Category Archives: Upcoming Releases

Get BANE tonight @RiptideBooks! #postapocalyptic #mmromance #sequel

Bane_500x750Tonight at midnight Eastern, BANE will be available for anyone who has pre-ordered from Riptide! Guys I’m so excited to have you all visit with Rhys and Darius (and Zach and Nico) again!

Also, STRAIN is available for $0.99 for a short time from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Itunes. If you weren’t already aware, BANE is best enjoyed after you’ve read both JUGGERNAUT and STRAIN (in whichever order you prefer.) So this is a great opportunity to catch up on where we left Darius and Rhys off before you jump back into their story with BANE.

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Get STRAIN for only $0.99 just in time for BANE! #postapocalyptic #mmromance

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For a limited time, STRAIN is on sale for $0.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo (maybe elsewhere? If so I haven’t found it yet.) Be sure to grab it before BANE comes out next week! (and don’t forget to check out JUGGERNAUT while you’re at it!)

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TWO WEEKS UNTIL RHYS AND DARIUS ARE BACK! #bane #postapocalyptic #mmromance @riptidebooks

Bane_500x750If you have pre-ordered Bane from Riptide, in two weeks from today you can reconnect with Darius and Rhys from Strain, and also finally find out how things turn out for Nico and Zach from Juggernaut.

I’m so excited!

I will say, Bane will be best understood if you’ve read both Strain and Juggernaut, so you also still have time to catch up on those.

As luck would have it, this weekend All Romance eBooks is having a 30% rebate sale. On other words, when you buy any book from the series (including pre-ordering Bane) you get 30% store credit from ARe to spend on more books!

Keep an eye out, I believe Riptide will also be having a sale on Strain in the near future to celebrate the release of Bane!

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Speaking of @AllRomance… #Juggernaut #Bane #Rebate #postapocalyptic #mmromance @RiptideBooks

Juggernaut_500x750Bane_500x750While we’re on the subject of AllRomanceeBooks.com, apparently they are having one of their 50% rebate events today to celebrate the launch of their new app. Furthermore, Bane is available for pre-order there, which means if you were planning to buy Juggernaut or order Bane, this is a great chance to get 50% of the purchase price back in store credit.

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One week until JUGGERNAUT #mmromance #postapocalyptic @RiptideBooks

First of all, did anyone else know the Reviews by Jessewave site is back? They are! And they’re under new management. Today they gave Juggernaut a really great review, and they’re not the only ones. Kazza K at On Top Down Under had some really lovely things to say. Check out what readers are saying over at Goodreads, too.

So. Here it is, the one week countdown! That’ll be less than a week, if you pre-ordered from Riptide, of course, and there’s still time to do that.

The blog tour is going to kick off on Monday the 10th, and you’ll want to be sure to follow that because I’ll be giving away early copies of Bane. I’ll have a few deleted scenes from Juggernaut in there, a couple sneak peeks at Bane, and several posts about the pre- and immediately post-apocalyptic society.

Also on Friday the 7th I’ll be featured over at http://bookfare.blogspot.com/ in their But What Are They Eating (food in fiction) feature! Yes, I had to take a moment to compose myself and then double-check that they really knew what they were asking for when they offered me a shot at guest blogging about a series based around a zombie(ish) apocalypse. No, I didn’t go for the obvious cannibal angle and instead I’ll be talking about scavenging in a world where mass production and availability of food is no longer happening.

Yay! So excited! I can’t wait to be able to share this book with you all!

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Teaser Tuesday: An excerpt from Juggernaut – Waiting Out the Plague

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I got off track posting snippets and excerpts for a few weeks, but now I’m back! I bring you part of a scene from Juggernaut today!

They helped destroy the world. Now they have to survive the new one.

For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.

Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.

When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.

Juggernaut will be released August 10 and is available now for pre-order through Riptide Publishing.

I’m going to put it behind a cut for spoilers.

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BANE is now available for pre-order! @RiptideBooks #mmromance #post-apocalyptic

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Bane, the sequel to Juggernaut and Strain, is now available for pre-order at Riptide Publishing!

The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.

Rhys Cooper’s unique immunity to all three strains of the virus that nearly annihilated humanity has brought him the unwanted attention of Clean Zone scientists. They’ve summoned him for testing—ostensibly in the hopes of finding a vaccine—but Rhys’s partner, Darius Murrell, has good reason not to trust any government. He and his comrades in Delta Company were unwitting test subjects for Project Juggernaut, the military experiment that gave them superhuman abilities and unleashed the pandemic. Doubting the government’s intentions, Delta Company refuses to let Rhys go alone.

Fear of infection has kept Zach Houtman and his lover Nico Fernández apart for a decade. They meet rarely, just long enough to coordinate their spying on the head of the government’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood is a vicious predator, and they suspect he’s trying to acquire the strain of the virus that would make him superhuman. To stop him, they need the perfect bait: Rhys.

For Rhys, helping them might cost him his relationship with Darius—or his life. For Zach and Nico, even if their plan succeeds, they still face the ultimate question: can infected and uninfected people ever live together safely?

Remember, Bane is the sequel to both Juggernaut AND Strain. While Juggernaut and Strain can stand alone (meaning you can read them in any order, though chronologically Juggernaut happens before Strain) you really want to have read them both before reading Bane. Also be aware that Zach and Nico’s story (from Juggernaut) doesn’t really get its happy ending until Bane, so you’ll want to read them both.

Be sure to tune in this Thursday, May 14, for the exclusive reveal of the covers for both Juggernaut and Bane over at JoyfullyJay!

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WIP(ish) Wednesday: McClosky’s Revelation

Back before the release of Strain, I was posting regular snippets for writerly-type themed days like Seven-Sentence Sunday and whatnot, and I sort of got out of the habit of that. I thought I would try to get back into it.

Technically, Juggernaut isn’t a WIP, but I’m not going to restrict myself on those grounds. I’m just going to set Wednesday aside as a day to introduce people to characters and concepts from Juggernaut, Bane, and maybe some of my already released books they’re not familiar with.

