Flash Fiction Holiday Blog Hop – Strange Bedfellows

ffhbh_badge4-200Welcome to the Flash Fiction Holiday Blog Hop that was organized by Thorny Sterling. There are over 40 people writing short holiday stories based on the picture below. The only parameters were 1) LGBT 2) holiday theme 3) a “bad boy” 4) a gift of some kind 5) less than 3000 words. So here is my contribution and I can’t wait to see how everyone interpreted the picture. It will be fun to see in which ways they are similar and in which they are different. Enjoy and visit all the blogs by clicking on the button on the right. Stories will be posted between Dec. 1 – 7. at-the-shop Strange Bedfellows – Tam Ames

“I don’t want to be here. This is ridiculous. I’m leaving.”

“Come on, baby. Don’t be like that.” Mik put his arms around Keron’s waist and hugged him from behind. “It’s not that bad is it?” Mik looked around at the myriad of lights, ornaments and sundry decorations in the local Christmas store.

Keron tugged his hat further down on his head and scowled up at Mik. “You know this is wrong. I’m a bad-ass demon. With horns under this hat, you know.” He hissed out the last part glancing around to see if anyone was paying them any mind. “And you remember what’s under my coat?”

Mik smirked and with a quick look around as well, reached down and gave Keron’s crotch a squeeze. “Oh, I remember. It was only…” He paused to look at his watch. “Forty seven minutes ago.”

“If you don’t let me out of here right now, I am going to pluck every feather off your wings, one by one and make a pillow out of them.” He was trying to look pissed off, but the hand under his jacket was distracting him.

“Ha!” Mik let out a bark of laughter. A little old lady looked their way, and frowned when she saw Mik practically hanging on Keron.  Mik smiled and pulled back, trying to be a tad less obvious. “Look. We need to get a Christmas present for Mom. I want you to help pick it out. Otherwise it’s not from us.” Mik made air quotes around the word.

“They’re going to kill me.”

“Who will?” Mik’s brow was furrowed.

“The guys at work. They’re going to find out, they are going to make my life a living hell, well, more of one I guess, and I’ll never live this down. It’s a fucking Christmas store!” He practically shouted the last sentence.

Mik just patted him on the arm. “Of course it is, dear.”

“She’s not even your real mom.”

His eyes wide, Mik stared at him, mouth hanging open. “Excuse me?”

A flush traveled up Keron’s face. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled.

With his arms crossed, Mik stared at him. “I didn’t hear you, asshole.”

Keron closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had crossed the line with the comment. He knew that, but when he felt like he was cornered he played dirty. It was what demons did. He wasn’t an angel, a literal one, like Mikail. “I’m sorry. I know she’s been like a mother to you.”

Mik interrupted. “And to you too.”

“And to me too, and I’m sorry, I’m just in a pissy mood because I hate it here, and if Bing Crosby doesn’t shut the hell up I’ll make sure he never sees another white Christmas in his lousy afterlife!” Once again his volume had risen as the rant progressed.

“Well!” The woman huffed, gave him the evil eye and high-tailed it for the far end of the store.

“Look, I thought we could get her ornaments to put on that big-ass tree she gets every year. One for me and one for you.”

“Oh sure. Take the easy way out.” He waved his hand around the store. “There’s a gazillion angels in here, and I’m pretty sure there are no demon Christmas ornaments.”

“Well. That’s true.” Mik looked around. “But it doesn’t have to represent you-you. It can be something you like.”

“Hellfire? Brimstone? You think they got any of that strung up on a pretty red ribbon?”

“Keron!” Mik’s voice snapped and Keron looked down shamefaced.

“Fine. Whatever. Let’s just do this and I can get out of here before I’m busted.”

m31JObql3srO1qF056wKL3QMik heaved a sigh and led them over to the wall with themed ornaments. Keron tugged his hat further on his head and followed.

“What about this?” Mik held up a Christmas themed dog ornament. “Hellhound?”

“It’s wearing a fucking elf suit.”

“It’s Christmas.”

“And it’s a chihuahua!” Keron glared at Mik. “No.”

“Fine.” They rummaged around in the ornaments, and each time Mik held something up, Keron shook his head or made a face that looked like he’d just inhaled Chanel No 5 rather than the sulfur fumes he preferred.snow

“How about this?” Keron handed Mik an ornament, a sly smile on his face.

