Thursday, May 4, 2017

Preacher, Prophet, Beast by Harper Fox

This is the seventh book in the Tyack & Frayne Mystery series.

Lee would gladly trade all his psychic gifts for a chance at ordinary life with his husband and his little girl. Three years into their marriage, they’re settled in their new home – but the House of Joy can’t shield them from an oncoming threat with the power to uproot their whole world.

Lee can’t define it further, and even his beloved Gideon can’t unmask a monster with no face at all. Gideon is mired in problems and secrets of his own as he struggles to adjust to his new rank and the complexities of plainclothes police work with CID, and for once the devoted Tyack-Frayne partnership is failing to communicate.

Turbulent times in the world at large reach deep into the Bodmin heartland, and the village of Dark is without its guardian constable. More than Lee and Gideon can possibly know has been depending upon their rapport, and as the summer rises towards the longest day, a new and unfathomable kind of Beast is afoot on the moors...

When I stumbled onto Once Upon a Haunted Moor, book 1 of Harper Fox's Tyack & Frayne series, I thought I found a great paranormal way to escape reality for a bit.  Well, now with the recent release of Preacher, Prophet, Beast book 7 I realize that, yes it's still a great escape, a chance to let go and recharge but it's also an amazingly balanced tale of mystery, drama, and romance wrapped in a whacky paranormal bow that never fails to make me laugh, shudder, and smile all at the same time.

On the surface, I found Preacher to be the most confusing of the series but I also found that was one of the main reasons I enjoyed it.  The confusion is part of the paranormal charm and fits the plot, not to mention how it fits the characters.  That is as close to a spoiler as you are going to get out of me but don't let it scare you off, yes I found confusion to be a huge factor but a necessary one and I can't imagine the story being told any other way.

As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine, but I find that being freaked out once in a while can be even better.  Why or how you ask?  Well, for me it makes me appreciate what I have because I realize things could be a lot creepier and good or bad it helps me respect what life throws at me.  Now, having made that observation I will say that what Lee and Gideon face on a nearly daily basis is pretty freaky and they manage to face it head on even when they don't realize that's what they're doing.  Throw in little Tamsyn coming into her own paranormal gifts and the family is definitely being kept on their toes.

Preacher, Prophet, Beast is a wonderful addition to my paranormal shelf that has cemented Tyack & Frayne's position on my series shelf.  Hopefully there will be plenty more of Lee, Gideon, and Tamsyn to come.


Lee fastened the gate after their visitors, and made his way slowly back across the garden. A massive heat still had a grip on the day. The eastern sky held a distant promise of relief, some of the hot gold shading into blue, but the sun was still blazing over Bern-an-Wra tor, and he couldn’t honestly tell from this distance whether the tower had its crowning rock in place or not.

He looked away. His plans for the evening included outdoor dinner with Gid in the orchard’s shade, and later, if their kid was still up for more hijinks, a weekend breaking of the bedtime rules and a stroll and a quick skinny-dip for all three of them in the millstream pond behind the hill. Bodmin winters could be harsh. Experienced moor-dwellers knew to make the best of summer days, and when the weather gods opened a box-of-jewels June like this on the gorse-starred heath, you seized every moment.

Bucca Gwidder, Bucca Dhu. Not figure-of-speech weather gods but two distinct personalities, the Lords of the year’s light and dark halves. The word bucca – meaning spirit, as Rufus Pendower had explained to him, actually stammering nervously over his Bs, the last time they’d been alone together – had become corrupted to pooka or Puck, a mischievous sprite. Out here, the ancient forces were restored. There just wasn’t room for the trappings and twists of civilisation. No room to hide, and no mercy. All the old demons could have sway.

Gideon was on the phone in the hallway when he pushed open the door. Dead-set determined not to hear anything else he shouldn’t today, Lee slipped past him and into the kitchen. He’d volunteered to fix Gid’s favourite casserole, and that required quite a lot of pan-rattling and banging of fridge and cupboard doors before he got stuck in.

Felt good, too. Slam of the chopping board onto the counter top. Slap of beef fillet onto the board, and he diced it as if he’d had a personal grudge with the cow.

Ridiculous. Tamsyn dealt with her emotions better than this. Gideon followed him into the kitchen, and he wiped his hands on a tea towel and turned to greet him with a sane, everyday expression on his face. “Thought that lot were gonna stay around for dinner. You getting hungry?”

