Friday, May 30, 2014

Captive Heart Review

Captive Heart     

Author: Tali Spencer
Publisher: Resplendence Press
American release date: January 31, 2013
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/ Fantasy/Romance/226 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 When Prince Lorant kidnaps his potential bride, Adora of Uttor, rather than going through the proscribed courting ritual, all hell breaks loose. Her brother, Emperor Gaspar Leonnte, isn’t about to stand for that, and he declares war on Sebboy.

Princess Julissa of Sebboy has led a sheltered life, among her many siblings and her parents. She knows that someday she’ll be married off for the good of the country. But things at home are not what they seem, including the way Lorant abominally treats his captive bride and no one stands up for her, and the unwarranted harsh treatment meted out to her brother Petraeus.

The imminent arrival of Uttoran forces sends the royal family scattering in different directions. Julissa is sent off with her timid cousin Aurelia, who is as gentle as they come but has been treated badly by men in her life and fears them. Unfortunately, the two young women find themselves deserted and captured. Through misleading circumstances, Julissa finds herself in Emperor Gaspar’s bed—and despite herself, she finds herself drawn to him. He doesn’t seem quite the beast he’s been painted to be. Can she reconcile her growing feelings with the duty she owes to her family? And can ill-chosen words, spoken in anger, tear them apart before they’re barely begun?

This book drew me in from the beginning. Julissa is a great heroine—she’s lovely, brave, and open-minded. And I loved that she isn’t your typical thin as a rail heroine. She has curves, and she is beautiful with them. Gaspar is everything one could ask for in a leading man—handsome, sexy, brave, intelligent, just, and hot-blooded. I loved every scene between these two, whether involving sex or not. Their give and take crackles with the exploration of initial attraction, despite their perceived circumstances, and the sex is hotter than hot.

Ms. Spencer has a way with words that conveys a great deal in a smooth, flowing style. She kept me guessing until the very end what would happen. There is sex, drama, suspense and more. This is a book I would happily read again, a definite keeper for my book shelf.

I can’t wait to read the second book in the Pride of Uttor series, which is m/m. A great start to what I anticipate will be a great series.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tease Me Thursday #12: To The Max

The nice thing about a three day weekend is that it makes the following week go by that much faster! Thursday already! Hooray! One more day until Friday and the weekend!

Which of course means it's time for me to tease you!

Today I'm giving you an excerpt from my first published novel, To the Max. It's currently out of print, but don't worry, I'll be subbing it one of these days, along with the sequel, For Love of Max. And I'm also writing the third book in the series, called A Time For Max. In this scene, Max and Richard have just met for the first time, at a disco (it is the 70's after all lol)  and have left together. Enjoy! Then don't forget to check out the other members of the blog hop!

To The Max

It wasn’t until he had started the car, pulling out onto the otherwise empty road, that I realized that we had not even exchanged names. This was not typical of me, believe me, to place my life in the hands of a stranger, even a gorgeous one like him, not knowing something as elementary as his praenomen. I was usually more cautious than that.
Turning my head toward him, I watched as he took another drag of his cigarette, eyeing intently the sexy way he put it to his lips, inhaling lightly and expelling the smoke from his well-sculpted nostrils, the other hand palming the steering wheel, guiding it easily along the deserted road. I sensed he was observing me as well from the corner of his eye. “Richard,” he said, almost as if he could read my thoughts, “Richard Burke.”
“Max,” I replied in turn, “Max Montague.”
“Which side of the river you live on?” he asked.
“Other side. Webster Groves. You?”
“Kirkwood. We’re practically neighbors.” He grinned. If I hadn’t already been in love with him at that point, that smile was the nail in my coffin. It reached from ear to ear and lit up his whole face, mirrored in the starlight reflected in his beautiful blue eyes until he fairly radiated an inner beauty. I felt such a tightness in my chest as I looked at him that, for a moment, I simply could not breathe. “At least for now,” he continued, “staying with some friends.”

“You’re not from around here?” I asked, note of disappointment creeping into my voice at the idea that I might soon lose this angel from my life, when he had only just appeared.

Now for the link to the others, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Nineteen

Hard to believe it's Wednesday already! Where does the time go? Guess that's what having a holiday does for you!  lol Welcome to more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! Glad you stopped by! Sit back and relax and you'll be able to read some wonderful flash fiction!  And Happy Hump Day to you all!

Poor Dallas doesn't know whether he's coming or go. Is Samuel helping or hurting? Find out in this week's episode of Dallas in Wonderland II! And don't forget to visit the other Briefers and receive their flash fiction offerings!

Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Nineteen

Dallas’ head was decidedly spinning. Samuel’s logic was... not logical. “What are you saying? He caused me to hallucinate seeing him in your office? With you?” That didn’t even make sense. “Why would he want to do that?”

Dallas was not vain enough to believe Quentin was pining for him. Quentin Mandrake was only in love with himself. He had no room in his ego for anyone else. And Dallas refused to entertain the notion that Quentin had even the semblance of a heart.

