Friday, June 23, 2017

Clean Romance (#erotica #genres #cleanromance)

Cleaning the house

I’ve been around the publishing world for quite a while. I know a lot of authors, and host many of these colleagues here at the blog. Every now and then I get a guest who claims to write “clean romance”.

I have to be honest. That term really annoys me, for a whole range of reasons.

First of all, it conveys a sense of smug superiority over those of us who write more explicit fiction. It implies that what I write is “dirty”—messy, unsanitary, disgusting and gross. I don’t view my work that way, but I find it disturbing that some people apparently do.

Second, like all genre labels, it suggests a sort of absolute categorization that does not exist in practice. Romance stories fall on a continuum from completely G rated to triple X. Where’s the dividing line between “clean” and whatever the alternative might be? Presumably kisses don’t disqualify a romance from receiving the cleanliness label, but how about passionate embraces? If the hero’s hand brushes the heroine’s breast as he holds her tight, can the story still be “clean”? What about lustful thoughts or feelings of arousal? Are they allowed?

Arousal begins in the mind. I sometimes toy with the notion of writing an intensely erotic romance that nevertheless includes no sex at all. I’m confident I could manage this. Would I be able to sell this as “clean”?

Third, the label trades on the discomfort many readers have about sex. Read my story, the label suggests, and you won’t have to think about the nasty things that people do behind closed doors. You’ll be safe. You won’t be tempted to think dirty thoughts. You can enjoy the vicarious pleasure that comes from reading romance and still be “good”.

Don’t misunderstand me. Every reader has the right to make her own choices. If you’re not comfortable reading sexually explicit fiction, you shouldn’t force yourself to do so. On the other hand, it’s a bit disingenuous to pretend that romantic love can be divorced from physical sex.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I personally think the world would be in much better shape if people were more open about both discussing and enjoying sex. For instance, I believe that sexual frustration is a major, unacknowledged motivation for terrorism. Of course, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Still, the emotional valence associated with the world “clean” (and its opposite) denies the validity of my views.

Clean” equals good, moral, healthy, admirable, desirable... you get the idea. “Unclean” means forbidden, tainted, immoral, evil.

I refuse to accept those judgments about what I write. But that sort of categorization is exactly the reason my books end up invisible, hidden in Amazon’s “dungeon”.

The funny thing is, I’ve talked to authors of “sweet romance” (a much less loaded term than “clean romance”) who’ve said, “I really wish I could write hot stuff like you. That’s what readers want, but I just can’t do it. I’m too embarrassed.”

I get this. Not everyone can write sexually explicit stories. Not everyone is interested in that kind of stories.

I’m just bothered by the implication that there’s something wrong with me because I am and I do.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

An ocean of possibility: Anthem of the Sea by @realthomcollins (#gayromance #thriller #cruise)

Anthem of the Sea cover

Blurb

An ocean of possibility. For love, revenge and murder.

Daniel Blake, a handsome young singer, boards the Atlantic Anthem in Portugal for the final voyage of her maiden season. The state-of-the-art ship is the jewel in the Royal Atlantic cruise fleet. For Daniel, a one-time boy band member and TV talent show winner, it’s an honor to perform aboard such a vessel. Daniel loves the freedom and adventure of the sea. He began his solo career as a cruise ship entertainer and returning to the ocean as a headline act brings him full circle. He isn’t looking for love.

Neither is comedian Elijah Mann. Working at sea has given Elijah’s career the boost it desperately needed. Often considered too good-looking and sexy to be funny, work has been hard to come by since his TV show was canceled. With a potential new career opening up, he must remain focused. But when Elijah meets Daniel the attraction is mutual and instant. As the ship sets sail for England they have three days to get to know each other. Elijah can’t let that opportunity pass.

The voyage home is far from smooth. Also on board is a figure from Daniel’s past. A man who’s been holding a grudge for years, waiting for his moment. As a storm builds in the North Atlantic, Daniel and Elijah discover that the trip of a lifetime could be their last.

Links




Excerpt

The taxi collected Daniel Blake from the hotel on time. He liked that. Punctuality, efficiency and professionalism—three things he valued in all areas of his career. Be on time and be prepared—that had been his motto since he was fourteen years old. Fifteen years later, he continued to live by it.

