Ariel Tachna – Partnership Reborn Cover Reveal & Excerpt!

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TH2014Blurb
All his life, wizard Raphael Tarayaud has dreamed of a vampire—first as a friend, then as a lover. His search for his missing soul mate brings him to the attention of Sebastien Noyer, one of his childhood heroes. While Sebastien isn’t his soul mate, he could be the perfect partner for Raphael’s best friend Kylian Raffier.

As strange coincidences mount up, Raphael offers his research expertise to try and help Kylian and Sebastien understand what is happening to them, though the more he learns, the less he likes it. But it won’t keep him from fighting with everything he has to secure Kylian’s future.

When he finally meets Jean Bellaiche, former chef de la Cour and grieving widower, the meeting is disastrous, but Raphael can’t let it go. He doesn’t stand a chance with Jean—who could compete with the ghost of Raymond Payet?—but nothing can stop him from dreaming.

TH2014Excerpt

Angélique returned a few minutes later with a smiling Florence behind her. Sebastien ignored Angélique and offered his hand to Florence. She laughed at him as she always did and leaned in to kiss both his cheeks. “We know each other too well for that,” she scolded when she had finished.

He could hardly argue with that. He had visited her regularly for ten years now. She was not always available when he needed to feed, and he did not always come to Sang Froid, but he always asked for her first when he did. “I suppose we do,” he agreed, though he would leave it to her to cross the line from acquaintances to friends the next time he came as well. “Do you have some time free for me tonight?”

“Of course I do,” she said with a smile. “Come, we will find a quiet place to be together.”

They would talk, and he would feed, and that would be the extent of it, but the turn of phrase she always used left him missing Thierry each time. Sometimes he thought she did it on purpose, to remind him of what he had shared with Thierry and to remind him he could have, if not that, then something meaningful, again. He had never asked if Angélique put her up to it. He was not sure he wanted to know.

He followed her through the warren of halls and rooms to the one she was using that evening. “What’s on your mind?” she asked as soon as the door shut behind him.

He slumped into a chair. “I don’t even know where to start.”

“At the beginning, of course,” she replied, taking a seat opposite him on the elegant divan. “Where else would you begin a story?”

He chuckled a little. So like her to go straight to the heart of the matter. “Angélique and I are worried about Jean. It’s been thirty years, and he’s made no effort to return to any kind of normal life. I know he loved Raymond, and I know that kind of loss doesn’t just go away, but he’s stuck in limbo—not dead, but not living either—and that isn’t what Raymond wanted.”

“Would it be kinder just to let him go?” Florence asked. “I know you want to pull him back and to see him return to the man he was, but have you considered that it might not be possible?”

“More than once,” Sebastien admitted, “but he isn’t the first vampire to lose an Avoué or to lose a wizard partner, and we’ve all learned to go on.”

“But he is the only surviving vampire to lose both at once. You’ve told me repeatedly how the Aveu de Sang makes everything between a vampire and his lover more intense. When you add to that the benefits of having a wizard as a partner, it’s no surprise he’s still grieving.”

The reminder of losing Orlando pinched at Sebastien’s heart, but he had understood Orlando’s choice then in a way Jean had not. Orlando had only ever loved Alain. There had never been anyone else for him, and there never would be. Jean had loved before, and Sebastien truly believed he would love again if he would only open himself to the possibility.

“Not quite,” Sebastien replied slowly. “My second bond with Thierry might not have been an Aveu de Sang in name, but it mimicked every root characteristic we could think of, and I’m still here.”

“As you say. Your concern for Jean isn’t new. What changed tonight?”

“Angélique convinced me to check out a list of clubs where I might be able to take Jean hunting,” Sebastien explained.

“And you thought this was a good idea? You realize her taste is somewhat skewed, don’t you?”

Sebastien had heard rumors over the years, but he had never been invited to Angélique’s bed and probably would not have gone even if he had been. “It was a perfectly normal club. The only problem is that I was recognized before I even got in the door. I can’t take Jean somewhere like that. Not at first, anyway.”

“So you turned around and left,” Florence said.

