Tag Archive: m/m erotic romance


PrideSilk

June is a very special month around here – Pride, and my birthday, and the anniversary of the signing of my very first novel contract! So in honor of all that momentousness (I’m not sure that’s even a word, but if it wasn’t before, it is now, so there), and by way of special welcome to everyone I met, or am going to be meeting, at Twin Cities Pride and CONvergence, I thought I’d gather all the buy links for all the SoulShares novels and my oboroten’ novella together in one place, in all the formats in which they’re available. However you like your m/m romance (provided you like it mythical, legendary, paranormal, and monitor-melting HOT) there’s a link for that. (And scroll all the way to the end for a FREE read, “Obsidian,” originally written for the Facebook MM Romance Group’s Love Is an Open Road project in the summer of 2015 and available on their Web site in .epub, .mobi, and .pdf. For freakin’ free. Go on, grab your copy, I’ll wait right here.

Back? Yay!

A lot has been going on over the last few months in my writing world – in particular, I’ve gotten the rights back to the two Gille Dubh novellas I had with Ellora’s Cave, HEART OF THE OAK and TEMPTED FROM THE OAK, and hopefully you’ll be seeing those two (and their younger and as yet unpublished sibling, BOUND IN OAK), sometime in 2017. I have short stories scheduled to come out in a charity Shakespeare m/m romance anthology and a 12 Days of Christmas anthology – check back here for more details on both as I get them. And I’m scheduled to be at CONvergence (Bloomington, Minnesota, June 30-July 1), Gaylaxicon (World LGBT SFF Convention, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 7-9), and GRL (GayRomLit Retreat, Featured Author, October 20-23, Kansas City, Missouri). C’mon up and see me sometime!

Oh, and if you’re new to my blog, please do subscribe, and come find me on Facebook –
https://www.facebook.com/Soulshares/

And now *drum roll* THE BUY LINKS!

Hard as Stone Final

HARD AS STONE (SoulShares #1)

Amazon (Kindle): http://ow.ly/6puW301xGCC
Riverdale Avenue Books (.epub, .mobi or .pdf): http://ow.ly/rZb1301xJtu
Amazon (paperback): http://ow.ly/CV9n301xGEO

Gale Force Final

GALE FORCE (SoulShares #2)

Amazon (Kindle): http://ow.ly/BfqJ301xIpz
Riverdale Avenue Books (.epub, .mobi or .pdf): http://ow.ly/HPmO301xJwL
Amazon (paperback): http://ow.ly/qPJs301xItz

Deep Plunge Final

DEEP PLUNGE (SoulShares #3)

Amazon (Kindle): http://ow.ly/vSYn301xI4p
Riverdale Avenue Books (.epub, .mobi or .pdf): http://ow.ly/8CW7301xJyQ
Amazon (paperback): http://ow.ly/OH4q301xI7g

Firestorm Final

FIRESTORM (SoulShares #4)

Amazon (Kindle): http://ow.ly/QoMW301xIcV
Riverdale Avenue Books (.epub, .mobi or .pdf): http://ow.ly/IaeV301xJC5
Amazon (paperback): http://ow.ly/K3bw301xIhU

Blowing Smoke Final

BLOWING SMOKE (SoulShares #5)

Amazon (Kindle): http://ow.ly/hFNQ301xIwo
Riverdale Avenue Books (.epub, .mobi or .pdf): http://ow.ly/Wgjo301xJHs
Amazon (paperback): http://ow.ly/7h3n301xIEr

Mantled in Mist Final

MANTLED IN MIST (SoulShares #6)

Amazon (Kindle): http://ow.ly/V9fx301xIJI
Riverdale Avenue Books (.epub, .mobi or .pdf): http://ow.ly/Sck1301xJKz
Amazon (paperback): http://ow.ly/yGJl301xINr

*********

Undertow from Amazon

UNDERTOW (SoulShares #7)

Amazon (Kindle):  http://ow.ly/qQ0E302oPfL

All Romance eBooks:  http://ow.ly/5IUX302oYBc

Riverdale Avenue Books (.epub, .mobi, or .pdf):  http://riverdaleavebooks.com/books/5267/undertow

Amazon (paperback):  http://ow.ly/Seok302oPlc

Coming in 2017: STONE COLD (SoulShares #8) and BACK DOOR INTO PURGATORY (SoulShares #9 and the end of the series)

WolfBecoming-final

WOLF, BECOMING (Russian wolf shapeshifter novella)

Amazon (Kindle only): http://ow.ly/US2D301xGzj
Dreamspinner Press (.epub. .mobi, or .pdf): http://ow.ly/ItKU301xITW

Lamia

FREE READ – “Obsidian” — http://ow.ly/yBTa301xNqI

HAPPY PRIDE!

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Lamia

 

Exciting news! — ever since I found out about the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s “Don’t Read in the Closet” project, this year titled “Love Is an Open Road”, I’ve wanted to get in on it. Readers choose 200 of their favorite photos from the group’s archives, and write prompts – “Dear Author” letters – asking for stories to be told about the pictures. Then the pictures and prompts are posted, to be claimed by authors. The resulting stories are put together into a free anthology, released during the summer. I’ve never been quick enough to snag a story prompt before, but this year I got my act together on time and got exactly the prompt I wanted! So now I have until May 1 to write a story about this compelling male. (Hint: he’s a male of a species I’ve only written as female until now…) Here’s the prompt – are you as excited as I am?

Dear Author,

I cry out in pain as my body changes. The muscular power of my body expands and my scales slide off my torso, revealing flesh. What’s happening to me? I don’t know who I am, or why I can smell the heat coming from the man carrying my limp body over his shoulders. He’s strong for such a small being. He cares for me, washing sweat off my brow while the rest of my body changes. Now, I am part of the human world and I need to find out why. But this man, this beautiful man who rescued me from the forest floor touches me sweetly, and I know he is mine.

Sincerely,

M.E. Sanford

So for those of you who are keeping track of my schedule for 2015, here’s how things are shaping up:

April 22: Scheduled re-release date for HARD AS STONE, by Riverdale Avenue Books (new cover, and a new Fae-language glossary/phrase book!)

