Edwin’s Recent Reading Roundup: Book 1 Bonanza

Over the past few months, I’ve read a number of “book ones” in multi-book series that I really enjoyed.  Here are four I’d like to highlight, all of which either have a sequel out already (in the case of the first two) or out in the next few weeks (in the case of the last two). No waiting for months before bingeing right on to the next book!


Cold Iron by Stina Leicht

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon | B&N 

The first book in what looks like it’s going to be the epic fantasy trilogy I’ve been wanting for a long time.  I primarily read epic fantasy as a teenager, and I love the sweep of it. The nation-shaking plots, the battles, the magic, the heroic effort to defeat evil.  Great stuff.  But bundled into that is a lot of reactionary pining for feudalism and how replacing a Bad King with a Good King fixes everything.

Cold Iron upends those tired tropes, and gives us an epic fantasy with a revolutionary mindset.  Our two lead characters are royal siblings, yes, but the empire they’re heirs to is kind of crappy and oppressive; at the very best the status quo is deeply flawed.  The book is not the story of how the Good Queen fixes the status quo & makes it a paradise, it’s about how the status quo collapses.  And that is altogether a very different (I’d argue more interesting) story. Throw in plenty of women characters with agency, major supporting characters who are queer, a much less prominent role for the military than is normal in fantasy societies, and a gripping plot and you have something really special.  

The best epic fantasy that I read last year, and I’m excited to read the second book, Blackthorne, which is out now.


Soul’s Blood by Stephen Graham King

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

You don’t see much queer space opera out there, and that’s what I thought I was getting when I picked up Soul’s Blood.  And it is what we start with, but it becomes apparent that that is not the book’s primary focus.  Our major characters are Keene and Lexa-Blue, along with Lexa-Blue’s sentient ship, Maverick Heart, better known as Vrick.  They’re interstellar ‘troubleshooters,’ taking on jobs of varying levels of legality to pay their way.  The book opens with a nice little heist scene, but quickly morphs into what consumes the rest of the book: a political technothriller.  One of Keene’s ex-boyfriends is CEO/King of a corporate state, and needs help resolving an escalating conflict with the genetically modified not-quite-human nation which shares his planet.   

What ensues is surprisingly character-driven, which works well because the characters are excellent.  Keene is a cocky smuggler, yes, but he also wears his heart on his sleeve, and Lexa-Blue is a riot as a hypercompetent, gives-no-fucks badass.  Arguably my favourite character, though, is Vrick. Centuries old, the product of banned technology, and a loyal friend to Keene and Lexa-Blue, he’s a marvellous creation.  This good characterisation is backed up with interesting worldbuilding and a fast moving plot.  I might have wished for the book to be a bit longer to spool out some of the relationship developments, but there are worse sins than leaving one wanting more.

Gatecrasher, Book 2 in the Maverick Heart series is out now and is, if anything, even better than Soul’s Blood.


Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

I read this on the recommendation of KJ Charles, who in addition to writing great books gives good recs, so I wasn’t surprised that I really enjoyed Hunger Makes the Wolf, but I was surprised to be really blown away by it.  The basic setup is two young women on an outlying mining planet in an interstellar civilization.  One is in an outlaw motorcycle gang, the other is the niece of the gang’s leader and ends up with a prominent role in the miners’ union.  Both are altered by something weird about their planet to have ‘witchy’ powers, and are set in conflict with the big nasty corporation which runs the mining operations on the planet (and also control all interstellar travel, so we’re talking big corporation).

The setup itself is cool enough: magic SF outlaw bikers in the neo-Wild West (there is also an alien(?) I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to find sexy but totally do)! How is that not going to be awesome? But that’s not what impressed me so much.  The special thing about this book is its unrepentant howl of working class anger at pretty much everyone who exploits workers.  The church, the rich, corporate interests, all of it.  And a pretty obvious contempt for ineffectual liberal incrementalism, too. So the book is enormous amounts of fun as a science fantasy adventure, and also a big fuck you to our complacent liberal present.  

Highly recommended, and very much looking forward to book 2, Blood Binds The Pack, which is out on 1 February.


The Root by Na’amen G Tilahun

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

An unclassifiable and high quality portal fantasy/urban fantasy mashup.

A portal fantasy/urban fantasy of the highest quality. Our two leads are Erik, a former child star in San Francisco whose career has been destroyed by a scandal involving his ex-boyfriend, and Lil, basically an apprentice mage/archivist in the parallel city of ‘Zebub, where humans are an underclass to god-like beings. Both are black, an unfortunately rare situation in fantasy writing.  Both are also excellent characters.  Erik quickly discovers that he is descended from the blood of gods (or angels. Or something more than human), which gives him special powers. He’s introduced to a number of other people who share such powers, and is drawn into a fight between two factions of these children of angels.  Meanwhile, in Zebub, Lil starts off incredibly timid, but finds an enormous amount of strength & bravery as she’s drawn into a mystery of something which threatens the whole of her reality.  The plot is convoluted – in a way I enjoyed – and there are many point of view characters, so it’s hard to give more detail than that. 

