”

“Raphe—uses. He does little without an eye to how he will benefit. And he’s so charming about it, you bloody well thank him for it.”

“Is there need for concern?”

“Mayhap. I should have known there was more to Kit wishing to give us time alone when he left Rosewood House to stay with his sister.”

Perry took Quinn’s face in his hands. “You weren’t to know he left Varney Hall. And four months is not such a long time to mourn. Perchance him taking a proper lover is a good sign.”

“A man? You know Kit has a preference for women.”

Perry snorted. “I also know men must be adaptable in Jamaica—there are twenty men or more for every free woman here. Kit is too fastidious to have much truck with strumpets, and serving women are hardly his style. Sam said Captain Ashburn is a gentleman. As long as this man consoles him, does it matter that he’s not a woman?”

Looking into his lover’s grave eyes, he felt reassured. Perry was ever a calming influence. He swooped in for a kiss, and his arms stole around Perry’s waist as he pulled his lover to his chest. Their tongues touched. Perry’s eyes closed as he melted into Quinn’s arms.

Quinn felt a stirring within him and was delighted. They had already made love for an hour or two that morning, and he had been gloriously sated by the end. But it had been a long time since his appetite had returned so swiftly after fucking. He gripped Perry’s arse, pulling him to his groin. As they kissed, he wondered how long this meeting would take, impatient for it to end before it had even begun.

“God’s me, are you about to couple on the floor?” came a cheerful voice. “I’d have thought this constant billing and cooing would be a thing of the past for such veteran lovers as yourselves! Shall I give you another five minutes?”

Perry gave a guilty start, but Quinn refused to release him. Behind them, the interloper entered the room and could be heard pouring wine, but Quinn finished off the kiss properly before lifting his head. He smiled sinfully at his lover, and Perry’s eyes gleamed, filled with unspoken promise. Dropping his arms, Quinn finally looked across the room.

The Black Wolf stood by the table, hand casually resting on his hip, a teasing grin on his lips. Quinn raised his eyebrows, returning that mischievous look with one of his own.

“Five minutes? You insult me, Kit.”

He embraced his friend, holding him at arm’s length for a moment to study his face. The Black Wolf was certainly thinner, his face a touch drawn, and he had lost some of his tan. He was as well-groomed as ever, though Quinn wondered how much of that was due to Beau Ashburn, who was infamous for his primping. The dark circles under his friend’s deep blue eyes, he put down to a long night of fucking—the Beau was an insatiable lover. As the silence between Quinn and the Black Wolf grew, those eyes began to dance, but Quinn could detect shadows behind the insouciance.

“Well?” drawled the pirate captain, his eyebrow cocked. “Have you refreshed your memory of my appearance?”

“By Holy Mary, is that gray in your beard I’m seeing?” Quinn danced back with a laugh when the Black Wolf aimed a lazy cuff at him.

The Black Wolf turned to Perry and gripped his hand in greeting. “I trust you are recovered from last month’s festivities?” he asked, grinning broadly when Perry groaned in memory.

“I’ll not try to match pirates in drinking again; I’ve not the fortitude.”

“My sister married a respectable man!” cried the Black Wolf with mock offense. “Toby is no pirate; he’s a merchant.”

“Ha, they’re only the worst pirates in Port Royal,” said Quinn.

“’Tis a sad state of affairs that even a merchant can drink me under the table,” said Perry mournfully.

The Black Wolf slapped Perry on the shoulder. “Give us another year. We’ll make a man out of you yet.”

Much to Quinn’s amusement, Perry saluted their captain with an obscene gesture known as the fig of Spain before he dropped into one of the chairs and lounged back comfortably. Quinn smiled. The old Perry would have waited for permission and then sat bolt upright, hands clenched on his knees rather than clasped behind his head, feet flat on the floor instead of stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles. And his face would be shuttered tight, as blank as a stone, not alight with mirth. Quinn marveled at the difference these last few months had made to his lover.

At this moment, Sam returned with a young man who, under Sam’s stern eye, began to lay the table with a white cloth and eating utensils. He acknowledged his master with a brief nod.

“The boys will bring in food anon,” said Sam, addressing the room in general. “You’ll be pleased to know I’ve cast my eye over the kitchen. The fare is barely worthy of my master—as I’ve told them—but alas, it must needs suffice.”

“I’faith, Sam, don’t plague the staff! They’ll spit in the soup!” exclaimed the Black Wolf.

“Nay, Master Kit. Alice is in charge, and she would not countenance such a thing. In fact, she and I will sit down to a cozy meal in her private parlor whilst you gentlemen sup in here.”

Quinn hid a grin, accustomed to Sam’s antics with the gentle sex. Strangely, despite the shortage of the fair sex in the colony, the ladies never seemed to mind that he would not settle on any one of them.

“Be off with you, then,” said the Black Wolf, shooing the little man from the room.

