J.S. Fields has a new lesbian sci fi book out in her Ardulum series - Third Don:
The Ardulum series blends space opera and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past, and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.
J.S. Fields is giving away an eBook copy of books one and two, AND a special collector's edition First Don enamel pin to one lucky winner, via Rafflecopter:
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4711/?
About the Books
Ardulum: First Don (book one)
The planet that vanishes. The planet that sleeps.
When Ardulum first appeared, the inhabitants brought agriculture, art and interstellar technology to the Neek people before vanishing back into space. Two hundred years later, Neek has joined the Charted Systems, a group of planets bound together through commerce and wormhole routes, where violence is nonexistent and technology has been built around the malleability of cellulose.
When the tramp transport Mercy’s Pledge accidentally stumbles into an armed confrontation between the Charted System sheriffs and an unknown species, the crew learns the high cost of peace—the enslavement and genetic manipulation of the Ardulan people. Now a young Neek, outcast from her world for refusal to worship ancient Ardulans as gods, must reconcile her planet’s religion with the slave child whom she has chosen to protect—a child whose ability to manipulate cellulose is reminiscent of the ancient myths of Ardulum. But protecting the child comes at a cost—the cultural destruction of her world and the deaths of billions of Charted System inhabitants.
Ardulum: Second Don (book two)
The Charted Systems are in pieces. Mercy’s Pledge is destroyed, and her captain dead. With no homes to return to, the remaining crew set off on a journey to find the mythical planet of Ardulum—a planet where Emn might find her people and Neek the answers she’s long sought. Finding the planet, however, brings a host of uncomfortable truths about Ardulum’s vision for the galaxy, and Neek’s role in a religion that refuses to release her. Neek must balance her planet’s past and the unchecked power of the Ardulans with a budding relationship and a surprising revelation about her own genealogy.
Ardulum: Second Don blends space opera and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past, and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.
Ardulum: Third Don (book three)
The planet wakes.
Atalant is torn between two worlds. In uncharted space, head of a sentient planet, the new eld of Ardulum now leads the religion she once rejected. Emn is by her side, but the Mmnnuggl war brewing in the Charted Systems, threatening her homeworld of Neek, cannot be ignored. Neek must return to the planet that exiled her in order to lead the resistance. She must return home a god, a hypocrite, a liar in gold robes, and decide whether to thrust her unwilling people into the truth of Ardulum, or play the role she has been handed and never see her family, or her world, again.
First Don (Book One):
“Were we just attacked?” she asked incredulously. Neek took a closer look out the viewscreen. The rectangular cutter that sparkled with pinpricks of light and the wedge-shaped, agile skiffs, were Risalian. The pods—both the smaller purple ones and the frigate-sized, maroon ones—were unfamiliar. Their fomations were just as strange, stacked in columns like stones on a riverbank instead of in pyrimidal and spherical formations like Systems ships would. “Are those all Charted Systems ships?”
Yorden threw up his hands in disgust. “They’re not just Charted Systems ships—they’re Risalian ships. The cutter and skiffs are, anyway. No clue on the pods. What those blue-skinned bastards are doing out here with fully weaponized ships, I can only guess. However, they’re firing lasers. If we lose our armor and take a hit from any of those, we are space dust.”
“Comforting,” Neek mumbled. She hadn’t noticed the laser ports on any of the ships, but now that she looked closer, all of the vessels were covered with armor plating and had at least two laser turrets each.
Neek continued to watch as the pods begin to cluster around a Risalian cutter. A pod ship zipped beneath the cutter, firing wildly at its underside, before making a quick right turn and heading back to a larger pod. Five others followed suit. The cutter’s shielding began to splinter, but the ship remained where it was.
Neek leaned into the viewscreen, still unsure what she was seeing. “The Risalian ships aren’t chasing, they’re just defending. What is going on? If they’re going to appoint themselves sheriffs of the Charted Systems, they could at least fight back.”
Yorden smacked his hand against the wall, loosing a shower of dust. “Something on that Risalian ship is holding their attention. Get us out of here, before either of them gets any closer.” He pointed to a cluster of ships to Neek’s right, and her eyes followed. Little flashes of bright light sparked and then died intermittently as ships were destroyed, their flotsam creating an ever-expanding ring. A large piece of metal plating floated past the Pledge’s port window. The edge caught and left a thin scratch in the fiberglass as it slid off.
