Tag Archives: hurt/comfort

Release Blitz: Caught by Jackie Keswick

Caught | Jackie Keswick

A Balance of Magic #1

RELEASE BLITZ

Release Date: September 24th, 2021

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 52,000 words

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Blurb

Rakurai hunts demons. He doesn’t consort with gods. Until he meets Tenzen.

Tenzen cares for souls. He despises the callous, self-absorbed Yuvine. Until he meets Rakurai.

A rescue and a sacrifice make a death god and a hunter fall in love, but a life of bliss is not on the cards. Someone is disturbing the balance of magic, leaving two worlds in danger. And while desire draws Rakurai and Tenzen together, duty, assassins, and clan politics keep them apart.

Who will Tenzen and Rakurai save in the end? Two worlds or each other?

Caught starts a new mm paranormal romance series, A Balance of Magic, featuring mortals and immortals from both sides of the veil, old promises, new revelations, and a bloody fight between love and duty. It is the first book of a trilogy and ends with a HFN. The characters will get their HEA in the final book.

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Excerpt

He walked through the mists, gaze scanning the trees and bushes lining the path. Judging by the colour of the leaves and the bounty of fruit, the seasons still aligned on both sides of the veil, though the time of day did not. He’d left the human realm in the late afternoon, yet here it appeared to be early morning. And something—or someone—called to him.

There were no words, just a powerful tug on his awareness. A tug that made him want to follow the path, walk faster, run—

He stopped.

Breathed.

The tug eased a fraction, but didn’t disappear.

“Who are you and what do you want?” The trees swallowed Rakurai’s question and returned no answer. Could this be the rafeet’s doing? Did it have the power to make Rakurai rush headlong into a trap? He’d never read of such a skill.

He took a careful step forward.

The tug eased a little more.

He took a step back the way he’d come.

The tug grew stronger.

“Understood,” he said, irony strong in his voice. He had to find the rafeet, but he could spare some time to see what other creature had need of him.

He followed the path, watching the bark of the trees, the grass, and the rushes underfoot for signs of the rafeet’s passing. There weren’t any now. The demon wouldn’t hunt on its own turf, and it would take care not to lead a hunter to its lair.

It grew warmer as Rakurai walked, and the sun had passed its zenith when he topped a ridge overlooking a manor house set in a neat pattern of fields. The dwelling looked much like his own: three wings of rooms arranged around a courtyard, dark wooden beams on foundations of rough stone, with a veranda edging each wing, and shoji screens hiding the interior from view.

Servants passed back and forth, and Rakurai saw people tending the fields. He thought about approaching openly, like a traveller looking for a place to rest, but finally dismissed the idea. Instead, he slept the afternoon away, up on his ridge, then slid through the fields under cover of dusk, found a sheltered spot beside the house, and waited for full darkness.

The statue in the courtyard had drawn him here, he realised as he came closer. Shaped like a tall man with long flowing hair, it stood on a plinth surrounded by water. The artist had caught each swirl of robes and hair with precision, as if the figure walked in a light breeze and was just about to take the next step. It was an exceptional work, worthy of an emperor’s court, and Rakurai wondered who had stolen it, and why.

He waited until a cloud dimmed the moonlight, then crossed the courtyard to get as close to the sculpture as he could.

The statue regarded him from glowing violet eyes, and the moment their gazes connected a voice, deep and commanding, rang in Rakurai’s mind.

Get me out of here!

Rakurai recoiled so hard he almost landed on his arse. He’d not had another’s voice in his mind since Naomi’s death and the sudden command—and command it had been—came as a shock. He wrapped himself in mist, hoping to hide his hasty movements, and heard a chuckle.

I can still see you, Yuvine.

I wasn’t hiding from you, Rakurai thought, using the same pathways he’d have used to talk to Naomi. It didn’t feel as strange as he’d expected.

You don’t need to try so hard, either. I’m not deaf.

What are you?

Can’t you tell? The sculpture shot back, its eyes flashing violet.

