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Review: Hunt Her by Elle Q Sabine

Hunt Her

When I decided to read Hunt Her, I expected I was settling in for a Vampire book. Which I was. Sort of. Sabine blends Vampire lore, Irish tales of the Sidhe (familiar to most fantasy readers as fairies), and even some Angelic mythology, throws it in a blender and comes up with something entirely new. To put the cherry on the sundae, the “vamps” are actually human women necessary for a vampire’s survival, and his very sanity.

I think this is one of the book’s biggest strengths. As someone who has been reading fantasy for three decades, I am in love with the story of the Sabine’s vampires and how what I think I know about many different groups is both right and wrong. However, as someone who has been reading fantasy for three decades, I often had to stop, force myself to step away from every assumption I have about words like “vampire” and “sidhe’ and let her do her world building. That isn’t a weakness in Sabine, but if you are also a long-time fantasy reader, you need to be open to letting Sabine change up the tropes.

I liked the relationship dynamic between Valor and Meghan. They have a dynamic that allows for Valor’s alpha personality, and Sabine ensures that Meghan is no pushover either. Meghan has a mysterious backstory that unfolds in tandem to her search for her brother and her relationship with Valor. She isn’t going to let Valor’s arrival derail her search.

This is the first in a series, so we have many more books to come to help continue to flesh out her world. I hope the second book deals at least in part with an ending plot point of Valor’s general finding his vamp and her wanting nothing to do with him. I want to see more of them.

Her life on hold for a decade, Meghan’s ready to take it back and move forward. Valor is ready too. The Vampire Master won’t let her disappear, not ever again. Meghan doesn’t understand the dreamwalker who comes to her at night. After years of sleeping medication to subdue nightmares, she is unprepared when the handsome stranger who stood guard over her childhood returns to her dreams. Now that she’s grown, he’s intent on possession and seduction. When he shows up in her life, real and not a dream, she’s horrified . . . and enthralled. But life isn’t waiting around for Meghan to play out the traditional script of meeting, falling in love and living happily ever after. Desperate to reclaim some part of her childhood, Meghan leaves behind the man who wants her in search of her long-lost brother. But Valor is not a man who is willing to be left behind, not again. The years he spent unable to find Meghan-not knowing if she was happy, healthy or even safe-were difficult enough. He’ll find Meghan and bring her into a world she doesn’t even imagine exists, and he’ll find a way to keep her at his side-forever. Because he’s not just some man Meghan met in a library. Valor isn’t a man at all.

Hunt Her is available as an e-book and paperback everywhere, including Amazon.

An Interview with Avylinn Winters

avylinn

Hi Avy! Tell us a little about you.

Hi there! Well, for starters, I’m a Swedish blonde, happy to prove the prejudices incorrect but also just as pleased with saying that I’m all for having fun. I write M/M novels in my free time, and spend the rest of my time either at the office, cuddling with my cat (who can impersonate a ghost), or hanging out with my partner. I’m not yet 30, but if you happen to stumble upon this post sometime in 2017, then that’s a lie.

I also spend a lot of time as a hobby psychologist and give myself various diagnosis. It’s all in good fun though, but my novels tend to include a little bit of psychology. I enjoy the occasional glass of wine, I have a sweet tooth, and a bad memory which is a nuisance.

What was your journey from aspiring writer to published author?

I began as a reader. My partner bought me an e-reader for Christmas, and that’s the moment when this wheel started spinning. I read a lot. A lot. So, slowly I began to explore what the internet had to offer in terms of content. I stumbled upon a site called Booksie, where writers shared their works for free, and still do. I began reading there (now this makes me sound like a cheap, which is true as I was a student at the time with next to no funds), but all of a sudden the threshold to start writing my own stuff wasn’t that daunting. I could simply write something and press publish. No fuss. So, that’s what I did. I began to write online, and when Booksie felt cramped, I moved on to Wattpad.

Wattpad opened up a world of possibilities, and two years after starting on the site, I felt that I had achieved something that I wanted to introduce to the rest of the world. For the first time ever, I felt confident. So, I sent out the manuscript to an agent. Right, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. I aimed high. Very high. When this agent finally got back to me (note that I only sent to one agent which is weird in itself), she was super nice and positive although she wished to see another story rather than this one. So, rejected, but with grace. I moved on to contact a publisher directly, one that a friend of mine had told me about a while back. This was Pride Publishing, and lo and behold, I sent them the manuscript, they gobbled it up, and here I am. What happens from now on is not set in stone, but that’s the fun of it all.