April 29: Scheduled re-release date for GALE FORCE (likewise)

May 6: Scheduled re-release date for DEEP PLUNGE (ditto)

May 13: Scheduled re-release date for FIRESTORM (rinse and repeat)

May 20: Scheduled NEW release – BLOWING SMOKE, SoulShares #5

Sometime between June and September – release of “Obsidian”, my Don’t Read in the Closet/Love Is an Open Road story

July 2-5: CONvergence (SF/F convention, Bloomington, MN) http://www.convergence-con.org/

July 16-19: RainbowCon (QUILTBAG fiction/media convention, Tampa, FL) http://www.rainbowconference.org/default.aspx

October 22-25: Midwestern Book Lovers Unite conference (romance readers and authors, Minneapolis, MN) https://midwesternbookloversunite.wordpress.com/ I’m co-hosting a cosplay party on the night of the 24th – come as your favorite romance novel character, anyone from a genderbent Vishous to Claire Beauchamp Fraser – or a character created by one of the attending authors!

TiernanChrisBrown2

With the upcoming re-issue of the first four SoulShares novels (HARD AS STONE, GALE FORCE, DEEP PLUNGE, and FIRESTORM) and the upcoming release of the fifth (BLOWING SMOKE), and the fact that I’m about to leave on a week-long you’re-going-to-take-a-vacation-whether-you-need-it-or-not, I haven’t had a lot of time to craft a Valentine’s Day story for this year. However… I’m treating this as an opportunity to go back in time a couple of years and bring back one of my favorite Kevin and Tiernan short stories, about the first Valentine’s Day of their married life. (Sorry if that was a spoiler for anyone….!) And a word to the wise, this is definitely a love story for the 18-and-over set…

***********

Kevin eyed the plastic cup in his hand speculatively. Well, kind of a cup. A hollow hand grenade. And the bartender was watching him with an ill-concealed grin. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted it’s my first time in New Orleans. Off to one side, the house band on the small stage was rocking out a zydeco song about what girls in the bayou they will do, won’t do.

Strange choice for Valentine’s Day. But, then, so was the Funky Pirate. Sighing, Kevin raised the cup, saluted the bartender, and took a healthy swig. Then, slowly, he set the cup back down on the bar, fighting the urge to cough. Holy shit.

The bartender laughed. “You let me know when you want another one.”

He moved off down the bar, stopping in front of what looked like a group of friends of the band, and Kevin’s gaze wandered. The front door of the bar stood open, and looked out onto the famous Bourbon Street. The street was closed to traffic, and was fairly crowded with pedestrians, most of them probably bar-hopping, carrying their take-away cups from one bar to the next. Probably nothing like it had been a few days ago, though.

The firm couldn’t have sent me here for Mardi Gras, no, they had to wait for Valentine’s Day. Kevin grimaced and had another go at the cup of death and delirium in his hand. Just let me get this down and I swear I’ll go back to civilized drinks. Nothing wrong with Jack and coke.

Nothing except the fact that he’d be drinking it alone. Damn, he missed Tiernan. Which was silly, because he’d be home in a couple of days. But he’d been looking forward to this Valentine’s Day, the first of his married life.

Almost on the thought, there was a pleasant buzz in his pocket. He pulled out his phone, saw the familiar number, and grinned as he slid the toggle to unlock the screen. “Hey, lanan.” He slipped off the barstool and looked quickly around; the Funky Pirate had a back courtyard, and he headed for it, phone in one hand and drink in the other.

“Hey, bodelafint.”

Kevin felt his cheeks flush even as he grinned. Only a Fae would turn ‘Elephant Dick’ into an endearment. “Are you at work?” He sighed with relief as he escaped into the courtyard; there was hardly anyone out here, and even though the music inside was being piped outside, it was a hell of a lot easier to hear.

“Hell, yes. Though I don’t know why, it’s not like there’s anything for me to do here.” Kevin thought he could hear the pounding bass of Purgatory’s sound system behind his husband’s voice. “Where are you? I hear music.”

“I thought I’d try the Funky Pirate. Great music, lethal drinks. I’m out in the courtyard now, though.” Kevin tried another pull at the oddly shaped glass, and this time there was no reason not to cough.

Tiernan’s laugh was pure wickedness. “You’re trying a hand grenade? When I’m not there to take advantage of you afterward?”

“You know the place?” A small staircase in a corner of the courtyard led up to a second story that was gated off; Kevin crossed to it and sat down on the stairs, balancing his drink on his knee.

“Yeah, I’ve been there a few times. I like the music. Though Bourbon Street Blues Company’s better for picking up guys.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too.” Kevin chuckled, but there was frustration in the sound. “I’d rather be at home right now. Especially considering that I wanted to dress to suit the day, but I don’t own anything pink, and the only red item of clothing I have is my red silk tie.” The tie that was his private signal to his husband that he was in the mood for breath play. Which he was. Damn.

“You don’t say.” The words were slow, drawn-out, and followed by a long silence. Then, just as Kevin was about to ask if the Fae was still there, “You say you’re in the courtyard?”

“Yes.” Puzzled, Kevin took another drink, held the peculiar glass between his knees, and rubbed the back of his neck.

“Send me a picture.”

“Of me?” I am so not unconfused.

Another low chuckle. “No. Of the courtyard. That back corner, by the steps.”

Kevin opened his mouth to ask how Tiernan knew the layout of the courtyard, but one glance at the corner beside where he sat answered that question very nicely, supplying him with all sorts of images of his husband putting the semi-privacy to thorough use with a woman, women, a man, men… All of which thoughts were making him horny as hell. “Hang on.”

Switching the phone to camera setting, he snapped a shot of the corner and texted it off, then returned the phone to his ear. “Was that what you wanted, m’lanan?”

“That was fucking perfect.”

Tiernan’s reply wasn’t coming from the phone.

Kevin’s head snapped around, and his eyes went wide at the sight of the Fae, shirtless under a denim jacket, in jeans so tight they looked like they’d been tattooed on, blond hair curling around his shoulders. And wearing a smirk that brought the lawyer’s cock to instant and rigid attention.

“I needed the reminder.” Then, in a murmur that should have sent up tendrils of smoke, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“Holy shit.” Kevin slammed down the last of his hand grenade, let the cup fall to the ground, and surged to his feet, to be caught up in Tiernan’s arms and turned and pushed back against the vine-covered brickwork, where the Fae’s mouth came down on his in a kiss that left him dizzy.

