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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Retro Review Tour ~ Foxes

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Title: Foxes

Author: Suki Fleet

Print Length: 328 pages

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Publication Date: February 8, 2016

 

2016 Rainbow Award Winner – Best Gay Young Adult

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When Dashiel’s body is found dumped on an East London wasteland, his best friend Danny sets out to find the killer. But Danny finds interaction difficult and must keep his world small in order to survive. By day he lives in an abandoned swimming pool and fixes electrical devices to trade for supplies, but by night, alone, he hunts sharks—a reckless search for dangerous men who prey on the vulnerable.

A chance meeting with an American boy selling himself on the streets throws this lonely existence into disarray. Micky is troubled, fragile, and Danny feels a desperate need to protect him—from what, he doesn’t know. As Danny discovers more about Micky, he realizes that what Micky needs saving from is the one thing Danny can’t help him fight against.

To save Micky, Danny must risk expanding his world and face something that scares him more than any shark ever could: trusting he will be accepted for who he is. If a freezing winter on the streets, a sadistic doctor, and three thousand miles don’t tear them apart first, that is.

 

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5*

The use of first person present tense works well for the POV narrator’s young age and his mental condition (I’m assuming Danny has Asperger’s). It makes the events and his responses more immediate, and we get to see how others treat him through his own eyes. Many people think he’s stupid, but he’s not. He has difficulty communicating his thoughts and often prefers to write down what he can’t form into spoken words. Until he meets Mickey, that is.

The story style reminded me of a little of The Curious Dog in the Night-Time, but of course, that plot is entirely different. Suki has a wonderful way with words and the writing throughout is superbly done. Her main characters, their background, physical descriptions, personalities are all well-developed and shown through their actions and dialogue. Danny in particular is captivating.

The first half or so of the book presents life on the streets of London for homeless youth. You can almost feel the cold and the hunger, and sense the poverty and the danger Danny and others suffer. The idea of ‘sharks’ or ‘predators’ on the lookout for these youngsters adds to the fear factor as Danny wanders the streets at night searching for one killer in particular.

There were a few chapters around the 20/25% mark where I wanted the story to move a little faster, but on the whole the pace is swift. Looking back now, I understand that all those events and scenes are a necessary part of the story. A necessary part of getting to know Danny. The last quarter or so when Mickey and Danny are living together are especially gripping. I loved the togetherness and the angst. The ending is wonderful, since I was fearing the worst at one stage. Yes, the story left me with a greater awareness of living conditions for homeless people, but the hope and happiness at the end for this couple gave me a positive vibe.

Danny is such a lovely, helpful person. The grief he feels for Dashiel is palpable. I adored how Danny describes his attraction for Mickey and how these feelings increase as their friendship blossoms. My heart hurt for him when he thinks Mickey is just pretending with him and can’t possibly feel the same way. But Mickey is also such a wonderful soul. Both boys are damaged inside and out in their own way. Their scenes together are all beautifully written and the sex scenes perfectly suit the characters and the tone of the story. I loved how Mickey understands Danny, gives him time and space, and helps him grow in confidence. He seems to know exactly what Danny needs. And Danny is exactly who Mickey needs. “And if we have to live like foxes, then we’ll live like foxes. I only want to be with you.”

There’s plenty of angst along the way for Danny. He is remarkable in the way he copes with his situation and life in general. He knows his triggers and has methods to cope when he is out of his comfort zone. My heart was in my mouth during moments of suspense. The plot twists and turns and is far from predictable. Great writing, Fabulous story. Terrific characters. Highly recommended.

 

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 Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner

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Award Winning Author. Prolific Reader (though less prolific than she’d like). Lover of angst, romance and unexpected love stories.

Suki Fleet writes lyrical stories about memorable characters, and believes everyone should have a chance at a happy ending.

Her first novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014 Rainbow Awards, and was a finalist in the 2015 Lambda Awards.

