Guest Post | Between Hurt and Comfort By Alexa Piper

Guest-Post

Today, Alexa Piper is back on the blog. It’s always nice with returning guests, don’t you think? 😊 Welcome, Alexa!

How can you move forward and toward something you want when everything in your life is darkness and pain? That is one of the questions Will, one of my main characters in Witch Wolf, is asking himself.

When I first wrote about Will, I didn’t know much about the character, but I knew he was hiding a lot of pain behind attitude. Figuring out what had made him this way drove me to write Witch Wolf, but I didn’t just want to show all the many ways in which Will had been hurt. From the start, what I wanted was to see Will move away from the pain and toward something he chose for himself: freedom. Becoming a witch. Not being afraid all the time.

That made a book that could have been very dark from beginning to end into something that’s hopeful. There are even moments of laughter and light-heartedness. This was important for me, because a hurt you carry inside you may be something that you carry with you, but that doesn’t mean you can no longer enjoy things in life, can’t find laughter and happiness. Because you can.

And Will does find his happiness. He is not “over it” by the end of the book, and frankly, after what he’s been through, he’ll never be. But he survived his ordeal and finds a way to thrive.

Read Will’s story:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09ZVJKRB8

Elsewhere: https://books2read.com/u/4Ajpwq

#hurtcomfort #shifterromance #Standalone #werewolf #mmromance #gayromance #paranormalromance #urbanfantasy #MM #lgbtqbooks

Blurb:

61062183._sy475_Will is a witch wolf, a werewolf who can do magic, but his life so far has been anything but magical. He was sold by his own pack and for four years, Will suffered as a slave to his captors — who used him any way they wanted. Now, after a leap of courage has brought him to Colin’s doorstep, Will’s past should be just that, his past.

Colin can see the new apprentice he’s supposed to teach magic to has been hurt. Colin wants to comfort the young werewolf who takes to magic much more easily than he takes to human contact. Their attraction seems mutual, but how can Colin be certain Will even knows what he wants?

As slow affection grows between Colin and Will, Will’s magic does as well, and he allows himself a sliver of happiness. Except the dark past Will thought he escaped from is not quite done with him, and now, it’s not just Will’s life on the line, but also Colin’s, the witch Will’s heart is beating for.

WARNING: Witch Wolf contains references to past sexual assault (with none of it happening on the page), which may be triggering for some readers.

 

About Alexa Piper:

Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them.

Website: http://www.alexapiper.com

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gRJq3T

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AlexaPiperWrites/

Fb group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/255026848996374/?source_id=106711636486332

Twitter: @ProwlingPiper

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/piperthewriter/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/alexa-piper

Guest Post | A Drop of Moonshine by Holly Day

Guest-Post

Hello, everyone! I’m here as Holly today. A few days ago, A Drop of Moonshine was released. It was supposed to be a quick story I wrote to celebrate National Moonshine Day, which is observed on June 5th. It didn’t turn out that way.
What I ended up with is a 51k long dark, dystopic story.

Sid is a potato farmer who makes moonshine on the side to make ends meet. He does his best to keep his head down and not get noticed, but when the people running the black market start losing customers to Sid, they decide to deal with him.

At first, the plan was to scare him, but it quickly escalates, and Sid has to run for his life.

The reality they live in is one where every person has one government-sanctioned kill. They say it’s to give power to the people, so they can remove anyone who threatens them, but instead, it has everyone scared senseless.

As soon as someone applies to have someone killed, a liquidation agent is sent out to do it. Thorn is a liquidation agent.

He and Sid grew up in the same area, and while they never were close, they recognise each other. Sid turns to Thorn for help and soon they’re on the run together.

This is dark, and at times it’s pretty bloody, so be aware before diving in!

Blurb

a drop of moonshine

In a world where the government controls everything, and every citizen is given one government-approved kill, Sid Barker is doing his best to keep his head down and not get noticed. At some point, he must have failed. Being a potato farmer doesn’t generate enough income, and Sid is making moonshine on the side to keep himself fed, but one day a liquidation agent shows up at his farm, not to kill him, but to blackmail him into giving away his moonshine for free. 

Thorn Hull is a liquidation agent. Every time someone hands in an application to have someone terminated, he or one of the other agents has to perform the kill. It’s a well-paying job, but no money in the world can fill the void in Thorn. He regrets ever becoming an agent, but no one has ever quit the agency and lived to tell the tale. 