For those of you who aren’t already aware, Juggernaut is a prequel, set roughly ten years before Strain, in which we see the events immediately preceding and following the apocalyptic pandemic from the perspective of two men who are tangentially involved in those events. For a nearly five chapter long excerpt please check out the Juggernaut product page at Riptide Publishing. (note: please read the warnings and additional details tabs and/or be advised that the excerpt may contain objectionable or triggering material.)

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They helped destroy the world. Now they have to survive the new one.

For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.

Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.

When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.

In this scene, rentboy Nico Fernandez has just learned the “special jobs” he’s been doing for General Logan McClosky have had an unforeseen–and catastrophic–consequence.

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Now available for pre-order: Juggernaut, A Strain Novel

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Juggernaut, the prequel to Strain, is finally available for pre-order at Riptide Publishing!

They helped destroy the world. Now they have to survive the new one.

For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.

Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.

When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.

Stay tuned for a reveal of the full cover art soon!

Zach and Nico’s story pre-dates Rhys and Darius’s, and the events of Juggernaut encompass the beginning of the pandemic for which we see the aftermath in Strain. Reading them in order, however, is not necessary. Both Zach, Nico, Rhys and Darius will ALL be back in Bane, the sequel to Strain (more news about that coming soon!)

More about the Strain universe.

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Get your first look at Player vs. Player @RiptideBooks #mmromance #mystery #gaming #comingsoon

This weekend while I was enjoying myself at Gay Romance NorthWest in Seattle, Riptide released the excerpt for Player vs. Player in their weekend newsletter. It’s now available on their website, so feel free to take a peek!

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Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Player vs. Player is coming December 8, 2014 and is available for pre-order now!

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Sneak peak at THE HOUSEBOY: INITIATION (from UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER: An M/M Military Bundle) coming in October

As promised, I’m sharing an excerpt from my upcoming novella The Houseboy: Initiation, which will be published in the Unconditional Surrender M/M military bundle in October. I’ll put it under a cut, and warn you here that the story contains a significant age difference between the characters, BDSM, virginity kink, a gangbang, objectification and a whole bunch of other kinky things that might be uncomfortable for some readers.

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The summer in review (or: “where the heck have you been, Amelia?”)

So, it’s been almost two months since my last blog update. I know. Ask me how long some people have been waiting for responses to emails they’ve sent to me.

My dear friend Depression has been visiting this summer, and hasn’t wanted to leave. For the last several months, it’s been increasingly difficult to make myself do anything unless it has an actual deadline attached to it. Mostly I’ve been doing escapist stuff and avoiding talking to people (if you’re one of those people in question, I beg you not to take it personally, as I’m avoiding everyone. It’s not just you.) The avoidance is probably for the best, actually. When I tend to get this bad, I will often go off the rails and behave badly and lash out at people and it’s not pretty. It also, however, has not helped me get a whole heck of a lot done.

So, what have I been doing?

In order of what you’re going to see released, I have two projects approaching completion.

The first will be coming out just in time for GRL, and is a box set with a bunch of other authors whose company I’m incredibly thrilled to be in.

UnconditionalSurrender_400x600My story is titled The Houseboy: Initiation, and is nothing short of pure, unadulterated erotica. Seriously. There are a lot of stories where I go for “smut with substance” and there is a lot happening behind the sexytiems. This…is not one of those times. It’s Daddy kink. It’s BDSM. It’s age difference, virginity kink, gangbang, objectification, semi-public sex, exhibitionism, and God only knows what else. In many ways, it’s what Strain would have been without the angst and the fuck-or-die element driving the plot. If that sounds like your cuppa, I’ll be sharing an excerpt in my next post. 🙂

Of course, my depression means my inner critic is being particularly loud, and I’m convinced the story is awful and has no place in the bundle and blah blah blah, but hopefully it will go over well. The bundle is up for pre-order if you would like go that route, and here are the links:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes

No, you’re not imagining things, Yes, we really are offering you 300K of original stories by some of your favorite authors for only 99 cents. Jump on this. Seriously.

PlayervsPlayer_468bannerThe next project in the works will be coming out in December. I’ve already shared some about it, but in case you missed it, this is my first attempt at an honest-to-God mystery. (Yes, I went to the plotty place.) This is also the same book you might have heard me refer to in other places as Third Wave. I also went to a surprisingly low-smut place with this one. I’m not sure if I was proud or appalled at how sparse the content and kink warnings were when I was filling out the information for the product page at Riptide. PvP will be out in December and is available for pre-order from Riptide. Right now we’re in the middle of edits and I imagine review copies will be going out in the next month or so.

Now, what else have I been working on? Well, a great deal of my new-word productivity this summer has been spent on Bane. What Bane is, I’m hesitant to say, because it keeps changing on me. It started as a prequel to Strain, set about ten years before the events of Strain. It was the story of high-end escort Nico and Zach Houtman, the disowned elder son and brother of Father Maurice and Jacob in Strain, and how their actions and the actions of those around them led to the activation of Project Juggernaut and the plague that wiped out most of humanity.

And then I discovered that Darius, Rhys, Xolani and the rest of the Delta Company gang wanted in on some of the plot threads that developed as a result of those pre-plague events, it became a sequel to Strain with portions that jumped back in time (via extended flashback-like sections) to before the plague. So it was sort of going to be a prequel-within-a-sequel, if that makes sense?

But then, as I brainstormed a few plot points with Chris, the editorial assistant at Riptide, I realized I probably have too much content for just one book. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it is looking like it might be two books–the original prequel I envisioned, and then a sequel which will take the events of the prequel and bring them together with the characters from Strain. Right now the whole project is still being called Bane, though I imagine at some point there is going to be another title involved.

So, what does this mean? Well, I’m really excited about Zach and Nico’s story, especially since I get to delve into a lot of the politics and build the world and events that resulted in the plague, but for those of you who were fans of Strain, I’m sure the big news here is that yes, Darius and Rhys WILL be back. It was actually pretty amazing from a writing standpoint. I was stuck writing some stuff with Zach and Nico, so I decided to switch over and start working on a new scene with Darius and Rhys, and I swear, everything just fell into place. They came back to me so easily and naturally, and it just felt so right, and once I started working on them, everything else started to take shape and make sense. So I’m hoping to have the first draft of this two-book manuscript done in another month or two, and then hopefully Riptide and I will have more information for all of you.

