Review Excerpts


Friday, February 26, 2021

Promo - Scarlet: Book Two of the Robyn Hood Series

Action! Adventure! Awesome women! Fellow author Niamh Murphy has a new book out today, the second in her gender flipped Robyn Hood series. Keep reading for the blurb and a fun excerpt!


Blurb:

GREED. CORRUPTION. GOLD.


Robyn Hood and her loyal friend Littlejohn want nothing more than to stay one step ahead of the Sheriff of Nottingham's men.

But when they offer their help to a Holy Sister in need, they soon discover not all is as it seems.

Now they have both the Sheriff of Nottingham on their tail and the self-serving Bishop of Hereford too.

Will they aid a fellow thief? Or save their own necks, keep the gold for themselves, and leave the fugitive, sword-wielding rogue for the gallows?
 

Find out in this brand new Robyn Hood Adventure! 


Excerpt:

As Robyn went to follow the two women into the chamber block, Marian paused at the door. She glanced behind her into the gloom where Sister Mary had disappeared then finally looked up at Robyn. “Do you trust this woman?” Her voice was a low whisper, and Robyn had to lean forward to hear her words.
 

She nodded, then winced at her easy lie. “Well,” she admitted, “she did steal from Littlejohn and me.”
 

Marian raised her eyebrows and sighed; she opened her mouth to speak but merely shook her head.
 

“I do trust her though,” Robyn added quickly, thinking of the young woman’s vulnerability, how many times Robyn could easily have ended up being Nottingham gaol herself, and how it was Robyn’s fault that the poor young nun had been captured by the sheriff's men and so badly wounded by a trial.
 

“Why, Robyn?” Robyn recognised that tone, it was the same tone that Marian had always used when Robyn had suggested they swim in a freezing cold lake, or travel to the next county on a whim, or ride their horses over ever-higher obstacles.
 

“I…” Robyn started to explain but her confidence and charm abandoned her. “I see something in her, something… like me.”
 

“I see.” Marian nodded, there was a bitterness to her smile that Robyn didn’t recognise. “I had wondered why I hadn’t seen you these last few weeks.” Robyn suddenly realised what the cause of her bitterness was and immediately tried to repair the damage. “No! It’s nothing like that, I mean-I’ve only just met her...I - I haven’t seen you because I didn’t want to put you in danger. I’m still not clear of the sheriff's men, Marian, I couldn’t risk leading them right to you.” 

“You risked it tonight.”
 

“But...That’s different; she needed help. I had nowhere else to go.”
 

“And... I understand.” Marian looked away and tried to shut the door but Robyn held it open.
 

“No, Marian, please, I wanted to protect you.”
 

“I know.” But she still wasn’t looking at her and Robyn felt that with every word she said Marian was pulling even further away.
 

“I have been desperate to see you,” Robyn whispered.
 

“Have you?”
 

She lowered her voice, all too aware of Sister Mary waiting for them in the room beyond. “I’ve thought about you every day we’ve been apart.” Marian sighed but she still didn’t look up. “Have you?”
 

Robyn reached out to take her hand, why was Marian slipping away from her? What could she do to bring her back? “I’ve thought about our kiss.” Marian looked up then, and her eyes glistened. “Then why-” she cut herself off as her voice cracked. “Then why have you not come to see me?” Robyn opened her mouth but was unable to conjure a reply. She’d thought Marian would be delighted to see her again. Not driven to angry tears. “If I had put you in danger-”
 

“In danger?” Marian spat, “You think rescuing your mother from the clutches of the sheriff’s men did not put me in danger?”
 

“Well, of course, but-”
 

“You think coming here tonight did not put me in danger?”
 

“B-but I-”
 

“So, you cannot put me in danger unless you need to put me in danger? You cannot risk coming here until you need to come here? You cannot risk doing anything until you need to do it?” Marian’s cheeks were turning pink and her blue eyes seemed cold as stone. “What about what I need? All that time you say you have been thinking of me, but have you ever thought about what I need?” “Well… I-”
 

“Have you ever thought I might be worried until I am sick with it? Thinking each day would be the day I would hear of your death? That every time I enter Nottingham it will be your body I see swinging from the gallows? Did you ever think of that?”
 