One night in a bar, Thorn runs into Sid, who’s far from the dirty little kid he’d been the last time Thorn had seen him. Sid remembers Thorn from his childhood and asks him to help him talk sense into the agent who’s blackmailing him. Things soon escalate, and Sid and Thorn find themselves on the run from the liquidation agency. How will they be able to deal with the blackmailer at the same time as they’re on the run from the government’s trained killers? 

Buy links 

M/M Romance:  51,713 words 

JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/ADropOfMoonshine 

Excerpt:

Sid Barker tapped the airlock on one of his demijohns hidden in the old barn behind his house. The bubbles had slowed considerably, maybe stopped altogether. He crouched and stroked Cognac’s head. Cognac yawned and rolled over on his side.
“You lazy beast.” Sid pushed at him, but it was almost impossible to move an English Mastiff who didn’t want to be moved.
He stayed there, patting Cognac and watching for bubbles in the airlock until his legs grew numb. “Come on, boy. We need to check the canisters too.”
Cognac growled. At first Sid laughed, then he heard footsteps on the gravel outside. His heart jumped to his throat, and he hurried out of the room. The lock clicked into place, and he pushed a hay bale in front of the door. The canisters were in a second room closer to the door.
“Sid, you in here?”
Sid almost sagged in relief as Jeb’s voice echoed through the barn. “Yeah, I’m here.”
Jeb appeared in the doorway and Cognac, the traitor, trotted over to him. “Sorry to come unannounced.”
Sid raised his eyebrows and watched as Jeb spoke to the dog.
Sighing, he stepped closer. “He’s a lousy guard dog.” He wasn’t. Sid couldn’t imagine his life without the big brute, but when it came to Jeb, Cognac was a lousy guard dog.
“Nah, he’s such a good boy.”
Sid nodded, but his heart didn’t calm down. Jeb coming without notice didn’t happen, Jeb coming after dark without calling ahead made his gut knot. There wasn’t a curfew exactly, but the government advised against going outside after sundown. The likelihood of any agents spotting Jeb out here was small, but he had to go back into the city at some point. If they saw him, they might think there was a need for a questioning—Sid would have to keep him overnight.
“What can I do you for?”
Jeb stood and pushed at Cognac—successfully pushing him away was rare, but this time Jeb managed. “I… It’s business-related.”
“I figured.”
“I don’t want to push you into anything. I know you’re on a dangerous level as it is, but I could use some more… and more often.”
“More? Christ, Jeb, if they catch you, you’re dead.” If they caught Sid, he was dead too. He drummed his fingers against his thigh. His gut turned hollow and his ribcage shrank.
“I know. And if they catch me, you’ll go down too. I have no illusions of being able to withstand torture for any length of time, not even for you.” He winked but most of the color had left his face.
“Goes both ways, babe.” Sid tried to make light of it, but they were both aware of what they were facing, and the Death Squad was nothing compared to it.
Cognac gave a small whine and came to push lightly on Sid’s leg. “It’s all right, bud.” Sid rested a hand on his head—one of the things he liked best with having a huge dog, apart from it keeping people at a healthy distance, was that he didn’t have to bend down to pet him.
“I… erm… I have a new client—it’s best you don’t know who—but they’d heard of the West Oak Moonshine and approached me.”
“They’d heard of it?” The concrete under his feet shook. While it was good his products were liked, he didn’t want the name—which he’d given as a joke—to be known.
“Yeah, I don’t know how. I’ve never written it on the bottles. I draw the oak tree, but it’s not a name I say in mixed company.” Jeb’s dark eyes searched the joists, his black hair curling around his ears, and the stubble on his cheeks darker than most days. Sid remembered what he looked like in the morning, how he looked when he was worried, tired, sick, when he climaxed, when he was enjoying the afterglow. The images left an ache in his heart. What he was seeing now was somewhere between scared, stressed, and exhausted.
“Come on, I need to scrub some potatoes before I can take you to bed.”
Jeb grinned, but it wasn’t the carefree grin Sid was used to. “You’re sweet to offer, lord knows I could use the stress relief, but I can’t stay.”
“It could be an offer of a place to sleep, we don’t have to fuck.” Though Sid’s cock gave a disappointed shrug as he uttered the words.
“Scott would cut my balls off if I didn’t make it back.”
“Ah… Still seeing him then?” Sid wasn’t jealous. He and Jeb had been down that route, and Sid loved him as a friend, but no amount of fucking would ever make Jeb something other than a friend. A friend he cared a great deal about, a friend he’d be willing to go through a lot of trouble for. And while there was plenty of tenderness, there would never be the right spark. They were good in bed or had been back when they went to bed together, but what they did there didn’t deepen their emotions for one another. Sid loved him, but not in the way someone loved a spouse, and the feeling was mutual.
Jeb grimaced. “For a while. I don’t think it’ll last more than a few months.”
Sid wrapped an arm around Jeb’s shoulders and walked them toward the door. “No happily ever after?”
“Is there ever a happily ever after for guys like us, Sid?”
“One day. I’ll buy a farm, a real one—not a hut about to fall on my head, and I’ll sweep you off your feet.”
Jeb chuckled and leaned his head against Sid’s shoulder in a resigned manner. “If I’m alone when that day comes, I might let you.”
Sid guided him to an old, scarred table in the small kitchenette in the corner of the barn. It was nothing more than a bench and a small sink, but it was where he scrubbed all the potatoes and apples for his brews. “Sit here and talk to me while I work. What’s this new deal about?”
Jeb sighed and started talking. Doubling his production would be near impossible. Where he’d get the ingredients without bringing attention to himself, he didn’t know, but could he afford to say no?
The water was cold, and it didn’t take long before his hands ached from it, but he kept on scrubbing. One potato after the other, then he went about shredding them. Jeb sat quietly at the table, his head resting in his hands, and Sid suspected there was more going on than he let on.
“Are they threatening you?”