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Email: sukifleet@gmail.com
https://www.instagram.com/suki_fleet/
https://www.facebook.com/suki.fleet.3
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7919609.Suki_Fleet
http://sukifleet.tumblr.com/
http://sukifleet.wordpress.com/
https://twitter.com/SukiFleet?lang=en

 

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February 8 – Gay Book ReviewsBike Book Reviews

February 10 – Back Porch Reader

February 17 – Dog-Eared DaydreamsScattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

February 24  Inglorious BitchesEllie Reads (all the books) 

February 27 – Lily G BluntMM Book EscapeWe Three QueensMikku-chan

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Blog Tour ~ Wish You Were Here

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Title: Wish You Were Here

Author: Asta Idonea

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: 8 February 2017

Length: Novella

Genre: Contemporary/Paranormal

Heat Rating: 1

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The death of Oakley’s sister has left his family broken and buried beneath their grief. In an attempt to get out from underneath their pain, they rent an isolated cottage in the Cotswolds. For Oakley, it’s an exercise in futility. He doesn’t see much hope for things to get back to the way they used to be, and he’s bored and restless as he waits out the time until he can return to the city and university. All of that changes when he meets local boy Bobby, and the connection between them is instant. Within a few days, Oakley is ready to walk away from everything to stay with Bobby. However, Bobby has problems of his own, and they might be more than the budding romance can survive. But they might also give Oakley a new perspective on his own situation.

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Summer passed England by that year, as if it shared his family’s grief and refused to intrude upon such solemn days with unwanted sunshine. A cool, wet July turned into a blustery August, and now a dismal September loomed. From the window of their rented cottage, there was nothing but gray skies as far as the eye could see. The fields spread out in a patchwork of shortbread and moss. Plentiful rain meant the grass stood tall, but the lack of light filtering through thick, heavy clouds dulled its various shades of green. And this bleak scene was supposed to make everything better?

Oakley sighed and turned to the sink. He poured himself a glass of water from a spluttering, corroded tap and took a sip. Despite the dubious appearance of the fittings, the water was clean, tasteless, and refreshing. He supposed he should at least be thankful for that. It was likely to be the only pleasant thing this vacation would provide.

 

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Dreamspinner Press  |  Amazon US   |  Amazon UK 

 

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Prize: 1 x e-copy of my MM Sci-Fi novella Fire Up My Heart

 

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Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!

As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.

 

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More about Asta Idonea

The prized possession you value above all others…

I have a few. My piano (because I waited so many years to finally get one), my collection of Robespierre books, my autograph collection and stage door photos.

The temptation you wish you could resist…

Chocolate. Though I’m determined to be good in 2017!

The book that holds everlasting resonance…

Another tough one. I’d say either Les Misérables or Eugene Onegin as they are both books I come back to time and time again.

The priority activity if you were invisible for a day…

Sneaking into cinema screenings or theatrical productions. Perhaps I’d play a few pranks on people along the way too.

The film you can watch time and time again…

The LOTR trilogy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and any film from MCU. On a deeper note, probably Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindOnly Lovers Left Alive, and Lost in Translation.

The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity…

I don’t know how ‘unlikely’ these are, but I adore learning foreign languages. In 2017 I’ve also taken up bullet journalling. I’m quite the history buff and have a particular interest in periods of revolution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Plus I’m a keen snail-mail pen pal.

The event that altered the course of your life…

Backpacking in the US and Australia in 2007. I met a guy along the way and never went home!

The song that means the most to you…

On My Own from Les Misérables and Demons by Imagine Dragons.

The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you…

I’d still love to sing a lead role in a musical.

The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions…

I’d probably waste the whole time procrastinating because I couldn’t decide which country I wanted to head to first! It would be a choice between Iceland, France, and the Czech Republic.

The pet hate that makes your hackles rise…

Bad grammar. And people who leave shops without checking if the path is clear and then dawdle in front of you.

The figure from history you would most like to buy a pie and a pint…

Robespierre. Or Sissi.

 

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Blog: http://www.nickijmarkus.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NickiJMarkus

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickiJMarkus

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nickijmarkus/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+NickiJMarkusAstaIdonea

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4567057.Nicki_J_Markus

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolamarkus

Amazon Author US: http://www.amazon.com/Asta-Idonea/e/B00RMGGVYO

Amazon Author UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asta-Idonea/e/B00RMGGVYO

Falling Hard ~ Giveaway and Excerpt

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Title: Falling Hard
Author: Dale Cameron Lowry
Length: 233 pages/57,000 words
Publisher: Terrestrial Press
Genres: short stories, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, erotic romance

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Falling Hard features nine of Dale Cameron Lowry’s best short romance stories, available for the first time in one book. Meet a sign language interpreter who finds unexpected love at middle-age, college students in their first relationships, a vampire who would rather be a vegan, and a proudly gay ex-Mormon atheist who sells Bibles for a living. From sweet to erotic, this collection exhibits the quirkiness, fun, and diversity Dale’s writing is known for.