Only death gods, Shinigami, had violet eyes. Rakurai had never met a death god. Or thought that they stood frozen on plinths, surrounded by water.

And then it all came together.

A demon trap.

Yes. The voice held so much sorrow that tears gathered in the corners of Rakurai’s eyes. It caught me as I was returning from a soul collection.

Rakurai could fill in the rest for himself. If the Shinigami had gathered souls that had died in fear and pain, he’d have appeared like a walking banquet to the rafeet. It wants the souls.

It will not have them, the god said. Even if it keeps me trapped here for the rest of my years. Are you hunting the rafeet?

I am.

Then you can help me escape this prison and we can defeat it together.

Why would I do that?

Because if you try it alone, you will fail. This rafeet isn’t like the others.

Rakurai hesitated. It was common knowledge that Shinigami valued truth and honour above all other traits. Despite that, his teachers had warned him to mistrust the gods and never to do their bidding.

Help me out of this trap and I will grant you a boon of your choosing, the Shinigami offered as if he had heard Rakurai’s thoughts.

Rakurai stared into the glowing violet eyes and recalled the hint of mirth when the god had first spoken to him. Any being capable of mirth while caught in a rafeet’s trap deserved his respect and his help. He drew a deep breath. I am Yamakage Rakurai, hunter for the Custodia, he offered. And gathered all his courage. Will you honour me with your name?

The impression of a smile came to him first, comforting like a cool wash of summer rain on parched ground. Then the Shinigami’s chuckle sent shivers rippling over Rakurai’s skin. You are a brave man, Yamakage Rakurai, to trust me with your name. Such bravery shall not go unrewarded. Again, Rakurai felt the smile. My name is Tenzen.

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About the Author

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who write their own rules. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.

And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.

For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places.

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Release Blitz: Seducing the Sorcerer by Lee Welch

Seducing the Sorcerer | Lee Welch

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Release Date: September 23rd, 2021

Cover Design: Tiferet Designs

Editing: May Peterson

Length: 100,000 words

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bOJJQ9

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58526936-seducing-the-sorcerer

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Blurb

Homeless and jobless, Fenn Todd has nearly run out of hope. All he has left is his longing for horses and the strength of his own two hands. But when he’s cheated into accepting a very ugly sackcloth horse, he’s catapulted into a world of magic, politics and desire.

Fenn’s invited to stay at the black tower, home of the most terrifying man in the realm: Morgrim, the court sorcerer. Morgrim has a reputation as a scheming villain, but he seems surprisingly charming—and sexy—and Fenn falls hard for him.

However, nothing is as it seems and everyone at the tower is lying about something. Beset by evil hexes, violent political intrigue and a horse that eats eiderdowns, Fenn must make the hardest choices of his life.

Can a plain man like Fenn ever find true love with a scheming sorcerer?

Features:

• Scheming court sorcerer (probably evil)
• Gruff, out-of-work groom (possibly with a heart of gold)
• Magical sackcloth horse
• Spies, lies, saving the realm
• True love and spanking.

Content warnings: Graphic sex scenes including consensual rough sex/spanking/humiliation; kidnapping (named character is tied up and gagged); gun violence (gun is held to a named character’s head); death by crushing (non-named character); mention of suicide.

Author’s note: Seducing the Sorcerer is written from the point of view of a hero whose grammar isn’t perfect. These are not errors in the text but deliberate style choices. Thank you!

Excerpt

The sorcerer gave his staff a vicious twirl and pointed it at Fenn’s chest, clearly ready to destroy an army. Fenn gritted his teeth against whatever hideous hex was about to kill him. How much would it hurt? How unnatural would it be? He ought to run, but he could barely move. He hunched, eyes closing of their own accord, and clutched the horse’s sacking mane as if the coarse twine could help him keep a grip on life.

At least he’d die astride a horse. 

But nothing happened. The rain pattered cool on his head and hands. He opened one eye, then the other, and risked a glance at Morgrim. A shadow of doubt passed over the sorcerer’s narrow face. It was almost confusion, if a hunting hawk can ever be said to look confused.

