Tuesday, 31 July 2012

T-Storms, Sex, Rain, Sex, Snow Sex...

Here in SE Ohio, we’ve gone from absolutely no rain with brown, crispy lawns, and extreme temperatures with high humidity to t-storms from hell and deluges that would make Noah cuss.

After such a rain in the evening, fog rises from the hollows and everything is dripping or running with rivulets of water. This setting makes for a nice evening of writing, but by that time my mind and my body are tired.

Click cover for more info.
Ever notice how rain seems to inspire the desire to make love? Ever spend a long rainy spell doing the deed as you listen to the rain drum on the roof or fall across a tent?

Rain plays a big role in many romantic scenes, even full novels, but if you really consider the idea, rain does this in real life, too.

Click cover for more info
Rain is the theme in two of my latest short releases, MakingLove in the Rain and also Mother Nature’s Passion. I’ve realized I use weather themes a lot in my fiction. Everything from a tropical storm in Ruby, the White King and Marilyn Monroe to the novella Black Magic Margarita in the Masquerade Desires Anth (both my Ruby novel and the novella are set or partially set in Key West) to an unseasonably warm Indian Summer in my Crimson Bane Battles series, but autumn and cold, snowy weather has the survivors worried (Oh, btw, book 3, Absinthe Dawn, debuts today! Here are the links for books ONE, TWO, and THREE).
Click cover for info.

I’ve used snowstorms, heat waves, etc., but for some reason a thunderstorm with torrential rains is my favorite to create tension and mood. And it's been proven that bad weather for long periods of time causes a spike in the birth rate, lol. Matter of fact, my first child was conceived during a terrible thunderstorm. And often the wives of a settlers were usually four or five months pregnant by the time the spring thaw arrived. Heck, even war times caused a spike in the birth rate; whenever the men would return for a furlough or for good, you know what they were doing when the lights went out, lol (thankfully we now live in an age where there are plenty of birth control methods!).

Weather is a useful tool when writing fiction, and I guess battles, war, and skirmishes are, too, which I will be showing in my Absinthe books as well. Both bring people together, and soon there are babies crying in the house and toddlers bee-bopping around the lawn.

So what’s your favorite pastime when it rains—besides sex, that is, lol!

***Tomorrow's post: find out whose book has been reviewed!***

Monday, 30 July 2012

Blowing Raspberries

The stress in the Bicknell-Brown household during this lovely summer vacation has been...how should I say it? Of mushroom-cloud proportions?

I’m not going to bore you with a long four-page post of what’s been going on, but between my hubby’s hours being cut at work, the loss of my transportation and being confined at home for the last 3 ½ months, my family moving in for a week due to no power in their homes, a teen girl who *thinks* she’s in love and believes I should sprout feathers and fly her to see her bf every day, and all the nice plans I had for this summer being dashed to smithereens, I walk a very thin line that cuts through the lands of Insane Town and WhydoIbotherville.

Why do stressful times seem to snowball? One bad thing happens, followed by another crappy problem, and another, and another.... Whether it’s financial problems, health scares, teens tormenting you and everyone else in the house...it never seems to stop. No, it goes on for months!

I’m one who often bitches about the public school system and dread it when my children return to school because of the mountains of stupid paperwork (Seriously? They can’t send a card home that says “Any New Changes?” Yes or no. If yes, fill out the form below) and even when you do, the office personnel still screw it up and blame YOU for THEIR blunders (it took me half—I repeat—half a school year before I could get the middle school secretaries to change our cell number! Breathe, Faith, breathe!). I’m always the one who wails about the lack of common sense in the Board of Education offices, and the numerous inane laws that are passed every year.

But you know what? This year I’m looking forward to school starting!

Put on these clothes. Wear those shoes. Your backpack is by the door. Here’s your lunch. Now get the hell out of here!

I kid you not, I have a magnet in my ass. There’s no other explanation for the fact that whenever I go to the bathroom and shut the door, there’s a kid banging on it saying, “Hey, Mom...!” Or if I go outside to get away for a few minutes—even sitting in 107 degrees with humidity!—here come the kids, who suddenly decide they want to sit in the heat, too.

My gums are sore from clenching my teeth at night.

I have acid reflux so bad I could spit on the carpet and it would burst into flames.

I need to help the hubs with the finances, so I fret I’m not writing fast enough to submit more and more manuscripts, so then I freeze and make myself sick.

And I’ve been forgetting about the hose in the washer as it fills, flooding the laundry room floor. Oh, and let’s not forget the bacon, pancakes, etc., I forget about on the stove and return to find them smoking and so hard I could use them as hockey pucks.

Yeah, the stress is getting the best of me. I try not to let it, but it’s there all the same.

