We All Need Therapy by Lamar Neal Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Trigger Warning: This book of poetry deals with themes and elements of abuse, self-harm and suicide. If these themes are triggering to you, be advised and prepared.

An emotional story of one man’s journey of defining himself and struggling with the world he was born into takes center stage in poet and author Lamar Neal’s poetry book, We All Need Therapy. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

This is a collection of poetry of how a boy, who started whole, encountered the world, which caused some painful cracks to appear in his vessel. He soon learned that when we do not hide your imperfections, a cracked vessel is the one, which lets the light shine through.

The Review

I was taken aback by the beauty and tragedy and pure emotion of this poetry book. The poems spoke to me in a way that touched my heart and brought a tear to my eye. You can feel the poet’s pain and heartbreak in each line, such as this passage from the poem Morning/Mourning:

“Living in the ruins of dreams
I was never supposed to have. Tomorrow we might lose everything Before our hearts can prepare.”

The author does an amazing job weaving themes and issues that plague our world to this day. Challenging the toxic masculinity that haunts young boys who dare to live outside of societal norms, fighting back against racial injustice and dealing with themes of love, loss and the pain of not fitting into the mold set out by our elders/peers, this book brings the causes of both inner turmoil and societal upheaval in our world currently into the spotlight like no other book of poetry out there right now. It also does a great job of addressing mental health overall, challenging this need to label anyone with a mental health condition as “crazy” when they are far from it. It was refreshing to see a poet and author expose their mental health struggles to the world in such an open and honest way, and showcase the need to fight against the stigma of mental health overall.

The Verdict

This is a must read book of poems. Due out on January 25th, 2019, these poems will touch on the struggle to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to fit you into a mold you don’t feel comfortable in. Full of heart, pure emotion and a message of hope and struggle that will help highlight the very healthy need for everyone to get therapy and face that inner turmoil head on. If you love beautiful poetry and raw emotional story telling, then pre-order your copy of We All Need Therapy by Lamar Neal today.

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/All-Need-Therapy-Lamar-Neal-ebook/dp/B07JQYYKCL/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?_encoding=UTF8&ref_=dbs_s_def_awm_dirs_l_2&storeType=ebooks

Instagram– @theghostcharades

Twitter-@Ghostcharades

Facebook– /lamarKeonNeal

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Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (Book 2) by Cheryl Carpinello | Blog Tour & Review

Today I am honored to be working with Women on Writing Blog Tours and author Cheryl Carpinello to bring you the blog tour stop and review of the novel Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (Book 2). First we’ll take a look at my official review, followed by some great info on the book and the author, as well as some fun snippets from the book itself.

Official Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Cheryl Carpinello brings the legend of King Arthur’s heroic wife Guinevere to life in the exhilarating and emotional middle grade historical fiction novel Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (Book 2). Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

“Think before acting,” her father always warned. But Princess Guinevere is ruled by her heart. Her betrothal to King Arthur has not changed this. When Guinevere and Cedwyn’s latest adventure takes a dangerous turn, they find themselves embroiled in a life-or-death struggle as foretold by Merlyn’s Goddess of the Stones. Renegades—foiled in their attempt to kidnap the princess—steal the children of Cadbury Castle to sell as slaves. Guinevere and Cedwyn vow to rescue the children, but a miscalculation puts them all in more danger. The plan quickly unravels, and Guinevere’s impassioned decisions come crashing down as Cedwyn chooses to turn his dream of becoming a knight into reality. Will their courage be strong enough to survive, or will one make the ultimate sacrifice?

The Review

Now as someone who has come into this book series without any previous knowledge of the first book, this novel does a great job of creating a narrative that allows readers to jump head first into the story. Not only is the legend of King Arthur, Guinevere and Merlyn all well known to many, but the story of Guinevere and Cedwyn is natural and comes across in a way that is both familiar and new all at once.

The author does a great job of skirting that line between mythology, history and middle grade storytelling as readers get a glimpse at the brutal nature of medieval warfare, while giving an intimate look at a close friendship between a future queen and her future knight. Meanwhile, we get to see the birth of the woman who rivaled Arthur in both legend and heroism, Guinevere. Her character arc showcased the growing bravery and need to save others that few people possess, making her historical and mythological status feel current in this day and age.

The Verdict

This is the perfect middle grade, historical fiction story to bring a strong and heroic female protagonist into the children’s book mainstream audience. A fantastic play on the origins of one of history’s greatest iconic figures, the legend of Guinevere runs deeper than you could have ever imagined. A fast paced read filled with memorable characters and an emotionally pulling story, Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (Book 2) by Cheryl Carpinello is a must read. Grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

What’s Hot Offer Submission for Fall. Enjoy 12% off on minimum purchase of $40. Use code: fallreadingscp. Valid until Nov. 30, 2018.

Book Summary

GuinevereDawnofLegend

His one desire…To be a knight.

His future queen…At times reckless.

Best friends…Bound by Friendship and Loyalty.

When their adventure turns deadly & dangerous, Guinevere & Cedwyn find themselves embroiled in a life-or-death struggle.

Not only are they in danger, but so are the kids of Cadbury Castle.

Renegades–foiled in their attempt to kidnap the princess–steal the children of Cadbury Castle to sell as slaves. Guinevere and Cedwyn vow to rescue the children, but a miscalculation puts them all in more danger.

As the plan quickly unravels, Cedwyn chooses to turn his dream of becoming a knight into reality.

Will their courage be strong enough to survive, or will one make the ultimate sacrifice?

Print Length: 150 Pages

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Publisher: Bublish, Incorporated (May 2017)

ISBN: 978-1946229441

Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend is available to purchase on Amazon.com

Awards for Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend

2018 Gold Global eBook Award—Juvenile Fiction

2018 Gold Global eBook Award—Children’s Literature

2018 Bronze Evvy Awards—Fairytale/Folklore/Mythology

2018 Bronze Evvy Awards—Juvenile Fiction
Short-Listed for 2019 Chanticleer Int’l Awards
2018 Honorable Mention Purple Dragonfly
100 Most Notable Indies for 2018
2018 Wishing Shelf Finalist

2017 BookLife Quarter Finalist
2017 Apple eBook Children’s Official Selection

About the Author

Author Full Sphinx

Cheryl Carpinello is an author, retired high school English teacher, and Colorado native. Since retiring from teaching, she’s been able to devote her time to writing and traveling. Although she may be away from teaching, she is still a teacher at heart and especially enjoys meeting with kids and talking with them about reading and writing. Cheryl hopes through her books she can inspire young readers and reader’s young-at-heart to read more.  