“What the-?” Mik turned it around. “Oh my God! It’s a naked woman giving a snowman a blow job. What the hell?”

“A snowman would never last in hell. It’s too hot.” Keron blinked at him innocently.

“No. Absolutely not. It’s my mom!”

His scandalized voice left Keron snickering as he shoved the ornament to the back of the shelf. 17665.4859.zoom“Rudolf fucking Blitzen?” He held up an ornament of two reindeer doing just that.

“No!” Mik snatched the ornament out of his hand, grabbed his arm and moved him further down the aisle.

Keron was starting to feel better about the whole expedition now. Maybe it wasn’t so bad, if he ignored the angel-messiah bullshit that was all around him. Not that he didn’t love Mik. He did. The angel part notwithstanding, but it was just so damn syrupy sweet in the store. images (4)

“How about this? Spikey, prickley, bound to hurt if you touch it.” Mik held up what appeared to be a glitter covered sea urchin.

“Seriously? Glitter? Do I look like a glitter kind of guy? No.” toe

A few minutes later Keron held up something greenish. “What about this?”

“Is that a severed toe?” Mik wrinkled his nose in disgust.

“It’s a zombie toe. But for Christmas. See? It’s got holly on top.”

Mik cocked his head and raised an eyebrow.

“Fine. You wanted something that represented me.”

“You’re not a zombie.” bacon-ornament_medium

Keron shrugged. After some more wandering he held another one up. “This?”

“Bacon? Eh. It’s so last year.”

Keron tossed it back on the shelf and kept moving. “How about?” Before he could get more out, Mik grabbed it out of his hand?

“What is it?”

images (1)“It’s a fat woman doing ballet.”

“Why?”

“Beats me.” He reached for the ornament hanging beside it and Mik’s hand closed around his wrist.

“No, you are not getting my mother shit on ribbon.”

“It’s not shit. It’s poo. Poo is popular.”poo

“Not in my mother’s house it’s not.”

Keron rolled his eyes. Several feet down the aisle, Keron meekly held up another one.

There was a pause as Mik looked at it. He tilted his head and took it from Keron. “Hmm. A blown glass sugar skull.” He tapped his foot and looked at Keron, lips pursed. “This might just be weird enough to be you, but cute enough to suit my mother, even if it is more of a Halloween decoration than a Christmas one.” He smiled at Keron. “We’ll take it.”GORAD1015959-PROD

Keron’s back straightened. “Can we go then?” He looked longingly at the door.

“We haven’t picked mine yet.”

“Oh come on, there are a million angels, just grab one.”

Mik’s lips drew down at the corners. “Is that what you did? Grabbed any old angel close enough to fuck? I was the lucky one within the vicinity?”

“Oh, honey. No.” Keron grabbed Mik’s shoulders and pulled him closer. Mik was stiff in his arms. “You are the first and only angel I’ve been with, the only one I’ve ever wanted and will ever want. Swear on a stack of porn DVDs.”

Mik snorted. “Okay, but help me pick one.”

Keron kissed him on the temple. “Fine. Let’s find the one.”

It didn’t take long before Keron turned to Mik. “This. This is it. It’s perfect.”west-elm-feather

The sceptical look on Mik’s face made it clear he thought Keron was simply trying to get it over with, but Keron was holding a beautiful clear crystal tear drop with two snow white feathers inside. “See? It’s not cheesy like an angel, but when I saw those feathers, I thought ‘That’s my Mikail, pure and bright.’ I think it’s perfect.”

Mik stood blinking at him. Keron stepped closer. “Are you okay? Are you crying? If you don’t like it we can get something else.”

“No, I love it.” Mik sniffled. “You really are a gigantic demonic sap you know.”

Keron bumped him with his shoulder. “If you tell the guys at work about this, I’ll have to kill you.”

“Uh huh. Love you too.”

“Yeah. Love you.” He glanced around. “Um. Can I go wait in the car?”

Mik shook his head fondly. “Yes, go. I’ll pay.” He watched Keron make a beeline for the door and was pretty sure he saw a little farewell wave from a tail hidden under the coat.

An angel and a demon made strange bedfellows, but you couldn’t really dispute that life was never dull. new Thanks so much to Thorny and Kris who did all the work on this one. It was a terrific idea. Happy Holidays, whichever you celebrate, everyone.