And not having wheels for nearly 4 months actually makes me feel sorry for anyone who’s under house arrest. I have been to church once, to the store twice, and two the local mom-and-pop store twice when the hubs went to get gasoline. [Blows raspberries as my eyes roll back in my head]

If anyone is going on vacation to a tropical region, stop by and pick me up, please. You don’t even have to land the plane, just toss down an extremely long life line and I’ll grab it on your way by.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Back-to-School Shopping or Choking the Idiot in Aisle 5

What is it about holidays, big town events, sales, and back-to-school shopping that brings the worst out in people? How does a nice day of shopping as you say, “Wow, this is neat!” or “Honey, try this pretty dress on.” turn into a spat in the cereal aisle with the lady who has buns as wide as a two-lane highway? Or an argument of “Hey buddy! That backpack is mine! Drop it or lose some fingers!”

Cough-cough! My apologies (not!) for my sarcasm. One of the things about the back-to-school season I could do without is the crazy people running around. Besides, I’d rather spend my time writing in the quiet (Bwahaha! Forgot for a moment I have kids!) comfort of my home.

Once, while sorting through zippered binders for the style the teachers put on the list (I will not bitch about school supply lists, I will not bitch about school supply lists, I will not bitch about....), a shopper had the nerve to whisper to her dau, “I can’t get the pink binder because that woman his holding it and refuses to move.”

A)   I didn’t even know she was there until she spoke.
B)   Common courtesy goes a long way. Just say, “Excuse me, can I sort through those, too?”
C)   Throwing the pink binder at her like a projectile missile can clear an aisle in 2.2 seconds flat.

No, I didn’t really do that...well, I did do it to a math teacher once. If she hadn’t ducked she would’ve had the words ‘Math 101’ imprinted on her forehead.

Anyhoo, school-shopping craziness always fractures my muse. It has a big crack running down the middle of it. However, my hubby always says I’m naturally half-cracked but that’s beside the point.

Anyone have any Super Glue?


But as I grow older and the economy steadily turns to pure poo, I’ve been noticing my temper grows shorter and shorter as well as bigger and ‘holy hell, run! That woman’s loose again!’

I can’t help it. It just seems like people get nastier, ruder, and more inconsiderate each and every day. I suppose they’re stressed, too. And I suppose, just like me, they’re worrying about every penny they spend as they try to keep food in the house, gas in their vehicles, and all their monthly bills paid.

Still...that thought doesn’t prevent me from trying to choke the life out of the bastard in the men’s department. All I wanted was a pack of underwear for my hubby. If you try to take something out of my buggy that I intend to buy, you run the risk of having said buggy driven right up your back alley. When the store manager arrived to pull me off of him tightening a tie off the rack around his neck, I told him I was only trying to teach that poor, dear man how to fix the knot.

Then the manager pointed at the camera above us.


No, no...I didn’t do that either, lamo, but I did get rather furious at some chick I discovered riffling through my buggy once for something she wanted because I’d gotten the last one off the shelf. These dark ol’ Indian eyes can get a message across faster than a text message.

Seriously, though, I seldom say anything to anyone who has balls enough to be exceedingly rude or even mean out in public. I get my point across with just a look. My two daughters tell me it goes right through a person and h/she doesn’t know whether to run or reach for the pepper spray.

I hate grocery shopping. I detest back-to-school shopping. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Christmas shopping.

There are major benefits to buying online and having it shipped to your home. Just make sure the idiots don’t get packaged with my purchases—or it’s on! ☺

Monday, 23 July 2012

Dirty Socks and Kid Talk

A slightly recycled post...okay, whole-sale copy-and-pasted post from my personal blog, because some things are always true:

Things you need to know about kids, cats, and human nature. (If you're a Mom, you know most of this already, but you may have forgotten, so I'll remind you, because no one likes to be reminded of these things the hard way.)

1) A five year old boy who has been sitting quietly and contentedly on his bed playing his gameboy  for the past hour will suddenly and inexplicably loose all sense of timing and hand-eye co-ordination and will develop the attention span of a gnat just moments after being told it is time to practice his cello. 2012 EDIT: exchange gameboy for DS and cello for piano, and it's pretty much the same. I am tempted to actually buy him the electric guitar he so wants, just to see if he'll actually practice when he can make that much noise without hardly trying.

2) An eight year old girl who can cuddle up with a book for hours on end will be unable to read English when confronted with her grammar homework. 2012 EDIT: By the time she's twelve, prying the book out of her hands for anything other than perhaps exchanging it for her point shoes is a futile endeavor. Just give up now and console yourself with the well-worn phrase: "There are worse things she could be doing than reading."