Here are just a few of the stories in Falling Hard:

  • Ghost of a Chance — When shy Jeremy Anderson meets mysterious and dapper Frank at his spooky old university library, their connection is instant. Their romance waxes with the full moon—but just as quickly, Frank’s interest seems to wane. He insists that he loves spending time with Jeremy, but then why does he keep Jeremy at arm’s length?
  • Sweeter Than Blood — Keith was a vegan before a hot encounter with a stranger turned him into a vampire. In the year since, his sire, John, has tried to make up for the mistake by teaching Keith everything he knows about being a non-murderous bloodsucker. But temptation is strong in the form of Andres, a regular customer at the barbershop where Keith works. When Andres finally asks Keith on a date, the real danger begins.
  • Rough Love — Blake thinks new boyfriend Michael doesn’t like French kissing. Michael thinks Blake doesn’t like rough sex. Neither are virgins, except in the art of conversation. Can they set things straight before the honeymoon’s over?
  • Pacific Rimming — On Mike’s fortieth birthday, his husband, Ken, takes him on vacation to Vancouver Island in Western Canada to celebrate. While Mike mourns his loss of youth, Ken encourages him to recapture it by bedding a gorgeous twenty-something man they encounter while hiking in Pacific Rim National Park. A night of no-holds-barred passion among the three men reveals a sizzling chemistry, and when Mike and Ken return home they find themselves longing to reconnect with the young Jason. Can what started as a one-night stand transform into a threesome that lasts?

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From Sweeter Than Blood:

The old analog clock on the wall reads 8:37 when Andres arrives. I smell him before the bell on the opening door jingles. He nods when I look up. I turn back to my work, running the clippers through the hair of an old man who smells like talcum powder, Old Spice, and vitamin B shots. His blood has a sterile quality I’m not fond of, common in people who take lots of medications. It’s not bad, but it’s not tempting.

Andres, on the other hand—my mouth is watering already.

I eavesdrop on him talking with Greta, the owner’s daughter and the shop’s factotum, who currently plays the role of receptionist.

“I’ll see Keith when he’s done, if no one else is waiting for him,” Andres says.

“Sam’s free right now,” Greta says.

“I’ll wait.”

Sam is sweeping the detritus from his previous customer off the floor. He makes a scowl Andres can’t see, then looks up and mouths “big shot” at me. Soon another customer arrives and takes Sam’s chair. I finish up with the old guy. Andres’s sweet-salty scent overpowers everything.

The smell grows stronger as I step toward Andres, a bouquet of rough minerals and sharp hormones, savory proteins and sweet sugars: the iron cool as earth, the testosterone musky and strong, and the nitrogenous amines like air after a lightning storm, crisp and pure. “I’m ready for you,” I say. It’s a lie.

The cut is first, and cursory. There’s not much to work with. Andres keeps his hair marine-short and it doesn’t grow fast despite his healthy blood supply. He closes his eyes and sighs as the clipper vibrates his scalp and drops bits of fuzz onto the haircutting cape gathered around his shoulders. I smell his adrenal glands slowing down and blissful oxytocin entering his bloodstream. If a cat’s purr had a smell, this is what it would be, soothing and rich like the texture of velvet.

Andres and I have done this dance together for a long time. He knows each move I’m going to make before I make it. When I recline the chair he cranes his neck back slightly, exposing his delicious throat so I can wrap the warm towel around his jaw. The heat draws his blood closer to the surface, heightening the clean scent of fresh blood pumping through his carotid artery, underlain by the slightly tangier odor of deoxygenated blood in his jugular vein.

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Falling Hard is currently available through the secure downloading platform PayHip, Amazon, Apple, and other sellers worldwide.

You can read a preview and find sales outlets at:

dalecameronlowry.com/books/falling-hard/

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To celebrate the release of Falling Hard, Dale is running a giveaway. The prize is one of Dale’s short romances that is not in the anthology: Love Unmasked,  a lighthearted romance about Aaron Loreto, a gay man who’s been unlucky in love because he occasionally turns into a raccoon. For some reason, his ex-boyfriend didn’t like the way he’d spend all night digging through the trash. But somewhere out there is a guy who’s more understanding, and Aaron might just have found him at his favorite coffee shop.