“Well?” Morgrim said.

His tone said “and how dare you keep me waiting”. It was clear Fenn was expected to make the next move.

“Er, evening, sir. My lord.” Fenn ducked his head. “I’m right sorry for the intrusion.”

“You’re sorry?”

There was such vicious scorn in the sorcerer’s voice that Fenn flinched. Morgrim cocked his head to one side, raptorlike. He hadn’t lowered his staff. “Who are you?”

 “Fenn Todd. Er…your grace. Sir.” Gods, what were you supposed to call a court sorcerer? “Um…your honour.”

“Fenn Todd.” Morgrim sounded as if he were sizing it up to put in a spell.

Fenn shivered. Should have given a false name. Why hadn’t he thought to give a false one? Now Morgrim would be able to find out that Fenn had a criminal record and all. Oh Gods, this was going to be bad.

“And what is your purpose here?” Morgrim snapped.

“There ain’t one, your worship. It was a mistake. The horse brought me. I didn’t mean to trespass. I’ll go, eh? Quick as you like.”

Morgrim frowned as if Fenn’s answer hadn’t made sense.

“Who sent you?”

“No one. Honest. I came by the horse sort of…accidental. Tried riding it, only it took off in the air and…well, then it came down here.” Fenn had never felt more stupid or incompetent in his life. The whole thing was a ludicrous humiliating nightmare. “But I don’t want no trouble. I’ll be off, eh? Sorry to disturb you…er…sir.”

“You came to the Unket Tower by accident? You expect me to believe that?”

The name made Fenn shiver. He’d heard of it, of course, because court sorcerers had lived here for over a thousand years. The name was synonymous with magic. The place was reputed to be haunted. It was a giant trap.

He glanced about the courtyard again. There were several doors but they were all closed fast. The stone walls were five yards high and slimy with wet that flickered red in the torchlight. And there was that young bloke with the sword to think of, let alone the angry sorcerer. If the horse wouldn’t fly there’d be no escape. Why in blazes had the creature brought him here?

“Aye, by accident. Gods’ truth,” Fenn said grimly.

“And what magic did you use?” Morgrim still hadn’t moved from the top step. The tower door stood open to the dark behind him.

“Magic?” Fenn shook his head. “No. No, no. I know what it looks like, but I ain’t a magician.”

“You’re lying. Worple horses can’t fly. Don’t antagonise me, Mr. Todd. You’ll regret it.” Morgrim’s glare intensified. “I repeat: What magic did you use?”

“A worple horse?” It was Fenn’s turn to frown. “Wait. Is that a thing? What is that?”

“I’m asking the questions.”

There was an edge to the sorcerer’s tone, like anger and yet not quite. Fenn found he’d raised his hand in a reassuring gesture.

“All right, sir. I meant no disrespect.”

“What. Magic. Did. You. Use?” Morgrim demanded.

“None. Honest. I know the horse has a rune on its chest but that weren’t me. That just appeared. I can’t do magic.”

“Liar.”

“You think I’d come here if I could?”

“You are trespassing in my courtyard in the middle of the night. Are you now also being insolent?” Morgrim sounded as if he couldn’t believe his ears, but he lowered his staff.

Some of the tension went out of Fenn. It seemed Morgrim wasn’t going to do anything unnatural to him just yet.

“No, sir. It was an honest question. If I could do magic, why would I come here? Wouldn’t I be lying on silk sheets somewhere with a glass of wine and a valet peeling me a grape?”

Morgrim gave him one of those quelling looks that folks who liked to be in charge often gave. Fenn had weathered plenty in his time, though never one from the most powerful sorcerer in living memory. It made his blood run cold, but he kept his face plain. It didn’t do to be too easily cowed. It could make these domineering types worse. No, Fenn must strike the right balance between deference and dignity, and never mind that he felt too rattled to be up to the task.

It wasn’t helping that it was still raining. Even though the moon was right there, clearly visible over the yard wall to the east. It was raining only on the tower. Fenn shivered.

