I’d like to thank fellow author Charlie Cochet for giving me the opportunity to appear on her blog once again to share an exclusive excerpt of my latest release, Yesterday. This novel is a standalone, a period piece set during the final days of the Pahlavi dynasty. The time and place aren’t conducive to romance, especially between two men, but love and logic aren’t always compatible as Kamran and Grady soon find out. Can a chance meeting alter one’s destiny? The answers are revealed within the pages of Yesterday.
The striking cover was designed by multitalented author and cover artist Catt Ford. Aside from the giveaways, which are listed on the Rafflecopter widget, I bring an exclusive excerpt. I hope you enjoy the sneak peek.
In June of 1978 Grady Ormond, eighteen-year-old son of diplomat Peter Ormond, accompanies his father to his new posting as US Ambassador to Pakistan. Neighboring Iran is on the brink of a civil war, with the monarchy in danger of being overthrown.
Grady will be leaving for New York City in late August to study cinematography and has been warned to keep his homosexual orientation tightly under wraps while on vacation. Repercussions in the predominantly Islamic region could be severe.
On their first night in Karachi, his father hosts a cocktail party to meet the local dignitaries. Grady is introduced to His Highness Prince Kamran Izadi, nephew of the Shah of Iran. Twenty-three-year-old Kamran has recently returned from the UK, where he spent eleven years, first as a student, and then as a financial analyst.
The attraction is immediate—unforeseen and dangerously powerful—but neither one dares to make a move. Odds are so stacked against them it’s futile to even entertain a friendship, but they do, and their world tilts precariously.
With his country in turmoil and Grady about to leave for college, Kamran makes a decision that will change their lives forever.
The cool air blowing out of the air-conditioning vents in the Land Rover was such a wonderful contrast to the squelching heat we’d just escaped. I could have happily stayed in the car for the rest of the day. All too soon, we were bumping up a long dirt driveway toward a white stone edifice sitting on a rise. I was no farmer, but I recognized oranges and lemons and, in addition, several much larger trees with thick limbs weighed down by fat golden mangoes. There were also palm, banana, and other large varieties of vegetation I didn’t recognize bordering the edifice and acting like a natural canopy against the harsh sun.
A pair of sleek black-and-white dogs ran up to the car the minute it rolled to a stop. They looked like greyhounds—deep chested and long legged—but covered with feathery fur on their ears and curved tails. When Kamran stepped out of the vehicle, they ran up to him, tails wagging happily. He got down on his haunches and rubbed each one behind the ears, speaking to them softly in his language. He stood and gestured for me to come close.
“Put out your hand so they can smell you,” he said. “They’re normally docile but have been known to snap at strangers.”
I did as I was told and watched in wary silence as the animals slowly approached. “What are their names?”
“Zena and Sher.”
Naturally, the first thing that came to mind was Sonny and Cher, who were all the rage a few years back. The animals’ large eyes, long, narrow heads, and silky hair hanging down their droopy ears, framing their faces, reminded me a lot of the iconic diva, a favorite among so many of my friends. In the weeks to come, I’d refer to Zena as Sonny because it flowed so much better with Sher. After a while, Kamran stopped correcting me.
As soon as we walked into the house, I was enchanted. The difference between the nondescript exterior and jewellike interior was unexpected. Colorful mosaic tiles were painstakingly laid out on walls and ceilings, and the floors were covered with large tiles that looked, to my untrained eye, like creamy marble. I supposed that given the opulence of the rest of the place, it wasn’t too farfetched. The house was built around a courtyard with open arches on one side of the walkway and closed rooms on the other. The materials were most likely chosen to withstand the rain that supposedly fell in pummeling sheets once monsoon season started. A small fountain in the center of the courtyard provided the soothing sounds of running water as it cycled through a pair of dolphins that appeared to be leaping out of its depths.
There were several iron birdcages strategically placed along the walls of the room with different varieties of exotic birds. One cage in particular caught my attention. A pair of birds in varying shades of green with deep garnet markings on their sides watched us as we approached.
“Are they parrots?” I asked curiously. They looked like them only smaller. As soon as they heard me talk, they began to screech loudly, swaying back and forth, long claws tightly gripping the wooded perches. They had large reddish-orange beaks that would probably do some serious damage to a finger if provoked.
“They’re Alexandrine parakeets,” Kamran informed me. “Named after Alexander the Great, who’s credited with bringing them to this region.”
“Do they bite?”
“Absolutely,” he said. “Don’t try petting them, or you’ll regret it.” Despite the warning, he opened the cage, stuck his hand inside, and one of the birds hopped right onto his outstretched forefinger. Slowly, he took him out, all the while crooning to the creature in Farsi.
“He’s obviously trainable,” I commented, watching in fascination as Kamran and the bird communicated mysteriously. “Does he have a name?”
“Xandar,” he said with a quirk to his lip. “And the female is named Rhoxana.”
“Naturally,” I said. “I should have guessed.”
Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
Three winners will win an ebook copy of Yesterday, a signed print copy of Yesterday, or a Dreamspinner gift certificate. Contest open internationally. Must be 18 or older to enter.
Jan. 20 – Hearts On Fire
Jan. 21 – The Novel Approach
Jan. 22 – Diverse Reader
Jan. 22 – Multitaskingmommas
Jan. 25 – Charlie Cochet
Jan. 26 – On Top Down Under Book Reviews
Jan. 27 – Love Bytes
Jan. 28 – Prism Book Alliance
Jan. 29 – MM Good Book Reviews
Feb. 1 – Rainbow Gold Reviews
Feb. 2 – Sinfully