Who has influenced you?

I might go a bit off road here, but I feel like sharing this for some unknown reason. Influences come from everywhere and everyone, but a few individuals have left more of a mark. My sister is my hero, definitely, and so is my partner. But then, I’ve also been influenced by a selected few who have left me in one way or another. One was a young gay M/M writer who had to give up on the world he’d created online because of his family. They gave him an ultimatum, and he chose them. His entire story made a huge impact. He was a part of a closed religious society, quite an unwilling member actually, but he ended up showing me how strong the urge to fit in can be, and how difficult it is to sacrifice the world you know and the people you love. He also inspired me to continue since some members of the LGBT youth need us to speak up for them when they aren’t free to do so.

I also lost one of my best friends last summer to cancer. I was too young to remember much of my grandparents, and in general, we’ve been spared a lot of heartache in our family. So, when Jay died, it struck me hard. I wrote stories for him, with him and to him. Now when he’s gone, he’s still with me, pushing me forward and not allowing me to give up, just as he did then.

Leia

Where do you usually write, and what’s your ideal writing space?

I write at home in my sofa, preferably with the cat in my lap (as long as she doesn’t get in the way). I do like sitting in a large room with lots of people around me, but only if they’re reasonably quiet. I’m easily distracted so quiet is the best. I don’t even listen to music most of the time unless I need it to reach a certain emotional state.

Tell us about your book (On sale today!)

My first published novel is called Volatile and tells the story of a young, slightly depressed, very lost guy who gets a rather remarkable opportunity to travel around Europe. The tale focuses on his rocky relationship with a volatile violinist. It’s angsty, it’s cheesy, and it’s meant to tug at your heart a bit. Without giving too much away, I give you the blurb:

volatile_9781786514547_800 (1)

Like a depressed moth drawn to a wild flame, Chris hoped that flame would brighten his life, not burn him alive.

Chris Sinclair fades into a gray world after losing his mother to cancer. When forced to attend a concert, as a last attempt to coax him out of his shell, he discovers that life might not be as bleak as he first thought.

Dante Heron holds the audience between the tips of his fingers and the delicate bow, playing the violin as if every heart is his to command. However, something darker brews behind the façade, and Chris is determined to solve the enigma.

When Chris is offered the job of traveling around Europe with the famous violinist, he surprises himself by accepting. With no idea of what awaits him, he’s thrown into a world where emotions rule and rules are bent.

They’re a perfectly dysfunctional match, but then there’s always calm at the heart of the storm.

One, two, three, four.

I wasn’t prepared when the first note struck. Not at all. Waves of sound rolled against the walls, flowing into every crevice then surging back. The tiny hairs on my arms stood in a silent salute, reaching for the hum in the air. I gripped the armrests on both sides of me, but it didn’t help. I was floating in a restless sea, weightless and lost.

Closing my eyes, I fought the current of emotions that tried to break free, but it was a hopeless battle. I shivered as the tones from the string orchestra reached for my core and swept me away. Ten seconds, and I was struggling to breathe. It was too much.

In the late afternoon sun, one full year ago, my last words to Mom’s coffin hadn’t brought out a single tear, but here beneath the glow of a solitary light, my eyes burned.

I wanted to leave. All the pent-up sorrow after Mom’s last months alive seemed to pour out of my heart, latching on to the beautiful lament produced by the violins and cellos. It felt as if I were fighting against a tidal wave of sounds and emotions. It was powerful and haunting, like ghosts whispering past the veil between life and death. No wonder my skin flared alive with apprehension.

As the concert continued, I was torn between the urge to leave and the wish to stay and lose myself in the storm of sounds. It was a useless, exhausting battle, and it didn’t cease until the music faded into a quiet breeze. The lights focused on one individual among all the tuxedos. Someone who stood out in the crowd. I saw it as his fingers danced across the slender neck of the violin—I saw it in his wild eyes and unruly hair. The tresses were black as ink, slightly too long and drenched with sweat. He didn’t belong. He wasn’t one of them.