About Holly 

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.  

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.  

Connect with Holly on social media: 

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Newsletter 

 

Guest Post | Held Close to My Heart by Ellie Thomas

Guest-Post

The lovely Ellie Thomas is back on the blog! She’s here to talk about her new story, Held Close to My Heart. Welcome, Ellie!


Thank you so much Ofelia, for having me as your guest again today! I’m Ellie Thomas, and I write Gay Historical Romance. In this blog, I’m chatting about Held Close to my Heart, my story for the June Hugs or Kisses submissions call for JMS Books.

Apart from a brief trip back to Elizabethan London for the Spice of Life in February and a look at the 1930s Gay Scene for London in the Rain published in April, most of my stories scheduled for this year are Regency Romances, and quite a few of them are set around London.

So for Held Close to my Heart, I thought I’d mix things up a bit and subsequently chose a seventeenth century setting in rural Oxfordshire. Also, as my stories are often about burgeoning romances between men who have only just met, I rang the changes in this one, featuring an established couple.

The story is mainly from the point of view of Luke, agonising over the future of his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Jem. These two young men grew up together and were inseparable until their late teens. But as the story starts, they are now in their early twenties, with Jem spending much of the year in London at the decadent court of King Charles II (which was great fun to mention), leaving Luke in Oxfordshire to work his family farm. Luke feels they have grown apart and over the course of the summer while Jem is at home, Luke agonises jealously over his apparently unrequited love.

As well as checking small but important details about farming in Oxfordshire at that period, I also eagerly raided my bookshelves. It was pure self-indulgence to give Luke an interest in literature because that allowed me to quote from at least one of John Donne’s sublime poems. Also, it gave me the perfect excuse to re-read Graham Greene’s fascinating Rochester’s Monkey, a biography of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, the archetypal Restoration rake.

Rochester’s short life was a riotous comet, action packed, full of contradictions and very much a man of his tumultuous time. The son of a Royalist father and Parliamentary supporting mother, this dissonant background was reflected in his actions as he veered between condemning the corruption of the Royal Court and extreme overindulgence in drink and sex, while penning sharply witty and often utterly filthy poetry.

With the example of such a colourful Restoration figure in mind, I couldn’t help but allow my main characters to reflect some of Rochester’s qualities, albeit in a far less extreme way. Luke is my Puritan, serious, clever and thoughtful, the dutiful son who tills the land for the benefit of his family, with no one, not even Jem, guessing at the volcanic emotions beneath his stoic surface. In contrast, Jem is straightforward, sunny, fun loving, pleasure seeking and easy going, seeming perfectly suited to the self-indulgent atmosphere of the Restoration Royal Court.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing about these two opposites attract characters, not only to explore the differences between them but also to reveal, once miscommunications are resolved, that they might be two halves of a perfect and complete whole.