You can find Cheryl at –

Website: http://www.cherylcarpinello.com

Writing Blog:    http://carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.com/

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.carpinello1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ccarpine1/

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Carpinello/e/B002GGGZY6

Twitter Home Page: https://twitter.com/ccarpinello

Linkedin Page:  www.linkedin.com/pub/cheryl-carpinello/25/671/a02

Google URL: https://plus.google.com/110918922081424857545/

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/ccarpine/

Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend snippets

  1. The Goddess Speaks:

Many trials await the two of you. Perhaps the hardest are the ones you will have to endure alone.

“You, Guinevere, will find yourself lost. You—who are destined to be a great queen—will have to traverse a journey of immense pain and self-doubt. You must let your inner feelings guide you. The journey will be hard and painful. You must summon the courage of your soul to sustain you.

“You, Cedwyn, faithful friend of the princess and the queen. Your journey may be the hardest of all. You will be sent far from those you serve and love. Your duty will demand that you see this most difficult journey to its end. Whether it be death or life for you will depend upon many things. Your courage must also come from deep within your soul for one so young. Your love of family and friends must be great. But greater still must be your loyalty to the knight’s duty. For your knight’s vow comes soon. You must embrace it. You must defeat the temptations to turn aside for your own safety.

  1. Great Sadness and Danger:

With saddened and heavy hearts, they left the gruesome glen behind and rode for the castle.

Samuel followed Guinevere, having chosen to ride beside Aaron. His tears dried, but the anguish not buried with his family. The grief was clearly evident in his hunched body, the anger in his clenched fists on the pony’s reins. Cedwyn worried about the boy’s state of mind.

Guinevere now led the trio, concern for the safety of the castle and the people there were marked by the hard set of her chin. Worry etched lines in her wrinkled brow and deepened her hollowed eyes.

Cedwyn brought up the rear. His eyes noted every movement. Ears tuned to the echoes of the forest, head swiveling at each movement and sound. Fear had taken permanent hold over his body—a feeling he was certain should have been as foreign to him as it would have been to Arthur’s knights. Cold fear tightened its grip on his heart and throat. Those who would kill the gentle monks would stop at nothing. Now the little group rode in the dark, a time when all earthly creatures took on the pallor of ghosts, and hidden danger lurked all around them.

  1. Fathers and Daughters:

His finger on her lips stopped her rebuttal.

“Not now. Other issues demand the attention of the knights and kings.”…

“But Father…I promised.”

“So you did, daughter mine, but kings must rule with their heads not their hearts. This discussion is over. You are dismissed to go to your room. I have a knight there who will make sure your rest tonight isn’t disturbed.”

Her legs refused to move. She opened her mouth, but no words came.

“Go. Now Guinevere. Before I forget you’re my own flesh and have you flogged for the dangers you’ve brought upon us. Go!”

Guinevere ran from the room, fists clenched, tears streaming down her face.

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Book Release Day Blitz: Not So Wicked by T.A. Moorman

 

Not So Wicked by T. A. Moorman

Published October 30, 2018 by GothicMoms Studios

YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Synopsis:

Caught in a realm they know next to nothing about, in a time
where they’re hated for not what they are but how they look, these supernatural
teens may find it harder to curve their bloodlust than they thought.

 

Like most teens, even those with supernatural powers and
abilities, Elvira thinks that her days at Be Prepared High are a colossal waste
of time. Especially Feeding 101, since she’s a cursed vampire that was born
without fangs. She and her friends view most of the classes as useless since
they never plan on venturing to the human realm. Why would they when Underlayes
was made specifically for every factions’ safety, where they could roam free
day or night with not a care in the worlds.
But just like her parents always told her, sometimes you’re
put into situations you can’t control.
Elvira’s life takes an unexpected turn when a wizard hell
bent on misplaced revenge kidnaps her and several of her friends. Not only does
she send them with a one-way ticket to Detroit, Michigan, she sends them to a
time when the tension amongst the races is at its highest. And having to deal
with race issues is the one thing that has never even been so much as a thought
to any of them and is the one course not on the roster.
But will everything they’ve learned in school be enough to
keep them alive? What will they all do when racism stares them in the face?
Most importantly, how will they get back home?

 

 

 