“No, I stayed and had a drink and met… someone,” Sebastien said slowly.

“Someone?” Florence repeated. “That’s intriguingly vague.”

“A man,” Sebastien specified. “I didn’t get his name, but we talked, mostly about his friend, who is determined to snare a vampire. It wouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary, except that he’s a wizard.”

“You didn’t get his name, but you found out he’s a wizard? There’s something backward about that,” Florence observed.

“That’s sort of the way the conversation went,” Sebastien said with a shrug. “In retrospect, everything about it was backward from the minute I saw him.”

“Oh, so that’s the way it is,” Florence gloated as she leaned forward. “Tell me more.”

Sebastien almost refused, but he had to talk to someone, and Jean would not want to hear about it. Jean wouldn’t say anything, but then he rarely said anything no matter what Sebastien did. The silence said far more about his state of mind than any words could have done, so Sebastien tried to respect that as much as he could. Angélique would listen, but he would have to put up with that damned knowing smile she always wore when anything personal came up in conversation.

“I don’t know what to say,” Sebastien replied. “That’s the problem. I’ve hunted since Thierry died. I’ve been attracted to people since then. I’ve had sex since then. Going to a club and seeing an attractive young man shouldn’t have been a problem—but I’ve been completely unsettled since I first laid eyes on him, and I can’t figure out why.”

“Could it be because he’s a wizard?” Florence asked.

“Possibly,” Sebastien admitted. “With anyone else, feeding is just feeding and sex is just sex, but with a wizard, there’s the chance of it being more. I stumbled into my relationship with Thierry and was lucky to find someone I could work with and eventually love. Not everyone was as lucky, and I don’t want to take the chance of my luck running out this time.”

“That’s why you get to know him first,” Florence said. “It’s what the rest of us mortals do before we make a commitment to someone. We go out, we talk, we get to know each other, and we decide if we’re compatible. If we are, we keep seeing each other. If we aren’t, we stop.”

“Once I bite him, it’s all over if he’s my partner,” Sebastien said. He could find out if Kylian was his partner with a wave of his wand, of course, since his partner’s magic wouldn’t work on him, but that didn’t resolve his issue with whether to act on the attraction.

“Then don’t bite him until you know if you can be with him,” Florence said in exasperation. “Really, you’d think a vampire of your age would have enough self-control to go out with someone or even sleep with someone without feeding from him.”

TH2014Author

Ariel Tachna bio pic

Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their two dogs.  Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with France, where she met her husband, and India, where she hopes to retire some day.  She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.

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Jon Keys – Homegrown Blog Tour & Recipe

Hi Charlie! Thanks for letting me visit! Home Grown was released by Dreamspinner Press on Sept 3rd, and I’m so excited. The guys in Home Grown are from wildly different worlds and this is a story about how they learn to work through problems both of them have in their past. The other big part of the story is their love of food. I mean, Ethan raises organic veggies for the farmers market. So I thought I’d share recipes that show up in the novel, plus a few extras. Good food and cute guys, what could be better!

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So here’s the latest recipe from the book. This time it’s the tomato and mozzarella salad Peter made for Ethan.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad (Caprese)

Ingredients:

6 tomatoes, sliced (Heirloom tomatoes would great, Cherokee Purple especially.)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

6-12 leaves fresh basil

1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Arrange tomato and mozzarella slices alternating around the serving plate. Tuck basil leaves between the slices. If you have leaves left cut into strips and sprinkle over the top. Next mix the balsamic vinegar, EVOO, salt and pepper together, and then drizzle over the tomato and cheese slices. Let the flavors develop for an hour.

~ Jon ~

 

TH2014Blurb

Peter Stevens believes nothing tastes better than a vine-ripened tomato tended by a farmer’s hands. The craving for heirloom tomatoes leads him to his local farmers’ market and his favorite vendor, Ethan Hart. As Peter becomes a regular customer, the two find they have more in common than a love of good food. Just as Ethan begins to relax, Peter’s ex, Jay, appears and is all the things Ethan is not. A perfect storm of mistakes and poor choices, as well as Ethan’s haunted past, has him ready to admit defeat. With the guidance of friends and a goat far too smart for her own good, Ethan realizes he needs to have a tender hand and patience to grow a home for Peter.

