Passing Shadows by M. King

September 21, 2012

Tommy needs the opportunity to stand on his own—even if that means another separation from Brett. Passing Shadows by M. King, available from Dreamspinner Press.

Sequel to Breaking Faith

After serving six years for murdering his abusive father, Tommy Hawks is released from prison. He moves back in with what’s left of his family and tries to negotiate a new life with them and his partner, Brett, who has stood by him through everything. But moving on isn’t so easy.

For six years, Brett Derwent sacrificed any chance of a normal life: he spent his college fund on defense lawyers, drove hundreds of miles to visitation days, and had his love letters read by strangers and his phone calls monitored by jailers. Now he and Tommy are faced with the monumental task of starting over as adults when they hardly had the chance to begin together as teens.

Resentment simmers just below the surface, but so do gratitude and guilt. Brett and Tommy need to give each other the time and space to discover who they are individually, and Tommy especially needs the opportunity to stand on his own—even if that means another separation.

Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary

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Alive and Free by E E Montgomery (Free Story)

September 19, 2012

To celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day I wrote a short story to share with everyone.

First Officer and pirate Brian Owen has secrets. Some secrets he has to keep from everyone. Some he keeps from the two men he loves most in the world. When Owen’s past collides violently with his present, all his secrets are revealed and everyone he loves is at risk. While his ship is attacked and sunk, Owen has to decide whether to save the family he misses or the one he’s made since.

Find it on my website: www.eemontgomery.com.

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The Troll and The Sweet Roll by Eon de Beaumont (Free Story)

September 19, 2012

Keyfer wrapped his fist with the tape, then turned his head, cracking the bones in his neck. He looked across the sawdust of the Wishborne Arena at his opponent. The big bastard was at least a foot taller than Keyf and twice as broad. He was pale and bald with a fat ginger mustache in contrast to the young pirate’s long, auburn hair, slight frame, and sun-goldened skin. Keyfer readied himself for the big man’s first punch. Someone barked Keyf’s name and his opponent’s as well, Dronson.

The two men circled the arena, their fists raised before their eyes. Keyfer eyed Dronson, noticing the man’s mouth quirk beneath his mustache. A tell. Keyf ducked as the man swung his fist, driving a punch to Dronson’s barrel-like ribcage.

“Ha. Good one, pirate.” Dronson smirked and bounced around the ring. Keyf remained silent, not taking his opponent’s bait. Keyf threw a punch with his left hand, and Dronson slapped it away. Keyf followed with a right that Dronson blocked as well. Then the big man countered with a right hook that caught Keyfer on the shoulder. Dronson underestimated his own reach. Keyf shook off the blow and dashed forward with two quick punches to Dronson’s midsection. Before he could drop back, the big man brought a fist down on Keyf’s back, driving the pirate to his knees in the sawdust.

Keyf didn’t miss a beat and rolled away from his opponent. Dronson stamped at Keyfer as the pirate scrabbled around the arena. Dronson growled in frustration and lunged at the smaller, quicker man. Keyfer dodged, and Dronson kicked out, catching him in the stomach and forcing the breath from Keyf’s lungs. The crowd’s cheers were sprinkled with boos of disapproval. If Dronson wanted to fight dirty, Keyfer was ready to return the favor.

The pirate dashed up and slapped his larger opponent. Dronson grunted angrily and swung at Keyfer, who rolled away. From the sawdust, Keyf lashed out with his foot, catching the other man’s ankle and toppling him to the dirt. Keyfer loosed a chuckle that infuriated Dronson even more. The big, bald boxer dove for the smaller pirate, who stood up, crashing his skull into Dronson’s jaw. The other man blinked twice before collapsing to the sawdust. Keyfer threw his hands into the air as the crowd erupted with cheers. The men climbed over the rails and rushed the ring, hoisting Keyf onto their shoulders.

After the impromptu celebration, the arena master approached Keyf as the pirate dressed. “That was quite a show,” Blenter stated. “Well done, my son.”