Chapter
1

Once
upon a time… Really? I’m not starting my story off with that lame ass cliché. Fat chance. Not when my story is anything but
classic. You can think of this as the life and times of a teenage vampire. A
real one, not one that sparkles as though we were sprinkled with some type of
fairy dust. Oh! And we’re born, not made by just being bitten, consuming blood
from another vampire, or any other legend you may have researched somewhere. The
bitten one is the most ridiculous theory any of us have ever heard of. I mean
really, think about it, if everyone ever bitten by a vampire were to turn into
one how could they ever go back for seconds on the same victim, er donor? Could
you imagine how large the vampire population would be? Anyway, you wanna hear
my story? Just sit back, grab a pint of blood, or milk, and have a listen.
First
off, I don’t live in your dimension, I live in a separate one called
Underlayes. Where the things that go bump in the night – werewolves, vampires,
mermaids, sirens, witches, and so much more – truly are real. Underlayes has
regular neighborhoods just like Earth does, we don’t live in a ton of dug out
caves, or cryptic looking castles; besides the royals anyway. We used to live
amongst you guys, but that was way before my time, and a story way too long and
boring for me to bother with repeating. Just know that we all truly do exist
and a very few of our number walk alongside you still. So, you may want to
think about that before you lay down at night after bullying the school nerd or
your shy co-worker. If they’re the silent and quiet type they’re more than
possibly plotting your untimely demise and deciding what side-dish you’d go
best with. Or what curse to place on you. Something my Mom should have thought
about a long, long time ago.
Me?
The names Elvira, yea, Mom and Pops have a sick and twisted sense of humor.
Which when you come to think of it is actually a very good thing, since Mom was
dumb enough to piss off a witch when she was preggers with me and my brother,
Dracula (yup, again with the humor), Drake for short. During one of her many
mood swings dear old Mom went completely off on an already pissed off witch;
something about the witch crossing in front of her, and Mom thinking that would
make us come out cross eyed (and you thought your mom was superstitious, Ha!).
Miss Witch decided to do her one better and really did curse us both. I was
granted with the gift of being the only vampire known of with NO FANGS! Since
Underlayes doesn’t have hospitals bagged blood isn’t exactly just lying around.
Why not just bite down extra hard you say? Probably because that leaves a big
chunk of meat in my mouth and vampires can’t digest meat; we have a strictly
all liquid diet. Why not just slit someone’s wrist and pour it in a cup you
ask? If you were on an all liquid diet, would one glass a day keep your hunger
pains at bay? NO! And draining someone completely dry doesn’t work either,
unlike how they portray things in your human movies, blood clots up pretty
quickly when it hits air; unless pumped up with nasty anti-coagulants which
leave a horrible aftertaste and makes the blood nearly impossible to digest. So
the blood shortage on your neck of the veil? Feel free to blame that on us, Mom
and Dad had to feed us somehow during the experimental processes of properly
bagging and storing the blood the way humans do. But no worries, they haven’t
had to raid your neck of the realms in a long time now. The alchemist’s studied
the components your scientists used and now have it down pact.
I’m
not really sure if Drake’s curse is worst or pretty much just as bad. Him? He
goes into a full-blown shock at the very sight of blood; fainting spells,
seizures, black outs, the works. Though lucky for him rarely all of those at
once. Lucky for Mom and Dad, he could still at least savor the taste and smell
of it. But talk about being seriously dependent upon someone else, hard to
nourish yourself when you can’t even look at your food. And as a baby? You try
putting a blindfold on an infant, especially one with fangs, and let me know
how well that works out for you. Ah, but it made for some fangtastic pranks
when I was thirteen, which also ended in a lot of punishments. But they were so
worth it!
So
that’s us, Elvie and Drake, two of the only known vampires forced to live on
bagged blood. Though Drake may get lucky one day and be able to savor a neck or
two, as long as he keeps his eyes shut tight and doesn’t dribble.
Can’t
we just break the curse you ask? Ask Aunt Flo that one. Did I fail to mention
the witch in question was, and still is Mom’s best friend? She’s also a witch
with more power than she can handle who needs to watch what she says at ALL
times. The curse was supposedly never intentional and trying to undo it has
proven pretty much impossible.
 Mom, Trinity Alkaev, is a beautiful creature
with a body neither skinny nor large, but what one describes as buxom
perfection. Also, one of the most patient females you will ever meet, and a
truly ferocious beast, fangs and all, when pissed. Dad, Borya Alkaev, is the
strong not so silent type, with a chiseled chin and sculpted cheekbones in
which I heard would give Michaelangelo a run for his money. Born after the
creation of Underlayes, he’s only two hundred years old, so I never understood
how he ended up with such a thick accent as if he just left the great
Motherland of Russia. The exact opposite of Mom when it comes to patience, but
the best dad any set of unorthodox twins could ask for. Neither of them were an
only child, but both are the youngest and only surviving children from both of
their respective lines. Many died before the dimension of Underlayes was made,
some during the move. And Aunt Flo, I’m not even getting into that one. And as
far as looks go Drake and I are a perfect combination of the two, with the
exception of the fact that I have no fangs.
THUD. CRASH. SCREAM.
What
in Hel’s name was that?
“Elvira
Esfir Alkaev!” Moms blood-curling screams vibrated through the floorboards,
“How many times do I need to tell you not
to leave your blood bags lying around? Get down here and help me clean up this
mess. And carry your brother to his room!”
Well
there you have it, the usual beginning of a day in the house of Alkaev.
“Now
young lady!”



About the Author:
When you become a Mom, you begin to put yourself last, and your
combat boots begin to collect dust. Going to your child’s PTA meetings in full
Gothic, especially industrial, regalia is pretty much frowned upon. Especially
by your own children, and your teens would die of a heart attack. But, one
should not have to completely stop being themselves, uniqueness is greatness.
So all of that darkness is put into words in her books, and designs in her
jewelry sold in her Gothic Moms Dark Charms shop on Etsy and Rebels Market.
Single mother of five beautiful children, but by
far more than just that. T. A. Moorman is an artist, a former violinist, a
seamstress, a crafter, a writer, a blogger, a reviewer, a dark confidant and a
darkly dangerous, fiercely protective friend. She still hopes to one day find
her Dark Knight in shining armor, since Prince Charming would never be able to
handle her. And currently broke, so go buy something of hers and tell everyone
you know how much you love this book.
Author Links:

 

http://eepurl.com/cELB79




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Blog Tour: COMES A SPECTER, Book 2, Ghostland Series by Keta Diablo

Hello everyone! I am excited to share with you guys the official blog tour stop on Author Anthony Avina’s Blog for author Keta Diablo’s COMES A SPECTER, Book 2 in the Ghostland Series. First we have a fun interview with the author, followed by an exclusive excerpt from the book and finally a fun giveaway you can enter to win a great prize. Enjoy the tour everyone!

The Interview

Keta: First of all, thank you so much for hosting my latest Western Romance Ghost story, Comes A Specter. Your generosity is much appreciated.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Keta: I live in the Midwest part of the United States on six acres of gorgeous woodland. When I’m not writing or gardening I love to commune with nature. A pair of barn owls returns to the property every year to birth their young and show them off in the high branches of the oak trees. Nothing more adorable than these white fluffy babies with heart-shaped faces. A lifelong animal lover, I devote my time and support to the local animal shelter. Emma LaPounce, a rescued feline, has been my furry companion for the last ten years.

I’m an award-winning and best-selling author who writes in several genres: Western Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance. In a past life, I wrote Gay Romance. My books have received numerous accolades, including RWA contest finalist, Authors After Dark finalist, Top Pick of the Month and Recommended Review from top review sites, and Best Romance Finalist from The Independent Author Network.  

Ps: For some strange reason, ghosts often show up in my stories, no matter the genre.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Keta: Oh, no. My mother, now 91 years young, reminds me that I always wanted to be number 1) a boy (I had four brothers), number 2) professional equestrian (course I called it a cowgirl).

Tell us a little about the last/latest book you’ve written

Keta: See above in my Author Bio – for some strange reason ghosts always show up in my stories. No different in Comes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series. Several reviewers said they loved the book, but the ghost scared the bejeebers out of them. Gee, I wasn’t scared.