“I fail to understand his popularity with women,” said Quinn, shaking his head. “I thought they do not like to tower over their flirts. Mayhap that great moustache of his makes recompense for his lack of height.”

“Nay, ’tis that he listens to them and takes them seriously. If you treat them with respect and enter into their interests, you’ll have women eating out of your hand.”

“Jesu, Kit, lessons on charming women are wasted on me,” said Quinn with some humor. “But Sam is not without his attractions—he is an excellent cook, after all. And most handy with his knives. He would make as good a matelot as he would a husband.”

“I’m sure your approval would gratify him greatly, Gabe,” said the Black Wolf in a dry tone.

“Some think he is your matelot,” said Perry humorously.

“They think I would, so soon after—” Their captain cut himself off, his mouth thin with displeasure.

“That hasn’t stopped you fucking Raphe,” said Quinn sharply.

A satirical smile twisted the Black Wolf’s lips. “You have been busy. You only arrived in Port Royal last night.”

Quinn scowled. “You cannot have thought ’twould be long ere I heard the gossip. Jesu, Kit, I’d not have thought it of you.”

His friend’s gaze flicked to Perry looking out of the window and pretending not to hear. Nevertheless, the Black Wolf dropped his voice. “It’s not as if I’m poaching, Gabe.”

“Of all men, did you have to pick him? Mansvelt has other captains.”

“Raphe is his most trusted.”

“Which means you cannot be trusting him.”

Lifting his chin, the Black Wolf shot a haughty look down his fine nose. “When I need your counsel, Master Quinn, be sure I’ll ask for it.”

There was a tense silence. Quinn stared angrily into his friend’s uncompromising eyes. Of a sudden, the Black Wolf’s face crumpled, and he looked away.

“I know you mean all for the best, Gabe,” he said in a low voice. “But ’tis enough to have Sam clucking about me. I know what I do, old friend. Prithee, trust me now.”

Quinn could think of nothing to say to comfort his friend that would not sound patronizing, and he merely put his hand on the man’s shoulder, squeezing hard. Looking over his head at Perry, quiet in his chair, Quinn smiled assurance at his lover, grateful for his tact in not attempting to interfere. The Black Wolf covered Quinn’s hand with his own, and they stood thus in silence. Footsteps ran lightly up the stairs, heralding the arrival of their meal, or so Quinn thought.

“Gabriel Quinn, you sly rover! When I heard the fate of the Defiant, I feared you were dead.”

At the sound of that familiar voice, Quinn was both startled and annoyed. Releasing his grip on his friend, he looked over his shoulder to see a man he had hoped never to see again.

His eyes bright with mockery, Captain Raphe Ashburn sauntered into the room.

The man on the threshold seemed to cast all about him into shadow, as if he possessed an aura of light. All unconscious, Quinn turned to face him. He closed his eyes for a breath longer than a blink.

When he opened his eyes again, the spell was broken. The man was fair to the eye, to be sure, but he was a mere mortal. 

Author Bio:
I love to write. I’ve been writing fiction and telling stories–in a good way!–since I was a child.

I tried to write standard romances, but it wasn’t until I discovered MMF and MM erotic romance that I really found my voice. As an aficionado of all thing retro, it made sense to use historical settings. I have no particular favourite era or culture–I often choose my setting and era based on my inspiration for the story.

People often ask me how I think up a story. That’s actually quite a hard question. Sometimes I think of a situation, sometimes it’s a scene, sometimes it’s a character. Whatever it is, I usually plot out some basics, do a bit of research to make sure I’ve picked the right time and place for my story, and start writing!

I’m a bit pedantic about researching my settings and the historical minutiae, such as the brand of margarine available in Berlin in 1920–but I’m the first to admit I sometimes get it wrong. I don’t like being wrong, but no one is perfect after all…

My main focus is on writing believable and unique characters. My central characters always live happily ever after. No exceptions.



Release Tour: Second Chance Cowboy by Joanne Rock

Title: Second Chance Cowboy
Author: Joanne Rock
Series: Road to Romance #2
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 21, 2017
Dancer Larissa Martine is ready to start over and Las Vegas seems like the perfect city for a shiny new beginning. But first, to honor her pact with her girlfriends, she wants to make a quick stop in Cheyenne, WY to make amends with her first love, the guy she left to chase her dreams of Broadway fame. Except rancher Matt Briggs isn’t nearly as interested in her regrets as he is in keeping her in town for his sister's wedding. It’s a request she can’t deny when his family takes up the cause to make her stay for just one more week, but it’s difficult to maintain her friends-only boundaries with a man who attracts her as much as ever.

After losing his father and inheriting the family ranch in addition to the one he’d bought on his own, Matt’s life is all about obligations. But Larissa’s unexpected arrival during the wedding mayhem is a bright spot he won’t ignore, even if that means tempting her into far more than just a dance. He figures one night with her will bring them both some peace with their past, which is all she said she wanted. But one night leaves Matt wanting a whole lot more and this time, he’s willing to gamble everything to make her stay.