Burn, baby, burn

So I’ve found that I kind of have a thing for hot guys. Ha! Get it? Anyway, I read a couple of stories with fire mages and thought I’d do a double mini-review. *stands back and watches the three readers who still show up here fall over in shock*

Fire demonTitle: Fire Demon
Author: Stormy Glenn
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Length: 130 pages

Gabe is a cop, who when on a stakeout comes across a giant guy attacking their suspect. Amazingly he takes the guy down and before he knows it, four other big guys show up and one of them bites him, leaving him unconscious and with no memory. A bit later, they show up at his apartment and it seems he’s the mate of one of the men and the other rogue demons are out to get him. After taking care of the rogue demons, Gabe and his partner Nick are forced to return to the demon realm.

I find Stormy Glenn is my go-to Doritos read, but this was actually of a higher quality than some. The emphasis was on the story, with the who political intrigue as the ruling Amir attempts to take Gabe for himself. I like Gabe, he had a temper (and happened to be mated to a fire demon named Tehmper – ha!) and he could take care of himself, even against bigger demons. It’s a fun read, with more emphasis on story than sex which was nice and Tehmper was delightfully naive about surface dwellers and the use of language. He was huge but a softie inside with Gabe.

There is a second story with Nick and an air demon. I’ll have to pick it up, although I’d be more interested in the badly abused and scarred harem member who is the mate of one of the other demons. So if you have a thing for fire demons and are looking for a light fun read to pass the time.

the flameTitle: The Flame
Author: Skylar Jaye
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 160 pages

Jeremy is a second year in magic university where he is studying runes, much to the dismay of his family. You never quite get to know until later why this is such an issues, except for the fact that he could be a wind mage if he wanted. Marcus, born of human parents is a fire mage and at the top of his class, known as the Flame, a mini-celeb at school. Jeremy comes across him and the man invites Jeremy out. Despite telling himself he shouldn’t, they start dating. Jeremy knows Marcus will be graduating soon, but he decided to go for it anyway, and he’s one of the few people who isn’t using Marcus to get something from him.

A series of fires start around the school, nearly killing Jeremy’s roommate and when Marcus is arrested for them, Jeremy is forced to go to his grandfather, one of the strongest fire mages, to get help. I liked Jeremy. He knows this likely will end, if not because Marcus finds a more powerful boyfriend or girlfriend, or when Marcus graduates, but he’s determined to enjoy it while he can. He’s someone who appreciates people for what they are not what they can give him. Coming from a powerful family he’s not dazzled by power. You don’t get to know much about Marcus because the story is told from Jeremy’s POV, but he’s a nice guy who wants to prove himself and feels inferior because his heritage is not magical. It’s kind of fun to see a world where magic is not a secret and they watch Harry Potter and makes references to Marcus being a muggle, so it was cute.

Overall a couple of good reads with fire guys. If that’s your thing they are worth checking out for sure. Both are fairly short so not a big commitment of time.

Wild R Farm #1 and #2 by Silvia Violet

1036153Title: Finding Release (Wild R Farm #1)
Author: Silvia Violet
Length: 38,700 words
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: m/m paranormal (shifters)

Blurb: Coleman Wilder is a half-breed werewolf. Some days the tension between his human side and his werewolf instincts threaten to tear him apart. But the challenge of running a horse farm as a gay man in a conservative Tennessee town keeps him focused until he meets horse shifter, Jonah Marks.

Jonah’s family insists that shifting is sinful, but Jonah longs to let his stallion run free. Desperate to escape his family’s judgment, he asks Cole, his secret crush, for a job. Cole turns him down, scared his desire for Jonah will make him lose control. When Jonah’s brother threatens his life, Cole struggles to save him and give them both a second chance at the life they’ve always wanted.

This is a re-release.

Review: This series is set in a bit of an alternative universe where shifters are known and technically are protected by law, however bigotry and prejudice reign, especially in small country towns like that where Cole has his farm. He is only half wolf shifter and has never been able to shift, but on top of that, he’s gay. Something that does not go over well in the small Southern town where he trains horses, but he’s made a place for himself where he’s tolerated. He’s also got the habit of picking up strays, people who no one will hire or give a chance, however when young Jonah asked him for a job, Cole feared his attraction and denied him (also knowing the kid was gay) and shortly after Jonah disappeared. A year later Cole’s friend who rescues abused horses shows him a very sad case, and for some reason Cole connects, he takes him home, only to learn that it’s Jonah and his fundamentalist brother had given him a drug to trap him in a horse form and sell him to someone who abused him.