Anyway, I didn’t even know I was writing about all these ghosts. One day, as I was going through my back list of books, I said, “Oh. My. Gosh. Keta!! You write about ghosts all the time.” Read some of my blurbs and you’ll see what I mean. No matter what genre I choose, somehow a ghost shows up. I used to see them—ghosts—when I was a toddler, but that’s another story for another day. Maybe subconsciously, that’s why they keep showing up in my stories.

Where did you get the inspiration for this particular book?

Keta: Let’s see, where were we? Oh, yeah…inspiration for Comes A Specter. I love Western Romance, and since I have such a penchant for dead people, er, I mean those who have crossed over, I created sort of a new sub-genre, Western Romance Ghost Stories. I love writing about cowboys, cowgirls, horses, ranches, rodeos, and…did I mention translucent spirits?

On average how long does it take it for you to write a book?

Keta: That depends on many factors. First, a writer has to be at the top of her/his game physically and mentally to pull this off. Second, she/he has to create a great plot and well-developed characters (no cookie-cutter walk-ons). Third, he/she must plant their butt in the chair and write, write every day, even if you have to pull the words out of the air. Better to have gibberish at times than a blank page, right? Fourth, it depends on whether one is writing a novella or a novel. A novella, two months; a full-length novel 4-5 months. Caveat: Keta is a slow writer compared to many others.

Do you have any unpublished/unfinished scripts?

Keta: Yes, we all have those. Some I keep under the bed, never to see the light of day. Others are sitting on my computer and flash me now and then to finish them.

What types of books do you read?

Keta: Across many genres, but never romance when I’m writing romance. Thrillers, suspense, angels/demons, Native American fiction, and small town contemporary (serious stuff). I hardly ever read humorous. I bet that doesn’t surprise you coming from a person who saw ghosts as a child, huh?

What books are you reading right now?

Freefall (Kristen Heitzmann)

The Dead Game (Suzanne Leist)

and…1,697 waiting for me on my Paperwhite Kindle (sad)

Which are your three favorite books of all time?

Keta: To Kill A Mockingbird, Man On Fire, Gone With the Wind, Legends of the Fall.

Do you/have you ever read a copy of your book after it has been published?

Keta: Gosh, no. I read it so many times while writing it; I’d get bored to death with the same old, same old. LOL.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author who is just starting out?

Keta: Well, I’m really no one to be giving advice to other writers. I made plenty of mistakes starting out myself, so maybe that’s it – study the craft of writing. Know the basic rules at least, and then get good enough at writing you feel comfortable breaking some. I mean, there are some you should never break, but breaking one now and then won’t cause the earth to stop spinning. I have a lot of books on my Kindle (see above). I can’t tell you how many times I read one chapter and delete the book. If it doesn’t grab me right away with lots of questions, then I’m outta there. Take for example Harper Lee’s opening line in To Kill A Mockingbird: Scout: When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

I mean, she hooked me. Completely. I was in the sixth grade the first time I read that line, and from that moment on, I wanted to know who Jem was and how the heck did he break his arm? That book really opened my eyes to reading, gave me an appreciation for love of the written word.  

I hope all your reads are good ones; I hope you fall in love all over again with the written word every time you sit down to read a book.

Keta

* * *

About Comes a Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series

400x600

Six months ago, Anya Fleming’s ten- year-old son, Willie-boy, found his father hanging in the barn. Traumatized over his father’s suicide, the boy hasn’t spoken a word since. Now, Willie-boy has come down with a grave, unknown illness and there’s only one man who can save him, Sutter Sky, a learned Blackfoot shaman known as Yellow Smoke—a shaman who was once deeply in love with Anya.

But Fate had other plans for Anya and Sutter—she was forced to marry Lewis Fleming, a cruel man who berated her night and day, and brokenhearted Sutter immersed himself in the mystical customs and beliefs of his People and became a shaman

.

As if Anya didn’t have enough to deal with after her husband’s death and her son’s illness, an evil, sinister ghost is terrorizing their ranch. Anya is convinced the spirit is Lewis, who apparently isn’t done making her life miserable.

When she turns to Yellow Smoke for help, will he put side his bitterness and save Willie-boy? And can the renowned shaman dispel the powerful ghost from their lives and send him back to Hades?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GXBF25X

Available on All venues November 1st

The Excerpt

EXCERPT: Sutter confronts the ghost.

Chapter Fourteen

“Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated, I will not be ashamed.”

Plains Tribes

Tendrils of darkness breached the room as Sutter slipped through the window of Anya’s room. He didn’t want Willie-boy to see him dressed for war, the ebony handprints –chin to cheek—the tunic and leggings splashed with blood red paint. If he didn’t return, he wanted the boy to remember how he looked the last time he saw him. A misty cloud of energy trailed Sutter as he sprinted through the woods, a sign the wraith was on the prowl and primed for killing. That suited Sutter just fine. He had one goal in mind—lead the ghost toward the pit. He’d worry about how to implement the second part of his plan when the time came. An odious stench spiraled up his nostrils, another potent omen the heavy, scuffing footsteps behind him belonged to Ten Wounds.

Moments later, a cry from the dead and damned cleaved the dark, chilling Sutter’s blood. No wonder Lewis had cracked, no wonder Anya and Willie-boy were terrified of the evil spirit. No wonder Cobb had said, ‘Run, brother. Take Anya and run.’ Close, the Zeuzeu was close now. Sutter imagined the ghost’s rank breath stirring the long, dark hair at the nape of his neck.

The pit loomed ahead. Sutter spotted the pine branches and broken boughs he’d placed over the illusory grave. “Now or never”, he said to the full moon overhead and came to an abrupt halt. Drawing a deep breath, he mustered up his courage and turned to face Ten Wounds. A haze of gray mist swirled around the spirit’s form, his human form. If the situation weren’t so serious, Sutter could have shouted with joy.

He took in the ghost’s visage. A quiver hung from his shoulder stocked with sharp, pointed arrows—a sign he’d transformed into the fierce warrior who once walked the earth. Steeped in blood (no doubt from his recent kills), his clothing hung in tatters around his massive frame—a vest made of animal hides, a breechcloth and fringed leggings. Sutter’s gaze traveled to his painted, pock-marked face. Yellow and white stripes marked his forehead and chin, and black circles blended into his dark eyes. For a brief second, Sutter’s insides quivered and ropes of tension knotted every cord and fiber of his body. Bleary, unearthly eyes speared Sutter when the wraith raised a hand of claw-like fingers and pointed at his enemy’s chest.