I couldn’t tear my gaze away from him no matter how hard I tried. He had me under his spell as his solo caught my soul and kept it hostage. I felt ridiculous, more so than the conductor who waved his arms in the air as if he was fighting an invisible monster. Perhaps this concert was a monster. It seemed cunning and brutal, masking itself behind treacherous melodies and rhythms.

It was time to go before I lost control.

Buy links

Amazon

Pride Publishing

Apple iBooks

Kobo

 

What’s your next writing project(s)?

I’m currently working on the sequel to Volatile. It’s a very different story, both in tone and content, but with characters that are introduced in Volatile. Where Volatile is sweet, Toxic is vile. It’s intended to unsettle. Toxic centers around domestic violence, and it’s meant to highlight that same-sex couples aren’t spared from this plague. It’s a serious theme, and it has been very difficult to both write and edit. The only thing that drives me forward at this point is the knowledge that stories like this, although unpleasant, are important.

 

Social media links

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My Plunder Playlist

**Disclaimer–Yes, I’m a total romantic version of pirates fan. It was probably inevitable that I’d write a pirate novel. I’m going to mention the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. If you haven’t seen them, see Curse of the Black Pearl and skip the rest unless you absolutely feel the need. I will say, though, that Mick Jagger as Jack Sparrow’s father was an inspired bit of casting.**

Music is as instrumental to me as breathing (pun intended). So when I’m writing, I usually have a playlist going in the background, and not just to block out Sofia the First or Teen Titans Go. When I wrote the short story version of Plunder, I didn’t have a song or a playlist in mind. However, when it came time to write the novel, I decided one was necessary.

I was wasting time on Youtube, as one does, when my recommendations came up with this…

 

I had no idea that my life was missing this, but it was. I then spent several hours watching Peter Hollens videos.He has an amazing catalog, including any number of gorgeous duets with his equally talented wife Evynne.

Not only was the Pirates medley awesome, but it made something click for me about Plunder.

My heart is pierced by Cupid

I disdain all glittering gold

There is nothing can console me

But my jolly sailor bold.

–My Jolly Sailor

The thing about Plunder is that both Bree and William are sailors, and they’re both crazy in love, despite their constant banter/fighting. So the lyric work both ways…Bree about William, William about Bree.

I immediately bought the song, and it is the cornerstone of my playlist. Because they did such a great job, I went over to the Pirate of the Caribbean soundtracks. I have the entire Curse of the Black Pearl soundtrack, and from the World’s End soundtrack I added “Drink Up Me Hearties Yo Ho” and “Hoist the Colours.”

Interestingly enough, My Jolly Sailor Bold isn’t on the soundtrack of Stranger Tides, despite it being the song the mermaids sing to enchant sailors so they can turn vampire, drag them into the water and eat them. However, you can find countless covers on YouTube.

 

Disney, however, didn’t write this song. It seems to be based off an 18th or 19th century shanty, depending on which version of My Jolly Sailor Bold you believe to be the origin song. To read more, go here.

So, my playlist (all of which can be bought on Amazon or iTunes, depending on your preference) is The Peter Hollens Pirates Medley, Hoist the Colours, Drink Up Me Hearties Yo Ho, and the full Curse of the Black Pearl soundtrack.

Happy Pirating! I should be finishing my edited version in the next few days and sending it off to betas. Once that happens, my playlist will look a lot more like this…

Sidenote–Check out Todrick Hall’s videos, too. He’s so incredibly talented.

Under the Mistletoe is closing submissions soon!

I’m so grateful and overwhelmed by the response I’ve gotten for my call, Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe.

However, it’s not too late to submit a story or poem!

book cover coming soon

Want to help your chances? Things I haven’t seen enough of include…

  • Queer characters
  • Persons of color
  • Non-Christmas holidays (Hannukah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, and even though it’s not technically a December holiday, I’d totally be open to a Diwali/Deepavali story)
  • Non-US locations

This doesn’t mean I don’t want you to send in your Christmas story, merely some additional info to inspire those still thinking of what to write.