And don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten that Geoff and Robin from Saugatuck Summer, or Matt and Chris from The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, are still supposed to get their own books. Those are just on the back burner for now because Bane is consuming my brain. And for those of you who are looking forward to PvP, you might like a heads-up that Niles’s twin brother Jordan will also be getting his own book, and also I may be dipping my toe into the f/f pool and giving Rosie, Niles’s boss and best friend, her story as well. In fact, she’s poking me in the back of the brain pretty hard and demanding it, and you just don’t say no to Rosie. It doesn’t happen.

Next month, I’ll be up in Seattle at Gay Romance NW 2014, and then in October, of course, I’ll be at GRL2014 in Chicago. I was not one of the lucky few who got an author spot, so I’ll be attending as a reader, but I will be at the Riptide table for the book signings, and I’ll be around, so you’ll get a chance to see me.

So there’s a lot in the hopper right now, the big issue is just overcoming the urge for avoidance and escapism that is part and parcel of being depressed. I’ll be trying to dig my way through my email and message backlog, so hang tight if you’re waiting to hear from me. Hopefully it will get easier the more I work on it. But for those of you are are still reading at this point, especially those of you who deal with chronic depression, what do you do to overcome it when you get in that place where you just want to avoid anything and everyone and not deal with it all?

 

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Still time to pre-order Inch by Inch @RiptideBooks and download early! #mm #erotica #romance

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Inch by Inch (The Professor’s Rule #3) releases on Monday, December 16. But if you pre-order through Riptide Publishing, you can download it at midnight (Eastern) tomorrow, a full two days early!

Also, starting Monday, December 16 Heidi Belleau and I will be on tour, so be sure to check out our blog tour schedule to see where we’ll be. You’ll get some questions answered about your favorite characters, a couple looks ahead and what you can expect from the future of The Professor’s Rule, and you’ll have multiple chances to win copies of the earlier TPR books in case you’re not caught up yet!

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Lovely early #reviews for Strain @Goodreads #mm #erotic #romance #postapocalypse

As I mentioned before, Strain went up on NetGalley last week, and a couple early reviews have been posted to Goodreads, and they’ve been quite gratifying on a couple levels.

Ashley Williams of http://booknerdash.blogspot.com/ had this to say:

And though the theme of the book revolved around sex as a treatment for the disease (yes I did say sex was the cure!!!), it wasn’t, for me, the forefront of the book. It kept me flipping the pages the whole time.

I loved the post-apocalypse-zombie-ish setting that Gormley creates. You can visualize where you are, without getting bored by all the details. Speaking of details, she does an excellent job explaining the medical necessities behind the unorthodox treatment. They were actually believable!

That one does my heart a lot of good. When dealing with a book based on a fuck-or-die trope, there’s a significant danger that the fuck-or-die situation will come off as nothing more than an excuse to propel the characters into sex they normally wouldn’t have. This isn’t an unfair estimation, to be honest. In a lot of places–especially in fanfic circles dealing with slash and non-canon OTPs–the fuck-or-die trope is used for precisely that reason. I wanted to come at it from a different angle, though. I wanted to make the story not just about situationally-coerced sex, but about the desperate lengths people will go to in order to survive, and about the conflict a character might face when the thing that is saving his body from death is killing his spirit and soul. I wanted to examine the uneven power dynamics inherent in a situation where one character is reliant on another for their very survival, and explore just what is considered “unpardonable” when someone does horrible things in order to save someone else’s life.

Which made it doubly gratifying to read this review from Sue/DavinciKittie at http://gravetells.com:

Even though this story features a lot of sex, it’s not ABOUT sex or even about a D/s lifestyle. It’s about fighting for survival and the life-affirming connections you make with the people you trust to have your back. It’s about brotherhood and love and making the best out of a hard life, and it is haunting… absolutely beautiful. The emotional depth is so tangible, Strain is both heartwarming and endearingly painful, from vivid adrenaline-packed start to aching, bittersweet ending. Definitely a must read for fans of male/male romance!

Yes. Thank you, God. People are getting what I was trying to do and not assuming the “plot” is just a sex vehicle, which would be very easy to do at first blush.

So, yeah, I’m really thrilled with these two reviews, and I hope other readers and reviewers continue to get what I was trying to accomplish with this book. I am sure it won’t work for some people, that they will dismiss it as just being an excuse to get the characters into bed, but it’s nice to see that some people are looking past that at the deeper themes.

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An audience participation opportunity

Help decide James’s next lesson!

So, back when Heidi Belleau first approached me about co-writing The Professor’s Rule with her, she had a very unique idea: she wanted to get prompts from the readers for subsequent stories, something like a kink meme.  We weren’t able to get the necessary logistics worked out in time for An Inch at a Time, but the third TPR story, Inch by Inch, is going to have one scene written for the readers, the kink content of which will be decided by the readers.

Over at The Jeep Diva’s website, you can add a comment–anonymously or not–requesting which kink you might want to see featured in the next TPR story. Inch by Inch will take us back into James and the Professor’s “present” day, after James’s shopping trip and his meeting Satish and reconnecting with Carson. For those who don’t comment anonymously, they will be entered in a giveaway for a $10 Riptide gift certificate. So head over to The Jeep Diva and let us know where you’d like to see James and the Professor go!

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Strain is available for pre-sale (22% off!) @riptidebooks #mm #erotic #post-apocalypse #romance

It’s finally here!

Strain is now available for pre-sale on Riptide’s website!

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. Cut off from the world since childhood, he’s finally exposed to the lethal virus that wiped out most of the human race. Now his only hope for survival is infection by another strain that might confer immunity. But it’s sexually transmitted, and the degradation he feels at submitting to the entire squad of soldiers that rescued him eclipses any potential for pleasure—except with Darius, the squadron’s respected, capable leader.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little humanity. He’s spent a decade putting plague victims out of their misery and escorting survivors to a safe haven he can never enjoy. He’d rather help Rhys live than put him down, so when Rhys can’t reconcile himself to doing what’s necessary to survive, Darius is forced to save Rhys in spite of himself.

