Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt, and Giveaway – Whippersnapper by Michael Rupured

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AboutTheBook

Whippersnapper-final (1)TITLE: Whippersnapper

AUTHOR: Michael Rupured

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

COVER ARTIST: Maria Fanning

LENGTH: 220 Pages

GENRE: Contemporary

RELEASE DATE: January 29, 2016

BLURB: Tellumo Magnamater is a fresh-out-of-college, first-year English teacher at Salt Lick County High School in Kentucky. He rides the bus to and from work, and every day he walks to the gym behind his small efficiency apartment to exercise. Perhaps because of being raised by two lesbians, Tellumo is attracted to older men. He sets his sights on fifty-something available bachelor Oliver Crumbly. But Tellumo isn’t the only resident interested in Oliver.

Peggy Tucker, a widow approaching her sixtieth birthday, is determined to marry again, and she thinks Oliver is her perfect match. Despite Tellumo and Peggy striking up a friendship at the gym, neither realizes they are interested in the same man. But the joke might be on both of them. Oliver, a retired history teacher, is the original crotchety old man who hates everything and everybody—especially young people.

Excerpt

Where are they? Tellumo Magnamater checked his smartphone for the twentieth time in as many minutes and peeked out between the blinds again. Ice and snow melted from car hoods and rooftops in a cacophony of splashes and trickling water. Sooty ridges of snow the same shade of gray as the late morning sky edged the glistening asphalt.

He hadn’t seen his mothers since August, when they’d helped him move to Fallisville for his first teaching job, three days before the first day of school. He’d planned to visit Cincinnati for Christmas until Snowmageddon—thirty inches of snow in a week’s time—had brought Northern Kentucky to a standstill, putting the kibosh on his holiday plans. Everyone else’s too. Churches canceled Christmas services, and bars remained closed on New Year’s Eve. Until yesterday’s warm front had pushed the temperature into the lower fifties, the mercury hadn’t climbed more than a degree or two above freezing since before Christmas, when the flurries had begun.

As Tellumo checked his smartphone for messages again, a white panel truck with Amazon Home Repair on the side in bright blue letters came into view—sporting noticeably more bumper stickers than the last time he’d seen it. He returned the device to his pocket and glanced around his efficiency apartment once more. Everything looked ready for company.

He ran out to greet his guests. Before the truck had come to a complete stop, the passenger side door opened and Trish bounded toward him, her camel coat unbuttoned to reveal the red-and-green plaid pants and gaudy Santa sweater she’d worn on Christmas for as long as he could remember.

“I’ve missed you so much!” She flung her arms around his neck, kissed his cheek, and held him tight.

He hugged her back, surprised by the tears in his eyes. “I’ve missed you too.” He kissed her cheek, released her, and then turned to Jules, waiting beside them.

“Sorry we’re late.” Jules squeezed him hard. “Roads haven’t been this clear since before Christmas. Everyone and her sister was out.” She let go of him and folded her arms across her chest. The creases in her khaki pants and the long sleeves of the oxford cloth shirt she wore were sharp enough to cut hair. “We made good time once we got out of Cincinnati.”

“I was starting to worry—you’re never late.” Tellumo kissed her cheek. “Need me to help you carry anything in?”

“Nah.” Jules shook her head. “Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s not much to carry.” She gave him a grin and a wink. “I’ll unload the car. You guys go on inside and catch up.”

“If you insist.” Trish grabbed Tellumo by the hand and pulled him toward his apartment. “Give her a few minutes to calm down,” she whispered. “We’ve been arguing since we got off of I-75.”

“About what?” Jules hadn’t seemed the least bit agitated or annoyed. Tellumo hung Trish’s coat on a hook on the back of his front door, leaving it ajar so Jules could get in with her hands full. “The car thing again?”

Trish nodded, plopped onto the sofa, and pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “We’ve argued about it for weeks. She wanted your Christmas present from us to be the money for a down payment.” She patted the sofa cushion and motioned for him to sit. “Don’t get me wrong. I’ve missed you too, and having a car would make visits home easier, but if you don’t want the responsibility….”

