Tag Archive: Tempted from the Oak


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Cave, HEART OF THE OAK and TEMPTED FROM THE OAK, and hopefully you’ll be seeing those two (and their younger and as yet unpublished sibling, BOUND IN OAK), sometime in 2017.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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QueerSciFi Holiday Blog Hop

Xmas Logo

QueerSciFi is running our first ever holiday blog hop. Our members will be sharing a number of our great holiday-themed titles on their blogs – it’s a great way to find speculative-fiction themed LGBT holiday books! We’ve included buy links for each of the books below – books are listed in alphabetical order by title. Happy Holidays!


candleinthedarkCandle in the Dark Anthology
Author: Various
Price: $5.00 eBook / $10.00 Paperback

Summary: In almost all traditions, winter has been a time to huddle around the fire and be thankful for those the fire is shared with. The holidays grew out of a need to celebrate that time, from Christmas to Chanukah to Solstice. The longest night of the year has always held some special mystery, and we’re proud to present you with several stories of how those mysteries bear fruit. In the first story, Patrick receives a mysterious invitation to dine at the most exclusive restaurant for men. His server, Gio, encourages him to Savor the experience…

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE


christmascactusforthegeneralA Christmas Cactus for the General
Author: Angel Martinez
Price: $3.99 eBook

Summary: Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can’t imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE | APPLE | KOBO


darkestmidnightindecemberThe Darkest Midnight in December
Author: Jana Denardo
Price: $3.99 eBook

Summary: The year is 1930, and something is hunting infants and young couples in Economy Village, PA. When a local priest begins to suspect a demon may be the culprit, the sheriff calls in a team of Soldiers of the Sun. Caleb, Agni, Temple, and Li specialize in demon hunting, but they can’t rule out an old religious sect as the true culprit. Prejudice, distraught parents, and angry townspeople don’t make the team’s job any easier. And if something goes wrong, their own their own, because by the time their backup arrives, it will be too late.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS


FruitcakesFruitcakes
Author: Renee George
Price: $1.99 eBook

Summary: Losing your boyfriend because you see monsters…not good. Getting locked up in the local mental hospital because you accused your boss of being an actual ogre…also not good. Falling for your crazy roommate, who thinks he’s one of Santa’s elves…so not good! Or is it? Come along for a sexy ride as Donner and Bran try to escape the locked ward before Christmas Eve so Bran doesn’t lose the only job important to him. USA Today Bestselling author Renee George pens a laugh-out-loud MM Fairytale Christmas…Nuts included!

Buy Links:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | APPLE | KOBO


holidaylightsHoliday Lights
Author: Jana Denardo
Price: Free

Summary: Aaron asks Rhys for some help with putting up the tree and finalizing their holiday plans, even though he knows Rhys will have something to say about all of Aaron’s geeky ornaments. Rhys puts his own special touches on the holiday decorating as only a fae could.

Buy Links:

LIVE JOURNAL


ilyaandthewolfIlya and the Wolf
Author: Rory Ni Coileain
Price: $1.99 eBook

Summary: Ilya, the youngest son of a Moscow oligarch, is so deep in the closet he’d find Narnia if that weren’t a decadent Western story. On Christmas Eve, his brothers lure him into the forest, intending to murder him and erase the shame he inflicts on their family by existing. However, the attempt is interrupted by Volyk, a wolf who carries the blood of the ancient oboroten’ —shapeshifters. Ilya never imagined a Christmas gift like the handsome wolf, but accepting what Volyk offers will have consequences that change both of their lives forever.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE


Lion's HeroLion’s Hero
Author: Alexis Woods
Price: $.99 eBook

Summary: Eight nights to fall in love.

Ari has a mission: meet and fall in love with a man chosen for him by God. The catch: he only has eight nights to complete it—the eight nights of Chanukah

Gabriel has a test of faith. Reaching out to a young man, he finds himself confronted with the unbelievable. Believe, and the Festival of Lights may herald a miracle.