He felt one of Tiernan’s hands sliding up between their bodies, out of sight; long, strong fingers closed around his tie and slid up the silken length to fist just below the knot. “You weren’t kidding, I see.” Faceted ice-blue eyes held him spellbound, as his husband’s other hand undid his belt buckle, unbuttoned his trousers, and slipped inside to curl around his shaft. “Hold very still, lanan, and let me show you how much I’ve missed you.”

The only answer Kevin could manage was a faint moan, one that Tiernan kissed away before starting to twist the silken tie tight. Kevin’s pulse was like thunder in his ears; his breath came in soft, rapid pants against Tiernan’s lips, and his hips made little, tight jerks of their own volition as his cock was firmly, insistently stroked.

“You are so incredibly fucking hot.” He could feel Tiernan’s lips moving, breathed in his words, and shuddered in ecstasy from his touch. “I can’t get enough of you.” The Fae’s hot tongue traced a path back to his ear, probed; teeth nipped, and the tongue soothed. “Are you close? Are you ready?”

Kevin tried, and failed, to get a breath. And the failure sent liquid heat racing down his spine, to pool in his sac. He felt Tiernan’s hand tighten in anticipation – both hands, the hand twisting the tie as well as the exquisite vise around his cock. He had no voice to whisper with, all he could do was move his lips. “…don’t let me fall…”

Tiernan leaned into him, pinning him to the wall, as his knees buckled with the first thick white jet of his release. His eyes threatened to roll back, his hips jerked forward; darkness started closing in, his vision becoming a tunnel. Tiernan’s hand became slick, and the Fae was moaning now, too, along with him, with every pulse of hot fluid that welled up and spilled over.
And the joy. Oh, Christ, the joy. Pure bliss, the delight of being held, pleasured, cherished.
Scair-anam,” he whispered, as the last wave of pleasure rippled through his body.

Opening eyes he hadn’t realized he’d closed, he saw his husband nod. “So fucking beautiful you stop my heart.” Tiernan’s lips parted, he leaned in, in a kiss that was as close to gentle as he ever came. “I love you, m’lanan.”

And before Kevin could answer, the faceted blue of the Fae’s eyes heated with a smile. “Let’s go back to your hotel room so I can do it some more.”

Remember when summer was about sleeping as late as you could get away with, biking to the library once a week, and spending as much of the remaining time as you could curled up in your secret private reading nook, devouring one book after another at a pace that made the librarian assume you were the supplier for your entire family?

I wish that had been my summer. Really. Instead, mostly I just heaved a great big ol’ sigh of relief when I tore August off the calendar. Here’s why…

My original contract for the SoulShares was for four books — Hard as Stone, Gale Force, Deep Plunge, and Firestorm. And it specified that I had 15 months to turn in all four books. Now, if I were able to write full-time, that would have been no sweat. But between the Evil Day Job and my family obligations, I generally only have a few hours a night to write. So after four books in 15 months (plus a couple of novellas), I was a great big stressball. But I had a new publisher who really, really wanted the fifth SoulShares novel, so I kept pushing, and turned in the manuscript for Blowing Smoke at the beginning of June. Then there was a short story to write, to submit for a Dreamspinner Press anthology (look for “Ilya and the Wolf” in Celebrate! — the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar anthology, and also as a stand-alone story, the beginning of December!). (Yes, it’s shifters. *grins* You’re welcome.)

Then July happened. I had to move, and downsized from a house to an apartment in a suburb a half-hour’s drive away, chosen because it was close enough to my son’s college that he could commute by bus and because they would let me keep my elderly golden-retriever mix, Fiona, and my Cornish Rex kitty, Grace O’Malley. One (small) carload at a time, we moved that house, all through the month of July. Three days before the final move, Fiona died. (Needless to say, between being burned out and dealing with the move and my sweet girl, not much writing happened in July…)

Then August happened. I started writing again (Bound in Oak, Tales of the Grove #3). The publisher with which Blowing Smoke had been resting comfortably since June announced that it was terminating all its freelance editors, including mine, and that all outstanding manuscripts would be reassigned to its staff of in-house editors. Now, there’s a very good reason why I became a lawyer rather than an accountant, but some numbers even I can crunch, and I realized that I would undoubtedly be an old(er) gray(er) lady by the time SoulShares #5, which had not yet gotten as far as first edits, saw the light of day. So I exercised my contractual right to pull the manuscript… and on Labor Day I sent it off to another potential home. Any and all crossed fingers, good wishes, prayers, and the like will be greatly appreciated, and hopefully I’ll have good news to report in a couple of months!

Now it’s September. I’m still working away at Bound in Oak (which may end up being a working title only, as Ellora’s Cave only wants titles to contain the word “Bound” if they’re BDSM titles, which this definitely isn’t), which I hope to have done by mid-October. And come visit me at the Midwestern Book Lovers Unite Conference, September 26 to 28, at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott — http://midwesternbookloversunite.wordpress.com/ — I’m hosting a table at the Dinner with the Authors, and I know this really great Mongolian restaurant five minutes from the hotel….

And finally… you’ve been waiting so long, and so patiently, for Blowing Smoke, it would be remiss of me not to leave you with at least a taste. Enjoy! — and comment!

 

 

Chapter Four

Greenwich Village
New York City

The first thing Lasair saw when he opened his eyes in the human world was an ass. A very nice, scantily-clad ass, although he might have been more appreciative if his face wasn’t bumping into it every few seconds. And if he felt even a little less as if he’d just been run over by the King’s best racing chariot and its entire eight-horse team. Over the thunder of his heartbeat in his own ears, he heard a muffled thumping noise and occasional grunts.

And a whimper. Culin was somewhere nearby.

Tipping his head back, Lasair saw a staircase, dull grey wood. Arching back as far as he could–not far, thanks to the chains–he could see as far as the floor at the bottom of the stairs.

He blinked. The floor glowed faintly, in the auroral hue of pure unbound magick. Not possible.

“Great, you’re awake.” The baritone voice was slightly out of breath, and the speaker sounded more than slightly put out. “Would you mind holding still until I get you upstairs? I’d rather not drop you on your head, you’d probably pull me down with you.”

I beg your pardon for occupying space. Lasair bit his tongue, kept the words to himself, and let his head drop. He could feel an arm now, wrapped around his thighs.