“Ravenous. Could eat that raw.”

“I trust you mean the beef.”

“Read it however you want, gorgeous.”

It was a good attempt at their normal repartee. On any other night, it would have driven them back into each other’s arms to take care of unfinished business. Instead Lee took a steadying hold of the counter top behind him and said, uneasily, “Do you think Flora Waite’s all right? She had Tamsie out of the cot before I could stop her, and she was kind of rubbing her face against the poor kid’s. For luck, she said, when I asked.”

“Oh, no. Did Tamsyn wake up?”

“Not really. She doesn’t seem to mind outbreaks of weirdness from her friends.”

“She wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if she did.” Gideon shifted awkwardly. He was flushed, Lee noticed, his handsome summer colour heightened from tan to fever. “I think something is amiss with Flora. We talked a bit about Dev Bowe, and she seemed stressed. Thanks for skipping balletically past me on the phone, but it was nothing you couldn’t know about – I just wanted to give Lamshear Hall a ring and check everything was all right.”

“Lamshear… Oh, right. That’s Dev’s long-term care facility.”

“Mm. Also pronounced bottomless looney bin, poor lad. I dunno – they said he was okay, but something sounded hinky. I might pop over.”

“In your capacity as a police officer? What about poor Rhys?”

“No, just as Flora’s friend. Rhys can take care of Ross Jones.” He fell silent. The helpless, anxious scrape of Lee’s question hung in the air between them. He propped his hands on his hips, looked first out of the window and then at the rug at Lee’s feet. “All right. Speak.”

Lee couldn’t, not at first. His throat was tight with pent-up fear. He waited until he thought his voice would be calm. “I’ll head Ma off at the pass for you, if you like. On Monday.”

“Er… yeah. That would be good.”

“There’s a new garden centre just opened up outside Truro. With Edwardian tearooms. Ought to be irresistible, even against the prospect of getting beaten up by fascists at a Pride parade.”

“Bloody hell, Lee. You weren’t meant to know.”

“Is that the point? This isn’t like a pub fight or a few kids kicking off at Montol. It’s violence, hatred, right here on our streets in Cornwall, and… and you, right there in the middle of it. I don’t understand – why the hell hasn’t the march just been cancelled?”

Gideon took a step towards him, dismay dawning in his eyes. Lee turned to the sink and blindly ran water into the washing-up bowl. He couldn’t let Gideon get a close-up view of him now, on the edge of stupid tears, fighting like a toddler not to crack and cry outright. It’s not that you’d have gone off and done it, although that thought freezes the marrow in my bones. You’d have done it without letting me know. And here I am, locked up like some sea-widow at home, staring off over the water, knowing the damn ship’s gone down.

Gideon’s arms closed round his waist. “It doesn’t work like that,” he said, his mouth like hot velvet against Lee’s ear. “We don’t know if it’s fascists, or some nutter acting alone, or even if anything’s going to happen at all. Oh, my God, sweetheart – don’t cry.”

“I’m not.” Lee wiped the heel of one wet hand over his eyes. “I’m fine, okay? I’m really sorry.”

“What for?”

“Eavesdropping. Getting in your way. Making things harder for you.”

“You don’t do any of those things.” Gideon rocked him. “Listen – I know this new work’s been tough as fuck on both of us. It’s just… very different, that’s all. I don’t go out and get into the middle of things anymore.”

“That must be killing you.”

“A bit. But I’ll get used to it. As for cancelling, we don’t have nearly enough information to justify that, although…”

He fell into a reverberant silence. Lee, who could read his body as well as his mind, and who knew the village bobby of Dark would have cancelled this march at the breath of a threat to its participants, listened to the tensions in the warm body pressed against his. “Gid, tell me what’s wrong.”

“I saw something. In the orchard.”

Lee’s spine chilled. Was this how it felt to other people, when one of his own visions fell from him unannounced? I can see something. Not a stray dog or one of their distant neighbours’ sheep on the loose – something eerie, not to be contained by earthly walls or defences. “What?”

“Not sure. It went round the front. You stay there.”

He set off at a run. It went without saying that Lee would never obey an order of that kind, and he followed on, securing the porch door behind them. God help any serious intruders, encountering Detective Sergeant Frayne in the garden! If it was Daz or any of his feckless mates, he’d rumble at them like a volcano but send them about their business with startling gentleness. Only once had Lee seen him on the edge of unleashed violence: when Elowen had decided she wanted the baby back, and Zeke and Michel had made the mistake of trying to block his response. Still he’d let Lee bear him down to his knees on the clifftop path. All that power, shuddering and restrained in his arms… “Gideon, hold up. I don’t see anyone.”

