Tag Archives: LGBTQ Book Blog Tour

Questionable Minds by Fraser Sherman Blog Tour Blast

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Questionable Minds - Fraser Sherman

Fraser Sherman has a new steampunk mystery book out: Questionable Minds.

In Victorian England, 1888, there are those who say Sir Simon Taggart is under the punishment of God.

In an England swirling with mentalist powers — levitation, mesmerism, mind-to-mind telegraphy — the baronet is unique, possessed of mental shields that render him immune to any mental assault. Even his friends think it’s a curse, cutting him off from the next step in human mental and spiritual evolution. To Simon, it’s a blessing.

Four years ago, the Guv’nor, mystery overlord of the London underworld, arranged the murder of Simon’s wife Agnes. Obsessed with finding who hired the Guv’nor, Simon works alongside Inspector Hudnall and Miss Grey in Scotland Yard’s Mentalist Investigation Department. Immunity to mental telegraphy, clairvoyance and mesmerism are an asset in his work — but they may not be enough to crack the latest case.

A mysterious killer has begun butchering Whitechapel streetwalkers. With every killing, the man newspapers call “the Ripper” grows in mental power and in the brutality of his attacks. Is murder all that’s on his mind or does he have an endgame? And what plans do the Guv’nor and his army of agents have for Simon and the Whitechapel killer?

Questionable Minds is set in a Victorian England struggling to preserve the social hierarchy while mentalism threatens to overturn it. The cast of characters includes Dr. Henry Jekyll (and yes, his friend Edward Hyde too), Jack the Ripper, and multiple other figures from history and fiction.

Warnings: Graphic violence. Victorian sexism and imperialism.

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Excerpt

Simon Taggart’s plunge into the abyss happened in an instant.

Col. Moran, seated at the dining table on Simon’s left, had said something to the Duke of Falsworth about a fellow hunter Moran had known in India committing suicide. Falsworth snidely observed that given the man’s debts, hanging himself had been the only possible solution.

And suddenly Simon was standing in the drawing room again. Staring up at Agnes in her white nightgown, hanging from the ceiling with her tongue protruding, her face blackened. Rage consumed him at the memory, rage at the men who’d brought about his wife’s death. Pearson Bartlett, mesmerist. The Guvnor, who’d given Bartlett his orders. And behind them, the unknown man who’d paid to have Agnes slain.

It was the scent of mutton that snapped him back to the Montworths’ dining room, a scent rising from the porcelain serving platter levitating through the air before him. Steered by Amanda Montworth’s vril, the platter bore the roast saddle of mutton down the long dining-room table. Her grey eyes were fixed on the platter, of course, as levitators depended on sight to focus their vril. The eyes of her parents and eleven uneasy guests were also watchful as the dish approached the epergne, the massive candelabra at the table’s center. Simon knew he wasn’t the only guest imagining what a shower of spilled gravy would do to their formal black waistcoats, jackets and white gloves, or the women’s elegant dresses.

The platter clinked against the epergne and shuddered for a moment, but Amanda, brow furrowed, regained her mental grip. The platter ceased quivering, backed away and settled into the hands of one of the footmen, to be served a la russe, around the table. Amanda gasped slightly as she released control.

“There, isn’t that remarkable, Sir Simon?” Buxom Mrs. Montworth flashed a smile at Simon, the wealthiest of her guests. “I don’t know anyone with the strength of mind my Amanda has, do you? Well, not anyone who is anyone, shall we say?”

“Mother, please,” Amanda said. “This is embarrassing.”

“No, you did quite well.” Simon smiled politely, forbearing to point out that for all the money John Montworth’s ironworks brought in, in London society the Montworths were emphatically not anyone. Amanda performing a servant’s duties only confirmed that, as the poor girl undoubtedly knew. “A strong mind is—an asset to the Empire.”

“When the turtle soup comes out, Amanda,” Mrs. Montworth went on, “I think you should levitate—”

“Oh, no, my dear Mrs. Montworth,” Simon said quickly, remembering soup spurting from a shattered tureen at another dinner he’d attended. Besides, Amanda had been embarrassed enough. “A girl as lovely and delicate as Amanda, no matter how strong her vril, should be careful not to overexert herself.” As Mrs. Montworth simpered and nodded, Amanda, who looked as delicate as one of her father’s foundry workers, smiled her thanks at Simon.

“That’s enough entertainment for this evening,” John Montworth said in his north-country accent. “Carmody?” Carmody, the butler, gestured for the footmen to resume their duties; it was a faux pas for Montworth to address a servant during dinner, but the past few minutes had utterly nonplussed the staff.

Simon considered Amanda sensible and good-hearted. It wasn’t her fault her vril manifested as a crude, physical ability, nor that her mother was as blind to the social graces as some men to colors. Fortunately, with several months before the start of the Season, the guests had few people they could gossip with—and there’d be much better gossip by January, when the Montworths presented Amanda at court.

