Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Vintage Affair by Josh Lanyon

Message in a bottle.

Somewhere in the cobwebbed cellar of the decrepit antebellum mansion known as Ballineen are the legendary Lee bottles -- and Austin Gillespie is there to find them. The last thing on his mind is hot and heavy romance with handsome bad boy Jeff Brady. But Jeff has other ideas and, after one intoxicating night, so does Austin.

The only problem is they have different ideas. Jeff doesn't believe in love at first sight, and even if he did, he's buried more deeply in the closet than those famous missing bottles of vintage Madeira. Popping a cork or two is one thing. Popping the question? No way. No how.

Unless Austin is ready to give up on another dream, he's going to have to figure out how to make sure the lights go on -- and stay on -- in Georgia.

Josh Lanyon has done it again!  How this never crossed my path before now I'll never know.  As usual there will be no spoilers here but I will say that Austin and Jeff may seem to have nothing in common but it's been my experience that is often when the two in question are more alike than they're willing to admit.  If you find that to be true when it comes to these two well you will have to read A Vintage Affair for yourself.

M/F/M ménage scenes don't always fit or work in a gay romance, sometimes they can be awkward and uncomfortable which is what it is here BUT that is exactly why it worked for me.  Austin found himself warring within being turned on and uncomfortable which is what made it awkward and that is what it was suppose to do.

Vintage may not be Adrien English caliber but it was a wonderful read that kept me on the edge from beginning to end with a lovely blend of romance, drama, comedy, heat, and a touch of mystery.


The house was one of those old antebellum mansions -- though more reminiscent of Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte than Gone with the Wind. Four fluted, peeling columns and short white railings lined the once elegant facade. Faded green shutters framed the windows. There was a large moss-covered fountain in the front courtyard and an iron gazebo that looked like an inhospitable birdcage. The house was named Ballineen. They named houses here in the South. Then again, they also married their first cousins, so that was hardly a recommendation.

Austin caught his expression in the rearview mirror of his BMW 507.

“It can’t be that bad,” he muttered, and slid out of the roadster, slamming the door briskly behind him.

It needed to not be that bad. He couldn’t afford any problems with this cellar appraisal. Not with Whitney Martyn already hunting for a reason to get rid of him and replace him with Whitney’s fiancée, Master Sommelier Theresa Bloch. Losing his position as auction director for one of the oldest wine shops in North America was a thought too painful to contemplate. Austin had worked too hard to get where he was. His family already thought his career was frivolous; being an unemployed master of wine would make him a bigger joke than he already was.

He turned at the rattling scrape of metal on stone. A young black man was raking dead leaves and twigs from a narrow walkway. He wore black jeans, a red leather jacket, and a purple do-rag. As he raked, he sang tunelessly along with an iPod.

Austin slung his laptop case over his shoulder and headed for the house. As he strolled past the fountain it spat up a trickle of gray water. The whole place had an odd earthy scent -- like an herb garden gone to rot. The petals of cherry blossoms littered the courtyard and steps to the front veranda like dirty pink confetti after the parade has passed. Spring in Georgia was supposed to be very pretty, but this was March, the wettest month. The skies were slate and an eerie light seemed to bounce off the dark stone urns with their dead vines.

As Austin reached the covered front porch, the door swung open and a young woman dressed like the last of the Southern belles in a yellow satin ball gown leaned seductively against the frame and smiled at him.

“Why, hello,” she drawled. She was probably in her early twenties, a bit younger than Austin, petite and very pretty with dark curls and dark eyes. “Y’all must be Mr. Gillespie?”

“That’s right.” Austin automatically shook the unexpectedly square, blunt fingered hand she offered.

“I’m Carson Cashel. The daughter of the house. Did you have any trouble finding us?”

“Uh, no.” With five stepmothers and four stepsisters, Austin liked to think there wasn’t much a woman could do to surprise him, but he couldn’t help staring. Carson Cashel was wearing a hoop skirt, for crying out loud. “No, no trouble.”

Just make a hard right after the end of the civilized world.

She smirked at him. “What do you think of my dress, Mr. Gillespie?”

Blushing, Austin tore his gaze from her bodice. Not that he was scoping her out -- hardly -- but her creamy, pert breasts were all but popping from that nest of lace and ribbon like a pair of doves about to take flight.

