Thursday, June 29, 2017

New York's worst nightmare has begun (#bookblast #contest #thriller @Ruth_Mysteries)

Creepz cover

June 2017. New York is suffering under the worst heatwave in centuries, but it’s the barrage of grisly murders that has city dwellers on edge. Since the homicides don’t fit a pattern, the NYPD is treating them as unrelated, but Detective Grace Jarrod isn’t so sure. Graffiti left at the crime scenes points to the crimes being linked and part of a rampage.

The delivery of a cryptogram to her precinct proves her theory correct. A group calling themselves CREEPZ takes credit for the deaths and for the war they wage. They promise not to stop until a societal revolution is achieved. Jarrod leads the investigation and goes after the madmen that strike at will and profess to kill for love. Little does she know that the group of homeless drifters is led by a genius who believes himself God.



The summer started like a hellion on crack.

No one was expecting it … no one was prepared. The mild spring weather had lulled the denizens of the Big Apple into thinking it would always be that way. But before they knew it, the fantasy was swallowed by a rapacious heat that burrowed its way into the concrete and wouldn’t let go. And now? Now there was heat. Overbearing, suffocating heat that came up from the bowels of hell and melted the hardest of hearts, reducing them to sweat and then steam.

For two weeks, the people suffered under the sun’s merciless rule, and the weather forecaster’s oral fandango only promised more of the same. A burst of a turbulent red sky at sunset turned that threat into a reality as New Yorkers braced for another brutal repeat of today.

The day dwindled into twilight as the light was snuffed out by a phantom’s hand. A strong ocean breeze pushed the mugginess aside long enough to breathe. The beleaguered New Yorkers were grateful to have survived and sought solace in the blackness of the oasis offered. Apartment dwellers oozed into the streets in droves—all to enjoy the cooler evening temperature crowned by a silver moon tinged by the color of blood.

Da da dum dum da da doo doo hey …

In the horde of people, the strange little man humming a tune went unnoticed. The crowd at 34th Street was enjoying itself too much to care about one more drifter … one more oddball that New York seemed to attract.

About the Author

Ruth Bainbridge was born in the idyllic, sleepy town of Ithaca, NY, and has been a lover of mysteries for her entire life. Ever since a child, she’s consumed detective stories at regular intervals, becoming enamored with all the superstars of crime. She loved matching wits with Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Thomas Pitt, Lord Peter Wimsey, Richard Jury and Edward X Delaney. In fact, she was so inspired by their brilliance that she began trying to emulate her writing idol's achievements by composing her own short stories. However, life interfered with her plans of becoming the next hopeful to try a life of crime--on paper at least. But the empty nest syndrome happened and gave her the impetus to return to her first love--murder.

Her works include: THE CURT SAVAGE MYSTERIES (a four-part series that should be read in order); DEADSPEAK, a detective Twin Peaks; and ONLY ONE WILL FALL, the first in THE NICK CROSS MYSTERIES. CREEPZ is her eighth published work. The most intense read of the season, it’s a complex adrenaline rush that’s filled with suspense.

Twitter: @Ruth_Mysteries

Buy Link

Ruth will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour and, (US/CANADA ONLY) Ruth is hosting an EXTRA CONTEST. The prizes are a Kindle Fire HD8 and (5) $10 gift certificates. It's a CRYPTOGRAM CONTEST and all winners will be randomly drawn via rafflecopter.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Men Like Bill (#erotica #paranormal #lilith @MoniqueRoffey13)

The Tryst cover
By Monique Roffey (Guest Blogger)

In my new novel, The Tryst, the hero, Bill is a Lover, not a Fucker. That’s why he manages not only to survive an imp like Lilah, but turn the tables on her too. He gives as good as he gets. Bill, I must confess, is also a little bit modeled on a man like Robert Bly, the American poet and leader of the men’s movement in the USA. Bly, for me, is a hero. So is Bill, in his own way. Bill, in many respects, is trapped, in his second cycle of marriage, almost on track or another failure, a second divorce. But then the couple meet Lilah, both real, half-human and a figment of Jane’s unspoken erotic desires. Bill, while creative and manly, easy with himself, is also homme vanille, castrated by his mother and his wife and now by Jane. He is a natural Lover. However, once bitten, he’s twice shy, especially with this second wife Jane.