“What are they protecting that is so damn important?” Neek wondered out loud and then snorted. “Something worth more than our hold full of diamond rounds and cellulose-laced textiles?” she added cheekily.
Scowling, Yorden pushed Neek’s hand away from the computer and began his own scan of the Pledge’s systems. “Communications are still up, but I don’t think either party is listening right now.” Frustrated, he kicked the underside of the console. “Try one of them. Better than being crushed.”
“Captain, come on. We are dead in space. If another one comes at us, why don’t we just fire at it? It’s better than being rammed.” She pointed upwards at a circular hole in the ceiling. “What’s the benefit of flying a ship so ancient it falls apart if you’re not taking advantage of the grandfathered weapons system?”
Yorden’s terse response was cut off when a short burst impacted the ship. Another group of skiffs flew past, depositing laser fire as they did so. The Pledge banked to port, carrying momentum from the impact. From the direction they had come lay a trail of shattered ship plating.
A panicked voice called down from the laser turret. Neek bristled, steeling herself against the inevitable irritation that came whenever their Journey youth spoke. “That skiff just fired at us. How does it even have weapons? I thought we were the only ones in the Systems with a ship older than dirt.”
Neek wrapped her right hand back around the steering yoke. Each of her eight fingers fit perfectly into the well-worn grooves, and the brown leather darkened a shade as her naturally secreted stuk smeared from her fingertips. She smiled to herself. Flying a geriatric tramp was still better than flying nothing at all.
“Look, Captain,” she said, keeping her eyes on the battle. “I can steer this thing if we get pushed, but that is it. We don’t have any other options. They have guns. We have guns. Well, we have a gun. Why don’t we use it?”
Second Don (Book Two):
“You have to tell her,” Nicholas said. He pushed himself out of a lean and pointed to where Emn’s blood had fallen. She’d been interfacing with the ship all the way through the wormhole and hadn’t noticed Nicholas return to the cockpit. That meant Emn was getting a lecture, one way or the other. Annoyed, she tugged at the fabric across her chest, the sensation something she was still getting used to, and turned to look at Nicholas. She’d have much preferred a lecture from Neek.
Nicholas’s eyebrow rose. “This is the fourth time I’ve seen you bleed from interfacing with the ship. If your physiology is so incompatible with it, then Neek needs to know. We need to find another ship.”
Emn dabbed at her ear with a finger, ensuring the canal was clean, and then straightened the front of her dress. She’d already stopped the bleeding. The blood vessel breaks had been small—only minor capillaries affected—and healing was simple first-don stuff. Except, each time she synced with the ship, the pain was worse. What had started as a light buzzing during her time on the Mmnnuggl flagship Llttrin, during the Crippling War, was now a pressure that thumped between her skull and brain. It was ever-expanding, pulsed behind her eyes, crushed blood vessels, and had her leaking maroon from her ears and nose.
After sitting down against the black paneling, Emn looked at her lap. The dress, which she’d managed to keep mostly clean of blood, was tight in areas she’d not anticipated. It clung to her hips and chest, highlighting the most notable changes since her metamorphosis. It was… Could something be uncomfortable and yet comforting at the same time? She was an adult. There was no denying that, not with something so formfitting. Emn enjoyed the visual reminder of who she had become.
“For me to discuss any of this with Neek, she’d have to actually talk to me. Right after the Crippling War, I thought we had broken through that layer of self-doubt, or whatever makes Neek so rigid around me, but I guess not.” Emn went to pull at the front of her dress again before catching herself.
Nicholas ran his hands through his thick hair and shook his head. “You’re telepathically connected. You don’t have to be in the same room to talk.” Just as he had when she was in first don, Nicholas plopped beside her so she could lean into him. The reminder of their friendship helped ease the thumping in her head. She was forever grateful that Nicholas didn’t seem at all uncomfortable with the changes she’d undergone.
“Do you think it looks all right?” Emn asked, looking down at the front of her dress.
Nicholas snorted. “You look like a woman in a dress, Emn. It fits well. Your chest looks normal, if that’s what you’re asking, although you’ll crease the fabric if you keep pulling at it like that. If you want more specific feedback, there’s a different person you should ask. I know you don’t have a perpetually open connection, but even if she’s closed down, you could still nudge her. It’s good for her.”