He helped the driver load his gear into the trunk. There wasn’t much of it. When on the road, he traveled light with just a medium-sized case, a holdall and a suit carrier. He’d arrived in Lisbon the previous morning, disembarking from a cruise ship, where he’d performed for two nights. His shirts would need washing and his suit pressing before his next show. There was plenty of time.

He gave the driver directions to his designated cruise terminal and climbed onto the back seat. Thankfully, the air conditioning was running. Though it was late October, the outside temperature remained in the mid-eighties and it wasn’t even eleven o’clock. Last night he had heard some of the hotel staff complain about the weather turning cold, but for a boy like him, born and raised in the northeast of England, these climates were well above average. Back home, this would be a hot day in June or July.

It was a short drive to the port. Early in the day, but the streets were busy. Three massive cruise ships were anchored in the harbor, discharging thousands of eager tourists into the city. British, American, German, Japanese, they scurried through the streets, clutching backpacks and maps, keen to explore as much as they could of the historic Portuguese city in the few hours they had here.

Daniel smiled at their faces as they zipped by.

Lisbon, his last stop before home.

The car arrived at the port and within ten minutes Daniel stood beside the gangway with his luggage, waiting for the necessary security calls to be made that would allow him to board the ship. The enormous vessel towered above him, casting a huge shadow across the dock. The Atlantic was one of the biggest and most spectacular cruise ships in the world.

There were a lot of criticisms for super ships such as this. He’d heard them described as floating shopping malls, grotesque monstrosities and budget hotels at sea, but for Daniel there was something quite majestic about the craft and its design, to say nothing of the engineering that went into the construction of such a huge vessel.

Those things are so top heavy,” a jobbing magician once had told him in a bar. “I hear they roll right over in high seas.”

Daniel had laughed at the man’s ignorance. “And when did you last hear of that happening?”

The man had floundered. “I’m just saying that something so uneven can’t be safe, can it? You won’t ever catch me on one of them things. Mug’s game, isn’t it?”

It’s your loss,” Daniel had told him cheerily. He felt safer at sea, even in the roughest weather, than he ever had on a plane. Motorways too. It might not be the quickest, but without a doubt it was the most luxurious and extravagant way to travel. He loved being at sea.

Waiting for the security guy to return with his passport, Daniel realized he’d drawn some attention.

A slow stream of passengers was returning to the ship. They couldn’t have seen much of Lisbon, coming back already. Among them was an English family. While the parents lit cigarettes before joining the embarkation queue, the daughter, who looked around fourteen, stared directly at him.

Hi.” He smiled. “Good day out?”

The girl was plump and pretty with wavy brown hair that fell around her shoulders. She wore a sweet, flowery sundress and red Converse shoes. She blushed as she realized she’d been caught gawking.

Are you…? Oh, my God, you are, aren’t you? You’re Daniel Blake.”

He raised his hands in mock surrender. “Guilty as charged. Don’t shoot me.”

The girl nervously stepped forward, looking at him with wide, hazel eyes. “What are you doing here?”

I’m waiting to join the ship. I’m performing on board.”

Her jaw fell. “The Anthem? You’re coming on the Anthem?

He nodded. He didn’t mind being recognized like this. Daniel was famous enough in the UK, but not so much that it ever became an inconvenience. His fame came from a TV talent show. The public had made him and he appreciated all the support he got.

Oh my God.” The girl’s face became highly animated. “Mam! Dad! Come here. Oh my God, you won’t believe it. Daniel Blake. It’s actually him.”

Her bemused parents stubbed out their cigarettes and came over. They were an attractive-looking couple of around forty. The girl looked a lot like her father.

I hope she’s not bothering you,” the dad said, looking cautiously between Daniel and his daughter.

Not a bit,” Daniel assured him. “It’s a pleasure.”

Daniel is going to be singing on the ship. Can you believe it? How cool is that?” She grinned a mile wide.

Starting tomorrow,” he said. “Make certain you get yourselves a great seat down front. I can use all the support I can get.”

I will, I will. I voted for you every week on The One. You were my favorite from the start.”

So it’s you I need to thank for winning. What’s your name, sweetie?”

Julieann.”

Well, thank you, Julieann. Your votes changed my life.”

The girl blushed violently.