3) Two siblings can absolutely love the same activity, but they cannot sit down together and do that activity without finding things to disagree about. 2012 EDIT: Nope. Nothing to edit here. Hasn't changed.

4) Two siblings can disagree about everything on the planet, including the colour of the sky and whether or not gravity exists, until their parent asks them to do chores separately since they can't get along, at which point, they agree they get along just fine. 2012 Edi--nevermind.

5) No matter how much they argue and want to punch each other out, an eight year old sister will drop her best friend in a heartbeat if that friend is mean to her five year old brother. 2012 EDIT: This apparently does not apply to tweens. Girl power over boy cooties. Fine by me, as long as she's nice to her brother.

6) A five year old brother will go into the basement to fetch his sister's stuffy when she stubs her toe and can't stop crying, but he will, under no circumstances, go there by himself to empty the recycle bin or fetch a clean pair of socks. 2012 EDIT: I've been informed clean socks are overrated. Who knew.

And finally, remember, cats are people too. (Or so I've been told, by both the kids and the cats.) And if you think you are too tired to clean the litter today, and that you'll just do it tomorrow, think again. This is really one of those things you can do today. Trust me on this. 2012 EDIT: still true.

With kids and cats, you can be sure of one thing: if you hugged your kids first thing in the morning and last thing at night and let your cat sleep on your feet, everything else is just the small stuff.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Crab Fishing, Muck, and Dad

Help us welcome Carol Marvel, author of Slave Trader, today.

~ ~ ~

Firstly I'd like to say a big thank you to Marci for inviting me to 4SW. As I've just got back from a camping/fishing holiday on the beautiful World Heritage listed, Fraser Island, place photo here it inspired me to take you down memory lane to my childhood days of fishing and crabbing with my father. Though I lost him back in 2003, he left with me some colourful memories of our trips in the boat. I've told them over and over so I thought here was a perfect chance to share a couple with you.

My parents owned a holiday house at Hervey Bay (Queensland, Australia). We spent every school holiday there and most of the time we were out on the boat either fishing or crabbing. Dad always walked with a limp, which evolved into a shuffle as he got older. In fact, I mostly remember him with his short stepped shuffle. This came about after he was involved in a bad car accident. He also lost his sense of smell, which probably explained why he ate anything and everything.

Anyway, getting back to my boating story, I was about fourteen or fifteen and I'd invited my best friend Lexi, to come crabbing with us. We skimmed up the river in a twelve foot tinny to check our crab pots, or traps as you might call them. Dad, seated at the stern steering, shot off the main river up a cloudy creek bordered by soft grey mud and mangroves - the perfect location mud crabs liked to hang out. Although I didn't eat crabs, and still don't, I enjoyed crabbing with Dad. Besides, he couldn't physically do it on his own with his bad leg and shaky balance.

After locating our pot tucked in under a mangrove, I hauled it up out of the depths onto the nose of the tinny. Bingo! We'd caught three huge blue muddies. Yanked into a world of air and light, they sidestepped around the small cage with their bulky claws raised high towards us. 'Finding Nemo' always comes to mind when I see crabs protecting themselves. Not only did we score crabs but a quite a big flathead (that's a fish by the way). Plucked from its watery habitat, it flapped around madly in between the agitated crabs. With all its thrashing, the flathead's strong tail slapped against the bait Dad had wired to the centre of the pot. This was needed to lure the crabs in through the narrow funnelled entrance. Usually he baited up with fish frames but this time, of all things, he'd used a pig's head. A pig's head! I'm talking about a whole head still with its eyes, ears, snout and teeth. Can you believe that? I think he used to get them cheap because I have no other idea why he would use such a disgusting bait. The problem was, it had been in the water for way too long. And it stunk! The putrid, vile, disgusting stench hung strongly in the air. I'm sure you're beginning to get the picture here.

On top of that, the flathead, with its pounding tail, flicked rotten pieces of flesh everywhere. White, sodden, stinky missiles stuck to whatever they landed on - the floor, the seat, the sides - and us! Our clothes, hair, arms, legs were spotted with the horrible stuff. Believe me, it did not sit well with two teenage girls, tomboys or not. The stink seemed to melt into us, growing stronger the longer it clung to us. Lexi and I abandoned the bow in fast leaps and high squeals to the back of the boat out of the firing line.

I can still hear Dad saying, "What's wrong? What are you doing? Bring the pot here."

