Fridays at Ofelia’s | Family and Reflection by Anne Barwell


We have Anne Barwell on a visit, and if you remember some time back, Elizabeth Noble was here to talk about Electric Candle, book two in The Sleepless City series. Today, Anne is here to talk about Family and Reflection, the next story in the series. Welcome, Anne!

Thanks for hosting me today.

I’m Anne Barwell, a Kiwi MM writer living in Wellington, New Zealand. I write across a few genres, and love to read and write paranormal.

I wrote The Sleepless City series with Elizabeth Noble, but instead of co-writing the books, we planned out the series arc, characters, and world building, and wrote alternate books. I wrote books 1 (Shades of Sepia) & 3 (Family and Reflection), and she wrote 2 (Electric Candle) & 4 (Shifting Chaos).

We also wanted to write vampire and werewolf lore a little differently and that’s been a lot of the fun in writing these books.
You can read more about the series here, and on our website.

Family and Reflection is the third book of the series, and I had the balancing act of advancing the series plot while exploring more of the local werewolf community.

Lucas Coate is Boggslake’s medical examiner, and the son of the local pack alpha. Wolves in this world have been taught from a young age not to trust vampires, so Lucas is already breaking the rules by sharing a house with two vampires. There is a good reason why werewolves and vampires aren’t supposed to mix, and when Declan returns to Boggslake after a long absence (by human standards), and he and Lucas fall for each other, their soulmate bond brings with it a few added extras they didn’t expect.

I love Lucas. He gets all the best lines, and steals every scene he’s in. He’s a wonderful mix of happy go lucky, yet dedicated, science guy who is fiercely protective of the people he cares about. I loved being able to show more of his relationships with his father, Jacob, and sister, Anita, in this book, and have him trying to help a family who had turned their backs on him only to have him betrayed by someone he trusts.

Declan is always fun to write too. He’s a thief and con man and very good at what he does. And then there’s the awkward situation of his friend, and ex-lover Forge, now being soulbonded to Blair. Declan and Forge’s relationship has changed, although their friendship is still as strong, and Declan needs to build a new friendship with Blair.

I particularly enjoyed writing the found family feel of this series, and how their original family of Declan, Forge, and Simon grows and changes over time to include Mr Boggs, the resident ghost, Lucas, Ben (Simon’s human soulmate), and Blair.

The original series is finished, but vampire and werewolves have long lives, and Elizabeth and I are continuing to write in this world with these characters spinning off into new series.

Family and Reflection

The Sleepless City, Book 3

Family and ReflectionWhen a rebel werewolf and a vampire thief fall in love, only one thing is certain—trouble.

For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Boggslake—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.

Declan has been away from Boggslake for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.

Author’s Note: This story was originally released in 2015 by another publisher. This edition has been re-edited.

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“If someone had told me twenty years ago I’d be having a conversation about something like this with a vampire, I’d have told them they were crazy.”

“You’re having this conversation with a friend,” Declan corrected him. “It doesn’t matter what we are, but who we are.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“I want to.” Declan thought for a moment, wanting the right words. Why was this so difficult? He’d given advice to Jonas and Simon many times without any trouble.

“We’re both as bad as each other, yeah?” Lucas seemed sad.

“Why do you say that, and about what?” Declan let go of Lucas.

“I’m a werewolf, and you’re a vampire—”

“You’ve only noticed that now?” Declan interrupted dryly. He walked back to his chair, adjusting it so he was opposite Lucas and could see his face.

Lucas laughed, but this time it sounded natural, not forced. “I’ve gotten used to living at the castle. I love it here, and the guys are my friends. Most of the time I forget we’re different. They’re family. I don’t care what they are. It’s like you said. The important thing is who they are.” He sobered. “Then crap like this goes down… Why do I suddenly feel as though I’m a part of the pack again and need to follow their stupid rules?”

“You’re a part of whatever family you want to be, Lucas.” Declan knew what he wanted—needed—to say now. “One thing I’ve learned with having a long life is that family is who you choose. I didn’t get on with mine that well. I had a father who had expectations too.” He pulled himself up sharply before he went anywhere near those memories. Very little of what he’d done had pleased his father. “We might be different, you and I, mon ami, but in many ways we’re the same.”

“I kind of get the expectation thing with you guys.” Lucas paused and looked apologetic before continuing. “Simon’s not said much about his past, but I get the impression his father expected him to do stuff he didn’t want to do as well.” He scowled. “Be a good son and carry on the family name and traditions. I’m guessing Forge went through the same thing, but he’s never said anything about it. At least not to me.”