#

“‘Preciate your help, Sir Simon.” John Montworth said, clipping off the end of his cigar as a servant filled Simon’s glass. The women had left the room moments before, allowing the men a half-hour or so to indulge themselves. “Mrs. Montworth’s dreadful proud of our girl having vril, she is—I try to tell her to be more discreet but—”

“It’s been a new world these past eight years,” Simon said, savoring Montworth’s peerless port. “Too new to have all the polite niceties of psychic usage down pat.” A courteous lie; everyone knew physical manifestations of mentalist power were completely inappropriate in society.

“You mean like yourself assisting Scotland Yard?” Thin, pallid Ronald Carpenter, Duke of Falsworth, smirked and blew a plume of smoke. “A man of your impeccable pedigree, mingling with the lowest orders? Gilbert and Sullivan could make a wonderful comic opera out of it if you ask me.”

“I don’t believe I did.” Simon’s anger surged up again, but the smile beneath his thin mustache stayed coldly formal. “And there is nothing comical about the beasts who use vril to prey upon others.” Like Pearson Bartlett, who could mesmerize a woman to put a noose around her own neck. “I do my duty to England, nothing more.”

His Grace met Simon’s cold stare, then looked away with affected unconcern. Dukes far outranked baronets, but Falsworth’s title was new, and the man was still insecure. A Taggart was never insecure.

“Men like your Inspector Hudnall have my highest respect,” Moran said to Simon. As usual the colonel had stuck with whiskey instead of port. “In the jungle or the London streets, it takes a sharp man to hunt predators successfully. And who’s better suited than you, Sir Simon, to the sport of hunting mentalists?”

“Hardly sport.” Simon replied. “Unlike you, colonel, I consider hunting man-eaters a public service, not an adventure.”

“But men like that are evolutionary dead ends,” Montworth said. “Thanks to Lady Helena, all mankind—almost all—will ultimately be elevated to a higher plane.” His glance had lit upon Simon at the “almost.” “The murderers, the butchers, the Varneys of the present day will become fairytales, like ogres or Bluebeard, in the world that is to come.”

It was a typical Theosophist sentiment, but Simon found he was in no mood to argue with it.


Author Bio

Fraser ShermanBy the time Fraser Sherman graduated college he’d lost interest in his degree field. He tried writing and discovered he liked it. Since then he’s spent ten years as a journalist, sold two dozen short stories and five film reference books. His most recent book was the self-published Undead Sexist Cliches, about the stupidity of misogynist beliefs.

Although born in England, Fraser spent most of his life in Northwest Florida. He’d be there still if he hadn’t met his dream woman and moved to Durham NC to be with her. They’ve been married 11 years and are the proud parents of two small dogs and two half-domesticated cats.

Author Website: https://www.frasersherman.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/fraser.sherman

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/bogatyr5

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103781.Fraser_Sherman

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fraser-A-Sherman/e/B000APPPDW

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Blog Tour: Third Front by E.M. Hamill

Third Front - E.M. Hamill

E.M. Hamill has a new queer space opera out (non-binary, gender fluid, pansexual, gay), The Dalí Tamareia Missions book 3: Third Front. And there’s a giveaway.

Dalí Tamareia has the terrorist Skadi in their sights – but bringing her in may cost them everything.

Dalí’s role as an undercover operative is compromised, putting a target on their back and threatening the close-knit team aboard Thunder Child. A new lead on Miriam Skadi’s activities forces them back to Luna, where they must confront everything they tried to run from…including their changed relationship with Rion Sumner, who insists on backing up Dalí for this investigation.

But Dalí is not the only one searching for Skadi. An alien presence hunts the terrorist as well, taking over Sumner’s body to ensure Dalí’s cooperation. With their team on the other side of the solar system Dalí must depend on this questionable ally to complete the mission, which takes a deadly turn when an old nemesis resurfaces.

If there is any chance for a future with Sumner and their chosen family, Dalí must exorcise the demons haunting them, or they will burn in the heart of a star.

Warnings: graphic violence, grief, sexually explicit scenes

About the Series: A diplomat turned galactic operative risks everything to bring in the terrorist who shattered their life.

Get It At Amazon


Giveaway

E.M. is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

Third Front meme - E.M. Hamill

The flint-blue curve of Earth filled the transparent alloy of the windshield. Even gravely wounded, humanity’s ancestral home was breathtaking. Phantoms of arid golden continents haunted breaks in the heavy cloud-cover; oceans glinted like winks of mercury in Sol’s light. The atmosphere was beginning to clear, but it would take the surface longer to purge the toxic aftermath of war and pollution from soil and sea

How in the seven hells did we manage to fuck up a whole planet?

“Prepare for drop,” Sumner murmured into his headset. I braced myself.

“In five. Four. Three. Two … “

The magnet released us. Sumner fired top thrusters to quickly maneuver the ship away from the hull and we floated free. “We’re clear.”

“See you soon,” Ozzie said. Thunder Child left us in her wake, heading off to complete the surveillance mission. Sumner throttled the little craft into motion and carved an arc in space, putting the planet behind us.

And there it was.

The moon’s disc swelled before us, painted in silver and ash. In the nightfall of Earth’s passing shadow, the lunar plains of Mare Nubium sparkled with lights, and at the southern horn of the penumbra’s crescent, where light and darkness embraced, lay the place I once called home.