Did I mention he was Italian? As you know, Italians can be quite impatient. The thing was, he couldn't smell anything! He had no sense of smell, not since his accident! And no amount of explaining how horrible the stink was convinced him to sympathise with us. So there was Lexi and I agonising over the stench and the sickening thought of being showered with rotting pig while Dad stressed about getting the crabs out. He found it quite amusing watching us suffer and groan while we held our breaths and carried the pot to him. Under the persistent decomposing smell, with Dad's help, we tipped the crabs and flathead into a large bucket. I dumped the empty pot on the bow. Empty? Not only were there bits of decaying meat clinging to the wire, the pig's white glazed eyeballs stared fixedly at me. The bloody thing looked as if it was smiling, having the last laugh. I couldn't convince Dad to ditch it. No, we had to take it with us. He wanted to use it again further up the creek. So much punishment and I didn't even eat crab!

So, onto the next pot. As we zoomed along, I can still vividly remember the boat suddenly veering to the right towards the bank of soft mud. When I looked around, to my horror, here was Dad with his head down - trying to catch the three crabs! They'd escaped the bucket! With claws raised in a threatening manner (I think they were pretty pissed off by now), they scuttled sideways across the bottom of the boat going in all directions. Because Dad couldn't move off the rear seat with his gammy legs, in all his haste to catch the crabs, he'd forgotten to steer, at least in the right direction. I don't know what was worse - being in a small boat with revengeful crabs running free or hitting the bank and risking a strong chance of tipping over, or worse. I remember screaming at Dad to turn. He sat up and did just that, but not before we slid up the bank cutting through the mud. Somehow we glided in a half circle in our ascent and then slid back down into the water without missing a beat. It was like being in a stunt at the movies! To this day I don't know how we did it. With heart pumping, my attention returned to the runaway crabs. Catching them in a pot was one thing. Actually handling them was completely a different matter. No way was I going near them. Opting to stand on the bow with the decaying pig's head, Lexi and I refused to step foot in the boat till Dad had caught each and every crab. I can't emphasize how good it was to get home that day. Even after all these years, whenever we get together, Lexi and I still laugh about it.

There was never a dull moment with Dad, particularly when it came to his boats. Maybe a year or so later, Dad having upgraded to a four and a half metre fishing boat with a bigger outboard and front steering, we were out around the islands off Hervey Bay fishing. This time I'm afraid I dragged Garry (who is now my husband) in on the fun. Husband you might ask? We'd met on the beach at Hervey Bay when I was ten and he was eleven. As he was from Sydney, a thousand miles away, we met up every holiday. So, being good friends at the time, I invited him out fishing. When it was time to head back to the harbour, Dad let Garry drive. He started the boat and went to turn towards home. The wheel turned alright, snapping right off the steering rod. Garry, standing dumbfounded, lifted the useless steering wheel in his hands and looked at me in surprise. Only in Dad's boat could something like this happen. How on earth were we going to get back to shore without any steering? I'm so glad Garry was with us because you guessed it, he became our human steering wheel. He had to lay on his back and reach under the transom beneath the outboard and physically pull the steering cables left or right to turn. Of course, Dad being Dad, impatient and having to have everything done yesterday, simply throttled it which immediately put pressure on the steering. The faster we went, the less control Garry had. In fact, he lost all control at speed, so after a few heated words, we had to crawl back to the harbour with Dad and I calling which way to turn and when. Garry could hardly feel his arms by the time we pulled up.

I don't know what it was but no matter who we talked to who had the pleasure of going fishing with Dad, all had some funny tale to tell about their fishing trip. Dad seemed a magnet for minor disasters, but that was just him - do it and take it as it comes. Though I dearly miss my dad, I remember almost every minute spent with him, no matter how crazy they were, especially my fishing trips.


For the past three years, young prostitutes and destitute women have been vanishing without trace. The only common links to their disappearances are their good looks and prison records.

Never before has a cop been taken.

Detective Billie McCoy, a member of an elite undercover squad, is on assignment when she stumbles onto a slavery racket that goes deeper than she could ever have imagined. Plunged into a web of corruption and evil, not only does she have to contend with the slave traders, but also her fellow prisoners -- all who hate cops.

Stretching from the streets of Sydney to the rainforests in far north Queensland, it's a race against time. Filled with determination, disappointment and twists, the story follows Billie's fight for freedom and her greatest ever challenge. She will need all her cunning and skill to get out alive and see justice done.

Blood will be spilt, hopes will be destroyed -- all to uncover a plot so unpredictable that only fate can decide . . .

Buy Slave Trader

To find out more about Carol, please visit her:

My website: http://carolmarvell.webs.com

twitter: http://twitter.com/carolmarvell

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/carolmarvell

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Burglaries and the Police

Since June 1st, there have been some eight burglaries in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood, which is considered to be very safe, has become a bit scary to its residents. Of course, people are stepping up, installing security cameras, joining the neighborhood watch, and just being more aware of others where we live. This is not a bad thing, but it's certainly crappy that we even have to do it.

