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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Promo - Merry "Chris"mas, by Clare Dargin

I know, I know, it's January, but 1) I love the Christmas season and am fine with extending it a little bit, 2) even though we didn't get hit nearly as bad as was predicted, there is snow on the ground so we need to stay warm, 3) who needs an excuse to promote sexy menage stories?, and 4) I like numbered lists and could go on forever, but I'll stop here.

Today I'm thrilled to help Clare Dargin promote her latest release, Merry "Chris"mas. Like me, Ms. Dargin is a fan of reading and writing sci-fi romance, but it's good to expand our horizons every now and then, right? So if you're still missing the holidays (or you just want to enjoy a steamy read), check out the book!

Jilly Reimers wants love but can't find it. Chris Spinell is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffers from PTSD and a haunting feeling that something is missing in his life. Chris Poole is also an Afghanistan war veteran is ready to break out of his shell but is unsure how.

With Christmas just around the corner, they decide not to spend it alone. Believing The Love Play Matchmaking Service to be just what they need for a night of fun and passion, they sign up. But when the guys show up and see that they've been set up on a menage, the only one happy about it is Jilly. 

Their consultant, called an Eros, assures Jilly that the service has a perfect track record but she's certain they'll be the first ones to get their money back. Will they have a very merry Christmas? Or will the three spend yet another one alone?

Jilly idly twirled a lock of her hair as she gazed at the fire. The meal was good, a bit awkward, but all right. Now with Chris S. in the shower, she and Chris P., who’d freshened up after her, sat beside her. She hoped she’d get a chance to know him a little better, now that they were alone.

Unlike Chris S., Chris P. was quiet, more reserved. His warm smile could melt ice. They’d spoken a bit about his life in Australia and how he met the other Chris when they were on Diego Garcia, a tiny atoll in the Pacific. It was there he garnered a better perspective on life, friendships and love. She reasoned that war tended to do that to a person.

She looked at him again, admiring what she saw. He was gorgeous. If only she were a femme fatale like her friends. She pictured grabbing him by the scruff of his collar and planting a long seductive kiss on his pouty lips. Anything to ease the tension between her legs and the moisture dripping from her swollen pussy.

Golden and sun-kissed like a surfer, he had a look impossible to have around this time of year in Michigan, unless he spent countless hours in a tanning booth. But at the same time he didn’t look like the type who’d go to one. He seemed too rugged. She glanced at his short, flaxen hair, which he wore pulled back in a stubby tail. It accentuated his keen facial features. His physique, like that of a gladiator, made her want to whimper. Built like a brick wall without being too thick, he was three words—supple, etched, steel. And his Australian accent added to his raw sexiness.

Whereas Chris S. was the perfect picture type of the all-American, boy-next-door type, with light brown hair and sandy-colored tips and eyes so blue they looked like the color of tropical water. He reminded her of the high school captain of the football team who’d gone into the military and become a man, except he had a sensitive edge that permeated his being. While Chris P., who looked like he could take on a few guys at once, was more lighthearted and outgoing.

Either way, she knew she hit the jackpot because both guys were like something out of a magazine called Hot Guys “R” Us. They were a perfect ten. It was best Christmas gift anyone could have ever given her. She hoped a Chris Sandwich was definitely on the menu for the night. But how to get past the talking stage, she had no clue. She wondered if all of her Love Play’s match ups started like this.

Wearing some leggings and a cami, and he a T-shirt and shorts, she suddenly felt overdressed. The art of seduction was not something they taught in any of the schools she’d attended, and she sure as hell never picked up any pointers from her so-called “friends.” And her exes never gave her any encouragement in that department either.

This date should have come with instructions. I think I’m in trouble.

She let out a long sigh.

“Did you say something?” Chris P. asked, stirring from his long silence.

“I was just thinking how beautiful this place is,” she lied. What? How lame is that?

“It is. I’ve never been to a place quite like this.”

“Love Play has quite a reputation.”

“You’ve used it before?” He perked up, facing her.

Heat burned her cheeks. “No. It’s what I heard from some of their clients.”

“So have you been married?” he asked.


“Neither have I. Never found anyone to get serious with,” he said, shrugging. “I don’t know. Maybe cupid’s arrow doesn’t work on me.”

