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Review and Guest Post ~ Ash and Cinders by Rodd Clark



Title: Ash and Cinders ( Gabe Church Tale #3)

Author: Rodd Clark

Publisher: Driven Press

Release Date: December 8th, 2016

Length: 249 pages

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“It’s just the devil’s share. When life evens itself out and every bad guy gets what’s coming to em’ . . . it’s one of the few balancing things life really offers.”  

Gabriel Church

Gabriel Church has done a bad, bad thing . . . and normally that doesn’t bother him too much. But everything changed when he met Christian Maxwell. Chris became his unholy grail. The thing he sought more than any other treasure, yet still a priceless pearl beyond his reach. Nothing he does seems to solidify any prospect of them being able to remain together, to live that happily-ever-after story. Even if he were to make a promise to stop his killing in the name of God, it would still only be a salty futility to wet and tempt his lips.

Christian Maxwell discovered a damaged soul inside Church, with a goodness plumbed somewhere below the visible surface. He saw pain shadowing his killer like some trailing footprint left moist in the sand. But he failed to recognize each victim, or the costs of every action the fugitive took for granted. He simply pushed those faceless victims to the dark recesses of his mind, hiding them from plain view as if they were discarded things, recollections intentionally forgotten.

The one thing Church knows with certainty is the writer is the only person who really knows him, and the only man other than himself who possibly understands where they are both headed. But life is about to get more twisted and dangerous. It begins with a back woods Deputy Sheriff and that same ill-fated chance that always prevented him from slowing down his pace or finding a peaceful place to rest with Chris Maxwell by his side.



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This is the final installment in the Gabriel Church serial killer series.

Much of the first third of this story focuses on the thoughts of the main characters and their recollections of events that occurred previously and thus act as a sort of recap while the reader is made aware of Gabe’s and Christian’s current positions. The lovers are apart again because of Gabe’s murderous actions to protect Christian at the end of the previous story and it appears the CID special agent is getting closer to hunting them down.

We are also introduced to a new main character—a gay deputy sheriff with his own secrets—and it is clear he will have some bearing on Gabe’s destiny.

By the time the story reaches mid-way, things have started to happen that could spell disaster for Gabe. The book builds to an exciting climax where it appears all is lost for the separated lovers. Is the serial killer going to get what he deserves or is luck on his side? I was unsure how this story would unfold and be wrapped up, but I was rooting for these two guys who had broken the law. I wanted them to be together and find their happiness.

Rodd Clark has a distinctive style of narration. He writes in third person, yet gives the narrator an omniscient role too, so the reader is given information that the characters are not always privileged to receive or see the impact of a particular action on their future. We get to delve deep into the minds of the characters with many thoughts, considerations, and remembered past incidences that all have a bearing on the characters’ present position or response to a situation.

There was a lot I liked about this tale. The way Rodd gradually ramps up the tension and suspense is very well done, as is the way he has the reader empathizing with Gabe and Christian. The romance aspect of this story propels it forward. The conversations between Gabe and Christian, especially those on the telephone, are emotional and very moving at times. The love between these two guys is palpable and causes them to act the way they do.



Ash and Cinders |  Amazon UK


Boxed Set


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Rodd currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He shares his life with numerous cats, dogs, and his partner of many years. He has many projects under his belt and is working on many others. Always penning his next work, Rodd likes to keep busy with writing and reading and of course his menagerie of critters.

He enjoys the M/M Mystery, Romance and Thriller genres but has varied interests and enjoys many varied types of books. With a dark and distinctively disturbing voice he creates characters that are flawed yet intriguing; such as the M/C of Gabriel Church in his Romantic Fiction “Rubble and the Wreckage”, and carried to the newest chapter “Torn and Frayed”, as well as the third and final Gabriel Church Tale titled “Ash and Cinders”.




Title: Rubble and the Wreckage #1

Genre:  M/M Romantic Thriller

Author:  Rodd Clark



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Gabriel Church knows you can’t take a life without first understanding just how feeble life is, how tentative and weak it stands alone. If you desire murder, you hold a life in your hand. Whether you release it to grant life or grip tighter to end it, it is at your command and discretion. Gabriel is a serial killer with a story he wants told.

Christian Maxwell studied abnormal psychology in college but chose instead to focus on a career in writing. His background comes in handy when he thinks of writing about a serial killer. He can’t think of anyone more qualified to write the story of Gabriel Lee Church, and do so in the murderer’s own words. It’s been done before, but never with a killer who has yet to be captured or convicted.