Emn returned the half smile, imagining how Neek would react if she just started chatting to her through their link about mundane things, like constellations or cellulose biometals, or if she actually asked about the dress…
As if Neek had been listening, the door abruptly slid open, and the room was filled with the distinctive sound of booted feet. Emn and Nicholas stood up.
Neek took a moment to stretch, reaching her hands up over her head and letting her sixteen fingers, eight per hand, brush the ceiling. This was the only room in the small Mmnnuggl pod where any of them could stand upright, and it was blissful to do so. Stretching pulled the fabric of the flight suit taut against Neek’s chest and Emn let her eyes linger, careful to ensure the image did not leak across their bond. They needed Neek in the cockpit, captaining, not hiding in her room. She didn’t need to know about Emn’s burgeoning…something. Not yet, anyway. Still, Emn followed the tightly braided red-blonde hair to her narrow shoulders and then to her wide hips partially hidden in a baggy flight suit. Neek had her sleeves rolled up to her elbows, and Emn wrinkled her nose without meaning to. The lighting in the pod did not go well with Neek’s olive-brown complexion. Realizing that she had probably stared for a bit too long, Emn walked back to the viewscreen.
“Looks like such a harmless planet from out here,” Neek said as her arms fell to her sides. Currently filling the floor-to-ceiling viewscreen was Risal, its orange algae oceans and brown landmasses looming above them. Risal’s two moons, the red Korin and white Rath, buffered the planet on either side. At their current position, the shadows from the sun overlapped Risal in two intersecting crescents, leaving a thin hourglass shape of lit land. Two cutters were in orbit around Korin, docked next to one another near the moon’s north pole.
Emn knew more than she cared to about those moons. She had no firsthand memories, but being synced to the late Captain Ran’s cutter had given her data on both. Rath was used as an andal plantation, although it was not a very successful one. Korin, in contrast…Korin was likely where she had been born. Emn probably had had siblings there, perhaps other genetic parents as well. They’d be dead, of course, like all the Risalian Ardulans, but that didn’t make the moon any less oppressive.
Her focus was suddenly returned to the cockpit. Confused, Emn blinked, trying to clear her vision, and then realized what was happening. Her thoughts must have leaked. Now, instead of Korin, she was seeing herself through Neek’s eyes, their connection taut. It was strange to see herself from the back—a woman in a knee-length, gray dress with shoulder straps and a flared hipline, tracing a finger over the moon’s image. Her black hair held only hints of the red that shone in her youth, and the moonlight highlighted the dark veins that streaked across her translucent skin. Patterns emerged, if one looked long enough—and Neek was—patterns of geometric shapes bound tightly together, distorted and intersecting. Several words bounded across their link despite Neek’s best efforts to rein them in. One in particular struck Emn as odd.
Except, calling the markings such belied their daunting mythos and marginalized Neek’s history. Emn tossed the word aside, conscious of its relevance but unwilling to call it to Neek’s attention.
Third Don (Book Three):
I dislike this flight suit,Atalant muttered as her stuk absorbed into the rough material. The Ardulans did not refine the andalrayon as much as Charted Systems manufacturers did, and the fabric was full of rough, lumpish slubs.
If you could find some time for us to be alone and do away with the memories for a few hours, I’m sure I could arrange for my dress to make an appearance. The images that accompanied her statement flushed Atalant’s cheeks.
Maybe if we met onboard the Scarlet Lucidity , in orbit around Ardulum, where no one could interrupt us and I felt a bit freer... Atalant’s thoughts drifted into that delightful possibility. The Lucidity had soft chairs in the cockpit, wide beds in the quarters, a small bin of andal in case Emn got hungry…
Andal! Atalant’s priorities came crashing back down around her. The planet caught her wandering and whispered dreams of its own, dreams of saplings in open fields, of thick rains and busy pollinators. The collective consciousness of Ardulum sent a yearning desire for family, for a new place to call home.
“Home is overrated,” Atalant whispered.