You can enter every day to increase your chances. Enjoy!

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Dale Cameron Lowry lives in the Upper Midwest with a partner and three cats, one of whom enjoys eating dish towels, quilts, and wool socks. It’s up to you to guess whether the fabric eater is one of the cats or the partner. When not busy mending items destroyed by the aforementioned fabric eater, Dale is a writer and editor who enjoys wasting time on Tumblr, listening to podcasts, studying anatomy, getting annoyed at Duolingo, and reading fairy tales. Previous careers include sign language linguist, grocery store clerk, journalist, gardener, and camp counselor.

Dale began writing for fun at the age of eight and has been making up stories ever since, from overly workshopped literary fiction to off-the-cuff fanfic. Queer Mormons have a way of popping up in Dale’s work, whether it’s romance or erotica, sci fi or fairy tales, slice-of-life contemporary fiction or spine-tingling horror. So do immigrants and emigrants, people with disabilities, multilingual folks, and others who live their lives navigating multiple cultures.

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Review ~ Watching and Wanting

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Title: Watching and Wanting

Author: Jay Northcote

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Global

Cover Design: Garrett Leigh

Length: 52,000 words

Housemates Series – though a series, each book can be read as a standalone. 

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Helping Hand (Book #1)  Amazon US | Amazon UK

Like A Lover (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Practice Makes Perfect (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK 

 

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Watching Jude’s cam show stirs desires Shawn’s always denied…

Shawn is adrift. Recently graduated, he’s stuck in a dead-end job that barely pays the bills. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends have moved on, and he’s still in Plymouth—going nowhere.

Jude is a student living in the same shared house. Out and proud, he’s everything Shawn’s been running from since he hit puberty. When Shawn discovers Jude works as a cam boy, he can’t resist the urge to watch one of his shows. It makes Shawn want things that scare him, yet his fascination forces him to confront his attraction.

Keen to explore his bicurious side, Shawn suggests they do a show together. Jude agrees, and things get complicated—and kinky—fast. But Jude isn’t looking to get involved with someone so deep in the closet. If Shawn’s going to get what he wants, he needs to find the courage to stop hiding from himself and be honest about who he is.

 

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five-stars

This has been a very enjoyable series with four hot and dirty storylines so far. Yes, each book can be read as standalones, but it’s great to get a feel for the various main characters that pop up as housemates by reading the previous stories. And definitely worth going back to check up on Shawn again if you’ve already read them! No wonder he was always grumpy! He’s certainly different in this story and now we find out why.

Much of this story takes place in the house (and bedroom) these guys share. The focus is on Shawn and Jude this time and we get both points of view as they fall for each other and share some sizzling scenes together on and off the camera—with a little bondage and domination mixed in. These are some of Jay’s hottest to date and with an added edge to them. Shawn eagerly lets Jude guide him in the joys of gay sex, along with plenty of dirty talk and exhibitionism. Phew!

I liked how the tension built around Shawn’s denial and gradual self-awareness of his sexuality and the need to keep their relationship secret. Both characters are endearing as they try to work out if, and how, they can be together outside of the bedroom. Although I thought Jude became a little too pushy too soon for Shawn with regard to coming out as bi. I could appreciate how Shawn was torn and felt fearful. I always like the angsty times, but they didn’t go on for too long here.

I liked that previous characters were involved—Mac and Jez especially, and also Dev and Ewan—not only to see how their relationships have developed, but also for their interaction with Shawn and Jude and the humour they add to the story.

The story flowed effortlessly and kept my attention throughout. All scenes and dialogue are there for a reason and nothing felt superfluous. The ending works well and is HFN. I hope we revisit this pair in the next instalment.

This story has now overtaken Like A Lover as my favourite in the series. Loved it!

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Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

 

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www.jaynorthcote.com

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Review ~ Taboo

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Title: Taboo (Taboo #1)

Author: Kol Anderson

Length: 10K

Publisher: Self Published

**Trigger Warnings**
Graphic depictions of rape, incest, violence.
Dub con, non con, abuse, childhood trauma, self-harm.
Dark themes throughout.

 

Blurb

Jake Ross never had it easy. He’s learned to accept he won’t have the life his friends have. With an abusive alcoholic for a father and a younger brother far too good for this world, all Jake focuses on is keeping his kid brother safe.

But when their father goes one step too far and introduces Weldon to their lives, it sets off a series of events that will change all their lives.