“Have you ever been to Luna?” My uneven voice betrayed the winding tension inside me.

“No.” Sumner glanced at me, but I kept my gaze on the moon, unable to meet his eyes. “I’ve only been to the major space stations before Mars. Where did you live?”

“Kepler. You can just make out a hexagon of complexes north of the crater.”

“I see it.”

“The apex dome, Galileo, is where the Capitol is. The University is under Kepler, at the middle left. That’s where … where we … “

Memories lay bitter and sweet on my tongue, the ache in my throat a hot coal. Oh, coming back was such a bad idea.

“The—” I coughed to clear the suffocating thickness from my voice. “The old city is in the industrial complex at the bottom of Bullialdus Crater, that cluster of rectangular structures near the shuttle port.”

A sparkle of transparent alloy and steel caught my eye as we got closer. My palms grew damp.

Luna Terminal gleamed against the void of space. Intact, as if the explosion that shattered the Earthward docking arm and killed so many innocent people had never happened. As if my heart was still whole and strong, not the bruised piece of meat thudding too fast in my chest.

The restored line of windows where Gresh and ‘Sida once stood to bid me goodbye were blank and flawless. Empty.

The spring-coil of anxiety suddenly exploded into shards and hollowed out my insides. I forgot to breathe, my white-knuckled fingers clenching the edge of the jump seat.

Fuck Kiran Singh. No matter what Mother England wanted to tell me, I should never have agreed to come back.

My breath ran shallow in the heavy gravity of blind panic. I fumbled with the stiff buckle of the five-point harness.

“Dalí? You okay?” Sumner’s quiet voice cut through the noise in my head.

“I can’t … ” The clasp wouldn’t give, my sweat-slick fingers numb and buzzing. “God damn it! I need to get out of the cockpit.”

“Hey, hey.” He extended his right hand and gently laid it over mine where I scrabbled at the release. “We’re in Three. Where are you going to go?”

I gave up trying and gripped his hand, pressing it against my chest.

“I’m here,” he said, his voice low and soothing. “Breathe. A deep breath. Come on, you can do it.”

I drew in a shuddering gasp, filled my lungs with air, and just as unevenly let it out.

“Again.”

The second one was less painful. “I’m sorry,” I managed to wheeze. “I didn’t think it would hit me this hard.”

“You thought you were prepared. You weren’t. Not yet.”

His hand was warm, and I hugged it like an anchor against the free-fall of chaos. I didn’t let go until my breathing was closer to normal and I knew I wouldn’t fall apart. His touch calmed me, and at the same time it created a ripple of longing I wasn’t ready to deal with. That was finally what made me let go.

“Thank you,” I mumbled, releasing his hand with a sheepish press of gratitude, and scrubbed my wet eyes with my palms. It was the first episode in months since I’d started the meds. I was fiercely glad Thunder Child was out of our implanted coms’ range and my teammates had not been remote witnesses to this meltdown. “I feel ridiculous.”

“Never feel that way.” The gentle admonition made me glance up and meet his eyes. Aquamarine sparks snapped in the depths of his irises as he held my gaze. “What you witnessed can’t be processed all at once. It comes out in pieces because it’s too much.”

“That felt like a huge chunk.” But the empty space had begun to collapse on itself. The void softly filled with a new substrate and covered the scree of old trauma as we stared at each other. Once again, Rion Sumner showed me the side I wanted to know better, and I desperately wanted to know it when I wasn’t a fucking mess he had to prop up.

“Port Armstrong to approaching vessel.” Three’s com blared as Luna Station’s control center registered our presence. The emotionless mechanical voice in our headsets startled both of us. “Verify identity and destination.”

Sumner toggled his mic with what I swore was irritation. “Port Armstrong, Midak 3 requesting approach.”

“Midak 3, transmitting approach vectors,” the artificial controller’s voice replied.

The instrument panel came alive with lights and coordinates. Auto-piloting sequences blinked suggestively on the data screen. Of course, Sumner chose to pilot Three manually, our moment of connection sublimated into preparation to enter lunar airspace.

I silently cursed the cock-blocking AI running the tower and sat back to watch him guide our little craft into the deep well of Bullialdus Crater, a bright path of syncopated flashes leading us into the underground terminal. The small, rocking thump of landing sent a shiver through me.

Luna. The people who had made it my home no longer existed, yet here I was.


Author Bio

Elisabeth “E.M.” Hamill is a nurse by day, unabashed geek, chocoholic, sci fi and fantasy novelist by nights, weekends, and wherever she can steal quality time with her laptop.

She lives with her family in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.

Author Website: https://emhamill.wordpress.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/EMHamill

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/songmagick

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16592440.E_M_Hamill

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/e-m-hamill/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00JY0FV8S

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Blog Tour: Resurrection Men by Steven Harper

Resurrection Men - Steven Harperp

Steven Harper has a new MM historical romance out: Resurrection Men. And there’s a giveaway.