The wind, much like the sound of a thousand women wailing, keened into the deafening silence. Fire exploded from the ghost’s eyes—flames the fires of Hell couldn’t compete with. Sutter shouted over the infernal noise and flames. “You are not welcome here! Hear my words, you are dead!”

Like a misty cloud of energy, Ten Wounds lurched forward, a staccato rhythm of hisses and howls spewing from his foam-drooling mouth. Sutter had never imagined such a demonic apparition.

The Giveaway

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Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek Philpott | Blog Tour and Review

It is my pleasure to be the latest stop on the fantastic blog tour for Derek Philpott’s novel Dear Mr. Pop Star. Before we get into the review, here is what the book’s about.

A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…

A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing deliberately deranged letters to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. They miss the point as often as they hit it.
But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back… 
Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T’Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

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Now, onto the review.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

How often has this happened to you? You are sitting in the car, bopping your head along to one of your favorite hit songs, and you suddenly start to think about the lyrics. You start to wonder, what does that lyric mean? What was the artists trying to convey in that moment? Well author Derek Philpott took this idea, and wrote an entire book detailing letters he wrote to several artists and bands and their responses in his novel “Dear Mr. Pop Star”. Here’s the synopsis:

The Synopsis

For nearly 10 years, ‘Team Philpott’, as their followers fondly refer to them, have been on a quite bonkers crusade, writing good old-fashioned letters to pop and rock stars (sometimes even sent to their home addresses with prior consent!), either picking up on genuine ambiguities within their lyrics or often deliberately misunderstanding them for comedic effect.

The letters are eminently publishable in their own right, mixing sharp wit, confusion, and unarguable logic in relation to questioning the offending chart hits under scrutiny.

What makes this project especially deserving of attention, however, is that it has achieved a feat never before attempted or probably even thought of. With the missives online for all to see on what was becoming a hugely popular website, the artists quite unexpectedly started to reply, writing back in just as witty and articulate a fashion, politely pointing out exactly where the original letter went wrong…or right.

Also, crucially, nearly all of the responses were procured via ”the back door of the industry”, via roadies, mutual fans, cousins of bass players, and even other famous participants telling the artists directly of the Philpotts’ written pressing inquiries. This marvellous online community, which stretched as far afield as Europe, Canada, Japan, the U.S.A, Australia and Stoke, even cultivated and organically evolved the whole surreal venture by offering up willing stars that the authors would probably not have thought of corresponding with themselves, establishing contact through personal connections.

‘Dear Mr. Popstar’’ proudly features nearly 100 of the best letters and responses from famous and legendary names spanning the whole pop and rock spectrum, all relishing their involvement and revealing their own, in many cases, hitherto unknown humorous sides within what could well be the most interactive dialogue compiled between music stars and their audience ever undertaken. Of course, it is not always possible to reach certain targets, hence many unanswered observations are also included, as they were considered too amusing not to be.

Those to be saluted for their great sportsmanship are:- Deep Purple, Dr. from Dr. and The Medics, Nik Kershaw, Judas Priest, Starship, Tears For Fears, The Eurythmics, Wreckless Eric, Smokie, The Strawbs, The Belle Stars, Van Der Graaf Generator, Martha and the Muffins, Thunder, Squeeze, Dean Friedman, Fairground Attraction, The Ruts, Neil Innes from The Bonzo Dog Band, DEVO, Melanie, Alannah Myles, Ian Gillan, Was Not Was, Republica, Then Jerico, Dr. Hook, Toploader, Cutting Crew, Lindisfarne, Spinal Tap, Mott The Hoople, Fuzzbox, Men Without Hats, China Crisis, Mental As Anything, David MacIver and Rupert Hine (Quantum Jump), Timbuk 3, The Rezillos, Saxon, John Otway, The Human League, Chesney and Chip Hawkes, Tenpole Tudor, Shakatak, Katrina and the Waves, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Heaven 17, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Matthew Wilder, Middle of the Road, Liquid Gold, The Christians, Paper Lace, Dodgy, Daevid Allen, Bruce Woolley, Sad Cafe, The Housemartins, Francis Dunnery (It Bites), Johnny Hates Jazz, The Wurzels, Peter Noone, Suzi Quatro, Strawberry Switchblade, Danny Wilson, Racey, Electric Prunes, The Waitresses, Fiddler’s Dram, Bauhaus, Climax Blues Band, The Jags, EMF, T’Pau, Nu Shooz, Owen Paul, Steve Hackett, Steve Ellis of Love Affair, Hazell Dean, The Knack, The Maisonettes, Del Amitri, The Skids, Jesus Jones, The Soup Dragons, City Boy, Modern Romance, Wang Chung, The Kursaal Flyers, Fischer Z, Bruce Thomas of The Attractions, Scarlet Fantastic, The B52s. Junior, Spear of Destiny, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

Ultimately, this book explores how when a song is released into ‘the wild’ the artist loses all control over it, especially pertaining to its interpretation. It is also testimony to the community spirit capable of being created over social media and how positive and fun it can be.

The Review

I have to say, this was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. The humorous interpretations of these songs not only had me laughing but sometimes thinking about the lyrics in those songs and questioning things. Equally entertaining were the responses from the artists themselves. For instance I loved the letter to and from Tears for Fears about their hit song “Head Over Heels”. I love that song as it’s a classic, but not only hearing the author’s hilarious theory about the lyrics discussing things like chem trails and asking to meet in a public place rather than in private had me laughing out loud, while the band’s response detailing the incident that led to the song’s lyrics, including a failed attempt to ask a local weather girl out on a date that literally had the singer tripping and having his “head over heels” moment.

The book is incredibly witty and well written. The style of posting the author’s letters in the book as if on a professional stationary and then incorporating the artist’s responses was a stroke of genius on the author’s part. Music is a huge part of my life, as I not only write reviews for artists and incorporate music as inspiration for my own writing, but have music on constantly throughout my normal everyday life. Getting to see such a humorous and intimate look into popular songs and artists was a thrilling read to encounter.