The jarring stopped, and he heard the creak of a door opening. His own personal scenery remained pretty much the same, but with poorer lighting. Then another door. Light. Furniture half-glimpsed, and other doors.

“Oh, fuck. The one door I forgot about.”

The floor suddenly came a head closer, and Lasair got a glimpse of beautifully muscled calves as his bearer bent his knees. There was a click, and another door opening.

Then, suddenly, Lasair was lying on his back, with Culin at his side. On a bed, he presumed. He was getting tired of presuming. The chains were bad enough–truesilver chains were forged to burn in the presence of a channeling, and they surely did–but being trussed like a roast made it much worse. He strained to sit up, but the chains made it impossible to do more than raise his head and shoulders.

Which was enough to let him see where he was, and who had carried him up the stairs. He was in a small bed-chamber, lit by pale sunlight from a single window. The first human male he had ever seen looked down at him, wearing nothing but short trousers of some soft fabric and a deep frown. His hair was nearly dark enough to be chort-gruag, bark-hair, like the tree folk out of legend. But on this male, it was nothing to be scorned. It suited him. So did his mustache, a rarity among Fae. Eyes of dark green watched him warily, glancing every so often at Culin.

He must be ravishing when he smiles.

“Do you have a key to those chains, or do I need to cut them off?” The male’s voice was rough, almost harsh.

“If I had a key, believe me, I wouldn’t be in this situation.” Lasair winced. He didn’t remember most of his transition, other than the agony of the beginning of it, but whatever had happened to him after that had left his head feeling as hollow as the inside of a great bell. And any word, any sound from him was a mallet pounding on the bell.

“All right. Wait here.” The male’s stare raked him from his head to his feet; he put up a dark brow, turned, and left the bedchamber.

Culin whined softly.

“It’s all right.” Lasair murmured. “It’s going to be all right, tréan-cú.” He had called Culin strong, a strong hound, since the pup’s birth. Names channeled power, even names given by one with little magick of his own.

Now all I have to do is be right.

When the male reappeared, he was carrying a long-handled pincers with a metal beak. This he fitted to the chains, and started to bear down on the handles. Doing so brought out splendidly defined arm muscles and a thin sheen of sweat. I would give my left nut not to feel like I’ve been pounded flat and scraped up off the stable floor right now.

“These are stronger than they look.” The male checked the wicked beak of the pincers, running long, slender fingers over the cutting edges as if he expected to find them notched by the chain.

Humans were very different from the way Fae lore drew them, at least if they were all like this one. This male was as handsome as any Fae, in his way, and the measuring intelligence in his gaze was as exciting as his strange beauty. “They’re meant to be. But you ought to be able to cut them.” Now that the links had no magick running through them, and had been given no new purpose to know.

One dark brow went up as the male re-set the pincers. “Mind if I ask what you were doing chained up in my basement at six in the morning?”

“Yes.” Shit, I should have expected that. One thing the old stories weren’t going to tell him was what humans thought of Fae, several thousand years after their parting of ways. Even the most trusting Fae–assuming such an exotic creature existed anywhere–would be skeptical under the circumstances. And he had even less reason to be trusting than most.

Why had he forgotten that?

Both Heart of the Oak and Tempted from the Oak have moms in small but important roles.  Maggie, in Heart, isn’t Trevor’s mother, but she shares a mother’s story that’s such an important plot point I don’t want to give it away here. *laughing* And Maura Cross, Gavin’s mom, from Tempted, tries to get hold of Gavin at just the wrong time — when Jeremy’s given him notice to get out of their apartment, just before Christmas, in a frigid, snowy Minneapolis winter (which I wrote long before it became apparent just how frigid and snowy our Minneapolis winter was going to be this year!). And Maura, like pretty much all of us moms, just wants to make things all right for her son…

So here’s the beginning of Chapter Twelve, from Tempted from the Oak. With love to all the moms out there…