Buy Links:

AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE | BARNES & NOBLE


lovingblitzLoving Blitz
Author: Charlie Cochet
Price: $3.99 eBook

Summary: From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER


The Magic of ChristmasThe Magic of Christmas
Author: Pelaam
Price: $2.99 eBook

Summary: Jared joins his four best friends on an early Christmas holiday in a beautiful winter wonderland. He’s been in love with the talented and extroverted Casey for years, but lacked the courage to say anything. Casey loves Jared, but despite his gregarious exterior, inside lurks someone shy and insecure and so he’s never spoken up. Both men are about to experience real Christmas magic.

Buy Links:

MLR BOOKS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | APPLE | KOBO


nicolasNicolas
Author: Dianne Hartsock
Price: $6.99 eBook / $14.99 Paperback

Summary: Betrayed by a lover, Jamie rents an isolated cabin on Lake Huron, wanting only to be left alone. Instead, he is pulled from his solitary existence as an artist and tumbles headlong into the legend of Saint Nicolas. As a young man, Nicolas accidentally killed a man intent on murdering three children, only to have the man’s malicious spirit rise up against him. Fleeing through the centuries from the Krampus, the evil troll-like creature that dogs his steps, Nico finds refuge with the young artist who takes him into his home and bed. But Jamie has questions. Who is Nicolas, and why does the Krampus want to destroy him?

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER EBOOK | PUBLISHER PAPERBACK


No One to Greet the Season
Author: Elizabeth Barrette
Price: Free (poem)

Summary: Victor Frankenstein and Igor have a queerplatonic relationship and a constructed son. Igor’s deformed back causes him more trouble in cold weather, which makes Christmas more of a challenge. Victor helps him through it. Gothic fluff, holiday hurt/comfort.

Buy Links:

LIVE JOURNAL


scrudgeandbarleyScrudge & Barley, Inc
Author: John Inman
Price: $6.99 eBook / $14.99 Paperback

Summary: A classic tale takes off in sexy new directions! Poor Mr. Dickens must be twirling in his grave. When E.B. Scrudge, putz extraordinaire and all-around numbnuts, is visited by his dead ex on Christmas Eve, he can’t imagine how his life could sink any lower. But the three ghostly spirits that come along after are even worse! Good lord, a dyke, a drag queen, and rounding out the trio, a big, hunky bear with nipple rings and a butt plug! What’s next? What’s next is a good deal of soul-searching and some hard lessons learned with a dash of redemption thrown in for good measure.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER EBOOK | PUBLISHER PAPERBACK
ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS


silversteelSilver/Steel
Author: Belinda McBride
Price: $6.99 eBook

Summary: When dream hunter Dylan Ryve spots a beautiful shapeshifter raising hell in a bar, he knows he wants the wild young man. But Travis Feris is more to Dylan than a few hot minutes outside in the snow; he’s the assassin’s ticket into the magical town of Arcada. He didn’t plan to rescue the kid, but when he found the shifter being attacked, the opportunity to play hero was too good to pass up. Through the solitude of a long winter night, Dylan walks in Travis’s fevered dreams, learning about Arcada and the pack, and showing the shifter the man he’d been so very long ago.

Buy Links:

AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS


Spindrift GiftsSpindrift Gifts
Author: Aidee Ladnier
Price: $TBD

Summary: Scars and a tattoo may be the only physical reminders from his years as a slave, but when Jimenez suffers a setback in his medical treatment, the only option is a therapy that will wipe away his all memories of the past including his time with Teo. Teo, torn between supporting his lover’s decisions and the good intentions of his family, sets out to teach Jimenez about Spindrift Gifts and how memories are celebrated on Celos even when they are painful. Can Teo and Jimenez weather the storm to find their happily-ever-after on Celos?

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | APPLE

| KOBO

| ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS


temptedfromtheoakTempted from the Oak
Author: Rory Ni Coileain
Price: $5.60 eBook

Summary: With his blue eyes and heart-melting smile, Gavin could have been made-to-order to entice Tearlach, a lonely tree spirit. But the human is the one who’s been enticed—stolen from snow-buried Minneapolis to the Scottish Highlands by Tearlach’s darag, the ancient oak tree of which he is the living spirit. Tearlach is trapped within the darag by the terrible memory of his own death—hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago, but as recent to him as his last heartbeat. And if desire for the handsome human fails to tempt him out, spirit and oak are both doomed.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE


And, as an extra Christmas treat, a “blast from the past” — an original Christmas story with Darach and Trevor, of Heart of the Oak. Enjoy — and may you and yours have a blessed holiday season!

https://rorynicoileain.com/2013/12/23/christmas-eve-on-the-isle-of-skye/

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?