He’d never imagined how much his father’s passing would divide his life into “before” and “after.” It’s like everything had stopped in his world when he got the call that EMS was on their way to the Briggs Ranch. Trying to shrug off the memory, he put the truck in Park and switched off the engine.

“Are you taking questions about your relationship experiences since you left Wyoming?” he asked her pointedly. When she shook her head fast, he grinned. “You see? We understand each other perfectly.”

She was quiet for so long he wondered what she was thinking. Finally, she pulled a single key on a red ribbon out from her jeans pocket. He recognized the ribbon from the rack of keys at his mother’s house.

“I’m staying for the wedding because Hattie implied I’d broken my friendship with your family and that I should repair it.” Larissa’s face was pale in the moonlight that filtered in through the front window.

Wind raced past the truck windows, creating a screechy sound.

“It’s kind of you to do that.” He wanted to know if he figured into the picture at all. Would she admit it even if he did?

“I’m doing it for me as much as for them.” She wound the ribbon around her finger while they sat in the truck cab. Close but not touching. “I came here to smooth over the way I left last time, and I realize that means making amends with your family as much as with you.”

“Good.” He was tempted to test that theory right now. To see if she was truly here to hang out with his family or if she’d been as intrigued by the chemistry between the two of them as he was. “Then you’re already making headway since Callie wants you to teach her how to dance before the wedding.”

“I hope so.” She nodded.

And made no move to retreat into the house.

The air in the cab crackled with awareness. His. Hers.

It was too soon to act on it, he knew. If he set foot in that house tonight with her, things would get out of hand in a hurry. The last thing he wanted was to share something incredible with her only to spook her and send her running in the morning. Better to let it build.

“I’m looking forward to dancing with you again.” He reached across the bench seat to brush his knuckles along her cheek.

He liked the way her eyelids fluttered once. Slowly.

Her breath caught before her words tumbled out. “It’s been a long time. Are you sure you even remember the steps?”

Last Chance Christmas #1
Fashion buyer Shea Walker had a fast track lifestyle until a car accident sidelines her to a painful recovery. Seeking quiet for the holidays, Shea returns to the snowy mountains where she grew up to make peace with her past and spend time with her estranged family. She never expected J.C. Royce—now a hockey star—would return to their hometown, too. Determined to avoid that particular sexy mistake, she’s caught off guard when her first night in town brings them face to face.

J.C. never misses a chance to come home to Cloud Spin, Vermont, and this Christmas, he’s back home for some enforced downtime. But in all those trips, he’d never caught a glimpse of Shea, the childhood friend he once thought would become a whole lot more. Before she’d left town, she’d made sure he knew that would never happen, so seeing her practically fall at his feet outside a local pub is gratifying. Until he realizes his proud former friend is truly hurt—and in more ways than she lets on. Lucky for her, he’s got a big house just sitting empty, a tree ready to decorate and Shea is in no shape to stay by herself. But he’s got bad boy arrogance down to an art form after eight years in the NHL, so he’s more than a match for feisty Shea. Especially when it comes to her outrageous claim that there was never any chemistry between them...

But when it comes to convincing her to stick around town until the New Year, he just might need a Christmas miracle.

A Chance this Christmas #3(Coming October 5, 2017)
Growing up in the Christmas-crazed theme town of Yuletide was fun for fashion designer Rachel Chambers until a family scandal made her unwelcome. Eight years later, she’s home for a friend’s wedding and trying to go incognito… until her old flame spots her.

Snowboarder Gavin Blake wants to make things right with Rachel, and smoothing her way back in Yuletide seems like the best way to do just that. Making Rachel his date for a week of pre-wedding parties is sure to bring them closer. Except he underestimated how long a small town can carry a grudge—or how much the memory of a long-ago kiss could tempt him all over again.

As the wedding approaches, Rachel remembers all she loved about her close-knit, Christmas-loving neighbors. But even if she can win over the town again, will she be able to convince her footloose, mogul-shredding wedding date that they can find happiness beyond the holidays?

Author Bio:
Four-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock has never met a romance sub-genre she didn't like. The author of over eighty books enjoys writing a wide range of stories, most recently focusing on sexy contemporaries and small town family sagas. An optimist by nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance fits her life outlook perfectly--love is worth fighting for. A frequent speaker at regional and national writing conferences she enjoys giving back to the writing community that nurtured and inspired her early career. She has a Masters degree in Literature from the University of Louisville but credits her fiction writing skills to her intensive study with friend and fellow author Catherine Mann. When she's not writing, Joanne enjoys travel, especially to see her favorite sports teams play with her former sports editor husband and three athletic-minded sons.


Second Chance Cowboy #2

Last Chance Christmas #1

A Chance this Christmas #3
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