“I don’t.” He sat down beside her and smiled. Though he still sometimes wondered, he’d long ago stopped trying to figure out which woman was his biological mother. Trish and Jules weren’t telling and looked enough alike to make guessing difficult. Knowing when he’d been younger might have made a difference, but after all these years was unlikely to alter his feelings for either parent. “I thought about getting a car, but I really don’t want the added expense.”

“Makes sense to me.” Trish ran her fingers through her curly brown hair and looked around. “This place can’t cost much. What do you do with your money?”

“Save it—like you’ve drilled into me since I could walk.” The furnished apartment had come with everything but dishes and linens. His additional needs were few—a smartphone, a laptop, Internet access with Wi-Fi, and a decent video gaming system. He lived on a fraction of his income and banked the rest. “Do we need to have a family meeting about the car thing… again?”

“No.” She shrugged. “Your mind is made up, and I’m not changing my vote.” She looped her arm over his shoulder and pulled him close. “Voting again would be pointless.”

“Thanks, Trish.” He kissed her cheek. His mothers had almost always presented a united front—especially in family meetings. On the rare occasion when they disagreed, his had been the deciding vote.

BuyLinks

Dreamspinner Press (eBook)

Dreamspinner Press (Paperback)

Amazon US

Amazon UK

All Romance eBooks

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AuthorBio

AuthorPic

Michael Rupured loves to write. Before learning the alphabet, he filled page after page with rows of tiny circles he now believes were his first novels, and has been writing ever since. He lives in Athens, Georgia, grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, came out as a gay man at the age of twenty-one in the late 1970s, and considers surviving his wild and reckless twenties to have been a miracle. To find out what Michael’s up to now, visit his blog (rupured.com), follow him on Twitter (@crotchetyman) or send an e-mail message to mrupured@gmail.com.

:: Website & Blog :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Google+ ::

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TourSchedule

January 27: Prism Book Alliance

January 28: Drops of Ink

January 29: The Purple Rose Tea House

February 1: Kathy Mac Reviews

February 2: Cathy Writes Romance

February 3: Diverse Reader

February 4: Divine Magazine

February 5: The Novel Approach

February 8: Elisa – My reviews and Ramblings

February 9: Loving Without Limits

February 10: MM Good Book Reviews

February 11: Love Bytes Reviews

February 12: Unquietly Me

February 15: BFD Book Blog

February 16: Bayou Book Junkie

February 17: 3 Chicks After Dark

February 18: Alpha Book Club

February 19: My Fiction Nook

 

Author Interview – The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland by Joe Cosentino

Interview with Joe Cosentino, author of

THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND

Published by Dreamspinner Press

It is my pleasure to welcome back to the Purple Rose Tea House prolific author Joe Cosentino. 

Thank you, Charlie. I’m here so much you should name a tea after me.

What would we call it?

How about Spicy, or since I come back so much, Reflux?

I like Spicy. Perfect for you. 

Reflux didn’t get a rise out of you.

Who would buy a tea called Reflux?

People are into all kinds of kinky things, as you know. For example, I remember a picture of you—

On to our interview. 

First I want to congratulate you for winning The Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Gay Paranormal Novel of 2015 with RISE and FALL!

 

Awwww. Thank you, Joe. That’s so sweet of you to mention that. My first question— 

(Joe clears his throat.)

I’d like to know—

Charlie, did you want to mention anything else about the Divine Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards?

Not really.

(Joe weeps.)

I’m just pulling your tea bag. Of course I want to tell everyone that your MM novella AN INFATUATION won Best Book Cover, and your gay mystery/comedy novel DRAMA QUEEN the first Nicky and Noah mystery won Best Mystery, Best Crime Novel, Best Humorous Novel, and Best Contemporary Novel. Congratulations, Joe!

You didn’t need to mention all that.