But with each passing day, it looks less and less likely that Rhys can be saved. Which means that soon Darius might have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

For some excerpts from Strain, be sure to check out the following previews I’ve posted for #SevenSentenceSunday and #TeaserTuesday.

Meet Rhys, part 1
Meet Rhys, part 2
Meet Darius
Meet Xolani
Meet Jacob
Meet the revenants
About Project Juggernaut
Life at the monastery
Dissent in the ranks

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Belated #TeaserTuesday from Saugatuck Summer (#mmromance coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks) inspired by a FB convo

So over on Facebook, Lisa from The Novel Approach posed this question about barebacking in m/m romance:

Okay, peeps, opinion:

Brand new M/M author, chapter one, first few pages, guys are already gettin’ busy. It’s their first time together, neither are virgins. They bareback, no mention at all of condoms or status.

This is a real-world contemporary, not paranormal, not fantasy.

Thoughts – irresponsible on the author’s part? Not a big deal? What?

This question keeps popping up occasion. Leta Blake has had a couple great posts about her research into why gay men bareback over on her blog, and it came up not long ago at Jessewave as well.

Yesterday, people on Twitter were doing a #UnpopularOpinion thing. Well, here’s mine:

The prevalence of protected sex in m/m romance is out of proportion with reality to the point of being a rather trite.

(/me dons flame-retardant suit. Any flames on this post will be unanswered and/or deleted)

I know WHY this is. M/M romance is written primarily by straight women, and we love the gay men we write about and we want to portray them in as positive and responsible a light as possible and never show them doing things which are, in popular opinion, Bad Things.

But we as storytellers have no moral or ethical obligation to show our characters doing the perfectly correct thing all the time. We do, however, have a moral or ethical responsibility to portray minority characters as fully rounded, complete, un-stereotyped beings. And that means letting them do things that maybe aren’t politically correct.

The Perfectly Correct use of condoms is another branch of the same school of thought that says 1-finger-2-fingers-3-fingers-fuck is the only way to gear up to anal sex, and that spit isn’t lube. Except some men–and women–have anal sex without any manual prep whatsoever, and some of them are perfectly okay using spit as lube. What we assume as gospel because our genre has been preaching it as gospel Ain’t Necessarily So.  When you scream “SPIT ISN’T LUBE” you are basically telling real people who use it as their lube of choice with no difficulties URDOINITRONG.

I think the insistence on the Protected Sex All The Time Unless They Have The Talk trope in m/m romance is its own form of well-intentioned homophobia. First off, because most people don’t raise nearly as much fuss–if any at all–if characters in an m/f romance have unprotected sex. This reinforces the idea that HIV/AIDS is a Gay-Only issue, and yes, it is an issue in the gay community, except maybe there are members of that community who don’t perceive it that way. Who, for whatever reason, to not consider condom usage to be an Absolute Necessity in any and all circumstances. Maybe they’ve just decided it’s their risk to take, for whatever reason they want to risk it.

Secondly, it trivializes the other issues surrounding the choice whether or  not to use condoms, many of which are emotional and personal and subjective to each individual. We like to over-simplify and make it a black-or-white issue, but it ain’t.

If we as writers are going to portray characters within the gay community, we need to give visibility to all its various schools of thought and behavior.

Someday I’m going to write up a blog post about Strain and why I chose the fuck-or-die trope for it. Let’s just say a lot of it has to do with subverting the idea that fluid exchange = death. But this #TeaserTuesday segment is about Saugatuck Summer and one of the many reasons why a character might willfully, knowingly, choose not to use condoms.

And this time I’m going to put it behind a cut because this is actually from Chapter 12 and features a rather significant conflict spoiler.

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“An Inch at a Time” (The Professor’s Rule 2) w/@HeidiBelleau #mm #erotica available for pre-sale @RiptideBooks

An Inch at a Time (The Professor’s Rule #2) is now up for pre-sale at the Riptide website (complete with excerpt!) The website will be going down for maintenance for a few days here shortly, but I’ll re-tweet this once it’s back up and running.

In An Inch at a Time, we take a step back, four years before the events of Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #1) to examine how Professor Carson and his student, James Sheridan, began their power-exchange relationship.

Enjoy!

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#TeaserTuesday from Strain, coming Jan 2014 from @RiptideBooks – About Project Juggernaut

We’re getting close to the end of what I feel comfortable sharing from Strain. I imagine the first three chapters or so will be the excerpt when it goes up on the Riptide website, and today’s segment comprises the end of Chapter Two. Take this with a grain of salt, because this section is one I know that is going to see a lot of tweaking when it goes through edits, due to a ton of infodumping. All critical information that needs to get out very early in the story, but we all hate lengthy chunks of exposition, so I’m sure Sarah Frantz and I will be working very hard to make this feel less clunky.

In this section, Darius and Xolani and the rest of their squadron have rescued Rhys (Part 1 and Part 2) and Jacob from an attack by revenants on the monastery where they’ve been sheltering for the last seven years. Rhys, who is still concussed and disoriented from an earlier fight with Jacob, wants to know what is going to become of him, which leads to a discussion about the nature and origin of the virus to which they’ve been exposed in the attack.

Rhys nodded slowly. Some of this he’d learned in history lessons with his mother, also. “Did they succeed? In creating the super soldiers?”

“After a fashion.”

“I don’t understand. How did it turn into the Rot?”

“Because the virus was designed with a second purpose, which was to weaken the enemy. Imagine you’re one of these super soldiers and you’re wounded in battle. Maybe even killed. Any force strong enough to do that needs to be weakened, either to slow their offensive or cripple their defense. So, when exposed to air, the Alpha strain in the blood of the infected troops would mutate into a Beta strain, which any nearby enemies would take back to base with them to infect their comrades. Beta was airborne as well as blood-borne, which meant they could spread it easily. It wasn’t supposed to be permanent or fatal. Just a bad rash and a flu-like malaise for a while, nothing more. Enough for our guys to get in, wipe them out and leave, or set up shop and take over.”

