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Astrin Raphael wakes up in a strange place, frightened and confused. He is told to trust someone who seems to hate him, and he tries—he really tries. However, things change rapidly when he discovers his friend is actually his archenemy, Rowan Gabriel, whose abusive behavior stems from a deeply ingrained, if unwarranted, hatred over something that happened many years before, and simply wasn’t Astrin’s fault.
When Rowan's uncle and Astrin's father are kidnapped by Strebo Michael, the two crown princes are catapulted into an adventure that forces them to work together, and along the way their feelings for each other grow.
Rowan is quick to let his hate go, but Astrin can’t release his inhibitions. It takes Astrin almost dying from a poisoned dagger before he finally accepts Rowan's love.
When they return home, their problems continue as their Houses try to negotiate a way for the young men to be together. It soon becomes clear at least one of them will need to relinquish his throne.
All Keiron wants is a quiet life. Fat chance with a boyfriend like Bren. But if he thought Bren complicated his life, that was nothing compared to the complications that begin when he opens the door to what he thinks is a naked boy claiming to be his slave.
Draven is a fairy with his sights set on the handsome human who keeps a wild place in the garden for fairies. When Draven slips through a fairy gate into the city, he sets in motion a series of events that binds him to Keiron forever, and just might be the end of him.
While Draven explores Keiron’s world with wide-eyed wonder, Keiron does everything he can to keep Draven’s at bay, until the only way to save Draven and bring him home is to step into a world that should exist only in children stories.
Keiron hurried home at the end of a very long day, anticipating some peace and quiet. He liked a quiet life, so what had possessed him to take on a boyfriend like Bren Donovan was anyone’s guess. Whatever else it might be, life with Bren was certainly not quiet, and it was slowly wearing Keiron out.
It was almost a relief Bren wouldn’t be staying at the flat that night. Although they were practically living together, Bren had his own place and sometimes felt the need to stay there. This was usually because a member of his family—or particularly flighty friend—was coming to stay. It wasn’t as if his family wasn’t aware of their relationship, but Bren was shy about “rubbing it in their faces”. Keiron didn’t understand because Bren’s mother seemed to like him a great deal and considered him to be a stabilising influence on her son.
Keiron was a conservative person and so different to Bren, they might as well live in different worlds. As for Bren’s friends, they were usually very like him—loud, messy, and irresponsible. Keiron couldn’t stand them. He was lucky if nothing got broken, and they always left the flat in a complete mess. If Bren wanted to live in a pigsty, so be it. He could do it in his own home.
This weekend, with the bank holiday, Bren was getting both. His friends were congregating on Saturday. Then his parents and sister were coming on Sunday, and staying through until Tuesday morning. Keiron had a Bren-free weekend and was looking forward to it.
If it hadn’t been for their differences on this point, they’d have moved in together a long time ago. Bren chafed for it, but Keiron couldn’t handle his flat descending into chaos, and it wasn’t even as if Bren helped tidy up afterwards. Keiron cringed at the thought of having that chaos and therefore stress every day.
Not only that, but Bren was the most jealous person Keiron had ever come across. Keiron was constantly accused of looking at other men, and God forbid he spoke to one. Bren was a firebrand, completely living up to his fiery red-headed Irish-descended promise. Sometimes it was exciting, even invigorating, yet at other times Keiron longed for the peace and stability he used to have before Bren burst in on him. Maybe at twenty-two, he was just getting old.
Keiron ordered takeaway and, while he waited for it to arrive, wandered down to the bottom of the garden, a beer in his hand, his hair damp from the bath. The sun was still high and warm enough for him to be wearing a thin T-shirt and shorts. The smell of a barbecue drifted over from a neighbouring garden and his mouth watered.
Savouring his drink, he sank onto the stone bench under the rose arbour. It afforded a good view of the whole garden. It was a big one. A long lawn stretched ahead of him to the decking immediately outside the house, where a large wooden table, a number of items of garden furniture, and a shiny silver gas barbecue sat.