Dallas decided to start on a new tack. This one was getting him nowhere fast.

“Samuel, what about the trial?”

“The trial?” Samuel echoed, a smirk upon his too-kissable lips. Dallas fought hard to keep focused on the matter at hand.

“Yes, the trial. Remember that? You were put on trial by Queen Quentin, for stealing his tart, and sentenced to death...”

Samuel’s eyebrows quirked. “A death sentence for the theft of a pastry? Bit harsh, don’t you think?”

“No, no, not that kind of tart.” Dallas’ face heated. He tried not to look at either Samuel or Campbell. “Me,” he managed to get out at last. “He said you stole his tart, meaning me...” And wasn’t that the pot calling the kettle black, he thought bitterly. Especially since he’d never once cheated on Quentin. Not ever.

“And just what do you do here in Wonderland, Dr. Levi?” Campbell interjected. Dallas silently blessed him for changing the embarrassing subject.

“That which you only wish to do,” Samuel replied obliquely. Why did the man persist in talking in riddles? And why did Dallas find him so damn attractive?

“You know nothing about me,” Campbell retorted in a flat voice. “And I don’t think you much Dallas very well, either. Or you would appreciate him more. And not treat him the way you do.”

“What do you know of my relationship with Dallas?” Samuel’s voice never rose in pitch or intensity, maintaining its usual even tone. “How long have you been an expert on Dallas Crosby?”

“Longer than you.”

Samuel’s smirk grew broader, his copper eyes gleaming, his expression unfathomable. “Does that mean you are as familiar with his body as I am, Campbell?”

Campbell remained silent, and Dallas ached for him. Why couldn’t Samuel leave him alone? He didn’t deserve this. Neither of them did. He prayed that Samuel wouldn’t persist. But obviously, no one was home in Prayer Central at the moment.

Samuel slid his hand down Dallas’ body, coming to rest against his groin. Dallas couldn’t help the moan that elicited, as Samuel cupped him familiarly.

“Do you know how he feels? Do you know what pleases him? What turns him on so much he practically begs for it? And do you know how good he is in bed, how eager to please?” Samuel’s other hand snaked around and cupped poor Dallas’ ass. Another moan.

“Don’t, Samuel,” he protested feebly, his voice barely above a whisper. Samuel’s touch was... disturbing to him. At least in this contest. In front of Campbell. That had never been the case before. Why now? He knew damn well the things he and Samuel had done.

Why did they suddenly feel so dirty?

“I know you are no gentleman.” Campbell was distraught, despite outward appearances, and Dallas felt it.
“Samuel, please,” he began to beg. “Don’t do this to me. Why are you doing this?” His eyes beseeched Campbell’s understanding... and more.

“Leave him alone,” Campbell protested. “What has he done to deserve such treatment? What are you thinking?” Campbell took a step toward them. He reached for Dallas, but a rich booming laugh drew him up short. The laughter was Samuel’s.

“You know,” Samuel drawled, once he grew serious once more, “I wouldn’t give two cents for whatever you’re thinking. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. You want him for yourself. What makes you any better than me in that regard, hmmm?”

Dallas watched the flush that crept across Campbell’s beautiful skin, but he never lost his temper, never stooped to Samuel’s level. “What makes me better than you is that I care about him as a person, something you obviously don’t. Or you would not treat him in this way. Release him now, Dr. Levi.”

“Well, well, the little Southern worm turns.” He cast an amused glance between the two men. “Looks like you need to choose, Dallas. Although I have every confidence in what your choice will be. Or should I say who?”

Choose? Choose what? Choose who? His heart hammered in his chest. Samuel’s hands on his body wasn’t helping one iota.

“I want... I want...” But before he could get the name out, Samuel’s mouth had descended on his, locking whatever he’d been about to say deep in his throat. Dallas’ eyes closed involuntarily, and he felt his cowardice most distinctly.

No, don’t... fight... Something in him told him not to give in, to struggle against the doctor. He closed his hands into fists and pushed against Samuel’s chest. The man was strong, and didn’t budge.

“Let go of him!” That was Campbell’s voice. Dallas’ eyes flew open at the sound. He saw Campbell yanking at Samuel’s arm. Ineffectively. But still he persisted. Fighting for Dallas. Fighting for Dallas’ dignity. Something Samuel seemed incapable of, apparently.

Samuel didn’t seem to be disturbed in the slightest. He maintained his hold on Dallas, and effortlessly held Campbell at bay. Dallas couldn’t help but wonder how this bizarre Mexican stand-off would end? Not well, he was afraid.

Samuel’s glanced seemed to reach beyond Campbell, for some reason. What was he looking at?”
Too late, Dallas followed his line of sight, only to find someone sneaking up behind Campbell, a large club in his hand.

“Campbell, watch out!” Dallas cried.

Too late. The club descended on Campbell’s head, and he dropped to the ground with a soft moan.
“Fuck you, Penn!” Dallas screamed at the assailant, who only grinned at him, then stuck out his tongue.

 to be continued

Now go and see what the other Briefers have been up to!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the recent Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and for visiting my blog. Hopefully this is something we'll see disappear during our lifetimes. Wouldn't it be great if all prejudice and bigotry would simply cease to exist? Maybe someday.