Arthur Tor steals the dead for a living. As a resurrection man, he creeps around graveyards with his shovel, hoping to dig up corpses so he can sell them to the local medical college and pay his tuition there. He also holds a strange position in underground society. If someone is dying a slow, painful death, the family members come to Arthur and beg him to end their loved one’s pain. Arthur can never refuse, and he helps the dying cross the threshold without more pain in a process he calls the Black Rounds. Unfortunately, the local judge has gotten wind of Arthur’s activities and has sworn to send him to prison—or the hangman’s noose.

Jesse Fair has fled his corrupt family in Baltimore and landed in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he becomes the town gravedigger and, eventually, the undertaker. He works hard to help grieving families through their pain with warmth and compassion. Some of these families make odd requests for their dearly departed, and Jesse discovers that the undertaker often has to deal with the absurd side of death. But his nefarious family is still searching for him. Relentlessly. And once they find him, Jesse will have to make a terrible choice.

When Jesse catches Arthur in the act of robbing a grave, the two of them form a strange friendship and even stranger partnership that digs deep into social taboos—and into their own souls.

In his first book since his critically-acclaimed novel The Importance of Being Kevin, Steven Harper spins a heartfelt, uplifting story of suspense, life, and love against the backdrop of a Michigan town at the edge of the frontier.

Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Steven is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card:

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Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47262/?


Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

A resurrection man watched the funeral, and his expression was hungry. He stood behind the huddle of funeral-goers clustered around the grave and didn’t speak with anyone, which was how Jesse spotted him. Dead giveaway, so to say. Jesse stared at him from the corner of one dark eye. The resurrection man wasn’t yet twenty. Brown as a dead tree. Straight brown hair under a frayed brown cap, long nose, sharp jaw, long brown coat mended twice, worn brown shoes that were nonetheless carefully polished. Someone who was used to hiding who he was.

The resurrection man met Jesse’s eye for a flick. He had good eyes, that one—clear and blue and strong—and Jesse touched his cap in salute. Jesse had a gravedigger’s build, wiry and a little short, able to throw an eight-pound shovelful of dirt six feet toward heaven, and he could hold his own in a fight against two men half again his height. The resurrection man was taller, whipcord, and Jesse bet he wore gloves to keep his hands clean when he robbed night-time graves. No one who saw him by day would know what he did at night.

When their eyes met, blue on brown, it created something interesting and indefinable, like that boundary moment when water touches a burning coal, or warm ocean air brushes chilly shore. The resurrection man looked away. Jesse clicked his tongue in mischief—and the chance to make some money.

The coffin rested on a pair of beams set across the grave Jesse had dug only that morning. Jesse always put a scattering of sawdust and few pine branches in the bottom of his graves so the coffin wouldn’t rest on dirt. It made no difference to the deceased, mind you, but it made the family feel better. Two solemn boys pulled the beams away, and the pall bearers lowered the coffin with ropes braced around their necks like pulleys while the preacher said his final bit. While all this was going on, the resurrection man slipped away, confirming Jesse’s suspicions that the man was a grave robber who knew the best time to leave was when the family was occupied.

As the family drifted off, Jesse barely overheard a man and a woman in conversation. The woman murmured, “He won’t get up and come after us, do you? He’s stubborn enough to try.”

“Jesus, I hope not,” the man muttered back. “That copper-plated sumbitch was bad enough when he was alive. I can’t think what he’d be like lurching around dead.”

Death brought out the truth among the living. Jesse looked in the direction the resurrection man had taken and gave himself a private nod. It was going to be an interesting evening.

Jesse finished filling the grave of Mr. Elmer Pitt (b. 1803, d. 1889), then went home to the little shack he occupied at the edge of Highland Cemetery, made himself a pot of strong coffee on his bachelor stove, dropped a slug of Irish in it, and waited until sunset. When the early autumn night slid in cozy among the gravestones, Jesse put his shovel back over his shoulder and strolled toward the grave of Elmer Pitt. There was time to enjoy the walk and think about how to spend the money he would shake out of the resurrection man. It had been a while since he’d passed a good night’s drinking and fighting at a pool hall. Or maybe he’d buy a new pair of boots.

The trek was easy. Didn’t matter that it was dark. Jesse had dug plenty of graves in Highland Cemetery and knew the place like the end of his shovel. He even had a map of the place tacked to the wall of his shack, with every grave picked out in careful precision. People thought that graveyards laid out the dead in neat, cornfield rows, but Highland’s graves made a swirling mosaic that twisted around the hills and trees, creating stars and flowers and teardrops that only god and Jesse’s map could see. Jesse had taken over as the main gravedigger in Ypsilanti from Mr. Suggs two years ago. Mr. Suggs himself currently rested in a grave well back from the road that Jesse himself had dug with extra care. Jesse didn’t run the cemetery—that job belonged to the great and gloomy Frederick Huff, who issued daily orders from the caretaker’s house and only emerged to complain at Billy Cake and the other fellows who worked the cemetery. But it was Jesse who dug the graves.