Aside from the extremely creative worldbuilding and rock solid prose, there are a number of other things that made this one of the best books I read last year. I really like that Erik’s powers are related to his anger: it’s rare for queer characters in media to be allowed to be angry, for that anger to be justified, and for it to be powerful.  Erik is granted all of those things. I like that the angels are ugly; completely inhuman (and in line with some old testament descriptions).  And the diversity of the book is wonderful.  Erik’s not-quite-love-interest is Asian. A number of his friends and colleagues are queer. Powerful women with real agency abound.  It’s a fantasy where anyone can see themselves, find themselves in it, and that is a precious thing.

Book 2, The Tree, is out on January 23, and is the next book on my TBR pile.


Edwin gets grumpy if his SF/F reading doesn’t feature happy queer main characters.  Aside from that, he reads and writes for a living (though not fiction), so of course his hobby is reading, and now writing about what he reads. Why do anything else?

Connect with Edwin on Twitter: @gaybookgeek

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Sports Romance Review: Down by Contact (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell

Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

Published by: Intermix

Format: mobi

Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: Two hunky football stars go from ex-friends to truculent lovers to total spoony swoony macaroons. Prepare to hate at least one of them. Then, prepare to get over it. Read More

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Countdown to a New Year, December 27: Jay from Joyfully Jay

Countdown to a New Year, December 27: Jay, Owner of Joyfully Jay

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!

**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**

Thanks so much to Judith for inviting me to stop by today! I am so excited to be included in this event!

This is a fun time of year as a blogger because I am thinking about the fabulous books I have read this year, as well as looking forward to new ones to read in the coming year. I have already shared my Best of 2017 on my blog, Joyfully Jay, so you can check that out here (along with Best of 2017 lists from many of my reviewers). So I thought today it might be fun to look ahead to some books I am anticipating for next year. These are all sequels to stories I have loved and I can’t wait for the next installments.

Down by Contact by Santino Hassell (January 16) – I went totally crazy for the first book in this series, Illegal Contact. There is a nice opposites attract vibe, as well as a fun insider look into the life of a professional athlete. Plus I totally loved the vibe of the story and the two guys together. We meet Simeon in that first book and he is one of the MCs in the second story. I am definitely intrigued by him and can’t wait to check it out!

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian (July 15) – Sebastian’s debut book, The Soldier’s Scandal, just blew me away (me and everyone else it seems) and the series as a whole was just fabulous. I wondered if she could repeat the feat with her newest series, Seducing the Sedgewicks, and its first book It Takes Two to Tumble. So I am happy to say I went crazy for this one too and found it a delightful historical with a great dynamic between the MCs. The Sedgewick men are really fascinating and I am highly looking forward to Hartley’s story coming next.

Agent Bayne by Jordan Castillo Price (January 2018) – I get excited every time I hear there is a new story coming in Jordan Castillo Price’s PsyCops world. This is one of my favorite series in the genre and I adore Vic and Jacob beyond reason and I love the blend of romance, suspense, and paranormal. I was lucky enough to hear the author read an excerpt from the book at GRL this year, and it just whet my appetite for more (you can check the excerpt out here on her blog). So I am dying to follow along for this latest adventure.

Ravensong (July 2018) and A Wish Upon the Stars (March 2018) by T.J. Klune – I am a huge T.J. Klune fan and these series highlight how well the author can move from comedy to dramatic intensity so well. Ravensong is the sequel to the fabulous Wolfsong, a shifter story that sucked me in and left me emotionally wrung out but totally happy at the end. I loved Klune’s unique take on the common shifter trope and I am looking forward to getting back into this world. A Wish Upon the Stars is the fourth book in Klune’s Tales from Verania series, a completely hysterical fantasy featuring an apprentice wizard, his best friends (a hornless unicorn and a half giant), and his dreamy knight commander boyfriend. I am currently listening to book 2 in this series, A Destiny of Dragons, in audio, and it is laugh out loud in the grocery story funny. I can’t wait for more in this fabulous series.

Breaker of Chains by Jordan L. Hawk – Hawk is perhaps best known for her phenomenal Whyborne & Griffin series (and I am an enormous fan). But her urban fantasy/paranormal SPECTR series is another one of my favorites, so much so that I read the first six books in the serial in about three days. Once I started, I could not put it down! Not only that, but while I was visiting Charleston this summer I gave myself the SPECTR tour of the city and visited a bunch of spots that are featured in the books. We are now on to the second season and I love the suspense and paranormal elements here, but particularly the fascinating dynamic between the three main characters, John, Gray, and Caleb. They have such a unique relationship and I can’t wait for the next step on their journey.