Sometimes, he had Bren’s friends around for a barbecue. They weren’t so bad out here in the garden, although they made such a mess of the barbecue itself that it took him days to get it properly clean. He smiled to himself. Sometimes, living with Bren was like having a teenage son. Fortunately, Bren was very good at things he’d hate to think any son of his could do.
The lawn was bordered on either side by flower beds and bushes, which hid the wooden fences separating his garden from the ones on either side. To his left, screened from the arbour by a yew hedge, was a garden pool with a rock fountain and fat koi swimming under lily pads. There used to be more fish—before Bren’s friends found the pond. He pursed his lips at the thought.
To the right was a shrubbery. A large variety of plants made up a wild area of about thirty square feet. Bren loved it, of course. He’d burrowed into it and, within a week, had made a green cave right in the middle. He’d floored it with an old piece of carpet he’d found on a skip. It had taken a long time and a lot of carpet-cleaner to persuade Keiron to enter it, but he had to admit, making love outside under the bushes in the darkness was something he’d come to enjoy very much.
Bren had been surprised he had such a wild place in his neat garden, in his neat life. Perhaps it was the thing that sealed the deal with Bren, who’d been reluctant to get involved with someone so unlike himself, and likely to “cramp his style”.
“But why?” he’d asked. “It doesn’t seem like you to have a wild place like this. It’s so out of place—with the garden and with you. Why haven’t you ‘tamed’ it? Everything else in your life is tame.
You’re the most vanilla person I know—except for this.”
They were in the “cave” at the time. It was dark but warm, and they were holding each other in the afterglow of amazing sex. Keiron had smiled lazily and sighed.
“My mother used to live out in the country somewhere when she was a child. My grandmother never took to city life. She told me once there was no room in a city for life, real life. Nowhere for roots to reach the earth. No place for the fairies.”
“Oh yes, she was very superstitious about fairies. Never had anything made of iron in the garden. Put out saucers of warm milk if there was a deep frost or snow. And always had a wild place in the garden—for the fairies.”
Bren had smiled at him. “I never thought you had any of that in you, Keiron. I guess there’s hope for you yet.”
Keiron had grinned and held Bren tightly in his arms.
Keiron smiled at the memory and took a drink of his beer. Something caught his eye, and he turned towards the shrubbery. He was sure he’d seen something move, shooting across his vision, behind the trees. He stared hard, but there was nothing there. It must have been a squirrel. He saw them now and again, scrabbling for nuts under the hazel tree or acorns from the enormous oak that overhung the garden from next door.
With a sigh, he settled back and took another drink. His stomach rumbled, and he glanced at his watch, wondering when his pizza would get there. The deliveryman was a regular, and if there was no answer at the door, he’d text to say he’d arrived. So Keiron could relax and not worry about—
There was definitely something there. It moved again. He’d seen it—a flash of white. A cat? Most of the neighbours had cats, and they liked to hang about in the shrubbery, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting birds. It had taken a lot of work to get rid of the smell of cat pee from the carpet.
Ah well. Although…something nagged at the back of his mind. It wasn’t a cat. It couldn’t have been a cat because it hadn’t looked like a cat. It had looked like a person. A small person with a pale pointed face. But it had only been a fraction of a second, a flash, an impression. It was nonsense, of course.
Maybe it was one of the fairies. He smiled.
There was no further movement in the bushes, so when the text came to herald the arrival of his pizza, he wandered back into the house.
He decided to eat his stuffed-crust vegetable supreme at the kitchen table. It was a beautiful night. Other than distant strains of music drifting over from the barbecue, there was the type of silence that magnified the slightest sound. Like the silence that came with snow. It was magical.
Keiron laughed at himself. Magical? That’s what you get for thinking of fairies.
Something flashed at the window and he glanced up sharply. There was nothing there, but there had been. In that fraction of a second between his head beginning to move and his eyes orienting on the window, there had been something or someone peeping in. Someone with a small pointy face. Shit.
Take it easy. If something was there, he didn’t want to frighten it away before he found out what it was.