Slowly, Robyn shook her head, feeling the guilt writhe in her stomach. “I didn't.”
 

“Did you ever think I might want to hear from you? I might want to know how you are? I might want to see you—” She choked on a sob, silencing her tirade and biting down as she looked away.
 

“I’m sorry,” Robyn said, aghast and unable to think of anything else, “I had no idea.”
 

“Of course you had no idea!” Marian hissed, “You never thought to ask!” Robyn opened and closed her mouth several times. “I just wanted to keep you safe,” she said, but her voice sounded weak.
 

But Marian shook her head. “It's not up to you to keep me safe. It’s not up to you to decide when I should and shouldn't place myself in danger,” Robyn opened her mouth to argue but Marian interjected before she could speak. “It’s up to me.” Marian stared at her and took both Robyn’s hands in her own. “I thought I was your oldest, dearest and closest friend-”
 

“You are!”
 

“But you trust strangers more than you trust me. This Sister Mary of yours and that giant Reynold Littlejohn-”
 

“Littlejohn is a good man.”
 

“I’m sure he is Robyn, but it still hurts that you trust him more than you trust me.”
 

“But Marian I….”
 

 “What?”
 

“I couldn’t bear it if anything ever happened to you because of me.” Marian shook her head and looked up at her. “And I can’t bear being cut out of your life like this.”
 

“I love you, Marian.”
 

Marian took a deep breath and nodded. “I know,” she whispered, “But… what does that mean to you?” Marian waited a moment for Robyn’s reply and when it didn’t come, she shook her head, and stepped back, shutting the door in Robyn’s path.
 

Robyn lay her hand and then her head on the wood as she heard the bolts close. “It means everything,” she whispered.
 

About the Author:

 

Niamh Murphy is an author of adventure books with lesbian main characters. Her mission is to write exciting and engaging stories with women taking centre stage. She tells stories of gripping high seas adventure and epic fantasy, with a dash of romance and loves to explore historical settings, science fiction landscapes, and fantasy worlds. She lives in the ancient town of Colchester in England with her partner.

Find Niamh on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and her Website.

Preorder Link

Chapter Preview Link

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Dominance

Yup, you can keep your minds in the gutter, because this post is about exactly what you think it's about: which characters dominate your sex scenes? As I was chugging along on A Flame Among the Stars, I started thinking about how in most romances, one half of the couple is usually more forward or dominant than the other. Sometimes it's evenly balanced, sometimes it pings back and forth...and sometimes what happens outside the bedroom is different from what happens inside.

 

For a fun experiment, not only will I be exploring this in terms of gender, but also the point-of-view, as I have a hypothesis.


A Flame Among the Stars: This is a lesbian romance, so both halves of the couple are female. Meg, the POV character, is definitely the more dominant one for most of the book, though Celendra gains confidence and starts taking charge at points. What got me thinking about this whole subject is that it had been a while since I wrote from the POV of the more dominant character, but more on that later.


Hunting Astrid: Another lesbian romance. The book is from Astrid's POV, but Tabitha takes the lead for most of their intimate encounters. Again, though, Astrid has her own moments of being in control by the end.


Blazing Justice: This one's interesting because we have one POV character (Celeste) with three different endings. Without giving two much away, in two out of the three endings, the men are clearly more dominant, but it's more evenly matched in the third.


Fire Beyond the Frost: More lesbians. Catalina (POV) has no problem being in command of an operating room or jumping into action in case of medical emergency, but she's always been far more reserved in her personal relationships. This actually doesn't change much throughout the book, but Sari's there to guide her along nonetheless.


Closing Montage: Hmm. After some consideration, I'll say that Abigail (POV) and Edwin are pretty evenly matched, but I might give a slight edge to Edwin. It's close, though.


Seductive Suspect: Adam calls the shots as soon as he gets Veronica (POV) into his bedroom, hands down. This was one of those instances where I had that scene all planned out in my head for a while, but since I write in order, it took me a while to get there. Even so, I didn't lose any of my enthusiasm for it, and Adam's running this sexy show.