Highland Cemetery had opened twenty-some years ago, a little ways before Jesse was born, and it had stolen away all the business from Prospect Cemetery. Didn’t seem to matter that Prospect was half a mile closer to downtown Ypsilanti, with its growing Normal School and expanding railroad system. Prospect still failed to prosper.

Problem was, Prospect had both proven too small, so the city had bought a big chunk of loamy hillside outside Ypsilanti and named it Highland Cemetery. The local Catholic community had been scandalized at the idea of sharing eternity with Protestants and even Lutherans, so they had bought a bit of land right across the road for their own dead, keeping Mr. Suggs, and now Jesse, busy digging graves for both. Meanwhile, the townsfolk stopped using Prospect Cemetery entire, and no one seemed interested in paying Jesse Fair or Billy Cake to even trim its trees, so these days the verge ran wild. The inhabitants didn’t complain.

It was a serpent night, with the chill breeze hissing in the leaves. Jesse wound through the stones until he came to the new grave of Elmer Pitt. The thin glow of a little lantern on the ground illuminated the markers from the bottom up, and the familiar quiet sound of a wooden shovel biting earth came to Jesse’s ears. Resurrection men always used wooden shovels. They made less noise. Jesse crept closer.

The resurrection man had already made good headway and was knee-deep in the ground at the head of the grave. Two canvas drop cloths lay beside him, one to catch the dirt, and the other to receive Elmer Pitt. Jesse noted the well-worn leather gloves covering the resurrection man’s hands. The man also had a crowbar and a length of rope.

“So you’re from the University Medical School,” Jesse said in the dark.


Author Bio

Steven Harper

Steven Harper Piziks was born with a last name no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he usually writes under the name Steven Harper. He grew up on a farm in Michigan but has also lived in Wisconsin and Germany and spent extensive time in Ukraine.

So far, he’s written more than two dozen novels and over fifty short stories and essays. When not writing, he plays the folk harp, lifts weights, and spends more time on-line than is probably good for him. He teaches high school English in southeast Michigan, where he lives with his husband. His students think he’s hysterical, which isn’t the same as thinking he’s funny.

Author Website: http://www.stevenpiziks.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/steven.piziks

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/StevenPiziks

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/250784.Steven_Harper

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Blog Tour: Sigrid & Elyn: A Tale From Norvegr by Edale Lane

Sigrid & Elyn - Edale Lane

Edale Lane has a new FF alt history mystery romance book out: Sigrid & Elyn.

Attracted by passion, repelled by war. Can two shieldmaidens navigate battlegrounds of the sword and the heart?

Pre-Viking Scandinavia. Sigrid the Valiant is legendary throughout the kingdoms of Norvegr, along with her twin brother, for their many heroic deeds, but her heart has not found a home. Now, racing on the heels of their father’s murder, a neighboring kingdom’s raids threaten to cause an all-out war.

Elyn is a young shieldmaiden with a score to settle, fighting her own insecurities along with enemies who threaten her homeland, but she remains unconvinced all is as it seems.

When the two clash on opposite sides of their shield walls, sparks fly from both their swords and passions. But when they talk, the two fierce women discover an antagonist’s plot has pitted their kingdoms against each other.

Will Sigrid and Elyn move past their suspicions and differences to forge a relationship and foil the villain’s scheme, or will the enemy’s assassins end their search for the truth?

Action, adventure, and intrigue ride together with romance in this enemies-to-lovers saga from the pre-Viking land of Norvegr. Award-winning, best-selling author Edale Lane brings history to life in this fast-paced sapphic novel. Grab your ax and rönd and join the quest by clicking to buy now!

Warnings: violence, rape (in a memory), slavery as part of society.

Get It at Amazon


Giveaway

Edale is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47260/?


Excerpt

Sigrid & Elyn meme

Elyn’s heart pounded in her chest as she weighed her options. Right here, right now, she could kill Jarl Sigrid the Valiant and gain great fame and renown. With no witnesses, she could concoct any story she liked about how the epic battle in the cave occurred… except without witnesses, people may say Sigrid died in the fall and all Elyn did was chop at her corpse making it appear she had been victorious. A further problem with that option was that the gods saw everything. To kill an unarmed, unconscious opponent was a dishonorable display of cowardice akin to murder.

What would Sigrid do? Elyn lifted her ax but hesitated. One so well respected would not slay an incapacitated foe, would she?

But what troubled Elyn the most was the true impetus behind her reluctance—she didn’t want to kill Sigrid. She wanted her to live. Lowering her weapon, she gazed at the fair legendary hero. Though caked in dust sticking to blood and sweat, her legs pinned under heavy jagged rocks, she was the most astounding human being Elyn had ever laid eyes on. Maybe it was not her beautiful face or toned body, but the songs and stories that hailed her victories over man and beast, that saluted her valor and generosity that most fueled Elyn’s imagination. Perhaps it was how Sigrid had saved her from a spear hurled on the battlefield when it had been against her own best interest. But maybe it was the strange energy that pulsed through Elyn’s sensations whenever they were near each other that compelled her to choose mercy. Then again, it could merely be her own sense of unworthiness.