He took up the uneaten pizza, making a show of putting it onto a plate and into the fridge. The back door was open to let in the summer warmth, and the bin was next to it, out of sight of the window. He folded the pizza box, and headed for the bin—only he wasn’t going to the bin at all. He lifted the lid, so the sound carried out into the garden, but before he let the lid drop, he dived for the back door.
There was nothing there, but there had been. There had been someone crouching under the window, peeping in. It was someone with long white hair, a pointed face, and unnaturally blue eyes. It was all seen in the blink of an eye, and after he’d blinked, there was nothing there and no sign there ever had been.
“I know you’re there. I’ve seen you three times now,” he called into the silence. “I know what you are.” Why had he even said that? It couldn’t have been anything but a figment of his imagination. Human beings couldn’t move that fast, and it was certainly no animal. Then what? A fairy? Hah.
Smiling at his own foolishness, he went back into the house and closed the door.
He was halfway through the remaining pizza, drinking his third bottle of beer and feeling pretty mellow, when there was a soft tapping at the back door. This surprised him very much. No one ever knocked on the back door. Why would they? How could they? They’d have to be in the garden, and there were only two ways into it, the door at which they now tapped or a tiny gate right at the bottom, which would have necessitated them traipsing right through the garden. Who would do that?
With a frown, gripping the bottle in his hand like a weapon, he walked through the kitchen to the door. He could see a vague form through the frosted glass. There was definitely someone there. He wondered if they’d disappear by the time he opened the door.
When the door opened, Keiron froze. He’d never seen anything—or anyone—remotely like the creature who stood on his back doorstep.
Keiron blinked, half expecting the creature to vanish before he opened his eyes. He didn’t. He seemed human enough. A boy of seventeen or eighteen years old, with long silvery-white hair and a pretty elfin face. Long white lashes swept over the downturned eyes and skin so pale it appeared translucent, seeming almost to glow in the gathering dusk. He was slender, willowy, and completely naked.
“Who the hell are you?” Keiron eventually asked. The boy looked up and Keiron recoiled. Nothing with eyes like that could be human. They were blue, but it wasn’t any blue he’d ever seen before. It was a brilliant electric blue with a metallic sheen that marked him as something very different to anyone Keiron had ever encountered.
“Draven,” the boy said automatically in a light singsong voice.
“What do you want?”
“Whatever you want.”
“I…want…I want to know who you are and why you’re standing naked on my back doorstep.”
“I’m…Draven,” he said with an anxious little smile. “I’m yours.”
Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play. Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a reenactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere. In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son, dog, bearded dragon and three cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art, with a healthy smattering of magic and mayhem.
When Astrin Raphael finds himself held hostage in an unfamiliar place, he has no option but to try to have faith in someone who seems to despise him. Little does he know his captor is his nemesis, Rowan Gabriel, whose disdain for Astrin all started with a misunderstanding years ago.
The kidnapping of Astrin’s father and Rowan’s uncle leaves the two princes with no choice but to form a precarious alliance. Rowan casts off his hatred and reaches out to Astrin, but Astrin’s doubt and insecurity run too deep to let go of easily. It’s not until Astrin almost loses his life that he’s able to acknowledge what Rowan means to him and admit to the love forming between them.
For Tracey, life has become a nightmare. Kidnapped from a nightclub in Boulder, Colorado, brutalized and raped by the killer known as Crimson, he's held captive alongside Kyle, a young man Crimson keeps chained to his bed and is slowly torturing to death. Though Tracey manages to escape with Kyle's help, he is forced to leave Kyle behind.
Gene has never stopped looking for his brother Kyle, abducted from a nightclub seven months previously. The case breaks open when Tracey comes forward, claiming to have knowledge of the whereabouts of Crimson's hideout.
A manhunt begins, but Crimson's birthday has come and gone, and he will kill again.
This is not a book for the faint hearted. Told from various perspectives, one of which is a serial killer, the story is complex, deep and chilling.