Then he meets The Original First Wife in the form of Lilah, a descendant of Adam’s first wife Lilith. Only then, does he seem to click into action. Like Bly, he is at home in the realm of is creativity and his masculinity. Like Bly, he is a mature man; he is lover and a gentle man and he cares deeply for his home, his wife and the things that matter. Like Bly, he was married and divorced. In The Tryst he is conscious of his failures and wants to live differently. He gets better with age. He wears his sadness and his past well. He wants to love again and takes the plunge with Jane, and yet he encounters similar difficulties, with loving with and sexually pleasing a woman.

Meanwhile, Lilah is a storm, a whirlwind and devastation on their marriage. She is contemptuous of Jane and at first pitying of Bill. But she underestimates Bill as a lover and what human love is. While caught and suppressed, Bill is a quietly confident man with his love skills. He is a patient man, a husband, and a father and he loves Jane. He is in some way waiting for his wife, even while he is in agony over their unfucked bed. When he meets Lilah he is tempted, and re-activated as a sexual creature. He comes into his full capacity as a sexual lover. And yet, he falls a little too, in love with the dark creature from the woodland.

Towards the end, he loses his wife and Lilah; he is abandoned and lost to himself. And in those dark moments, Bill becomes his own shaman, he reaches for his own wisdom and his own power as a magician. He dismantles the curse and utters his own charms to the universe. He also calls on Aphrodite to re-instate his claim on his home. The Tryst is a novel which blends magic with the everyday to create a story about monogamy, marriage and that tricksy subject of sexual desire.

Blurb for The Tryst

London, midsummer night. Jane and Bill meet the mysterious Lilah in a bar. She entrances the couple with half-true, mixed up tales about her life. At closing time, Jane makes an impulsive decision to invite Lilah back to their home. But Jane has made a catastrophic error of judgment, for Lilah is a skilled and ruthless predator, the likes of which few encounter in a lifetime. Isolated and cursed, Jane and Bill are forced to fight for each other, and, in doing so, discover their covert desires.

Part psychological thriller, part contemporary magical realism, The Tryst revisits the tale of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, to examine the secrets of an everyday marriage.



Bored. I could see she was bored the moment I entered the bar. Withdrawn, watching but not seeing much. Bored and unfucked. I could tell that every time, could see it in every fibre: the way the flesh was dead and the eyes were unglowing and the face looked a little doomed. I could read the prig like a book. Always could. The unfucked always watch, looking out for someone else, for they know they’ve made a fundamental error. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I have chosen wrong. I used to see married human females like this all the time, who’d chosen a man who loved them, who was right in all the other ways, a man who didn’t rock the boat, which was why the relationship floated, worked.

The English never knew what to make of me, my forwardness, my daring ways. It was like taking candy from babies. It was always so easy to get laid. I took what I needed from whom I wanted. Easy. But mostly from those couples like Jane and Bill, who had nothing going on down below, no desire between them. It’s not a crime or a sin, to fuck a man till he faints, to release some dumb stupid bitch from her own constraints. They never saw me coming, couples like Jane and Bill; they never believe predators like me exist even though plenty of tales of me, and my like, can be found in the ancient books. Modern humans have forgotten them, the impure woman, the insubordinate. I’m the one who ran away. I am there, in their history, those books the moderns no longer read. I often went to bars alone, hunted alone. The English are such hypocrites. Fuck them and fuck their tight-ass Queen. I saw Bill and Bill saw me. Immediately. He already had the memory of me, all men do. But she didn’t notice him noticing me. Didn’t see him glance at me several times over by the bar, didn’t hear him cough, blush, try to cover himself. Amazing how much a so-called second wife can miss. When the wife-pussy isn’t happy, there’s nothing to safeguard, nothing to lose. I could never infiltrate a fuck-happy couple. But so few of these exist.

