Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In a Dark Wood & The Parting Glass by Josh Lanyon

In a Dark Wood
In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house...

Camping in the Jersey Pine Barrens may literally turn out to be a first date from hell for travel writer Tim and the cute cop who persuades him to revisit a past that Tim has done his best to forget.

The Parting Glass
Two and a half years ago, travel writer Timothy O'Shay let NYPD Detective Luke O'Brien talk him into hiking into the New Jersey Pine Barrens to face down a monster.

Now Tim and Luke meet again under very different circumstances. The old attraction is still there -- but so are some of Tim's monsters. Is it too late to find their way back to each other?

Technically, I read In a Dark Wood as part of his short stories vol 1 collection In Sunshine and In Shadow but since I read The Parting Glass before finishing the collection, I thought it only fitting to post the reviews together.  Once I finish the collection, I will do a review for that too.

Tim and Luke completely blew me away and In A Dark Wood is perfect for this time of year.  The plot is straight out of a cheesy 1980s horror film but the writing is nothing short of 1940s Hollywood classic.  The only complaint I would have is it's brevity.  But then it was pointed out to me that The Parting Glass is a sequel with all the life and romantic drama that there wasn't time for in Dark Wood.  Once again, we see Tim and Luke coming face to face about 2+ years following DW.  Things didn't exactly go smoothly for the pair in the months after the Forester case and now when fate finds them standing in the same ticket line 2 years later, how will they react?

Only Josh Lanyon can pack so much emotion and "wow-ness" into roughly 110 pages combined.


Author Bio:
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

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In A Dark Wood
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The Parting Glass
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Snow in July by Kim Iverson Headlee

TITLE – Snow in July
AUTHOR – Kim Iverson Headlee
GENRE – Young Adult Paranormal Historical Romance
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 386 pages/94K words
PUBLISHER – Pendragon Cove Press
COVER DESIGNER – Natasha Brown

Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate's Saxon heiress.

Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people's lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady.

Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman…unless it snows in July.

Alain is smitten by Lady Kendra from the first moment of their meeting; Kendra feels the forbidden allure of the handsome and courtly Norman "squire." But a growing evil overshadows everyone, invoking dark forces and ensnaring Kendra in a plot to overthrow the king Alain is oath-bound to serve. Kendra and Alain face a battle unlike any other as their honor, their love, their lives, and even their very souls lie in the balance.

     FIFTEEN THOUSAND MEN and horses writhed across the valley below, appearing as toys in a children’s game.
     Many might consider war a game, but Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre, knight of Normandy bound to the service of Duke William and commander of a unit in the cavalry reserves, did not number among their ranks.
     Edward the Confessor, King of England via his Saxon father but Norman by his mother, was dead. This battle, raging near the coastal hamlet called Hastings, would decide the right of one man to wear the English crown: William the Norman, acknowledged by Pope Alexander to be Edward’s lawful successor; or Harold the Saxon, brother of Edward’s wife, the man alleged to be Edward’s deathbed choice.
     Stroking his war horse’s glossy charcoal neck to calm her, Alain pondered Harold’s claim. It had to be true. This many men would not sacrifice their lives for a lie. Yet the vast majority of Harold’s supporters were Saxons harboring no wish to bear the Norman yoke. Perhaps such men might be desperate enough to fight for a lie that promised to restore Saxon rule.
     A trumpet blared. He signaled his men forward, couched his lance, and spurred Chou to send her careening into the melee.
     Harold’s shield wall, which had seemed impregnable, began to crumble under the onslaught of Alain’s unit, hastened by the desertion of men who no doubt decided they weren’t quite so willing to die. Their lord stood exposed just long enough for a Norman archer to sight his mark. Harold fell, screaming and clutching an arrow that protruded from one eye.
     Harold’s supporters closed ranks around him, blocking Alain’s view and giving him more than enough to do as the Saxons redoubled their efforts to guard their lord’s body.
     A familiar whirl of colors caught Alain’s attention. The saffron leopard prowling on a green field—Étienne! A Saxon knight, with a blue arm and fist blazing defiance across his gray shield, bore down upon Étienne with leveled lance. Étienne tumbled from his horse. He scrambled to his feet and retrieved his sword, putting it to good use on the Saxons surrounding him, although the knight who’d unhorsed him had already ridden in search of other targets.
     Lance long since discarded and sword now rising and falling with fatal precision, Alain surged to reach his brother’s side. Protection of her youngest son had been their dying mother’s wish, and he had sworn on his own life to keep Étienne safe.
     Before he could close the distance, another Saxon knight fought past Étienne’s guard to thrust a war-knife into his throat. Through the visor the knight’s eyes gleamed with startling, fathomless malice. Alain could only watch in stunned disbelief as he laid his hand upon Étienne’s chest for a few moments. Uttering a soul-freezing howl, the Saxon yanked out his seax and disappeared into the press with Étienne’s shield, denying Alain vengeance.
     Shame and grief rent his heart asunder.
     He had failed the two he loved most; failed them so utterly that he could never beg their forgiveness in this lifetime.
     Pain slammed into his shoulder, toppling him from the saddle. Étienne’s body broke his fall. He tried to roll clear, but a spear through his chest pinned him to Étienne. His gut convulsed, and bile burned his throat. Blinding agony killed his struggle to free himself. Death’s stench invaded his nostrils.
     He closed his eyes and waited for his final journey to begin.