Out of Orbit: This was fun because both Jasmine (POV) and Aras are absolute powerhouses in their roles/careers before they meet, so what happens when they finally get together? The answer - Aras is the one in charge, but Jasmine doesn't mind in the slightest.


Flight of the Dragon Queen: Here's another one where it might be too close to call between Caleb (POV) and Alizeira. If I absolutely had to choose one or the other, I guess I'd say Alizeira is the more dominant of the two, but really, it's by the tiniest of margins.


Elysium: This one might buck the trend in multiple ways - not only does the POV alternate between April and Drew, but they each get their own sex scene where they're the POV character and each one is the more dominant one when we're inside their head. Again, it's a small difference, but that's my analysis.


Second Skin: The POV alternates between Anna and Brendan here, too; however, once they're behind closed doors, it's from Anna's POV, but Brendan is more dominant.


So, what have we learned? For the hetero romances, I thought the men would be more dominant, but while it skews a little in that direction, it's not always the case. What appears to be the bigger predictor? The POV character.

 

I'm too lazy to go through and tally it up, but it does seem like the POV character is less likely to be taking charge in the sex scenes. In a way, it kind of makes sense - it might be easier to envision yourself in a character's place when something is being done to them, rather than having them being the one doing the...doing. I won't get too far into fantasies and preferences and whatnot here, but if you're reading romance for an escape, letting someone else come in and handle everything can sound appealing. With the POV character, we see, hear, and feel everything they're experiencing; it's not that we, the readers, always want to take on a passive role in our own lives, but I can see how it's logical for the POV character we're reading about to be on the receiving end of all those fun sensations. You could argue the opposite, of course, and I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. In the future, I'll be paying attention to this when reading romances and trying to determine who's more likely to play what role with regard to POV.


(I'm not going to start unpacking menage romances...yet?)

Saturday, January 16, 2021

New Year, New...well, all sorts of things

Happy New Year! Okay, so the general state of "the world is on fire" hasn't quite been put out. (I'll make my statement of if you in ANY way support the terrorism and insurrection that went on at the Capitol last week, you can see yourself out now, and I won't miss you. BYE.) Not much else to do besides keep slogging along, I guess. Fingers crossed that better times are, in fact, ahead.


I did reach my goal of finishing the main writing of my latest book before the end of the year, though the editing process went into January. Since it was a lot longer than anything else I've written recently, obviously editing took longer, too. And since I had plenty of time to think about and overthink things, that's exactly what I did.


First of all, I decided I didn't love the title of Elemental Forces. It wasn't terrible, but I thought I could do better. After thinking about the characters and some recurring themes and imagery, I played with a few combinations. To my surprise and delight, a Google search of my top choice didn't show anything notable with that title. So now, the book is A Flame Among the Stars. Very fantasy-esque, right? I'll go make that new tag now. Maybe I'll go through and re-tag the older posts, since there aren't too many of them.


Next, I debated long and hard about the idea of submitting to a different publisher. I'm very happy with everything the team at Decadent Publishing and I have done together, but as they're a general romance publisher, I considered submitting someplace more specific for my next lesbian romance. I did some research on publishers who focus on lesbian fiction, narrowed it down to a few possibilities, and selected what I thought would be the best fit. Since everyone has different requirements for submissions packages, it took me longer to put everything together for this one. I waffle back and forth with how confident I feel, but at least I can say I took the chance. And if it doesn't pan out, I have some backup plans.


Onward to the rest of 2021! I don't have, like, an actual calendar or anything (though maybe I should), but I am planning out the rest of my writing year. I do always like to take a break after finishing off a project, so I've been reading some books that have been sitting on my Kindle for a while, and I'm going to start The Witcher 3 on the Switch tomorrow, which I'm going to assume will take me at least a month to get through since I can only play at night after the kids are in bed. After that, though, I think I've decided on what I want to do next, but plans can always change. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Racing Toward the Finish (or, Link Party!, Part the Next)

Hello, my lovelies! I hope this winter holiday season is treating you well, or whatever 2020's version of well is. As we race toward the end of this year, I've been racing toward the end of my work-in-progress, Elemental Forces. Even without having gotten to the very end yet, it's the longest thing I've written by a wide margin since the kids were born 5.5 years ago, so that's exciting. I don't want to jinx anything or invite more misfortune into this year, especially after what happened the last time I did that, but I will say that I think I will hit my goal of finishing up the main writing of this book by the end of the year. (Will I get it fully edited and ready to be shipped off by then? Ehhh, let's not push it.)