The security officer came back to escort Daniel onto the ship. Before boarding, he posed for photographs with Julieann and her family.

The girls at school will have a fit when they see these on Instagram,” Julieann said proudly as they took a selfie together.

See you at the shows,” Daniel said as he walked on board. “And don’t forget—front row. Be there. I’ll look out for you.”

We’ll definitely be there.”

Once on board, he passed his luggage through the security scanner and was equipped with his sea pass ID, the plastic card that would enable him to move around the ship, access his accommodation and run a tab in the bars and shops. He was greeted on the far side of security by a young woman in a blue shirt and khaki shorts. Her soft blonde hair was tied back from her round, attractive face. She was vaguely familiar from his engagement earlier in the season. He checked her name badge to refresh his memory. Belle Hodges, entertainment crew, from South Australia.

Hi,” Belle said cheerily. “It’s wonderful to have you back on board.”

She extended her hand and he shook it. “It’s great to be back. Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to this since I left in May. How has your maiden season gone?”

Over too quickly and totally ace. I can’t believe it’s been that long since you were here.
Yikes, the time has flown. Let me give you a hand with your stuff.”

That’s okay. I can manage. Just point me in the right direction and I’ll find my way.”

Ignoring his protests, Belle took up the suit carrier.

You’re in real luck,” she said. “You’ve been allocated a large stateroom on one of the passenger decks. Balcony and all.”

You’re joking? Wow. Am I sharing with the house band or a football team?”

Belle giggled, wrinkling her nose. “Silly. You’ve got the whole place to yourself.”

Seriously? What gives? I never get accommodation like that.”

Belle looked around cautiously and lowered her voice. “We had a family thrown off the ship in Gran Canaria so you’ve got their room. They caused a fight in the martini bar and punched an officer who tried to intervene. Captain Rassimov put them off at the next port. No second chances.”

Good to know we’re in such firm hands.”

Captain Rassimov is the best,” Belle gushed.

Daniel didn’t doubt it. He’d met the dashing captain on his last trip. Tall, dark, handsome and extremely charismatic, he sent hearts beating fast among the passengers and crew. If he wasn’t so straight, Daniel would fancy him too. Rassimov was the perfect man to master such a grand vessel.

Launched in May, with a rumored cost of over one-point-five billion, the Atlantic Anthem was coming to the end of its inaugural European season. It was the newest and biggest vessel in the Royal Atlantic fleet. Daniel had spent two nights on board when he’d performed a headline set on the maiden voyage. He’d worked for cruise companies all over the world, but he couldn’t fail to be impressed by the Anthem. It was billed as the ship with everything. From his own experience that was certainly true.

As he walked through the decks with Belle, his sense of excitement increased. The interior was truly splendid. Not a penny had been spared, from the lush carpets to the paintings and sculptures that graced every deck. Before coming on board, he’d read all the specs—about the spa and fitness center, two swimming pools and a solarium, the Royal Theater with nine-hundred-sixty seats, the bars—eight of them across the ship—the main dining room plus three specialty restaurants and a twenty-four-hour cafĂ©. Several public entertainment areas were situated on Decks Four and Five around a jaw-dropping central staircase. Knowing all of that in advance, he still had been blown away when he’d came upon the ship for the first time. And he felt it now, all over again.

Only the most jaded, spoiled and hard-to-please traveler could fail to be inspired by the Anthem.

They rode one of the glass elevators to the tenth floor where Belle led him down a long corridor to his stateroom in the forward section of the ship.

Last time, I had an interior cabin in the crew quarters.” He laughed.

Yep, that’s where they like to cram us in. But now you’ve got this.”

Daniel swiped his sea pass card to enter the room. A major step up from crew class, the room was bright and contemporary, to the standard of any good hotel. He had an enormous double bed all to himself and a sitting area with a long, cream leather sofa. There was a dressing table, minibar, TV, private bathroom and balcony.

I hope I don’t get lost in here,” he joked, dumping his luggage by the wardrobe.

As long as you’re on stage for your shows tomorrow night, no one will mind what you get up to in here,” Belle said.

You can put your mind at ease on that count,” he said. “I’ve been performing since I was fourteen and I’ve never missed a show in my life.”