Author Note: HEED. THE. WARNING. 
This is a messed up book.

Buy Link:

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Review

This is certainly the stuff of nightmares: an abusive, uncaring father who pimps out his virgin son for booze money, a so-called friend who gives Jake drugs in exchange for blowjobs, plus an evil boss-man who claims this beautiful boy for his very own, but needs to destroy him first.

Gah! No wonder Jake takes drugs and wants to die. And yet he needs to protect his younger brother from their father.

Trey provides the only ray of light in Jake’s hellish life when he frees him from Zach’s clutches and saves his virginity. I’m wondering whether Trey will be the hero in the end and somehow come to Jake’s rescue again. After all, his cuddle was enough to aid him after an overdose. “Maybe because he was vulnerable and that made me want to protect him. He triggered something in me, something primal and instinctual.”

Yet at the same time, I’m also considering whether he and Weldon are the same person as there are hints to Trey being messed up and trying to restrain himself with Jake. Just wondering which dark path Kol is heading on with these guys…

Indeed Weldon is a mystery. Who is he and why does he want Jake so much? More importantly what’s going through his mind? He obviously gets turned on by seeing and hearing Jake suffer. He’s a scary man who has power and authority over his men. He gives the impression he can do anything he wants and can control others to do his bidding. At first, he appears to be rescuing Jake from his obnoxious father, only for us to find out Weldon’s intentions are even more despicable. As Trey says right at the beginning, “The world is always falling apart.” I was surprised by his last act considering Weldon wanted the boy so much. Jake wished to die before this, but now… I’m amazed he survived the violation.

As you read, you’re wondering what dark thing is going to happen next. The situation seems pretty hopeless towards the end of this instalment. And seeing the incest tag to the series, will Weldon force Jake and his brother/father into some non-con acts and use them to inflict more pain and suffering?

Kol writes suspense well. His characters and storyline are all engaging. There are some beautiful lines I especially like in the beginning of Trey’s chapter. “I wanted to be inside him, and I wanted him to be so captivated by me he forgot whatever it was that made his eyes sad, or gave him that cut right above his brow.”

Kol Anderson fans will love it!

 

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New Release ~Theory Unproven

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Title: Theory Unproven

Author: Lillian Francis

Artwork: Meredith Russell

Publisher: Finally Love Press

Released: 28th January, 2017

Length: 272 pages

Second Edition

 

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An unexpected job offer finds zoologist Eric Phillips transported from the elephant house at a zoo just outside London to the wildlife reserves in the South African bushveld. Being able to work with his own herd of elephants, and analysing their behaviour, more than makes up for the remote nature of the research station. The one bright spot on the horizon, quite literally if the sun hits it at the right angle, is the silver freight plane that brings his supplies and half an hour in the company of Tyaan, the gorgeous but taciturn pilot.

With wide open spaces and clear skies, Tyaan Bouwer is never be happier than when he’s flying over the bushveld, the landscape beneath him a changing vista of colour and texture. It’s that view and the freedom to be able to climb in his plane and fly that’s kept him in the small town where he was born and raised. South Africa might be a rainbow nation but in the northern regions where neighbouring countries are far from liberal minded, prejudices and hatred bleed across the borders. Tyaan’s not in the closet, not really. Get him to the city and with his strong, silent routine he can pull a guy without even trying. He’s fine with that as long as they don’t press him into trying to see them again. It’s not like he wants a relationship. And just maybe when he gets home he’s hovering in the doorway of that closet, but he’s never met anyone worth taking the risk for.

The day he’s sent to Limpopo to collect Eric that all changes. He tries to bury the feelings of want that Eric conjures in him, but he can’t resist the bonds of friendship that forms between them.

As a zoologist Eric likes to think that he’s adept at anticipating how a creature will react in any given situation, and they don’t come any more beautiful and skittish than Tyaan. Despite Tyaan’s jittery behaviour Eric has a theory they could be good together but when things go catastrophically wrong it appears their relationship will remain a theory unproven.

 

 

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Universal Amazon link

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Available soon on B&N

 

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Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hobnobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write.

http://lillianfrancis.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter @LillianFrancis_

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Email: lillianfrancis@rocketmail.com

 

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Stepping out of the taxi on unsteady legs, Eric leaned against the side of the vehicle and rested his arms on the roof. The smell of burning rubber and brake discs enveloped the vehicle, searing the inside of his nostrils. He’d hoped the next leg of his journey would be in a better-cared-for vehicle than the taxi had been. This close up, the plane looked… well, old would be the best word to describe it.