“It’s very pretty.”

“It is, isn’t it? I thought you’d look different. Older. Like one of those wine snobs.”

Austin smiled lamely because what was he supposed to say to that? He was, probably by definition, a wine snob. Snobbery was part of the master of wine job description. He was paid to be a snob. An articulate, witty snob with a trained palate and a sensitive nose.

Carson burst into a peal of laughter. “I guess y’all are wondering why I’m dressed like it’s Halloween?”

“Well, I... ”

“I’m modeling my costume. For the annual Madison Masquerade Ball on Saturday.” She turned away, throwing him a sassy look over her bare shoulder. “Well, come on! You’ll want to see the cellar straight away I guess?”

He wiped his feet on a grungy-looking mat and stepped over the threshold. “Thanks. I think I’m supposed to meet with Mr. Roark Cashel?”

“Oh, Daddy is…indisposed just now. He’ll see y’all later.” The bottom of Carson’s gown swept along the parquet floor as she bustled along leading the way. Austin had a glimpse of her bare feet as the hoop skirt billowed lightly from side to side.

The house had clearly seen better days. The carpet was a patched and faded blue laurel wreath pattern; the wallpaper was coming loose in places and had discolored through time and trouble to an uneasy butterscotch hue. There was a lot of furniture, some of it good, a lot of it rubbish. The rooms smelled of rain and disinfectant and…burnt bacon. It was at times like these that having a highly trained nose was a liability.

As they passed open double doors leading onto a room that appeared to be some kind of back parlor a woman’s thin voice called out, “Carson honey, is that him?”

“Yes, ma’am!” Carson called back. She paused a few feet down the hall and whirled to face Austin. The full skirt of her gown nearly knocked over a small table. A red vase that looked a lot like Ming rocked wildly. Not that Austin was really an expert, but Rebecca, Stepmother #3, collected Ming ceramics.

“That’s Auntie Eudie,” Carson whispered. “You don’t want to talk to her right now.”

“Okay,” Austin said. It was true enough.

“Not unless you want to spend all afternoon confabulating your family tree.”

“My family tree?” Proof of Austin’s own prejudices, he thought she must be implying something social or even racial. He had inherited his mother’s wide, rather exotic hazel eyes and her honey-colored complexion -- courtesy of Eurasian ancestry -- but in most respects he was as WASPish as a man could get and still make his living buying, writing, and consulting on wine. He was certainly as WASPish as one would expect of any of Harrison Gillespie’s offspring.

“Genealogy. Six degrees of reparation Cormac calls it.”

“Cormac?” He was starting to lose track. How many people lived in this mausoleum?

“My little brother.” Carson whirled away again and narrowly avoided crashing into the man who had appeared soundlessly behind her.

“Why Jeff, you startled me!” Carson’s Georgia drawl, suddenly seemed to go still slower and stickier. Austin could practically see the peach juice dripping from every vowel. “I thought you were still in bed.”

Jeff certainly looked like he had just crawled out of bed. He was wearing a snug pair of faded jeans low on his tanned hips and nothing else. His blond hair was appealingly tousled. His light eyes met Austin’s over Carson’s curly head. He winked.

“Why honey chile, what would be the point without you?”

“You!” She smacked his muscular, brown arm. Austin expected to hear a fiddle dee dee! at the least, but no. She settled for the love tap. “Mr. Gillespie, this is Jeff Brady. He’s a friend.”

In a perfectly normal -- well, for a Southerner -- tone Jeff said, “Hi, Mr. Gillespie. Nice to meet you.”

“Hi,” Austin replied.

“You’re here to catalog the wine cellar?”

“That’s right.” Austin smiled politely in answer to Jeff’s white smile. Jeff Brady was just too good-looking. Austin didn’t trust anyone that handsome. Jeff looked like he should be selling toothpaste or seducing a congressional page.

“You’ve got a job ahead of you.”

“He does, doesn’t he? That cellar’s one thousand square feet if it’s an inch.” Carson smiled at Austin too. “Well, come on. Time’s a-wasting.” She turned, her gown swirling like churned butter around her.

“Nice dress,” Jeff said as she passed him. He smiled at Austin again, and Austin smelled the scent of his shampoo: green apples.