“I don’t think so. What about your parents, Atalant?” Emn whispered into her ear, misunderstanding Atalant’s words. “Your father and your talther miss you, I’m sure. Your brother is there, waiting to see his sister.” Emn’s lips brushed Atalant’s forehead. “All the things you said at those political rallies, all the times the president cut you down, your exile, your uncle’s teachings… Could you just let all this hang? Can you let the truth, that you worked so hard to uncover, remain a mystery to the rest of your people?”
Atalant didn’t answer. When Emn didn’t press further, Atalant reached over Emn and lifted the window open to its full height. The sounds of reptiles croaking filled the silence between them. Atalant let the heaviness of her eyelids sink her into drowsy memories. She thought of the Lucidity, berthed and awaiting her return in a suburb of the capital. She thought of the gold robes she now regularly wore, of their similarities to the Heaven Guard robes she had so coveted in her youth. She thought of her brother, his pursuit of andal science over Ardulan religion, his urging her to join the Heaven Guard of Neek. She thought of soil barren from andal plantation farming, the decline of the forests on her homeworld, and the death of the Keft ecosystem. She thought of her uncle, the High Priest of Neek, of his teachings, the holy books, and of what the return of living gods could do for her stagnant planet.
The sound of Emn’s even breathing relaxed the remaining tightness in Atalant’s shoulders. As she drifted off into sleep, her mind wandered to the possibility: what would it be like for Ardulum to return to the planet Neek? What havoc would the mystic, traveling planet play on her world’s religion? On her family? Would she be welcomed as a hero, or still branded a heretic? Would she be shot on sight? Gold robes of the Eld or gold robes of the Heaven Guard? Did it matter?
What would it be like for her to come home?
About the Author
Fields has lived in Thailand, Ireland, Canada, USA, and spent extensive time in many more places. Her current research takes her to the Peruvian Amazon rainforest each summer, where she traumatizes students with machetes and tangarana ants while looking for rare pigmenting fungi. She lives with her partner and child, and a very fabulous lionhead rabbit named Merlin.
Author Website: http://www.jsfieldsbooks.com
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Galactoglucoman
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16484795.J_S_Fields
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Purchase from Amazon
Today I welcome my friend Michael Rupured. I've had the pleasure of spending time with Michael at a few cons and events. He's not only a great author but a very sweet man.
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza
I’m a bit of a slow learner. For nearly fifty years, I believed penning a novel to be beyond my ability—like climbing Mount Everest, competing in the Olympics, and singing in public. I was wrong. On June 19th, DSP Publications releases my fifth novel, The Case of the Missing Drag Queen.
A career in academia had always satisfied my writing compulsion. On a whim, I started the Crotchety Old Man blog in 2008 and was encouraged by my “fans” (family and friends from high school) to write a book. The result was a 110,000-word, all-tell, tell-all memoire sitting in a folder on my computer. Writing it, however, was very therapeutic and led me to the Athens Writers Workshop where I was encouraged to try writing a novel.
A desire to show gay life at different times was the motivation behind my first three novels. Until Thanksgiving is a trip back to 1996 and an homage to my time in Washington, DC. No Good Deed shows how society viewed homosexuals in 1966, and Happy Independence Day depicts the 1969 Stonewall uprising that launched the gay liberation movement.
After Whippersnapper, I hit a wall. My ideas didn’t go anywhere. The well would run dry a few chapters in, leaving great characters with no place to go. Eventually I quit trying.
My “ah ha!” moment came months later when I stumbled across something online. Turns out, a novel is supposed to revolve around a main character’s literal or figurative journey. Imagine my surprise!
That very afternoon, I mapped out Luke Tanner’s journey. With detailed profiles for all the characters in hand, I started writing. The Case of the Missing Drag Queen is the result. You could say it’s my first real novel. I’m slow, but I do—eventually—figure things out. Most things. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.
Broke, saddled with a mountain of debt, and dependent on his Aunt Callie's support, aspiring writer Luke Tanner has returned to Kentucky to put his life back together after a failed five-year relationship.
On his twenty-fifth birthday, Luke meets diminutive Pixie Wilder, a long-time performer at the Gilded Lily. After headliner Ruby Dubonnet doesn’t show up, Pixie takes her place as the star of the show—a motive that makes her a suspect in Ruby’s disappearance.
Luke reluctantly agrees to help his new-found friend clear her name. He and Pixie set out to find the missing drag queen, and in the process, put themselves in danger.
