Tag Archives: rhys cooper

BANE is live on Amazon! #postapocalyptic #mmromance

Bane_500x750For those of you who rely on Kindle, BANE has gone live on Amazon. B&N, Kobo, et. al. will no doubt be trickling out over the next 24 hours or so.

Also, today is your last chance to get STRAIN for $.99, so if you haven’t already, take advantage of that!

And be sure not to miss the BANE blog tour kicking off tomorrow. I’ll be sharing a short (and very sweet, for those of you who doubted I could do stories without smut) story from the STRAIN universe, called REFUGE. It’s set quite some time post-BANE, but any spoilers are only of the most general sort.

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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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I’ve been waiting to see them all in a row like this! #StrainSeries @RiptideBooks

As promised, I’m putting the Juggernaut and Bane covers up here today. But then I have also wanted to see the whole series laid out, chronologically. While it doesn’t matter which order you read Juggernaut and Strain in, this is how they fall:

Juggernaut_500x750They 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.

There is an excerpt available from Juggernaut at Riptide.

Strain_500x750

In a world with little hope and no rules, the only thing they have to lose is themselves.

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 provide 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. And that means that Darius might soon have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

Strain is available now at Riptide.

Bane_500x750

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?

People who have read the Juggernaut excerpt will recognize the name “Secretary Littlewood.” You can also read an excerpt of Bane over at Riptide.

The Bane blurb makes it apparent that, as of the end of Juggernaut, Nico and Zach haven’t gotten their happy ending. Sorry about that. The situation between the characters at the end of Juggernaut is an impasse which just can’t be resolved at that time. But never fear! Bane continues their story and brings a very satisfying level of closure to both their plot and Darius and Rhys’s, and also for your other faves from Delta Company in general.

Less than three months to go until Juggernaut!

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Oh! The Bane page @RiptideBooks has an excerpt already! With Darius and Rhys! #postapocalyptic #mmromance

Gosh, I was so excited about the Bane pre-order and everything that I didn’t even notice the excerpt was already up! (or maybe it wasn’t and they just sneaked it in there since it went live.)

Have you been missing Darius and Rhys from Strain? Well, catch up with them now!

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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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STRAIN (coming Feb 2014) is now available @NetGalley. #mm #gay #postapocalyptic #romance

Strain_500x750

If you have a review blog, Strain is now up at NetGalley.

I’m so excited. You don’t even know.

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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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#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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#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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#TeaserTuesday from Strain: Meet Rhys part 2 (coming Jan 2014 from @RiptideBooks ) #mmromance

As promised, I’m offering another, longer passage for TeaserTuesday today regarding Rhys, the nineteen year old protagonist in my post-apocalyptic novel coming in January from Riptide. You can find the passage I shared for Seven Sentence Sunday here.

Rhys is a survivor of a deadly plague that ravaged the human population over the last decade, killing a vast majority and turning a significant portion of the rest into maddened, animalistic predators called revenants. In the first snippet I shared, I introduced you to Darius via Rhys’ first impression of him. Rhys–who has been sheltering in an abandoned monastery for the last seven years with a handful of other survivors, including his younger sister and most recently, her infant son– is under attack by the revenants when Darius and his second-in-command Xolani rescue him.

This will actually be two segments because I can’t decide between the two passages and they’re both too long for Seven Sentence Sunday. It should also be noted that all these snippets are at present unedited. That’s due to happen next month, after which I very much hope there will be a longer, less segmented excerpt to share.

So, enjoy!

They snarled like rabid dogs and stunk to high heaven. He hadn’t considered what they might smell like until they bore down on him. Their wild manes of tangled hair reeked of oil and dirt. The ones who had once been men had beards even more ragged than the facial hair that grew indifferently in haphazard patches around Rhys’ jaw. Clearly hygiene wasn’t high on the revenant list of priorities.

Rhys giggled madly. He was losing it, he realized. His senses were aflame, singing; his awareness of everything had sharpened to a keen point. His heart raced and his muscles quivered. In those moments before death, he felt more alive than he had in the past seven years. He could almost thank the revenants for smelling so foul, because it made his last breaths into something that actually had an impact.

For one instant, he considered not fighting. Let them kill him. Let his final moment of this delicious sensitivity be the excruciating pain of their teeth rending his flesh.

In the end, though, the survival instinct was too strong. He swung his useless shotgun-turned-cudgel with what limited momentum he could muster, knocking one of them back. A spray of blood erupted from a cut on its brow and its head snapped back toward him, its eyes narrowing in fury. So human and yet so lacking anything resembling humanity.

The other charged him before he had a chance to draw the blood-smeared shotgun back for another blow. It knocked him to the stone floor, driving the breath from his lungs. The club flew from his hands. He managed a lucky blow with his elbow to its throat, winning himself a moment more of existence as it recoiled. Then it pressed down on him again, yellowed teeth snapping.

And the next one:

Darius had to hand it to the kid. With his shoulder blades visible beneath his skin, ribs jutting out like the bars of a xylophone, and his hazel eyes bulging with shock, he still had fight in him. No sooner had the question left his lips than he pushed past Darius.

Cady! Cady, are you okay!?”

Darius’ stomach sank and Xolani’s normally stern expression softened with sympathy. Before Darius thought to catch the kid, he’d darted out the door.

“Where is she? Cady!”

Shit.

“Keep searching the rooms. Find me that last rev Jamie reported and get the kid some damn clothes!” He took off after the survivor. His long strides carried him down the stairs where he caught the naked, dripping kid almost out the door. He might as well have been trying to hold an angry badger. The survivor thrashed and flailed, and Darius finally had to push him away when he even tried scratching and biting. Last fucking thing he needed was for the kid to draw blood.

