Friday, 14 June 2013

Review: The Lion and the Crow (Historical) by Eli Easton

This story is offered for free as part of the Love Has No Boundaries Event. Sponsored by the M'M Group on goodreads. If you're a M/M lover, there are a host of free stories to do with this event here. I'm going to be reviewing some over the next few weeks.

Title: The Lion and the Crow
Author: Eli Easton
Genre: M/M Romance Historical
Length: Novella
Formats: Epub, Mobi, PDF
Price: FREE

 4 Stars

This one is a far cry from my usual tastes (no BDSM for a start, lol, and it's historical). It's a little surprising on the historical side; I have a linguistic's degree, and I'm a huge -- HUGE -- lover of language, so it's a little strange that I don't often cover this genre (too much lexical density and word order manipulation for my liking, that and issues with my English tutor back at secondary school!!). But there was some lovely hard takes on language in this that kept me focused. If I could sum up this story, it would be with:

"At least I can choose the lie.”

I loved this aspect, of accepting a bad situation and giving it some 'balls'. There were some tense elements to this that kept the heart pounding and fascinated with finding out what would happen. It was also very sweet in places, getting that "yeah, come on, just be heppy with who you are, lads" feeling going. I like the way the conclusion came about, can't say much about it because it will be a big spolier, but it was well put together and very plausible for the time period. And then there was the brother issue... quite well handled!

It is a slow burner, so if you like the lust simmering along with that "will they, won't they?", "Can they, should they?" element, then you'll like this.


This is a tale about two medieval English knights—Sir William Corbet, aka the Lion, and Sir Christian Brandon, aka The Crow. In a time when duty was everything, personal honor was more valued than life itself, and homosexuality was not tolerated by the church or society, how can these two men reconcile their deepest, most secret yearnings to love another man?

Sir Christian was raised in a household where he was hated for his unusual beauty and for the sake of his parentage. Being smaller than his six brutish half-brothers, he learned to survive by using his wits and developing a gift for strategy. He feels little loyalty to the system that’s abused him since birth.

Sir William, a large and fierce warrior, has pushed his unnatural desires down all his life. He’s determined to live up to his own ideal of a gallant knight. But when he takes up a quest to rescue his sister from her abusive lord of a husband, he’s forced to undertake a journey with Christian. It’s a partnership that will test every strand of his moral fiber, and, eventually, even his understanding of the meaning of duty, honor, and love.
Free for Download: here 
Author's website: here 

Thursday, 6 June 2013

William: Free M/M thriller Story: Lost in the Echo. Available now.

"Three days. Three questions. Three answers."

Kidnapped, blindfolded, and bound to a bed, running isn't an option any more for Will Chambers. Despite being a linguistic tutor and having every conversational tool at his disposal, all Will wanted to do was fade into the background, become lost in the echo of wild heath and harbour. But now someone wants to put his body and mind on full display, force Will to find his voice -- answer three questions, over three days.

All Will has to do is provide three... simple... answers.

It's good to see William finally made available for download. He's been such a gorgeous character to work with.

Goodreads have published him as a free story of mine, written for their M/M Group's Love has no Boundaries' challenge. This one's a little special for me as it was written with a particular reader in mind, someone who provided a photo, and then asked an author to write the story. It's a gorgeous way to write, and it's why I love doing this.

If you'd like to see a little detail on the "Dear-Author" request, plus have a link to where the story is available, the link is here: M/M Romance Group

Picture "Fashion Shot Of A Young Man" courtesy of: Photostock:FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Interview: Lynn Kelling, Author of Deliver Us & From Temptation

Today I’m interviewing the talented Ms Lynn Kelling, author of the deliciously dark and contemporary BDSM series, Deliver Us. We’re celebrating the release of Expected Lies and Never Happened, two prequels to Lynn’s first novel, Deliver Us. But I’ve also got a slight confession to make too...

In the hope of getting Lynn to also divulge a few secrets from her upcoming third novel in the Deliver Us Series (title revealed below), the lovely Kristie Sanchez will be joining us in the Author-Reader Corner for a little one-on-one with Lynn.