Blurb:

held close to my heartSince their mid-teens, Luke has been deeply in love with his childhood friend and neighbour, Jem, who spends most of the year at the decadent court of King Charles II in London. In the intervening years at home on Twelvetrees Farm in Oxfordshire, Luke has been occupied by helping his disabled father run their small estate, taking on the burden of work to support his family. Meanwhile, Jem has enjoyed all the worldly pleasures available to him at court.

When they are both twenty-one, and Jem returns to Westlecot Manor to spend the summer, Luke’s feelings for him reach boiling point. Luke can no longer cling to the belief he is important to Jem. He is overwhelmed by jealousy at the prospect of Jem’s dalliances with any visitors to the manor house, while aware that Jem is bewildered by his outbursts of disapproval.

Will Luke allow his jealousy to get the better of him? Might he dare to speak his deepest feelings? Or would that destroy their lifelong bond forever?

Extract:

I cursed myself for allowing my resentment to get the better of me. I should have accepted Jem as a bright and carelessly happy creature and be grateful he still sought my company despite being surrounded by a glamorous throng.
But somehow, as June became July, my sense of grievance gathered. I used the excuse that I was dog tired, working from dawn to dusk, my father’s worries for the coming year burdening me, as I pushed myself even harder in an attempt to allay his anxiety.
Weary as I was by late in the day, I couldn’t refuse to accompany my family to the evening diversions at the manor. It would have seemed churlish to our good friend Sir Harry, and, with so many men present used to casual customs, I was needed to help my mother keep a careful eye on my sisters or be a strong and willing arm to support my father when required.
Repressing a yawn while watching the dancers, I tried not to resent Jem, glowing with health, well-rested, the life and soul of the party, conviviality itself. For some reason, this particular night, he bore the brunt of my frustration, his vibrancy and happiness contrasting painfully with my cares and exhaustion. I cursed his leisure time, his immaculate appearance, his care-free existence. I was heart-sore with wanting him, sick of myself and my ever-present foul mood.
We were about to depart for home, leaving the merrymakers to continue dancing until the early hours. I had fetched my mother’s shawl for her and was walking through the vestibule by the library on my way to the entrance hall where my family made their farewells.
At that very moment, one of the court ladies emerged from behind the library door, flushed and giggling, in the act of retying the laces at the front of her bodice. One step behind her, inevitably, was Jem, an amused smile on his lips as though he had been well-entertained.
“Luke,” he called out to me in good spirits as the lady scurried off to her chamber to tidy herself before returning to the main party. “Are you enjoying yourself?”
The expected polite reply froze on my lips.
“Your father is a generous host as always. But I’d rather be in my bed, and resting up for the long day ahead,” I replied curtly.
“Oh, come now,” he said jovially, patting me on the arm, “after your labours, you should take the opportunity to make merry amongst us all.”
“Take your example, you mean?” I asked sharply.
Jem seemed to perceive my uncertain humour, and his smile faded. “Luke, what’s the matter? Did you not enjoy our party?”
His innocent query unleashed my pent-up bitterness.
“It’s all very well for you to say, without a concern in the world. You don’t have to rise as soon as it’s light, be an extra pair of hands for your father so that he doesn’t fret himself into an early grave or keep watch over your mother and sisters and worry about her portion and their dowries. Those weights are not on your shoulders.”
Jem tried to calm me with a quip, “But they are such powerful shoulders,” he said, running an appreciative hand over the sleeve of my sober jacket. Rather than soothing me, that seductive touch stung me to harsh speech.
“Not that you’d care or notice,” I continued bitterly. “You’re too busy chasing after any available skirt or pair of breeches.”
Jem looked taken aback by my outburst. “But Luke,” he started to protest mildly.
“Oh, away with you. Go frolic with whom you please,” I said roughly, and for the first time ever, I walked away from him without a second glance, let alone an ameliorating word.

Universal Book Link: 

https://books2read.com/u/b5lWPk 

Bio: 

Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance. 

Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.  

Website: https://elliethomasromance.wordpress.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliethomasauthor/ 

Twitter: @e_thomas_author 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19835510.Ellie_Thomas 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ellie-thomas