Michael Rupured writes stories true enough for government work about gay life from the 1960s to today. This life-long Southerner was born in Fayetteville NC, grew up in Lexington KY, and after 18 months in Washington DC, moved to Athens GA where he’s lived since 1999. By day, he’s senior faculty in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia. He’s an avid fan of the Georgia Bulldogs, the Kentucky Wildcats, and any team playing the Florida Gators. In his free time, Michael tinkers with his garden, plays with Toodles (his diabetic chihuahua), and keeps up with his many friends around the country. Previous novels include Until Thanksgiving (thriller), No Good Deed (mystery/thriller), Whippersnapper (regional), and Happy Independence Day (historical). Visit his website, follow on Twitter and Goodreads, like his Facebook page, or shoot him a message (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Kim Fielding is about to release book three in her "Bureau" series, and we have the over reveal for you here! The book comes out on May 7th, and can be read as a stand alone. You can preorder it now!
About the Book:
Alone in a cell and lacking memories of his past, John has no idea who—or what—he is.
Alone on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles, Harry has far too many memories of his painful past and feels simply resignation in facing his empty future.
When Harry is given a chance to achieve his only dream—to become an agent with the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs—all he has to do is prove his worth. Yet nothing has ever come easy for him. Now he must offer himself and John as bait, enticing a man who wants to conquer death. But first he and John must learn what distinguishes a monster from a man—and what a monster truly wants.
One lucky winner will get an audiobook copy of “Ante Up,” Kim’s Czech vampire tale, and an eBook copy of the first two books in “The Bureau” series – Corruption” and Clay White.” Enter via Rafflecopter.
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d475/
John savored every page of the book, which told a story of soldiers stationed in Hawaii as a war with the Japanese began. He didn’t know anything about such a war, so he couldn’t tell whether the tale was true. And with Frankensteinas his only comparison, he couldn’t tell whether this was a goodbook. But he enjoyed it very much because it was his and because he’d been granted the great luxury of reading it.
One luxury among many, of course. He also had comfortable surroundings, nice clothing over a clean body, and the joy of seeing a great many wonders he’d only imagined. And he had Harry, who’d never once hurt him or made him feel like anything less than a man.
Ah, but John was nota man. When he finished the book and sat in the comforting puddle of lamplight, he again faced some painful truths and their corresponding questions.
What use did Harry intend to make of him? What would happen to John once Harry was done? Those were the practical questions. But more fundamentally, he wondered what it meant to be a monster. When he wore clothes, read books, conducted conversations, was he only fooling himself? Did he actually possess human qualities? What if he, like Frankenstein’s monster, turned murderous in the end?
And what did he want? What driving force kept him animate in a lifeless body? He thought he might know the answers to those questions, but the answers were far too uncomfortable to face. Perhaps that made him a coward.
Lost in contemplation, he startled when the front door opened. A moment later, Harry came stumbling into the room with his coat poorly buttoned, his hat askew, and a carrier with six brown bottles grasped in one hand. His cheeks looked ruddier than usual; his eyes, usually soft and warm, appeared dull and flat. “You’re still here,” he said.
“You told me to stay.”
Harry left the room for a few minutes, although John could hear him rummaging in kitchen drawers. When he returned, he’d shed the coat and hat, and he held one of the brown bottles. He collapsed heavily onto the couch before taking a long draw. “Blah,” he said, face twisted in disgust. “The Irish coffee was better.” But he drank more anyway.
After some time passed, Harry sighed. “What’d you do tonight?”
“I read one of the books you gave me. Harry, was there really a war with the Japanese?”
“Yeah. Germans too. My Uncle Jimmy died in it.”
“Yeah. I liked him.” He sniffed. “You don’t remember that war?”
“I know of… the Great War. That was against the Germans, I think.”
“That was over forty years ago. World War Two ended eight years ago. Now we’re fighting in Korea instead.”
John shook his head in confusion. There was so much he didn’t understand. During the silence, Harry drained his bottle. He left the room and returned to the couch with a full one.
“I’ll prob’ly be sick in the morning,” he said thoughtfully. “I used to think the word hangoverwas kind of scary. Made me think of a corpse hanging from a noose.” He glanced quickly at John and then away.
“Is there anything I can do to help you?”