She thought it was all her idea! That she set up the entire thing, that it was all her doing. Silly little prig. She had been a looker once and some of that was still there. I could see she once turned heads. Great tits. Nice ass. Good legs. She had a kind of grace she did, Miss Repressed, a kind of – ha ha, impenetrable-ness, little Miss Unfucked, an unused sexiness in her polo neck, her hair tied back. But she was beginning to lose what she’d had and never used, beginning to regret this, I could tell, beginning to fantasise she could have it all back, do it all again. I had it over older women: my pearly taut skin, my edible flesh, my curves and humpable bumps. I had all this forever and ever amen. God I turned myself on looking in the mirror!

I liked the look of Bill, a big-boned voluptuous tree of a man, a mature and bearded oak. All generous with himself, I could tell by his loose and supple boughs, the curve of his stomach, the girth of his thighs, his broad arms. His skin was sun-browned, the colour of heartwood. Our eyes clashed in that bar and he was ashamed and then he was uncertain and tried to look away. But I was taken and determined and knew I’d snare him with all my tricks. Another man sat with them, a different type who saw me too, a fellow predator who appraised me quickly and knowingly. He leered. I smirked with disdain.

I watched and waited.

Yes, Bill. We’ve met. I’m the First. I exist in the loins of all men, including yours.

When Little Miss Polo Neck got up to go to the bar I didn’t have to make a move. Both men looked over and smiled at me. Different smiles. Bill’s was tentative, a despite-himself smile, curious, intense, unsure of himself. The other man gave me a well-known-to-me, broad and welcoming grin. ‘Hello, there, Miss Lady Pussy.’

This with an open-armed gesture.

I slid off my barstool and appeared before them, all radiant four foot ten inches of me. Both men were shocked, impressed. My shortness never fails to make men want to fuck me. My girl-womanliness is a fateful mixture. A fantasy. A child with a whore’s smile. The girl-next-door with a cleavage of rare and captivating beauty. Both men gazed at me. I smiled and sat down on the stool the dark-haired man drew up for me. I wriggled, thrusting my tits upward, twiddling my hair. Bill was uncomfortable, I could tell. He squirmed. I loved it all, loved the attention, wanted to take them both to bed, take off my clothes there and then. I opened my legs, just a crack, spreading my scent.

Greetings, my friends. This is a kind invitation.”

I’m Sebastian.” The dark-haired man glowed. “This is Bill.”

Am I at Elysian Fields?”


Blanche DuBois, of course, a tragic Southern belle of American literature, so pathetic, always made me laugh. I would make these men nervous.

Oh nothing, just a little joke with myself.” I batted my eyelids. The man called Sebastian openly ogled my chest; the alpha human males are so easy to capture.

I mean I feel fortunate,” I gushed. “To make your acquaintance, I’m always so happy to receive the kindness of strangers.”

The men stared. My cunt scent had already intoxicated them.

Praise for The Tryst

What makes The Tryst an unexploded virus isn’t just the quality and brightness of Roffey’s writing on sex, even as it uncovers inner glades between flesh and fantasy where sex resides – but the taunting clarity of why those glades stay covered. A throbbing homewrecker of a tale, too late to call Fifty Shades of Red.”

DBC Pierre, Booker Prize winner

About the Author

Monique Roffey is an award-winning Trinidadian-born writer. Her novels have been translated into five languages and short-listed for major awards including
the Orange Prize, Costa Fiction Award, Encore Award, Orion Award and the OCM Bocas Award for Caribbean Literature. In 2013, Archipelago won the OCM BOCAS Award for Caribbean Literature. Her memoir, With the Kisses of his Mouth, was published in 2011. She is a Lecturer on the MFA in the Novel at Manchester Metropolitan University. She divides her time between the East end of London and Port of Spain, Trinidad.