The Verdict

This is a must read book! A hysterical, laugh riot that gives pop and rock fans alike a fresh perspective on their favorite artists, bands and songs, Dear. Mr. Pop Star is a fun filled ride through music history. Author Derek Philpott does a wonderful job of weaving these letters together in a funny way, and the contributions of the artists themselves makes this a true page turner like no other. If you haven’t yet, pick up your copy of Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek Philpott today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Derek and Dave Philpott are the nom de plumes of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a small family and, crucially, a worldwide social networking community. Neither they, or anybody assisting with the creative aspects of this project had any connections with the music, entertainment, media or publishing industries whatsoever at the time of its commencement. Despite these humble origins, however, they now find themselves in the bizarre but enviable position whereby many pop stars and people within these circles are their friends “in real life’” (whatever that means!). Many artists consider “getting a Dereking” as a badge of honour, and, as one has participant succinctly put it-

‘’This is an ingenious and extremely inventive concept. You have given us a platform to answer questions that have been asked of us for years by our fans, and respond on a public platform of immense fun. You’ve created a weird and wonderful world loved and admired by 1,000s of people worldwide, and you have your own army of loyal fans. That pretty much makes you part of ‘us lot’ now!’’

Excerpt

Dear Hazell Dean,

I found your song on the internet whilst looking for how to get to friends in Hazeldene, Chieveley.

In these celebrity and appearance-obsessed times it is admirable that you are searchin’ (looking for love) for a man who needn’t be handsome or have fortune or fame.

I fear however that you may be setting your sights a bit low, Ms Dean. You appear, rather than ”looking for someone to share your life” with’ on nights out with friends or on tentative dates, to be ”seekin’ ” a long-term partner either on the train, or, more worryingly, as reinforced by your disclosure that you ”want no disguises”, a Police I.D. Parade, as you ”move on down the line”.

It is suspected that your judgement may have been impaired by ”never sleepin”’ and that there is no guarantee that a stranger on the Underground, or for that matter, from the Underworld is likely to be ”sweet and kind’.’

”Whatever You Do, Wherever You Go”, Ms. Dean, I implore you to be cautious in your quest and not to explore ”every place you can”.

Yours

Derek Philpott

Dear Mr Philpott

Think not of “Searchin’” as a light-hearted missive, extolling the virtues of promiscuity.

No! This work should be considered a seminal piece – a late 20th Century celebration of the seeking of love above all else.

“Searchin’

Looking for love

All the time I can.

Searchin’

Looking for love

I’ve got to find a man.”

This is not a transient pop song, but should be compared as contemporary to the popularist lyrics of Byron, Browning, Rossetti and Wilde.

Were these great romantics ever concerned by the trivialities of sleep sir? I think not.

As the great Oscar Wilde himself wrote:

“You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.”

Additionally, aspersions cast on my predilection for members of the criminal fraternity are most unwelcome and unfounded,and I would therefore be grateful if you could leave me to my insomnia and romantic musings in peace.

Further to this, over the past 35 years I have received 100’s of photographs of dull establishments bearing any vague semblance of my name, in its many variants. The highlights of which include a B&B in Blackpool, and cattery in Crewe and a hovel somewhere slightly South of Brighton.

Why people presume these will interest or even slightly amuse me, I do not know.

Would you enjoy receiving a steady and annually persistent selection of “Philpotts Avenue’s”, “Philpotts Crescents” and “The Philpott Home for the Perpetually Ridiculous”? The novelty wears off very quickly I can assure you.

Quite frankly Mr Philpott the locating of your friends at Hazeldene, Chievely, is of absolutely no interest to me whatsoever.

Yours aggrievedly

Hazell Dean

You can find the book and the author at the links down below, and be sure to check out the official blog tour graphic to see where the blog tour will be next!

Social Media and Blog Tour Info

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40719521-dear-mr-pop-star

https://unbound.com/books/dear-mr-pop-star/

@DerekPhilpott   Twitter

https://www.facebook.com/ThePhilpotts/

http://amzn.eu/93h4fYH    Amazon 

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Blog Tour: Cleaning House (Appalachian Elementals One) by Jeanne G’Fellers

COVER - Cleaning HouseJeanne G’Fellers has a new trans-non binary fantasy book out:

Centenary Rhodes is an old soul with a well-traveled name, but she doesn’t know this yet.

Growing up in southern Appalachia wasn’t easy, so Cent left home as soon as she could, but the post-collegiate happiness she’d expected has never occurred. She can’t find a decent date, much less find that special someone and, after losing her job in a corporate downsize, she’s struggling to meet her most basic needs. Her car has been repossessed, her bills are piling up, and her questionable North Chicago neighborhood is dangerous to navigate.

Returning home to Hare Creek, Tennessee, never crosses Cent’s mind until her Great Aunt Tess contacts her with an offer she can’t refuse. The family’s southern Appalachian homestead must be sold, and Aunt Tess needs someone to clean it up. Cent will have access to Aunt Tess’ garden and truck and can live on the homestead rent-free for as long as it takes. A part-time job is waiting for her as well.

It’s a chance to solve some of Cent’s financial woes, but will her return be enough when evil sets its sights on Embreeville Mountain and the homestead?

Cleaning House is a carefully woven Appalachian tapestry of granny magic, haints, elementals, and the fantastic diversity of the human condition – served with a delicious side of fries and a generous quart of peach moonshine.

Mountain Gap Books | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Smashwords | Goodreads 


Giveaway

Jeanne is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. For a chance to win, enter using Rafflecopter.

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Excerpt

BANNER-Facebook - Cleaning HouseFall, 1952

“Put it out and give me the rest of the pack.”

“Of all the— here!” Cent dropped her pack of Lucky Strikes onto the floor and kicked them under the outhouse door to Pyre. They’re almost gone anyway.It was the middle of the night, and she’d gone to the outhouse to sneak a smoke. One, that was all, and the rush felt so good. It was the best she’d felt in days, and—

“Drop that lit cigarette down the hole. Stowne’s on their way.”

“Dangit.” Cent took a long drag, exhaling as she rose. She couldn’t hide that she’d been smoking again, and—

“Centenary, please come out.” Stowne knocked on the outhouse door.

“I’m busy.”

“We must discuss this.”

“I was just going,” Pyre’s light drifted away.

Coward. Cent tied her robe and stepped out the door. Fall had rolled in early and wet, setting her up for a rough bout of bronchitis that wouldn’t go away. “Fancy meeting you here at two in the morning.” She cleared her throat to stifle its perpetual tickle.