Belle left him to settle in. Daniel unpacked his clothes first and filled a plastic bag with stuff that needed washing immediately—shirts, socks and underwear. Another great thing about working on a luxury cruise liner—everything was to hand. If he left the bag out today, all the items would be washed, ironed and returned by tomorrow.

He went into the bathroom next, laying out his razor, toothbrush and skincare products. He brought everything with him when he traveled. Though he wasn’t particularly vain, it was important to look good in public.

He didn’t have to worry. At twenty-nine years old—five months shy of thirty—he was in prime condition. He’d never looked better. For years he used to hate the way he looked. Everything about him had been out of proportion, especially his face. Eyes, teeth, nose, chin, they were always too big. But throughout his twenties, the rest of his body had caught up. He’d filled out and gained muscle and his face, which had seemed so awkward in his teens, had developed an extraordinary handsomeness. He had a strong jaw with a cowboy cleft, while his mouth was wide and masculine. With sky-blue eyes and thick brown hair, he had become a good-looking man. Very good-looking.

His confidence hadn’t grown to match his looks. A part of him would always be that skinny, peculiar kid. But only he could see it.

Finally unpacked, he relaxed and walked onto the balcony. He had a great view of the city and the people below, streaming like ants around the port terminals. Daniel took a moment to enjoy it all. He loved just about every part of the cruise experience.

Every ship, every voyage, was a new adventure.

The Atlantic Anthem promised a greater adventure than any other.

He couldn’t wait to get started.

About the Author


Thom Collins is the author of the novel Closer by Morning, with Pride Publishing. His love of page turning thrillers began at an early age when his mother caught him reading the latest Jackie Collins book and promptly confiscated it, sparking a life-long love of raunchy novels.

The novellas Gods of Vengeance and Silent Voices were published by Pride in early 2017, followed by the novel Anthem of the Sea, the first book in the Anthem Trilogy. He has recently finished writing the second book in a series and is working on the third.

Thom has lived in the North East of England his whole life. He grew up in Northumberland and now lives in County Durham with his husband and two cats. He loves all kinds of genre fiction, especially bonk-busters, thrillers, romance and horror. He is also a cookery book addict with far too many titles cluttering his shelves. When not writing he can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes. He’s a keen traveler but with a fear of flying that gets worse with age. Since taking his first cruise in 2013 he realized that sailing is the way to go.

Links

Email: thomcollinsauthor [at] aol [dot] com




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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Meet Sara R. Turnquist (#giveaway #historical #interview @sarat1701)

A Convenient Risk cover


Today I'm hosting Sara Turnquist's blog tour for her new historical romance, A Convenient Risk. I've got a couple questions for her. Then we'll take a look at the book. And be sure to enter her giveaway at the end of the post!

Lisabet: What is the sweetest thing someone has done for you?

Sara: My husband knows I love my author swag. So he indulges me…maybe too much. For our anniversary, he bought me bangle bracelets, one for each of my books, with a picture of the cover of each book on each bracelet.

How would you spend ten thousand bucks?

Probably on swag.

Where do you get your best ideas?

When I’m searching the internet or watching television…some random history tidbit will cross the screen and I’ll be drawn in.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

First, I’m usually inspired by the plot, but I definitely develop the characters first.

What does your main character do that makes him/her special.

My main character in “A Convenient Risk” is Amanda. She is strong-willed and determined that she is not going to be a burden to anyone or need anyone for anything. Though she is trapped in a situation in which she cannot help herself. But I digress… She is very capable on the ranch. Pretty much as capable as any ranch hand. And she is not afraid of hard work. Her domain extends beyond the house to the stables and fields.

Blurb

He never imagined her heart would be so hard to reach.  

Forced into a marriage of convenience after her husband dies, Amanda Haynes is determined she will never love again. Not that it bothers Brandon Miller. He needs her husband’s cattle. She needs financial stability and long-term support for her son and herself. But she never expected to care so much about the running of the ranch. Or the rancher.  

Butting heads over the decisions of the ranch, adding to her frustration and grief at her loss. Her well being is soon threatened as their lives become entangled with Billy the Kid and his gang. What has she gotten herself into? What kind of man has she married? Is there any way out?

Excerpt

A strong arm grasped Amanda, catching her upper arm and dragging her onto the horse. As soon as she was solidly on the animal, she grabbed ahold of Brandon as tightly as she could.