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Instagram: @MoniqueRoffey

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review Tuesday: Spirit by @AsheBarker (#bdsm #eroticromance #homelessness)

Spirit by Ashe Barker
Stormy Night Publications, 2015

Beth Harte has been on the street, sleeping rough, for more than a year. She knows her way around Leeds—the trash heaps where she can scavenge, the corners and alleys where she can crash, the over-crowded shelters where she can find a cup of watery soup or maybe even a roof for a night. It’s a difficult life, but Beth is a survivor. On a frigid night in December, though, her luck seems to be running out. Burning up with fever, unable to breathe from near pneumonia, desperate for a bit of warmth, she risks sneaking into an office building car park and is caught by one of the building’s tenants.

Affluent executive Matt Logan is annoyed. when he catches sight of the filthy vagrant crouching against the wall, but his irritation turns to sympathy when the skinny girl collapses in his arms. He takes her home, calls a doctor friend, feeds her and nurses her back to health. Beth starts out being suspicious of his kindness, but soon her emotions shift, first toward trust, then toward strong attraction.

Thinking her far too young for a man of his age and vices, Matt tries to resist Beth’s advances, but it doesn’t take her long to overcome his scruples. Sparks fly as Matt teaches Beth about pleasure—and learns a few things himself. As the year spins to an end, they become increasingly close. Then a traumatic event shakes Beth’s trust. Disturbed, frightened and disgusted, she runs away from the man she believes has deceived her.

When they meet again, eight years later, Beth has fought her way to independence and self-sufficiency. She knows what she wants, and is not afraid to go after her dreams. She’s no longer the innocent eighteen year old whom Matt rescued from the streets. Neither she nor Matt is sure they can recapture the magic of their past relationship—or whether she’s ready to take the next step, into his secret world of dominance and submission.

I bought this book after reading the first few pages, an incredibly vivid and moving description of Beth’s experience as a homeless woman. This isn’t typical romance material. It’s dark, gritty, painful, a bit terrifying, and absolutely gripping. Ms. Barker captures the details that make it all real: Beth’s care in hiding the cardboard sheets and bubble pack she uses to keep warm, the way she wears multiple pairs of socks, her embarrassment at her own rank smell.

The first section of the novel is totally believable. In particular, I really appreciated the way the author managed the sex scenes. Beth isn’t a virgin, but at eighteen her experience is limited. With Matt, she’s learning all the time, exploring her sexuality, trying new things—first time “doggy style”, first time being on top, first oral sex and so on. She’s eager, no doubt overflowing with hormones, but realistically uncertain. I’m so tired of erotic romance featuring virgin heroines who after their first experience with the hero turn into lusty, self-confident sluts.

The incident that drives Beth from Matt’s home is also handled really well. It dovetails nicely with the information we get later in the book, explaining how Beth ended up homeless in the first place. Furthermore, it reveals a lot about Beth’s character, both her strengths and her frailties.

Matt’s and Beth’s reunion later steps a bit more into fantasy territory, but Ms. Barker keeps the story grounded with telling details, for instance the fact that Beth still uses the rucksack she was carrying the night Matt rescued her. I rather expected a bit more conflict—greater difficulty in their regaining their mutual trust. They fall back into their relationship a little too easily for my tastes.

On the other hand, that gives the author more opportunity to bring the two of them together in her glorious sex scenes. And glorious they are—intense, creative, varied, full of emotional nuance as well as physical sensation. Beth turns out to be an enthusiastic submissive, at least when Matt is the Dom. And Matt manages to be delightfully stern while still considerate and respectful. Anyone who has the mistaken notion that BDSM involves some sort of abuse should read this book.

Indeed, this novel deliberately contrasts consensual kink and abuse. Furthermore, the abusers get exactly what they deserve. The ending of this novel ties up every loose end in a happy bow. I actually would have preferred a bit more ambiguity, at least a hint of shadow. Readers who thrive on HEAs, though, will be thoroughly satisfied.