And now to announce the winners that I promised!

First we have the Grand Prize winner of the $10 Amazon GC. Drum roll, if you please...


Moving on, each of the following has won their choice of one of my ebooks.

Congratulations go to:

Lynette Michelle, stella matta, and Ray!

I'll be in touch with you all soon!

Thanks again for being part of my blog  hop. I'm sure there will be more in the future!

♥ Julie

Friday, May 23, 2014

Guest Blogger: Jon Keys

Please welcome my fellow author and Briefer Jon Keys, here to talk about his new release in the upcoming Men in Uniform anthology from Torquere Press! Jon, make yourself at  home! Tell us something about your story, why don't you?

Jon Keys – May 23nd
Hi Julie, thanks for letting me visit! I’m really excited to guest on your site today. I’m pumped about the release of Crossfire as part of the Men in Uniform anthology from Torquere Press. I had decided to make 2014 my year to write a few short stories. I was excited when I found the Torquere Press call for Men in Uniform. I mean, check out the cover, hot! A story for the Men in Uniform anthology looked like the perfect place to begin. I loved the subject and Rick and Gabriel developed into characters that I really enjoyed learning more about.
This story has murder, kidnapping and a missing person all wrapped into one neat bundle. I hope everyone enjoys the tale.
~ Jon ~

Rick Anthis, a forty-five year old veteran of the Colorado State Police, and his husband, Gabriel Thorkelson, a deputy sheriff in a nearby county, enjoy the peace of their suburban Boulder home. Until three gunshots rip through the tranquil neighborhood and Rick witnesses the kidnapping of his buddy, eight year old Jacob.
The clues are sparse until Gabe reminds Rick of something Jacob had said. Rick has a starting point. He and his CSI team locate the remote hideout, only to find the the kidnappers are gone, and Gabe is missing too.

Excerpt from Crossfire.
Rick dried the last dish and handed it to Gabriel to put away. Gabriel settled the last plate into the white cabinets. He loved their house and the quiet, older neighborhood it was in. He hoped Mark and Rachel could work out their issues, keeping Jacob in the forefront.
Rick put his hand around Gabriel's slender waist. He's as sexy as he was in college. Damn just being next to him makes me randy. Releasing Gabriel, Rick folded the dishtowel carefully and laid it beside the sink. "Supper was great. You're a damn fine cook."
Gabriel snickered and spun to pop Rick with a wet towel. "It should taste good. Your mother gave me herbs from her garden the last time we visited."
"Mom's just trying to fatten me up. I'm kind of skinny for a forty-three year old Greek man."
The towel snapped against Rick's butt again and he grabbed at it. Gabriel danced away, his face lit with delight. "Where does that leave me?"
Rick swept Gabriel up and kissed him. "It leaves you in my arms, just where you should be."
Rick paused as he remembered the note in his pocket. Leaving his hand on the small of Gabriel's back he reached in his shirt pocket and fished out a small piece of yellow paper. He gripped it between two fingers and dangled the sheet in front of Gabriel.
"Speaking of, I found another note in my lunch."
Gabriel studied the symbols on the page as if he'd never seen them. "Huh, what do you think that means?"
Rick smiled. "I know what it's meant the last dozen times I found one in my lunch."
"Really? And what was that?"
"It meant I was going to be exhausted the whole next day."
"You don't say. Let me see that." Gabriel took the paper from Rick's hand and appeared to study the content. "Looks like Native American symbols. Hmm, maybe 'bear' and 'hunt'." He smiled at Rick with a glimmer in his eyes. "Are we going on a bear hunt this fall?" Gabriel reached up and tugged on the short hair coming from the top of Rick's T-shirt. The slight touch shifted his libido into high gear.
He nuzzled his face against Gabriel's throat and sighed at the spicy fragrance that curled through his nostrils. Rick slid his hand under Gabriel's shirt; the rub of his chest hair on Rick's palm ignited his desire. "What's the sign for otter? Because I think I need to hunt one of those little furry things." I still can't believe Mom gave Gabe my Eagle Scout pictogram project.

eBook Link: 

Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.
A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.

You can find me at:
Twitter: @Jon4Keys

 Thanks for stopping by, Jon! Come back again soon!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tease Me Thursday #11: Cookies or Me

Almost Friday, and a three day weekend at that!  Hooray! Time for more Tease Me Thursday!

Today's excerpt is from a little WIP I have that I haven't decided what to do with.  It features twin brothers, who are very close, if you know what I mean. And yes, that is just what I mean.  So enjoy it, and maybe  you'll see them pop somewhere!  Don't forget to visit the other authors in the blog hop!  Have a great weekend!

Saturday morning had arrived at last. Cole Dawson stretched appreciatively, feeling his bones crack and snap to life. Damn, that felt good. This was his favorite day of the week, a day to not set the alarm clock, to sleep in as long as possible—a day to appreciate life without work. Even more importantly an entire day, without interruption, with his identical twin brother, Chess. His lover.