As they started down a long staircase, Carson inquired, “Are you married, Mr. Gillespie?”


“Goody!” Carson threw him another of those friendly flirtatious glances. It was probably second nature to her, but it made Austin self-conscious.

They turned down another hallway. The decor seemed to consist of dark wainscoting and a couple of chandeliers that looked ready to fall out of the ceiling.

Carson chattered blithely as they made their way down the murky corridor. “It was such a shock granddaddy going like that. I don’t mean in the arms of Miz Landy because we all knew about that peccadillo. I mean his heart giving out. We all thought the doctors had removed it with his appendix years ago. I guess it’s a blessing, really.”

“A blessing? Really?” Austin offered since she clearly expected some comment from him. He was concentrating on not walking under the sagging light fixtures in case they tore loose and crashed down.

“Oh yeah. What do they call that medical condition when people start stockpiling lots of useless junk?”

“Collecting baseball cards?”

Carson laughed. “You! Nah, hoarding. That was granddaddy. He was always buying and hoarding wine. Whatever money was left, it’s all gone now. Or at least it’s down in the cellar.”

She chattered cheerfully all the way down the narrow stairs that led to a scratched, dark wood door. A key stuck out of the tarnished face plate.

“It’s not locked?” Austin asked, shocked. This wasn’t merely tantamount to leaving a liquor store standing open; given the fortune in wine reputedly stored in the cellar, it was equivalent to leaving a bank unlocked.

Carson opened the door. “It’s never been locked.”

On the other side of the door was an even more rickety staircase. They went down it, Austin taking pains not to step on the hem of Carson’s dress and send them both plummeting to their deaths.

A bare bulb threw muddy light against the dingy walls. The cellar smelled of damp and mold and even less pleasant things. At the bottom of the staircase, an elderly black man in a dark suit was spraying a can of Raid as though it were air freshener. He turned at the pound of their feet on the wooden steps.

“Faulkner, Mr. Gillespie is here to catalog Granddaddy’s wine,” Carson announced. To Austin she said, “Faulkner is what I guess you’d call our faithful family retainer.”

“Uh” Austin had grown up with full-time domestic staff, but he couldn’t imagine referring to anyone as a faithful family retainer.

“Suh,” Faulkner said. The exaggerated, deferential tone was at odds with the shrewd dark gaze that met Austin’s. Faulkner was probably in his late sixties, his lined skin still supple looking though his gray hair and mustache were grizzled.

Carson hitched up her dress and frowned at a black-soled foot. “When we used to be rich, Faulkner was our butler. He was a better butler than he is housekeeper.”

“You shouldn’t be running barefoot in this cellar, Miz Carson.”

Miz Carson ignored that. “Oh good. Everything is already set up for you.” She gazed at the card table and folding chair beneath the gently swinging light bulb. “If you need anything else, just ask Faulkner. He’ll be pleased to give you any help you need.”

“Thanks, I should be all right.” Austin held up his laptop case. “I’ve got your grandfather’s --”

She interrupted blithely, “Oh, I wouldn’t put too much stock in Grandpappy’s record keeping, Mr. Gillespie. He was never one for figures, especially at the end. Well, not the arithmetical kind!” She threw the former butler a sly look. Faulkner remained as impassive as one of the battered statues lining the front drive.

Gazing about himself, Austin feared Carson was probably right. But if even half the bottles Dermot Cashel had claimed were in his cellar existed, this cobwebbed dungeon would prove a treasure trove.

“I’ve set up a table and chair for you over here, sir,” Faulkner said, as though Austin could possibly have missed the effort at creating a work space -- positioned as it was beneath a giant spider web. “I’m afraid there’s no electrical extension.”

There was barely electricity if the pallid light from overhead was anything to go by.

Austin thanked him and moved to the table, setting down his laptop case.

“I guess I’ll leave you to it,” Carson said after a moment, as he removed his laptop. “Will you join us for lunch?”

Austin, his attention caught by the nearest rack, bottles blanketed in velvety dust, barely registered that. “Yes, thank you,” he said automatically.

“We’ll see you at one o’clock,” Carson called, grabbing her full skirt in two fists and trotting up the staircase. The stairs shook beneath the energetic pound of her feet. Faulkner unhurriedly followed. The door slammed shut behind them with the finality of the last nail in a coffin lid.