GavinAustinSanderson5

Chapter Twelve

“He’s only letting you stay one more week and you still haven’t found a place to live?”
Why can’t a phone ever lose signal when I want it to? Gavin grimaced. He could always fake it, sure, but as far as he was concerned, there were some things a guy just never did to his mother. No matter how tempting the idea was. “Yeah, that’s about it, Mom.”
At least she wasn’t giving him crap for his lousy taste in men. She’d taken care of that in the first ten minutes of this phone call from hell. He’d had his phone muted at work and when his mother hadn’t been able to get hold of him, she’d called the other number he’d given her—the one he’d forgotten he gave her. The apartment’s number. Jeremy’s number. And the son of a bitch had told his mother that he, Gavin, was moving out, but wasn’t sure where he was going. Exactly the information he’d been very carefully keeping to himself because he hadn’t wanted to have the conversation he was presently having.
Still, it could be worse. She could have found out that he’d almost fallen in love with a tree spirit. Almost.
“You should come home, sweetie.”
Of course I should.
The bus crept forward another few feet. It wasn’t that there was a lot of traffic, not at six o’clock on Christmas Eve, when anyone with anything better to do than drive or ride a bus home from work was undoubtedly doing it. But the near-blizzard had brought everything more or less to a standstill. He kept clearing a circle in the frost riming the window, trying to see where he was and the circle kept freezing back over before he could see much of anything other than his own reflection. Which he barely recognized, swathed in every scarf and hat and sweater he’d been able to come up with before leaving the apartment this morning.
“I’d have to rent a car, Mom. I have too much stuff to bring home on a plane.” Shit, he was calling Seattle “home” again. Had he already given up? “I can’t afford that.”
“I’ll send you the money.”
“No, Mom—”
“Don’t you ‘no, Mom’ me.” Her tone was light, but Gavin knew from experience that Maura Cross was deadly serious about anything affecting the well-being of any of her children. And when his mother was deadly serious, nothing opposing her stood a chance. “You hate your job—you’ve told me so I don’t know how many times. You don’t have any reason to stay in that godforsaken glacier now that Mr. Wonderful has turned into Mr. Self-Absorbed-Head-Up-His-Ass.”
Gavin choked a little. “Mom, you’re not supposed to talk like that.”
“Someone hurts my baby, I’ll talk however I want to.”
“I love you, Mom.” Which was the truth and which was what made this whole conversation truly miserable. He loved his mom, his mom loved him, his mom wanted nothing more than for him to be happy. But his mom couldn’t understand what made him happy. She’d never understood his dream of working at the Guthrie or how much it had meant to him to move to the city where he might be able to make his dream come true. And she would sure as hell never understand his hopeless longing for the other dream he’d left behind in what he was pretty sure was the Scottish Highlands.
How could she, when he didn’t?
“I love you, too. Now promise me you won’t do anything stupid.”
“Mom, I haven’t—”
“And that you’ll be home for New Year’s. I’ll have the champagne iced.”
God damn it. His throat was squeezed tight and his eyes were burning. It was time. He needed to give up his dream—both his dreams—because that was all they would ever be. Dreams. And he had to get on with his life. “All right, Mom.”
“Thank you, sweetie. That’s the best Christmas present you could have given me.”
Gavin clenched his teeth. He should be relieved. Should feel lighter, without the burden of needing to find a place to live. Should be overjoyed at the thought of being able to wish Jeremy’s new boyfriend luck on his way out the door.
To hell with how he should be feeling. He reached up and yanked the cord to signal a stop. “Mom, I’m at my stop. I have to put the phone away. I’ll call you later. Merry Christmas.” Fortunately, he touched off the phone before she could hear how his voice caught on those last words. There was no way he was at his stop but he didn’t care. Wherever he was, he could probably walk back to the apartment faster than the bus was moving. Getting numb would just be a bonus.
Jesus, listen to me, I’m turning into an honest-to-God drama queen. Complete with M.F.A. Gavin shook his head, pulling out his gloves and tucking his phone into the empty pocket as the bus came to a stop.
“Merry Christmas,” the driver called out down the aisle of the nearly empty bus as he made his way down the steps to the back door of the bus.
Minnesota Nice. “Same to you.” He pushed the door open and stepped down into the street.
A blast of snow-laden wind hit him in the face, just as he went into a bank left by a snowplow almost up to his knees. Maybe this was a bad idea. Behind him, he heard the bus pull away from the curb, or the part of the street that was as close to the curb as anything with four wheels and an engine would be able to get for a while.
Well, shit. Gavin pulled his scarf up from where it had fallen while he sat in the comparatively warm bus. He looked around, making his way to the sidewalk and trying to get his bearings as he wound the wool more tightly around his face. How do people get used to this?
Not his problem anymore.
The unmistakable sound of church bells was muffled by snow and wind. He recognized them, the bells of St. Mark’s Cathedral, probably ringing for a Christmas Eve service. He’d disembarked at the Loring Park exit. If he were able to see at all through the blinding snow, he’d see the tree he never wanted to see again.
Thank God for blizzards then. The words hurt. He wanted them to hurt. That was how a person learned, right? By avoiding pain. Maybe next time he wouldn’t be such an idiot. Snow stung his eyelids, the tops of his cheeks where the scarf left them exposed.
He pulled his knitted hat down further until it nearly met the top edge of the scarf.
Gavin…?
Faintly, the whisper of leaves and an impossible hint of moonlight.
Shielding his eyes, Gavin started to look in the direction of the old oak, then caught himself. Even a drama queen knows better than to go chasing off after his own wishful thinking during a blizzard.
Wishful?
Hell, yes. He wished. He was never going to learn.
Gavin…please.
Gavin lurched aside to avoid a very determined older woman, barreling down the middle of the sidewalk like a wool-clad, fur-hatted tank.
Cold.
The muted clamor of the bells was starting to subside. Gavin missed the noise. It helped. Though it apparently wasn’t loud enough to drown out an imagination desperate to hear Tearlach’s whisper one last time.
Sleepy
No one had shoveled the walkways through the park since the storm started. It didn’t matter. He was being drawn to the source of that last faint, despairing sigh as fast as he could plow through the accumulated snow.
Faster, even. He stumbled, going to hands and knees in the snow when he stepped off the paved path. His chest heaved, drawing in great lungfuls of burning-cold air. He fought down a cough, trying to listen.
Nothing. No sound except the blowing snow, the whipping wind that sounded nothing like a lover.
He staggered upright, covered with snow now, brushing at himself as he trudged forward. His feet were burning in a way that suggested they were going to be completely numb before long and his eyelashes kept trying to freeze stuck together. Where the hell is the goddamn tree? The blizzard was changing everything. Every shape, every sound, every breath. Nothing looked familiar in what little light there was. Jesus, if I’m not careful I’m going to go too far and end up in the lake.
In the end he tripped over what he was looking for, going face first into the snow. Tearlach was curled in on himself, knees drawn up against his chest, arms wrapped around his shins, covered with a coating of snow that looked like it had only been knocked off when Gavin stumbled over him. He wasn’t moving. And it didn’t look like the snow was melting on him.
Cursing, Gavin struggled to his knees, peeled off his gloves and started shucking his coat. “Tearlach!” He wrapped the coat around the motionless spirit, then manhandled Tearlach awkwardly across his lap, holding him as close as he could with one arm while reaching for his phone. Which wasn’t in his pocket. Son of a bitch. No doubt it was out there in the snow, where he had fallen.
Let me sleep

BLOWING SMOKE is the fifth Fae book. And the first in its own series, the Broken Pattern. See, at the end of FIRESTORM, the fourth SoulShares book, in order to save Cuinn and Rian and coincidentally the Fae Realm and the human world, the SoulShares of Purgatory had to, well, blow a great big hole in the Pattern, the portal between the worlds. And strange things are beginning to happen. (Yes, even stranger than in the first four books…) This is an excerpt from Chapter 8 — Lasair Faol, formerly the Master of Fade-hounds for the Royal family of the Demesne of Fire, and his newborn Fade-hound puppy Culin haven’t yet been formally introduced to Bryce Newhouse, but Lasair’s already feeling the pull of the as-yet-unconsummated SoulShare bond.