It’s good to have you with us, Lynn.

Lynn: It’s good to be here! Thanks for inviting me.

Q You play with very dark psychological themes in both Deliver Us and From Temptation, pushing your Doms and subs through their best and most extreme character traits. I know you touch a little on this in your Deliver Us Author Notes, but just how hard was it to address these themes? Was there any point where you had to physically break away from writing? 

A: In my writing I try to always show my characters’ humanity. I’m not interested in depicting fantasy creatures that could never truly exist. I want my characters to feel like people you could meet or know, or who could actually be out there somewhere. It makes the story that much more interesting, in my opinion, to include their flaws.

One of the main reasons why I haven’t shied away from the darker themes and abuse issues in these two books is that in my personal experience, abuse is something you’re not allowed to talk about. Even when it’s actively happening, and others are aware of it, there’s that invisible barrier of made up of societal taboos causing loved ones to not know how to intervene or what to say to make it stop. If the abuse is something in the past, and no longer actively occurring, it only makes it that much harder to address. It becomes more of a personal challenge for the person who suffered through it, to face it and find their own way to make peace with it. Exploring that journey with characters I love has been one of the most difficult tasks I’ve tried to undertake as a writer, but it’s also been so rewarding to finally break through that invisible wall and show my interpretation of the struggle that comes with the healing process.

There are a few specific scenes - mostly the flashbacks - that were extremely tough to write, because as the author you have to put yourself there and feel what the victim is feeling so that you can translate it to the page. But more than that, you have to see it from the other side too, from the perpetrator of the abuse. With those scenes, I would wait until I was in the right frame of mind to “go there”. I’ve taken more than a few walks through a nearby national park to clear my head, before and after writing those parts of the story.

Q Amongst those darker themes, though, there are some quite touching moments. Which is your most touching scene from either novel?

A: With Deliver Us I would have to say when Darrek gives Gabriel the purple wildflower, then discovering later that Gabriel kept the flower in his pocket, are my favorite moments of sweetness in that novel. Sometimes the smallest gestures speak the loudest.

In From Temptation, no question, the appearance of the cat, Kyle Junior, is my favorite touching moment of the novel. Ben really puts his love for Kyle on display there, and Kyle’s reaction speaks volumes about what it means to him to be loved that much. There were a few additional scenes in earlier drafts of the book with Kyle, Kyle Junior and Ben which I thought were really sweet, but which were later removed to help the story flow to a more logical conclusion.

Q For those who haven’t read the prequels to Deliver Us, can you tell us a little about them? Do we see the darker shade of Dare come into play in any of them?

A: The prequels really do complete the picture of who these guys are. When I think of the arc they undertake, from beginning to end, I always have to include what happens in the prequels. 

As much as Darrek might come across at the beginning of Deliver Us like he’s nothing but an unassuming straight guy with a run of bad luck, Expected Lies shows how wrong that perception is. There are a lot of layers to Darrek. In Expected Lies, he still lives with his parents and has only Kyle, his best friend, to lean on and confide in (and the same if true for Kyle), so yes, his darkness is easier to see because he hasn’t yet learned the best ways to hide it, even from himself. But since teenage Darrek and Kyle really do only have each other, the concreteness of their bond is just as evident, which I think is a beautiful thing. It’s what gets them through, every time.
Never Happened is a tribute to how much Ben and Gabriel love each other, beyond labels and their history or present circumstances. Ben makes a suggestion or two to Gabriel, coaxing him with an experienced sort of tenderness, and the consequences of that are what make Gabriel’s relationship with Darrek possible. There’s also a little ode to Kyle’s initial dislike of Gabriel in Deliver Us.

Q There’s a very close connection between your Doms Ben and Gabe. If Gabe’s history hadn’t taken him into the life of being a Dom, do you think he would have perhaps met Ben under other circumstances? What would Gabe have been like if he’d been given a safe and secure upbringing?