Chess had been Cole’s lover ever since they both hit puberty, about the age of thirteen. Now they were twenty-one and living in their own house. Life was sweet indeed.

He rolled over, reaching out for Chess. Cole had a hard-on that wouldn’t quit, giving new meaning to the expression morning wood. He was so hard, maybe he should call it morning steel. The thought made him smile. Until his fingers felt nothing but sheet. Not even warm sheet at that, it was completely cool to the touch.

Cole opened his eyes. The other half of the bed was empty.

Dammit! Chess did it again. Got up without a word or touch or even a nudge or anything. Left him high and dry and aching—and for what?

Cole rolled over and sat up, sniffing the air. Yep, just as he thought. The aroma of baking wafted through the house. Chess was at it again. Damn.

He rolled out of bed, shrugging off the sheet that tried to cling. He grabbed his jeans from the back of the chair, and padded down the hall to the bathroom, took care of business, and yanked them on. Relieving himself took care of some of the pressure, but not enough. He still ached for something from his brother. And it wouldn’t be found inside of any oven.

Now for the link!

Virtual Book Tour: The Surgeon's Apprentice

Please welcome author Richard Longfellow, who's here to talk about his new release, The Surgeon's Apprentice. And isn't that cover hot?  *fans self*

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Richard will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. Remember, the more stops you visit and comment, the better your chances to win.

Alex is a ditzy but adorable final-year medical student, whose sex life seems doomed to fantasies about Hollywood hunks and abuse and misuse of the mirror in his bedroom. Then along comes blond and blue-eyed Will, all sinewy muscles, a gorgeous face and a top orthopaedic surgeon to boot, but equally hopeless when it comes to love. Their first encounter in his clinic is almost ruined by an embarrassing incident with a pair of disposable briefs, but mutual attraction prevails and brings them together.

When ghosts from Will's past threaten their future together and all looks lost, Alex devises a plan to save Will’s reputation.

But will love be enough to save the day and win Alex the man of his dreams? Or will he be doomed to eating his favorite apple crumble all alone-–with lashings of crème anglaise, of course.

Now enjoy an excerpt:

William Jackson realised a long time ago that the strength required in orthopaedic surgery didn’t necessarily have to come from brute force, which was probably why he preferred treating mechanical problems in athletes rather than overbuilt rugby players or the arthritic elderly. That rather set him apart from most of his colleagues who were built like brick shithouses and enjoyed nothing better than donning a space suit and plunging into a creaking hip joint. So today’s theatre list was the sort he enjoyed: a straightforward knee replacement in a younger than average patient and some arthroscopies on otherwise fit and healthy athletes.

In fact, he’d recently completed a study comparing minimally invasive procedures for elite athletes with joint injuries against normal patients and was surprised to learn he was on the short-list for an award from the Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He didn’t have a chance of winning, of course, but he was still dead chuffed to be considered.

Along with going for awards, there was another game to be played if you wanted to make it in surgery, which involved ‘playing it straight’, or at least that was the advice given by someone who’d sussed out that his Kinsey score was something above zero. His conveniently manufactured ‘girlfriends’ had sufficed in interviews, and he’d even exaggerated their status to ‘fiancée’ on a few occasions, but he dreaded having to demonstrate their existence and found ways of opting out of gatherings where a partner was included in the invitation. He tried to see himself as a Kinsey ‘X’ but his mirror regarded him otherwise, particularly when he lapped up his own cum.

“And I’d concur with that view, you pompous prat.”

Encountering that naïve but handsome medical student in the outpatient clinic had certainly bowled him a googly, to coin an expression that was much used by his colleagues, regardless of their interest in cricket. That he’d subsequently indulged in sexual fantasies at home featuring said medical student was something he found only too easy to enjoy but difficult to accept. Guilt did its best to haunt him in dreams. These invariably involved him being dramatically outed and then made to pay for his sins in front of colleagues, the General Medical Council and the rest of the prejudiced world. Last night, he’d woken in the early hours of the morning covered in sweat. He knew why but this time he couldn’t recall the details of the dream, which concerned him and made him think there was rather more to come.

So, as on other occasions when he’d found a student attractive, the only solution was to put young Alex out of his mind and get on with his job. He then remembered that the student in question was meant to be coming to his list today. It was fortunate that consultants had a separate locker room but he seriously wondered whether it would be sufficient to keep them apart for long. He had more than a sneaking suspicion that the attraction was mutual; the student’s open-mouthed expression on walking into the clinic wasn’t the usual reaction he expected of a student meeting a consultant for the first time.

“So do something about it, then!”

Richard Longfellow resides in London, Great Britain and works as a doctor. He’s tall, dark and handsome, and currently unattached. When he’s not tending to his patients, he enjoys stroking his two cats, movies with happy endings and opening the very best champagne, although not necessarily in that order. His favourite male movie stars include Brad Pitt and Hugh Jackman. ‘The Surgeon’s Apprentice’ is his first novella of quintessentially British, gay erotica.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Eighteen

Hooray, hooray, it's Wednesday! Welcome to more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! Hope your week is going well, I know mine is!