 

lasairfaolodingrina1

 

Lasair stopped short. The human lay on his back on a richly-upholstered and beautifully carved divan, his head propped against one arm and his feet hanging over the other, sound asleep. Culin was curled up on his chest, half wrapped in a soft cloth, likewise peacefully asleep. A little table had been pulled over to the divan, near the human’s head, and a small cooking-pot sat on it. Even from where he stood, the enhanced senses of a Fae could smell milk. There were even traces of it on Culin’s short grey-brown mustache. Milk, and something else, something that smelled like salt.
A pang of pure jealousy went straight through Lasair, surprising him with its intensity. He wasn’t sure which was harder to swallow, the thought that the human had been able to get Culin to eat where he’d failed, or the visual proof that he and the pup hadn’t bonded. Most modern Fade-hound breeders considered the old stories about blind Fade-hounds no more than idle tales. And surely it was fantasy, to think that a blind dog could form such a close, exclusive bond with a Fae that each could see through the other’s eyes. Pure fantasy. Yet he’d hoped, when little blind Culin had looked up at him…
Lasair shook his head. The important thing for now was that the human had gotten the pup to eat. Filled his belly, too, from the look of him.
I am not jealous.
Not.
Not jealous at all. But Culin was his responsibility, not the human’s. He reached to pick up the puppy–froze as the human stirred, groped restlessly, mumbled under his breath. One slender, long-fingered hand found Culin and settled protectively over the furry body; the muttering stopped, replaced by a snore almost too faint to hear, even for a Fae.
Just that quickly, Lasair realized that he was indeed jealous. But not of the human. Of Culin.
I want that hand on me.
He backed up quickly, almost falling over a chair he’d forgotten was there, catching himself, turning and hastening back to the bedchamber. It wasn’t until he was leaning against the far side of the closed door, head tipped back, eyes closed, trying to slow his breathing, that he started to curse. Under his breath, so as not to wake the human.
In the Realm, the Master of the Royal Fade-hounds had been held in awe. The hounds were terrifying to most Fae, a story told to misbehaving children, used as a method of execution by some Royals. Forces of nature with five-inch fangs, relentless hunters with a taste for blood. But to him, they had been like family. He had been ready to lay down his life for them, and he knew they would have done the same for him. Even little Culin, following him trustingly through the terror of transition.
His rapport with the hounds had been legendary.
When it came to Fae, on the other hand, he was a disgrace. He definitely had all the reflexes and instincts and hungers of his race, but if seduction was an art form among the Fae–which it most certainly was–then he himself had never passed much beyond sketching childish stick figures on the hearthstones with charcoal. In a culture where desire always came wrapped in layers on layers of enticement and mystery, no one knew what to make of a Fae who refused to play the kinds of games they were all born to play. As clumsy as one of his pups, they’d said, laughing. But clumsy he was not. He only wanted to be open about what he wanted.
He hadn’t realized until just now how much he’d hoped things would be different with the human. Hadn’t Fae had their way with humans whenever they wished, back in the time before the Sundering when the two races shared a world? There would be no need for the dance, the game. For once, surely, he was free to take what he wanted, what his body needed. All he had to do was do what he wished, be what he was and had always been. All would be well.
Except it wouldn’t. It wasn’t. For the first time, he saw at least in part the point of the rin’gcatha gríobhan, the labyrinthine dance. He still didn’t want to play the game for the sake of playing, for the style and the beauty and the craft of it, but neither did he want to simply wake the human up, roll him over, and take the pleasure he both needed and wanted. He wanted to smooth away the frown line that seemed to live between the human’s brows. He wanted to see the smile he knew the human hid, and he wanted to know he’d been the cause of the smiling. He wanted to find out if the scent of salt had come from human tears, and to make them stop.
There were a great many things Lasair wanted. None of which he had ever wanted before, and none of which he had the slightest idea how to get.
No. There was one thing he knew how to get. Knew very well. One of the many words as’Faein for self-pleasure was dara-láiv. Literally, it meant ‘second-hand’–the implication being that your partner had grown bored and left after one orgasm, and you were thus forced to rely on your own devices for the second.

Tempted From the Oak Cover

 

It’s release day for TEMPTED FROM THE OAK (Tales of the Grove #2)! The Tales of the Grove tell the stories of the Gille Dubh, or Dark Men, a race of male tree spirits native to Scotland. The Gille Dubh and their daragin, the sentient oak trees in which they live, were thought to have died out thousands of years ago, but one by one (two by two, actually), the Gille Dubh and their daragin are reawakening.

 

In celebration of Tearlach and Gavin, please enjoy Chapter Two from TEMPTED FROM THE OAK!

 

 

 

Gavin turned up the collar of his leather jacket as he walked and tugged his hat down around his ears then plunged his hands back into the pockets as deep as they’d go. Which wasn’t nearly deep enough. Fortunately it wasn’t all that windy anymore and the snow they’d been predicting all day was apparently going to hold off long enough for him to get home, at least.
Home. He tried not to wince as he trudged along the path through the park in the darkness, new snow crunching under his thrift-store boots. He had a home for a few more days, at least. Jeremy hadn’t wanted to kick him out at Christmastime. Sleeping on the couch, though, didn’t feel much like any kind of home he’d ever heard of. Especially not with a tipsy ex-boyfriend and his equally tipsy new boyfriend tiptoeing past him in the middle of the night, trying to make it to the bedroom without turning on the lights.
It’s my own damn fault. Gavin wondered how people ever managed to take comfort in the thought that they’d brought their troubles on themselves. Maybe that was the kind of thing people only did in books. The notion—the entirely true notion, unfortunately—that he was wholly responsible for his current predicament left him feeling nauseous rather than comforted.
He’d been an idiot. The ink hadn’t even been dry on his diploma—Gavin Cross, M.F.A. in Scenic Design—when he’d met Jeremy at a performance at the Bathhouse Theater. He’d thought it was kismet, meeting a hot and available guy who just happened to be looking for a roommate in the same city as the Guthrie Theater, the very place he’d had his heart set on working ever since his undergraduate days.
Maybe it had actually been kismet. But just because something was fated to happen didn’t mean it was a good idea. Moving halfway across the country and moving in with a guy with the emotional maturity of Miley Cyrus had been a spectacularly bad idea. One step closer to his dream, sure, but maybe he wasn’t supposed to be getting closer to that dream just yet. Or ever for that matter. Now here he was—four days before Christmas—looking at ringing in the New Year sleeping on the street in the middle of a Minnesota winter unless one of the leads he’d found on Craigslist surprised the hell out of him by calling him back.
You, my boy, are a fucking idiot. Which was news to absolutely no one, least of all to the fucking idiot himself. Gavin had a long and ignoble history of deciding he “ought to” be in love with someone for whatever reason—because everyone said a guy was perfect for him, because a guy had smiled at him when he was having a bad day or because a guy offered him half a bed in the city of his dreams and ambitions—and then making himself do what he “ought” to do. It was kind of like crushing except that a crush was something mindless and whatever it was he did, he always did it to himself with his eyes wide open. Which broke his heart every time. And this time, it had also brought him halfway across the country to a deep freeze in which he knew essentially no one and committed him to a future with a man who saw him as a temporary decoration rather than a permanent fixture.
You could always go home, you know. Gavin hated the sensible voice in the back of his head with a passion. It’s not like you stand a chance at the Guthrie, not for years yet. Why hang around here and let the man you convinced yourself you loved treat you like shit when your only reason to stay is a pipe dream?
Well, at least the being-treated-like-shit part was getting taken care of.