A: It’s really difficult for me to mentally strip Gabriel of his trials. I do think his past strengthened him in many ways, so if he had been raised in a safer environment I do think he would not have that tough, impenetrable outer shell that he uses to keep people at arm’s length. He’d be a lot quicker to laugher, trust and happiness, too.

Ben and Gabriel really do have a connection that could surpass the aspect of them being Doms. I could see them meeting as friends in an alternate universe. I’m not sure they’d be as close as they are, though. They aren’t each other’s type, to tell you the truth. Maybe they’d have a one night fling before they realized they’re better as friends than lovers and carry on from there. I have to say, it would be fascinating to write an alternate universe version of these guys where the dark aspects of their pasts never happened, and see how they’d turn out.

Q We both have a love for BDSM in our works, and we cover a wide range of techniques. Now, the portrayal of real-life BDSM is a topic that is always discussed. For someone not familiar with your work, how would you describe your depiction of BDSM?    

A: It’s definitely a fantasy depiction. The BDSM scenes are crafted to provoke a certain response from the characters in order to move the story along in a certain way. The best part of writing fiction is that anything is possible. If you can imagine it, you can make it the reality of the story. It’s much more interesting to me to test my characters’ limits in every sense of the word than to keep everything safe and easygoing. I’ll compare it to my love of the horror genre. Those horror novels would be really boring if the author was always trying to keep the characters from hurting themselves and have them only make safe choices. With BDSM romance, I think it should be equally acceptable to let your characters make a terrible decision once in a while. That’s what people do. They go with the moment and only find out afterward what the consequences of that decision might be.

Q How do you research the BDSM lifestyle?

A: I use absolutely every resource available to me. I will admit to not being an active member of the BDSM community in my personal life, but I know people who are and I’ve tried to pick their brain. I’ve also delved into some of the personal accounts people have shared online, as far as what people have enjoyed, techniques for punishment or how devoted Doms and subs have responded in certain situations. I’ve researched the blogs of people who live as a Dom or a sub every day and what that’s like for them, the rules that they put into play and the fetishes they explore. There are always things that catch my attention as being ways to possibly engage readers and turn them on or elicit a response. But everyone is always going to have their own interpretation of the best way to sexually interact with a partner, even when there are rules or guidelines for safety. That’s one of the challenges with writing in this genre.

Q I’ve got to ask -- who’s your favourite? Dare, Gabe, Ben, Kyle or Trace? Why?

A: Oh, that question isn’t fair at all! Well, okay, I’ll admit to having a particular fondness for Kyle, especially after going with him through the ups and downs of From Temptation, but I think it’s because I relate to him most out of all of the guys. There’s more of me in Kyle than anyone else. I really do love all of the guys, though. That’s why I’ve loved writing these stories to explore each pairing more closely. Deliver Us made me love Dare and Gabe. From Temptation made me love Ben and Kyle. Now Deliver Us 3 is making me crazy about Trace and Micah.

Q Do you write to music? If so, what kinds of music, and is there any particular track that underpins everything about your Deliver Us series?

A: Oh my gosh, yes. Shinedown, The Sound of Madness is the soundtrack to Deliver Us. I had it on repeat for months and it takes me there every time when I hear it now. It’s actually dangerous for me to listen to it because some of the songs will just make me bawl. I just slip right into those moments with Kyle fighting to contain his pain, Darrek just falling so hard for Gabe, or Gabriel storming up to Trace, begging for relief and fighting Trace all the way through it. The track ‘Sound of Madness’ in particular is Gabriel’s anthem. ‘Breaking Inside’ is Kyle’s. The whole album has moments where it’s angry, sexy, driving, heavy and hot. I love it.

There’s a wide range of music that inspires me, though - gritty hard rock or metal, melodic alternative, and even opera. There’s an aria in Massenet’s Werther, titled “Pourquoi me réveiller?” that gives me chills every time. Really, I like any music that makes you feel the emotion behind it.

Lynn, I’m going to step aside for a moment and let Kristie come in. She’s read both novels and prequels to your work, and I know she’s itching to try and find a few things out, especially surrounding Deliver Us 3.