Crimson kills beautiful young men as birthday presents to himself. He is a master of his craft; intelligent, creative and always one step ahead. He made a mistake when he stole Kyle though, and a bigger one when he kept him. Torturing Kyle slowly to death might have been the biggest thrill of his life but this, and his obsession with Tracey, is what finally brought him down because Kyle’s brother Craig and Tracey’s boyfriend Daniel will stop at nothing to save the men they love.
This story had me from the blurb. It dives right into the action and stays there for the entire trip. Yes, I skipped ahead more than once because I just couldn’t handle the anticipation, but that’s me. I know there are plenty of you out there who will relish the mental torment as much as Crimson relishes the physical.
I won’t give away any secrets but Holy Shit the twist at the end will knock you sideways.
First, I want to thank Cheryl for hosting me today. I appreciate being able to speak to her fans and readers. For those who haven’t met me yet, I write epic fantasy. My current series – Champion of the Gods – is a five book epic fantasy work. Books One through Four are already available and Book Five is almost finished.
To introduce you to the series, I’d like to give everyone a free eBook copy of Book One – The Last Grand Master. And to pique your interest a bit more, I’m holding a gift card giveaway. If you sign up for my newsletter, you get a free copy of The Last Grand Master, a 35% off DSP Publication coupon and you’ll be entered to win one of three gift cards. Click the link below to enter the contest and get your free gifts.
Or keep reading for more details. If you already get my newsletter, thank you very much. But you can also get the 35% coupon and enter the contest by clicking the same link. Want to earn more chances to win a gift card? Spread the word about my contest on social media. After you enter the contest, you’ll get a unique link you can share on social media. Every person who uses your link to enter the contest will earn you three additional entries. [Yeah, I get that might be confusing, email me if you have questions or click THIS LINK and you’ll be taken to a blog post on my site with info about the contest.] If you want more information about the series and The Last Grand Master, click the image below and you’ll be sent to the series page on my website with more information about each of the books. There are video trailers for those who want something visual (Five points if you just said, “that’s not too abysmal, we can take in an old Steve Reeves movie) and information about the characters, geography and culture of the world.
I hope you’ll check out the series, sign up for my newsletter and claim your free gifts. Enjoy The Journey! Andrew Q. Gordon
In the waning light of the summer sun, the four emerged onto the grassy plains. Without warning, the unicorns took off as only their kind could. Back home, with the wind rushing through his hair, Farrell laughed. He leaned forward, urging Nerti to run faster. Peering back, he saw Klissmor galloping with a determined glint in his eye. Miceral mimicked Farrell’s position, and his blond hair shimmered when it caught a shaft of moonlight from the newly risen moon. For all his effort, Klissmor never caught Nerti. They reached the northern edge and had careened back when a powerful flare lit the dark sky from a spot above the gates. Farrell recognized the aura instantly. What did Wesfazial want? “We’re being summoned back,” he told Nerti, not trying to hide his disappointment. Nerti raced Klissmor to the front gate, and the pair arrived side by side. Farrell and Miceral quickly dismounted, and Farrell moved to one of the permanent Doors on this side. Careful to avoid the horn, he put his head to Nerti’s forehead and kissed her between the eyes, a thanks for the ride. Smiling broadly, he waved to close the Door and took Miceral’s hand. Before they reached the gate, his smile drained. “Honorus’s butt cheeks!” His curse earned him a stifled laugh from Miceral. “That man is always scowling at me. What is it now?” When they arrived, Wesfazial, his face pinched and tight, “greeted” them. “What in the Eight Gates of Neblor do you think you were doing?” He barely contained his anger. “You’re supposed to be resting, not off romping around at night on a unicorn’s back. And what demon possessed you to open Doors? You’re not supposed to be using magic. At all!” He paused for a breath, then turned his glare on Miceral. “And you. Not content to wound him, now you’re trying to kill him by not letting him rest?” Farrell put fingers to lips and whistled loudly. When his mentor stared at him, he shook his head slowly. “Sometimes it’s better to ask questions before launching into a lecture.” Wesfazial’s eyes narrowed, but he kept silent. “Nerti healed me with her horn.” Raising both eyebrows, he waited a moment before adding, “I assume that’s all you wanted.” “Um, no, there’s nothing else.” The older wizard shook his head as Farrell led Miceral inside. “Sorry, but I was apoplectic when I saw you four galloping about like that. Forgot about those unicorn horns.” Laughing at the contrition, Farrell turned abruptly and put his hand on Wesfazial’s shoulder. “Sooner or later you’ll have to let go and realize I’m not the juvenile you met when you arrived.” “It will take a long time for me to forget those days. I’m glad you’re all right, but be careful around this big oaf. He only looks slow.” Wesfazial gripped Miceral’s shoulder in his meaty hand before walking away.
Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads and ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write. Since devouring The Lord of the Rings as a preteen, he has been a fan of all things fantastical. His imagination has helped him create works of high fantasy, paranormal thrills and touch of the futuristic. He also writes the occasional contemporary story. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his husband of twenty-two years. Together they are raising their pre-school age daughter and three dogs. Andrew tries to squeeze writing time in around his most important jobs, being husband and ‘Papa.’ Along with teaching how to kick a soccer ball or ride a scooter, he has become fluent in cartoon characters and children’s books. To find out more about Andrew, his writing and his family, follow him on his website or on Facebook. You can also sign up for his monthly newsletter and get an exclusive short story only available to subscribers. Use the link below to join:
Sixteen-year-old Shade has spent years imprisoned in a dark cellar after being snatched off the street as a young child. Events since his release have left him traumatised and desperate to die.
Dory is a lively and engaging seventeen-year-old with mental health issues that make him a slave to his dangerously uncontrollable emotions.
When Shade comes to the secure children's home, Eastbrook; because no one else wants him, the manager appoints Dory as his champion, an appointment Dory takes very seriously indeed.
As friendship turns into something else, something new and exciting, they struggle to find their feet, but every step leads to more complication.
When a spiteful act separates them, it seems their love is doomed before it ever had a chance, but when Dory falls ill, it's up to Shade to pick up the standard and become his champion, although it might already be too late.
Meet The Author
Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and menagerie of three cats, a dog and a dragon. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close.
Immersed, as always, in the world of fantasy, she maintains a burning desire to share the stories and these days it’s in the form of books which all contain her spark and unique view on life, the universe and everything.
“Aren’t you going to at least try to bring his fever down?”
“We’ll keep an eye on it, but it’s one of the best weapons he has against the virus. It’s surprising how many defences the body can put up itself to invasions like this. Viruses and bacteria can’t survive in high temperatures, which is why the body raises it. Hopefully, the fever will break by itself over the next few days as the virus dies out.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“If it gets to dangerous levels we’ll bring it down a little, but....” The doctor shrugged. “I’m sorry. I wish I could do more.”
When the doctor left there was silence, and everyone looked at Dory, who seemed to be sleeping peacefully.
“He doesn’t deserve this,” Mrs. Bowden snapped, and for a moment Shade thought she was mad with him, but she wasn’t; she was just angry. “After everything he’s been through, how hard he’s worked, he really doesn’t deserve this.”
“What does it mean?” Shade asked. He’d picked up on the grave tone and knew what the doctor said had been serious, but he didn’t really understand.
“It means that Dory’s very ill, sweetheart. He might die, but that’s not very likely. He might have... other problems.”
“Like maybe he won’t be able to talk... or do all the things he does now, like reading and writing and.... He might not know who we are, or who he is, or have memory problems or... all kinds of things.”
“I don’t understand.”
“No one knows what’s going to happen, Shade,” Penny said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Shade nodded. He could understand that... waiting. He’d done a lot of it.
QSF has a new book out, the latest in our series of flash fiction anthologies:
Re.new.al (noun) 1)
Resuming an activity after an interruption, or
2) Extending a contract, subscription or license, or
3) Replacing or repairing something that is worn out, run-down, or broken, or
4) Rebirth after death.