In last week's episode of Dallas, an unexpected arrival has thrown Dallas for a loop. And I'm sure Campbell is none too thrilled either. So, what is Dr. Levi up to? See what happens in this week's chapter, and then go visit the other Briefers for some great flash fiction!

Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Eighteen

Dallas didn’t know whether to shit or go blind.
Of course, he’d been hoping for something like this to happen. Hoped that Samuel would find him in Wonderland, and that he’d profess his love for Dallas and they’d ride off into the sunset on a white charger, and live happily ever after.

Only, right this minute, he had to say the timing could have been a hell of a lot better. Right when he’d been about to tell Campbell...

The words were stuck in his throat now. Worse, they were lost from his brain. What had he been about to say? His mind was a great big blank. No, worse than that, it was utterly filled with Dr. Samuel Levi once again.

And only one word poured from his lips, in a violent effusion. “Samuel!”

The next thing Dallas knew he was being kissed within an inch of his life, bent over backwards so far, he could swear his head was in danger of scraping the ground, his leg thrown up in the air for balance. He couldn’t help but clasp Samuel about the neck, or take a chance on falling.

At least that’s what he told himself.

By the time Samuel brought him back to an upright position once more, Dallas’ head was spinning.  He placed one hand on top of his skull, trying to hold everything in place, darting a quick glance at Campbell, wondering what he made of this. Campbell’s eyes were hooded, his gaze fixed on the ground, and Dallas’s heart ached for him.

He wanted to take Campbell into his arms and comfort him, smooth his puckered brow. But before he could even begin to act on his instinct, Samuel spoke up.

“A pleasure to see you, as always, Dallas.” He turned to regard Campbell, cocking his head. The sunlight glittered in his copper eyes, giving them a molten red sheen. “And whom do we have here?”

“Samuel, this is Campbell. My neighbor. And my friend. I’ve mentioned him to you.”

“So you have, so you have. A pleasure to meet you, Campbell.” Samuel’s smile was almost a smirk, and his attitude seemed a bit smug to Dallas. He noticed Samuel didn’t offer his hand to Campbell. He was fairly sure Campbell wouldn’t have taken it if he had.

“So good of you to take care of my Dallas for me,” Samuel continued. “And to come all the way to Wonderland to do it.”

“That’s what friends are for,” Campbell said stiffly, although Dallas was fairly sure his attitude screamed, Bitch, you best step back.

“Dallas, you seem so tense. Is something wrong?” Samuel’s voice was soothing, his eyes concerned. He placed a hand at the back of Dallas’ neck and rubbed it gently, as one might sooth a drunk in imminent danger of throwing up. Dallas couldn’t contain his reaction—he arched into Samuel’s touch, purring like a contented kitten. A contented drunken kitten.

“I just... we just... ran into that guy...” Dallas’ thoughts were choppy as he tried to string more than a few words together into a single coherent thought, finally pushing them through. “The one Quentin cheated on me with, and we broke up over.”

“Is that so?” Samuel’s voice was almost clinically detached. “Well, there’s no telling about the class of people you might meet in Wonderland. Isn’t that true, Mr. Cain?”

Campbell’s lips were compressed into a thin angry line. He made no answer to Samuel’s question. As if expecting that sort of reaction, Samuel continued to focus on Dallas. “Perhaps that’s a good thing, Dallas? Now you have closure, don’t you, for what Quentin did to you? Or is that you wish to rekindle that particular flame with your ex?”

“God no.” Dallas fairly spat the words out. “Not in this lifetime or with someone else’s dick.” The very thought of getting back with Quentin was enough to induce vomiting. Instant emetic. “The point is what is he doing here? What is going on? Why does everyone treat me like I’m... like I’m...” He clawed ineffectively at his throat, unable to get the word out once again.

“Lunatic?” Samuel supplied helpfully.

“Don’t you dare call him that!” Campbell hissed. Dallas noticed that he’d clenched his fists, even as he took a step toward Samuel, his eyes narrow and angry.

“Oh it’s all right. Dallas knows what he is.” Samuel didn’t seem in the slightest intimidated, despite the difference in height between the two men, the advantage being Campbell’s. “As Socrates once said, know thyself. But I like to add know thy neighbor first.” He calmly arched one brow at Campbell, the two men locking horns with their eyes.

Just when it looked as though they might come to blows, Campbell took a step back, and then another.  

Dallas reached out to his friend, but Samuel caught his hand smoothly, tucked it inside the crook of his arm.
“You know, it’s a nice day for a stroll, why don’t we?”

“A stroll? Where to?” Dallas felt stupid for asking, even as the words left his lips. He was furious with himself for not speaking up for Campbell and he was furious with Samuel for showing up out of the blue like this...
And yet... and yet... he couldn’t seem to fight the hold Samuel continued to have on him.