At least in the case of two of these burglaries, there has been home video of the suspects and/or cars of the suspects. Some of our neighbors (Angie and Doug) actually caught the burglary on our block on video. That's right: on our block! Very scary!

I ran into Angie this morning, and she was telling me about their saga of trying to get the video to the detective. It's something like this:

This particular burglary happened nearly four weeks ago. For the past three weeks, Angie and Jason have been trying to get the video to the detective on the case. They have been playing phone tag. Doug would call immediately upon receiving the message from the detective. The detective would call some 4-5 days later. O.o Doug would call again immediately upon receiving the message. And 4-5 days later (or longer), the detective would call again. O.o

That makes me feel so... safe. As safe as if we had the deputies from the Dukes of Hazzard patrolling our streets.

Deputy Enos Strate from the Dukes of Hazzard

Finally, after three weeks of this crap, Angie got fed up and found the detective's superior's email and emailed him. According to Angie, the captain responded literally within minutes of the email. The captain said he would forward the information to the detective. Two days passed, and no response from the detective. (Surprise!) She was going to give it another day before sending another email to the captain with something about the incompetency of the detective on the case, but then Doug called the detective at 7:30 am this morning.

Apparently, Doug had shared the video with one of the neighbor's friends who forwarded it the detective. Despite the detective having the video, he never bothered to contact Angie or Jason to let them know that he had it. He could have called or emailed. But, no, that would take too much time to thank someone for giving them evidence.

Now, the other day, I was watching the news. A family was home when a thief broke into their house to rob it. He jumped out of bed and attacked the man. He made so much ruckus that it woke his neighbors. They came out, one called 911, and the other three jumped the guy. They kept him down (they had to beat him up to do it) until the police arrived.

The officer on the news said that, even though this time it turned out well, he highly discouraged people from taking the law into their own hands.

Deputy Cletus Hogg from the Dukes of Hazzard

I get it. It could be dangerous, but if our neighbor's experience with the local police, which is supposed to be a really good department, is any indication, I'm thinking why wouldn't we? I know the police have a hard job. I wouldn't want to be a cop, but from what has been shared (which isn't much. They haven't even publicized the burglaries in our local news.), this video is the best lead they have on this case. From what I gather, they might even be able to make out the license plate of the car. Why wouldn't they jump on the chance to get it?

Just saying...

Sunday, 8 July 2012

A little tact goes a long way.

A few months ago, a friend of mine asked me for some help. As she is a friend, I agreed, even though I knew the kind of time it was going to take. Like most people, time is a hot commodity in my life. If I had to pay for it, I’d be several million dollars in the hole. Instead, I always seem to be trying to “catch up.” But that’s another blog.
However, she’s a friend, and friends help friends, right?

So, after hours (days, more like) of working on this project for her, I am anxious to show her the result. It’s about 8 pm. After dinner, not too late, her kids are teenagers so it should be okay to just cross the street and knock on the door… at least, one would think.

I only planned to drop by, show her what I had done, and return home to put Lily to bed. Five minutes tops.

With eBook reader device in hand, I walked across the street, through the gate, and knocked on their kitchen door. Well, you would have thought I was an intruder they didn’t know the way her husband responded. He ripped into me, asking me why I didn’t knock on their door like a normal person, who did I think I was, I should have called first, blah, blah, blah.

No, I didn’t call, but we’ve never done that. They’ve never asked me, too. And I did knock on their door, but it wasn’t their front door. A front door I’ve never used because they have always invited me over through this gate. (No, I’m not exaggerating. If I’ve been through their front door more than once or twice in the ten years I’ve known them, it’s only after I’ve entered through their kitchen door. Heck, I’ve even helped my neighbor break into her own house when she accidently locked herself out.) So, to suddenly insist I knock on their front door, call before I come over, and chew me out because I didn’t? That went over well with me.

Um, no.

When he finally stopped ranting, I told him that all he needed to do was tell me and not be an ass about it. He continued to rant. I left several minutes later. (Really, all he had to say was, “We are having a family discussion right now. Can Laura come over when we are done?”) Instead, he takes his frustrations out on me as, apparently, he feels that Americans are very intrusive. (I am not the only one who comes over without calling and uses their back gate.) It’s been going on for ten years, and no one has ever said anything about calling before dropping by. For Pete’s sake, we are across the street from each other. I need to call? It’s not like I come by every day, or even once a week. Not even once a month, sometimes, if we are both busy. Now, I don’t stop by at all.