 

TH2014Excerpt

Ethan’s stomach fluttered, his anticipation building as he scanned the early morning farmer’s market crowd. Stop it. Peter will show up when he shows up. Ethan snapped his attention back to the present when the small gray-haired woman who ran the booth beside him tucked herself under his arm and hugged him tight.

“Morning, good-looking.”

“Morning, Maggie. How are things going?” Ethan kissed the top of her head and returned her embrace.

“Not bad, not bad. I’ve put out all the soaps. I hope everyone feels dirty today and stocks up.”

Ethan chuckled at the image of mud people gathering around Maggie’s stall. “Well, my customers can be clean. But I think business today will be good. The late season tomatoes are finally ripe, and I’ve had lots of people asking about them.”

 “Including Peter?”

Heat crept up Ethan’s cheeks. “Peter? I don’t know. Probably. You know he has a thing for my tomatoes.”

“Uh-huh, yeah. I might have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night. Admit it to Auntie Maggie, you have the hots for the boy, and I think he has a thing for more than your tomatoes.”

Ethan brushed off her speculation with a wave of his hand. “Maggie, you’re crazy. That man’s some kinda high-powered muckety-muck downtown. He’d never know I lived in Wisconsin if I didn’t have the best tomatoes in the market.”

Ethan studied the forming crowd, their sounds echoing through the building. “It looks like it’s getting busy, I’d better check to make sure I got everything from the truck.”

He embraced her again and trotted out the side door to his pickup. I’m not ready to talk to anyone about my feelings about Peter.

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TH2014Author

Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.

A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.

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Guest Post & Excerpt – Anne Barwell: Music Code

Thanks, Charlie, for hosting me today.

When I was studying Music History as part of my degree, one of the things that fascinated me was the use of code in music.  Although it was used in WW2 when my upcoming release Winter Duet was set, it had also been used long before that.

Bach used musical notes to spell out ‘Bach’ in his music, using the fact that modern music notation had developed from modes—in German ‘B flat’ was ‘B’ and ‘B natural’ was H—and phonetics. Later, Schumann used several musical cryptograms in his music, spelling out not just his own name, but that of Clara Wieck, who would later become his wife.  Other codes were based on pitch, motifs (repeated musical phrases) and note lengths. There are many more examples and variations out there across a range of different composers.

And yes, Clara Lehrer, Kristopher’s sister, is named after Clara Schumann.

Kristopher in Winter Duet is a musician, or was before he chose to pursue his passion for science.  He still tends to hum music while thinking through problems. So, when he and Michel need to work out a code to leave messages for each other, music is the logical choice.  Michel is also a musician. He plays the flute, and promised Kristopher, who is a violinist, a duet in the first book Shadowboxing.

He still intends to keep that promise.

One of the set pieces for that same paper that covered the music codes, was Schubert’s Winterreise — a collection of poems by Müller, Schubert had set to music.  In Winter Duet, the Resistance uses lines from one of the poems as code phrases, and Kristopher refers to one of the others later, ‘Der Leiermann’, which is about the wanderer in winter.  Also, given Kristopher’s background and education, it was something he’d recognise, even if the other characters didn’t, which led nicely into the use of music as code between him and Michel, something he’d been thinking about anyway.

I knew that university paper would come in useful somewhere.

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Winter Duet is available from Dreamspinner Press on 6th October.

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TH2014Blurb

Echoes book 2 – Sequel to Shadowboxing

Germany 1944

With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel leave the security of their safe house and continue their journey across Germany toward Switzerland. Caught in a series of Allied bombings, they stop to help civilians and narrowly escape capture by German forces.

While investigating a downed aircraft in the Black Forest, the two men discover an injured RAF pilot.  After they are separated, Kristopher and the pilot are discovered by a German officer who claims he is not who he appears to be. Determined to find Michel again, Kristopher has to trust the stranger and hope he is not connected to those searching for him and the information he carries. Meanwhile Michel is intercepted by one of the Allied soldiers he met in Berlin. His help is needed to save one of their own.