Since I've been working like crazy on the book, I don't have an interesting blog post ready to go. But it's been a while since I last posted, and I do have an assortment of fun links and promises of more in the future. I'll drop these here for now to hold you over, and if I don't manage to check in before then, enjoy the rest of your holiday season and Happy New Year!


Blazing Justice at The TBR Pile - As the name might indicate, the reviewers over at The TBR Pile have been busy busy busy this season, but they finally got to Blazing Justice and loved it! Their 5-star review of it means it'll be entered into their Book of the Month contest at the end of December, which I will absolutely keep you posted on. (Now would be a good time to follow me on Twitter if you haven't already done so, as I've been hanging out there a lot this pandemic.)


In January, The TBR Pile will also have a feature on Hunting Astrid, complete with a real blog post I wrote. As always, stay tuned for further details!


Speaking of Hunting Astrid....


Best Lesfic Reviews - I get nervous about submitting to review sites, because of course I want people to read and review my books, but they're not obligated to love my every word, and I know I'm not supposed to interact with reviews anyway, and so on. Best Lesfic Reviews is critical yet fair, so I was especially nervous here, and then pleased with the outcome. Again, I know I'm not supposed to interact with the reviews/reviewer, but I did wind up having a nice conversation with her via email, and it was fun to get her ideas for future installments. (Oh, did I mention my editor suggested this could have series potential? YIKES.)


Broome's Books LGBTQ+ Book Reviews - Another great summary and review by another great person I'm glad to have met. And now my own to-read pile is getting longer and longer thanks to the rest of her site! Years ago, I dabbled with posting book reviews as part of my site here, and it is really hard to keep with everything, so I'm so appreciative of readers who take on this often thankless task.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Off to Some Kind of Start, Part 2

Remember a couple years ago when we were all going back to our old projects at critiquing our opening lines? It's that time again! Writing/blogging buddy Krystal Jane recently posted her new collection, and someone on Twitter just asked about favorite blog posts, so here we go for Round Two. I'll pick up where I left off and see if I've actually gotten any better at this. (I'm guessing not.)

 

Here's Part 1 to recap, from July of 2017 (apologies for the text colors, a casualty of the site redesign)

Hunting Astrid is still brand new and sparkly and shiny, so let's see how my latest release fares under the microscope.

 

“There you are. You almost missed all the fun.”


“Sorry I’m late.” Astrid hurried into the room and wheeled her chair out from underneath her desk. “Some sort of malfunction with the train. We were stuck for half an hour.”


Her coworker Lily snorted without taking her eyes off the screen in front of her. “So much for the best technology this corner of the galaxy has to offer.”


Hello, sci-fi! I've become a fan of starting stories in the middle of a conversation, like here. Not the snazziest, not the worst. I promise things pick up quickly in this opening chapter.

***

How about some fanfic? I did write a lot for Fire Emblem: Three Houses over this summer, which kicked my motivation for my original works into gear. Here's the opening for the first one, which was actually the first fanfic I wrote in quite a few years.


Aelfric couldn’t understand the strange looks and hushed whispers that had followed him around like an irritating swarm of bugs over the course of the evening. After all, why wouldn’t he have wanted to attend Sitri and Jeralt’s wedding? It was a joyous occasion, one the monastery didn’t often host. Such love should be celebrated, he declared to himself.


Not gonna lie, I'm kind of digging that first line. And a note to anyone who's played the FE3H DLC: FUCKIN' AELFRIC, MAN, AMIRITE!? (i rite.)

***

Let's take a look at Fire Beyond the Frost, whose long journey to publication has been chronicled here. To recap: the book was published a year ago after sitting on the shelf in need of a good cleaning for a few years. Before that, parts of it were originally a story written for a former friend's role-playing forum. I have no idea what got edited when, so here's a collection of words that were written sometime in 2019, 2013, and/or 2011.