Austin turned his attention to the wine racks. He lifted a bottle from the nearest shelf and gingerly wiped the dust away to study the label. His heart jumped.

A 1970 Chateau La Gaffelière. The La Gaffelière was a Bordeaux that generally aged well. The 1970 should still be powerful with a good tannin structure. This was a very promising start. Austin returned the bottle to its cradle and looked around for something to wipe the dust off his hands. He should have worn jeans and a sweatshirt, that was obvious, but he preferred to introduce himself to the client looking as professional as possible. He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, but that came later.

Gingerly wiping his hands on an oil-stained rag, he moved along the tall racks, looking but not touching.

Cheval Blanc, Gruaud-Larose, DRC, Lafitte, Mouton. Oh yes. This was most definitely worth the trip from DC. Austin could admit now he’d had his doubts when he’d learned Martyn, North & Compeau had been hired to catalog and evaluate the late Dermot Cashel’s extensive wine cellar. He’d even suspected Whitney might be trying to get him out of town in order to further his own plans for bringing his girlfriend onboard.

But this was the real thing. Even without the Holy Grail of the legendary Lee bottles, this was an appraisal Austin wouldn’t have trusted to anyone else.

And if the Lee bottles really did exist?

If they did exist it was going to be fun trying to find them. As far as Austin could tell, there was no rhyme or reason to the way the shelves had been organized. Bottles of whites and reds were mixed -- as were years and vineyards.

He reined in his impatience to delve and returned to the card table, where he switched on his laptop and watched the screen for a wireless connection. No signal. Not even the promise of a signal. Austin sighed. Annoying not to be able to access his e-mail, but he could do that at the hotel this evening. He clicked on the document file he’d saved to his hard drive and glanced over his notes.

The spreadsheet before him was his own rough effort at estimating the contents of the Ballineen cellar based on the crinkled, purple ruled sheets of notepaper he’d received from Whitney. He’d deliberately underestimated. The purple stationery and nearly illegible writing did not induce confidence. But even underestimating -- and not counting in the Lee bottles -- the Ballineen cellar added up to a treasury.

If by some miracle the Lee bottles were here, the chances of their being the real thing were slim. Who could forget the drama of the Jefferson bottles in the 1980s? The greatest wine hoax ever? The very thought of another Jefferson’s bottles was enough to raise the hair on the back of his neck. Not many careers could have withstood that hit. His own would have hit the reef for sure. Fortunately, in 1985 Austin had been four years old and rarely drank anything stronger than Yoohoo.

But had the Jefferson bottles been the real thing? That was the seduction, wasn’t it? The allure. Because wine wasn’t merely a beverage. Wine was history and art and romance and civility and culture…and maybe a bit of magic.

Austin moved his cursor down the spreadsheet noting quantities and then glanced at the towering shelves around him. It was probably going to be easier to take it shelf by shelf, listing the contents and location and then matching it against the inventory sheets.

Especially since the cellar wasn’t kept locked. For all he knew the family had been enjoying the Lee bottles with their fried chicken dinners over the four weeks since Dermot Cashel’s death. It was a sickening thought, but it had to be faced. Austin was pretty sure from what he’d seen of the self-titled “daughter of the house,” she wouldn’t know a bottle of Montrachet from a bottle of Asti Spumante. There was no reason to hope the rest of the clan were any more savvy.

Not that there was anything wrong with drinking what you liked to drink -- or not drinking at all, for that matter. Austin really wasn’t that much of a wine snob, and growing up in Harrison Gillespie’s house had been all about learning restraint. Moderation in all things was one of his father’s guiding principles -- except when it came to marriage.

As a matter of fact, good old Robert E. Lee himself hadn’t been much of a drinker. Lee had put his thoughts about the use of liquor in writing: “My experience through life has convinced me that, while moderation and temperance in all things are commendable and beneficial, abstinence from spirituous liquors is the best safeguard of morals and health.”

Austin pulled a legal pad and pen out of his laptop case. He mapped the cellar floor plan and layout, sketched the shelving units, and labeled each one: A, B, C, and so on. He numbered the individual shelves.

At least the thick stone walls of the cellar ensured that the temperature remained cool and stable.