The rest of the book consists of finding evidence to put the brother in jail, and Jonah and Cole getting together. Cole has always felt that he would be dangerous to someone if he felt too strongly because the wolf tempts him to hurt someone. Apparently many full-blood werewolves never adapt to civilization and live virtually wild. However Jonah, once he gets over his “I have to leave to protect you from my brother” fit, is determined to teach Cole about his animal side and not give up.

What I most enjoyed was despite the fact that Jonah is only 19, and Cole is the alpha wolf, sometimes Jonah is the one with the sensible head on his shoulders. He’s the one who teaches Cole how to deal with his animal side, and eventually convinces him that he wants to be with him. There’s lots of growly rough sex, with very little lube, ouch, but I was in the mood for some shifter goodness and it didn’t seem to be mates so much as I suppose just a strong attraction to another person, since horse and wolf shouldn’t by rights be a good match.

1036153Title: Arresting Love
Author: Silvia Violet
Length: 39,500 words
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: m/m paranormal (shifters)

Blurb: Billy Lawson is jealous. Every day he watches his boss, Cole, and his boss’s lover, Jonah, prove again and again how deeply in love they are. Billy’s never had a real relationship, and he didn’t believe true love existed until Cole proved otherwise. Now, he longs for what Cole and Jonah have.

When he meets Levi, a scared, wounded shifter who needs his help, he ignores the chemistry that flares between them, thinking he’d be taking advantage of Levi at a vulnerable time in his life. Before Levi can convince Billy they were made for each other, his past catches up to him, and both men must fight for a chance at love.

Review: This book continues on and is Billy’s story. Billy is the foreman of the ranch and has been finding it difficult to watch Cole and Jonah blissfully happy. His attitude has forced Cole to send him on a “vacation” to the city. He doesn’t want to go and ends up at a bar, however when he gets disgusted with the games most of the guys seem to be into, he leaves but sees a young man sitting in the rain. On impulse he offers him a ride and lets him have his hotel room for the night.

However, he suspects Levi is a shifter, and he admits he’s been injured by a cat. Billy offers him a job on the farm and takes him home. Cole flips because Levi is a mountain lion and his wolf is not happy, however Billy makes him see that Cole would take in a stray, so why not Levi? However Billy is determined to stay clear and not take advantage of the young man.

After a month, Levi’s had enough, and the predator comes out, which is right up Billy’s alley. He still doesn’t want to admit there is more to it, but just when things are heating up, Levi is arrested for murdering his former boss. After Cole freaks out, again, they determine to do what they can to help him out, even going against an entire bigoted town, only Jonah’s mother, who let her second husband and son abuse Jonah and things shifters are sinful, seems to have gotten to know Levi and may be having a change of heart.

Once again, it was a bit of a role reversal, where the younger man was the more aggressive predator, and the older man was the prey, and wanted it that way. When Levi got all alpha-cat (?), and stalking Billy it was very hot. I still held a grudge against Jonah’s mother for allowing Jonah to be treated as he was when he was young, but I suppose… LOL I have the ability to hold a grudge against judgmental asshole parents for a long time.

So this kind of followed a similar theme to the first book, but it was a fun read that kept me entertained. I’m quite looking forward to the next book which I believe is Jonah’s slutty flamboyant cousin Tristan and Cole’s “straight” PI friend who helped cleared Levi. There is much more to Tristan than meets the eye, so it should be fun to see that.

I think the first story I read by this author was her Christmas short just back in December which I really enjoyed. I find her author voice and my “I want to be entertained” need mesh quite nicely. I also read her m/m/m (review coming) which was also enjoyable. So I’ll have to do some digging around and see what else she’s written in m/m (she also has m/f stuff I believe). Shifter fans will enjoy this series.

Bishie Sparkles by Karenna Colcroft

Title: Bishie Sparkles
Author: Karenna Colcroft
Length: 80 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m paranormal

Blurb:

Long-time yaoi fan Grant didn’t expect to be so attracted to the main character of his latest purchase—and he definitely didn’t expect to wake up next to him one morning. But that’s what happened. Even the sparkles, hearts, and small animals from the manga follow Teruo around Grant’s apartment. If Grant weren’t so distracted by lust, he’d find it really annoying.