I have not talked to him since. I don’t see Laura that much either. It may seem petty, but I wasn't raised that way. I was raised that if you are a friend, you are always welcome. You never need to call. If I’m not there, still in my pajamas with my hair standing on end, in a rotten mood, busy, etc., then that’s what you get. But I am available to you. If you need me at 3 am and come over to my house at that time, I will get up to help you. Yes, I will. I’ve done it. (Of course, that can be abused, but I’ve never had a friend who did, nor have I ever abused it.)

The saddest part about this is that the two of us used to get along and enjoy having lively discussions. Those won’t happen anymore. Not until he apologizes. And since he expects me to apologize (HAHAHAHAHAHA), it’s not going to happen.

Tact is essential in business. Heck, it’s essential in life. (And knowing when not to use it as well.) With a little tact, none of this would have happened. Yes, a little tact goes a long way.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Chaos, Craziness, and M/M Shortie Excerpts

I’m sorry I haven’t posted one of my rants or warped-sense-of-humor posts this week. I live in Ohio, one of the states hit hard by the storms last Friday, so the power was out nearly everywhere and entire towns in total blackout. Although our power wasn’t knocked out, the rest of the family didn’t have any electricity so guess whose house they camped at? LOL. Last night my parents’ power was finally restored. The oldest dau and her family has their power back, too.

So, as a result of this chaos and craziness, my writing and blogging has suffered.

One thing’s for sure. I have plenty of material to blog about when my next week at 4SW comes up!

Also, if you scroll down (depending on how you accessed this post) or go HERE, you can read my latest book review. It posted on Tuesday, because I sent the link out, but somehow blogger suffered a snafu and the post disappeared, so I had to re-post.

I thought about posting an excerpt from one of my upcoming titles, but since there are seven different ones, I couldn’t decide which one to go with nor do I yet know when any of them will be released.
For now, I leave the fans of m/m romantic fiction some shortie excerpts of my work in this genre. J

The Crimson Bane Battles—the first three books in this series are m/m, paranormal/sci-fi romance involving Ian, an Earthie, and Skorpe, a Parallelan.

Book 1 Absinthe Forever
Lost in bittersweet memories of Skorpe, the gorgeous hunk of Goth who crushed his heart and stole his money, Ian takes an after-dinner walk in Manhattan to clear his mind. A bizarre red fog belches from the New York City sewers, and Ian, like so many others, succumbs to its otherworldly caress. As he lies in the street, unable to move, he watches creatures composed of no more than red, glowing outlines and with eyes like flaming coals wander the streets like an invading army. Ian can do nothing except think about his vanished lover and pray that Skorpe has not been afflicted by the strange, numbing poison.
Skorpe is from Parallel Earth and on a mission to defeat the Crimson Bane. Falling for Ian wasn't in the plan. To save Ian from the Crimson Bane, Skorpe steals a large sum of money from him and leaves him to set up a safe haven for them before the Crimson Bane Battles officially begin. He returns to the city only to discover that he's too late in reaching Ian before the first attack. Can Skorpe find Ian before one of the demons delivers a killing blow to the incapacitated human?
Genre: Paranormal romance, sci-fi, erotic romance, GLBT, end-of-the-world
Someone tugged the cover off Ian's head. Stunned, he stared up into Skorpe's dark, worried eyes. Delight, relief, and a host of questions bounced around in Ian's mind and heart. I can't believe this is really happening. Where the hell's he been all this time? Frustrated with his lack of speech, Ian tried to convey his thoughts through his eyes.

Skorpe placed his hands on either side of Ian's face and looked him directly in the eyes. "You're safe now."

Holy shit! He knows I'm aware of everything! Thank God!

"I'm going to do something that will shock you." A smile tweaked Skorpe's full, black-painted lips, but the concern in his eyes intensified. "It's essential I do this to free you." Skorpe pulled the sheet off Ian's body, unfastened Ian's pants, and then yanked on them several times. "There's a reason I never let you make love to me, Ian. We're both pure."

Confusion drifted through Ian. What is he going on about? We're finally reunited, and he's talking about purity?

"Neither you or I use any man-made products or cosmetics," Skorpe continued, his tone even. "We both utilize alternative medicines to heal ourselves instead of synthetic drugs, and everything we eat is chemical and preservative free, and most of our beauty products are natural, right down to using baking soda to brush our teeth. We only drink bottled spring water, and we both use distilled water to bathe in most of the time. The only liquor we drink is absinthe, and it's pure, too." Skorpe smiled down at him and ran one hand over Ian's chest, a chest that hadn't moved up and down with life for nearly three days. "I've missed our evenings talking over a bit of absinthe so very much."

Ian stared up at his love, both elated and confused to see him. What the hell does eating right or using organic substances have to do with any of this?