My story will be the next installment in my North Pole series, which features shape-shifting reindeer, so there’s no idea that’s too out there as long as the story is good. (My North Pole Series stories New on the Naughty List, and A Reindeer by Any Other Name are currently free on my website.)

An Expat Fourth of July

200 Anniversary Button 2015

Today I’m over at Long and Short Reviews, talking about what it’s like to be an American expat in Singapore on the Fourth of July. I usually reserve that topic for my expat blog, so this is your chance to get a glimpse into the life of an expatriate American.

We spent July 4, 2009 in Washington DC. We watched a recitation of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, then sat down and watched the parade. We pushed my daughter E’s stroller through multiple Smithsonian Museums. E spent her first Fourth of July on the grass of the National Mall, enchanted by a light up ball we’d bought in a gift shop, rather than the gorgeous fireworks display by the Washington Monument.

At the time, we had no idea that would be the last Fourth of July we’d spend in the United States

 

Click the header or banner below to check out my full post and enter a Rafflecopter to win a 100 USD gift card to either Barnes & Noble or Amazon!

LASR header

Author Spotlight: Kait Gamble

kait_gamble

When Kait Gamble emailed me her guest post, her excerpt was so hot I immediately pre-ordered Sins in the Sand, and several other books. At this point, I am such a fan of Kait’s that I can’t spotlight just one book.

In order of how I read them

Breaking Rossi's Rules

The first book I read by Kait was Breaking Rossi’s Rules, which features Anika, otherwise known as the Ice Princess (her family owns one of the biggest Jewelry Companies) and Luca, a billionaire with a mysterious past.

Anika is complex. Her “ice princess” façade is a coping mechanism. When Luca knocks on her hotel door, expecting someone else, they’re both intrigued. Her ice melts for Luca, and she believes that maybe they could have more than a weekend fling.

Luca inhabits the skin of a billionaire as if he were born to it. But he has a past that few know.

When they come together, Anika melts for him until she catches him doing something unforgiveable.

Anika and Luca have great banter and better chemistry, the locations are described well, and the pacing of the book flows well.

Sins in the Sand

The day that Sins in the Sand downloaded onto my kindle app (I pre-ordered) I started reading at 11 or midnight and didn’t finish until nearly sunrise. I have no regrets.

Kendra is a new employee of the Totally Five Star Dubai hotel. She’s getting used to the quirks of dealing with the highest of the high-end clientele, when the most extreme request she’s ever gotten comes directly from her boss. Kendra bears a striking resemblance to a reality star who was supposed to be appearing at a charity event that evening. Kiki has flaked, so Kendra is asked to stand in, and is assured that they have taken care of ensuring that the “winning bid” will be rigged.

What no one counted on was that competitive billionaires Dmitri and Nikos would shatter the highest rigged bid in an attempt to make this dinner date another contest between to the two of them. Kendra’s desire is ignited for both of them, and when one dinner date turns into a week of playing Kiki, Kendra knows she’s playing with fire.

Kait has written two different, yet equally melt your panties alpha men in Dimitri and Nikos to the point where as a reader I would’ve volunteered to take Kendra’s place. (j/k) The sex, as a threesome and individually with each of the men, was hot enough to live up to the promise.

The reader is taken along with Kendra on a whirlwind ride, and we empathize with her fear that her relationship with these men will shatter when they know the truth, and her confusion over falling for both men.

What happens when the truth comes out? I’m not telling. I will say that this is my favorite Kait Gamble book yet.

Fuel to the Fire

Jackie and Logan were insanely in love. Until they broke up.

When a friend’s wedding brings Jackie to St. Lucia where Logan is working/standing in for a missing groomsman they run into each other again.  The old chemistry is just as strong. Yet something is off–it’s obvious to the reader early on that something fishy went down with the break up as each blames the other. What really happened?

Lots of risky public sex and the rekindling of their romance bring Logan and Jackie to a moment where they need to talk about the past to have a future. That’s when the bride drops a little morsel that sends Jackie running away again.

Just who, or what broke them up?

The public sex is exciting, and Logan and Jackie’s connection pulls at the reader. You’re rooting for them to get together long before you understand why they broke up.

Cuffed

Cuffed is a short story about YouTube stars Scarlet and Jackson getting cuffed together as a publicity stunt staged by a third You-Tuber, Rex. Rex says he won’t uncuff them until they give him some good footage. Neither Scarlet or Jackson expected to enjoy being cuffed together as much as they did.