There was never anything more than a gentleman’s understanding between the two men that Christian would record Gabriel’s life story. The killer did not ask for his complicity in any crimes, nor did he ever ask for his silence. Christian’s interest in the man, though, is fast becoming something more than academic. When the writer and his subject become unexpected friends and then lovers, the question remains: What is Gabriel’s endgame . . . and why does he want his story told?

Introducing my main anti-hero Character

Age: 36

Gender: Male

Birthplace: Kentucky

Profession: Drifter

Ethnicity: White

Body build: Toned and big, sexy and dangerous.

Who is the significant other in your main character’s life?

Christian Maxwell

Tell us about this character.

Christian is an attractive and educated man, very erudite and currently in his mid-thirties.  He is living as a closeted gay man when our story begins, but finds that he is desperate to connect with someone who can break him out of his destined routine.

How does your hero dress?

Gabriel Church is the anti-hero of the series and dresses rough and casual.  It is his body that attracts not the denims and flannel and tee-shirts he is accustomed to wearing.

If you could only hear this character’s voice (but not see him) what characteristic would identify him?

Church is a dichotomy because he appears red-neck illiterate from the outside, but in truth has his deep profound thoughts and belief-structure.  His voice is masculine without being wordy, but his control is always sensed and displayed by the few sentences he blurts out.  His speech illustrates a subtle wisdom with a serious knife-like edge, because after-all, he has seen and done it all during his lifetime.

How educated is this character?

Gabe is street smart but even with his high school education he shows he is envious of Christian’s brain and intellect.  He considers the man an enigma and struggles with the knowledge that his life could have turned out very differently had he been given the same chances at a college education.  One that Christian has taken for granted.

 Is the character book-smart, self-taught, widely-experienced?

Christian as a protagonist is trained and educated with a background that gives him the leg-up over his peers, where Church is self-taught and possesses than skill of reading people and sizing up his competition.

Does he scrape by, live comfortably, live extravagantly?

Gabriel survived only by his wits, and in a place where a bed with clean sheets is considered a luxury.

What is your character’s viewpoint on wealth?

Christian Maxwell was raised with financial comfort and due to his degree always assumed his life would run according to plan.  He is the exact opposite of Gabriel Church who has never known wealth and comfort but sees the futility in such pursuits, namely because he has seen the others he has killed die without fanfare and without their protection of wealth or reputation.  The rat-race of others, as Church has called it, it something fragile and easily destroyed in his perception.  He holds no interest in obtaining any financial freedom, nor does he expect to ever find it.

On what special skills does your character rely?

Gabe relies on his ability to read others and spot their weaknesses; it may be why he is so fascinated with Chris Maxwell, his polar opposite. Christian doesn’t seem to possess that skill at all, and this creates a symbiotic relationship of Gabe wanting to protect his lover from the dangers he sees so clearly.

Are any of his skills a source of pride or embarrassment, and if so, which ones and why?

If you were to ask Church that question in private he would easily say it was his ability to fuck, and fuck well.  He would smile his twisted grin and flash his pearly whites, but in truth the reality was that he considered himself a survivor, regardless of the odds.  He lives his life without assistance, makes no apologies and is very much the man’s man, counts only on his own abilities to get from point A to point B.

What is your character’s family like?

Church has a dismal past and walked away from his family long ago.  Whereas Christian loves his family but doesn’t seem to express pride in them or their accomplishments.  Both men have slipped from the confines of family, but for very different reasons and with very different outcomes.

Is he close to family?

Christian is close to his family, but can go weeks without speaking to them.  Church has not spoken to anyone in his family since he left as a young adult.  But for him in particular, the ghosts of his childhood haunt him more regularly than he would care to admit.

Does this character see morality as black-and-white, or with shades of gray?

Church can only see in shades of gray.  His beliefs seem rigid and morally unyielding, but he is plagued by every decision he makes.  Those decisions become questionable only after meeting someone new that he forms a connection with, though he can’t fully fathom that at the time.

How do others perceive your character based upon looks, and is this assumption accurate?

Gabriel is a sexy man with a strong physique, and while others see him as one to objectify he is truly gifted with an ability to cut through the minutia of day to day existence.  Heterosexual males may perceive him to be ignorant because of his size and attire, but he has a sharp mind and a deadly accuracy with killing when he chooses too.  Women and gay males see him as a sexual being tantalizing them into lusty thoughts.  In that aspect their perceptions are correct, but only Christian gives him enough credit for being more than a murderer, or someone worth saving.