That was right uncanny. It certainly looked as though Morgrim had stolen all the rain clouds like people said.

This whole situation was unimaginable. Perhaps Fenn was dead after all.

There was a change in the solid body of the horse beneath him. It was sinking, deflating like a pricked balloon. Its legs bowed and then slid outwards. Its body grew thin and its head nodded towards the ground. Fenn jumped off with a muttered curse and it sank into a sad pool of sacking on the wet cobbles at his feet.

Fenn scratched his beard. “Blame thing.”

There’d be no flying out of here on it now. Not that it had seemed inclined previously, but now he was definitely stuck. Perhaps that quelling look of Morgrim’s had been more than just a look. Perhaps it had been some sort of evil eye.

Fenn glanced up. “You do that? Sir.”

Morgrim made a scoffing noise that said, “of course I did, but your question is beneath me”. He was glaring at the horse with a sort of outraged curiosity. He looked like a bloke who did a lot of glaring. His eyebrows were two perfect curves, positively made for the job.

Fenn nudged the horse with the toe of his boot and it gave a plaintive whinny. So, it hadn’t gone lifeless. It just wasn’t standing up any more.

In a way, Fenn sympathised. His knees felt right shaky. But Morgrim didn’t seem about to strike him down with a bolt of lightning just yet. And if Fenn was flung in a dungeon for a few nights, well, it wouldn’t be pleasant, but it wouldn’t be the first time. Who knew what would happen to the horse, but he himself would at least be fed and watered. Probably. Regular prisons had to feed you these days, though it was quite possible that Morgrim was a law unto himself.

“Well. I know it’s an ugly great thing to have littering up your courtyard,” Fenn said, wiping a raindrop off the end of his nose. “And I’m right sorry to have bothered you, and I hope you’ll be a gentleman and forgive the nuisance. I’ll be off now, eh? I won’t trouble you again. I promise.”

“All in good time.”

Morgrim came down the stairs in a ripple of black silk. He moved like a snake and in spite of himself Fenn was impressed. The man’s grace was mesmerising. It was hard to look away. And not just because Morgrim was so bloody terrifying.

“I have questions for you, Fenn Todd.”

Fenn was hardly in a position to refuse. “Aye, sir. Ask away.”

***

Photo by Jose Aragones from Pexels

Original image: Jose Aragones on Pexels altered for illustrative purposes only

Sublime and ridiculous

Lee Welch talks about the inspiration for her new book Seducing the Sorcerer

After finishing my last book (Salt Magic, Skin MagicNOTE from Mirrigold: Read this peeps, it’s amazing!) I felt as if the creative part of my brain had gone on strike.

I tried and tried to write and I couldn’t. It was hard, because I need to write or I feel only half alive. So after over a year of feeling ‘meh’ about every idea I had, I was jaded by the whole thing. Maybe I’d never be able to write another book? Maybe the magic had left me?

Then my daughter drew a picture of a horse.

It was blobby and dodgy-looking and none of its legs matched. But that was the point. She’d drawn the crappiest picture she could. Then, as a joke, she tried to sell it to my partner for NZ$10.00.

He refused (naturally) and so she kept sticking the picture where he’d find it: on the dining table, on his pillow, under his pillow, on the ceiling above his side of the bed. We had a laugh about this ridiculous horse that kept following him around. And I’d dearly needed a laugh, and so, during a time when things felt bleak, that silly horse brought me a ray of hope.

Then I got to thinking: what if that ridiculous horse was real? What if it was brought to life by magic? What if it really kept following some bloke about? And what if this sketchy, dodgy-looking horse that made people laugh also brought hope, just as my daughter’s silly picture had lightened my mental load?

And there it was: the germ of a story idea.

To give the story tension, I decided two things. First, that Fenn, the man the horse was following about, would love horses, but would also find this one’s behaviour mortifying. And, second, that if being able to laugh is one kind of magic, opposing it would be another kind: something dignified and serious and a bit frightening—and thus my second character, Morgrim, the scheming court sorcerer, was born.