They took off. The bull pawed at the ground, making all manner of grunting noises, but as if by some miracle, he ran off to the left. All of this happened as if time had slowed.

The horse continued to push forward. And as they neared the edge of the fence, Brandon urged the horse to go even faster. Were they going to break through? What would happen to the cattle with the fence destroyed?

But as they approached the fence, the horse leapt. Amanda gripped Brandon impossibly tighter. Jolted when the horse landed, her teeth chattered.

Only then did Brandon slow the horse. He then placed a hand on her upper arm and pushed.

She released him.

He sucked in a deep breath and expelled it.

Had she been holding him too tightly? Her face warmed.

He took hold of her shoulders. “Are you all right?”

She nodded, and though their faces were but a breath apart, she was not quite able to meet his eyes, fighting tears in her own. Only then she found herself staring at his bare chest. Jerking her head away, she averted her gaze.

Do you realize what could have happened?” His voice rose.

She nodded, still not able to meet his eyes. The force of his emotion hit her. Was he so concerned after her?

I would have had to shoot that bull.”

What? Eyes wide, she tilted her face up to look at him.

That bull is worth half my herd.”

So he was only worried about the cattle. Not her. His precious cattle.

About the Author



Sara is originally from Middle Tennessee. After a short stint in Memphis, where she earned a degree in Biology and began a career as both a Zoo Educator and a Sleep Technician, she then followed a dream to work for a large zoo in Orlando, FL as an Educator. Once she and her husband started their family, they moved back to Middle Tennessee where they currently reside. 

Sara and her husband now enjoy a full life with their three beautiful and very active children. She enjoys many creative outlets – singing, piano, drawing, drama, and organizing anything. And even though she has enjoyed her career as a Zoo Educator, Sara's great love of the written word continued to draw her to write. She has always been an avid reader and, for many years, has been what she terms a “closet writer”. 

Her travels and love of history have served to inspire her to write clean Historical Romance. Sara has made several trips to the Czech Republic. Her time among the Czech people and the landscapes of the country inspired her and greatly influenced her work on her debut novel, The Lady Bornekova, set in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. Sara is also the author of The General’s Wife, Off to War, Hope in Cripple Creek, and A Convenient Risk and a member of ACFW.


Twitter: @sarat1701 - https://twitter.com/sarat1701/
Facebook: AuthorSaraRTurnquist -https://www.facebook.com/authorsararturnquist/
Pinterest: SaraVTurnquist – http://www.pinterest.com/saravturnquist/


Buy Links:





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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review Tuesday: Woman of the Mountain by Angela Caperton (#reviewtuesday #erotica #spirituality)

Woman of the Mountain cover

Woman of the Mountain by Angela Caperton
Extasy Books, 2010

Zenthe is the Earth Mother, the supreme Goddess of fertility and desire. Zenthe is also the volcano that towers over the far-flung lands of Corsinium, from the lush fields of Margate to the desert frontiers at Damtown. The dark waters of Zenthe’s Mirror, the bottomless lake that half-fills the crater, reflect the gleaming spires and halls of her centuries-old temple perched along the volcano’s rim. Within the temple, High Priestess Adita, the latest ever-young incarnation of Zenthe, presides over orgiastic rituals of fleshy bliss and waits for the one true Lover who will claim her forever. Adita struggles against loneliness, resisting the despair that has been the downfall of so many of her predecessors. Meanwhile, the rising power of a violent, paternalistic faith threatens to subjugate and destroy the Goddess and her people.

In Woman of the Mountain, Angela Caperton has created a vividly sensual world maintained by an intriguing mythos. Woman of the Mountain is about religion and sex. It is also concerned with the feminine, nurturing principle, contrasted with the masculine instinct to conquer. As I am personally fascinated the spiritual aspects of sex, I found Ms. Caperton’s thesis exciting. Unfortunately, she does not completely succeed in realizing the promise of her theme.

One problem (and I’m certain my readers will find this astonishing) is the fact that Woman of the Mountain includes too many sex scenes. Perhaps I should qualify this and say that the book contains too many scenes where the characters couple purely for immediate pleasure, without any deeper connection. In Zenthe’s world, sex should be a sacrament, but all too often, even among the folk of the temple, it seems to be no more than a recreation. Rarely is there a sense of reverence, a sense of communion in the flesh should sanctify Zenthe’s rites.