“Isn’t there a prize for beating your gorilla?” Keyfer asked, pulling his wool coat from the bench.

“So there is. So there is,” Blenter answered, pulling a wad of bills from his waistcoat. He reluctantly counted out half and handed it over. “You ought to come back when Greymarrow’s here. That would be a fight I’d like to see.”

“Maybe,” Keyfer said noncommittally as he stuffed the bills in his overcoat. “I don’t know how much longer we’ll be here.” Keyfer walked out of the arena, wondering how his shipmates were faring with their interviews and inquiries. Wishborne’s arena had been a welcome distraction for the restless young buccaneer.

Out on the street, Keyfer pushed his way through the crowd looking for his friend and lover, Radish. The Alchemist Radley Timmons (Radish to his friends) had joined the crew of the Wayward Grace a few months ago and it wasn’t long before Keyfer fell for the bespectacled young man with the strawberry blond hair. Keyfer reached up and adjusted the rope holding his own messy brown locks in a ponytail that trailed between his shoulder blades. He wanted his hair out of his eyes so he could spot Radish easily.

Billy, captain of the Wayward Grace, and her two crewmen had come to this remote town seeking to hire a new magic user for their ship. They’d lost their last mage, Dill, a faerie spellweaver, in a terrible storm and subsequent crash. Though Keyf showed some latent aptitude for the mystic arts, he was unwilling to investigate that power for the time being.

Keyfer’s breath formed a cloud before his eyes as he pulled the collar of his wool coat up. The weather in Wishborne certainly wasn’t what the young pirate was used to. Wishborne lay hidden in the mountains between Anglica and Weylan. The inhospitable forests provided natural cover enhanced by wards and magic placed on them at various times by its wizarding founders. The crown looked upon magic as highly volatile and criminal, forcing most sorcerers and witches to hide their talents from the world at large. Wishborne existed as a place away from prying eyes where they could retreat for seclusion, without fear of repercussion.

The village had soon become a haven for the less scrupulous element of society. Bandits, highwaymen and other unsavory characters used Wishborne to disappear when their shenanigans landed them in the sights of their local constabulary. Faeries and the Fey Folk were a not uncommon sight on the Wishborne high street and Keyf had to sidestep to allow a pair of tiny hedgehogs dressed like the finest of gentleman to shuffle past.

He smiled as he thrust his hands into his coat pockets. The little Hedgehog men owned a shop of mystical objects and items that would aid in all manner of dishonest pursuits; amulets, rings of invisibility, and even a hand-shaped candle that froze everyone in a home while unlocking every door in the building. They had other less than savory items that could do all manner of unspeakable things to men but they kept those in a back room behind a thick dark curtain. Keyf had never visited that portion of their store, but he had entered numerous times just to look at the curiosities within. The price of the objects prevented him from actually buying anything in the little shop. He watched as the spiky proprietors opened their round, red door and entered their storefront. Although the door wasn’t always in the same spot each day, it was the only thing on the dreary street with any color, unfortunately the color of fresh blood.

Keyfer had to admit Wishborne may have once been a picturesque little village, looking like something plucked directly from an Anglican Faerie Tale, but it looked now like a child’s story with the innocence and soul drained away. The buildings were dark, drab and in most cases in need of serious repair. A foul smog sullied the air above the city and the streetlights burned  constantly, some regular gaslights and others glowing a faint eldritch blue. Unsavory characters milled about on every corner. He wondered why they’d called it Wishborne, for it was more like a place where wishes came to die. Wishkill, Keyf thought and shivered.

Despite all the villains in such a small space, Wishborne remained quiet and civil with nearly no crime at all, unlike most other villages of its kind. Of course, breaking the law in Wishborne wouldn’t earn you a cell in a dreary dungeon. You’d more likely be set on fire, fed to a giant toad, or turned into a giant toad and forced to eat criminals. It could be some combination of the three as well. Everyone mostly kept to themselves or carried on polite conversations. Keyfer heard that the original founder had created a spell to protect the city that carried on to this day.