“Why do you get it with us?” Declan figured he already knew the answer but wanted to be certain he and Lucas were talking about the same thing.

“You’re a lot older than I am. I can understand this stuff going on a hundred, or even two—”

“Closer to three hundred,” Declan said.

“Yeah, that. You’re old. No offense.” Lucas waved one hand.

“None taken.” Declan couldn’t help but smile. “I know I’m old. But you know what they say about fine wine?”

“Yeah, and, hey, I’m not complaining.” Lucas took a long drink of coffee. “You interrupted my flow. I was making a point here.”


“So you’re old, so I expect that kind of stuff from you guys. It was a long time ago.” Lucas growled low in his throat. “But us… the pack… we… they’re carrying on like we’re still living in that society. I’ve told my father that he needs to move with the times or the pack will be left behind. Sure, they use technology, but for the rest of it, you’d think we’d only just gotten off the Mayflower or something.”

“It takes a long time for some people to accept change.” Declan leaned over and brushed a lock of hair back from Lucas’s forehead. “Some never do.” He’d seen vampires who couldn’t move past what their lives had been like as humans. Most of them hadn’t survived.

“Yeah.” Lucas swallowed. He shook his head when Declan started to move his chair farther back and away from temptation. “I don’t mind you touching me like that,” he said softly.

“I should…” Declan hadn’t thought, just reacted. He’d meant what he’d said about flirting and had no intention of leading Lucas on. “We’re friends,” he said finally.

“I wouldn’t be talking to you about this stuff if we weren’t.” Lucas looked like he was about to say something but cleared his throat instead. “I know you’re kind of touchy-feely and all that. So am I. So—”

A loud knock sounded at the front door.

“Now what?” Lucas muttered.

Boggs materialized in front of them. He looked annoyed. “There are two gentlemen at the door,” he said. “I don’t know who exactly they are, but I heard them talking before they knocked. They’re from the council.”

“I already apologized about that weird stuff in the garbage,” Lucas said.

“Not that council.” Boggs rolled his eyes. “The other one.”


Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. Anne works in a library, is an avid reader and watcher of a wide range of genres, and is constantly on the look-out for more hours in her day. She likes to write in series and even so called one shots seem to breed more plot bunnies. Her writing is like her reading – across a range of genres, although her favourites are paranormal, fantasy, SF, and historical. Music often plays a part in her stories and/or her characters are musicians.

She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Her books have received honourable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards.

Website & Blog—Drops of Ink:
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Wrap-Up Wednesday | November

An early Wrap-Up Wednesday this month, but next Wednesday is December 1st, so we’ll just have to live with it 😊

This month, I’ve read a lot. I sort of checked out of social media for a bit and just read. I’ve read, not all but a big part of my WIPs – it was fun! Then, as I told Nell and Ally from the morning office, I didn’t have the energy to read anything new, so I’ve reread old stories. When I was younger, I never reread books, I just wanted to move on to the next one. Now I find it restful to reread stories. I know what’s gonna happen, I know it’s gonna be good, and I can skim if there is a scene I don’t like LOL

We have a sauna, and I love to read while I’m there, but you can’t bring your phone into a sauna, so I’m grabbing random books from the bookshelf. And since I’ve become wiser every time I’ve moved, I’ve stopped buying print books – they take up too much room and are too heavy to carry. But many of the books I still have in paperback are the old paranormal romances, mainly M/F. It’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood, Anita Blake, Nighthuntress, and other series. This month, I was in the mood for some Sookie Stackhouse (The Southern Vampire Mysteries). I’ve had great fun revisiting Bon Temps, and several times I’ve stopped just to tell hubby how much better the books are compared to the True Blood series. I skipped the first three books since I never was on team Bill 😆

But, my rereading frenzy didn’t stop with ten Sookie Stackhouse books. I read a few others too.

Freighter Flights (Freighter Flights 1) by Drew Zachary

I was talking to Ally (A.L. Lester) about the Claimings series by Lyn Gala and thought to myself that I’m gonna read them again. I curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea, and opened the book app on my phone – the Calimings books weren’t there. But by then I was set on reading some Sci-Fi and in the library was Freighter Flights. It’s not the same, no aliens, but it’s sci-fi smut with light kink and I didn’t mind. I’ve read it before, so I knew what I was getting into. I don’t think this is available anymore.