A second difficulty lies in the characters, who are generally too simple and one-sided to be realistic or to invite identification. Adita, in particular, seemed empty, a sketch of a woman who fills a necessary role in the plot but who never comes alive. Casmin, her loyal captain of the guard, has more depth, with his steadfast faith in the Goddess and his earthly but suppressed desire for Adita, but he is still the archetypal hero, with no flaws to make him real. The scheming, sexually opportunistic priestess Rivah was particularly disappointing. When we first meet her, she is an ambitious novice in Zenthe’s temple. There’s an almost childish glee in the manner with which she blackmails an older Priestess into granting her the boon of ordination. I was hoping that Rivah would prove to be a complex villain, or at least a powerful one. Ultimately, she turns out to be treacherous, but weak and uninteresting in her uninspired evil.

Perhaps the most successful character in this tale is Sul Tarkus, the prophet of the Father-God Kahmudj, leader of the hordes who lay siege to the holy mountain and the body of Adita. With his charisma and his fanatic certainty that he is the incarnation of his god, he is intensely believable (and indeed, familiar). When he finally stands face to face with Adita and is vanquished by his own doubts, the reader feels relief and joy, but also sympathy.

Woman of the Mountain is at its best in the scenes of high drama, when the mysteries of divine power are made manifest. When Sul Tarkus captures and opens the sacred floodgates on the River Sorrow, loosing the torrent to flow into the desert lands even as he dangles the sex-besotted Rivah above the abyss, I hardly dared to breath. I half-expected him to sacrifice her to his brutal god. I half-expected the power of Zenthe to rise in the traitorous priestess, calling her back to fulfill her long-ignored vows. When Sul Tarkus confronts Adita, alone at the pinnacle of Zenthe’s Needle, I knew that a miracle was imminent. And when the volcano/goddess belches lava and steam to fight off her attackers, I became a true a believer.

All in all, I found Woman of the Mountain diverting but disappointing. The grand themes of sexual union as a sacrament, of devotion and sacrifice to a higher power, of love as a force transcending death and time, rise in the background, but they are obscured, like Zenthe’s face behind its seductive veil. I have the sense that Ms. Caperton wanted to write a different book, a book of erotic mysteries that celebrates the magic of the flesh. Of course, her audience may prefer the book that she actually produced, full of saucy wenches and lively, superficial rolls in the hay. As for me, I regret the loss of the vision that I sense behind this book, the hints of transcendence that are, for the most part, unrealized.

Please note: This book won first prize for erotica in the prestigious EPIC ebook competition in 2007, when it was first released. So obviously not everyone agrees with me!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Icarus by David K. Hulegaard: Review and Giveaway (#suspense #scifi @hulegaardbooks) )


icarus cover

Blurb

It’s the winter of 1947 in Ashley Falls, West Virginia, and a teenage girl has gone missing. Local private detective Miller Brinkman takes the case, quickly uncovering a string of bizarre clues. A hidden diary, cryptic riddles, and buried secrets all pique Miller’s interest, but one key detail gives him pause: the girl’s parents haven’t reported her disappearance to the authorities.

As the case deepens, Miller’s investigation begins to poke holes in the idyllic picture of his beloved hometown. No longer certain whether anyone in his community can be trusted, Miller dives headfirst into a desperate search for the truth that extends far beyond the borders of Ashley Falls. He soon discovers that his missing persons case is not an isolated incident, but part of an otherworldly mystery—one that, if confronted, may threaten the very future of humanity.

Review

First, seventeen year old Jane Emmett disappears from Ashley Falls, West Virginia. A rebellious young woman often in conflict with her parents, Jane might well have run away from home, but if that’s true, there’s no trace of her, aside from some cryptic poetry and a pocket watch that clearly belongs to someone else.

Next, Jane’s best friend Jessie Fryman is found dead at the foot of the cliff that gives the town its name. The town sheriff plans to pin the murder on Miller Brinkman, a mild-mannered private eye whom Jessie had consulted about her missing friend. Sheriff Coleman knows Brinkman isn’t the culprit, but the sheriff has a score to settle. Besides, the lawman is somehow mixed up with the shadowy “men in black” who seem to have caused Jane to vanish.