Keyfer turned in surprise when he heard the commotion start at the far end of the high street. He could see sparks and magic, lightning and bird feathers as the excitement rippled through the crowds of people on the streets.

“What’s the hullabaloo?” A familiar voice asked near Keyf’s jewelry-laden ear.

“I don’t know, Radish.” Keyf turned toward his friend. “Just started. Where’s Billy?”

“Still in the tavern,” Radish answered indicating the saloon behind him. “She’s settling up the tab.”

“Any luck?” Keyf asked.

“Quite a bit of luck, actually. All bad, I’m afraid.” Radish removed his delicate spectacles and cleaned them with his scarf. “She found a stuffy, old sorcerer but he’s not looking for a life of adventure on the high seas. Or above them for that matter. He just wants to sit in a drawing room reading books. A few months ago I might have agreed with him.” Radish smirked and then planted a quick kiss at the corner of Keyfer’s mouth.

“Bollocks,” Keyfer growled. “What—“ he didn’t finish the question because a woman screamed as the source of the disturbance rushed into view. A strange, lanky man ran out of the crowd on the sidewalk. His clothes were odd with bits of clockwork stuck to them, and he had traveling goggles perched atop his bright orange hair. Keyfer thought he might be a Faerie from the way he guffawed as he ran from what passed for the town guard: two empty suits of armor. They clanked after the man, firing spells at him from wooden staffs in their tarnished hands.

As the man passed Keyfer and Radish, he plucked Radish’s spectacles from his hands and continued running.

“Hey!” Radish called after him. “I need those.”

“Damn!” Keyfer wasted no time dashing after the odd thief. He heard Radish calling to him but knew without his spectacles, his friend would only slow him down. The stranger elbowed people out of his way as he continued careening down the street, the suits of armor in his wake. The stranger hurdled a cart of dodgy vegetables, and the first suit of armor attempted the same, catching its foot on the side and toppling to pieces on the ground.

The stranger grabbed a lamppost, spinning around it and kicking the other suit of armor. The pieces scattered on impact and the merry thief continued his mad dash. A grizzled older fellow dressed like one of the frontiersmen of Allied Libertannia stepped out of a shop only to have his hat snatched by the giggling stranger.

“Oi!” The old man growled and took up the chase just in front of Keyfer. Unfortunately, the stranger had just dashed around a large man with skin like stone, standing in front of the sweet shop. The old fellow crashed right into the giant of a man, causing the bigger man to drop the box of treats in his huge hands. The old stranger regained his footing quickly and continued after the thief.

“You made me drop my sweet rolls,” the stone man said as Keyfer dashed past him, the suits of armor in pieces around his pounding feet. It looked as if they were trying to reunite with themselves but Keyfer didn’t have time to pause and see if they’d manage it. He was right on the old man’s heels now, and he could hear a steady stream of curses as he ran. The old fellow pulled a clockwork pistol from under his coat and fired at the thief. The stranger ducked around the next corner into an alley.

“Got ‘im now,” the chasing man growled. “That alley’s a dead end.”

Keyfer wondered if the older bloke addressed him or spoke to himself. Either way, both pursuers turned the corner a moment later, surprised to find the alley empty. “What the hell?” Keyfer asked.

“Damn it!” The grizzled stranger dragged a hand through his long gray hair. “How’d he do that?”

“Magic?” Keyfer asked. Keyf sniffed the air. “Do you smell elderberries?”

“That wasn’t magic,” the older man stated confidently, pointing at the dead end. Keyfer was about to ask him how he could tell when the heavy sounds of drums filled the alley. Then Keyfer noticed the man’s hat sat on the cobblestones at the end of the alley with Radish’s spectacles resting on the brim. The man in the long leather coat stooped to pick up the spectacles. “These yours?”

“My friend’s,” Keyfer answered taking the delicate glasses. “Thanks.”

“Hey!” The stone man’s voice boomed from the entrance to the alley. “You made me drop my sweet rolls.”

“Hold on there, mate.” The old man held up his hands. “I’m sure we can straighten this out like proper gentlemen. Um, or gentletrolls, as it were.”