Does your character care about what others assume about him?

He doesn’t give a damn how others see him, but he cares that Christian knows him for something more.

If someone from your character’s past showed up, who would he most NOT want it to be, and why?

Easily that would be his younger sister who he abandoned alongside his mother and father when he left the rural sticks of his hometown.    He regretted that most of all and that  he couldn’t remain close to her, considering her collateral damage in his reach for freedom from his past.

Can your hero keep a secret (why or why not)?

For Gabriel Church, his life is a long line of secrets, he has been tight-lipped since he was a child but felt a unfamiliar wash of needing to unburden himself, but only after meeting a writer who agreed to pen his novel and explain his deadly actions to the world stage.

What secrets does your character know about people around him that he does NOT share?

He saw lust in Christian’s eyes from the very beginning and recognized the man had his own sexual secrets he’d yet to open too.  Church understands lust and regularly uses it to his advantage.  He knew Chris wanted him from the second their eyes met across the table and he toyed with him like a cat ping-ponging a half-dead mouse between its paws, and all for its own sadistic enjoyment.

What inner doubt causes your character the most difficulty?

His growing belief that every decision he made to kill was wrong, and would prevent him from attaining a life he never thought he wanted until meeting Christian.  He only questioned his faith after many long conversations with the writer and seeing the incredulous look in his eyes.

What past event causes your character the most fear?

That the choices he made for his own life would somehow affect someone he’d grown to love.  Church left his family, partially to spare them from himself, but he never assumed that additional murders would drag Christian down and swallow him in the undertow as well.

What is your character’s biggest need at the beginning of the story?

To be heard, to have left some mark in the pages of a novel he wanted written about his life.

What are your hero’s biggest hopes and dreams?

Throughout the story Church finds how much he wants to make it someplace safe.  To be able to rest for a time with Chris standing by his side and to be able to protect someone he has grown to love and respect.  Despite his attempts to reach those goals, his actions to acquire that nirvana only slip through his grasp with all the unwanted heat from his murderous past making it an impossible to reach.

What would help your character face hardship and meet any challenge?

Not having to worry about Christian’s safety.  If it were him and him alone, the task might be easy.  He could just run and run fast and disappear amid the throng of nameless strangers surrounding him.  But he has to consider another person for the first time since he drove out of Tennessee as a young man, and never looked back.

If your character could make any one thing happen, what would it be?

He wouldn’t admit it openly but he would have liked to have taken a different path and never listened to the voices in his head telling him to kill.  He would have liked to have met someone like Christian and made a life for himself in that white-washed normalcy of everyday life.

What is your hero’s biggest personal flaw?

Church has many flaws, the greatest might be his bravado and confidence, but Christian has important flaws as well; namely his inability to walk away from such a dangerous figure as Gabriel Church.

When there is a setback, what doubt or flaw surfaces?

Chris allows his lover to make the decisions regarding his own personal safety.  He knows he could be considered an accomplice to murder in the very least and may be wanted for questioning in the death of a young woman in Seattle.  But it is a matter of trust for him and that faith is equally tested many times for him.

How does your character handle challenges?

Where Gabriel takes challenges head-on, Christian wavers with the morality issue and losing the only person he desires, regardless of his better sense of right and wrong.

What is your hero’s breaking point?

His misconception that he can run and by leaving protect Christian from getting swallowed down by his own crimes, he falsely believes he can simply forget the writer and equate him as the same collateral damage he thought appropriate for his mother and sister.

How emotionally expressive is your character to others?

To most, Church is a stone cold killer, but he allows his façade to shatter while in Christian’s company and exposes his twisted ideologies and warped insights about God and life, and his place in this world.

When (if) he lies or is upset, what gives him away?

His pale, slate-blue eyes, they are the singularly most appealing feature of him and yet become a window that Christian sees inside and displays every weakness he possesses.

Who in his life has the power to hurt this character the most and why?

Church would say it would be God, because finding out he was wrong about his personal mission would be a devastating blow to him.  It is those doubts that Christian brings into play by simply listening and without judgement.  It is the first indication that Church may have been mistaken all along.




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Guest Post and Review ~ Torn and Frayed by Rodd Clark

Guest Post: Torn and Frayed by Rodd Clark


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Guest Post – THE BAD BOY

Rodd stopped by today to tell us about writing bad boy characters and why he thought Gabriel Church was the baddest of them all.  Gabe is the main character in two of Rodd’s books; Rubble and the Wreckage and Torn and Frayed. Enjoy!

