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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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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Fridays at Ofelia’s | Call Me Methuselah by R.G. Hendrickson


We have R.G. Hendrickson today, sharing a little bit about his new book, Call Me Methuselah, scheduled for release on November 27. Half of the story takes place in a prehistoric time, and the other half in the present. In both parts, the main character is the same person, who by some quirk of nature remains young. The romance in the past influences the developing romance in the present. This is a book for those who enjoy a fantasy/science fiction subplot.


No blood nor gore in sight, I worried that the crocodile had eaten him already, tossed him in the air, and swallowed him whole. Relieved that I didn’t have to fight that monster, I dived down again near the bottom, where the crocodile might not follow me. Its big tail wagged above my head and passed me by.

As I turned to swim away, I found the drowned man sinking. All in one piece, he must have submerged before the crocodile arrived. His eyes were blank, and his many skinny braids floated and twisted like snakes around his head.

No time to waste, I grabbed his hair and pulled him along with me. His husky body nearly weightless underwater, I held on with one hand. My legs and the free arm enough for swimming, I towed him toward a safer shore, near the ledge from where I’d first spotted him that morning.

When I could hold my breath no longer, I surfaced and looked for the croc. No sign of it, maybe it returned to the beach. They didn’t like it here by this cliff with its deep water and jagged rocks. I slipped through the outcrops, as I’d done since a boy.

Losing my loincloth along the way, I struggled to shore with the stranger in tow. By his armpits, I dragged him out of the waves to dry gravel and avoided his eyes. They were open, unblinking, and vacant.

With both my hands, I felt his neck for signs of life, warm but motionless. His mouth was full of water, which trickled out. He was dead.

Remembering him gives me pause. Lately, I’ve pondered my own mortality. Hence, this memoir, I’m not ready.

More the reason for starting in a happier time, the beginning, long ago on that lake with my first love.

We were so much alike then, young and invincible. Only for me, invincibility was no youthful fantasy.

I’ve never stopped missing him. Not to complain, that wouldn’t be fair. It wasn’t me who had to die, and even while grieving, there’s joy in life.

Enough said. On with the story.

The dead man’s eyes bewildered me. I couldn’t bear to look at them or make myself look away. Though we were strangers, we’d faced a monster crocodile together and escaped it. Few friends could say that. As tears blurred my vision, I covered his face with my hands and brushed his eyelids closed.

Then I remembered the words of my father. A boy had drowned. His brother pushed the water out of him, and the boy came back.

Worth a try with this man, I pressed hard on his tight stomach, just below the ribs, and water sprayed from his mouth. Worried I’d hurt him, I checked his face for signs of pain. He showed no expression but peace, a haunting beauty, and over his lips more water flowed.

When I pressed again, he twitched. His eyes opened wide, and when he rolled on his side, lake water spewed out his mouth. Then, to my considerable relief, he coughed and took a deep loud breath. We gazed at each other in the eye and lingered there.

No, he doesn’t die that day, and I get to meet him after all. He’ll be the love of my life. I know this now, a long time later …


call me methuselahSince humanity’s first steps in the Stone Age, Methuselah has harbored an ancient secret. Cursed by the shaman to witness the end of days, he searches in vain for a home, place to place, clan to clan, yearning to belong. First in prehistoric Africa and lately disillusioned with love for a hundred years in the New World, he learns all too well to guard his heart and hide his story. That changes when a car crash lands him in the hospital with a fractured skull. Doctors discover strange stem cells in his blood, promising cures and a fountain of youth. Methuselah faces choices of life and death.

Forced on the run again, he comforts himself by reliving a happier time, when he and Arrow, his first love, raft across the paleo-lake Makgadikgadi, which rested in those days on the vast Kalahari. In their age-old journey, the cavemen lovers find a place to call home and learn what it means to belong.

While Arrow’s enlightened sensibilities get the two of them in trouble and challenge Methuselah’s judgement, their adventures in an untamed world bring them together. When Methuselah’s enduring youth reveals itself through the passing seasons, he and Arrow bravely face a dire reality.

From the distant past that lives inside Methuselah, Arrow’s spirit reaches out, providing guidance for our threatened times. He gives Methuselah the strength to do the right thing and the courage to live his true self in the modern world. Arrow’s memory opens Methuselah’s heart and renews for him a hope of redemption in the arms of a caring man today. If only Methuselah permits himself to love once more.

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Gay Fantasy Romance: 83,343 words 

Pre-order at JMS Books (20% off) 

About R.G. Hendrickson 

R.G. Hendrickson loves words for the feelings they evoke. Though relatively new to writing, he draws on experience from a long life and strong imagination. In his M/M romance, you’ll find quirky characters and fantasy/science fiction subplots.

If you take a chance on his book, he would love to hear your thoughts about it, whatever they are. He also enjoys receiving critiques from the writers group that he attends weekly online from his home in Las Vegas.