Troll? Keyfer thought. That’s a troll? As the old fellow retrieved his hat, Keyf stared at the first troll he’d ever seen. The troll’s stony brows rose in shock and then turned down with anger.

“Aw shite,” the grey haired man spat, and Keyfer turned to see a pristine sweet roll sitting on the street just beneath the poor bastard’s hat.

“You stole my sweet roll!” the troll bellowed.

“Aw shite.” Keyfer echoed the stranger’s sentiment. The troll stormed into the alley and with a hand like a gravestone batted Keyf out of the way. He flew against the wall of the alleyway and bounced off, landing hard on the cobblestones.

“Keyfer!” Billy shouted from the street. Keyf took his eyes off the old man, who had assumed a boxing stance as the troll advanced. Poison Billy Stillwater, his oldest friend and adoptive sister, rushed over to Keyfer with Radish in tow. Billy’s fiery green eyes sparkled beneath her tricorn hat, and Keyf was relieved to see her. Keyfer handed his friend’s spectacles back. Radish slipped them on quickly, and they all watched as the old man traded punches with the troll. He walloped the big bugger in the jaw, and a tooth like a paving stone shot out of its mouth. The troll threw a left that the gray-haired man ducked only to get hit with a right just after. The three friends winced at the bone rattling impact.

“Damn it, man,” the old bloke spat. “I didn’t steal your sweet roll!” He charged the troll and landed a tremendous upper cut that knocked the big beast back. Then the determined older fellow hauled his foot back and aimed a kick right between the monster’s legs. The troll doubled over, cradling its sensitive stones. “I’m sorry I had to do that, son, but you wouldn’t listen to reason.”

“Trolls are real?” Radish whispered the question as the triumphant stranger retrieved his hat a second time.

“Apparently,” Billy answered.

“And that old fellow just fought one with his bare hands,” Keyfer added with awe and respect.

“Halt.” A tinny voice drifted down the alley. The rusty suits of armor had reassembled, although one of them was missing a glove. “You are a criminal, sir.”

“This isn’t what it looks like.” The tough, old bastard held his hands up again. Keyf noticed his knuckles were torn.

“That troll accused you of theft and you assaulted it,” the armor stated.

“All right, then it’s exactly what it looks like.” The man scratched his stubbly chin slowly.

“The sentence is transfigurment. A candlestick, I should think.”

“Too lenient,” the second suit of armor stated.

“Obliteration?” the first asked. Its partner nodded noisily. “Obliteration, it is.”

“Let’s not get hasty there, mate.”

“Second,” the armor addressed his partner. “Fire!” But before either suit of armor could attack the perpetrator, they were lifted into the air and smashed together.

“Sorry, Lumpy. I can’t let you do that.” The man held his hands out toward the mixed up suits of armor. An arcane purple light emanated from his skin.

“He’s a wizard.” Keyfer stood. The old wizard walked over to the wall of the alley and placed his hand on the plaster. The once-white material bubbled and rippled. With his other hand, he guided the various bits of armor to the wall, where they sank into the plaster trapping the enchanted metal bits.

“You have committed a grievous crime, sir.” The helmet stated from its plaster prison. “The sentence is death! The sentence is death!”

“Damn. Looks like I’ve overstayed my welcome,” the scruffy wizard lamented. His attention was drawn by a moan from the troll. “Shite,” he barked and walked over to the beast, leveling a kick to its jaw, knocking it unconscious.

“Death!” the armor screeched. “The sentence is death!”

“Nothin’ for it.” The guilty wizard shrugged, turning on his heel and running for the street.

“Hold on!” Keyfer jumped over and grabbed the man’s sleeve. Keyf tipped a wink at his mates before he asked, “Need a ride?”

The tough, old wizard squinted one eye and studied first Keyfer, then Radish and Billy. “Pirate?”

Keyf smirked and shrugged. “Guilty,” he answered. “Sometimes.”

“You have a ship?”

“We do,” Billy answered. “I’m her captain.”