Trailer:  YouTube

Please tells us a little bit about the main characters of your book:

Robert Alain de Bellencombre. Preferring the name Alain for use by close family and friends, he is a Norman knight in the service of William the Conqueror and a court favorite. Being the second son of Count Hugh FitzWalter and Countess Margaret has prevented Alain from inheriting his father’s title and lands, which caused his first fiancée to jilt him in favor of Alain’s older half brother Philippe. Alain is the older brother of Étienne de Bellencombre, and Alain’s failure to protect Étienne at the Battle of Hastings becomes a major source of grief that Alain must learn to vanquish. The device on Alain’s shield represents the Norman town Bellencombre, his birthplace: a white rose nestled in tangle of greenery, on saffron yellow.

Kendra Waldronsdotter. Lady Kendra is the heiress to her father’s estate of Edgarburh, near London. King William the Bastard has decreed that she marry one of his knights...perhaps even the very man who had ambushed her brother and dealt him his mortal wound. Though Kendra cannot bear to imagine what the king will do to her father or her people if she disobeys this command, she vows that she will never marry a Norman unless it snows in July. The name Kendra is the female form of Kendrick, meaning “keen power,” and in fact the Lady Kendra is heiress, through her mother, to a powerful healing gift that she must learn how to wield in order to save those she loves.

Author Bio:
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins -- the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century -- seem to be sticking around for a while yet.
Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendent of 20th-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.
For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press. She also writes romantic historical fiction under the pseudonym "Kimberly Iverson."

Video Interview:  YouTube

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10 eBook Copies of Snow in July
10 note cards from the author

5 Autographed copies (US residents only) of the print edition
via Goodreads (scheduled to run October 1-October 30)

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Zane(Inked Brotherhood #3) by Jo Raven

Title: Zane, book 3
Series:Inked Brotherhood (Book 3)
Author: Jo Raven
Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance (steamy)/lickable angsty romance

They call me Zen-man, the cool-headed one, the protector. I keep an eye out for everyone, taking them in, finding them homes. They think I’m the calm and collected one, the self-assured one, the one who knows the way. They think they see me. They think they know me. But they’re all wrong, because inside I’m broken. I have a jagged hole in my soul I can’t fix, a festering blackness. I’ve been to the pits of hell and nobody comes back unscathed. Life in foster care fucked me up, and now a thread is all that’s holding me together. So I sleep around and never date, keeping chicks away. One day I’ll snap, and when I do, there’s no telling who I might take down with me. All the same, there’s this one girl who won’t be scared away. Dakota. She’s hot and I won’t deny I want her. But she keeps coming back, needling me, trying to get me to talk, to open up to her. She has no idea she’s playing with fire. When the demons come, she’d better be far away from me, just like everyone else.