“Places,” Samuel replied mysteriously, breaking into song. Something about people needing places. Dallas had no idea what was going on. Samuel was seriously messing with his head. Again.

“About Quentin.” Dallas started again. This was his chance to get an admission from Samuel he’d never been able to get before. That Quentin had been in his office. “I saw him with you, I know I did.”

“Did you now, Dallas?” Samuel’s voice was annoyingly patronizing.

Dallas found himself hanging on by a mere thread. “You know I did.” He pitched his voice deliberately low. Non-crazy.

“Did you ever stop to think maybe that’s what he wants you to think, Dallas?”

to be continued

Now, see what's up with the rest of the Briefers!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hop Against Homophobia Blog Hop 2014

TGIF and welcome to the Hop Against Homophobia Blog Hop.

Prejudice of any wrong is just wrong, and is usually based on fear and ignorance. Many people fear what they do not understand, or what they perceive to be a threat - either to themselves, or to their way of life. Many peoples have been targeted with such ignorance over the years - for their race, for their religion, and for their sexuality.

It's time to stop the madness.

Spread the word. Prejudice will not be tolerated any more. Usually, those who are ignorant enough to believe in these things do so because they think they have someone else's backing. Let them know that they are wrong. Explain why they are wrong. Because people are people, and love is love. And no one should be allowed to tell you who to love.

There have been great strides since last year at this time, more states taking a stand and legalizing same sex marriage, because it is the right thing to do. But there is still a ways to go.

Last year, I told you about my experience with homophobia. I'm going to repeat that story here. Homophobia can affect anyone, and it does.

When I grew up, there was a lot of prejudice against black people. Even though segregation was over, it was still there. People don't change overnight and they don't change easily. I grew up in white neighborhoods, and didn't see a black person in my school until I was in the fifth grade. Why? I don't know, that's just how it was. What I remember from then is my father telling my mother that her sister, my aunt, could not bring her current boyfriend to our house. Why? Because he was black.

Prejudices are just stupid and they're wrong. And yet they exist because too  many people are content to say nothing and do nothing, either from ignorance or from fear. Or because they think it doesn't concern them.

But it does. It concerns everyone. Intolerance of someone is an intolerable situation, and one we can rectify.
But you have to want to do it, and you have to be willing to open your mind, and heart - and use your brain.

Homophobia is far too rampant in this country. The far right will tell you homosexuality is a choice, but it isn't. It's how you're born. It's hardwired into you, like eye color, hair color, etc. The bottom line is that you love who you love.

So what are they afraid of? I've noticed that it's more often the men that bear the brunt of the displeasure, although not exclusively. Men seem to have a higher "tolerance" for women who love women. In fact, it often fuels some of their fantasies. But let it be two men and watch the denials start to roll. What are you afraid of? That perhaps you too could love a man? Is that such a bad thing?

The problem has only gotten worse in recent years because these ill-conceived attitudes are being handed down to the children, at a time when more and more young people have found the courage to speak out, to question and accept and deal with their own sexuality. And they are being bullied for it by narrow-minded young bigots who parrot their parents' unadulterated messages of hate. Too many of our children have died, taken their own lives because of the bullying.

It has to stop!

Being homophobic is every bit as wrong as being prejudiced against people of color, or people of a different faith, or  people of a different race. You can dislike someone for who they are as an individual, but don't hate because of something like sexual orientation.

There are some people, such as the now late Reverend Fred Phelps, who preach messages of hatred and carry them to extremes. There are members of Congress who also spew messages of hate. They think they are conveying the word of God - I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they arrive at the Day of Judgement and realize just how wrong they've been. When did they decide that God hated people? What right do they have to spread their lies and prejudices under His name? Somehow, I don't think He'd be amused.

And then there are people like my brother. I worked for him for over thirteen years. I did payroll, bookkeeping, billing, scheduling - everything but income taxes, and I even helped with those. I made it possible for him to spend little time in the office. When he got married (for the third time, I might add) and he and his new bride were on their two week honeymoon, traveling around the eastern seaboard and Canada, I didn't even tell him I got very sick, I still went into the office and took care of business so I wouldn't disturb him. I knew he was born-again Christian, but I didn't let it bother me. We had gay clients, and he acted like he liked them. But the signs were there, which I chose not to see, I guess. Like when I told him on the phone I'd gone to see Brokeback Mountain and he started to lecture. It all came to a head when my first published book, To the Max, was released. Silly me, I was so proud of holding my book in my hands. I took it to the office and showed it to him, held it out to him. I didn't want or expect him to read it, but just to wonder at what I had done, to admire it, and to have nice things to say. He wouldn't even touch it. Like it was the lowest form of human excrement. It wasn't long after that he "laid me off" because of having less work. While it's true we lost our biggest client, that was his fault, not mine, for something he didn't do.

Update: I started working for a temp agency last June, but the work is sporadic and not stable. However,
I've been at my current job, with National Elevator Inspection Services, for five weeks now and it looks like I could be there for a while. So things are looking up. I still have not spoken to my brother since he fired me, which is almost three years ago now.