“No. Me neither, now.” He came to a halt by the gate. “Hang on – over there. Look.”

He was pointing to the thicket of gorse on the far side of the lane. Lee saw the yellow blossoms quiver, as if someone had passed briskly behind them, but then the heavy stillness of the evening returned.

Harper Fox
Harper Fox is an M/M author with a mission. She’s produced six critically acclaimed novels in a year and is trying to dispel rumours that she has a clone/twin sister locked away in a study in her basement. In fact she simply continues working on what she loves best– creating worlds and stories for the huge cast of lovely gay men queuing up inside her head. She lives in rural Northumberland in northern England and does most of her writing at a pensioned-off kitchen table in her back garden, often with blanket and hot water bottle.

She lives with her SO Jane, who has somehow put up with her for a quarter of a century now, and three enigmatic cats, chief among whom is Lucy, who knows the secret of the universe but isn't letting on. When not writing, she either despairs or makes bread, specialities foccacia and her amazing seven-strand challah. If she has any other skills, she's yet to discover them.



Urgent Care by DJ Jamison

Title: Urgent Care
Author: DJ Jamison
Series: Hearts & Health #3
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: May 4, 2017
Nursing student Xavier James is shocked to run into the first man to ever break his heart while at a gay club. His ex is sexier than ever, but Xavier is not going down that road again ... only, when they end up working together at an urgent-care clinic, his willpower will be tested.

Trent Cavendish made a huge mistake at age 18 when he walked away from his first love. Twelve years later, Trent is rattled when his friend suddenly dies. He takes a hard look at his life, realizing how empty it has become. Determined to re-evaluate his priorities and make amends, he returns to his hometown to win Xavier's forgiveness and maybe even his heart.

Times have changed. Instead of the sweet but tame boyfriend he left behind, he finds a smoking hot man dressed in bits of lace and silk. Trent's good intentions turn to lust, and love isn't far behind. But Xavier is wary. The villain of his memories is proving to be a decent guy, but has he really changed or is Xavier just a new goal to chase?

Xavier wore a pair of tight white shorts that practically glowed against his skin tone and an electric blue sleeveless top that showcased his muscles. He added just a touch of make-up, nothing too over-the-top, and his hair was unrestrained for once, spilling to his shoulders and brushing bared skin.

The expressions coming his way, a mix of confused and aroused, made Xavier grin.

His soft feminine touches emphasized his natural masculinity, and people weren’t always sure what to make of him.

He stopped at the bar to order a drink. In the mirror overhead, he watched a man approach. He was tall, lean and casually sexy in jeans and a T-shirt that hugged his thighs and chest in all the right ways. He had dark hair, which had always been Xavier’s type. He kind of looked like Xavier’s roommate at first glance, which was a bit weird, but Zane was a sexy fucker. No denying that.

This is promising. I might even get 8 hours’ sleep tonight unless he’s a total beast in the sack.

Xavier looked down as the man neared, not wanting to seem too eager. He felt the warmth of another body behind him and the press of a hand against his back. Slowly, the stranger’s hand slid up his spine to the nape of his neck, sending tingles through him.

This was one presumptuous fucker, but it was hot.

A breath whispered against his ear. “You are a goddamned treasure, you know that?”

Xavier couldn’t help it. He snorted a laugh. “You lay it on thick.”

The man gripped his hair, tugging Xavier’s head back. “I just go after what I want, and I don’t apologize for it.”

The words should have been sexy. But Xavier’s head tilted back, his gaze slid over, and he saw the face of the guy manhandling him.

“You sure don’t,” he said flatly.

Trent Cavendish’s expression froze. He looked stunned, an expression Xavier hadn’t seen in more than a decade. He hadn’t seen any expression on the man’s face since he left so many years ago.

His surprise faded quickly, replaced with lust as his eyes scanned Xavier’s body.

“Fuck, baby,” Trent whispered, his voice rough.

Fuck was right. Just his luck he’d reel in his ex-boyfriend from high school. The one who’d torn out his heart and stomped on it — and insulted his family and his principles while he was at it.