Happy Prideanniverthday!

TiernanMikeGrell

 

This weekend hits a lovely trifecta — it’s Pride weekend, and tomorrow (June 28th) is both my birthday and the second anniversary of the day I signed the contract for my first books, the SoulShares series (featuring the exquisite Tiernan Guaire, pictured above.) To celebrate, I’m offering y’all, in a very hobbit-y fashion, presentses! — an (unedited) excerpt from Blowing Smoke, the fifth Fae novel and the first in the Broken Pattern series, and a giveaway. Comment below with your e-mail address by 8:00 p.m. Central time on Sunday, June 29th for a chance to win YOUR CHOICE of: (1) an autographed paperback of your choice of any one of the SoulShares novels (Hard as Stone, Gale Force, Deep Plunge, and Firestorm), (2) Kindle copies of both Tales of the Grove novellas (Heart of the Oak and Tempted from the Oak), or (3) an autographed (by me) copy of the lovely picture above, drawn for me at ComicCon Minneapolis by the amazing Mike Grell).

Happy Pride! And it’s been an amazing couple of years, and I’m looking forward to many more!

 

Excerpt from Blowing Smoke, Chapter Two:

It took a while to get up all the glass slivers, find the mop, and mop the floor, but it was time well spent. Ever since coming home to the stench it had cost him five grand to get rid of, Bryce had a horror of having anything around the apartment that might smell.

He stowed the mop back in its cupboard. There was a place for everything, and everything in its place, especially in a little New York apartment.

Of course, he’d been that way for a long time. His grandfather had moved in with them when he was seven, after his first stroke, and overnight his room had become the one place where he’d been able to have things the way he wanted. Most of the time, anyway.

He limped back to the table, nursing a bruise on his hip where he’d fallen against the counter. Funny how he’d never managed to pair up with a man as fastidious as he was. Or even close. Aren’t we all supposed to be fussy? He usually drove most of the men he picked up, or who latched on to him, completely bugfuck crazy in the space of a few days.

Terry hadn’t minded, though. He’d been perfectly happy to let Bryce be Bryce, all the while scattering costume sketches and leotards and water bottles and leg warmers everywhere. On purpose, sometimes, he suspected. There had been one time, when Bryce had started to pre-heat the oven for coq au vin, and the strange smell that had filled the apartment had turned out to be roasted ballet slipper.

Bryce’s throat felt tight. He tried so damned hard to drag me out of myself. Drag my head out of my ass. Why the hell did I throw him out? He still couldn’t remember, even after almost a year. He’d asked Terry, but Terry hadn’t wanted to talk about it. Bryce supposed he wouldn’t, either, under the circumstances, but it still would have been nice to know, to get back some of those lost memories, even second-hand. Even painful ones.

Painful? Who am I kidding? I’m a dick. I probably laughed when I did it. Though he couldn’t have treated Terry any worse than he’d treated the parade of men who had followed him–

Bryce froze. What was that?

A barely audible sound, but he realized it had been there, on the very edge of his hearing, for a while. A soft whimpering. And, just as he started giving the sound his full attention, a tiny howl.

What the hell? The guy on the second floor, whose name Bryce had never bothered to ask, had a Rottweiler, but it had a bark like you’d expect from a monster that size and he’d never heard it whimper or howl. Besides, the noise sounded like it was coming from downstairs, not upstairs.

Fucking wonderful, an animal of some kind trapped in the basement. The landlord had a strict policy, all vermin were supposed to be reported to him so he could take care of them before the city caught wind of any problem. Not that Bryce gave a shit about anyone’s policy, but having someone other than him take care of rodents in the basement was his idea of common sense.

Another faint howl.

Rats don’t howl.

No, but dogs did. Bryce hated dogs. Not just Cujo upstairs, he’d hated them all as long as he could remember. His grandfather had kept mastiffs, before his stroke, and Bryce had been about four years old the day one of them had run him down on the front lawn until he tripped and fell, and had gone for his throat. He’d pissed himself from fear before his grandfather called the dog off. His mother had demanded the dog be put down, his grandfather had laughed, and dear Daddy had taken a belt to him for wrecking his new trousers.