“Oh.” Rhys hesitated, trying to make sense of it. The kitchen had gone virtually silent, the attention of the strange soldiers a little disconcerting. “But wouldn’t that end up making our soldiers sick, too?”

Darius shook his head, giving Xolani an irritated look. “Alpha gave them immunity.”

“But the Rot is deadly. It’s not just a rash and a flu.”

“Yeah.” Xolani looked grim, zipping her pack shut with a hard jerk. “The live trial went to shit once it was deployed in the field. No one really knows what happened. Best theories are that it was influenced by another virus, something local to the region of Russia where Alpha was first administered to a battalion of test subjects—the Juggernauts, or Jugs, as they called themselves. Or possibly it was affected by radiation from all the uranium that ended up floating loose around there. At any rate, it didn’t do what it was meant to do. It mutated. The rash became necrotic lesions, and what was intended to be an exhausting malaise was so severe and debilitating that the infected victims were left pretty much catatonic, trapped inside their bodies while their tissues decayed. But before all this became apparent, some of the wounded, Alpha-infected troops brought it home when a bureaucratic snafu sent them back to the States to recuperate instead of into quarantine, so Beta started spreading back here as well. That’s when reports of the Gamma mutation first appeared. There were probably revs in Russia, too, the military just managed to hush it up.”

Rhys wiped a hand over his mouth, the nausea that had been plaguing him since he regained consciousness redoubling. He’d known the Rot was bad but hearing it described that way, it sounded a lot worse.

“Well, it’s wonderful you folks came along when you did!” Jacob said brightly. “Who knows what would have happened to me—us—otherwise.”

“What’s going to happen to us? Are you going to quarantine me and Jacob like you do the other survivors you find?” Rhys asked. That would be just great, stuck with Jacob alone without even Cady there.

Darius sighed. “We ain’t taking you back to base and putting you with the other survivors.”

Something in his voice made Rhys’ head snap up. “Why not?”

“Because there’s very little chance—statistically speaking, zero, really—that you’re not infected.” Xolani’s eyes were gentle, full of pity. “I’m sorry. You took a faceful of blood there, kid, and even if you hadn’t, you were in too close of proximity to those revs.”

“Oh.” Rhys swallowed hard. Everyone’s voices became fainter as a low humming grew steadily louder in his ears. His headache kicked up another notch with the increased force of his pulse in his temples. “I’m still going to die. Okay.”

There was something wrong with his numbed acceptance of that fact, though he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what. After all, he’d known he would die from the moment Father Maurice ordered him to use himself as bait to distract the revs so the rest of them could get away.

Then he looked up in alarm, the humming in his ears became an unnerving drone, a cold sweat prickling his skin. He felt dizzy and his head throbbed mercilessly.

“You have to kill us. Both of us. Now. We’re endangering you.”

Everyone shuffled.

What?” Jacob squawked in alarm and started protesting, but Rhys had no attention to spare for him. His eyes were fixed on Darius and Xolani, who were glaring at each other for no reason he could understand. His knees felt weak and he gripped the edge of a stainless steel table for support.

“Don’t worry.” Xolani never took her eyes off Darius. “You won’t infect us.”

The droning turned into a deafening klaxon and dark spots began to spread across his field of vision. Rhys’ whole body tingled like every part of him was falling asleep, except his head, which hurt so terribly he almost wished they would kill him.

“Oh. So, you’re Jugs.” He gave a short, hysterical giggle. “Guess that explains how you broke up the pews, then.”

The terra cotta tile floor leapt up to smack him in the face before he could decide what he thought about that.

Strain will be released in January 2014 from Riptide Books.

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#SevenSentenceSunday from Strain (#mmromance coming Jan 2014 from @RiptideBooks) – dissent in the ranks

You don’t honestly expect me to limit myself to seven sentences for #SevenSentenceSunday by now, right?

This snippet comes from a little later in the book, when Rhys (part 1 and part 2) and Titus are discussing a potentially volatile situation regarding Jacob within the unit Darius and Xolani command.

(As always, these excerpts are as-yet unedited. All mistakes are my own.)

“You should know he’s taking aim at Darius and Xolani. Trying to undermine them. He called her ‘that Arab bitch.’”

“Did he now?” Titus’ eyes, wrinkled with a perpetual sun-squint, glinted with amusement. “And just when I’d almost managed to convince myself stupidity isn’t a terminal illness. Well, she’s a Persian bitch, in the interest of accuracy. She ended up in the med corps during Iran because she could speak Farsi.”

“Huh. I didn’t know that.” Rhys pursed his lips. “So Xolani is a Persian name?”

“Nope. Zulu.” Titus laughed again, a deep, rumbling noise that sounded like boulders rolling down a hill. “Darius started calling her that when she joined Delta Company. Means ‘peace.’”

“Peace?” Rhys felt his eyebrows creep up and Titus laughed even harder.

“Well, he didn’t have a word for ‘will rip off your face and eat it with ketchup.’” After a moment he sobered. “I don’t mind saying your pal’s life expectancy just got a lot shorter, Cooper. He steps a toe out of line, I’ll be there to put a bullet between his eyes, if she doesn’t beat me to it.”

“I thought you weren’t allowed to mistreat the recruits?”

“Well, he’s not a recruit anymore, is he? Besides, who said anything about mistreatment? I’d kill him so fast, it wouldn’t even hurt. Much.”

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#TeaserTueday from Strain (coming Jan 2014 from @RiptideBooks) – Life at the monastery

Today for #TeaserTuesday, we’re going to explore what life was like at the abandoned monastery where 19-year-old Rhys Cooper has been sheltering from a deadly plague and its aftermath with his sister, nephew, and a handful of other survivors.

Here are the other #TeaserTuesday and #SevenSentenceSunday excerpts I’ve shared from Strain.

The Revenants
Meet Darius
Meet Xolani
Meet Rhys (part 1 and part 2)
Meet Jacob

As always with these snippets, the text is not yet edited. Any mistakes are my own.

“What happened to your knuckles? That’s not all from trying to punch out that other guy.”