Laughing sympathetically, Skorpe answered Ian's unspoken question. "I imagine you're wondering what I'm going on about when you'd rather know why I left you and what's going on with you right now." He stripped off his boots, trousers, and briefs, then hiked his purple, velvet robe up around his waist. He grasped Ian's flaccid cock and began kissing and licking it. "Bear with me, Ian. All will become clear to you very shortly."

Surprised, Ian relished the warmth spreading through his body. The heat slipped into his abdomen, permeated his limbs, and coursed up into his skull. Slowly, sensation began to return, and a steady thump penetrated his ears. 

"I'm going to consummate our union." Skorpe raised his head and looked up at Ian. "I'm from Parallel Earth. Whatever happens to one Earth will happen to the other, only with slightly different circumstances. In our world, we're only permitted one mate. If we have sex, it means we're joined by our souls until one of us dies. And on Parallel Earth, sex has healing properties." He indicated his face and lips and then wiggled his fingers at Ian. "Parallelans look like Goths, but our black lips and nails and our pale skin isn't from makeup. It's all natural." Skorpe straddled Ian's abdomen, and to Ian's surprise, desire roared through him.

Book 2 Absinthe Flames
Struggling to comprehend a world turned upside down, Ian wants nothing more than to be with his partner Skorpe at The Castle, an underground stronghold where Parallelans and Earthies hide from the deadly Crimson Bane.
However, Ian’s unpredictable ex-fiancĂ© is the residing M.D. Skorpe worries that Ian still harbors lingering feelings for Regina Clearcash, but when the Bane sends The Castle into a Level Two emergency, Skorpe is called away to the command center, leaving Ian at Regina’s mercy.
Regina swears she’s a changed woman, but when Ian tells her that Skorpe is his mate, she lashes out at him just as explosions rock The Castle. Skorpe is cornered in the compound, and Ian awakens in Regina’s arms as they ride to a new Regrouping Point. Separated again, both men vow to find the other, but with the Crimson Bane taking so many lives, Ian and Skorpe pray they find one another before it’s too late.
Genre: Paranormal romance, sci-fi, erotic romance, GLBT, end-of-the-world

“I’m afraid a bath isn’t possible,” Skorpe stated. He tossed his robe across the back of a chair and placed the food containers on a counter that separated the kitchenette from the living area. “We ration water because we’re uncertain what the Bane has done to other water sources, if anything. Plus timed showers keeps everyone from wasting water. Our water feeds off a system of springs that fills the Blackmire Lake.”

“Will anything be normal again?” Ian asked abruptly. He didn’t mean to sound short with Skorpe, but after being saved from a frightening fate on the street, the future looked bleak, uncertain.

Skorpe’s mouth flattened into a line that showed both sympathy and understanding. “Oh, baby, where do I even begin to explain things to you?”

“Is it really that bad?” The need to know the truth and the desire to not know battled in Ian’s brain. “Judging by how high tech this place is things have got to be extreme. You have things from the military, for shit’s sake! Computerized things that I never even knew existed!”
“Some of the technology you saw comes from Parallel Earth,” Skorpe said, “because my world is a little more advanced than yours. In truth, Parallelans have been building these Earth fortresses for several years.”
“You knew about the Crimson Bane all this time?”

“Yes and no,” said Skorpe. “There are many alternate dimensions that most know nothing about. However, world after world has succumbed to the same things: greed, laziness, convenience, selfishness and so on. Sooner or later the Crimson Bane arrives. It’s complicated and confusing.” He pointed to a door behind Ian. “The bathroom is there. Go take a hot shower, and then I’ll try to explain some of this craziness to you.”

Ian turned and entered the tiny cubicle that served as the bathroom. It reminded him of a toilet closet on a travel bus except it had a sink opposite the commode and a narrow shower stall. He discovered dispensers in the shower with soap, shampoo and conditioner. Stripping off his clothes, he stepped into the cubicle and picked up a clean cloth on a tiny inverted shelf by the glass door. A sensor blinked red, and water sprayed down on him.

He stood there for a couple of minutes just enjoying the sensation of hot water sluicing over his weary body. Due to lying on the hard pavement for nearly three days in the same position, many of his muscles and joints protested his every movement. As he began to wash, he found bruises where his flesh had been pressed against the asphalt.

Groaning, he washed carefully, but his right arm refused to move without dire pain, so washing his back was impossible.

“Here,” Skorpe said outside the door, “let me help you.”

Ian handed him the cloth.

“I can only imagine what your body feels like after lying on the street in the same position for so long,” Skorpe added.

“Trust me, there isn’t enough herbal remedy in the world right now.”

Skorpe chuckled softly. He discarded his clothes, stepped into the stall and began washing Ian’s back.