This excerpt was edited for length and does not match the content of the book exactly.

Author Bio:
DJ Jamison worked in newsrooms for more than 10 years, which helped tremendously when she began her series centered on The Ashe Sentinel, a fictional small-town newspaper in Kansas. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and three glow-in-the-dark fish.


Urgent Care #3


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Pre-Order Blitz: Ensnared by Rita Stradling

Title: Ensnared
Author: Rita Stradling
Genre: New Adult Science Fiction
Expected Release Date: May 23, 2017
A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

Alainn resisted the urge to walk to the windows, though from here she could see the familiar towers jutting into the air. The bay lounged behind it all, white sails playing across its waters.

The sun was perched fully in the sky now, though somehow it felt more distant than at sunrise. The tapping of feet yanked her attention away. A man entered the room, though he did not enter exactly. He halted in the doorway—a doorway devoid of that white light. He remained mostly in shadow.

Alainn squinted at him, trying to see past the shadows, but she couldn’t. He stayed where he was, quiet. She felt his gaze on her.

Her body begged to fidget, but she forced it not to. What would Rose do in this situation?

Rose would probably go back to her computations. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t work here either.

“You are very humanlike.” His voice was immediately recognizable as the same one Alainn had spoken to the day before.

Because the man she assumed must be Mr. Garbhan seemed like he might be waiting for a response, Alainn asked, “Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Yes.” His voice came out low. Still, he didn’t move forward.

This was getting awkward.

Well, it started out awkward and it was already becoming more so.

Alainn had no idea if she was supposed to say or do anything, so she just continued to sit and look at his shadowy figure.

Eventually, Alainn couldn’t do it anymore and she turned her head back to the windows. Mist slipped by, streaming around the tower.

Alainn glanced back to the man. “May I stand?” she asked. Her legs were tingling with the need to move.

“Do whatever you’d like,” he said.

Alainn’s eyebrows rose; she couldn’t help it.

His words sounded almost courteous, which was the last thing that she’d thought would happen.

To hide her surprise, Alainn stood and crossed over to the window.

The thin white blanket of sea air continued to pass over the window, obscuring the view of the bay.

“Do you . . . can you appreciate a view like this?” he asked from behind.

Alainn hesitated. “I do appreciate it. It’s pleasing.”

The man did not respond or come any closer.

Somehow, with her back to him and the view to her front, Alainn had the confidence to ask, “What functions do you want me to do here? I can cook, clean, help with business—”

“No,” he said.

She looked back to his shadow, trying to hide the alarm from her expression. She needed to see if there was anything in him she could read.

There wasn’t.

“No. I don’t want you to do any of that,” he reiterated.

“What is it that you do want me to do?” Saliva filled her mouth as she waited for his response.

“You will have dinner with me.”

“Dinner?” Alainn wasn’t able to hide all the surprise from her voice. Rose couldn’t eat food. This was a detail that Rose and Alainn hadn’t addressed in her mad rush to push Alainn into this. Rose didn’t eat or go to the bathroom. She recharged her biological system on a wireless charging station built into her bed.

How was Alainn supposed to explain when he heard the toilet flushing?

For the first time, Alainn heard the tone of the cold, unyielding man she’d spoken to yesterday. “You will come to the dining room every day at six exactly. If I am not in there, you will wait for me until I am. If I do not come, you will leave the dining room at seven.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You will not call me sir. You will call me Lorccan, or Lor.”

“Yes, Lorccan.”

“And you will never come out of your room at night. Ever.” This he almost yelled.

“Yes, Lorccan,” she repeated.

His breathing came hard from the shadows, inflating the room with an electric tension. When the room had entirely filled with it, he said, “That is all. I cannot spend any more time with you today. The first dinner will be tomorrow.” He stepped entirely out of view, moving his imposing presence away with him.

Taking a steadying breath, Alainn called after him, “What should I do with the rest of my time?”

“I don’t care. Just stay off the floors above this one before dinner time.” His footsteps echoed as his figure retreated, then quieted to nothing.

Author Bio:
Rita Stradling is the author of The Deception Dance series, the Dakota Kekoa series and The Fourteen Day Soul Detox Novella Serial. She has a BA in Art History and a particular love for modern and medieval art.

Rita lives with her husband and son in Northern California.

She has an insatiable novel addiction and mostly reads young adult and adult: romance, paranormal, urban fantasy and high fantasy.


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