Four definitions to spark inspiration, a limitless number of stories to be conceived. Only 110 made the cut. Thrilling to hopeful, Renewal features 300-word speculative fiction ficlets about sexual and gender minorities to entice readers. Welcome to Renewal.
Because these stories are only 300 words each, we’re not supplying long excerpts, but here are the first lines of several of the stories. Enjoy!
“Griselda pulled the weeds from between the rows of Valerianella locusta plants in the garden, careful not to disturb the buds that would grow into the babies that were her only real income-producing crop.” —The Witches’ Garden, by Rie Sheridan Rose
“I didn’t know how truly the world was in trouble until I went journeying to look for Anisette’s bluebonnets.” —Bluebonnets, by Emily Horner
“The ship’s drive malfunctioned at the worst possible time.” —The Return, by Andrea Speed
“Before we continue, there’s a rather macabre fact about me I should share.” —Rejuvenation, by Christine Wright
“When I died they buried me at the bottom of the garden and returned to the fields.” —Below the Hill, by Matthew Bright
“The world is ending and I can’t look away from your eyes.” —Sunrise, by Brigitte Winter
“Losing one’s superpowers to your arch nemesis sucks donkey nuts, I tell ya. And trust me when I say I suck a lot of them.” —Rainbow Powers, by Dustin Karpovich
“The day I was born again was damp, rainy—a good day for rebirth, all things considered.” —The Birthing Pod, by Michelle Browne
“Intwir's twelve eyes roved over the container, taking in the cracked outer lock and the elasticated fabric stretched tightly over its exterior.” —In a Bind, by S R Jones
‘You’ve reached Androgyne HelpLine. Press one to start service. Press two to interrupt or cancel service. Press three—’” —Auto-Renew, by Ginger Streusel
“The doctor tells me that my wife is dying, but I already know.” —I Will Be Your Shelter, by Carey Ford Compton
‘San Francisco was the first to go dark, followed by Los Angeles.’” —When Light Left, by Lex Chase
“My fingers lingered on the synthetic skin, trailing soft patterns across my work.” —Miss You, by Stephanie Shaffer
Andrea Felber Seligman
Carey Ford Compton
Carol Holland March
E R Zhang
Elsa M León
Eric Alan Westfall
Foster Bridget Cassidy
J. Alan Veerkamp
J. P. Egry
L M Somerton
L. Brian Carroll
Leigh M. Lorien
Lloyd A. Meeker
Martha J. Allard
Mary E. Lowd
Mindy Leana Shuman
R R Angell
Redfern Jon Barrett
Rory Ni Coileain
S R Jones
Zev de Valera
BLURB:Clyde Barrington is a werewolf with a curse on his head. Every night, he shifts from human to wolf and lives the life of a lonely predator, never fully accepted by his pack. When he saves a handsome stranger from a fire, everything changes.
In a world divided by the ancient feud between werewolves and warlocks, Clyde and Terry must learn to trust each other. When wolves start to disappear, their bond is tested by the fear of a pack now balanced on the edge of destruction.
Amidst a web of lies, deceits and betrayals, Clyde must decide where his loyalties lie, and choose between a forbidden love and the ties that bind him to his brothers. Is Terry an enemy to the pack, or the saviour that will lead them out of the darkness?
The feeling of creeping heat, pleasant at first, began at Terry’s feet. He was dreaming of summer in Mississippi, where his boyhood had been spent in the sultry air of the southern bayou. The sheet that clung to his naked chest felt clammy and damp, but in sleep was no more than the humid brush of a vine against his forearms. He was unconscious by the time the exterior propane tank blew a hole, clear through his kitchen wall.
The alarm from the volunteer fire department called the villagers to action, but the house was fully engulfed by the time they gathered and hooked the canvas hoses to the hydrant. Being a member of the crew gave each volunteer a tax deduction and some pocket change, but the frightened group had always hoped never to be called to a genuine blaze. The real thing was so different from the annual training, which simply involved setting someone’s decrepit barn on fire and laughing about it later over a beer. They turned their hoses on the inferno and bent their backs to ensure it didn’t spread to the nearby barn. None made any attempt to enter the house, and few believed anyone inside could be left alive.