“Centenary.” Stowne folded their arms across their chest. “You should not be out here this time of night, especially in these cooler temperatures.” Stowne held out the quilt from their bed. “You should be inside where it is warm and dry.”

“I had to pee. It’s something Humans need to do regular.”

“There is a night bucket beneath our bed for you to use when the weather is bad.” Stowne caught her before she moved away, wrapping her in the blanket. “You gave Pyre the cigarettes, but where are the matches?”

“You already took my lighter.”

“And I am removing every pack of matches from the homestead.”

“But what if we need to light a new fire?”

“Centenary!” Stowne pointed to where Pyre hovered on the porch. “That is not a legitimate argument.” They lifted her into their arms.

“Put me down.”

“Please see reason.” They turned toward the house.

“Put. Me. Down!” Cent all but fell from Stowne’s arms before they turned her straight. “You and me, we gotta talk about this.”

“About what?” Stowne towered over her. “Your refusal to care for yourself?”

“About the elephant in the dang room!”

“El-e-phant?” Water ran off Stowne’s head as they stared at her. “Those large gray mammals you told me about? There is one in the house? Brownie or Birdie surely would have sounded the alarm if—”

“No, honey. I…” Cent shivered as the rain began falling harder. “Let’s go inside and talk.”

“That is what I wanted when we began this elephant-filled argument.” Stowne walked beside her up the hill, helping her at the slick spots until she was inside the door. “There. Safe and warm.” Stowne unwrapped her blanket and pulled off her rain boots. “Sit. I will stoke the fire and heat water for your tea.”

“Chamomile, please.” Nothing else agreed with her stomach anymore. “And do it over the fire so I can watch. Pretty please?”

“Such simple things bring you pleasure.” Stowne set her favorite earthenware mug on the table beside her chair and another blanket across her lap.

“Tell me a story from our pastlives together.” She watched as Stowne talked and worked, admiring the ever-changing lines of their body. Larger or smaller depending on what was needed, delicate as they poured water over the tea strainer but strong in the way they held the steaming cast-iron kettle without using a potholder.

“Cream and sugar?” Stowne peered up at her.

“Sugar, yes. But cream?” Cent blanched. “But I used to like it, didn’t I?”

“Until this life, yes. And you like it in your coffee now, along with lots of sugar.” Stowne slipped into the kitchen to get the sugar bowl and a spoon from the table, dropping three heaping teaspoons into Cent’s mug and stirring. “There. Now we discuss this elephant.”

“Sit down first, honey. You’re pacing.”

“I cannot help it. I worry.” Stowne turned their rocker to face her. “Tell me why you do not care for yourself like you should.”

“It’s hit the point of why bother.” Cent pointed to the medication bottles beside her. “I take something to sleep. Something for pain. Something for my stomach. Something for— Smoking calms me, all right? It helps with the— I’m afraid.”

“What are you afraid of?” Stowne seemed genuinely puzzled.

“This ain’t about dyingif that’s what you’re thinking.” She pulled the blanket higher on her chest and reached for her tea, cursing softly when her hands shook too hard to lift it without spilling it. “I’m afraid of hurting more, of leaving you with horrid memories before I go. Lung cancer is an ugly death.”

“What about the radiation your doctor spoke about?”

“It’ll only delay the inevitable and make me nasty-sick until then.” Cent smiled when Stowne lifted the mug to her mouth. “Thank you.”

“That is why I am here. Never forget that.” Stowne knelt before her. “I will be here the entire time.”

“You’ve never seen me like this.”

“I have watched you die from battle wounds, from Small Pox, and countless other ways. None were attractive, but I have been there every time to walk you across the veil. This will be no different.”

“But I don’t want to leave you alone.” She reached out to stroke Stowne’s face.

“I will wait for your return, same as always.”

“But this land…”

“Yes, there is that.” Stowne kissed her palm. “It must be handed down correctly.”

“I know.” Cent took Stowne’s face into her hands, pulling them up to kiss them firmly on the mouth. “All right. I’ll think on it.”

“Thank you. Does this mean the elephant is gone?”

“Not gone, but it certainly shrank. Take me to bed, baby.”

_____________________________________________________________________________________

And now i’m proud to share an exclusive excerpt only available on this website…

MEME - Cleaning House - Mountain Witch Cleaning House

    “Hey, Cent! Get up!” Aubrey opened the cellar door and bounded down the stairs before she could wake up enough to cover herself, so Stowne did, draping one arm and leg over her body. “Tess said you had work this morning, so I…” Aubrey skidded to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. “I got mushmelon, eggs, bacon, coffee and— whoa, Nelly!” He gaped at Stowne when they wrapped further around Cent. “I’ll let you get dressed.” He turned to gaze up the stairs.

    “Yeah, thanks.” She reached for the clothing Stowne had once again folded while she slept.

    “Do you mind introducing me to your, um, friend?” Aubrey chuckled under his breath.

    “Aubrey, meet Stowne.” I smell coffee. “Stowne, this is Aubrey Rhodes, my cousin who doesn’t know to knock first. All right, I’m dressed.”

    “Centenary speaks highly of you.” Stowne watched Aubrey turn back around and pass Cent a plate and a cup of coffee.

    “Extra cream.” He stepped back to scrutinize Stowne. “Earth elemental?”

    “I am, as well as Centenary’s companion for most of her lives.” They wrapped their arm around Cent’s waist as she ate. “I see bacon is still a favored food.”

    “Love it.” Cent lifted a piece to her mouth. “But Tess always overcooks it.” She sighed when the piece shattered across the plate, leaving her holding a fragment that she put in her mouth.

    “I like it just fine.” Aubrey sat on the bottom stair. “Tess and I talked for a bit last night then I went to the back porch to think after she went to bed. Rayne came to sit with me, and I talked to her, I mean them, most of the night.” He yawned and stretched his arms above his head.

    “Did they answer more of those questions you had?” Cent sipped her coffee. What Tess lacked in bacon-cooking skills she made up for in coffee-making. It was a good cup, and she’d used real cream too, not the powdered stuff.

    “Yeah, they did. They said you have to find your memories and that as you find them, your power will grow.” He peered up at Stowne. “You’re gearing up to fight for the homestead, ain’t you?”