Overall, I loved this novel. Considering the writing, the characters, and of course the erotic encounters, it’s among the best erotic romance I’ve read in the past year.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Smut Sunday: The Antidote (#smutsunday #sciencefiction #orgy)

Smut Sunday button

As I sat down to create a post for this Smut Sunday, I asked myself, what is the smuttiest book I’ve written? There are quite a few candidates. However, one that’s way up there in the ranking is my sci fi short story, The Antidote.

The initial motivation for this book was my frustration with writing erotic romance. I’d been getting a lot of push back from my editors, who seemed to think my writing was too raw for romance readers. Being the accommodating sort, and wanting to get my books out there, I mostly acquiesced to their suggestions. However, I was getting tired of pulling my erotic punches (which is what I felt I had to do in romance).

I want to write something really smutty, I thought to myself. As an antidote to all this nice romance stuff.

All at once I had a title. And in nothing flat, I had a story, one that definitely does not sugar-coat the sex or moderate the heat.

Just the right thing for Smut Sunday!

When you’re finished with my offering, head back to Victoria’s SmutSunday home page, for more smutty goodness!

What if the government stole your libido? What would you do to get it back?

Sixty years after the Plague, few remember the mass deaths, the riots and the massacres triggered by the sexually-transmitted disease. Still, most people accept the Council’s mysterious libido-suppression technology as necessary to prevent a resurgence of the deadly virus. Monthly procreative sex, government-supported and hormone-enhanced, is enough to satisfy them.

Lena’s different. Though she loves her husband Jeff, she yearns to experience the thrill of forbidden lust, to know what it feels like to couple with a stranger. Rumors speak of an antidote that liberates the libido from the Council’s thrall. Denied from birth, Lena is willing to risk everything—her marriage, her freedom, even her life—for one taste of unbridled desire.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Club Lust. Tonight we have a special treat, a newcomer enjoying her first taste of freedom.” He gripped the bottom of my jersey and pulled it over my head in one deft motion.

All eyes in the room turned to my suddenly bare chest. The heat of their attention brought a flush to my cheeks. My nipples contracted into throbbing bullets of needy flesh. Bolt pinched and twisted them, far rougher than Jeff had ever been. Liquid gushed from my cunt as though he’d turned on a faucet.

Such fine, round, bouncy tits. Just looking at them makes me want to rub my cock in between them until I come all over her face. Don’t you all agree?” The crowd murmured its assent. I don’t know what excited me more, his words or the fact that simultaneously, he’d unzipped my skirt and pulled it down to my ankles. Underneath I wore the red bikini briefs that had come with our last booster pack. They were soaked.

Bolt’s hand dropped from my breast to cup my pubis. I shivered. My cunt clenched at the indirect stimulation as he brushed his palm over the wiry hair underneath the pseudo-silk. My clit swelled, hot, demanding. I arched my pelvis, pressing my sex more firmly against his hand. He wriggled a finger between my lips, pressing the fabric into my cleft. Pleasure shimmered through my whole body. Earlobes, lips, fingertips, nipples, clit, toes, all throbbed in time. I heard myself moan.

Our little slut is very wet,” Bolt gloated. “I think she wants to be fucked. Let’s get a look at her cunt.”

I heard a click beside my ear, then felt cold steel against my thigh. Fear flickered through me, almost indistinguishable from lust. Fresh blood, he’d said. But his blade sliced only through my panties, first at one hip, then the other. Still behind me, he pulled the saturated fabric out from between my thighs. The friction and the knowledge that I was being watched combined to pull me into the whirlpool of a minor climax. I slumped in Bolt’s grasp, twitching helplessly. The audience responded with enthusiastic applause.

I was still shuddering when Bolt pushed me onto the mattress, face down, butt in the air. “Spread your legs, baby. Show them all your hot, pink twat. Let them see your tight asshole. Tonight we’re going to fill you up, kitten.”

I obeyed, overwhelmed with shame and yet eager to display my slick lips and hungry holes. The embarrassment made me all the more excited. I wiggled my ass, trying to attract Bolt’s attention. 
The watchers clapped in delight. Bolt landed a stinging slap on one butt cheek. Heat streaked through me, nearly triggering another come. He spanked me again. My cunt clenched, empty, ravenous.