Freighter FlightsWill is the hot shot pilot and second in command on the Arillia, a pretty little cargo ship making runs just this side of legal. When they lose their engineer, Will goes on the hunt in spacedock for a new one. What he finds is Tab, a gruff, scarred man who can get the job done. For Tab, the Arillia is a job, a good one at that, and if the pilot makes him growl and want more than he should, well it sure beats starving. The sparks fly between them and they begin to care, whether they want to or not. If they can survive their pasts, space pirates and nearly being blasted out of space, they just might be able to survive each other.

The Claimings Series by Lyn Gala

I dug up the books, not on my laptop where I thought I’d stored them, but on a portable hard drive – I’ve changed laptop since I last read them. Still awesome! I love Ondry. I read the first three, or the first two and the prelude (which I’m unsure of if it’s still around.)

Prelude to Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts

Before Liam had a new commander who openly distrusted him, before Ondry earned his ka status, there were two traders. Ye Ondry wants to earn status, and he is curious about this new human. Liam has just arrived on the planet and he’s trying to figure out these aliens who supposedly have good metals to trade. Neither of them suspects that a chance trade and a few pots knocked off a table could lead their lives and their fates to intertwine.

Note:This free story is a prequel to the story of Ondry and Liam that details how they met. As such, it’s not a romance. 

Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts

Liam loves his life as a linguist and trader on the Rownt homeworld, but he has ignored his heart and sexual needs for years. After escaping the horrors of war, he wants a boring life. He won’t risk letting anyone come too close because he won’t risk letting anyone see his deeply submissive nature. For him, submission comes with pain. Life burned that lesson into his soul from a young age.

This fear keeps him from noticing that the Rownt trader Ondry cares for him. Ondry may not understand humans, but he recognizes a wounded soul, and his need to protect Liam is quickly outpacing his common sense. They may have laws, culture, and incompatible genitalia in their way, but Ondry knows that he can find a way to overcome all that if he can just overcome the ghosts of Liam’s past. Only then can he take possession of a man he has grown to respect.

Assimilation, Love, and other human oddities

Ondry and Liam have settled into a good life, but their trading is still tied up with humans, and humans are always messy. When political changes at the human base lead Ondry to attempt a difficult trade, the pair find themselves entangled in human affairs. Liam wants to help the people he left and the worlds being torn apart. He also wants to serve Ondry with not only the pleasures of the nest but also by bringing human profits.

Ondry has no hope of understanding human psychology in general, he only knows that he will hold onto his palteia with the last breath in his body, and he’d like to keep his status and his wealth too. Unfortunately, new humans bring new conflicts and he is not sure how to protect Liam. He does know one thing that humans seem to constantly forget—that the peaceful Rownt are predators and when their families are threatened, Rownt become deadly killers. Liam is his family, and Ondry will protect him with his last breath… assuming that he can recognize the dangers in time to do so.

The Whiskey Den (House of Witches 2) by Amy Spector  

I read this at the end of October, but after I’d written the wrap-up post for the month. This is the second story in the House of Witches series, and I thought it was great. I liked it more than I liked the first, and now I’m waiting for book three to be written 😊 

The Whiskey DenBad things happen for a reason.

Adam Neive’s expiration date is closer than he would like, and it’s only a matter of time before he loses his position as a Ganymede counter-boy. When a friend helps him secure a part-time job at a whiskey bar, his only thought is to escape the looming shadow of the brothels. He never expected another run-in with the witch Sebastian.

Fourteen months after being booted from his coven, Sebastian has become convinced his brother’s death is connected to the wolves of the Whiskey Den. He just needs Adam’s help to discover how. But things are not always as they seem, and justice is more elusive than expected.

When an announcement from the House of Witches changes everything, Adam will need to choose between life within the safety of the king’s Monastery and the uncertainty of the city. While Sebastian will have to decide if his family’s honor and the life he thought he had lost forever is worth more than the life he’s only begun to realize he wants.

The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings (Black and Blue 1) by Lily Morton  

I’m almost embarrassed to say, but I haven’t read Lily Morton until now. I have a couple of books in my library, but I haven’t read them. When several people recommended The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings to me, I thought it was time. I’ve looked at it several times but always picked something else in the end. Not now, now I decided to read it, and OMG! Why didn’t I read it before?! Someone, more someones, should’ve told me it’s awesome. It’s AWESOME people! If you haven’t read it, do! 

So naturally (naturally, says the woman who seldom reads more than the first book in a series *snort*) I read the second book in the series, The Quiet House, too and it was even creepier *shudder* 

I really hope there will be more adventures with Levi and Blue. 