Don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. The Power of Love is a wonderful thing, stronger than those who hate.


I will give to three winners a copy of anything from my backlist. And one winner will receive a $10 Amazon GC. What do  you have to do? It's simple - follow my blog, and tell me something about one of my books. Whether it's plot or favorite character - what you like or don't like.  And don't forget to include your email address, otherwise your entry won't be valid. If I can't reach you, I can't very well give you a prize, can I?

To learn more about the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, go here
To follow the rest of the Hop, go here..
Also, my friend Jim didn't quite make the hop, but he has a post about homophobia, too, so please visit him here.

The hop will continue until the 24th.  I have some guests lined up during this time, so I hope you come back
and see what they have to say. I will be posting on this topic again.

Now, get out there and take a stand!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tease Me Thursday #10: Dark Love

Happy almost Friday! Welcome to another edition of Tease Me Thursday!

Today, I'm giving you something a little bit different. This is an excerpt from Dark Love, my paranormal m/f romance. Samantha Kane works at the McHenry House of Horror and Museum of the Supernatural, and is an expert in the Tarot and vampires. Eric Vargas is the museum's wealthy European investor, newly arrived to see his investment - and he's also a vampire. This is their first meeting. Enjoy!

Eric turned to gaze up the steps at the front of the building.  The sign over the entrance read McHenry House of Horror and Museum of the Supernatural.  On the glass doors were posted the hours of operation as well as all admission fees, except for private performances such as séances, tarot readings, etc., in which case the prices were available upon request inside.  “Come, Raymond, let us meet these McHenry brothers,” he started to say, but the words were immediately forgotten in the next breath as he stared in amazement at the most beautiful girl he had ever seen – and that was saying a great deal, for he had seen many beautiful women over the course of his long life – come hurtling through the front doors.
She seemed to be annoyed, although that might well be an understatement.  Her eyes were blazing a bright blue and her brows, which were of the same gorgeous red-gold hue as her hair, were drawn together over her nose in a fierce scowl.  She was paying little attention to the path which her feet were taking, intent upon some inner monologue, and it was with some surprise that she walked head-on into Eric just as her feet left the steps of the Museum for the city sidewalks before her.  Just as he planned it in the split second after sighting her.
Samantha looked up into the blackest pair of eyes she had ever seen, her mouth dropping open to form an o of astonishment.  She hadn’t recalled seeing anyone in front of her, but perhaps she had been too distracted to notice.  She felt like a clumsy fool.  The man gripped her arms closely in his efforts to keep her from falling to the pavement.  “Are you all right?” he asked concernedly, knowing full well that he had done her no actual harm.
“Yes, yes, I’m just fine.  What about you?  Are you okay?  I’m so sorry.  I don’t know what I could have been looking at.”  She couldn’t keep from babbling like a blasted idiot and she cursed herself mentally for her stupidity.
He laid one slender finger upon her lip in a gentle motion.  “Not to worry,” he assured her, “I am fine.  Now.”  And the implication in his voice was so apparent that it caused a deep rose flush to suffuse Samantha’s cheeks.  She gazed up into his impossibly dark eyes and felt as if she could drown in their impenetrable depths.  She took a deep breath.  It required some effort to remove herself from his firm grip, for a part of her didn’t want to let go of him.  Her pulse was racing and all of her senses seemed to be overloading in a way that was unfamiliar to her.  She knew that she shouldn’t be standing here with this man, especially with her fiancé so close at hand.  “I must go,” she mumbled, sliding reluctantly from his grasp.
“Please,” he pleaded with her, “I have just arrived and …” But she allowed herself to listen no further, for even the sound of his voice was setting off alarm bells deep within her soul.  She shook her head, not trusting her voice not to betray her, and walked quickly away, leaving him standing on the sidewalk looking longingly after her.
“We shall meet again,” he murmured softly, although she was much too far away to hear him.  That was a promise, he vowed to himself.  When he turned back to the van, Raymond was waiting patiently for him, a hint of a smile on his normally implacable visage.  “Back to the business at hand,” Eric concurred and gestured toward the front door which he was sure now would lead to his new life.


Now see what is happening in the rest of the hop!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Seventeen

Happy Wednesday one and all! This week is flying! Keeping busy at work never hurts lol I'm getting new responsibilities, so maybe the next step is to actually get hired! Wouldn't that be wonderful?

And because it's Wednesday, that means it's time for some flash fiction! I hope you're enjoying our weekly excursion into the world of flashing! I know we are!

Last week, Dallas had the misfortune to stumble on the very man that he caught Quentin Mandrake cheating on him with! Can this end well for poor Dallas and Campbell? Find out in this week's installment, then see what's happening with the other Briefers!  Enjoy!

Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Seventeen

“Do I know Doctor Levi?” the imbecile parroted, to Dallas’ annoyance. The man began to stroke a non-existent beard on his pointy chin, as if debating the question with himself.

“Well, do you?” Dallas asked, his growing irritation showing.