     Zane’s here.
     He’s standing with his back to the wall, arms folded over his broad chest, his slanted eyes on me, hot and intense. His Mohawk is tall as ever, and the silver studs in his ears and the hoops in his brow glint. I scan him from his exotic face to the faded black T-shirt stretched over his pecs, down to his ripped jeans, and I struggle for breath.
     Gah. He’s too handsome to be real. Too handsome to be interested in me. And yet here he is, and I can’t miss the bulge on the front of his jeans. He’s obviously hard, and the realization makes me feel hot. The tips of my breasts tighten painfully.
     What is it about this boy that makes me lose my train of thought? Deciding I want to break through his defenses is one thing—but what he does to my body even with one look should be illegal.
     “You came,” I blurt, and instantly wish I had swallowed my tongue instead.
     He cocks his head to the side, eyes heavy-lidded. “Almost,” he whispers, and oh God, the boy is sexy as hell. “You have an awesome voice. Never heard anything like it.”
     My face flames. “Thanks.”
     I step off the stage, and he grabs my hand, steadying me. His fingers are callused and warm, his grip like steel.
     “Hey, Koko, you okay?” Luke calls out.
     “Fine. Just need a moment backstage. Yeah?”
     “Koko?” Zane arches a dark brow at me.
     “Yeah, the guys call me that.”
     “I prefer Dakota.”
     God, me, too, especially when Zane is speaking it in his low, warm voice.
     Besides… ‘Koko’ brings back too many bad memories. I’m not that girl anymore, the girl who trusted Collin with her life and almost died for it.
     I head toward the small backstage room, and he doesn’t release my hand. He follows me inside and closes the door, then turns the lock.
     Before I ask what he’s doing, he slams me back against the wall, his muscled body pinning me, so that I feel every defined ridge and plane of his chest. He’s breathing hard.
     Speaking of hard… The rod of his erection is trapped sideways inside his jeans, and its heat seeps through the fabric, branding my flesh.
     “What are you doing to me?” he breathes, his strong hand trailing down my neck and slipping the strap of my blouse off my shoulder. “What the hell are you doing to me?”
     I should stop him, but his fingertips send electric shocks down my spine. He lowers his face toward me, and my lips part in anticipation. He’s going to kiss me, I think, as his breath brushes the corner of my mouth—but he doesn’t. He trails his mouth over my cheek, along my jaw, under my ear. The touch of his lips—hot and soft—tortures me, arousing me more and more, as he bares my shoulder, and draws patterns on my skin.
     I struggle to swallow a moan, my nipples pressed against his chest, tiny pinpricks of pain and pleasure. His hand tangles in my hair, tipping my head back for better access, and his mouth brands my neck, sending electric discharges right into my core. Fire coils low inside of me.
     Oh God, I think I’m about to come just from his lips on my neck and his fingertips on my shoulder. I have to do something to stop him. Stop myself.
     I place my hands on his chest. “Ink me, Zane,” I whisper.
     His mouth leaves my neck, and when he looks down at me, his eyes are so dark with need they seem black. His breathing is ragged. “Don’t.”
     “I want it.” It’s more than a game now, more than familiar teasing. I need his touch so much it’s scary as hell. I’m throbbing everywhere, and I feel wet between my legs. This has never happened to me before. It’s as if the ground has been yanked from under my feet. It’s like freefall, and I hate falling.
     “Tell me what you want.” He braces an arm on the wall by my head and licks his lips. He doesn’t kiss me. Why won’t he kiss me?
     “You know what I want,” I say.
     He leans closer again, his male musk scent surrounding me, and how can I think straight when my hands are on his rippling abs, his mouth is inches from mine, and his hardness keeps pressing into my belly?

Author Bio:
Jo Raven writes New Adult erotic romance. She loves sexy bad boys and
strong-willed heroines, and divides her time between writing and reading. When not cooking up plots, she putters in her cluttered kitchen and dreams of traveling to India and Japan.

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