Rhys looked down at his bloodied hand, red meat showing raw through cracked, bruised skin.

“Doesn’t matter. Won’t be happening again.”

“Think you can stand? Otherwise, if you want to sit in the shower, I can turn it on for you while I go find a blanket.”

“I can stand.” With her help, he pushed himself to his feet and staggered into the shower. The shredded remains of his clothing still littered the bottom of it. Jesus, his jeans must have really been threadbare if they’d just managed to rip wet denim off him like that. He leaned against the tile of the mildew-spotted wall and let Xolani turn on the cold spray.

“I’ll be right back. Try not to fall over.”

Nodding hurt too much, so Rhys just grunted and began scrubbing off the mud. The longer he was on his feet, the steadier he felt, until he got brave enough to bend over and pick up a scrap of his t-shirt to use as a washcloth.

She came back a moment later with another blanket like the one he’d lost when he attacked Jacob. Rhys turned off the water and wrapped it around him.

“Interesting marks there on your hips and thighs. Last time I saw a set of bruises that looked like that, they were on a guy who’d been beaten with a cane.”

Rhys flushed but said nothing, clutching the blanket tighter.

“The old man had a cane lying beside him where he died.”

He glowered and stomped out of the bathroom, trying to ignore her when she followed.

“I notice that guy you tried to clobber the shit out of wasn’t wearing rags like you were.”

“Yeah, well, he didn’t outgrow all of his clothes,” Rhys muttered. “I was twelve when we got here.”

“And how long ago was that?”

“Seven years.”

Why was she following him, much less asking all these questions? “And it was— what? Just you and your sister, and Jacob and his father?”

“No.”

“That’s right, there was the baby and a kid, too. Who else was here?”

He sighed in annoyance. He shouldn’t be so unfriendly to her—after all, she did help save his life, and stitch him up—but he really wished she’d stop probing for information about things that weren’t any of her business.

“My mom died a couple years ago,” he answered shortly. “We think it was cancer. She had some, uh, lumps. Gabe—Gabriel—ran away and his parents went to try to find him and never came back. Guess they must have all died, too.” Rhys grimaced, trying not to think of why Gabe had run off. “The eleven-year-old boy you found out there today was Gabe’s little brother, Jeff. When they went after Gabe, they left him behind here where he’d be safe. There was another family, too, in the beginning. The Merkles. Holly got appendicitis. Her dad committed suicide. Her mom was stung by a bee. Now we’re all that’s left. Anything else you wanna know?”

Xolani shook her head and took his arm without asking, helping him down the stairs. Her grip was really strong, but then, even though she wasn’t tall, her shoulders were broad and she had a solid, muscular build. A scar ran down her cheek, a light line puckering and pulling at the skin and making her look tough. Even without it, she wouldn’t have ever been called pretty. Darius was a lot bigger than her, but something told Rhys that if it came down to a fight between them, she could probably hold her own.

And she didn’t try to apologize or sympathize as he cataloged their losses. He appreciated that.

“Look, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a jerk, and you’re being nice and all, but my head hurts and can we just not talk about all that?”

“Okay,” she said with perfect equanimity and fell silent.

Darius was outside—along with some of the others whose names Rhys hadn’t gotten yet—standing beside a large pile of scrap wood. Father Maurice, Jeff, Cady and Caleb were laid on top of it and Rhys had to swallow hard seeing them just draped limply like that. On the far side, Jacob was watching him with eyes that glittered with hatred, but Rhys couldn’t be bothered to care. All he could do was stare at the dark gold of his sister’s blood-matted hair hanging down.

When he drew near, he could smell kerosene fumes.

Darius grabbed a length of wood and lit it from the fire still burning the remains of the revenants. But before he could touch it to the other pyre, Jacob lifted his head and raised his voice dramatically loud.

“Dear Lord, we commend to you these loved ones, my father, wife and son . . .”

No mention of sister or nephew, of course.

“Oh, shut up.” Rhys snatched the torch out of Darius’ hand, setting the whole thing ablaze. The last damn thing he needed to hear was about God and heaven and salvation. After a moment of glaring, Jacob continued droning on, but Rhys didn’t hear the trite platitudes. The pompous voice was drowned out by the roar and crackle of the flames.

Strain is coming January 2014 from Riptide.

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#SevenSentenceSunday from Saugatuck Summer (coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks) – Owning it

As usual, my #SevenSentenceSunday snippet is longer than seven sentences. In this passage, we have Topher, a 21-year-old, slightly gender-fluid college student, answering some questions from his BFF’s dad about himself and the reason he’s estranged from his conservative family:

I gave him a slightly self-deprecating smirk, taking a long drink of my zin before it got warm and bitter. “Well, it’s more just giving in to the inevitable, I guess. I mean, really, look at me. I’ve been pinging gaydars since before I knew what being gay was. I flamed as a freaking toddler. I sashayed before I could walk. This isn’t just me putting on a show, it’s who I am. It would be ridiculous for me to even try to be anything else. It is what it is, you know? Might as well own it.”

“Well, it should be self-respect,” Mo said fiercely, giving me a shake. “You got nothing to be ashamed of. You’re amazing.”

I shrugged uncomfortably, leaning my head against hers, almost forgetting Mr. Gardner’s presence as Mo and I fell into that sort of exclusionary, near-telepathic best-friend’s communion. She knew that I would argue that I wasn’t ashamed, but that I just hadn’t quite figured out how to truly mean it when I held my head up high, because my entire life, people had been telling me to keep it down and stop being an embarrassment. I was still in that “fake it ’til you make it” stage, hoping genuine pride would come if I pretended confidence long enough. For now, I was relying on bravado and a complete lack of give-a-fuck to carry me through.

Saugatuck Summer is coming in May, 2014 from Riptide. As usual, this excerpt is not yet edited. Any mistakes are my own.

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An anniversary and a year in review

As of yesterday, it has been one year since I self-published my first book, Inertia.