Maybe if John were a real person, he’d know what to do. He understood that something distressed Harry but had no idea what, or what actions he should take. It was possible that John himself was the cause of Harry’s misery. Surely it was repugnant to spend time so close to a monster. John worried about Harry—and worried about himself as well. Harry had brought him so much freedom and happiness. What would become of John if Harry abandoned him?
Harry held his half-empty bottle aloft, peering into the liquid depths. “Do you s’pose there’s demons in there?”
“Townsend said that one demon keeps his ex-agent from going wild, so I guess maybe some demons ain’t so bad. Unless Townsend lied.”
Unable to make sense of this, John simply listened.
After taking another swig, Harry wedged the bottle between his thighs and stared down at it. “Mama used to tell us that Daddy was a good man. She said the Devil got into him during the Depression, when Daddy lost his job at the feed store and we were poor as dirt. When he— Those things he did, those weren’t really him, she told us. They were the Devil’s work. If we all prayed real hard, Jesus would chase the Devil away.” He looked at John. “We went to church every Sunday and said our prayers every night. But Jesus never did nothing.”
Those things he did. John’s otherwise faulty mind easily supplied him with possibilities about what those things might have been. His memories, it seemed, included a catalogue of cruel actions a man might visit upon his family.
“I never drank before tonight,” Harry said. “I didn’t want to swallow the Devil. But maybe now I have.”
John moved the Hawaii book from his lap to the little table beside him and slowly pushed himself to his feet. His legs felt unsteady, and although it required tremendous effort to walk the few steps to the couch, he made it without falling. After kneeling on the floor near Harry’s legs, John looked steadily into his eyes. “I don’t think there’s anything evil about you.”
Harry shook his head. “You don’t know that. I’m…. Everyone’s always said I’m worthless, but they ain’t exactly right. I could do a whole lot of bad if I wanted to. Maybe if I keep drinking, I’ll want to.”
“Then don’t drink.”
Anger flashed across Harry’s face, and John braced himself for a punch. But then Harry sighed and rubbed his own chin. “I lied to you.”
“You asked me if you were good… before. And I said yeah.”
“I wasn’t?” John was grateful he had the strength to keep his voice steady.
“I don’t know. I have no idea who the hell you were before you… before you died. You coulda been a mobster for all I know. A murderer. Maybe you deserve everything they done to you.”
Although John swayed on his knees, he didn’t fall. And he didn’t pull his gaze away from Harry. “Maybe I do,” he whispered. “But I doubt you deserve whatever your father did to you.”
Harry paled and blinked his eyes rapidly. Then, moving slowly like a very old man, he stood. “Going to bed,” he muttered. He shuffled away, the bottle still in his hand.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon.
Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
Author Website: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites/
Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/KFieldingWrites
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4105707.Kim_Fielding
Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/kim-fielding/
Elle Keaton has a new MM Romantic Suspense book coming out on May 18th:
No one ever said it would be easy.
Running away from his messy divorce did not bring Ira Fragale the peace he sought. If he is going to get his life together he needs to pull up his big boy pants and take care of business. He’s been hiding out licking his wounds in Skagit for two years now, keeping his head down (except for the trail of twinks he’s left behind). Something’s going to give.
Cameron McCulloch needs to knock Ira off the pedestal he's placed him on. Because he's older doesn't mean Ira has any clearer idea about life and the universe than Cam. Cam needs to focus on his own needs and forget about Ira, but he can’t. Bartending at the Loft is easy and he likes the community he’s fallen into since his family rejected him, but if he wants more out of life he’s going to have to go out and get it himself.
Ira didn’t choose Skagit at random, he came to the small city because events twenty years ago set him on his path on today. The mystery of his father’s murder may never be solved but Ira would like to lay his spirit to rest.
None of this explains the upswing of possible hate crime in Skagit. The small town has its share of trouble but someone, or someones, are on the prowl, harassing the LGBTQ community, and Cameron is in their crosshairs.
One lucky winner will receive a n eBook copy of “As Sure As the Sun,” book four in Elle’s “Accidental Roots” series. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d477/?
Ira supposed as he had many times, that his job wasn't much different than Cameron's. Cam of the golden brown hair and deep amber eyes. Cam who was so off limits that Ira shouldn't even be thinking his name. Too young, too smart, too quick to find Ira's soft spots. Ira'd had a moment of weakness and they'd a freakishly pleasant weekend together but he hadn't let it continue.