The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings

Levi Black is at a crossroads. After suffering a loss and breaking up a long-term relationship, he’s looking for a change. When he receives the news he’s inherited a house in York, he seizes the opportunity to begin a new chapter in his life.

However, when he gets there, he finds a house that has never kept its occupants for very long. Either through death or disinclination, no one stays there, and after a few days of living in the place, Levi can understand why. Strange noises can be heard at all hours of the day and night, and disturbing and scary things begin to happen to him. He never believed in ghosts before, but when events take a sinister turn, he knows he must look for help. He finds it in the unlikely form of the blue-haired leader of a ghost tour.

Blue Billings is edgy, beautiful, and lost. Utterly lost. He conceals so many secrets that some days it’s a miracle he remembers his own name. He knows that he should ignore Levi because he threatens the tenuous grip Blue has on survival. But there’s something about the kind-eyed man that draws Blue to him. Something that demands he stay and fight for him when he would normally run in the opposite direction.

As the two men investigate the shocking truth behind Levi’s house, they also discover a deep connection that defies the short length of time they’ve known each other. But when events escalate and his life is on the line, Levi has to wonder if it was wise to trust the Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings.

The Quiet House

Levi Black has mostly recovered from the events of a year ago. The only lingering effects are that he’s much more well known in York than he’d like to be, and he’s a lot more cautious about walking around his house naked. However, those events brought him the capricious and fascinating Blue, so he’s not complaining. On the contrary, he’s happy, in love, and looking forward to Blue finally moving in with him. And if sometimes he wonders what Blue sees in a boring cartoonist, he keeps that to himself.

Blue Billings is finally ready to throw off the memories of his past and move in with the person who means the most in the world to him. His psychic abilities have grown in the last year to his mentor Tom’s consternation, but Blue is determined to look on the bright side. He’s also focused on ignoring all the warning signs that he’s received lately.

However, even deeply buried secrets have a way of rising to the surface. And when a surprise from Blue’s past turns up and draws them away to a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors, Levi and Blue must fight for their survival once again.

I have the feeling I’ve forgotten a title or two – as you can see, I took a little break from being an author and reclaimed some reading time. But, I think it’s time to get back to getting things done. December is just around the corner and both Holly and Ofelia have releases, so…

Guest Post | The Quid Pro Quo: Simon Frost


Hello there everyone! Thank you so much to Ofelia for letting me drop in today to tell you all about my latest release.

The Quid Pro Quo is the second in the Bradfield trilogy, although it will stand alone. It’s set a few months after the end of The Fog of War and stars Walter Kennett, Sylvia’s friend, and Simon Frost, a detective who comes to Bradfield to investigate a murder. It’s a gay, historical, paranormal, romantic murder-mystery with a m/transm couple set in rural England in 1920.

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of the main characters, Simon Frost!

Simon Frost

Simon Frost

Born: 1885, Taunton, Somerset.

Profession: Police Detective.

Smokes: Does not smoke.

Drives: Has the use of a police Crossley 20/25.

Lives: Rooms in a boarding house in Taunton where he’s lived for years. His sister keeps nagging him to move back into the family house, but he likes his independence.

Appearance: 5’11”, thin, brown hair, light brown eyes, aesetic face, has a limp from being hit by shrapnel in the war.

Personality: Quiet, perceptive, thoroughly decent sort of person. Has come back from the war to his work as a detective with a gammy leg and a deep desire not to have anything exciting happen to him ever again. Likes to read. Used to play football, but his leg means he can’t any more.

Simon took a long time to come together as a character. To begin with he was simply a foil for Walter (who I wrote about at Nell’s blog yesterday). And then he began speaking with his own voice and wouldn’t shut up. For a quiet man, he had an awful lot to say.

At the end of the day, he’s thoroughly ordinary. He does his job because he believes in it. He’s not exclusively a murder detective, Taunton doesn’t get enough of that sort of crime to need one. But he handles what murders they do get; and he is painfully aware that it’s his job to give these people a final chance to speak and the dignity and justice of the truth. He doesn’t have much time or patience with people who have an agenda that runs antithetical to that.

As far as he’s concerned, everyone has secrets; but some secrets are more deadly than others. Some secrets you can leave alone because they’re not hurting anyone. Others need to be exposed to the light so that justice can be done. Some of the conflict between him and Walter in the story come from their disagreement about what secrets are necessary to expose and which can be safely left to lay quiet.