“Who doesn’t love a bad boy?  I’ve wondered why readers are drawn to those figures so much, and over the years I’ve discovered that bad boys are appealing because of what they represent; that simple need for change.  We see someone who sits outside the box and fights every constraint of a normal society and we simply want to fix that in them…despite it being the single trait which drew us to them in the first place. Gabriel Church is one-hell-of-a-bad-boy, because he isn’t just that image of Harley riding, wind in the hair sorta rebel; he is a serial killer and cold to the bone.

It just so happens, Gabriel is also a man undergoing a great transformation in his life.  He finds himself falling in love with an unexpected source, one he hadn’t even believed possible.   It’s his blind confusion and that new awareness which carries his account forward.  But as every romance reader fan knows, the outcome is always preordained.  It’s nearly impossible to fix the broken men in our lives, and Gabriel Church is no exception. 

So I ask; if you as the reader already know the resolution, and can see the futility or the struggle in taming the wild stallion, why then do we continue to the next chapter? Why do we still find a whisper of hope lingering in our hearts that this version will not end as other romantic tales of this caliber are destined? 

In my narrative the killer Gabriel Church falls in love with a writer named Christian Maxwell, who is the polar opposite of our main character.  Chris sees some attributes in Gabriel that others refuse to examine.  And in his consideration he finds hidden worth, and learns a value in the most horrendous of souls.  It’s our nature to fix the broken, to bandage the wounds, to heal the sick.  Readers of romance novels understand that desire better than most…even when the outcome is clearly fated from the first sentence of the first chapter. 

Gabriel Church was a pleasure to write because he is such a bad ass, and for me the image of Christian was always intended to be someone more abstract, slightly vague or nondescript. This was my calculation, or my hope, that the reader might make a connection to that persona, even more than their appeal to that bad boy image.  If we all want to fix the broken, then we had to see ourselves as the healer, and that’s easier when the lines are drawn with a subtle force of the pen.  I see myself as Christian Maxwell because I could never see myself as the wild eyed representation of feral HOTNESS that is Church.  I think readers need that rebellious man to tame, but they need the character of Chris to connect them to the storyline. 

I hope that readers of Torn and Frayed will make the same connections they did in my first book.  And I hope they continue the saga by reading the next chapter, out later this year.  We have to see where this torrid tale goes, and find out whether Chris can successfully transform our rebellious Gabriel before it’s too late.”


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“Conscience isn’t something all people are born with…”

Gabriel Church is a portrait in contrast. It would be easy to get lost in his pale-blue eyes, ache with the need to feel the strength of his masculine frame. He appears to be nothing but animal and instinct. The only people who know the full depth of that truth are dead, murdered, or two thousand miles away.

Gabe is a serial killer. For the first time in his life, he has more on his mind than his own survival. This time he is running from Seattle to protect the only person he thinks innocent in his laundry list of crime and murder: Christian Maxwell, his biographer and unexpected lover. Drawn to a place he never thought to return, Gabe finds new and different realities. Realities that insist he let go of his tragic past, those incredible perceptions of God, and his own divinity. He must open his eyes to what the love of a good man can do to heal a broken soul.

But when the killer is confronted by his own willingness to love and sacrifice, he is forced to ultimately ask the question: Just how far will he go to save a life . . . when all he’s ever done is take them?


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Exclusive Excerpt

Death was something Gabe had thought a great deal about . . . his as well as others. When you walked quickly away from a dumpster after depositing a body or when you crawled out of a bedroom window late at night, having left some lifeless white lighter crumpled in their own bed, you tended to look at death in a more accommodating fashion. No one escaped death, Jesus didn’t . . . and in the end Gabe wouldn’t. Just as it would come for Chris as easily as it had come for Shea back in Seattle.

Gabriel had few illusions about his death. He knew it would likely come with a hail of bullets whizzing past his ears as he ducked and weaved to escape gunfire from an overzealous highway patrol officers or FBI agents who’d finally run him successfully to ground. His mission would be complete whenever God decreed, so he didn’t need to worry about the resolution end. Some things were just out of his hands.

He had woken in his truck again, which was an all too frequent event, he knew, when you were a killer on the lam. After driving out of the city last night, he’d found the lights of San Antonio fading in his rearview. This was Texas, and even with the vast sprawl of people, there were endless rural areas one could get lost in—remote farm-to-market roads where very few farmhouses dotted the landscape. It had been late when he’d finally found a spot on a sloping bend on a rarely traveled dirt road, miles from where he’d last seen black asphalt.