Brinkman is a man with a strong moral compass, and more courage than he gives himself credit for. Despite his agoraphobia, he leaves Ashley Falls, where he has spent his entire life, to follow clues left by Jane and Jessie. His gut tells him there’s something sinister going on and he’s determined to get to the bottom of the situation, even though it puts him in mortal danger.

He expects to find something peculiar, but the horrible truth about Jane’s fate is far beyond anything the sheltered PI could possibly have imagined.

Icarus is a brilliantly suspenseful novel with a unwitting but winning hero. Miller Brinkman thinks he’s ordinary, a small town guy who will never amount to much. However, he’s intelligent, intuitive, surprisingly brave, and above all, good. He pursues the question of Jane’s disappearance and Jessie’s murder not because he’s being paid by a client, not for the intellectual satisfaction of solving a puzzle, but because he senses some dark fate has swallowed her and maybe others.

From the first pages, I was sucked in to the mystery. We know from the prologue that Jane has been abducted, but we have no idea by whom. As the book progresses, though, it becomes clear that her kidnappers are both determined and vicious. I couldn’t guess the real story, despite many hints.

David Hulegaard does a great job bringing both Brinkman and post World War II America to life. In those times, a train trip from West Virginia to Baltimore was a major journey. Hulegaard makes you feel the distance. The writing is generally excellent, as is the editing (something I really appreciate in an indie novel). The story flows smoothly, propelled by Miller’s almost heart-breaking quest for justice. In fact the PI loses what he holds most dear before he solves the mystery.

I have only two complaints about Icarus. First, though the build up is amazing, the truth about Jane’s fate struck me as far-fetched, even contrived. Although I knew that the book was labeled as science fiction, it reads more like a who-dunnit until that point. The change was a bit disorienting. Second, although the dialogue overall struck me as excellent, Sheriff Coleman’s speeches were rendered in an incredibly irritating dialect:

Coleman stepped away. “Head back to the station, and when ya get there, leave yer badge on my desk.”

I rubbed my throat and coughed.

Yer days as deputy are done,” he said with his back to me. “And a word of advice: forget any of this ever happened, and don’t ya ever come ’round my station again. It’d be a cryin’ shame if ya ended up like Benny.”

I have a feeling that the author wanted us to remember that Coleman was a black man. However, this really rubbed me the wrong way. No other character in the book has this sort of extreme accent.

Overall, though, I greatly enjoyed reading Icarus. Indeed, the book left me eagerly awaiting the next novel in the series, because I really wanted to know more about Alyssa Noble.

Who is Alyssa Noble, you might ask?

Well, you’ll have to read the book and find out for yourself.

Excerpt

Jessie stalled in the doorway, studying the parking lot. She turned her head left to right several times, conducting a sweep of the area.

I plopped a coin on the table and joined her. “Is everything all right?”

It’s probably nothing.” Jessie adjusted the book bag on her shoulder. “I think my mind’s playing tricks on me. Earlier I thought I saw… Oh, never mind.”

What is it?”

I don’t know. I thought maybe I was being followed on the way here from school.”

Followed? Did you see someone?”

Well, I didn’t get a good look or nothing, but I could’ve sworn I saw a man in a black suit behind me. Sort of keeping a distance, you know?” Jessie said. “But when I got here, he was gone.” She covered her eyes. “Gee, it sounds like I’ve read Jane’s journal one too many times, huh?”

I chuckled, though it was more from nerves than humor. “Tell you what, Jessie: how about I walk you home? I’m headed that direction anyway.”

Oh, that’d be swell. Are you sure it’s no trouble?”

I reached into my coat pocket and felt the familiar shape of my Colt revolver at my side. “Nope. No trouble at all.”


About the Author


David K. Hulegaard is an American author and paranormal investigator. His Noble trilogy has garnered comparisons to the works of Philip K. Dick and Stephen King. In 2016, he collaborated with best-selling author Tony Healey on the novel Planet of Ice.

David previously worked at BioWare, a premiere video game development studio known for creating the popular Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises. He now lives in the Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend, Washington with his wife Jennie, and their banana-obsessed Welsh Terrier Tobi. In his spare time, he enjoys video games, professional wrestling, and photography.