As he studied the outer skin of the fuselage for missing rivets and any other manner of unseen defects, a pair of dusty leather boots appeared on the cargo ramp. The measured stride they belonged to was solid and confident, and in no time at all, a man appeared. Tall and tanned, he stooped slightly to avoid any contact with the body of the aircraft, and then grabbing a clipboard from atop a box, he hunkered down in the midst of the crates.

As Eric watched, the man studied the labels and then made a mark on the paperwork attached to the clipboard. Blond hair peeked out from under his hat, fanning out on the collar of his shirt. At no point did he acknowledge the existence of the car, even though he couldn’t have failed to have heard its arrival.

Irrationally annoyed by the well-built blond and his off-putting manner, Eric pushed himself off the car and sauntered round to the other side of the vehicle, closer to the man who was busying himself with his work and ignoring Eric.

His shadow fell across the crates and the bowed head of the— Could this be the pilot? Eric could see no other people near the aircraft. The blond raised his head, a frown pulling the skin tight between his eyebrows.

The man’s gaze settled on Eric briefly before flicking over to the taxi. When he returned to look over Eric once more, the skin of his forehead had smoothed out, but still the man didn’t smile. He nodded in acknowledgement, just once, short and curt, and then dipped his head back to his work and turned slightly away from Eric. With the stranger squatting in the dust, Eric towered above him, the position giving him the perfect view of broad shoulders and a solid frame that Eric couldn’t resist studying.

Abruptly, the man stood and cleared his throat. He dropped the clipboard onto a nearby box, throwing a curious glance in Eric’s direction, and then disappeared back up the ramp. Eric blinked, self-conscious at having been caught blatantly staring, and ruffled a hand through his short dark hair. His embarrassment wasn’t sufficient to keep him from trailing after the man, though, stopping just short of following him into the aircraft to stand near the ramp in the shade of the fuselage.

Preparing to ask the stranger his name, Eric opened his mouth to speak, when he was interrupted by a doleful bleat. Startled, he glanced over his shoulder, scanning the airfield expecting to find signs of a wayward sheep. The forlorn stuttering cry came again, and Eric whipped back round, suspiciously eyeing a crate that was securely strapped to the internal wall of the plane.

“Goat,” said the pilot—Eric had decided that’s what he was—as he came back down the ramp.

The deep timbre of that one word surprised Eric. It was rough and low, with an unfamiliar accent Eric’s subconscious demanded to hear more of. That wasn’t likely to happen, though, because the pilot was already surveying his cargo with his back to Eric. He bent to hoist a crate into his arms, leaving Eric to stare dry-mouthed at the enticing pull of khaki for several seconds. Then the pilot straightened and carried the crate into the plane.

Eric wondered if he should offer to help, but despite the ease with which the crate had been hefted into the air, Eric thought they would probably be too heavy and he didn’t want to make a fool of himself. Not in front of this man.

The blond wore the almost obligatory light khaki bush clothes similar to his own uniform The Foundation had provided. Eric hadn’t noticed a logo on his shirt, but he could hope. If this man worked for The Foundation, Eric could at least enjoy the view, since it was unlikely he was gay. He hadn’t even looked twice at Eric. Not that Eric considered himself drop-dead gorgeous or anything, but he was used to getting his fair share of interest back home in England.

Eric caught a glimpse of Akibo gesticulating wildly at the cab driver. His holdalls were piled at Akibo’s feet, Eric noticed thankfully. At least if the altercation didn’t go well and the cab driver took off, he wouldn’t abscond with Eric’s luggage.

The hollow echo of footfalls on the ramp drew Eric’s attention back to the pilot. Tiredness was pulling on Eric’s nerves, leaving him out of sorts, and the lack of conversation was doing nothing to ease his irritability.

Taking the bull by the horns, Eric graced the pilot with the brightest smile he could muster. “So, do you work for The Foundation too?”

“No.” The man’s stride didn’t even falter as he continued toward the next crate.

Not chatty, then. Downright rude, in fact.

The firm slap of a hand on his back caught him just off centre, almost pitching him forward, and Akibo’s fingers curled over his shoulder and squeezed.

“I see you’ve met Tyaan. Tyaan Bouwer. He’s the local freight pilot. He’ll run your supplies into the research station every week.”