Dr. Catalina Frost looked out the small window of the spaceship. A few men from the crew scurried around the launch pad of the Blackhill Spaceport. The vessel would be departing within moments. A pleasant female voice came over the intercom, informing the passengers to move toward their seats and prepare for takeoff.


All right, so we know Catalina's going somewhere, which is kind of the point of the whole book. Not too bad. I don't hate myself.

***

Rewinding a little farther, here's the intro to Closing Montage.


The large brown box sat on the doorstep, unremarkable, cast by the shadows of the dwindling sunlight. My heart raced as I pulled the car into the driveway. Though I couldn’t see any writing or labels from where I sat, I knew it didn’t contain another shipment of medical supplies or more useless gifts from well-wishers. This package was special.


You know, this one's better than I remembered it. It drops plenty of hints about the upcoming story, plus it has an element of mystery: what's in the box???

***

Lastly, because I like odd numbers for these types of lists, I'll give you a sneak peek at my WIP, Elemental Forces.


“On your left!”
 

Meg dove to the opposite side, tucking and rolling across the dusty field. The small dragon she’d been battling followed after her, but before it could launch another attack, Ronan brought his sword down on the creature’s neck. The sharp blade sliced its head clean off and it fell to the ground, sunlight glinting off its reddish scales as it gradually stopped twitching.


DRAGONS! FUCK YEAH! I wasn't lying when I said I like starting in the middle of the action sometimes. You know what I also like? DRAGONS!


So there's my latest compilation. Nothing downright awful in here, unlike last time, so maybe I am getting slightly better at this. One can dream, anyway!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Hunting Astrid - Release Day!

 


Hunting Astrid has officially hit the shelves! I know I've said it before, but really, I'm so excited about this book. With the state of the world still being *gestures vaguely*, I think we could all use a little fast-paced fun in our lives.

 

We're opting for Kindle Unlimited again, as it worked out well in the past, so there's your buy link. Keep reading beyond the blurb for a bonus excerpt!


Blurb:

Astrid Carlisle enjoys her job at Satera Industries, the massive interplanetary organization whose enigmatic leader is concerned with profits first and legalities second. Stationed at company headquarters, she can stay out of harm’s way while making good use of her programming skills and keen eye for talent acquisition. Unfortunately, both the busy nature of her work and her office’s remote location leave her feeling dissatisfied with her personal life.

Fresh out of the Central United Space Marines, Tabitha Knox is ready for change, hoping the next stage in her career can take place in the private sector. Employment with Satera Industries would offer her the exciting, fast-paced work she craves, with generous financial compensation to match. All she has to do is get through the rigorous screening process and prove her worth.

The two women meet during the early stages of Tabitha’s application, and their mutual attraction is instant. However, Astrid has been hurt in the past and is cautious about moving too quickly, leading her to devise a plan. She suggests the pair enter the simulations used to test applicants and fight their way through the various environments. If Tabitha can successfully track her down in each phase, she’ll win the ultimate prize: a lucrative job, plus Astrid’s trust and submission. Everything she wants is within reach, but will she be able to achieve her dreams while hunting Astrid?


Excerpt:

Taking care not to slip, Astrid climbed back down the tree, jumping the last few feet into the dense shrubs at its base. She listened for any signs Tabitha was on her trail, but heard nothing suspicious. Although she hated leaving anything to chance, she had to get moving. After one last futile glance around, she picked a direction at random and began to run.

The repetitive characteristics of the scene frustrated her as she searched for a new place to hide. Sweat beaded on her brow, but she didn’t want to stop to wipe it off until she found better cover. The roots and moss carpeting the rainforest floor threatened to trip her up with every step. She kept going.

As she ran, she thought she heard footsteps behind her. She paused beside one of the thicker trees, yet only the insects sang their incessant song in her ears. When she started moving again, the rustling resumed. It ceased whenever she stopped, leading her to the obvious conclusion.

Something was following her.