“We’re a tad far from water for pirates,” the old man replied.

“I guess it’s a good thing she’s an airship.” Billy crossed her arms and raised her chin.

The old man’s grey brows raised wrinkles on his forehead. “An airship?”

“Aye.”

“This I have to see.” The odd wizard slapped Keyfer on the shoulder and offered his hand. “Curtis Greymarrow,” he said, introducing himself.

“Keyfer Lockswit,” Keyf said, taking the offered hand. Greymarrow raised a brow at the name. “Long story. I’ll tell you some time. This is Radish Timmons, and you’ve already met Poison Billy.”

“Pleased to meet you folks,” Greymarrow answered as they walked quickly away from the scene of the crime.

“Mr. Greymarrow?” Radish asked. “If you can use magic, why fight a troll bare knuckled?”

“Must keep my hand in, mustn’t I? Don’t want to lose my touch. I find magic to be used best as a last resort.” The wizard smiled. “Plus it’s dead fun, fist fightin’ trolls.”

Keyfer smiled as they reached the edge of Wishborne. He was really beginning to like the grizzled old wizard. “There she is,” Keyf said pointing at the ship, now visible over the trees. “The Wayward Grace.”

The Grace had been fully converted from a sea vessel to an airship since the crew had modified her with whatever they could get their hands on to escape the island that had once been their prison but was now their hideout. Her hull remained basically unchanged though she sported bat-like wings and enormous fans to move her through the air. Large cloth bladders clung to the hull with wooden shields wrapped around them. An enormous canvas rudder on the rear of the ship assisted with maneuverability and on the bow the original masthead beamed down like an angel.

The wizard stopped in his tracks, looking up with his mouth agape and his lilac colored eyes wide. “Bugger me sideways. You’ve really got an airship.”

“Did you think we were lying, Mr. Greymarrow?” Radish asked.

Greymarrow, Keyfer thought as he finally made the connection. “I’m glad I didn’t sign up to fight you, old man,” Keyf stated, patting the stunned wizard on the shoulder.

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Monkey Wrench by Xara X. Xanakas

September 19, 2012

Aaron is going to need the energy of his shifter animal to find the answer to some important questions. Monkey Wrench by Xara X. Xanakas, available from Dreamspinner Press.

A Were Menagerie Story – Book 2

Twenty-year-old virgin Aaron Thorne has a lot of irons in the fire. He’s on a career-making case investigating a new party drug that induces shifts in werecreatures, and his friend is the prime suspect. Outside of work, a literal silver fox has captured his attention. And just when life start going smoothly for Aaron, a tall, dark, scowly bobcat shifter named Iggy appears and sweeps him off his feet.

After being attacked in the course of his investigation, Aaron starts to feel like he has something to prove. It’s a good thing he’s got all the energy of his shifter animal, the spider monkey. He’s going to need it to solve the case, sort out his love life, and decide what kind of man he wants to be.

Length: Novella
Genre: Werewolves/Shifters
Series: Were Menagerie Stories by Xara X. Xanakas

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Shared Revelations by Andrew Grey

September 19, 2012

Sometimes true love comes from an unexpected quarter. Shared Revelations by Andrew Grey, available from Dreamspinner Press.

It’s the sixties, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be different. Eddie Baronski spent his high school years looking out for his partially deaf friend, Jack Emmons. Now that they’ve graduated, they spend their free time at Green Bay’s newly renamed Lambeau Field, taking in the practices.

When Eddie’s crush, Johnny Grant, a new Packers team member, offers him a ride home, Eddie thinks it’s the start of a grand romance. But Johnny and Eddie may not be on the same page, and love—true love—sometimes comes from an unexpected quarter.

Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary

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Letting Go by M.J. O’Shea

September 17, 2012

Mason and Drew must let go of their issues as to let love grow. Letting Go by M.J. O’Shea, available from Dreamspinner Press.

Rock Bay: Book Two

Drew McAuliffe has lived in the small town of Rock Bay most of his adult life. He’d like to be happy, but not at the cost of having his private life under his nosy neighbors’ microscope, so he keeps his bisexuality under wraps.