I am nobody, she thought. I can’t kill a jarl, a female warrior jarl… a lovely, helpless woman of distinction. She needs my help.

Elyn shoved the ax back into her belt and lifted heavy stones off the fallen shieldmaiden, tossing them aside. As she worked, Sigrid awoke. Sky-blue eyes blinked and the trapped woman coughed away dust, soon becoming aware she was not alone.

With a startled expression, Sigrid grabbed her sword and swung it at Elyn, who had to jump to avoid its reach. “Do not think of crushing me with a slab of limestone!” she blasted with rage igniting in her glare. Sigrid’s voice was robust enough to overpower the burble of the waterfall. “I could carve you like a roasted pig even without the use of my legs.”

An admiring smile tugged at the corner of Elyn’s lips, and something sprang to life deep within her core. “I am certain that you could, Jarl Sigrid, but if you will notice, I am not attacking you, but digging you out of the rubble.”

“What happened?” Sigrid raised her left hand to the gash on her forehead.

“The ground gave way, and we fell into this pit chased by large rocks. I think a Jotnar is to blame,” Elyn replied in a placid tone that seemed to disarm Sigrid.

As her focus cleared, she aimed it on Elyn’s face. “I find myself at a disadvantage,” Sigrid admitted. “You know who I am, but I am not familiar with you. What is your name?”

Elyn heaved the last of the big rocks pinning Sigrid’s legs to the side and sat on it. “I am Elyn, a shieldmaiden of Firdafylke. I live in a village called Kaldrlogr. It would appear for the moment we are trapped in this crevice. Thus far, no one has appeared at the fissure above to lend aid, and I suspect the battle continues.”

Sigrid nodded. Elyn! So that is your name. Satisfaction nestled within Sigrid until she recalled why they were there. Feelings of languid infatuation evaporated, and vengeful wrath rushed in to seize their place. She pushed up on her sword, gathering her legs under her body, and struggled to her feet. She could tell her injuries were more than superficial, and she could not bear weight on her right leg, but she was determined. Mirroring her movement with caution, Elyn rose from her rock and shifted a hand to the ax on her belt.

Pinning the flame-haired shieldmaiden with a frigid glare, Sigrid snarled. “Why did your raiders attack our farms? It is fortunate you were not among their number as we left none alive.”

She cocked her sword arm for a swing, and in an instant, Elyn whipped out her ax to block the whirling blade. The motion of the stroke rendered Sigrid off balance, and she could have easily toppled over, but her opponent pushed against her steel with her weapon until she was upright and steady on her one good leg. Elyn’s action surprised Sigrid, though she was glad for it.

“We did no such thing!” her foe declared with heated conviction. She hoisted her ax, poised at the ready.

Sigrid realized she was in no condition to fight, so she had better rein in her temper. She glanced down at Elyn’s sturdy legs, shapely hips, rounded breasts, up to luscious full lips, and finally into stunning green eyes and held them.

“Several of my friends were killed,” Sigrid asserted, and she felt a quiver go through her body. “A dozen men under the banner of Firdafylke carrying shields with your colors,” she testified, motioning to Elyn’s rönd lying a few feet away, “attacked the outlying farms of my village, Gnóttdalr. They burned homes, slew livestock, murdered women and children, then tried to flee like cowardly rodents.”

Elyn’s brows knit together in concern. “When was this?”

“Less than two weeks ago,” Sigrid confirmed. With her shoulder stiff and in pain, she lowered her sword but kept a firm grip on its hilt. “Maybe a week and a day after the first time we fought.” Sigrid tried to calculate, but her head throbbed. Has it been three weeks I have spent dreaming of you?

“That is impossible!” Elyn’s declaration snapped Sigrid’s thoughts back into focus. “It wasn’t us. All of Jarl Njord’s warriors are accounted for at that time and none have gone missing,” the younger woman insisted.

Sigrid’s frown deepened. “I know about Jarl Njord and his intentions for the throne of Firdafylke. With King Tortryggr’s mind and strength failing, he supposes to increase his fame by defeating us, but it shan’t work.”

“What are you talking about?” Elyn fumed and tossed her empty hand into the air. “There is nothing wrong with King Tortryggr’s health, mental or otherwise. And while it is true Njord has ambitions, he is not a traitor. What about your King Grimolf? Greedy to the core! We know about his plans to take over our kingdom, how he has promised all you jarls will double your holdings.”

“Nothing but sheep dung!” Sigrid retorted. “That is the biggest load of shite I’ve ever heard.”

Elyn’s brows narrowed, and her scowl deepened. “What about the Svithjod raiders that attacked our farms? We had defenseless people killed by your warriors, too. Did they make sport of it? Was it a game to them?”

“We did no such thing!” Sigrid’s voice reverberated about the cavern, which only increased the throbbing in her head. “We supported you several years ago when Raumsdal assaulted your land. I personally led a team of wagons to reinforce your army with supplies, and my brother brought volunteers to join your defenses.”

“I know,” Elyn countered, “which is why we feel so betrayed that you have invaded now. Maybe the raiders did not come from your band, but they flew the raven flag and carried the yellow and black shields of Svithjod. Why do you lie?”