He has a good relationship with his family. His sister and his brother-in-law run the family ironmonger’s shop and look after his dad—his mother died a few years previously—and he sees them regularly. He’s got a nephew he regularly goes to watch playing football now he can’t play any more himself.

He’s in constant pain from the healing wound in his leg. Some days it’s really bad and he thinks there might be shrapnel stuck in it. Walter is always on at him to get Sylvia to look at it…she’s good with wounds, he says…but Simon hasn’t quite got there in his own mind yet. His wartime experience was banal in the sense that nothing happened to him that didn’t happen to millions of other men. He just wants to put it behind him and move on.

He doesn’t have any hopes of finding a bloke to have any sort of permanent relationship with, he just wants to do his job well, spend a bit of time with his family, occasionally go to the pub with his friends and sleep well at night.

Some of the things he finds out when he visits Bradfield in the wake of a peculiar murder mean the sleeping well at night is off the cards for a while! I really like him as a person. He’s just…straightforward. I spend a great deal of time creating complex characters with enormous hang-ups and it was lovely to be able to write someone who was essentially very boring (IN A GOOD WAY, PLEASE BUY MY BOOK! 😊) and normal!

The Quid Pro Quo

The Quid pro QuoVillage nurse Walter Kennett is content with his makeshift found-family in tiny Bradfield. However one midsummer morning a body is found floating in the village duck pond, dead by magical means.

Detective Simon Frost arrives in Bradfield to investigate a inexplicable murder. The evidence seems to point to Lucille Hall-Bridges, who lives with doctor Sylvia Marks and nurse Walter Kennett at Courtfield House. Simon isn’t happy—he doesn’t believe Lucy is a murderer but he’s sure the three of them are hiding something. In the meantime, the draw he feels toward Walter takes him by surprise.

Walter is in a dilemma, concealing Sylvia and Lucy’s relationship and not knowing how much to tell Frost about the paranormal possibilities of the murder. He isn’t interested in going to bed with anyone—he’s got a complicated life and has to know someone really well before he falls between the sheets. He’s taken aback by his own attraction to Detective Frost and angry when Frost appears to twist the spark between them to something transactional in nature.

Will Walter be satisfied to stay on the periphery of Lucy and Sylvia’s love affair, a welcome friend but never quite included? Or is it time for him to strike out and embark on a relationship of his own?

The second in the Bradfield trilogy, set in the Border Magic universe. Stands alone. Transm/m couple. : Buy from JMS Books : Add on Goodreads : Find on author-website


As Simon was replacing the device on the telephone table a pretty young woman put her head out of a door at toward the end of the hall. “Sylv!” she said, “Do you want tea? I’ve boiled the kettle.” and then when she realised he wasn’t who she thought he was, “Oh, I do beg your pardon! I thought you were Dr Marks!”.

“She’s still in the surgery,” Simon nodded across the hall.

The woman emerged into the hall. “Lucille Hall-Bridges,” she said, extending a hand. “I’m a friend of Sylvia’s. I help with the house.”

Simon took her hand in his. Her grip was sure and warm. “Detective Frost,” he replied. “Nice to meet you, Miss Hall-Bridges. She had a recent bruise running from her jaw to just below her eye, entering the black-and-purple stage.

“I’ve made a pot of tea,” she was saying. “I don’t know whether anyone will want any, but I do like to feel useful and tea is so…normal-making, isn’t it?”

He nodded, slightly bemused at her chatter. “Yes, indeed,” he said. “Very normal.”

She gave a perfunctory tap on the surgery door, opened it and disappeared inside without waiting for a response. “Sylv, Walter, I’ve made tea. Would you and your detective like to come into the drawing room?” Her voice faded, presumably as she joined them in the examination room.

There was a pause. Then, “Oh!” he heard her say. “Oh.” She sounded a little shocked. “What’s happened to her hands?” she asked.

“Scraped on the bottom on the pond I think,” Simon heard Dr Marks say. “She was face-down in the water.”

“Oh.” Miss Hall-Bridges’ voice was small. “Sylvia…there’s…she’s…I can feel…do you think…?” Her voice trailed off and Dr Marks spoke over her, clearly away they might be overhead.

“Let’s not worry about that now, shall we? The policeman is sending her down to Taunton to a postmortem. You go and take the tea-things into the drawing room. We’ll just cover her up.” : Buy from JMS Books : Add on Goodreads : Find on author-website

About A. L. Lester

AllyWriter of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

Facebook Group : Twitter : Newsletter (free story) : Website : Link-tree for everywhere else

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