Links:

The Official Website of David K. Hulegaard: http://davidhulegaard.com



David Hulegaard will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Smut Sunday: Father’s Day (#fantasy #ageplay #SmutSunday)

Smut Sunday button

Welome to another week of Smut Sunday, the brainchild of the irrepressible Ms. Victoria Blisse.

Today is Father’s Day in the U.S., and maybe elsewhere too. I thought I’d like to share some smutty bit involving some character who’s a father. However, I came to conclusion that none of my male characters have ever had kids (which shows a certain lack of diversity, doesn’t it?)

However, I realized that I do have some age-play erotic scenes in my novel Incognito. Miranda, the heroine in that book, is frigid when she’s with someone who cares for her. On the other hand, she’s an insatiable sexual adventuress when it comes to doing things with strangers.

In this particular case, she discovers that her roommate Lucy has been hanging out in a fetish chat room, and that she has made contact with a guy who calls himself Big Daddy. In the meantime, Lucy has fallen in love and is off in Paris. Miranda takes a call from Big Daddy, and on the spur of the moment, decides to impersonate Lucy.

When you’re done with my smutty excerpt, head back to the Smut Sunday page for more outrageous fun.

And don’t forget to be good to your Dad—today and every day!



All eyes were on her when she walked into the bar at eight sharp. She had raided Lucy’s closet again, and the effect was startling. She wore a plaid kilt that would have been short on her petite apartment-mate, and a plain white blouse with a Peter Pan collar. Her long legs were bare down to her white ankle socks and patent leather flats. She had parted her hair in the center and gathered it into two braids, tied with red bows.

In these conservative surroundings, among the hunting prints and the leather upholstery, she knew that she looked bizarre, bizarre but sexy. It felt like Halloween. After a few moments, the eyes turned politely away. A marketing gimmick, they thought, or perhaps some twisted young heiress. They returned to their martinis and their gossip.

Somehow, she recognized Big Daddy immediately. He was a handsome man of about fifty with salt-and-pepper hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He sat in a corner, one knee over the other, swirling brandy in a snifter and watching the door. Their eyes locked across the room. She felt pulled to his corner by some type of magnetism.

He rose as she approached, offering his hand. “Lucy, my dear,” he said warmly. “You’re right on time.”

Miranda felt shy and tongue-tied, but fortunately he carried the conversation. “Please, sit down.” He gestured at the cocktail waitress. “Would you like something to drink?”

Red wine, please.”

Big Daddy looked at her sternly. “Now, don’t be naughty, Lucy. You know that you‘re too young to drink wine.” He turned to the waitress. “A Shirley Temple for my little friend here.” The waitress smirked at Miranda and disappeared.

Miranda desperately wanted some alcohol, to dull the edge of her nervousness and help her to relax. When the fruity drink arrived, the waitress served it with a flourish and a wink. Taking a sip, Miranda thought she detected a hint of vodka under the grenadine and soda. She mentally thanked the saucy young woman.

Big Daddy was staring at her. She found that she liked it. “You look delightful, my dear,” he said at last. She glowed at his approval. “Perfect in every respect. I do expect that I will have the chance to examine you more closely when we go upstairs.”

Upstairs?” Miranda’s voice was almost a squeak.

I took the liberty of reserving a room for us, where we can be more—private. Of course, if you are not comfortable being alone with me, I will quite understand.”

Strangely, Miranda found that she trusted him. He seemed gentle and courteous, if somewhat authoritarian. His melodious voice was soothing, almost hypnotic. “No,” she said finally, “I think that I would like to be alone with you.”

She wondered what Lucy had told this man, what fantasies they had shared on-line before setting up this meeting. She had to know—needed to be prepared.

Big Daddy…”

Yes, Lucy.”

Remind me, what did I say in the chat room? Sometimes I have a hard time remembering.”

He smiled indulgently. “You told me that you wanted to be my little girl. That you wanted me to spank you if you were bad. That you had nasty thoughts and feelings, and knew that you needed to be punished for them.”

And what did you tell me?”

That I had just the kind of firm hand to keep you in line.”

[Warning: things get a lot smuttier after this point. But given this is Father's Day, I thought I should keep the post PG!]