Astrid’s pulse accelerated as she swiveled her head back and forth, desperate to catch a glimpse of her pursuer but seeing nothing except endless acres of forest. With few other choices left, she broke into a sprint, hoping to increase the distance between her and whatever chased her until she found a safe spot to catch her breath. Finally, she spotted a fallen tree, its ball of roots intact and stretching up several feet in the air. She ran faster until she reached it, ducking behind the rotting stump and clumps of soil. Bending over, she planted her hands on her knees and gasped for air, praying she’d succeeded in evading being caught.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Promo - Pink Triangle, by Lea Bronsen

 


Fellow author Lea Bronsen has a new book out and this one's a winner! Really, it won the Book of the Month award over at The TBR Pile, so read on for the blurb, excerpt, and buy links from this sizzling new release!


Blurb:

Oslo, April 1945

Paul is a handsome, free-spirited Norwegian in the prime of his life, but he doesn’t fit the German occupant ideology simply because he’s gay. And so, when the Gestapo catches him for producing illegal propaganda, he’s tortured and threatened to be sent to a German concentration camp with a pink triangle sewn on his shirt, the symbol for homosexuals.

It will take great courage and mind-blowing circumstances of luck, as the F├╝hrer commits suicide and the end of the war seems nearer by the day, for Paul to avoid his death transport to Germany.

And it will take the growing attraction of the Gestapo commander himself to regain his full freedom—and capture his heart.


Excerpt:

A couple hours later, when the sun stood high and bright in the sky, the sound of horseshoes came from the garden. Paul had dozed in the hay, enveloped by the soft jacket lining and lulled by happy bird songs and the rustling of leaves outside, but the commander’s return had him sit up against the wall.

The horse’s hairy muzzle appeared in the crack before the big animal pushed the door open and stepped into the shed.

Heimlich sat straight in the saddle, bare-chested, slim but muscular in all the right places, his uniform folded across his lap. Paul tried not to gape at the sight. With ease and grace, the commander dismounted and hung his clothes on hooks on the wall. Drops of sweat pearled on his forehead and temple and rolled down his firm chest and abdomen, making his skin shine. So, so very sexy. He took off his hat, uncovering his dark blond hair slick with sweat—but it only accentuated the sexiness.

He turned to Paul and caught him staring. “What are you smiling at?”

Oops.

Paul straightened and regretted having let himself be carried away. “I wasn’t smiling.”

“Yes, you were. You think I’m not aware I look like an office rat? You need to rub it in?”

“What are you talking about?”

“I know very well I could use more muscle, and that I need to strengthen my stomach.” He tapped his six-pack, which was perfect in Paul’s world.

“Well, that hasn’t crossed my mind.”

An understatement.

“Really?” The commander raised a brow. “Do you honestly like what you see?”

Holy fuck, what a question...

Uncertain whether the man realized what he’d just said, Paul waited a bit before he asked, voice low, “Are you honestly asking a homosexual if he likes your body?”

The commander blinked slowly. “When you put it like that...” With a goofy smile, he turned to gaze out of the shed and shook his head.

Paul allowed him a moment to recoup. He was tempted to tease, but didn’t.

When the commander returned to Paul, he pointed at him. “Forget I said that. I didn’t mean it like that.”

Yeah, I’m likely to forget...

They held each other’s looks for a while, the commander inscrutable.

“Listen,” Paul said, emboldened by the awkward situation. “I’m going to be very frank with you. I hate you with all of my heart—”

No reaction.

“—But when you parade around me like that,” he pointed at the man’s naked torso, “you make it difficult for me to...”

“To what?”

To not like you.


Available From

Books2Read / Amazon.com / Amazon.uk / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks / Smashwords

 

Put the book on your to-read shelf on Goodreads

See photos that inspired me to write the book on Pinterest

 

About the Author

Lea Bronsen likes her reads hot, fast, and edgy, and strives to give her own stories the same intensity. After a deep dive on the unforgiving world of gangsters with her debut novel Wild Hearted, she divides her writing time between romantic suspenses, dark erotic romances, and crime thrillers.

 

Meet Lea Bronsen on

 

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / BookBub / Instagram / Goodreads / Amazon