Little spots of cold stung his face. Great, the snow decided not to wait. There was already a good foot of it on the ground, more than he’d ever seen in one place at one time before. And Jeremy had said earlier in the month, when the two of them were still on speaking terms, that Mother Nature was just getting warmed up. Mother Nature can take this particular twelve inches and she can shove it where
Gavin blinked, then squinted. Loring Lake was up ahead on his left. And— impossible on this overcast night—a huge oak tree on the shore was bathed in the cool white of moonlight.
A spotlight? Gavin studied the tree and the ground around it. But there was no light source, no reason for there to be one—and judging from the shadows, the light was coming from above. The way moonlight was supposed to.
Bemused, he did a quick three-sixty. He hadn’t seen many people out tonight to begin with—apparently, even hardy Minnesotans preferred to spend the longest night of the year indoors. This end of Loring Park was nearly deserted, but there were a few other people on the paths and not one of them seemed to be paying any attention to the odd phenomenon, despite the way the clear light bathing the tree made it stand out from the darkness around it.
Gavin shrugged. It’s not like I’m in a huge hurry to get home. Damn, there was that word again.
As soon as he stepped off the path, the snow was over the tops of his boots. It clung to his jeans and fell into his boots, one soft clump after another as he slogged through the unmarked snow. He hardly noticed, though. His gaze was fixed on the tree.
That’s odd. The moonlight—if that’s what it was—cast no shadows anywhere but under the tree itself. He was almost to the overhanging boughs now and glanced up— having a snow-covered branch dump its load down the back of his neck a couple of weeks ago had been enough for him.
The snow on the branches was melting.

Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.

Gavin stepped into the circle of moonlight.

He was still under an oak tree. A completely different oak tree, one growing out of bare and rocky soil, its roots visible in places. The sounds of an urban park, cars and planes and dogs barking, were gone, replaced by a profound silence. Only the moonlight was the same, pouring down through the branches and dappling the ground.
Gavin spun around to look back the way he’d come. There was no sign of snow or park or lighted walking path. Only darkness and a sense of something massive, looming, blotting out the moonlight. Something that definitely hadn’t been there a few seconds ago. The lake was gone too. Where it had been was a rocky slope scattered with patches of scrub grass. Down the slope, a few hundred yards or so, he could make out water, gleaming in the clear white light. And the stars were glorious.
Shouldn’t I be panicking? Gavin looked past the tree, down toward the water. I’m not. Not yet, anyway. Maybe I would, if this were even a little less impossible. As his eyes adjusted to moonlight and starlight, he could make out shadows rising around the lake. Great hills or small mountains, their tops mostly bare, pale stone. Chances were the presence he could still feel at his back was another one. Toto, I don’t think we’re in Minneapolis anymore.
Wherever he was, it was warmer than Loring Park had been. The leather jacket was still a good idea but he pulled off his knit cap and stuffed it into a pocket, running his hand idly over the short dark fuzz the barber had left him yesterday. Jeremy liked his hair long. Which was a reason for a buzz cut if he’d ever heard one.
Maybe I’m dreaming. Though if he was, why he’d started dreaming in the middle of an after-work stroll through the park was an open question. Unless the whole day had been a dream. Surely, though, there were better things to dream about than spending six hours explaining the difference between a tall, a grande and a venti. Still, dreaming was the only explanation he could come up with off the top of his head that didn’t somehow involve total insanity on his part.
Gavin tipped his head back, looking up through the branches and the sparse leaves into the impossibly beautiful night sky. If it was a dream he’d wake soon enough. Hopefully not when Jeremy or his Quentin or Benton or whatever the hell his name is trips over me again.
He shook his head. There was no place, no time for idle thoughts here, or fear, or nursing a grudge. It was just too damn beautiful. Stark, silent and peaceful. Exactly what he needed.
The space around the oak was a little more grassy, a little less rocky. Gavin slid down the trunk to sit. He’d almost touched down when he lurched to one side, as a rock rolled out from under the heel of his waterlogged boot. The heel of his hand skidded off more stones as he caught himself and he felt the slam all the way up to his shoulder as he finally fell against a gnarled tree root.
Cursing under his breath, he fell back against the trunk of the tree and rolled his shoulder, shook out his hand. Bleeding. Hell. But it wasn’t the ache or the scrape he minded so much as the broken spell.
“Damn it.” His voice sounded much too loud in the stillness and he lowered it to a murmur. “No peace even in my dreams.”
The crown of the oak tossed as if in a wind.

But there was no wind.
Peace is here. Leaf on leaf, the tree whispered to him. Wait for it.

 

 

For the whole story, check out:  http://www.amazon.com/Tempted-From-Oak-Rory-Coileain-ebook/dp/B00J8N6SY2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396035509&sr=8-1&keywords=Tempted+from+the+Oak+Rory+Ni+Coileain

 

And the story begins with HEART OF THE OAK (Tales of the Grove #1):  http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Oak-Boys-Will-Do-ebook/dp/B00FBF4XIY/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_d_2

As part of the festivities during launch weekend for Deep Plunge, Erin Kelley at The Lurker invited me to ruminate about where the SoulShares series started, where it is, where it’s going, and what I think The Meaning Of It All is. I had some fun with the project — so I thought I’d share it with you, with Erin’s kind permission!

Lurker Spotlight — September 1, 2013

Thanks for having me here to talk about the SoulShares, Erin! – I don’t really want to give away any spoilers, for people who haven’t read one, or two, or all three of the books that are out so far (though, really, what are you waiting for? – this post will still be here after you go to Amazon! *winks*) So I’ll summarize the books, but I thought I’d spend more of my time talking about how my Fae came to be, how they evolved, and what I think they’re trying to say through me.