“Maybe,” came his evasive answer. “Doesn’t everyone?” Without warning, he tossed the rod he’d been holding into the pond and stood, dusting off his pants with his hands. “What exactly are you doing here, Dallas? I can tell you’re over Quentin, aren’t you?” He eyed Campbell with renewed interest. “What’s your name, cutie?” He reached one hand toward Campbell’s cheek, a strange gleam in his eye.

Without thinking, Dallas karate-chopped Penn’s arm before it got anywhere near Campbell. Expecting the man to protest his treatment, Dallas was surprised to hear him chuckle. “Much as I thought. And here Quentin thought you were pining for the good doctor? Won’t he be surprised to learn you’ve moved from him both of them?”

“I have not,” Dallas protested. “I mean... that is... Campbell’s not...” He gave up all efforts to explain himself to the home-wrecker, rationalizing it was none of the little rat’s business anyway.

Suddenly Penn sneezed, three times in rapid succession, before wiping his sleeve across his nose. “Sorry. I might be getting a cold,” he apologized. “Now, where were we?” Oh yes, I was just about to compliment the two of you on having a pair of very nice plush rumps...”

Dallas groaned. This was getting them nowhere fast. No wonder Quentin was attracted to him. They were birds of a feather.

Not to mention this was getting them nowhere fast. And Penn was simply an annoying...

Wait just a damn minute. Dallas’ head began to throb. He put one hand against his temple.

“Are you all right, sugar?” Campbell’s voice was concerned.

“What’s the matter with me? What the hell, Campbell? Why is this little prick even in Wonderland? How is he here?”

“He must have come the same way we did, don’t you think?”

“Exactly. And he can prove, once and for all, that I’m not crazy. Wonderland exists!”

Penn began to back away from them, hands held up as if to ward them off. “Well, fellas, it’s been swell, but I have to—”

Dallas waited for the next word, which he assumed would be go, but when it didn’t come he glanced at him in surprise, only to find Campbell’s arm securely about Penn’s throat.

There was a certain satisfaction in the sight. Dallas counted to ten before he said, “I think he needs to breathe, Campbell.” Not that Dallas really cared if the little rat was able to draw breath or not.

Campbell released him, and he slumped to the ground, rubbing his neck, panting loudly. “This... isn’t... real,” he gasped. “None of this. Not me, not you. Not even tall, dark, and sexy there. You’re imagining everything because you’re a loon—”

“No, no, no, don’t say it,” Dallas moaned. If he didn’t hear the word, it couldn’t be true. He wasn’t, he wasn’t, he wasn’t... He wanted to curl up into a ball, he wanted to hide, he wanted the world to go away...
He wasn’t aware he was crying, his body shaking with great racking sobs, until he felt Campbell’s arms envelop him, Campbell’s soothing voice murmuring into his ear.

“Shhh, shhh, don’t listen to him, honey, don’t listen.” Campbell sounded distraught. Dallas fought against the urge to retreat into himself, to disappear and never face the world ever again.

Little by little, Dallas grew calmer, brought his breathing under control. They were sitting on the ground near the pond. He could see the flowers around them, still waving, dipping their red and orange heads, almost as if expressing sympathy for Dallas’ distress. But that wasn’t possible, was it?

He took a deep breath and looked up into Campbell’s concerned face. “Why do you put up with me?” he whispered. “I’m a fucking mess. A complete fucking mess.”

“No, and don’t you dare say that, Dallas Crosby. You’re a very special man, and you don’t deserve to be put through this hell. We’re going to find our way home, and we’re going to take proof that this place exists. Something better than the word of that little worm. But if I catch him, I’m gonna put a world of hurt on his dumb cracker ass...”

What? Had Penn taken advantage of Dallas’ breakdown to run away? Didn’t that just figure?

“It’s my fault he got away, it’s my...”

Dallas’ words were stopped by Campbell’s lips, and for a long moment, he simply breathed Campbell in, drawing strength from him. When they separated, he felt a pang of regret.

“He was useless as tits on a chicken anyway, honey. Guys like him are born liars. No one would have believed him, even supposing he did tell the truth.

“You know, I think there is really just one place where we can find the evidence we’re looking for. The Queen’s Palace.”

“You mean your nutty ex? That queen?” Campbell asked.

“Yeah, that queen. I think all the answers are there. We just have to find them.”

“Then that’s where we’ll go,” Campbell said decisively. “Shouldn’t be too hard to find someone who can point us out the way to the palace.”

“You wouldn’t think so,” Dallas agreed. Of course, in a land such as this, you never knew what you might get.

Time to pull himself together. Again. He reluctantly rose from the warmth of Campbell’s body, then offered his hand to help his friend to rise. For some reason, he didn’t want this moment to end.

“Campbell,” he began, so softly Campbell had to lean in to hear him. “I don’t know how to begin to thank you... for everything... you mean more to me than I can ever express. I think I might be—”

“Ah, there you are, Dallas. I was beginning to worry you hadn’t made it.”

Dallas’ eyes widened.


to be continued

Now see what the other Briefers are up to!