Your new—

But since you did, I want to thank my Kindergarten teacher who—

On to the interview for THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND, your latest novella from Dreamspinner Press. Your previous novels and novellas were reality based, well based in your reality. What made you to venture into the world of fantasy?

 

While reading other prolific writers whose work admire—like yours, I noticed so many writing about alternative realities. I decided to leave science fiction to the writers who do it best, but try writing in a new genre I adore—fairytales (no pun intended).

 

Did you love fairytales as a kid?

 My older sister (She’ll love reading this) read me fairytales in bed every night before sleep when I was a kid. I was totally entranced by the captivating stories of peasants becoming princes and princesses—and finding true love. The gorgeous locations, hysterical wit, wonderment, high drama, and happy endings filled my young mind like beans in a counting jar. I wanted to leave my ordinary life behind and live in those palaces, meet the charming princes, and bring financial equality and happiness to those kingdoms. I learned how to read by reading those cherished, worn fairytale books, which were handed down to my grandnieces who love them (when they aren’t wearing their Frozen clothing, sitting on their Frozen blanket, drinking from their Frozen mug, and playing in their Frozen Village.

Had you always thought about writing your own fairytales?

After college I wrote musical plays for professional theatre companies (Interborough Repertory Theater, Pegasus Productions, and TSF Productions) that toured to young audiences. Many of them were based on fairytales like Princess and the Pea, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Aladdin, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Some of them are still on tour!

What’s your favorite fairytale?

Cinderella. It has the perfect elements: larger than life characters, humor, drama, conflict, and a perfect ending.

What led you to write fairytales with a gay spin?

As I read and reread those old fairytales, I was saddened to see no openly gay characters in any of my favorite stories. I also saw all the Disney films and Broadway musicals and wondered, ‘Where are the openly gay characters? What does this absence say to a gay child and/or gay parent?’ I also asked myself, ‘Why aren’t there any gay people in fairyland? Why couldn’t a peasant boy fall in love with a prince? Wouldn’t a tired, hungry, homeless blond boy seek refuge in a house with three bears? What was Pinocchio’s growing appendage trying to tell him?  Did Jack enjoy his time with the Giant more than he let on? Could the Snow Queen be a handsome, frigid prince?’

What’s the good of fairy dust without any fairies?

Exactly.

So how did you go about writing the four stories in the long novella?

Having written three successful novellas published by Dreamspinner Press, I knew it was time to write a fourth. Unlike my three contemporary romances (AN INFATUATION, A SHOOTING STAR, A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS), I decided this one would be a fantasy featuring my favorite fairytales turned into rainbows. So I thought back to the stories I loved so much and incorporated many of them into the four humorous, romantic, adventurous, touching, and magically gay tales from Fairyland. It really was fun, like updating history books.

What are the stories about?

“The Naked Prince” is a different take on the Cinderella story. Cinder, a poor and beautiful young man who designs clothing, makeup, and hair for his stepmother and stepsisters, offers his clothing and slippers to a naked stranger in the woods who turns out to be none other than Prince Charming. Will Cinder and Prince Charming confront their manipulative mothers, bring equality to the kingdom, find themselves, and find one another? In “The Golden Rule,” when he is caught with nimble Jack, eighteen-year-old Gideon Golden is thrown out of his home in Fairyland by his homophobic parents. With nowhere else to go, he breaks into the home of three men living on Bear Mountain. Bo and Butch enjoy having a young roommate, but Ben isn’t convinced. Will Gideon and Ben make vinegar or honey? “Whatever Happened To … ?” takes place on Christmas Eve. A reporter living on Andersen Lane interviews a celebrity for the Queen Newspaper series, “What Ever Happened To … .” Friction ensues between the celebrity with the growing appendage who can’t tell fact from fiction, and the reporter who has a thing for giants. Eventually a romantic spark is lit between the two as Christmas Day arrives, and they realize they have more in common than living in Fairyland. Finally in “Ice Cold,” after losing their families during the great ice storm in the northernmost kingdom of Fairyland, young Gaelen and Kieran pledged their love for one another. When Isidore rides into Frost Village on his elaborate sleigh, Kieran follows the handsome prince to his castle in Arctic Kingdom, where Kieran becomes Isidore’s bewitched slave. This leads Gaelen on an amazing adventure to find his true love and melt his frozen heart.