When Teruo announces that he intends to stay with Grant because he has nowhere else to go, Grant is both pleased and terrified. Grant has been alone too long, and even with the sparkles, Teruo has made his way into Grant’s heart. But if Grant can’t find the words to tell Teruo how he feels, Teruo might vanish as suddenly as he appeared.

Review:

This was a fun cute read which I was in the mood for. The blurb pretty much explains it. Grant spends his evening fantasizing about the bishi character in the latest yaoi he brought, even going so far as to jerk off while imagining a boyfriend like Teruo. He hasn’t really dated anyone since his ex left. He wakes up in the morning to a heck of a surprise. Teruo is in bed with him and he even has little sparkles and animated animals frolicking around him.

At first Grant is sure he’s hallucinating, but a little fun time with Teruo convinces him he’s real, but he wants to know where he came from and how he got there and what it all means. My only complaint was that Grant was a bit too negative and worried about what everyone would think if he took Teruo out and they saw butterflies around his head. But when he took him to the grocery store, it was so cute. If I got to take someone to the grocery store for the first time in their life, I think I’d be tickled pink to watch them enjoy what I find boring. Instead, Grant was all crabby and annoyed that Teruo wanted to buy so much, even though he seemed to have “magic” money, so it wasn’t like Grant was out anything.

Finally, his negatively and unwillingness to admit that he cares about Teruo nearly causes him to lose a guy who would put up with him. 🙂 Despite my feeling that Grant was a bit of a negative Nelly, Teruo was just so damn adorable and it was lots of fun to see the yaoi references that it was an enjoyable read. I think it was just the right length, too much of Grant might have annoyed me beyond repair, and while the length meant it fell into insta-love, the guy came out of a freaking manga book, so after that? Anything is possible. Yaoi fans will probably especially enjoy this.

Pressure Head by J.L. Merrow

Title: Pressure Head
Author: J.L. Merrow
Length: 279 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: m/m paranormal contemporary

Blurb: Some secrets are better left hidden.

To most of the world, Tom Paretski is just a plumber with a cheeky attitude and a dodgy hip, souvenir of a schoolboy accident. The local police keep his number on file for a different reason—his sixth sense for finding hidden things.

When he’s called in to help locate the body of a missing woman up on Nomansland Common, he unexpectedly encounters someone who resurrects a host of complicated emotions. Phil Morrison, Tom’s old school crush, now a private investigator working the same case. And the former bully partly responsible for Tom’s injury.

The shocks keep coming. Phil is now openly gay, and shows unmistakable signs of interest. Tom’s attraction to the big, blond investigator hasn’t changed—in fact, he’s even more desirable all grown up. But is Phil’s interest genuine, or does he only want to use Tom’s talent?

As the pile of complicated evidence surrounding the woman’s murder grows higher, so does the heat between Tom and Phil. But opening himself to this degree exposes Tom’s heart in a way he’s not sure he’s ready for…while the murderer’s trigger finger is getting increasingly twitchy.

Review:

I enjoyed lots of things about this book, but Phil made me want to bash his head in a few times. One of the best things was that everyone kind of took Tom’s “talent” as a fact. At first Phil may have been a bit skeptical, but it was pretty much accepted that he could “find” people and things just as a matter of course. However his most recent find of a young woman gone missing, drags him into the case as not only is former school crush and bully Phil a private investigator working on behalf of the young woman’s family, but her boyfriend was also an old school friend of Tom’s who drifted away when the bullying began. It appears that someone is trying to frame the boyfriend, and Phil drags Tom into helping him investigate some of the possible suspects.

This is a bit Agatha Christie-esque, which is not a bad thing in my opinion. There are a variety of possible suspects, all seeming fairly innocent, but with possible motives for bumping the dead girl off. While at the same time, Tom is torn by his attraction to Phil who was “straight” in high school and the ring leader of the bullies who taunted Tom for being gay, and in essence were responsible for Tom being severely injured when he was hit by a car running from them. Tom’s not sure whether Phil is attracted to him or not as the man runs hot and cold, and Tom can’t help his own snarky responses sometimes which only seems to drive a wedge between them right when maybe they are getting past the past. 🙂

What drove me crazy about Phil, was he seemed to be one of those guys who downplayed what happened. His response was “we never hurt you, it was just some pushing and shoving” and besides he didn’t think it bothered Tom anyway, that he was just shrugging it off. Even when Tom explains that it wasn’t just “no big deal”, Phil never really said “You’re right, it sucked and we were wrong.” Yes, he felt guilty about what happened to Tom when he was injured, but he never really claimed ownership for his bullying and always had an excuse, that he was the poor kid from the bad part of town, that he had to hide who he was, etc. So that really frustrated me. I wanted him to really step up and feel badly about what he did, not just feel badly that Tom got hurt as a result.

