Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Light after darkness – #MMRomance #Christmas #Wedding #MFRWHooks

At the Margins of Madness banner

Happy Wednesday, and welcome to the MFRW Book Hooks blog hop!

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is on its way. Although I have a number of holiday-themed books in my catalog, the book I’m featuring today isn’t exactly one of them. At the Margins of Madness is a dark, gritty MM paranormal erotic romance with a truly evil villain. As it happens, though, it ends with a wedding, on Christmas Eve. So I thought I’d share the introduction to that chapter with you today. For one thing, it starts with a gorgeous snow storm!

Be sure to visit the other authors joining today’s hop. You’re sure to find more great romance.


Both power and love can lead to madness

Nineteen year old Kyle sees visions of disasters, visions that tear his world apart. Everyone assumes that he is schizophrenic, but Rob, the cop who picks him up off the street, knows better.

Rob's own experience has taught him that psychic powers are real, and potentially devastating. Since his telepathic sister's brutal murder, Rob wants nothing to do with "gifted" individuals like Kyle. Yet he can't deny his attraction to the beautiful, tortured young man – an attraction that appears to be mutual.

When a brilliant, sadistic practitioner of the black arts lures Kyle into his clutches, Rob faces the possibility that once again he may lose the person he loves most to the forces of darkness.

The Hook

Snow had been falling since the morning, feathery flakes that padded the blue-green boughs of the firs and settled like a white quilt on the tumbled stone wall behind the cottage. Now, in the gathering dusk, the precipitation had finally tapered off. The pillowy drifts glowed with some inner light.

Kyle had cleared the driveway and the path twice already. The dry snow was so fluffy that huge shovels full weighed almost nothing. He tossed the powdery stuff over his shoulder, building the piles on either side of the steps. They were already taller than he was. Stray crystals wafted through the still air, sparkling in the lamplight.

It was cold enough to freeze the hair in his nostrils. His fingers were numb inside his gloves. He didn’t care. Nothing could spoil this marvelous Christmas Eve. He just hoped that their guests wouldn’t have any difficulties because of the weather.

After the frigid outdoors, the inside of Elspeth’s house felt tropical. Kyle shrugged off his parka and placed his boots outside on the porch. A cheerful fire crackled on the hearth. “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” played softly on the radio. From the kitchen came the rich smells of roasting turkey and fresh-baked apple pie. Saliva gathered in his mouth.

Elspeth looked up from chopping vegetables as he entered. “The snow seems to have stopped for now,” he said, grabbing a crisp chunk of raw carrot. “And I heard the plow go up Quail Hollow while I was shoveling.”

Let’s hope they don’t block the drive.” She dumped the vegetables into the top section of a double-boiler. “There, that’s done. I don’t need to start those until after the ceremony.”

The drive looked okay.” Kyle sat at the table and took old woman’s hand. “Elspeth. I want to thank you again for doing all this.”

Nonsense. I’m a justice of the peace. Performing marriages is one of my responsibilities.”

But cooking dinner and hosting the party aren’t. Seriously, you’re doing Rob and me a huge favor.”

I wanted to do something for you. To make up for my blindness.” Elspeth frowned and shook her head “I should have known what Stefan was up to. I should have seen how years of bitterness and envy had twisted his spirit. If only I had realized…maybe I could have saved him. Maybe I could even have saved poor Mary.”

Don’t blame yourself. I know you’re wise, but you’re only human. And Stefan—well, he was obviously a brilliant guy. Not easy to second-guess.”

Have they found any remains? It would be good to bury him with his parents—to reconcile them after all these years.”

Not a trace. Rob says the authorities are pretty mystified. The fire was intense, but there should be some evidence. Bone fragments or teeth. There seems to be nothing left.”

Hmm.” Elspeth’s brow knotted. “He couldn’t have escaped?”

Anything is possible, I suppose. But it doesn’t seem likely. We heard him on the upper floors when we left. His body was already burning. And he was totally mad, screaming, babbling, gleefully setting things on fire.”

Kyle stared at his hands, the guilt welling up once again. “It was my fault. I made him crazy, showing him the horrors in my mind. I killed him, as surely as if I’d set the fire myself. One more victim of my curse.”

You had no choice. There was no other way to save yourself—or Rob.” Elspeth lifted his chin, raising his eyes to hers. “You’re a good man, Kyle. You had no way of knowing that the visions would drive him to suicide.”

Yes, I did. I knew only too well the effects of my ‘gift’.”

You’re being melodramatic. Stefan’s mind was already warped. Anyway, you’ve got to let go of this old notion that you’re cursed. You’ve already learnt how to keep the dark visions from taking control. In time, you’ll learn to use your talent to benefit others, if that is what you want.”

I’d like that,” Kyle said. Gradually, the weight lifted from his heart. “I’d like that very much.”

Rob’s footsteps rang on the uncarpeted stairway. “What would you like, boy?” He bent down to place a juicy kiss on Kyle’s mouth.

Kyle laughed and winked at Elspeth. “I can’t tell you in front of her.”

Don’t think that I’m a prude just because I’m an old lady.”

Rob gave her a grin, then tousled Kyle’s hair. “Never mind. I know you well enough to guess what you’d like.”

Kyle gave his lover a long look of appreciation. Rob wore a tailored charcoal gray suit that made him look more like a banker than a cop. His mustard-yellow silk shirt and matching pocket hanky rescued the costume from being too sombre. His tie was the real surprise, a whimsical Christmas novelty item with gray and gold reindeer prancing across snowy fields. Kyle would never have expected Rob to don something so…cute. “Wow! You look sharp! I never thought I’d see you like this.”

I believe in getting dressed up, for very important occasions.” Rob gave him a look that turned him to jelly. “I can’t imagine anything more important than today.”

At the Margins of Madness book cover

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Janet Lane Walters said...

Great snow storm and wonderful intro to the characters

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

This sounds like a wonderfully powerful story, and I love the descriptions in this scene. Tweeted.

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