Hard as Stone: Tiernan Guaire is a Fae in exile. Forced from the Realm into the human world for the unimaginable crime of a brother’s murder, he lives by a century-old vow, to trust no one, and never to allow himself to love or be loved. Kevin Almstead has just lost his future, to a vote of the partners at his law firm. Trying to escape for an evening, he ventures into Purgatory, the hottest all-male nightclub in Washington, D.C., where he allows himself to be seduced by a stranger with long blond hair and ice-blue eyes. Drawn into a Soulshare bond with his intended one-night stand, Tiernan soon learns that the most ancient and evil enemy of the Fae still walks the human world, and it will stop at nothing – certainly not Kevin Almstead – to possess the magick of a Noble Fae.

The Fae – MY Fae, anyway – were born on Facebook. I wrote up a Fae character for roleplay, and being the attention-to-detail sort that I am, I wrote a whole back-story for him. Where he came from, what he was doing in the human world, and so on. I’ve loved Irish legend and lore ever since I was old enough to read (which is a VERY long time), so I’m well acquainted with the Fae of Irish legend. Mine… aren’t quite those Fae. I played with the idea, had fun with it, changed a few of the basic assumptions just to see what kind of changes that might make in my character. I’m a great believer in creating a detailed and realistic world for my characters to play in, and letting it shape them. Then I entered a short-story contest that I couldn’t use my original Fae for, because of the theme of the competition, so Tiernan and Kevin were born. And the month after that contest’s deadline was NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writers’ Month, where you’re challenged to write 50,000 words in a month. I used the short story as the core of my project… which became HARD AS STONE.

Gale Force: Conall Dary is the most powerful mage born to the Fae race since the Realm was parted from the human world, over two thousand years ago. But that power condemns him to a lifetime of celibacy, because sex calls to power, and he has power enough to drain a world. When he refuses to use his talents for a Noble lady’s petty revenge, he finds himself shanghaied to the human world, his soul torn in half and his magick blocked. Josh LaFontaine is the beautifully inked owner of Raging Art-On, a Washington, D.C. tattoo and piercing parlor. While taking part in New York City’s Pride march, his world changes forever when the man of his dreams materializes at his feet. Josh’s sensual and loving touch, the first Conall has ever known, may be enough to give him back the magick he’s lost. But before they can complete their Soulshare, a terrible accident leaves Conall bodiless, lost, and invisible, to everyone except – maybe – the human with whom he shares a soul. But Josh will need to find him before the ancient evil of the Marfach does or everything they have – and more – will be lost.

I was stunned, to put it mildly, when I was offered a four-book contract by Ravenous Romance after they saw the first chapters of HARD AS STONE. I’d been prepared for years of slogging from one agent to the next, collecting rejection letters, the ‘normal’ author’s life. Now, all of a sudden, I had a ginormous playground I was responsible for filling up. ‘Terrified at the prospect’ sums up how I felt, pretty well. So I was pleasantly surprised when the stories didn’t stop coming. Conall and Josh had a compelling story to tell, so I sat down and started writing it. As I wrote, though, the story grew, and changed, the way all living things do, and I found myself in the position of wishing I’d built a better foundation for a few things in the first book. (This is not a problem that has gone away – while I was working on DEEP PLUNGE, I got myself a tattoo for a Mother’s Day gift, and spent the whole two and a half hours quizzing my artist about the ins and outs of tattooing. I would do a MUCH better job with Josh now. Did I mention my attention-to-detail personality?) And keeping track of who knew what about whom when caused me more than a few headaches. I would love a chance to go back through the first few books and re-write them. Maybe someday… And I started discovering all the additional things that come along with being a Published Author. Like the utter lack of time for anything other than working, eating, sleeping, and writing, not necessarily in that order. They say it’s essential to writing to read everything you can get your hands on — I’ve had to learn to keep my darn hands to myself. If I’m REALLY lucky, I can steal five or ten minutes before bed to read, but I don’t get lucky very often. I miss it…!

Deep Plunge: For the last six hundred years or so, the only things reminding Lochlann Doran he’s a Fae have been his faceted aquamarine eyes and the fact that he can’t die. He’s been a wanderer for so long in the human world – over two thousand years – that he’s lost his magick, including the gift of healing that goes along with being a Fae of the Demesne of Water. Finding his SoulShare might get it back for him. But it might kill him, too. Garrett Templar has been living on borrowed time, in a sense, since he was eighteen, when one of the johns he entertained to pay the bills while he danced at Purgatory infected him with HIV. It was always supposed to be a “manageable” disease, though, at least until a cure was found. Except he’s just found out that the virus in his system has inexplicably mutated into full-blown AIDS, and no known drug cocktail can even slow it down.  And when Lochlann and Garrett find each other at last, on Purgatory’s dance floor, the only thing as urgent as their need for one another is the hunger of an ancient evil to do whatever is necessary to possess Lochlann’s magick…

When I first started writing the SoulShares, back in the fall of 2011, I wasn’t thinking at all in terms of a message or a theme. There were people in my head, Fae people and human people, who wanted their stories told, and that was about it. That’s changed, the more I write. The first notion I had of a “theme” dawned on me when a gay friend of mine, who I’ve known for something like 25 years and who is the only person I know I would trust to “fact-check” my erotic scenes, responded to my first draft with “Have you been a gay man in drag all these years, and I just never knew?” I love being able to write gay romance, and erotic fiction, in a way that I hope says something to the rest of the world about how love is love, period. When my Facebook banner is done, it’s going to have a motto on it: “Many Fantasies… One Love.” And the other theme that’s come to mean a lot to me in these books started by accident. (Except that there’s no such thing as accident, really.) The first incident of what I’ve come to call “SoulShare joy” just sort of happened, between Tiernan and Kevin, but it’s become a hallmark of all the erotic scenes in all the books.  Love and delight, love and laughter go hand in hand, and even the hottest sex imaginable is heightened by joy. And as long as I still have anything to say on those themes, there will be Fae, and there will be SoulShares.

Thank you for having me, Erin! – and you can find all my books (including several anthologies I have stories in that I didn’t mention here) on my Amazon Author page, at

http://www.amazon.com/Rory-Ni-Coileain/e/B009M8XQP2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1