It was almost as if the pilot finally saw Eric as anything other than an annoyance for the first time. Tyaan stepped toward him, straightening to his full height, and Eric resisted the urge to check out the breadth of his chest, instead raising his gaze the few inches’ difference in their height to meet Tyaan’s eyes head-on.

“Tyaan, this is Eric. Eric Philips. He’s the new researcher out at olifant velde.” Akibo turned back to Eric. “That’s the local name for your part of the reserve. It means elephant fields.”

Howzit.” Tyaan stuck out his hand. Eric extended his own automatically, and Tyaan pressed their palms together, enveloping Eric’s fingers in warmth. He gave Eric’s hand a short, sharp shake before releasing him from the firm grip. “The elephant man, hey?”

Eric smiled. “I know I’m no oil painting, but I hope I’m not that bad.”

Tyaan’s top-to-toe appraisal was so fleeting that Eric thought he’d imagined it. An expression skittered across the pilot’s face. Interest, curiosity—Eric wasn’t sure. It manifested itself as a bright spark in his eyes and the faint quirk of his lips, as if he were biting the inside of his cheek. The look vanished before Eric could really work out what it meant, but the amber-coloured eyes still seemed to hold a welcome within them.

“Tyaan’s a man of few words, but you won’t find a finer bush pilot. He’s reliable too. He’ll never leave you wanting.”

Wanting. Despite the pilot’s brusque manner, Eric wasn’t surprised he already wanted to press Tyaan up against the shiny metal body of his plane.

“I’m going up front,” Akibo said, blissfully unaware of the thoughts rampaging through Eric’s head. At least Eric hoped that was the case, since he followed that statement with “Coming, Eric?”

In his dreams, maybe.

“It’s hot enough to fry boerewors in there.” Tyaan shifted his attention away from Eric and addressed Akibo. “Leave the doors open. I’ll only be a few more minutes.”

Eric eyed the pile of sacks sitting in the dirt. More like half an hour. Tyaan’s shoulder and back muscles shifted beneath his shirt as he hefted a sack onto his shoulder and took another one in each hand. The tendons flexed and released in his bare forearms from where he grasped the corners of the sacks tightly.

“Eric?”

Realising he was being spoken to, Eric dragged his attention from the large vein that was running up from Tyaan’s wrist to elbow. “No, I’ll stay out here for a moment. Not used to the heat yet.”

Akibo nodded and, shifting his document bag to the other shoulder, headed toward the front of the plane, leaving Eric with the pilot and an awkward silence.

When Tyaan completed several trips into the plane and the silence had stretched on beyond what Eric could bear—although Tyaan didn’t appear bothered by it—Eric groped for something to say. He waited until Tyaan reached the top of the ramp, not wanting to startle him with his latest pile of precariously balanced sacks.

“It’s an unusual name.” Then Eric added as an afterthought, “Tyaan.”

Blithering idiot! As if the man didn’t know his own name.

Tyaan lowered the sack from his shoulder and placed it with the others. The pile outside the plane was already half the size it had been. Maybe the pilot had been right in his estimate. He pushed his hat back, swiped his arm across his brow and looked at Eric as if he’d just asked him whether he preferred to top or bottom.

“It’s Afrikaans.”

“Oh. So, do you speak Afrikaans?” A worrying thought started gnawing at Eric. “Do they speak it in the town?”

“Sure. I had to, my grandfather refused to speak English. Most people speak English with the odd word thrown in. You’ll get used to it.”

Tyaan returned to his sacks, the conversation obviously over. But Eric wasn’t ready to give up. He liked that gravel-edged sound that emanated from Tyaan’s lips. He could almost see the vibration beneath pale bristles on the pilot’s throat and itched to place his fingers there to feel the movement.

“I like your plane.” Eric cast his gaze over the large silver plane he was standing next to. “Looks like the one in that Indiana Jones movie. You know, the one where they fall out of the plane in the life raft. Temple of Doom, that’s the one…”

His voice trailed off as he became aware that Tyaan had stopped hefting sacks and was just staring, hands on his hips, his expression open and amused.

“It’s not that old. That movie was set in 1935. This is a de Havilland DHC-4 Caribou. They didn’t start making these until 1958…”

So that was how to get the reticent man talking, Eric realised as he allowed the low rumble to drift over him in a reassuring array of facts and figures. Get him on the subject of his plane. There was no question this aircraft was loved and well cared-for and Eric no longer had any qualms about climbing aboard.