You need a cock, don’t you? At least one. Well, here you go.” A fat rod of flesh appeared in front of my face. “Suck this, slut.”

I needed no further invitation. I couldn’t wait to taste him. Bolt’s cock was as monstrous as the rest of him, far larger than Jeff’s, but I swallowed him whole. I ran my lips up and down his length, pressing my tongue firmly against his bulb at the apex of each stroke.

He tasted funky, as though he hadn’t showered in a while, and a bit bitter. In my aroused state, I found him delicious. The mattress smelled of mold, though the sheet seemed clean. It didn’t matter.

My clit burned. My thighs felt sticky. My cunt drooled onto the makeshift bed. My nipples ground against the rough cotton. All my senses were heightened, but they were sending only positive messages.

He swelled and jerked in my mouth and I eased off. I wanted him to come in my cunt, or spurt all over my back. So that everyone could see.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fur and Avarice (#parody #JaneAusten #amwriting)

From - Foyles Bookshop

Just for fun--with apologies to Jane Austen...

Although no one will dispute that marriage is the most desirable estate for both men and women, there are times when the institution demands an excess of patience. Eliza endeavored to suppress her sigh when, over the remains of breakfast, Mr. Sarai raised the subject she had been dreading.

"My dear, we really must attend to the matter of Tiger's claws. If we do not convey him to the veterinarian soon, he may suffer injury from his in-grown toenails."

"But Thomas, I have so many responsibilities to fulfill today. I've three blog posts to pen and two calls for submission awaiting my attention, not to mention my normal heavy correspondence. Can you not bring the cat to the clinic by yourself?"

Thomas' curt reply made his irritation clear. "You know very well that I can't communicate with the doctor. You speak the local language far better than I."

He spoke the truth. Eliza understood that it galled her husband to admit her linguistic superiority. Male pride was so tender and easily bruised She smoothed her skirts, brushing away the toast crumbs, and adopted the sweetest demeanor she could manage.

"Please, darling, let us wait until next week. By then I should be more at liberty."

Her husband settled his teacup into the saucer with a deliberateness that Eliza recognized all too well. "You're always making excuses, Liza." His eyebrows knit in disapproval. "How can you be so callous? Tiger and Velvet deserve the very best we can offer them. Your lack of concern almost makes me glad that we are childless."

"Please, Thomas, do not berate me." Eliza released the sigh she had been holding back. Thomas ignored her distress. "Very well, we'll go this morning. Just let me dress and we can be on our way."

The pleased satisfaction on her husband's face almost compensated for the inconvenience of the early expedition. "Thank you, my dear. I'll fetch the carrier while you prepare yourself."

Back in her dressing room, Eliza surveyed her wardrobe, trying to decide what sort of garments were appropriate for a visit to a veterinary clinic in a foreign land. The navy cotton ensemble wouldn't do. It would highlight every strand of cat hair. Given the sweltering humidity that characterized the climate in her adopted home, she was sorely tempted to don nothing more than a pair of cutoff shorts and a tank top, but she recognized that such a costume would be viewed as highly inappropriate for a woman of her years. Finally she settled on a batik-print skirt in hues of salmon and peacock, and a short sleeved shirt in matching green. The vivid patterns in the skirt should hide the inevitable consequences of holding Tiger in her lap, yet the design was sufficiently artistic that she would not be dismissed as some gaudy, painted tourist.

As might have been expected, the cat himself offered significant resistance to their plans. By pooling their efforts, Mr. and Mrs. Sarai finally succeeded in depositing him in his padded carrier. Outside their dwelling, they hailed a hansom and gave the cabbie directions to the animal clinic. As they wended their way through the narrow streets, Tiger's piteous cries issuing at intervals from the cage, Eliza watched the driver sitting in front of them.