And, yeah, Ira couldn't stop himself from going to the Loft where Cam worked, but at least he hadn't gone home with him again. A win for the team.
The door burst open again and, shit, it was the kid from the other night. Ira should have known better, but Ira'd wanted company and he'd made himself very available. Too late Ira realized he had starry eye's and boyfriend practically tattooed on his forehead.
"Hey, Ira." He had his hands shoved in the back pockets of his jeans, his hips cocked in what he probably thought was a cute pose. At the Loft, Ira'd thought he was thirtyish. In daylight, he was adjusting that estimate down to barely twenty-one and cursing himself. Ira liked younger men, he enjoyed the enthusiasm, in bed and out, and their worldviews - so different than the scary gay-aids world of the 1980s and 90s that Ira had experienced first hand. The problem was not they were too young but that Ira was too old.
Ira searched his memory, they'd gone to the kid's apartment and had sex. Ira had left regardless of him telling Ira he could stay, he couldn't remember his name. Kevin? Shaun? No. Colin?
He finished cleaning another table then made his way to the front counter to help make drinks and dole out pastries. "Did you need something?" he asked Cary - he was sure of it - on his way by.
Cary's pale complexion flushed a rosy pink. "Oh, uh, not really," Ira could see him scrambling to come up with an excuse for having stopped by. "I was just in the neighborhood."
He walked behind the counter where the counter kid was staring at the influx of newcomers, "Sebastian you want to make drinks or take their money?"
"Uh," Sebastian stared at Ira through the thick lenses of his glasses, stalling out. Ira watched Cary leave without ordering anything. Wonderful, his reputation as a complete and utter asshole was untarnished.
"I'll do drinks," Ira said and pushed past Sebastian to get to the machine.
Ira should've asked Sara for the day off but he'd hoped an extra shift would keep him distracted, and anyway he had days ahead of him to brood. Nothing could distract Ira from the fact that this was the month that his father had been murdered nearly twenty years ago, and two years since his life fell apart a second time. Over two years since he'd talked to any of his remaining family. To Simon.
The squeal of the steam wand and hiss of the heads as hot water was forced through the portafilters lulled Ira into a kind of calm. He made several espresso drinks, chatting mindlessly with the uniformed cops who were waiting for their caffeine.
A familiar voice insinuated itself past his shell of serenity. Ira had to force himself not to turn toward the sound of Cameron McCulloch ordering a drink. Cameron was at the end of the line, saying hi to a cop standing in front of him. Ira snuck a look to see if he was with anyone. Cam waited, rocking back on his heels with his hands in the pockets of his worn jeans, not talking to anyone else. On his own then.
As he often did, Cam had his long brown-blonde hair tied back in a messy knot. Ira supposed it was a man bun or whatever but on Cameron it was natural and incredibly sexy. Cameron had an air of friendliness, which probably came from being a bartender, or his naturally sweet personality. But he also had a sadness about him, an invisible cloak giving him a shadow. He hid it well, but Ira saw it. Was afraid to learn more about it, knowing that the more he knew the harder it would be to keep him at arms-length.
Cameron saw Ira glance over at him but didn't crack a smile. He acted like they didn't know each other. Yep, Ira was an asshole and a hypocrite. And maybe he didn't have to worry about keeping Cam at arms-length anymore. For reasons he didn't want to examine, he found the thought unsettling.
Cam claimed his Americano muttering a terse, "Thanks." Then he went and sat at the farthest open table from the front. Ira went back to what he was doing but he had Cameron radar. He knew exactly where Cameron was in the room and, exactly when another man came and sat down at his table.
Ira felt anger rise, hot and heavy. Cameron greeted the stranger with obvious pleasure, first a handshake before the other man pulled him into a hug. Was it unreasonable to expect that Cameron wouldn't meet dates where Ira worked? Hypocrite.
The line continued to grow, and Ira spent the next hour with his head down making coffees as quickly as he could. He knew when Cameron and his friend left and forced himself to focus on what he was doing, to not look up and watch the two of them leave together. He was the one who didn't want anything, who'd seen the compassion and caring in Cameron's eyes. He was the one who was broken and would make a nice guy like Cameron miserable in the long run.