After a messy breakup that caused him to pack up and move to Astoria, on the Oregon coast, Mason Anderson decides to avoid drama of the romantic kind. All he wants is to start over—alone.

But Drew and Mason were meant to meet. The long looks and awkward half hellos chance offered were never going to be enough. But when they do finally come together on the worst night possible, misconceptions and problems from their pasts get in the way. Until Mason learns to trust again—and until Drew learns to let go of who he thinks he is—a real connection is nothing but a pipe dream.

Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Rock Bay Series by M.J. O’Shea

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Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless

September 17, 2012

Ethan crashes into Carter’s life, forcing him to get out and live. Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless, available from Dreamspinner Press.

By twenty-four, Carter Stevenson has stuttered and ticced his way to debilitating shyness. Although his friends accuse him of letting his Tourette’s dictate his life, Carter moves from Los Angeles to a quiet California town. He’ll keep his head down and avoid people. He doesn’t anticipate his new neighbor, Ethan Hart, crashing into his solitude and forcing him to get out and live.

From the beginning, Ethan makes his love for Carter clear. But he fears Carter won’t see past Ethan’s damaged brain, even though it makes Ethan more attuned to his emotions than most people. For Carter, there’s a bigger issue: he’s been burned by so-called “perfect” matches, and he won’t risk his heart again.

One way or another, Ethan’s determined to show Carter they belong together. Then Ethan receives tragic news. Suddenly he must turn to Carter for strength and support. Will Carter come through when Ethan needs him most?

Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary

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Sneak Preview: Sep 17, 2012

September 16, 2012

Our upcoming releases for the week of September 17, 2012.

Release date: September 17, 2012

Release date: September 17, 2012

Release date: September 19, 2012

Release date: September 19, 2012

Release date: September 21, 2012

Release date: September 21, 2012

The Hand-me-down by Zahra Owens

September 14, 2012

Nick is asked a favor that might be hard to fulfill but might be what his heart needs. The Hand-me-down by Zahra Owens, available from Dreamspinner Press.

When a volcano erupts in Iceland and leaves globetrotting headhunter Jez Robinson stranded in Barcelona, he isn’t sure what to do. He has a hard time sitting still, so deciding to make the best of his situation, he pays a visit to his old friend Nick Stone, a retired porn star he shares a history with. Only the visit doesn’t go anything like Jez expected.

First Nick introduces Jamie, his much younger lover, a man so painfully shy he can’t even bring himself to talk to strangers. The love he and Nick share is plain to Jez, but also puzzling, because Nick was never the monogamous type. Then Nick tells Jez he’s dying and wants Jez to look after Jamie.

In his whole life, Jez has never committed to so much as a house plant, so at first he refuses. But Nick and Jamie are insistent, and soon Jamie worms his way into Jez’s graces and his bed, determined to do the convincing Jez’s heart needs.

Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary

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Choosing America’s Next Superstar by Jeff Erno

September 14, 2012

Can Corey and Jimmy win each other’s heart, regardless of who wins the show? Choosing America’s Next Superstar by Jeff Erno, available from Dreamspinner Press.

For years, eighteen-year-old Corey Dunham has been a die-hard fan of the reality show and nationwide talent competition Choosing America’s Next Superstar. Now he finally has his chance to show off his natural ability and perfect pitch—not to mention meet other talented young musicians like Jimmy Sawyer, a country crooner from Kentucky.

In the cutthroat audition round, Corey and Jimmy get off on the wrong foot. It doesn’t help that they seem to be complete opposites, both in terms of musical taste and personality. But when both make it through to the finals and become roommates, an unlikely romance blossoms.

Reality show dating is nearly impossible. Corey worries that the competition itself could spell the end for them. At any time, voting results could send one of them home and force a separation. And one of the judges wants Corey for himself and will do anything to get Jimmy off the show. Can Corey and Jimmy win each other’s heart, regardless of who wins the show?

Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary

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