I was as invested in the mystery as the romance in this one. For once I didn’t read ahead to find out who did it. (Go me!) And the side characters were great including Tom’s friend with his interesting lover, and even the elderly church ladies were fun to read about. Seeing Tom interact with his customers and everyone was around him was wonderful. He was a flirt and a flatterer, just because he was, not because he was trying to get anything.

I think part of the reason I didn’t warm to Phil was because you only get Tom’s POV. So you only see what Phil wants you to see and are left wondering about why he is such a cynic, what happened in his past to make him what he is, what he’s thinking. So he is left a bit of an enigma at times. Still, it kept me reading and I wanted to know the end and hoped that Phil would lighten up a bit. If you like your mystery combined with your romance with a bit of humour, an excellent choice.

Side note: I also found that I was tempted to start Google mapping. I’m not sure if the places in the book are real, but there were so many villages mentioned and how it all fits, I really don’t get English geography, perhaps villages are like suburbs? I tend to think of a village as miles and miles from anywhere, surrounded by green fields, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  They all sounded lovely and quaint, and probably are… to a tourist like me.

Author Backlist Profile – KZ Snow

Today I would like to welcome author KZ Snow to the blog as my first victim, er, honoured guest, as we talk about backlists. There are so many new books coming out these days, that we sometimes miss the gems from a year or two ago (sometimes a month or two ago). I thought I would take the opportunity to share some of my favourites and maybe readers can chime in on some of their’s as well. So on with my short list of questions for KZ, and then we’ll get to the good stuff. Books. 🙂

1. You wrote a lot of m/f before you seem to have switched over to m/m exclusively. Did it just sort of happen with Adin and Jackson, or did you get bored with girly bits? How did the process take place for you?

Jackson and Adin were responsible for pushing me over the genre line for good. They clamored to be together from the time I wrote Plagued, my second novel for Ellora’s Cave. After that book, I began slipping m/m scenes into more of my m/f stories. For example, I subsequently published a fantasy trilogy through Ellora’s, and with each book I became more intrigued by the interaction between certain male characters. At first I approached the sexual aspect of their attraction through ménage scenes (the dreaded gateway drug) . . .  until I realized I wanted to shove the female participant out of the way. So, it was a gradual but inexorable process for me.

And, yes, I did get sick of writing about girly bits and arousal, primarily because of the prevailing lexicon. Words and phrases like cunt and glistening netherlips and gushing pussy, and all the breast-related descriptions, either made me cringe or laugh. But there was no way around those stupid euphemisms. I don’t know if the terminology has changed any, but the point is moot. I’ve no desire to return to m/f erotic romance.

2. Did anyone think you were nuts for writing m/m instead?

Hell yes. I once mentioned my “transition” to a group of friends and was met with incredulity and even grimaces. After that, I stopped talking about my work.

3. If one of your early m/m books was made into a movie, which one and do you have any stars in mind to be the main characters?

I’d love to see any of the contemporary novellas made into a drama for, say, PBS or one of the premium cable channels, or for Logo or Ovation. I think those stories would lend themselves nicely to a 60- or 90-minute format. And InDescent or the Utopia-X series would make for kickass cinematic gay fantasy. As far as casting goes — beats me. I’d have to do a lot of searching to find just the right actors.  (Whee, casting couch) 

4. Do you like writing sex scenes or do it because you have to?

I love writing them if and when they’re appropriate. What I hate is being pressured or feeling obligated to add explicit sex, because that makes the creative process more of a chore than a joy. My fiction – even the paranormal stuff – is pretty character-driven. I’m far more fascinated by how backgrounds shape personalities and personalities shape relationships. Endless, repetitive suck-‘n’-fuck scenes bore the ever-lovin’ snot out of me, as both a writer and a reader. In my view, there aren’t many authors who can successfully create a sex-saturated story that remains interesting throughout. (James Lear is one of them; he knows how to make sex a spectator sport. 😉 )

5. If you could take one of your couples to a desert island with you (for a few months – I’d rescue you then), who would you want to spend time with?