I will be the first to admit that I went into publishing all wrong. I had no idea what it was about. A friend told me “you should do this” so I commissioned cover art, hired an editor, and did it. I knew nothing about the finer points of self-publishing or book marketing or the genre. I was fortunate in that one of the first contacts I made when I found out that offering copies for review was the thing to do was Cryselle, who runs her own review blog and also reviews for Jessewave and a few other sites. She was absolutely lovely and sort of took me in-hand and nudged me in the right direction.

Amusing anecdote time:

I was advised to self-publish by a friend in gaming fandom, whom we’ll call D.R. Her words were basically, “what you write is as good as any other the other stuff I’ve been reading in this genre, so you should go for it!” So I went for it. And because of that, I met Cryselle, who told me I should introduce myself to P.D. Singer, which I did. Pam was totally delightful and hugely helpful, and she told me to introduce myself to Angela Benedetti, who is also wonderful.

Then one night on Gchat, Angie and I were getting to know each other and she mentioned some fanfic pairings she read, one of which was somewhat unique, so I said, “hey, I know someone who writes that!” And she said, “You know T?” And I said, “No, but I know her wife” at which point Angie was all “Oh, you know D.R.!”

So. Apparently it is, indeed, a small world after all.

After releasing Inertia, which did, I admit, end on a rather abrupt note, a fact which has been pointed out many, many times, there was a lot of furor for Book Two. Unfortunately, my editor had quite a backlog, though, so I wasn’t able to release Acceleration until the end of November. As an author, I felt like Acceleration was a much more solid book, and both my editor and the reviewers seemed to agree with that assessment.

Luckily, by that point I was starting to get into a pretty smooth production groove. I knew Acceleration would be coming out in late November, so the last minute push there was going to each into NaNoWriMo. So I time-shifted my personal NaNoWriMo and began working on October 13, giving myself 30 days (until November 12) to write 50,000 words on Book Three, Velocity. I finished on November 4, scheduled editing for January, and planned the release for March. The entire process went incredibly smoothly.

In the meantime, I was also working on other projects. In August after I finished writing Acceleration, I wrote an 8K short based on nothing more than a mention I had seen on Twitter that there needed to be some m/m Highland romance. I really wasn’t happy with the result, though, so I shelved the short and began working on Strain.

Strain was an interesting endeavor, because it was written in response to Riptide’s At World’s End open call. Submission deadline was Nov 1, and I didn’t discover the call and realize I had a story idea for it until August 31, which meant I had two months to write and polish a novel for submission.

I finished writing Strain on September 28, and submitted it on October 10. It came in at ~65K. In 29 days. I thought that was pretty spiffy.

In mid-December, I heard back on the Strain submission and the manuscript wasn’t quite there yet, so the lovely Sarah Frantz gave me some revision suggestions and brainstormed with me and from the last week of December to mid-January, Strain went from 65K to 103K and I resubmitted it.  In December, Leta Blake also did a beta read of the Highland story and gave me some suggestions (and also reassured me that a lot of my problem with it was my inner critic being too harsh) and that story went from 8K to 13.5K and I submitted it to Riptide as well in mid-January. Then I got my edits back from my editor on Velocity, turned those around, and began sending out review copies.

Then my brain got eaten by zombies a story. It started in the car on the way to pick up lunch for my son and I one afternoon. A single line of dialogue. That was it. Just one completely out of context line that I knew I had to write. So I began building the world and plot around that line. It was easy, because the character who spoke that line was the most amazing, clear, intensely vivid character to ever give birth to himself in my mind. And he did. I claim no responsibility for creating Topher. He created himself, walked up to me, whispered that line in my ear, and demanded I write about him. And his voice! Oh, God, his voice. Clarion-clear from beginning to end.

I actually deviated from my refusal not to write out-of-sequence working on Topher’s story, because scenes were composing themselves in my head so clearly and loudly I had to get them out to make room for other things. Honestly, I don’t know how to begin describing the experience of writing Saugatuck Summer. It was magic. I knew as I was writing it that it was the best thing I had ever written, and quite possibly would ever write. I completed writing the entire 93K novel in 15 days, edited, polished, and submitted it. I actually waffled on whether or not to submit it or self-publish. I knew I could turn it around a lot faster if I self-pubbed, and I really, really wanted to get it into the hands of the public because it’s just such an amazing story. But I knew going through Riptide, it would reach a much broader audience and have a lot more marketing support, and it’s a book that really deserves that sort of backing.

Velocity released in March, and I began working up another story in the Saugatuck universe and conceptualizing a couple more novels. I received an acceptance for the Highland story, which was then expanded from 13.5K to over 20K and became The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, and Heidi Belleau surprised me with an invitation to write a novelette to fill a void in the Riptide schedule, which became Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #1). We quickly completed TPR#2, An Inch at a Time, which is currently awaiting edits and is, for my money, better than the first. We have TPR#3 mostly written. All it’s awaiting for is an audience participation element that will take place when TPR#2 is published.

Giving an Inch was published in April, and The Laird’s Forbidden Lover was published in early May. During April, May, and June I worked on the second book in the Saugatuck universe, and also began a new and somewhat different project: a murder mystery, an honest-to-God whodunnit, which is called Third Wave. I’d say it’s about 2/3 complete in its first draft, but it definitely needs some work. I also am now working on a third book in the Saugatuck universe and I have a few other projects just beginning.

I admit, I’m hitting a bit of a slump at the moment. I’m trying not to stress out over it, because I know I’ve been plenty productive, but I’m one of those perfectionist people who feels utterly useless if they’re not actively working on something, so this not writing thing is grating on me. But between drafting, revisions and edits, I’ve written almost 500K so far in 2013 (closer to 700K if you go back a full year to when Inertia was first published), and I’ve gotten contracts on both Strain (coming January 2014) and Saugatuck Summer (coming May 2014). I’m not sure I’m going to meet my goal of writing a million words in 2013, but I can’t say I haven’t kicked some serious writing ass the last 12 months.

When I get back into the groove, I’ll be working on Third Wave and Risk Aware, which is the other Saugatuck story I have completed, but which needs some pretty extensive revision.