“For me they’re defective. Or maybe his aim is bad,” she said, trying to suppress the memory of her ex-boyfriend.

“What do you mean?”

“My relationships, they never work out.” She shrugged her shoulders. “For whatever reason, they seem to choose my friends over me. Or it ends up that way once we get together.”

He shook his head. “Nah. They were bad blokes from the start. Believe me. I know. I’ve been around those types my entire life. The randier they are, the worse they will be. If a man wants you, he’ll stay.” His tone was soft, almost vulnerable.


“So tell me,” he said, turning to face her, “you ordered this hook up?”

Again, her face flushed. She imagined it turning its characteristic red when the blood rushed to her cheeks.

“Yes. But according to the guidelines, you would have either had to be open to it or requested it too. Right?”

He chuckled. “I see he also got the smart I asked for. Yes, I am open to a ménage.” His expression became serious. “Do you think me odd?”

“No. I’m glad we share that desire.”


Author Bio:
Clare Dargin is an author of Science Fiction and Romance and has been writing stories all of her life before being published in 2007. She’s a great fan of the two genres and loves promoting them.

An educator by profession, she possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in English from a major mid-western university. She presently resides in the Midwest and she hopes to expand her writings to include non-fiction, historical romance, and contemporary novels.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

(Spoiler-Free) Thoughts on Dragon Age: Inquisition (and how they relate to writing)

I'm nearing the end of my second playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition. This time, obviously, I've been taking my time and not blazing through to get to the end, letting the game consume every moment of my free time. Also (and I'll elaborate on this throughout), I was able to almost halve the number of hours spent on this playthrough, and not all of that was due to efficiency.

First, I need to preface this with my overall, general feelings: The game is excellent. I feel like the designers took the best parts of the two previous games without necessarily favoring one over the other. Perhaps most importantly for a game, it's fun, and I look forward to replaying it. HOWEVER (we all knew that was coming), there were definitely aspects that could have been better. A lot better. I'm not going to say I was disappointed, because I wasn't, and paying for the pre-order and immersing myself in the game as soon as possible was worthwhile. But it's not perfect.

Boobulon, who hasn't played yet, summed up my feelings perfectly when I told him of my impressions after I first beat the game. It's a short game, but very wide. Now at first, that statement may sound a little ridiculous - I spent over 100 hours (111 to be exact) just playing through the game once. How can that possibly be a short game?

Without going into too much detail about the mechanics, there are certain mandatory plot points you have to hit. While there's an order to them (except for two which are available simultaneously), you can pretty much do them whenever you want. As is typical for Bioware games, there are a crapload of side quests and companion quests available, along with many areas to explore. (For those of you familiar with the first Mass Effect, it's structured similarly.)

Ultimately, I think it's that lack of set pacing that drags the game down a little. And unfortunately, most of those little side quests did nothing to enhance the overall plot, in my opinion. Also unfortunately, it made me feel like a lot of the game was filler and the designers were having fun playing around with the new game engine while not focusing enough on tying all the elements together.

Gorgeous, right? I didn't even bother coming here the second time through, because it was unnecessary.

The actual plot stuff? EXCELLENT. FANTASTIC. LOVED. Like, "shit, it's 1:00 in the morning but I have to know what happens next but it's 1:00 in the morning but I have to know what happens next!" There just wasn't enough of it, and I was left wanting more. So for me, that's my biggest qualm. Yes, the world was incredibly detailed and amazing and expansive, but some of the storytelling was lacking.

So I'm going to use that to segue into talking about writing. (Smooth, right?) We all know by now that style is subjective and readers are often picky about the prose they enjoy. There are writers out there who use their words to paint pictures and spend pages and pages describing scenes in achingly beautiful detail. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But it's not me. I don't like to write that way, and I don't particularly like reading that style either. I prefer well-developed characters who do and feel, which again, isn't everyone's cup of tea. There's no one method of telling a story that's better than the others, and it really does just come down to personal preference. And I personally would have preferred more characters doing and feeling in those initial 111 hours, but hey, you can't make everyone happy all the time.

I could probably write another novel about my feelings on the game, but I'll leave off here. Also on the topic of my own writing, I just miiiiight have a cover to reveal soon-ish, so stay tuned!