So, Seducing the Sorcerer grew into a romance about Fenn and Morgrim; two cynical middle-aged grumps who seem poles apart, but who find they have a lot in common. It’s a story about the fear of being laughed at, about humiliation and power. But mainly it’s a story about hope. Real hopes and false, hopes lost and found, and the pain and the joy of having hope.

It’s also got spies, a sword umbrella, political machinations, and a magic tower in it.

I hope you enjoy it! Lee x

***

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About The Author

Lee Welch lives on top of a hill in the windiest city in the world, Wellington, New Zealand. She shares the house with her partner, two kids, two cats, a dog and quite a lot of spiders. Lee studied ancient history at Auckland University and creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London.

By day, she works as an editor and business communications adviser for a large government department. By night, she writes escapist romances, usually with magic in them.

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Release Blitz: Addicted to Lust by Amy Tasukada

Addicted to Lust | Amy Tasukada

A Yakuza Path Romance

RELEASE BLITZ

Publisher: Macarons & Tea Publishing

Release Date: September 1st, 2021

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Heat Rating: 5 flames

Length: 51,000 words / 206 pages

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Apple

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Blurb

Can a night of passion lead to a happily ever after?

Yakuza captain Hayato’s life is a mess. His boyfriend broke up with him, changed the locks, and kept all his stuff. He can’t crash at his brother’s because his girlfriend is moving in. And just when Hayato thinks things can’t get worse, he accidentally gets blackout drunk and wakes up in the arms of a clingy underling.

Masuo believes he and his boss made a deep connection, but when he’s blown off the next morning, he feels lied to. Assigned to run a failing pachinko parlor, Masuo is determined to turn it around to prove himself to everyone…especially his sexy superior.

When Hayato realizes he’s falling for the young parlor manager, he is more than ready for fun. But as Hayato’s tragic past comes back to haunt him, Masuo wonders if he’s ready to carry all Hayato’s baggage.

Can the unlikely pair learn to accept each other and find their way to happiness even while new challenges arise, or is their love destined to fall like balls through a pachinko machine?

This story is in the same universe as the Yakuza Path books, but they are separate series.

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Excerpt

January sucked. Hayato always started it with a New Year’s hangover. Then came the anniversary of the worst day of his life. And that wasn’t including the cold. At least the snow was pretty sometimes, but January storms usually skipped the happily-ever-after fluffy snow and went straight to freezing rain of doom. No matter how many layers Hayato wore, he always froze his balls off. The whole month should be tossed out like a used condom in a love hotel’s trash.

If he stayed in bed, he could pretend the calendar had never turned. He could go back to sweet December when nothing bad ever happened and the world was a blur of sales and romantic dinners. Or maybe he could stick with his current plan to spend the whole month of January drunk until the thirty-one days of hell passed and February dawned, if not warmer, at least a little brighter.

He hugged his pillow closer, then gagged, his sinuses assaulted by the stench of sweat and cum. Like the hangover wasn’t bad enough. Only January 1 and already the month had lived up to its reputation as the one of suffering and hatred.

Hayato threw the pillow off the bed and rolled onto his back. Furry pink walls shocked any remaining sleep out of his system. The matching sheets and heart-shaped tufted headboard confirmed it. He’d spent the night at a love hotel. No big deal. No one wanted to spend New Year’s alone. The sound of rushing water in the bathroom signaled Hayato needed to leave before things got complicated.

About the Author

AMY TASUKADA

International best-selling author Amy Tasukada writes thrilling times of crime, love, and gore. Readers who crave diverse characters, unique settings, and edge-of-your-seat action will devour her Yakuza Path series. Readers who seek less blood and more love will swoon over the Yakuza Path Romance and Would it Be Okay to Love You? Series.

Amy is an atheist, queer author who enjoys drinking tea, Japanese street fashion and visual kei music. Her calico cat, O’Hara, is never far from her side. Amy lives in North Texas, but is always planning her next trip to Japan.

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