    “Yeah, this has been my land for centuries, and Stowne’s for much, much longer, so I’ll be damned if Mama is going to yank it out from under us.” She swallowed a mouthful of eggs before she spoke again, pulling out a piece of shell when it caught between her teeth. “That’s why I’m here, I think, why I came back.”

END EXCERPT


Author Bio

AUTHOR PIC - Jeanne G'Fellers

Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with her father and reading the books her librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s writing influences include Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.

Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennesee with her spouse, Anna, and their five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.

Author Website: http://jeannegfellersauthor.com/

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Release Day: Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander

http://www.lexiander.com/index.htmlIt’s release day for Lexi Ander’s new MM historical fantasy/paranormal book, Caledonia Destiny:

A twist of fate changed both their destinies.

The wyrbears, once a long-lived species, were being lost to the forest in their prime. A people borne of a curse, their abilities not a gift but something wrongly taken, they nonetheless live in harmony with their animal spirits. But over time the curse they lived under changed, mutated, and now what once was a refuge from the world when they became too weary is culling mathan in their prime.

Ewen mhic Friscalach, the leader of his peoples, lost his father too early and is now a widower with four children. The vow he made as a youth to break the curse afflicting wyrbears has been buried by grief and responsibility.

Roi mhic Alric, a priest of Cerridwen and seer, watched his fellow priests slaughtered and his temple desecrated. The only thing that kept him going the last three horror-filled years was the vision Cerridwen had granted him of his emancipation. If freedom came at the cost of his life, well, he was more than ready for the Otherworld.

A fated meeting upon a bloody field of battle. A wrong done long ago. Their choices could save a people… or send them into extinction. Either way, their love will be legend.

Caledonia Destiny started out as 31k short story that had a happy for now ending. Now, years later, I have rewritten and expanded the original to 111k.

Buy Links Coming Soon


Giveaway

Lexi is giving away three $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Excerpt

The next morn Ewen rose early and stoked the fire. Roi wandered into the forest to release his water. When he returned, Ewen bade him sit atop the furs. With an unsure countenance, Roi sat and watched Ewen approach with a wary eye. Ewen took Roi’s hand and used the warm, wet linen to wash it. He rinsed the cloth in the crock of water and repeated the motions with the other hand, gently touching the abraded flesh and each of the scabs where Roi had injured himself climbing the tree.

The camp was utterly quiet as he administered to Roi afore the gazes of his kin. He did not glance into Roi’s eyes until he took the cloth to Roi’s face, cleansing the dust of the road from Roi’s forehead and cheeks. Roi’s eyes were large and round with his confusion, but he did not stay Ewen’s hand which gave Ewen hope. He unlaced Roi’s boots and pulled them from his feet and began to wash them as well. He had not imagined he would be so nervous declaring his intentions in front of his kinsmen, but this moment was important, mayhap the most important declaration Ewen would make in his lifetime.

“Roi mhic Alric, I, Ewen mhic Friscalach, would have it known that I hereby put forth afore my kinsmen my petition to court you. I humbly ask that you consider my request and if you accept, allow no other to court you until the time you decide either to accept my hand or decline it.”

Roi turned pale as milk. Apprehension pooled in Ewen’s gut as he awaited for Roi to shun him. He deserved no less for what he had done, avoiding Roi only to succumb to his desires, waking Roi from sleep to beg Roi to touch him. Whilst Roi spoke truth, Ewen had bestowed upon him harsh words instead of Ewen’s own truth in return. He should have confided in Roi, given him the story of his people’s lineage. Roi’s lack of faith in Ewen might yet be Ewen’s own doing.

Roi placed his hand over Ewen’s where he washed the dirt from Roi’s feet. “Ye be of noble blood, ye do not have to do this.”

He captured Roi’s hand betwixt his palms. “Then tell me how to win back your trust.” Roi’s visage hardened, but not afore Ewen beheld the brief flame of longing in Roi’s eyes. “I shall find a way back into your confidence, Roi, and when I do, you shall never have reason to throw me out again.”

After placing Roi’s hand in his lap, Ewen returned to cleansing his feet, then slipped his boots over his calves and carefully laced them up. Ewen had brought over a square of knotted linen, which he gave to Roi afore he rose to his feet with the crock of dirty water. Roi untied the cloth and stared down at the food Ewen had gathered for him. The offering was not much: the last piece of flat bread, some pine nuts, and the best slices of their dried meat.

Donn grinned and nodded as Ewen passed by on his way to the stream to rinse out the crock. Kneeling at the edge of the water, Ewen then splashed the cold water onto his face, growling at the way his hands trembled.

Bear chuffed with mirth. “Good.”

With that one single word, Bear soothed Ewen’s frayed nerves. For the first time that he could recall, Bear rubbed gently against his skin as if to console him. Crouched at the water’s edge, Ewen held still in shock, able to sense Bear’s emotions without Bear saying the words. When Roi was with them, Bear came alive, naught showing of the violent creature Granda had warned Ewen of. Bear now spoke to, and even interacted with Ewen, all thanks to Roi. Ewen wiped the dripping water from his face with a new clarity.

“Ewen.” He glanced over his shoulder to behold Roi standing at the edge of the trees. Anger still pinched the corners of Roi’s lips but his hands twisted with uncertainty. “I shall not allow another to court—” his brows dipped into a hard V as if he could hardly believe his own words “—me until I either decline or accept yer… yer…” He huffed. “I know not what ye be thinking courting a man, Ewen. Everything ye do confounds me no end, and my mind counsels me to leave ye be but—” Roi rubbed at his left breast, his palm pressing into his chest as if he attempted to soothe an ache “—I find I cannot deny yer request, regardless of how unseemly it be. I never thought ye to be a daft man afore.” The last was said under Roi’s breath.

“I thought you would deny me,” Ewen confessed.

“Yer declaration caught me off guard, and when ye walked away without waiting for my answer I found meself at the mercy of others who vied for my attention. Ye have much to explain, Ewen. No others be as accepting as yer people.” Roi shook his head in a disbelieving manner afore turning to leave, moving around the four men who had followed him to the stream.

Donn, Arailt, and two other cousins watched Roi go. Bear and Ewen growled. “You heard him. He has agreed to my courtship.” Ewen’s kinsmen dispersed, Donn chuckling into his fist but hurrying away afore Ewen caught him.


Author Bio

Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

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