                     Author-Reader Corner.

Kristie: Hi, Lynn.

Lynn: Hi Kristie! I’m excited to see what your questions are.

Kristie: The things I'm interested in are probably the things you can’t divulge: Will Dare and Gabe be okay? Will Gabe and Dare ever get over their issues? Will someone please punish Dare's dad? Tell his family? How much longer do I have to wait?! :-) So I’ll settle for the two questions you can probably answer...

Q Will the 3rd book in the Deliver Us series give readers any closure to Dare and Kyle?

Lynn: That is one of the goals of the 3rd book. Deliver Us painted the picture of what Dare is dealing with, and From Temptation brought Dare and Kyle to a more honest, healthy place for both of them. Those books were all about coping with the present and letting go of the past. Deliver Us 3 will be about closing the door on the past for all of the guys and moving forward to embrace the exciting things awaiting them in the future.

Q Will the 3rd book in the Deliver Us series be the last? (I hope not). Are more prequels slated for release?

Lynn: There was a point where I did think Deliver Us 3 would be the last, but now that I’m close to finishing the first draft, all of the possibilities for future stories are occurring to me. I would love to write more books in the series, especially if readers are interested in them! At the moment there are no more prequels slated for release but that doesn’t mean more aren’t possible. There was a quite lighthearted interlude in the original manuscript for From Temptation taking place during Gabe and Dare’s tropical vacation. When my editors had me remove it for consistency of flow, they said it’d make a great bonus story. Right now finishing the first draft Deliver Us 3 is my priority but once that’s tackled, I’d love to go back and write more prequels. If there are any specific moments in the boys’ pasts that my readers would enjoy hearing more about, I’m always open to suggestions! My greatest inspiration usually comes from someone prodding me to tell them more about specific things.

Kristie: Thank you, Lynn

Lynn: Thank you so much for your questions, Kristie!


Lynn, keeping with the theme of Deliver Us 3, is there anything you can divulge about the upcoming shared-world project between Deliver Us and Don’t? How do the characters from Don’t fit into your world? Who exactly are you introducing to your world?

A: Hmm, let me think what I can say without spoiling anything… There is an explicit romantic connection between one of my characters and one of the characters from Don’t. It’s that connection which brings the two worlds together, initially. Gray, Jack and Jan all appear in Deliver Us 3, tentatively titled Forgive Us Our Sins.

Q You also have prequels coming out to Whatever the Cost. Can you tell us a little about them?

A: Absolutely. Between Here and There is a love story about Avery and Timothy. In Whatever the Cost, Liam (who was born as Avery) keeps Timothy in his heart as his inspiration and motivation to find a better life. This prequel is a testament to what they meant to each other and how much simpler things used to be when they were just two teenagers against the world.

Trick and Truth takes place after Between Here and There and it’s also about Avery and Timothy’s journey together. In it Avery takes the first steps towards becoming the man we know as Liam in Whatever the Cost. I’m particularly proud of this prequel, which I can’t say more about without giving things away, but it is Liam’s missing piece. These moments make him who he is.

Escape is a glimpse at the moments that make Jacen who he is. It’s about Jacen’s former life on his family’s farm as Travis, and what Travis does to protect his injured brother, Dennis, from being harmed by a predator, but also what Travis does to save himself. It’s definitely the darkest thing I’ve ever written and because of the subject matter, I encourage readers to check the content labels on the story page at before reading it.

 Q I’ve seen the cover to your latest novel, Bound by Lies, and it has to be my personal favourite. Out of all of your covers, do you have a favourite? Why?

A: It might be a tie between Whatever the Cost and Bound by Lies. With the cover of Whatever the Cost, I love that you can see the fight in his (Jacen’s) eyes, and how he’s literally naked, which represents so many parts of the story. But where Jacen seems somewhat submissive, I love that on the cover of Bound by Lies, the subject (Jenner) seems like he’s willing to crawl right out of that book cover and do unspeakable things to you if you don’t pay him proper attention. It’s quite fitting with the aspects of his character which I enjoy the most.