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Not having encountered the first book in the Gabriel Church series, Rubble and the Wreckage, before reading this story, I checked out the blurb and some of the reviews for #1 and formed an outline of the original plot. It seems the most important elements are recapped in Torn and Frayed.

Gabriel Church is a serial killer on the run. He’d been prepared to tell the world how and why he’d despatched so many victims over the years. Christian Maxwell is the biographer who unofficially interviewed him and planned to record his life story. They became friends then lovers, but their relationship faltered when Christian’s jealousy results in the death of Shea Baltimore at the hands of Gabriel.

Torn and Frayed continues the story with Gabriel on the run from Christian as well as the law. His thoughts continually return to the ex-lover he has left behind. He’s trying to resist the pull to return to the man he obviously misses.

Rodd Clark’s omniscient story-telling style provides the viewpoint of various characters, focusing mostly on Gabriel, Christian and Scott Kenn, the detective who tracks down serial killers. As a result, the reader discovers a few facts the characters themselves don’t know about and this provides hints for the future plot.

The narrative builds steadily to the mid-point until Gabriel decides to contact his ex-lover again. These well-written chapters provide the background to the story and the main characters, sometimes rather repetitively referring to the main events from Book 1, emphasizing that Gabriel is on the run and missing Christian. Internal monologues and backstory are interwoven with present day events as Gabriel is drawn back to Seattle.

The excitement builds when Detective Scott Kenn is allocated the case of Shea Baltimore and he closes in on the murder suspect. It’s a race against time to see who will get to Christian first. Will Gabriel make it back in time to rescue Christian from the inquisitive detective and will the two lovers go on the run together as Christian now hopes?

Despite being an unrepentant serial killer, Gabriel’s character is shown to be capable of love and compassion. The reader sympathises with his predicament and is drawn into willing him to succeed. You don’t want him to be caught or delayed, you want him to be reunited with his ex-lover. Rodd Clark has you rooting for these baddies. For both of them, because Christian is to some extent culpable for the murder of Shea, even though he didn’t directly kill her.

Gabriel is shown to be a cold yet shrewd man, and the reader is never quite sure what his intentions are or if he’ll act out of character. His mood swings swiftly to dark and brooding, making it feasible he could commit any crime. He believes he is doing God’s work by dispatching his victims and he justifies the murder of others in his attempt to protect his lover. His motives appear logical within the context of the story. To Christian, his reasoning seems calculated and his beliefs unassailable. He is reluctant to question Gabriel’s actions and, despite his love, is rightly wary of him.

Gabriel Church presents himself as a likeable character with plenty of magnetism. He can be charming, endearing and sexy as hell when need be. As his story unfolds, the reader feels sorry for his horrendous past, his abusive childhood, and his lonely adult life. We’re on his side. He is not portrayed as a crazy man as such. He is patient and clever, capable of planning ahead and solving the problems he encounters. He knows what to do in difficult situations and Christian trusts him to sort things out for the both of them.

The few sex scenes are skimmed over and not a main feature of the story. So although the book pivots on his love for Christian there’s not a lot of romance. You feel Gabriel’s desire and need to be with his lover and that he is capable of love and affection. It is the deeds he does for Christian that demonstrate he is more than this heartless serial killer. He is willing to sacrifice his life to protect his lover and save him from jail. He sees his fate as part of God’s will and his earlier visits to a priest hint at him questioning this vocation. In return, Christian loves Gabriel despite his knowledge of the killings and considers leaving his family, career and way of life to join Gabriel on the run. He knows the details of Gabriel’s previous crimes, but has chosen not to inform the police.

I enjoyed reading this story, particularly the suspense and exciting page-turning events as the book reaches its climax.

The story is not over yet. There are clues scattered along the way that will need to be dealt with in Book 3. So, while I wait I’m going back to read Book 1 and discover more about the serial killer and his biographer.

*** Pre-proof copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review***





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Rodd lives in Dallas, TX at the moment but hails from the sticks of Oklahoma. Check out his web presence at RODDCLARK.COM. Interested in the M/M Mystery, Romance and Thriller genres but has a varied interest in many books. It has been written, that his writing has a very dark and distinctive voice with a need for deep exploration and analysis.  “Torn and Frayed is the sequel to his popular romantic thriller, “Rubble and the Wreckage.” The third chapter of the series should be released later in the year and give readers a chance to see how their wicked story is resolved.


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