Not that it mattered.

Suddenly free, the survivor didn’t pause but charged the final few steps to the door, against which Darius slammed him chest-first to eliminate the hazard posed by the kid’s teeth and nails.

“Settle down, son. There’s still a rev on the loose and we gotta find it. My scouts reported four. I’d hate to think you fended off those other ones just to run smack into the last.”

“My sister might run into it!” The kid’s flurry of struggles renewed. “Cady!”

Darius growled to himself and tried to make his tone at least somewhat sympathetic. “There ain’t no one left alive out there.”

The thrashing came to a shuddering halt.

“They got away?” The plaintive hope in the kid’s voice probably made a whole host of angels somewhere burst into tears.

Darius was no angel, but he didn’t want to be an asshole, either.

“I’m sorry, son.”

“But the revs were supposed to come after me. I was gonna distract them.” His voice cracked with desperate confusion. “They were supposed to get me!

Oh, fuck. This was why he hated dealing with survivors. Especially traumatized ones.

Futilely brave, fucking heroic traumatized ones.

“They probably heard the baby cry and it was all over.” As comfort went, Darius was pretty sure it fell short but he didn’t know what else to say. “Revs are predators and like any predator, they know babies are easy prey. You couldn’t have got their attention no matter what you tried.”

To his credit, the kid didn’t burst into tears. That would have put the perfect cap on Darius’ afternoon. Instead, he drew a few quavering breaths and said almost calmly, “Let me go.”

“You don’t wanna see what’s out there, son.”

Xolani spoke from behind him and Darius almost jumped. Shit. He got so distracted by the kid he wasn’t even watching his six.

“Kaleo and Gina are reporting the rev still at large isn’t in the building or courtyard. Jamie says Titus is out on his bike. He suspects the last rev ran off from pack and Titus gave pursuit. We’re still looking for clothes, but for now here’s a blanket the kid can wrap up in.”

Darius reached behind him to take the scratchy woolen blanket. “If you promise not to bolt, I’ll let up so you can put something on.”

The tips of the kid’s ears turned red and he gave a stiff nod. Darius eased his weight off him and stood back, proffering the blanket. Avoiding Darius’ eyes, the survivor wrapped it around himself, then opened the door and dashed out.

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#SevenSentenceSunday from Strain (coming Jan 2014 from @RiptideBooks ) Meet Rhys pt 1

I’m going to cheat a bit today and give you a bit more than seven sentences. Because the theme I’ve been going with is using Seven Sentence Sunday to introduce characters and elements you’ll encounter in Strain and there are just no seven sentences that encapsulate nineteen-year-old Rhys Cooper, a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly virus has killed a vast majority of the population and turned a significant portion of the people remaining into maddened predators.

So I’m quoting here a more-than-seven-sentence passages which really give some insight into who Rhys is and how he functions. Stay tuned for #TeaserTuesday when I will share another, longer, passage about Rhys.

Rhys was splattered with blood by the time the revenant stopped thrashing. A drop itched as it chilled and dried on his lip, its weight irritating.

Don’t lick. Don’t lick. Don’t lick.

He supposed it didn’t really matter. Even if he managed not to become dinner, he was still a dead man. He had been from the moment he’d breathed the same air as the revenant.

Knowing that made it easier, in a morbidly reassuring way. He had a small knife in his pocket, the faux-ebony handle cracked and the blade dulled. It was useless as a weapon, but with enough determination he could try to slit his wrists. Assuming he survived the revs, he might still die a clean death. If he was smart, he’d do it now, before they got through the door.

But then they might still turn and go after Cadence and Caleb.

It was all about priorities, he thought, his chest heaving and his arms aching as he stared down at the caved-in face of the rev he’d killed with dispassionate curiosity. He could see that with a remarkable clarity he’d never had before. First, keep the revs from chasing his sister and nephew. Second, take them out and avoid being eaten. Third, kill himself before the Rot set in or he became a revenant. Knowing what to do had never been so easy.

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#TeaserTuesday from Strain: Meet Xolani

Xolani is for many, many reasons my favorite side-character in the cast of Strain, my post-apocalyptic novel due from Riptide in January. I just adore her so much. Since I’ve been using #SevenSentenceSunday to introduce characters and elements from Strain, I thought I would do it here, too.

“Fuck this noise.” Darius threw up his hands in defeat. “It ain’t my job to baby the civvies.”

He heard Xolani sigh behind him. “The profundity of your compassion makes me weep.”

“They teach you those big words in med school?”

“Taught me a few short ones, too. The kind with four letters. Wanna hear ’em?”

“Go saw some bones or something and get off my ass.”

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It’s finally official! Announcing Strain!

I’m pleased to announce that today I signed the contract with Riptide for Strain.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, Strain is a novel I wrote back in September for Riptide’s open call for post-apocalyptic stories. Set in the not-so-distant future, Strain tells the story of 19-year-old Rhys Cooper and 43-year-old Darius Murrell, two very different men thrown together in extreme circumstances. Predicated on a fuck-or-die trope, which by its very definition is dub-con, this book is a lot grittier than my usual offerings. It examines the extremes people will go to in order to live, and just what morals and ethics they’re willing to compromise in a world where survival has become the ultimate ideology.

This has been a really intense book to write, so I’m glad its finally in motion and heading toward publication. Anticipated release date is in January, 2014.

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