Shrugging out of his jacket, he hung it over the back of the folding chair, rolled his sleeves up, and loosened his tie. He picked up the pad and pen and moved to the first shelf.

Forty minutes later his hair, shirt and shoes were covered in dust, and the palms of his hands were black. He had never worked on quite so cruddy a site. It was bad enough that he considered going back to his hotel and changing then and there, but it was a thirty-minute drive back to the town of Madison.

The smell of insecticide was fading, only to be replaced by something worse. Far worse. What was that?

It smelled like something had died down here.

Austin continued to work -- he was on the bottom row of the first shelf -- but he began to feel queasy. The smell was truly awful. Did they keep the garbage bins down here? Or were the canned goods going bad?

He put down the pad and pen, and wandered back through the maze of tall shelves and racks. The light dimmed the further he moved into the recess of the cellar. He was going to need a flashlight when he worked back here. The back portion was nearly in darkness. The shelves and broken furniture threw bizarre geometric shadows against the dingy walls.

Austin’s sense of unease, of disquiet, mounted. At the end of the furthest aisle, he stopped and peered more closely at the floor. It was hard to tell in the poor light, but it looked like.

What was that?

He took a hesitant step forward.

Something white and waxen rested in the aisle. It sort of looked like a hand stretching out from behind the very last shelf.

Austin stopped.

Yes, it looked like a hand: palm up, fingers outstretched.

He moved warily, reluctantly, forward another step.

It was a hand. A man’s hand. Not just a hand, because it was attached to a wrist and what the wrist might be attached to was concealed by the tall shelving.


His voice sounded nervous in the cavernous chill of the cellar.

He took another unhappy step forward. He could now make out gray fingernails and dark hair on the back of curled fingers. He could see every detail it seemed, every freckle, every hangnail -- not that there were any hangnails for this man’s hand was manicured. He could see the glint of a gold watch too. It was as though Austin had suddenly developed bionic vision. Time seemed to slow as he took another dragging step forward.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

He already knew the answer to that. No one who was all right had gray fingernails and skin the color of wax. No one who was all right was that motionless.

The toe of his shoe stopped a couple of centimeters from the lax fingers. Austin closed his eyes, opened them, and made himself look around the corner of the shelf.

The man lay on his back. He was middle-aged. Maybe older. His clothes -- expensive clothes -- were rumpled and dirty. He needed a shave. His mouth was slack and open, his lips blue-gray. His black hair was mussed and had fallen in his dull, sunken eyes. He stared sightlessly up at Austin.

Author Bio:
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.



Daddy’s Best Friend by London Hale

Title: Daddy's Best Friend
Author: London Hale
Series: Temperance Falls #1
Genre: Erotica Romance
Release Date: May 2, 2017
She’s temptation personified
Nathan had always been more than just my dad’s friend. I never thought he’d see me as an adult, especially not after avoiding me for so long. But one hug, one moment feeling every inch of him against me, shattered that illusion. Consequences no longer mattered—I was eighteen, and I was willing to risk everything for my shot with him.

He’s not going to resist anymore
I never should’ve seen Eve as more than my best friend’s daughter. As a cop, I knew it was wrong. It was my job to protect her from guys like me. Chasing her could cost me my career—not to mention the only family I’d ever known—but I couldn’t hold back another second. One taste, and I wanted her. To hell with the fallout.

How in the fuck had we gotten here? All I’d needed was an escape so I could get my dick in check. Just some goddamn peace and quiet so I could get my head in the fucking game again—remind myself why I couldn’t snatch Eve away from Shithead and claim her right there in front of everyone.

But I’d wanted to.

Christ, more than anything, I’d wanted to wipe that smug grin off his pretty-boy face. With my fist. Break every one of his fucking fingers when he’d wrapped his arm around her and tugged her into his side.

And now here she was, on her knees in front of me, and I couldn’t do anything but stare. I should’ve stopped her. If I were a better man—a stronger man—I would’ve. Instead, I watched with rapt attention as those full lips kissed the tip of my cock, her bubble-gum tongue flicking out to lick at the head.

“Let me,” she begged.

And I was gone.

I was so fucking gone for this girl.