Q How did the Editorial process treat you at ForbiddenFiction?

A: I’m quite obsessed with the editorial process. I’ve experienced how a good editor can help you transform your work into something more than you could ever have expected. It’s such a vital part of sculpting a piece of writing into its best form, but it’s also by far the most stressful part of being a writer for me. The dread of what the feedback will be – good or bad – and the waiting… it kills me.

Q How do you celebrate your releases?

A: I usually make my husband do a shot of Jack Daniels with me. Then I dance around the house for a few minutes before nervousness of how the book will be received hits me and I go hide under a thick blanket. Other than that, there’ve been a few nights out at some of my favorite restaurants where I randomly exclaim, “But no, seriously, isn’t it amazing? I made a book!”

Q What’s the best advice about writing you’ve ever received?

A: Write the book you want to read. That’s why I began writing. The books I wanted to read didn’t exist yet.

Another good one is that a writer must develop the qualities of patience, kindness to self and doggedness. Whenever I get hung up or start feeling down, it’s usually because of one of those three things.

Q We know you’re a M/M romance writer. What’s your day job?

A: I’m a graphic designer at a very small firm working with some pretty big clients. We create everything from packaging and print design to web development and interactive solutions. That pretty much means I have to be reasonably good at just about everything, or willing to learn on the fly. It keeps life from getting boring and I get to make pretty things every day.

Q When it comes to reading, who are your influences as an author?

A: Unfortunately, I’m a really picky reader and have pretty high expectations of books. I like to read things that are either completely different or treasured classics. As much as I adore reading erotica, I get so immersed in my own projects that for a mental break, I usually read outside the genre. I love Stephen King’s storytelling ability, Charles Dickens’ skill at crafting words, Philip K. Dick’s talent with making the impossible seem possible, and Neil Gaiman’s craft with harnessing magic.

Q What’s your favorite hobby outside of writing?

A: Portrait drawing. It’s one of those things that my illustration professors in college always assured me you can’t make a living out of these days, but trying to capture a feeling, expression, emotion or moment with pencil and paper is one of my favorite things to do. I recently drew portraits of some of my favorite actors, then asked them (in person) to autograph them for me and those were some of the most terrifying moments of my life!

Q Finally, what projects are you working on now?

A: In addition to all of the prequels and Bound by Lies, I also have a short story, A Cursed Blessing, coming out soon. It’s my first venture into erotic science fiction, and it does include Mpreg (or my dark, twisted interpretation of the consequences of a male pregnancy, coupled with a hot, heartwarming love story, of course). My editing focus has just shifted to the My Brother, Myself novels. My writing priority is Deliver Us 3, but I’m also working on the sequel to Whatever the Cost. A side project that has been my “just for fun” outlet is Divine Submission. It was inspired by a call for submissions for the ‘Out of Habit’ Special Collection being compiled by Forbidden Fiction (erotic tales of the clergy).  That story is about a young former wannabe priest turned dutiful submissive and his eccentric artist/piercing-specialist neighbor. The romance-triangle dynamic coupled with a “secret past” twist has been really interesting to explore. 

Lynn, thank you so much for stopping by today; it's been good getting to know you away from the pencils and pages. 

The prequels to both Deliver Us and Whatever the Cost are only available direct from Lynn's publishers. All links to her works can be found below.

Lynn Kelling began writing in order to tell stories that weren’t afraid of the dark, didn’t hold anything back and always strived to be memorable, forging lasting attachments between character and reader. Her inspiration comes from taking a closer look at behaviors and ideas lurking at the fringes of life—basically anything that people may hesitate to speak of in mixed company, but everyone wonders about anyway. Her work is driven by the taboo in order to expose the humanity within it. Lynn is an artist, designer and lover of any form of creative self-expression that comes from a place of honesty and emotion, whether it's body art or opera. She has had multiple novels published, has written over fifty works of erotic fiction of varying lengths, and always has several novels in progress.

Picture of  'modern Interiors, Decoration, by Photostock@FreedigitalPhotos. net