So, that’s my first year in publishing. Not bad, if I do say so myself. Can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

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Belated #TeaserTuesday bonus from Saugatuck Summer (#mmromance coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks)

Seeing Leta Blake’s post on her blog today, which is where she fulfilled my tagging of her in the 7/7/7 game over on Facebook, reminded me that I had made a post in response to being tagged and forgot to share it here. So consider this a bonus #TeaserTuesday post (I did post it on Tuesday, so there’s that.)

I think I will just quote the whole thing here, since I’m not sure people can see it on Facebook if they aren’t signed up for Facebook.

This snippet has not yet been edited, so any errors are my own. Saugatuck Summer is coming May 2014 from Riptide.

Okay, so I’ve been tagged by Kade Boehme for another round of 7/7/7. I have a hard time isolating 7 sentences that make sense, and I’m not sure about the 7 lines of dialogue rule (is that a new thing?) so I just decided to go with 7 paragraphs.

This is from page 170 of Saugatuck Summer, when Topher is reunited with a guy he hooked up with once before, Jace.

NSFW*NSFW*NSFW*NSFW*NSFW*NSFW*NSFW

It felt good, yes, but it was also incredibly intimate, covered like that, his body flush against my back. His lips moved slowly and gently over the back of my shoulders and his hands soothed up and down my arms. He began to rock into me with small rolls of his hips. Not hard, not deep, not nearly enough to drive me to the edge. Leisurely. Like he had all the time in the world to just be there, on me and in me.

I felt protected.

That thought scared me; I’m not sure why. Suddenly I was trying to buck underneath him, to lift my hips and thrust back, maybe even get to my hands and knees so he’d have to move off me.

“Shh,” he murmured. “Take it easy. We’re not in any hurry.”

“You might not be,” I choked. “Fuck me, dammit.”

“When it’s time,” he said patiently. No matter what I did, he refused to be rushed. Eventually my only choice was make him stop or go quiet beneath him and let him do it his way. Once I’d gone still, he began to pull his hips back a bit more, sliding in a little deeper and harder each time, though he kept up the undemanding pace.

“You don’t have to rush, Topher.” His voice was soft and hypnotic, barely more than a whisper, and so tender. His breath warmed the back of my neck. “Not with me. You don’t have to settle for getting off and getting gone because you think a quick, barely satisfactory fuck with someone who doesn’t give a shit is the best you’re entitled to. You’re better than that.”

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#TeaserTuesday from Strain (#mmromance coming Jan 2014 from @RiptideBooks) – Meet Jacob

For #TeaserTuesday today, I’m introducing Jacob Houtman, who is the common-law brother-in-law to 19-year-old Rhys Cooper (Meet Rhys, Part 1 and Part 2). Seven years before the story begins, Rhys, along with his mother and sister, found refuge at an abandoned monastery with a few other families, including Jacob and his fundamentalist dad, Father Maurice.

In the aftermath of an attack by revenants, from which Rhys was saved by Darius and Xolani, Rhys discovers that he and Jacob are the only remaining survivors.

(as usual, this excerpt is not yet edited and may be subject to change.)

Cadence and Caleb were dead and Jacob had managed to live.

Didn’t that just suck? If the revs weren’t going to chase and kill Rhys the way he’d intended, the least they could have done was gone after Jacob instead.

Rhys spared his so-called brother-in-law a disgusted look when he keeled over and began puking, then went back to contemplating what had been the last of his family. In a moment he’d start moving again. He’d help gather wood so he could do the proper thing and lay his sister and nephew to rest. Revs weren’t above scavenging fresh graves, so cremation was the best way to spare a loved one the indignity of becoming carrion.

He heard the guy in charge, Darius, bark something about getting Jacob washed off, but he couldn’t be bothered to care. If the Rot took Jacob, Rhys wouldn’t waste any tears. Jacob had agreed readily enough, after all, when Father Maurice had tagged Rhys to be bait, writing him off to save their own asses.

“Don’t know why we’re bothering,” he heard the grizzled guy over by the pump—had Darius called him Titus? What was with the Roman names, anyway? Was it a theme? Jesus, why couldn’t he focus on a single thought?—grumble to the woman who’d introduced herself as Xolani. “More trouble than this shit-stain’s worth. It could just as easily be the girl’s blood as rev. They were on her when the fucker ran off.”

It took a moment for the words to make sense, and then everything went hot and cold all at once. Sweat prickled and chilled as it erupted from pores all over Rhys’ skin; he could feel it running down his back to the crack of his butt. Everything in him clenched, like that flushed, crampy moment when your entire body seizes up just before the first wave of a bad case of the runs. He whipped his head around to stare at Jacob.

“You ran away?” This was it, then. This was what it felt like to lose your mind. Wow. You really did snap. Rhys was pretty damn sure he felt something physically break inside him. “They were being attacked and you left them?”

Then he was flying at Jacob, the half-healed cracks on his knuckles breaking open as he swung his fists. He drove Jacob out of the pump’s stream and into the muddy soil beneath it, screaming obscenities and trying to pummel him with far more rage than skill. Only Jacob’s shock and the insane force of Rhys’ anger gave him any advantage; he certainly didn’t have the stature, weight, or skill to take down Jacob otherwise.

“Get off me, you cocksucker!”

You left them!” Spittle flew from his lips and he didn’t care that he was screeching. His arms flailed, fists driving toward the body beneath him. He couldn’t even see Jacob for the red rush of fury blinding him. “I’ll kill you! You left them!

Jacob managed to flip them, driving the breath from Rhys’ lungs as he hit the ground. He didn’t bother to throw a punch; he just grabbed Rhys’ head and slammed it back, cracking it against one of the bolts on the thick steel pipe coming up from the well. Rhys saw stars, though he kept swinging blind punches toward Jacob as blood trickled down the side of his face and into the thick layer of mud-churned moss under him. He growled and snarled—sounding, he realized in some disconnected portion of his mind, like a revenant himself. His upper lip and chin were wet and he wasn’t sure if it was from the pump or if he really was foaming at the mouth.

I’ll kill you! I’ll fucking kill you!

What the fuck is going on here, Titus?

He barely heard Darius’ roar before Jacob bashed his head against the pipe again. Then everything went black.

Strain is coming January, 2014 from Riptide Books.

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