Tag Archives: dark

Blog Tour: Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire

Bloodlaced | Courtney Maguire

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Release Date: September 29th, 2020

Publisher: City Owl Press

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Amazon: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1Amz

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Blurb

Kanjin hardly view their servants as human. Even less so when they are different.

Asagi is different. Both a man and a woman.

In the wake of his failure to protect a boy he saw as a son from their abusive master, Asagi is sold into the house of a young nobleman, Mahiro, who is the opposite of everything Asagi has ever known—gentle, kind, and generous.

Mahiro bonds with Asagi and their friendship blooms into a deep and profound love. But when Asagi is poisoned out of jealousy, Mahiro reveals himself to be youkai, a demon who feeds on blood, and he has no choice but to turn Asagi to save his life.

Asagi awakes reborn, strong, and eternally youthful. But the price for Asagi’s new life is high.

The blood of the innocent.

Just as Asagi’s trust in Mahiro falters, the boy he failed to protect, now a man, reappears.

New master, same threat.

With both a literal and proverbial monster at the door, Asagi must decide what it means to be human to protect what he loves most.

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Excerpt

I slipped into his mind like a warm bath. He didn’t resist me at all—in fact, he welcomed me, embraced me, and filled me up until there was no separation anymore. I felt the happiness of our reunion, the joy and hope it triggered in him, flow over me like a spring breeze, soft and sweet and full of promise. Somewhere, a heart fluttered and danced, and I wasn’t sure if it was his or mine.

But under it all was something so familiar it hurt. Fear, sharp and vibrating just beneath the surface, fear of separation and loss, fear of punishment, fear of something intangible and unnamable that everyone like us carried like a stone on our backs. As I fell deeper inside him, the fear became more concrete and attached itself to memories. It was like watching his life unfold in reverse. The most recent memory came sharp and fast to the surface before making way for the less distinct visions of boyhood, distorted and out of focus. The firm hand of harsh masters. The loss of friends and loved ones. Some to sickness and injury, others simply vanishing into the unknown. And then, he himself becoming the vanished, whisked away from a home he’d become familiar with to start the whole terrible process again.

Even deeper and I became aware of something else, something that pierced the dark in flashes and waves of sensation. A warm body next to mine. Long black hair tangled around little fingers. A song, familiar but somewhat distorted. All of it coupled with a strong sense of comfort and safety and deep, deep unconditional love.

It was me.

Tears wet my cheeks, and my whole body shook. Love. The bright rose-colored love of a child untainted by anger or resentment. He’d brought me deep into his heart, into his safe place, and I found myself there.

Without even realizing it, I’d pulled him closer to me. Face wet with tears, I dropped my head onto his shoulder. His lashes fluttered against my neck as he drifted back into awareness, and his arms tightened around my waist. It felt like melting.

“You’ve forgiven me,” I said, voice filled with awe.

“Forgiven you?” he echoed. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”

“But I—”

“No,” he said sternly, pulling away from me and taking my face in his hands. “Do not blame yourself for what happened to me. You weren’t the one who hurt me. It was him. Blaming yourself is like blaming the cane that whips you instead of the hand that wields it.”

“But I should have done something. Stood up to him, taken you away…”

“He would have killed you.”

“I shouldn’t have left you alone with him.”

“What choice did you have?” he asked with a dry laugh. “What choice do any of us have in what happens to us? I’m glad he sent you away. I’m glad you ended up with a kind master who loves you. You suffered enough for me. You should never feel guilty when karma rewards you.”

Reward? I looked back at my long life spent apart from him and failed to see the reward. Mahiro might have been kind and generous, but his love came at a price. And even that had slowly eroded away without me noticing, leaving me with a shocking emptiness filled only with a dark, primal hunger.

Courtney Maguire Author Pic

About the Author

Courtney Maguire is a University of Texas graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas. Drawn to Austin by a voracious appetite for music, she spent most of her young adult life in dark, divey venues nursing a love for the sublimely weird.

A self-proclaimed fangirl with a press pass, she combined her love of music and writing as the primary contributor for Japanese music and culture blog, Project: Lixx, interviewing Japanese rock and roll icons and providing live event coverage for appearances across the country.

Social Media

Website: https://www.courtneymaguirewrites.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CourtneyMaguireWrites/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PretentiousAho

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/courtneymaguirewrites/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Courtney-Maguire/e/B082S34S7W

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Release Blitz: Shameful Scars

Shameful Scars | A L Williams

Scars #3

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Release Date: June 14th, 2020

Universal link: https://mybook.to/ShamefulScars

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Blurb

I can take care of myself…

Please help me…

Her lips are pure damnation…

I will never leave you…

Hayley is determined to achieve her goals even as overworked as she is. She is almost done with school and loves her new internship.

Everything is great. Except for a certain angel she wants gone. The others have forgiven Gabriel and Hayley doesn’t understand why. Worse of all she can’t reconcile her deep hatred and attraction to  them.

Gabriel has accepted their banishment, but every day on earth is increasingly tiresome. Nothing makes sense and they are unsettled.