Much later, after his extra-long shift at the Booking Room finally drew to a close, Ira half-heartedly tried to convince himself not to go to the Loft for a drink. It was a Friday though, and he had the next few days off. Cameron had shown up at his work, no reason he couldn't go to Cameron's.
Tomorrow he would quit showing up at the Loft, and stop picking up men young enough to be his kid. Stop thinking about Cameron McCulloch. The weekend they'd spent together. God. Ira was such a shit. Yeah and tomorrow he'd get his act together enough to pick up a paintbrush and actually do something with it.
Their weekend together had been incredible. Ira'd been relaxed, happy, comfortable with himself for the first time in years. He'd enjoyed the sex, of course, but he'd also soaked up the conversation, small touches, and Cameron's genuine caring personality. They'd binge-watched stupid TV shows and compared music playlists. Ira'd teased Cameron about his ratty collection of Jane Eyre novels until Cameron had pulled one from the shelf and started reading aloud to him. Jane Eyre was forever going to be on Ira's top ten.
They'd snuck out for food, Cameron's small refrigerator laid bare after a couple rounds in the sack, they'd both been ravenous. Pretending the weekend could turn into more had been far too easy for Ira to imagine. Which is why he'd ended it before it went too far. Ira was damaged goods, somehow Cameron would learn the truth about him. If he let Cameron in Ira didn't think he could knit himself back together again after he left.
Those two magical days had been a vacation from the unadulterated fuckery that was Ira's real life. When Sunday evening finally rolled around reality had set in. Ira'd messed up enough lives, he needed to make sure Cameron didn't think Ira was able to give him anything. So, he'd been an asshole. Yeah, Ira.
He rubbed his chest, it was like he had actual physical pain when he thought about what he had done and the pain he'd caused. He missed them both, so much. The tears caught him by surprise.
Author/imaginator & photographer (also rare Pacific Northwest Native), Elle grew up in Seattle, WA., with the Cascade Mountain range to the east and Olympics to the west.
Elle shares her life with between three to five cats (depending on who's counting), an extremely patient fiancé and a flock of young adults. She’s lived in four US states, London England, and Hong Kong; always knows what time it is, and has little problem finding parking even in the most difficult places.
Elle's series made its debut spring of 2017. Accidental Roots is set in the Skagit Valley of Western Washington. Writing has always been a passion but not something she was able to take seriously until recently. Some journeys are longer than others. Now her head is full of ideas and not enough time in each day. As far as we know she wasn't actually raised by wolves.
Author ponders this and other important life questions: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
My response, how desert? Like, Hawaii – the most remote island chain on earth? Because I could probably get some kind of signal there.
#1. Solar charger for my kindle.
#2. My kindle which has like 3,000 books on it.
#3. Sun screen. Or a thingy to convert salt water to drinkable water…
Are there palm trees on this island? It seems to me that at least one palm tree is required so if I was really careful I wouldn’t need the sunscreen. Or I could go nocturnal, letting my kindle charge during the day while I avoided the sun. *taps chin* hmmmm
All in all this doesn’t actually sound that bad.
Honestly, the idea of living somewhere extremely remote has its appeal. Ira tried it though, it didn’t work out the way he hoped.
In Unforgivable, Ira, flees his home in NYC for the ‘wilds’ of the Skagit Valley. He is running from the repercussions of a nasty divorce and the perception of failure on his part. Instead of working through the ripple effect of the split and divorce he wallows in anger and bitterness – not realizing the person he hurts the most is himself.
Unforgivable is first and foremost a story of redemption – some readers familiar with Ira may think it’s not possible, I hope their minds are changed. So often in life the person we judge the hardest is our self, this is absolutely the case with Ira. And of course there’s a little mystery and suspense thrown in for good measure.
Perfect reading for a desert island!
What’s next? of course I am working on the next in the Accidental Roots series, that is a given. I think I have about four more to write there. The super Exciting Big News is that I am a third to halfway through my first Urban Fantasy/romance – it is mm and set in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m planning for it to be a three book series. This has been so much fun to write! I am having a blast. At this point Codex Obscura is scheduled for the end of June, *squints at the calendar* which may not be possible but I tend to do my best work under impossible deadlines – even if I set them myself.
Thank you for having me!
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