EEK! I couldn’t stand being stranded anywhere with a couple. Fifth-wheel much? I’d rather be with two interesting but uninvolved men – you know, sort of mix and match them for maximum entertainment — like Jackson Spey (who distrusts vampires) and Ridley Barron from Utopia-X (who’s a very charming vampire).  (That would be an interesting time.)

Thanks KZ, some interesting answers. Now onto the books. Because KZ has a couple of series, I’ll probably list them by that rather than pure dates. What I’ve chosen to do is focus on an author’s first 10 m/m books. So that is how the choosing got done. No favourites played.

Ah, the Jackson and Adin series. Obsessed, InDescent and To Be Where You Are. A wizard, a former vamp, soul mates, a girlfriend … WHA? Yep. I came into the series at Obsessed when Adin is still with whatshername. Celia? (I blocked her out.) Anyway, she realizes the attraction between the two men and sends Adin off to check it out, and eventually she makes a graceful exit. Now I know some people may think this is cheating, but she is quite aware of what is happening and encourages it, so… *shrug* Adin and Jackson so belong together you’d be nuts to hold that against them. Smoking chemistry. I love that they turn up in other novels like Fugly and Carny’s Magic (which someone needs to spank me for not reading yet).

If you like urban fantasy, this is a superb series that has each book focusing on one member of a triad of… magicians (angels/demons/human hybrids) along with overarching story lines. It’s far too complicated for me to explain, but there are vampires, and dwarfs, and elves and scary creatures and all kinds of interesting politics and people. Looking for Some Touch introduces you to the whole concept with Pablo applying to work with the three and eventually hooking up with Win. Then in Seeking Something Wicked you have vamp Ridley connecting with Tole. Their relationship is “complicated”.  The third book Exploring Savage Places is poor Zee still looking for love, and Ridley and Tole are being stupid boys, and some kinky pleasure palace action. And finally in Finding Utopia, it all comes together with drama and intrigue with love for all. Sigh.

I believe my quote when I started reading book 2 in this series was “Why the hell didn’t someone make me read these before?” Why aren’t you guys all reading them? Get on that.

Bastards and Pretty Boys was the first book of KZ’s that I read, although it was published in Sept. 2009. It’s a straight contemp (so Utopia X was a change for me when I started it) with a guy with a bit of a history. I remember the whole thing with the surveillance camera and it makes me smile still. If you’re not sure paranormal is for you, this is an excellent peek into KZ’s writing style.

I’ll be honest, I was a little cautious about The Prayer Waltz  (March 2010) because it has a … religious angle to it, especially as the one guy’s former lover was a Catholic priest. That’s touched on, and religious themes and me are usually rather non-compatible, but… I needed a tissue or two, but it wasn’t like that rip your guts out angst (which I’m not fond of), it was about healing and loss and was just beautiful. So even for those like me who are cautious about books with religious themes, pick it up. It’s just beautiful.

I thought you didn’t like religious stories you say. Oh hush. I’m contrary and it’s my prerogative. Another one with a very different view, two young men in a gay reparative therapy camp, one an undercover journalist and one there voluntarily to try and “cure” himself. I was afraid there would be lots of wacky fundies in Jude in Chains (Apr. 2010), but as I said in my review, rather than focus on the negative aspect of it exclusively, the book was about accepting yourself for who you are. KZ has a way of writing that doesn’t smack you over the head with themes. The temptation might be to write a book about how evil these camps are (and lord knows many of them are truly awful), but it didn’t go all melodrama.

So there you have it. I hope you’ll go back and check out some of these books or if you have, let me know what you thought. There is really something for everyone, if you prefer straight contemporaries with more thought-provoking themes, or more paranormal adventures. One consistent factor though is KZ’s outstanding writing and characters. She got talent that I greatly admire.

You can find blurbs for all of the books and links and other nifty stuff at KZ’s blog.  http://www.kzsnow.com

Chasing Seth by J.R. Loveless (audio book)

Title: Chasing Seth
Author: J.R. Loveless
Length: 7 hrs 10 min
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m paranormal (shifters)

Blurb: Veterinarian Seth Davies comes to Senaka, Wyoming, looking for peace and anonymity, trying to escape his past. He’s always been a target for trouble and pain, and Seth has had more than his share of both. Kasey Whitedove takes one look at Seth and assumes the worst. No white man could love animals the way the mostly Cheyenne population expects, and Kasey makes Seth’s first days in Senaka more than unpleasant.