Especially their growing attraction to Hayley. It contradicts their disinterest in physical pleasures. However, It doesn’t matter because she hates them and nothing is changing her mind. Gabriel has no idea how to convince her otherwise.

Meanwhile, a child has vanished from a local group home, leaving only a single clue. Despite the risk  to her life Hayley refuses to stand on the sidelines and Gabriel gets dragged into the chaos. Little do they know they are more involved than they think.

The hunt for answers only forces Hayley and Gabriel closer. They have to confront their demons all while navigating their intense attraction that is far beyond the vanilla. It’s a battle of dominance and submission, but it’s not what it seems.

Can they overcome their internalized Shame and allow themselves what they secretly long for or are the Scars too deep

Content warning: Explicit sexual content, Sexual child abuse (not on the page), Adult Sexual Abuse (brief), Mention of drug use.

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Excerpt

When Tammy and I stepped inside the fence, I inspected the building that looked like a large home bathed in shadow. Playground equipment peeked around from the back. A sign with guest hours was hung by the door as we approached.

We entered the quiet house and walked down the hall past several rooms with bunk beds pressed against the walls. A child filled each bed.

Some of the rooms had two or more single twin beds with older teens who looked like they were about to age out.

It was just as I remembered. I spent several years in a group home and being inside one made me sick to my stomach. I was really going to have to get over this. Weakness did these children no good.

The tension in my jaw increased as we moved further into the house. The home was filled with simple furniture, whiteboards in the kitchen with assigned chores next to posted house rules. Along the walls, ragged books stood together on old bookshelves.

I eyed the kitchen, trying to keep my nerves under control as memories threatened to take over. A woman stepped out into the hall, and I was grateful for the distraction. I could see the bags under her eyes and the slump of her shoulders. It was clear she was worried and exhausted.

“Thank you for coming so quickly,” she said when she reached us. Tammy nodded and pulled out a notepad. The woman glanced at me.

“She is my intern,” Tammy said. “When did you notice the child was missing?”

I looked back to the other woman.

“One of the other children came out and told us he was gone when she woke up to use the bathroom.”

Tammy scribbled something down. “Was there anything unusual about the child’s behavior or any clue that they might run away?”

She thought that the kid had run away. I narrowed my eyes. It was true that children ran away quite often. I was one of them, but did she have to assume it was their fault? They could have been kidnapped.

Blaming the victim was never okay.

No one will believe you.

My stomach churned as Tammy asked more questions. The conversation faded into the distance as my mind raced with a million thoughts. Was he okay? Did someone hurt him? Was he hungry and alone?

Acid rose in my throat as the memory of Eden returned. Eden was a child Tammy put in my care when it was discovered she was sick—which turned out to be the bubonic plague. They banished her from the house, not wanting the other kids to get sick. I took her to Adam, the only doctor I trusted, but despite his efforts and because of Lucy’s curse, she died anyway. Both blamed themselves. I wished they would realize it wasn’t their fault.

“I need to use the restroom,” I said. The woman nodded and pointed me in the direction of the nearest bathroom. I excused myself.

As I walked further down the hall, the soft snores of children drifted out of the rooms. Something flashed in my peripheral vision. I peered into the room, finding a little boy sitting on a bed with something in his hands. It glittered with an unnatural light that illuminated his face as he gazed at it in awe.

“Can I come in?” I whispered.

The child’s head shot up, fear in his expression. I softened my voice and asked again. He nodded, gripping the object.

When I stopped at his side, I studied it. It was a long branch twisting and curling in on itself in places. The wood grain was fine and barely visible through the white glow of its surface.

“Can I see it?” I asked. The child frowned and looked down, lost in thought for a moment, and then handed it to me. I inspected it, turning it around in my hand. It radiated a warmth as if it was alive.

“Where did you find this?”

“Bobby is missing, and I found it under his bed.”

That must be the missing child, I thought. I peered at the branch, then backed away. The child played with his hands like it was a nervous habit.

“You’re fine. You didn’t do anything wrong,” I said. The boy relaxed.

Kids got in trouble for everything in these places, and they had always been on high alert, expecting at any moment that they would be punished.

I plastered the best smile that I could muster on my face. “Thank you.” He grinned.

I left the room and entered the bathroom, pulling out my phone. “Hey,” James answered.

“Hey, I need to talk to Andy,” I said, leaning against the wall. I heard shuffling and mumbled voices through the receiver.

“Hey,” Andrew said.

“There’s a missing child.”

“I’m aware. It has been reported,” he replied. “That’s not my department.”

I bit the inside of my cheek. “This is not normal.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you know any trees that glow?”

About The Author

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My name is Alec Lee Williams, a transgender non-binary artist. My pronouns are He/him/his or They/Them/Their.  I have loved creating things ever since I can remember. I spent my youth drawing fan fiction and art, as well as writing poetry.

My art is the visual and written expression of what is in my heart and mind. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar I and PTSD. Mental illness is the hardest thing a person can deal with and the journey to emotional stability is long and sometimes painful. Especially as a person of color.