She raised her ax in a defiant motion and Sigrid reacted instantaneously, slamming her sword to bear against it. “I do not lie!”

The two shieldmaidens pressed closely together, hot with anger and confusion. Sigrid was not expecting the arousal she experienced at the proximity to her enemy, but her desire could not be denied. It was baffling and unacceptable. Only a handle of wood and a blade of steel stood between them. Sigrid kept her balance on her one good leg, but if Elyn pulled away, she would surely fall. She felt the heat of her breath, inhaled her intoxicating scent, and her body ached for a woman she should not want. Is this a trick? Have I been bewitched? A part of her wished to examine Elyn’s every feature in intricate detail, while reason ordered her emotions to stand down.

Elyn slowly backed away, almost as if she was being careful to not cause Sigrid to fall. “No, you do not lie.” The words rang with sincere belief and Sigrid eased her muscles as she mirrored her foe to relax. They lowered their weapons at the same time. “But neither do I.”


Author Bio

Edale Lane

Edale Lane is an award-winning author (Rainbow Awards, Imaginarium Awards, Lesfic Bard Awards) who is realizing her dream of being a full-time writer. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Tribute in Blood, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication regarding research. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature. After driving an 18-wheeler cross-country for eight years, she now lives with her partner in beautiful Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.

Author Website: https://pastandprologuepress.lpages.co/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/melodie.romeo/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/groups/887028485401701

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/EdaleLane

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edale_lane/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15264354.Edale_Lane

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/edale-land/

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/edale-land/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Edale-Lane/e/B07GRFPDRZ/

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Parasite by Ridley Harker Review

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

A teen boy will be forced to decide between the brewing romance he has found sanctuary in and the fate of the island he calls home when a mysterious illness striking the town is linked to the new boy he’s been seeing in author Ridley Harker’s “Parasite”.

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The Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Jack Ives is used to being unlucky. His only friend has just moved away to college, his parents are alcoholics, and he’s relentlessly bullied by the town psychopath. All that begins to change with the arrival of a handsome but quirky new student, Lucien, who wants to be more than friends.

Their newfound happiness doesn’t last, however, as a strange new illness strikes the island. Fishermen go missing, and the villagers left behind aren’t themselves anymore. When Lucien is suspected to be the cause of the outbreak, can Jack overcome his teenage hormones and save Eldrick Isle? Will he even want to?

The Review

This was a haunting and captivating horror read. The chilling nature of the narrative took readers by storm, revealing both the panic-inducing body horror that films like John Carpenter’s The Thing and modern-day indie horror film The Bay have become known for and the suspense that keeps readers invested in the narrative as the motivations and twists of the story keep the true “threat” facing the people in town and the protagonist under a shroud of mystery. The brilliant imagery the author utilizes brings the “jump-scare” effect to the narrative, keeping readers hooked on the author’s writing.

The character development and atmosphere were the best-developed aspects of this narrative. Between the strong LGBTQ character bonds that the main characters shared together and the scare-filled atmosphere that kept the reader engaged with this narrative, the book hooked me immediately. The balance between every day, haunted aspects of daily human life that brought the townspeople to the place they found themselves in at the start of the narrative and the more parasitic, horror-themed problems that they come face to face with will have readers immersed in this story.

The Verdict

Powerful, thrilling, and entertaining, author Ridley Harker’s “Parasite” is a must-read LGBTQ-driven body horror novel of 2022! The perfect fall read for horror fans, the story and atmosphere will hook readers immediately, but it is the well-developed characters that will have readers invested as the narrative comes to its chilling and climactic finale. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Parasite - Ridley Harker

Ridley Harker has a new gay horror book out (with a romantic subplot): Parasite. And there’s a giveaway.

Seventeen-year-old Jack Ives is used to being unlucky. His only friend has just moved away to college, his parents are alcoholics, and he’s relentlessly bullied by the town psychopath. All that begins to change with the arrival of a handsome but quirky new student, Lucien, who wants to be more than friends.

Their newfound happiness doesn’t last, however, as a strange new illness strikes the island. Fishermen go missing, and the villagers left behind aren’t themselves anymore. When Lucien is suspected to be the cause of the outbreak, can Jack overcome his teenage hormones and save Eldrick Isle? Will he even want to?

Warnings: Abuse, alcoholism, animal death, bullying, graphic violence/gore, guns, homophobia, misgendering

Universal Buy Link | Goodreads


Giveaway

Ridley is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

Lucien wanted to hit something. He wanted to lash out and make himself feel better by making someone else feel worse—Spencer, preferably, but Lucien was too upset even to fantasize. Something scuttled under the floorboards beneath him. Tiny claws on warped wood. A nearby hole in the floorboards… Vermin would have to do.

He brought his index finger to his mouth and bit down, worrying at the skin with his teeth until it broke. He tasted blood. The takeout bag sat beside him so he picked up a fry and, after seasoning it with blood, tossed it toward the hole. And then he waited.