He was a handsome young man, clean-shaven, wearing a crisply-pressed shirt of sky blue that complemented his dusky skin. She noted the muscled forearms peeking out from his short sleeves, one of which was adorned with a tattoo in characters she could not read. A chain with links of gold circled his strong neck, gleaming through the black locks that feathered his nape. She felt the first hint of moisture gather under her skirt and dragged her imagination back under her control. After all, he was far too young for her. However, he'd make a fine match for Miss N., the language teacher whom she and Thomas had come to think of as a friend.

"Excuse me, sir," she began in the local language. "Might I inquire whether you are married?"

The driver turned to smile at her, with a flash of brilliant white teeth. "No, Ma'am, not yet. I am working to save money. I want to buy a house before I marry."

"And do you have a sweetheart?" A sidelong glance at her husband told Eliza that he was buried in his newspaper. Of course, he would have difficulty following her conversation in any case.

If the man's complexion had not been so dark, Eliza was sure she would have seen him blush. "No, Ma'am." His melodious laughter made her think of a lively creek, dancing over the rocks on its way down a mountain. "Who would want to marry a poor cabbie?"

"Nonsense. You are obviously a thoughtful, prudent man - a man who desires to take care of his wife. And well-favored, too, with a fine smile " She leaned closer to the young man's ear. "I have a friend who I am certain would like to meet you."

"Is she rich?" the driver asked. Tiger wailed as the man whipped the vehicle around a corner somewhat more rapidly than Eliza considered safe. The poor cat was prone to car-sickness. Eliza prayed that the animal would not vomit all over the inside of his carrier, as he'd done so often in the past.

"Gently, if you please. My cat cannot bear a rough ride."

"Sorry, Ma'am." To Eliza's satisfaction, he reduced his speed considerably. "So, about your friend - is she rich like you?"

"I'm hardly rich!" Eliza wavered between amusement and offense.

"In comparison to us natives, all foreigners are rich. I'd like to marry a rich woman - one who'll buy me real Rolex and an iPad."

"My friend is not rich, but she's respectable and intelligent, and she has a warm heart. She's also quite beautiful, I might add. Oh, there's the clinic. Stop here, please."

"Well, beauty is a plus, but if I have to choose, I'll take money over beauty any day."

Eliza swallowed her annoyance at having her romantic fantasies so rudely dispelled. "This is the place," she told her husband in English. She handed the fare to the young man behind the wheel, pointedly giving him the exact amount rather than rounding up as she normally would have done.

The veterinarian made quick work of Tiger's misshapen talons. Eliza clasped the animal to her breast as the doctor measured the cat's temperature and listened to his heartbeat, resigning herself to the inevitability of a patina of fur on her carefully selected clothing.

"He's perfectly healthy," the medical practitioner told her. "You've taken excellent care of him."

Thomas beamed, clearly understanding at least this much of the social interchange. Slipping his arm around Eliza's waist, he hugged her to his side. "My wife and I brought him from America. He's very dear to us." Eliza found his enthusiasm touching. She knew that he'd be less pleased when he realized how much fur had been transferred from her blouse to his suit.

Tiger appeared to find the events of the morning severely traumatic. He cowered in one corner of his cage during the trip home, alternately panting and swallowing as though he felt nauseous. As soon as Eliza unfastened the catch of the carrier, he dashed away to hide himself beneath one of the sofas. Even the promise of breakfast could not lure him from his sanctuary.

Thomas, on the contrary, appeared to be in an excellent mood. He captured his wife in a tight embrace and planted a hearty kiss upon her lips. "Thank you, my dear. I truly appreciate your taking time off from your pursuits for errands like this."

Eliza scraped a cat hair off her tongue and smiled up at her sturdy, reliable husband. "You were right, Thomas. The felines are far more important than my scribblings. If you'll excuse me though, I think I will resume my work."

"Of course, Liza. I have urgent matters to attend to myself." He disappeared into his study, leaving Eliza to ponder the commonplace mysteries of marriage and to consider whether she might find a way to introduce the dashing, avaricious taxi driver into her latest opus.

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


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.



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?”


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.


Email: thomcollinsauthor [at] aol [dot] com

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