My vision is to make myself face the pain and the struggle. To make the world see me and the rest of us and what social expectation and stigma have created. Mental illness and discrimination are a part of our history and it’s time the world sees it.  The beautiful and the dirty. The painful and the euphoric.

With my art, I want to show those who don’t have mental illness what it’s like. I want those that do have a mental illness, specifically queer POC, to relate and maybe even letting go of their trauma and triggers by seeing it displayed. I want them to know they are not alone. Now that I have decided to pursue writing my novels I hope will do the same.

Social Media

Website: www.alecwilliamscreativeworks.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/a-l-williams-b1889291-2780-4133-8a78-2156cec194a5

Williams Web Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/346828029575650/

Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/alwilliamsnovels/

Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/c1767e66f30c/alwilliamsbooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ALWilliamsbooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/a.l.williamsbooks

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New Release Blitz: A Face Without A Heart by Rick R. Reed

A Face Without A Heart | Rick R. Reed

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 1, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56,700

Buy Links:

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Blurb

A modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away….

A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”

A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder.

Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.

Excerpt

A Face without a Heart
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
GARY

There is blood on my hands. I look down at a body, a body that’s become a thing—monstrous, ugly, inanimate. It could be a sculpture, a figure formed from wax or porcelain. The soul inside is gone, leaving a shell. I wipe a line of sweat from my forehead with a trembling hand, trying to tell myself these things, trying to believe that what lies at my feet is nothing more than an object, something to be reviled, something not worthy of further consideration.

It’s not easy to believe. Although the corpse does not have a twinkle in its eye or the simple rise and fall of a chest, it’s hard to remove myself from the plain fact that the body possessed those movements, those simple signs of life, just minutes ago. Distance, for now, seems more a matter of location than of feeling. The body at my feet wears the badges of its untimely demise—a dented face, a split-open skull, blood and grayish-pink matter seeping out. The bruises have already begun to rise, ugly yellow-pink things all over the body.

I stoop, plunge my fingers into the deepest hole, the one on the belly, to feel the warmth and the entrails. Amazed that the breathing has stopped. Amazed that I have such power.

I lift a finger to my mouth and slowly run it over my lips, the blackish liquid warm and viscous, metallic to the taste. I recall the vampire films I loved as a youth, never really believing such a thing could exist.

Now I do.

I have stolen a life so that my own might continue. There is something vampiric in that, isn’t there? Because without this theft of a beating heart and an expanding and contracting pair of lungs, I would be unable to live.

Isn’t that the real essence of the vampire?

It seems too quiet here, deep in the basement of a high-rise. A dull clanging is my only accompaniment, pipes bringing warmth and water to tenants above, whose lives continue, ignorant, untouched by my murderous hand. And that’s the amazing thing, the thing that causes my breath, when drawn inward, to quiver.

Life goes on, in spite of this monumental act, just a quick, surprised scream and a heartbeat away.

There is blood on the walls, spattered Jackson Pollock-style. Who can say what is art and what is murder?

This so-called victim who now lies in final repose on a cold concrete floor, staring vacantly at nothing or perhaps at the hell that will one day consume me, can no longer chastise me, can no longer beg me to drop to my knees with him and pray, pray for forgiveness, imploring Jesus to lead me down the path of the righteous.

It’s not too late, he said before I brought the mallet down on his skull, cracking it open like a walnut, slamming it into his windpipe, his gut, an eye socket, his shoulders as he fell, anywhere the mallet would ruin, destroying, sucking life.

He was wrong. The final irony of his existence, I suppose, is that he thought he had the power to do anything, to change another person, whom, I must admit, he cared very deeply about.

No, that power rests in my hand, the death-dealing claw that changed him. And people whine about how change never really lasts when it comes to others, how they always unfortunately revert to their old ways, the ways you don’t want them to be. Anyone who has ever tried to change another knows this to be true. Oh certainly, the change may last a week, a month, even a year. But soon the real person comes back, the one who has been waiting in the wings for just the right cue, the one that will allow him to say “Ah fuck it, I’ve had enough.”

But the change I’ve wrought in my friend can never be undone. He is dead and always will be. I have a power of which psychiatrists and psychologists can only dream. And I accomplished my transformation in a matter of seconds, behind a red-tinged curtain of rage.

Pretty sly, eh? For a man who’s spent most of his life doing nothing but looking after his own selfish needs and pursuing his own pleasures, it’s a pretty accomplished thing. Decisive. For once, a man of action.

I nudge him with my foot and am amazed at the heaviness my friend has taken on in death. His body doesn’t want to give, to roll; it has become a body at rest…forever.

I turn and head back upstairs. There are matters to attend to…clothes to be burned, an alibi to be concocted. People will want answers. And conveniently, I will have none. Knowledge is a dangerous thing. What was it my other friend once told me? “The only people worth knowing are the ones who know everything and the ones who know nothing.”

I know nothing about this. And now I must go back into the realm of the living to ensure my ignorance remains secure.

But alone, I know that ignorance is one of the few luxuries I can no longer afford. Alone, I have only the luxury of time to contemplate how it all began.

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About the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.”

Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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