So focused were the men on their labors that they didn’t notice the shadow that crept quickly from the edge of the pine forest. The figure bounded on soundless paws, a sliver of moon catching gray fur as it paused before a shattered window, smoke belching from the jagged opening. In seconds, the shadow had disappeared over the sill.
Terry was oblivious to the powerful jaws that tore away the bedding, and did not feel himself being clutched by two sinewy forearms to the beast’s massive chest. It leapt from the window as the structural beams began to crumble, leaving a trail of blood against the broken pane that ripped at the animal’s side. Running on its hind paws, the animal carried its prize to the edge of the forest and laid the unconscious form gently on the ground.
As he slowly regained consciousness, all Terry could feel was a raw burning in his lungs and he gasped at the pain of each breath. Rolling to his side, he pushed himself to sit, bewildered at his surroundings. He was wearing only his boxers, and began to shiver uncontrollably in the cool of the autumn air. In the distance, he could see the flames licking at the roof of his house, and a dozen frantic forms scurrying like ants around its glowing perimeter.
A scuffling to his left brought Terry’s attention abruptly to the shaggy form that stood immobile between the towering lodge pines. The wolf’s eyes were fixed on his own, and fear shot down Terry’s spine as he scrambled to get to his feet. The wolf remained unmoving, staring intently at the man he had rescued but content to keep his distance. Smears of blood spread across Terry’s thighs but he could find no injury to account for their presence. It was only when the wolf bent to lick his wound that Terry could fathom a connection between his sudden awakening and the animal’s presence. He knew without comprehending that the wolf meant him no harm.
When it was clear that the man had recovered his senses, the wolf rose on his hind legs and gave an unearthly howl, shattering the silence between them. A distant voice returned the call and it was taken up by a dozen others, echoing through the trees and filling Terry with a blind terror. Closing his jaws, the wolf turned abruptly and was gone, lost to the darkness which was quiet once more.
Terry began his slow and painful return to a house that was now a steaming mound of embers.
Overall, this was a great little book. The premise wasn’t new, with a werewolf falling for a warlock who was not welcome among the pack due to a cruel war that was over but not forgotten. There was, however, quite a bit that was new – like the wicked witch with a penchant for torturing werewolves, and the warlock himself, who isn’t what he seems.
The writing is fluid and the characters have depth and colour, but I found that the story stuttered a little and suffered from the shortness of the book. There were some leaps that left me shocked and unconvinced. If the story were extended and more time taken over unfolding the paranormal elements, especially in the last battle, it would be nudging an extra .5*.
Apart from that my only complaint is that the dialogue had a tendency to slip into preachiness at times of high tension, such as Terry’s speech to the pack and Beatrice’s speech at the end. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I think it distracts from the impact. On the other hand, there were some absolutely beautiful descriptions, like this one which describes what it feels like to go through the change.
Coming back to human form sucks the joy right out of your soul like your best friend just died or your lover walked out on you and you know he isn’t coming back.
I don’t intend the criticisms to be seen as huge flaws. A novella is what it is and the story is never going to be as full and fluid as a full novel, but there is a lot going on here for the amount of words. One thing I can guarantee, is that you won’t be bored. The book is full of action, with plenty of surprises. If you like shifter/paranormal stories you’ll love this little gem
Kris Sawyer is the pseudonym of Sid Love, who has written several books in the M/M Romance genre but with the Alpha’s Warlock series, he intends to introduce a new world of supernatural beings that will intrigue the readers.
Sawyer grew up in one of busiest cities in the world, Mumbai, listening to the excerpts of Indian epics from his father every night. He is a Potter-head and loves a good mystery in the books he reads.
Alpha’s Warlock is Sawyer’s dream project that he’s been working on forever!