A whiskered nose appeared first, followed by a furry brown face and black, beady eyes. A rat. The animal snatched the fry and disappeared back into the darkness. Lucien smirked and licked his finger clean. He absently probed the torn skin with his tongue until it was smooth again. Then he paused, momentarily forgetting about the rat. Something on his fingers tasted off.

Foreign.

Salty.

Some sort of grease.

He glanced dubiously down at the soggy french fries, holding his breath and waiting for disaster to strike. Nothing happened. His stomach rumbled. He licked his lips again. The scent of greasy, fried potatoes became too tantalizing to resist, and he reached into the bag and pulled out a fat, golden fry. He shouldn’t—years of lectures told him he shouldn’t—but a rebellion brewed deep inside him. He sniffed, and his stomach gurgled in approval.

Lucien popped the french fry into his mouth. It was cold. The texture was strange: crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. He had to chew before he could swallow. Grease coated his tongue.

His nutrient shakes were garbage.

Lucien scarfed down the entire bag of fries and then licked his fingers clean. Jack had left his milkshake behind, and Lucien drank that as well. The shake had a familiar texture, but the flavors… What would hamburgers taste like? He was going to find out.

An ear-piercing squeal erupted from beneath the floorboards. Lucien smirked into his straw and waited, listening. Judging from the sounds, more than one creature had taken his bait. The rat dragged itself out from the crevice. Little clawed toes curled in on themselves, and beady black eyes bulged out from their sockets. The bald tail became discolored, patchy and waxen. It flopped onto its side, its chest heaving madly as it labored to breathe. A black substance leaked out from its jaws, followed by a tiny, purpled tongue. It shuddered violently, and then it lay still.

Lucien didn’t notice. The paper cup crumpled in his grasp, and the remains of the strawberry shake dripped down his wrist. Behind his dry, irritating contact lenses, his pupils dilated. Lucien clutched at his belly, smearing milkshake across Jack’s borrowed shirt. It was like having shards of glass in his stomach, stabbing into his intestines. Ripping. Tearing. Sweat soaked his skin. He staggered to his feet and gagged. Waves of nausea threatened to bring him to his knees. His throat burned, and his stomach lurched.

He was going to be sick. Sick in the middle of Jack’s private sanctuary. Lucien clamped a hand over his mouth and stumbled toward the guest room. The door’s hinges screamed in protest when he fell against it. He landed heavily on his knees. The floorboards were wet and slimy, blackened with rot. They sloped toward the center of the room, where he saw the stony lip of the well peeking out from amidst the wreckage. The house was strange, but he had no time to explore, not when his stomach lining was burning its way up his esophagus.

Lucien dug his fingers into the moldering floorboards and dragged himself forward. Up close, the well stank. The putrid fumes of fetid water rising up to meet him suggested something had fallen in recently. Lucien leaned over the well’s side and vomited. The remains of french fries and strawberry milkshake hit the water below with a liquid slap. Strings of shredded tissue and dark, brackish blood soon followed.

Unbidden tears streamed down Lucien’s cheeks. He choked on a sob and then choked again as something elseslithered its way up his throat. The edge of the rotten boards gave beneath his clenched fingers, turning to splintery pulp. He tried to clamp a hand over his mouth, tried to keep it inside, but it was too late. Lucien curled in on himself, his mouth opened wide in a silent scream. His eyes rolled back behind his lids, and the world went dark.

It splattered onto the floor. It resembled a fattened leach, pulsating and slimy, and was the size of a large rat. It wriggled about, leaving behind a trail of black sludge. An alien kudzu sprung from the mess and cemented itself to the floor. Lucien opened his eyes, watching as the thing squirmed away from him. He felt a muted sense of alarm as it neared the edge. His head was foggy. He should grab it. Before it was too late, if it wasn’t too late already.

His fingertips scrabbled against the wood, mold and sludge filling the spaces beneath his nails, but his arms wouldn’t obey. He managed to brush the spongy tail of the creature before it tumbled over the edge and into the darkness below. It hit the water with a faint, echoing splash.

Lucien struggled to catch his breath. Empty and frail, his chest felt like a cage of papier-mâché. He rolled onto his back, panting. His eyes fluttered shut. Something moist crawled across his arms, up his ankles, under his jeans. It slithered through his hair. He was too tired to object. He wanted to sleep. He didn’t want to think about what could have happened if he had eaten in front of Jack. Or worse, if they had been in the middle of the crowded diner.

Inky blackness rose up to meet him, and Lucien didn’t resist.


Author Bio

Ridley Harker

Ridley Harker is an up-and-coming horror author who delights in all things gay and spooky. Influenced by Billy Martin (Poppy Z. Brite), Clive Barker, and Gemma Files, his favorite books are those with enemies to lovers, great villains, and queer main characters. Horror-romance is his favorite genre. He lives in the Middle of Nowhere with his two dogs, a grumpy old snake, and a host of pet tarantulas. Ridley is currently working on his MFA.

Author Website: https://www.ridleyharker.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/ridley.harker

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/HarkerRidley

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/RidleyHarker

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16649258.Ridley_Harker

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/ridley_harker

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