Tell us more about the main characters. 

Cinder is sweet, giving, kind, and totally devoted to his family. He wants nothing more than to see them happy. Due to his selflessness, the spirits of his two deceased dads grant him a wish to go to the king and queen’s ball. Prince Charming is handsome, strong, and of course—charming. Like Cinder he wants to help the poor in his kingdom, but he doesn’t know how to do it. That’s where Cinder comes in. Cinder and Prince Charming are perfect foils and perfect soulmates.

Gideon begins as a selfish teenager. Thanks to Ben (the mature and hunky brother on Bear Mountain), Gideon learns the true meaning of love and family.

Pinocchio and Jack learn in their story to transcend their pasts and love themselves, and each other, again.

Gaelen is a sheltered young man who finds his inner strength to save his love, Kiernan, from the wicked Prince Isidore. Along the way he is tempted by three handsome men in the forest, but his heart always belongs to Kiernan.

Who is your favorite character in THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND and why?

I love all of them, but my favorite are Cinder’s funny, sweet, devoted dads. I want to play Mortimer in the animated movie!

Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write and why?

“Ice Cold” was a stretch for me since unlike most of my other work it is a fantasy epic. I enjoyed it though and I love all of the colorful characters Gaelen meets on his journey.

Which one of your characters did you enjoy writing the most and why?

In “The Golden Rule” Gideon sparing with Ben was a blast. Those two really heated things up.

How did you handle writing the love scenes?

Lovemaking is a part of life, so it makes sense to include love scenes in novels. The love scenes in this novella are as beautiful and magical as the stories.

What are you writing now?

A new series of novels in a gay beach resort called Cozzi Cove. Though I hide under a beach umbrella due to my fair skin, I love the beach! Nine Star Press is publishing COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK and COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD soon.

You write mysteries as well. Any new releases coming out soon in that genre?

Yes, my Nicky and Noah mystery series from Lethe Press is a farcical, gay, cozy, who-dun-it. In DRAMA QUEEN theatre college professors are dropping like stage curtains. With the inept local detective more interested in getting into Nicky’s pants than solving the murders, it is up to well-endowed Directing professor, Nicky Abbondanza to use his theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve the case, while he directs a murder mystery onstage. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, gorgeous Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder (whose tenure application was not supported by the first victim). In DRAMA MUSCLE (released January 2) Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In DRAMA CRUISE (not released yet), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship.

I have another  mystery series, the Jana Lane mysteries, with straight leading characters and gay supporting characters. As a child I loved child stars like Shirley Temple, Hayley Mills, and Patty Duke, seeing their movies over and over. So I created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In PAPER DOLL (Whiskey Creek Press), Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In PORCELAIN DOLL (The Wild Rose Press releasing March 15), Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, Jason Apollo. In SATIN DOLL (not yet released from The Wild Rose Press), Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a romance with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In CHINA DOLL (not yet released from The Wild Rose Press), Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. Through the course of the books, Jana not only solves the mysteries, but also reclaims the courage and fortitude she had as a child. This is an important message for all of us. As one reviewer wrote, she starts out as a wounded bird, and ends as tiger. Since the novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s best friends are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.

How can your readers contact you?

I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.

As always, it was an incredible pleasure, Joe.

Thank you, Charlie. Would you like to be my date at the Divine Magazine Awards? We can sit up front and blow kisses to the camera when the MC makes jokes about us.

It’s a date. Until next time, happy writing!