Then an accident puts Kasey in the uncomfortable position of eating crow—and helplessly desiring Seth—despite the danger of Kasey’s life as a werewolf and Seth’s stressful secrets. Chasing Seth down and keeping him safe from his past has just become Kasey’s most important job.

Review: So I picked this up during the DSP sale after my post about audio books to see how I’d like it. I didn’t want to get an audio book of a story I’ve already read, because I figured that might taint the experience for me. So it was a new book and new format. I’ll review the audio book experience first, then the story itself.

Audio: I liked the narrator’s voice okay, although periodically I got this robotic sense, but maybe that was the processing of it. But on the whole it was fine. He did tend to make Seth’s voice more feminine to distinguish the two which I noticed more at the end, and I did catch the odd word that seems odd, not sure it was an accent or not but I swear he said reedily once rather than readily. Anyway, on the whole he was fine.

The sex scenes were okay, didn’t induce giggles, they just were. I should note I listened to this mostly while I was on-line (as opposed to in a car or traveling) so I was sometimes distracted by other things and only listening with one ear. I can’t imagine sitting for 7 hours and focusing only on a book.  I did find at times I wanted him to read faster. Of course we can all read silently in our heads much faster. It would probably have taken me half the time to read the book vs someone reading it out loud, so I was kind of impatient sometimes to get a move on. But that’s me and not anything to do with the recording itself. He didn’t read super slow or anything.

So it was okay and I can see it being interesting for a long drive, but not for just sitting around your house.

The Book: Well, I had a few issues. One, there was a certain similarity to other stories. Native American straight man finds out his mate is a white man, finds out while examining said injured wolf, only this time the vet is the wolf, rather than the straight guy.  Then has to win over his skittish mate. Sound familiar? Yeah. Only Kasey is not Chayton. Kasey is a racist. He hates all white people with the passion of a thousand firy suns and that includes Seth, until he knows he’s his mate, then it’s okay if HE’S white. Sigh. He was obnoxious and I find it hard to believe that just because Seth was okay, he suddenly realizes not all white people are killing all the animals and raping the land.

Anyway, getting past Kasey, it seems Seth is a special kind of wolf who has healing powers. He can take illnesses in to his body and then vomits out the bad stuff. He was kept away from his pack by his family because when you are a Rho, everyone will want to mate with you. However he met a wolf after his parents death who convinced him he was his mate, then held him captive and let his pack rape him whenever they wanted. His best friend Nick rescued him and they presume the bad guy (made were’s which are crazy vs born weres) is dead, but now someone is attacking Seth’s home and office (including graphic descriptions of two mutilated dogs – including Seth’s own).

So pretty typical, but the whole Kasey/Seth dynamic didn’t work so well. They never have sex with lube. Spit only. The guy was repeatedly raped and you never use lube? WTF? Okay, the first time you were out in the forest and there was no lube handy, but after that you are in his house, I’m sure he has lube. And for someone who had to be patient, he was super aggressive despite the fact Seth was freaked out by wolves.

My other issues was it seems Seth’s father showed up in this town years ago before he was born, and to “protect his pack” Kasey’s father told him he had to leave. Now they knew there were other native American shifter packs, but they though ONLY native Americans could shift. How would revealing that white people could do in any way endanger the pack? I could understand if NO ONE knew, but it was common knowledge so why was it so dangerous to know there were white shifters? No one ever said “WTF man? Why the big secret.” Instead, now that his son has a white mate, he’s going to reveal all. The whole “to protect us” made no freaking sense to me.

So while this wasn’t bad, it had too many aspects that just annoyed me for me to truly enjoy it as a story. There is a set-up for as sequel as it seems Nick’s mate is Kasey’s straight brother and he rejected Nick because a) he thought he was made and white (thanks Dad for making sure your kids are all xenophobic) and b) he doesn’t want a mate. So I assume their story will come.

So overall, I’m not sure this story really worked for me, the audio book thing was okay, but they are expensive so I can’t see myself running out and buying them. If my library had them sure.