My only complaint is that I’d love to read more stories in this world.

Ignite Kait Gamble

The last story I’m going to review today is Ignite. This is the second in a series, but works well as a stand-alone as well.

Natalie and Sebastian have been friends since high school. As Sebastian has worked his way from pretty girls in high school to supermodels as an adult, Natalie has always been just his friend. They dress in the latest fashion, while she’s happiest at home in short and a t-shirt, as a computer programmer. When Sebastian has a business deal with a conservative couple, he asks Natalie to play his wife during a trip to Thailand.

Their act drops barriers that have existed for years. But when the trip is over, will Natalie be the latest in Sebastian’s string of conquests.

I really enjoyed this book. I felt the connection between Natalie and Sebastian, and I was rooting for them all the way. My only complaint, which is also a compliment, is that I wanted more.

 

 

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Call for Submissions—Positively Sexy (extended deadline!)

Coming Together: Positively Sexy is a collection of erotica focused on characters living and loving while STI-positive, edited by Annabeth Leong. Proceeds benefit the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, a sexuality education and training organization that works to reduce sexual shame, challenge misinformation, and advance the field of sexuality.

Submissions Close July 31, 2016 October 1, 2016

Submission Call
Ever notice that sex ed classes tend to focus on how to prevent STIs, but don’t say much about living with them and having a sex life after an STI diagnosis? Erotica, on the other hand, is often written as if STIs don’t exist at all.
For this anthology, I’m looking for short erotica and erotic romance about characters who have STIs.

I would like to see a range of experiences represented. Give me characters just opening themselves up to sexuality post-diagnosis, characters for whom disclosure and safer sex practices are a routine side note to whatever sexual fun they’re getting up to, characters who deal with STIs by fetishizing them (see bug chasing and gift giving), and more. I will be accepting stories with an eye toward representing many types of STIs and experiences with them. Stories must be fictional.

It’s a major priority for me to include stories about people of a variety of orientations, body types, races, genders, ages, abilities, etc. I’m very interested in stories that engage with stigmas around STIs, but I’m absolutely not interested in stories that perpetuate those stigmas. I’m interested in the realities of sexuality, and it is fine for characters to have backgrounds that include unsafe behavior/murky consent/etc. In the present of your story, however, I want to see characters who are responsible with themselves and their partners. Please use medically accurate information where relevant. Please don’t be preachy or shaming.

All sexualities and gender expressions are welcome. Kink is welcome. I prefer contemporary settings for this anthology. For historical settings or science fiction/fantasy, please query first.

Submission Guidelines
Stories between 3,000 and 7,500 words are preferred. I will consider shorter stories or stories as long as 10,000 words if I find them truly exceptional.
Coming Together contracts non-exclusive rights to publish, so previously published work is fine, as long as you own the rights to the work you submit. Stories over 5,000 words may be released individually through Coming Together as well, with the sales proceeds benefiting the CSPH.
Please use RTF, DOC, or DOCX format when submitting a manuscript. Include your legal name, pen name, and a working email address at the top of the document. Do not paste your story into the body of your message.

Please use Times New Roman font, size 12, and one-inch margins. Double-space paragraphs and set indentations to .3 – Do not use tabs or spaces to indent.

Please do not submit poetry or memoir.

Direct all submissions to positivelybook@outlook.com and CC submissions@the-erotic-cocktail.com.

Include “Coming Together Positively Sexy Submission” in the header of your e-mail. In your e-mail message, include a two-line blurb for your story (to help with promotion if your story is accepted), and a short biography, no more than 150 words, including your website/blog/social media links if applicable. Please also indicate if your story has been previously published.

Feel free to query if your submission is not acknowledged within 72 hours.

Coming Together is a non-profit organization, and all CT authors and editors have generously donated their talents to various causes. Compensation for inclusion in this work is a PDF contributor copy of the finished product and the satisfaction of knowing you are helping an amazing organization that is working to reduce sexual shame.

Signs that you’ve read the guidelines make me❤ you. Thanks so much for being interested in this anthology.

Questions? EMail: submissions@the-erotic-cocktail.com

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