The Naked Prince cover

THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND

by JOE COSENTINO

published by Dreamspinner Press

e-book $4.99

Purchase Links

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7352
myBook.to/NakedPrince_Cosentino
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thenakedprinceandothertalesfromfairyland-1964627-143.html
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-naked-prince-and-other-tales-from-fairyland-joe-cosentino/1123242972?ean=2940157650803 

Fantasy Romance
ISBN-13: 978-1-63476-758-3
Pages or WC: 30,000 words
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

 

2015NewAbout the Book

Cinder, a poor and beautiful young man who designs clothing, makeup, and hair for his stepmother and stepsisters, offers his clothing and slippers to a naked stranger in the woods who turns out to be none other than Prince Charming. Follow Cinder and Prince Charming in this twist on the classic “Cinderella” tale, as they discover their inner strengths and find their very own happily ever after. Enjoy “The Naked Prince” and three other reimagined Tales from Fairyland, each with a unique spin on stories we all know and love, including “The Golden Rule,” where eighteen-year-old Gideon Golden, after being thrown out of his home in Fairyland by his homophobic parents, breaks into the cottage of three burly men on Bear Mountain, “Whatever Happened To…?,” in which friction ensues between a celebrity with a growing appendage and the reporter who has a thing for giants, and “Ice Cold,” where young Gaelen must save his love Kieran after a handsome but evil prince freezes Kieran’s heart and bewitches him into being the prince’s slave.

Praise for Joe Cosentino’s books from Dreamspinner Press:

“unbelievably beautiful” “a masterpiece” Lovebytes Reviews

“as Joe Cosentino proves time and time again, with his wonderful writing and storytelling ability, love will prevail, and you will smile from ear to ear.” Kathy Mac Reviews

“a master class in how to write short fiction (or any fiction). Joe Cosentino has provided a work that will leave you thinking and wanting to savor and re-read it again and again.” GGR Reviews

“Like an onion, Joe Cosentino’s stories have layers.” “For those readers looking for something a little bit different – dare I say unique? For those readers who like to laugh. For those readers who appreciate the nuances of people and the way each character is different. For those readers who want to read a damn good story – check out this author. I’m glad I did.” “A truly fabulous read.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews

“This story just blew me away.” Cathy Brockman Romance/MM Good Book Reviews

“From the beginning I was enthralled and couldn’t wait to finish the book.” Inked Rainbow Reads

“really grabs you and tugs at your emotions” “unique and enjoyable.” Nautical Star Books

“It turned out exactly how I wanted it to.” BFD Book Blog

“This is polished prose at its best. Intelligent writing, a thought-provoking plot and characters befitting the theater genre” “one of my favorite reads this year.” Love’s Last Refuge Reviews

“Don’t miss this one friends, it is a heartfelt story magical in the telling! Thanks Joe for putting your heart on the page for us to savor!” Bike Book Reviews

“It’s unusual for me to get sucked into a book in the first chapter but it grabbed me early and I read the whole thing in one day”.  Nautical Star Books

“There were times I laughed and then there were times I cried…unforgettable.” Multitaskingmomma Reviews

“I really loved this book and having an ending that made me laugh and cry at the same time is testament to the brilliant writing.” BooksLaidBareBoys

“The author executed his storyline with a marvelous precision that would be the envy of many authors. He draws the readers into the lives of his characters, they become real and in turn, their emotions becomes yours.” “If you can only afford to buy one more book this year, buy this one.” Three Books Over the Rainbow Reviews

2015NewAbout the author

Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, Charles Keating, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming releases are Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press) and Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press releasing March 15).

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt, and Giveaway – Yesterday by Mickie B. Ashling

Tour Banner Yesterday

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.

YesterdayLG

2015NewAbout the Book

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.

2015NewExcerpt

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.”

Purchase Links

Dreamspinner Press eBook | Dreamspinner Press Paperback | All Romance eBooks | Amazon

2015NewAbout the author

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.

connectwiththeauthor

Email | Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog | Goodreads & Ask the Author

2015NewGiveaway

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.

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2015NewTour Info

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

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