The howl didn’t sound like a mastiff, though. Not even close.

I should at least find out what it is.

Bryce methodically unlocked all the locks on the front door, turning the second deadbolt on his way out so the door wouldn’t lock behind him and leave him in the foyer in his underwear. The door to the basement was closed, but not locked; he let himself in and left the door ajar.

The whimpering continued. Bryce reached around the doorjamb and fumbled for the light switch. The light didn’t stop the sound, either. Frowning, he bent to peer down the stairs.

A man lay unmoving on the grey cement of the basement floor. A man with long blond hair curling in soft waves around his face and an amazing body in what looked like someone’s idea of a Ren Faire costume, dark green. Wrapped around in silver chains, so tightly he wouldn’t have been able to move even if he’d been awake, and the linen charred where the chains touched it. And a whisker-faced brown and grey puppy lay on the man’s chest, sprawled out on its side, shivering, its belly rising and falling with rapid panting breaths.

Bryce took a few steps down the stairs. The pup stirred, raised its head maybe an inch, and howled. Not really a howl, more like a pitiful wail. Then it turned away from him, nosing at the man, crying.

He was confused as fuck, and he didn’t like the feeling. What the hell was going on with the man? He tried to imagine some combination of circumstances that could have ended with a Robin Hood type–a fucking gorgeous Robin Hood type, probably a model, just the kind to put a tent in his shorts under other, less bizarre circumstances–chained up in his basement. Unconscious. Smelling of smoke. With a dog. He came up blank.

Great, now the puppy was looking at him. There was something strange about its eyes, he could see that even from this distance. It was having trouble holding its head up, too, he thought.

What the hell am I supposed to do about this? About a dog he was supposed to hate, and a man he was supposed to… well, what? Catch and release?

One thing, at least, was clear. Bryce owed the intruders as much as he’d ever owed anyone else.

Nothing.

Clear, right?

 

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

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

The first in my new series of novellas (Tales of the Grove), Heart of the Oak, will be released by Ellora’s Cave in early December. And I’ve just started work on the second, Tempted from the Oak. Here’s the introduction — enjoy!

            Tearlach moved, restlessly, in darkness and the embrace of the darag.

            His oak, he knew, would have been happy, in the way of its kind, to set him free. Free to roam the rocky face of A’Chailleach, as far as the magick allowed; free to make his way down to the small loch down the slope, cup the chill water in a hand of flesh and blood and wood, ease a thirst two thousand years in the making.

            Two thousand years, and more, since he had ceased to exist as anything other than a faint memory in wood robbed of its magick. Somehow the darag had counted the seasons, the years. Or it had been told, by a voice Tearlach could no longer hear, another darag, awakened like his own.

            The Gille Dubh would have wept into the silence, had he but eyes. He had never been closed off from his darag before. He had always known the ancient tree’s thoughts, as it knew his.

            No longer.

            Tearlach and his darag were one, and yet they were not. Gille Dubh and oak were of one essence, yet they were separate beings. In the normal way of things, a spirit and his tree shared their substance by day, and separated by night, to remember their unique selfness, and in remembering it, to make it be what was. Without the nightly separation, in time the Gille Dubh and the darag would become one strange, living, breathing, yet barked and root-bound being.

            But Tearlach could not separate himself. He dared not. And his heart was breaking, for his darag was walling him off, a last desperate act of defense, both of him, and of itself. Trying to save them both, by cutting them off, one from the other.

            When the magick was stolen from them–from all the creatures who depended on it for life, from the very world itself–he had been in the act of emerging from the darag, into a moonlit night. Laughing with delight–he remembered it clearly, it had been less than a moon ago, for him–at the sight of a handsome human clansman, waiting for him with usquebaugh and roasted mutton and the promise of a night of pleasures.

            He had been half emerged from the darag, his face feeling the cool night breeze and a hand reaching out for the hammered silver cup the human had brought to honor their pleasure, when all the essence of what he was, was drained away. He shuddered now, remembering. For an instant that had lasted forever, he’d known what was happening to him, to his darag. He had felt himself die, and known his death.

            He would leave the darag, now, if he could. But he dared not.

            Not to save both their lives.