“…but you don’t really want to know all that. I’m just boring you.”

“No.” I could listen to you talk all day long. “It’s fascinating.”

Evidently Tyaan had run out of words. He shrugged and turned his attention back to his cargo. “It’s old, but you’re safe in my hands. I promise you that.”

Eric didn’t doubt it; he just hoped one day he might get the chance to find out.

 

 

Reviews for Theory Unproven (first edition)

 

5 elephant review from Bike Book Reviews.

The opening line is a cracker in itself.

OH MY GOODNESS, I AM REALLY EXCITED FOR US TO BE HOSTING A BOOK BLAST FOR THIS EPIC, WONDERFUL, MASTERFULLY WRITTEN LITERARY ENTREE KNOWN AS ‘THEORY UNPROVEN’ BY LILLIAN FRANCIS! 

Okay, I’m blushing (and grinning, just a little bit) and we haven’t even got to the review yet. Right off the bat she hits on a point that I’m already concerned will deter readers… the length.

When I started this book and realized how many pages it had, I said to myself, “How in the world is this book gonna hold my interest for this long, it has to be a dang good one”, (but I needn’t have worried) let me assure you my friends, it is a dang good one and more!

 

And a few more choice quotes:

…a wonderful passionate story 


Get this book and get ready for passion, devotion, and yes suspense all rolled up in a nice package! 


Thank you Lillian, for making me realize it isn’t the length, long or short of a book, it is the heart of it that matters!


Read the review in full here.

 

Another 5 star review from MM Good Book Reviews.

 

The passion between Eric and Tyaan is both sweet and explosive. 

…the first half of the book is rather light hearted and relaxed before really going into the action.

There is a lot of sweetness to be had set in an amazing landscape with some pretty damn intelligent animals. In fact, a couple of the elephants are minor characters in their own right and thoroughly enjoyable.

Read the full review here.

 

Former reviewer Tina gave Theory Unproven 4.5 stars.

Check out her review in full here at Leafmarks.

 

“Both characters are just wonderfully elaborated, and they have this freaking hot chemistry, despite all the things popping up to mess with them. Lillian Francis did a wonderful job of conveying the heart and soul of these two guys, and when the heat turns up, it gets damn hot! It’s either slow and romantic, rough and steamy, or smoking hot and passionate.”

“Lillian’s writing is powerful, gripping, emotional and captivating, she creates enticing characters and a sexy, emotionally charged story line.”

“I lived within the story, I felt the South African heat, smelled the elephants and tasted the dust on my tongue, I laughed, smiled and cursed with the guys. How they managed to overcome their challenges to form a deep and everlasting love and build such a strong relationship touched me deeply.”

“Highly recommended for those who share my love for the beautiful African continent… and want a well done, sweet, funny, suspenseful and delicious romance without too much angst.”

 

4.25 star review at scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.

With a zoologist, Eric Phillips, as one half of the main couple, I loved the realistic way his life and work with the elephants was portrayed.  Dirty, all consuming, and soul satisfying…the readers understands through the many passages what it must be like to have that deep connection with another species. 

All good characters, all people the reader will want to spend time with.

Tyaan is a character that will draw conflicted feelings among the readers.  I thought his was a character grounded in the reality of the changing times in South Africa…Got it, you understand him even if you don’t like his actions, it makes him human.

While I was reading it, I was hooked on the elephants, Eric and Tyaan’s attraction for each other and strained journey towards a relationship.  

This is a long book yet most of the time I spent reading it flew by.  And I could easily book a flight back to this universe.  

…this story is so lush, so vibrant in feeling and scope that I am still so very much in love with Theory Unproven weeks later.

I recommend this story for all who love romance, foreign lands and a landscape of adventure where the search for love can be rough, affectionate, and hard won.  

Read the review in full here.

 

5 heart review from Hearts on Fire reviews

…the story was well paced, with great main characters and secondary characters…

The chemistry between the two main characters has a great build up, with compassion for Tyaan…, and hope for Eric that he won’t get his heart broken, since you love him pretty much from the start of the story!

If you like animals, you are going to love these two characters! (Jack and Ianto, the elephants)

I would recommend this book for romance lovers who really enjoy the development of the story as much as the romance and hot scenes…

Read the full review here.

 

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