I fumbled to set my beer bottle on the counter, then reached out and brushed her hair back from her face, gathering the long, dark strands in my hand as she continued to tease me. She licked me like a lollipop, her tongue eager and clumsy, her unpolished enthusiasm only illustrating exactly how young she was.

That thought alone shouldn’t have tightened my balls the way it did.

Mad at her for putting me in this position—mad at myself for not having the willpower to stop it—I tightened my hand in her hair. “If you’re going to do it, do it. Open up and let me slide my cock between those pretty pink lips.”

She groaned, her eyes flashing up to mine, a flush covering her cheeks. Reaching out, she rested her hands on my thighs, balancing herself. And then she did as I told her, engulfing the tip of my cock in her mouth.


The sight alone was enough to make my knees weak—her lips stretched taut around me and her sky-blue eyes staring up into mine—but combine it with the heaven that was her mouth, and I didn’t stand a fucking chance. I’d had all of seven seconds between her lips, and I already needed to go off down her throat. I was a grown man—a grown man who hadn’t gotten a blow job in months, but a grown man nonetheless. And yet I felt like I was no better than those little douchebags she went to school with who didn’t know the meaning of delayed gratification.

I knew plenty about delayed gratification.

Watching her prance around in her tiny dresses, her perky tits taunting me even in my dreams, but not letting myself do anything about it. I’d had a full year of wanting but not taking, and the deprivation was bubbling under my skin, threatening to boil over at any second.

I was so tired of wanting. I needed to have.

Author Bio:
London Hale is the combined pen name of writing besties Ellis Leigh and Brighton Walsh. Between them, they’ve published more than thirty books in the contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense genres. Ellis is a USA Today bestselling author who loves coffee, thinks green Skittles are the best, and prefers to stay in every weekend. Brighton is multi-published with Berkley, St. Martin’s Press, and Carina Press. She hates coffee, thinks green Skittles are the work of the devil, and has never heard of a party she didn’t want to attend. Don’t ask how they became such good friends or work so well together—they still haven’t figured it out themselves.


Brought to you by: 

July Lightning by Shannon A Thompson

Title: July Lightning
Author: Shannon A Thompson
Series: Bad Bloods: July #2(Bad Bloods #4)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: May 1, 2017
From best-selling author Shannon A. Thompson comes an exciting new duology in the Bad Bloods universe.

Sixteen-year-old Caleb has been called many things: a patient, a musician, even a prostitute…now he has a new name—son. After his identity is uncovered, Caleb bands together with the family he once rejected in order to save the city of Vendona. But it won’t be easy. Enemies wait around every corner—and so do harsh realities. With Violet and Kuthun by his side though, nothing seems impossible. As Vendona sits on the verge of an economic collapse and a massive hurricane threatens the city, Violet and Caleb must show its citizens how to overcome decades of hostility and division to save themselves.

Standing or not, a sea will rage, a wall may fall, and all will depend on immortal pain and sacrifice.

The stale air hit me first, then the smells of the trashed road followed. My eyes itched against the stench and sudden light. When the sky began to brighten to blue, a circular gray cloud surrounded the city. It burned white against the sunlight. Worse was how calm it all was. Like predators luring prey into a trap with a false sense of peace. The only hint of deception was the uncomfortable humidity. It stuck to me.

“How long do you think we have?” Serena asked, momentarily frozen by the sky looming overhead. It looked demonic, surreal, and uncertain.

“Give or take fifteen minutes,” I said. “Probably ten.”

She cringed. “I thought you might say that.”

“Don’t make it nine,” I bit back. Before she could respond, I took off running.

I had to get to Violet. I needed to. But most of all, I hoped Daniel would have the sense to close the adoption house after us.

Chances were we weren’t making it back. Not unscathed. And keeping the adoption house open at all would only risk others who didn’t deserve to face more danger. Not now. Not toward the end. But if I knew anything about the end—about death—it was the fact that it wasn’t fair. It was the one thing bad bloods and humans always had in common. Tonight, the reminder hung over us in the form of an all-seeing storm.

Weather didn’t discriminate—not like politics did—and neither did death.