Time quickly runs out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo closes in. Michel can only hope that they can reach safety before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s lives, but those of the remaining members of their team—if it is not already too late.

TH2014Excerpt

“Oh.” Kristopher paused, his spoon halfway to his mouth. “I’m sorry. I never thought. I didn’t mean to….” The words trailed off. Telling them he hadn’t meant to embarrass them would only serve to do just that.

“I’d never heard the poems before either,” Michel said. He glanced toward the door, as though suddenly nervous.

“That’s the thing with wars,” Karolina said. “They draw all sorts of different people together, don’t they? It doesn’t matter who you are. Out there on the battlefield everyone’s the same, aren’t they?”

“Yes, they are.” Kristopher swallowed a mouthful of beans while he collected his thoughts. “I was a musician,” he said at last. “It was a long time ago. Sometimes it feels as though it was in another lifetime. I’ve been trying to work out why the code phrase sounded so familiar. I’m sorry. I guess I should have kept it to myself.”

“Nonsense,” Georg said briskly. “Don’t apologize for having a good education, and if it gives you some distraction to get through this terrible time, you should use it.” Karolina placed a hand on his shoulder. He reached up and placed his hand over hers. A sad look crossed her face, and she suddenly appeared a lot older.

Kristopher bit his lip. He lowered his gaze and concentrated on eating. He hadn’t meant to upset either of them. Michel had warned him to keep any conversation brief and focus on very general topics.

Damn it. He wasn’t very good at this at all. For a short time he’d forgotten their situation and been caught up in the moment, remembering his passion for his music and wanting to share it.

“Paul….” Michel spoke Kristopher’s assumed name, and he looked up. “Karolina’s right. This war has drawn people together who normally wouldn’t have even met. Perhaps we should take it as an opportunity to learn new things, hmm? We all have something to offer.”

“Well said, Gabriel.” Karolina squeezed her husband’s hand. “It’s been too long since Georg and I had the company of young people. You said you were a musician, Paul. What instrument did you play?”

“I play the violin, although I haven’t picked it up in years.” Kristopher watched the couple, noticing the way in which they took comfort from each other’s touch. He wanted so badly to be able to just lean over and take Michel’s hand in his and be open in front of others as to how they felt about each other. During the months spent in the attic at St. Gertrud’s, they’d still had to be careful, but they’d been left alone for much of the time. He hadn’t realized just how difficult having to hide their relationship was going to be.

“We’re not that young,” Michel said when Kristopher lapsed into silence again. He’d told Kristopher he’d turned thirty on his last birthday. Kristopher was almost a year younger and had wondered at the time where both of them would be by his next birthday, which was only a few months away.

Georg chuckled. “You’re about the same age as our boy, so to us, that makes you young.” He got out of his chair. “I’m going to make some tea. Do you want some? Here, Karolina, have my chair. You’re not getting any younger.”

“My husband, he thinks he’s funny,” Karolina said. She gave him a light peck on the cheek and went to clip his ear again, but he ducked out of the way and headed toward the kitchen.

“He’s only offering me his chair to keep me away from my knitting. He knows full well I’ll poke him with one of my needles if he gives me too much cheek.”

“How long have you been married?” Michel asked. He seemed amused by their banter. Kristopher wondered if it reminded him of his parents.

“Since just before the last war.” Karolina picked up the cloth bag Kristopher had noticed earlier and settled into the other armchair. She opened the bag and took out yarn and what appeared to be a large knitted square on needles. “We’d met the year before, and I waited for him to come home to me and our newborn son. I didn’t allow myself to think he might not. Tell me, do you have someone waiting for you?”

Kristopher glanced at Michel. Karolina wasn’t exactly following what he’d been told about keeping to safe subjects either.

“I have someone, yes,” Michel said finally. “I want nothing more than this war to finish so we can have a life together, but sometimes I doubt that will ever happen.”

“It will,” Kristopher said firmly. He placed his bowl on his knee, feeling the warmth of it through his trousers. “When you love someone, you wait for however long it takes.”

 

TH2014Author

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

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