“Want me to wash your hair for you too?” Skorpe asked as he rinsed the body wash from Ian’s body.

“If you don’t mind. It’s difficult to scrub my hair when it hurts to raise my right arm above my waist.”

He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of Skorpe’s fingers in his hair, his touch firm but gentle. Skorpe rubbed Ian’s scalp and then nudged the back of his skull, indicating Ian should rinse.

Finished, he remained beneath the spray and said... 

Hee! Hee! I know, I'm a meanie. Lastly, from book 3, Absinthe Dawn (release date to be announced).

With The Standoff Point destroyed, Earthies and Parallelans must evacuate to new bases, but find those destroyed by the Bane, too. Separated again, Skorpe and Ian vow to find one another.

However, Regina, Ian’s old fiancĂ©e, is determined to make him hers again. Stuck in the mountains with her, Ian is determined to make his way back to his mate. However, Skorpe has a problem, too, a very handsome one.

The two men embark on quests to find the other, but the Converts are spreading and attack in unexpected places. Now Ian and Skorpe face not only death, but something worse—conversion. Will Ian and Skorpe’s love survive?

      Skorpe reached the ground floor and strode through the lower level to the hall leading to the cafeteria. He didn’t look back; he didn’t have to. Avionne’s footsteps kept pace directly behind him. Once he reached the kitchen, he gathered granola bars and fruit that were easy to carry as well as commandeering a stainless-steel bottle for water. He zipped up his pack and turned to go, but Avionne stepped in front of him.
       “Maybe you should rethink what you’re doing,” he said.
       “Look, I appreciate your concern,” Skorpe replied, his irritation mounting, “but we barely even know one another so what I do is none of your business.”
       “I’d like to change that.” Avionne stepped closer.
“Sorry, not interested.” He hoped the guy thought better of it and backed off.
“Wouldn’t it be wiser if you wait a few days and see if your partner returns? Maybe you’ll receive word from another group. He could be looking for you, too. What if you miss one another?”
       His latter statement was one he’d never considered. What if Ian had the same idea and went out looking for him? They could pass one another in the night or even in broad daylight through woods or a town and never even know it.
       Still, Skorpe couldn’t just sit here and do nothing. If his mate was out there somewhere hurt or in trouble, maybe he could find Ian in time.
       No, waiting was worse. He had to at least try to find him.
       “I’m leaving, Avionne.” Turning, he walked around the island table so he wouldn’t have to put himself in contact with the guy. “I’ve already discussed all I need to with the commander. I wish you well.”
       With that, he left the cafeteria, stopped at weaponry, where he was given a snubnosed .38, and then made his way through the prison to the nearest exit.
       He glanced at the little pistol in his hand. Oh, yeah. It was a major beast. He sighed. A big stick would probably serve him better.

Books available HERE and HERE and HERE.

Review: Return of the Cowboy

Courtesy of Amazon.com
Written by: Cathy McDavid
Publisher: Harlequin 2012

It has been years since I've picked up a Harlequin romance. I have nothing against them, but I like my reading material to have more meat and potatoes. This particular book, however, really surprised me. It's a contemporary cowboy/ranch story, a prequel novella for the Harts of the Rodeo series. I won't give the plot away, but in a nutshell it incorporates the past of a group of teens, centering on the main character, Wyatt, and his best friend, Paige.

An accident causes Wyatt to take the blame for someone else, but in doing so, it creates a rift between him and his family, more specifically his father. Twelve years later, Wyatt returns home after a serious rodeo accident, but old family wounds are still raw and his attraction to Paige is a thousand fold. Wyatt: Return of the Cowboy is a story of forgiveness and starting over, a tale of love that refuses to die, and how family is special and precious.

One of the many things I liked about the story was the rodeo ties. I come from a family that was in the rodeo business for years. Even my father rode broncs and bulls, but several broken bones later, he decided it was too dangerous. Wyatt, though, was forced to leave a famous career after a bad fall nearly ended his life.

Also, I loved the small-town atmosphere. Having grown up in and lived in several small towns, it was easy for me to relate to such life. Lastly and most importantly, Ms. McDavid writes with a crisp, fresh style that sucked me in the book in first three pages, something very difficult to do to this picky reader, and the author writes emotion so well I found myself tearing up several times.

I invite you to find out more about cowboy Wyatt, his brother, Jay, and Wyatt's forever love, Paige. I know I will definitely look for the other books in the Hart series.

At the time I write this, the novella is free at Amazon. Buy here: Wyatt: Return of the Cowboy 

Disclaimer: all books reviewed by 4SW have been purchased or are free offers downloaded by the individual reviewer; some may even be borrowed from our local libraries.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Have a Great One!

For all my fellow American friends, I wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July!