Today we’re talking to Caleb and Violet from the Bad Bloods universe by best-selling young adult author Shannon A. Thompson. For those who don’t know, Bad Bloods is a generational duology series, which basically means every two books will be told by different characters. Each set also focuses on a new political movement. July Thunder (4/10) and July Lightning (5/1) is set in 2090, so it will deal with the aftermath of the first duology (November Rain and November Snow). It will focus on the wall separating the Highlands and the outskirts. If you haven’t started this series yet, don’t worry! November Rain (book 1) is free across all platforms.
For more information, visit
But now, our interview with Caleb and Violet.

Interviewer (I): Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite food?
Violet (V): Pie. Cupcakes. Anything with chocolate. I have a huge sweet tooth.
Caleb (C): Seafood. But that’s because I like fishing.
V: And the island.
C: Ha. Yes, and my island.

I: An island off the coast of Vendona plays a huge role in this new duology. Not only is it undiscovered territory for Bad Bloods readers, but it’s unknown to most Vendona citizens as well. Am I correct?
C: Yes. My island is off the gulf of Eastern Vendona, a largely frowned upon place even in the outskirts. Vendona is a…complicated place. Not only is it isolated from the rest of the world—unless you’re rich, of course—it also has barricades within itself. The outskirts is separated by cardinal directions, though there’s no physical barrier.
V: But there are also physical barriers in Vendona. There’s a fence in Shadow Alley—my infamous spot—that cuts off most of Western Vendona after the Western Flock was massacred thirteen years ago. And the whole city is separated into two main parts—the Highlands and the outskirts. A steel wall is placed in between them.

I: The ten-story wall that separates the Highlands and the outskirts is center to your tale. Why?
V: Well, most people want it taken down. And with Marion Lachance’s help, even Highlanders are beginning to protest the barrier. It’s outdated.
C: Or never should’ve happened in the first place.
V: That, too.

I: So how do you two get involved with the movement to pull the wall down?
C: I wouldn’t put it that way…but it was more or less an accident.
V: Almost everything in Vendona is.
C: (nods) It’s easy to get caught up in everything, even when it’s completely out of your control. The best thing you can do is try to survive.
V: And do the right thing.
C: (frowning) The right thing isn’t always what I agree on, because the right thing often takes sacrifice. Vendona will take everything from you if it can. I won’t let that happen.

I: Sounds like you two have different ideas about what is right and wrong.
V: I think we just have different approaches.
C: I think I’d argue anything she says.
V: (glare)
C: (smirk) But she’s probably right.

I: So, tell us about one another. What was your initial reaction of the other?
C: (soft laughter) Violet was…terrifying as she was beautiful.
V: Caleb was an ass.

I: Ha. Okay. Well, in celebration of July Lightning, how about a quick lightning round? 
Favorite clothing item:
V: My new black leather boots.
C: Button-up shirts.
Favorite weather:
V: Nighttime?
C: That’s not weather.
V: Then calm nighttime. Kind of windy. Enough to fly on.
C: (sigh) I like storms. Most of the time.
Favorite color:
V: Black
C: Violet.
V: (glare) You’re just saying that because it’s my name.
C: No, seriously. I love the color violet.
V: Whatever. (but smiling)
Favorite art:
V: I’m a painter.
C: I’m a musician.
Biggest fear:
V: Losing myself.
C: Losing my loved ones.

I: If there is anything you want readers to take away from this story, what is it?
V: To step out of your comfort zone. I spent most of my life in shadows. Learning to live in the spotlight is another challenge entirely. Well worth the adventure.
C: To be honest, open. To embrace connection with others when you’re used to closing yourself off.

I: Great answers. Thank you for talking with us tonight! 

To learn more about Violet and Caleb and the wall separating their city, check out the latest duology in the Bad Bloods universe.

Author Bio:
Shannon A. Thompson is a young adult author, avid reader, and a habitual chatterbox.

As a novelist, poet, and blogger, Thompson spends her free time writing and sharing ideas with her black cat, Bogart, named after her favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart. Her other two cats bring her coffee. Between writing and befriending cats, Thompson graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing, and her work has appeared in numerous poetry collections and anthologies. Represented by Clean Teen Publishing, Thompson is the best-selling author of The Timely Death Trilogy and the Bad Bloods duology. When she is not writing, she is climbing rooftops, baking cookies, or watching murder shows in the middle of the night, often done with her cats by her side.


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