Arden St. Ives series, book 3 by Alexis Hall (February 2018) – I just finished the second installment of this series, How to Blow it with a Billionaire, and was once again blown away by this story that combines a fabulously quirky and humorous narrator with his reserved billionaire not quite boyfriend. The ending of this second book leaves us hanging and I am DYING to see how it all resolves. These books are full of both intensity and playfulness and I can not wait to read the conclusion.

So there you have it, seven sequels that I am looking forward to for 2018. If you haven’t had a chance to check out these series, I can highly recommend them all. And I’d love to hear what you are looking forward to reading next year!


Jay is a wife, mom, blogger, and cat wrangler. She is an avid reader and lover of beaches, lazy days, and all things chocolate and peanut butter. Jay loves m/m romance and has been reading the genre for about 8 years. She averages about 4 books a week and loves to talk about them with readers.

You can find Jay over at her blog, Joyfully Jay.  We review all subgenres of GLBT romance, focusing primarily on male/male stories. Joyfully Jay runs about 20 reviews per week, as well as hosting daily guest posts from a variety of authors.  

Jay also hangs out on Twitter or Facebook and always loves meeting fellow readers!


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The Best Books I’ve Read Recently

Hey guys! It’s Judith!

I know, I know – I so rarely have a chance to review but this week? I’m on vacation! Which means that instead of just eating and drinking and doing absolutely nothing but enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of the season, I’ve been reading! Lots and lots of books! ALL THE BOOKS!

A few were such standouts, I am coming out of vacation hibernation to urge you all to read them, because yes, they were just that good. Read More

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Countdown to a New Year, December 21: Candysse Miller, Publisher at Interlude Press

Countdown to a New Year, December 21: Candysse Miller, Publisher at Interlude Press

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!

**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**

LOOKING FORWARD: 2018 AT INTERLUDE PRESS

It’s that time of year when people take stock of their lives. Do we need change as we start a new year? Is it time for a resolution? Maybe we just need to make a list of goals, benchmarks for a new season. In that spirit, we thought we’d spill some details about what’s around the bend for the first half of 2018 at Interlude Press.

For those of you who don’t know us yet, IP is a small press dedicated to publishing top quality fiction featuring main characters that identify as LGBTQIA. We’re a young company, and we like to approach our work from unconventional angles.

As we look forward to the six months leading up to our anniversary, we see a publication calendar that balances new voices, old favorites, and a lot of great fiction.

2018 begins with a final nod to a series that began as a fandom phenomenon: Zane Riley’s Go Your Own Way. The first two installments of this series (Go Your Own Way and With or Without You) originated as enormously popular fanworks that Zane rewrote from the ground-up for his books. When It’s Time is the final coda of the new adult love story of Lennox, a tough and brash kid whose life takes an unexpected turn after he meets and falls for high school baseball player Will.  

Valentine’s week will mark the debut for the writing team of Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sterick with Snowsisters from our YA imprint Duet Books. A story of friendship, love and coming of age set in a week-long writers’ camp for girls, Snowsisters is being hailed as “a wonderful, important debut” by a New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult (Small Great Things) and “thoroughly satisfying” by Kirkus Reviews.

In March, we’ll be revisiting Taylor Brooke’s soulmate contemporary romance Camellia Clock Cycle series with Curved Horizonin which the women from Brooke’s IP debut, Fortitude Smashed meet their soulmates and the original couple’s relationship is put to the test.

March also features the return of Michelle Osgood with Moon Illusion, the third installment in her popular shifter series, The Better to Kiss You With. In Moon Illusion, she concentrates on Nathan and Cole, who must juggle a fracture in their relationship with a mysterious death.

In April, award-winning adult and YA author Mia Kerick joins IP with The Weekend Bucket List from Duet Books. Determined to experience the wild side of teenage life, high school seniors Cady LaBrie and Cooper Murphy set out to check off items on their bucket list in the 48 hours before graduation. When dropout Eli Stanley joins them, they all face new questions about love and friendship.

Jude Sierra follows up her Kirkus Reviews best-of-2016 nod for Idlewild in May with A Tiny Piece of Something Greater. After moving to Key Largo to make a fresh start, Reid Watsford meets Joaquim, a dive shop intern looking for adventure. As their relationship develops, they both must learn how to navigate Reid’s secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape.

And in the final stretch leading up to our fourth anniversary, we will feature books from authors both new and familiar. The month starts with Julian Winters’ YA debut,  Running With Lions. Set in the world of high school soccer, it is the story of how a star goalie must reconcile with an estranged childhood friend for the good of the team, only to find that there is more to his former friend than soccer skills.

Finally, we will celebrate our fourth anniversary in late June with one of our original launch authors. Amazon bestseller Lilah Suzanne returns with Jilted, a romantic comedy about two men left at the alter when their respective exes run off together, and whether taking a fake honeymoon together can result in a second chance at love.

There’s plenty more to look forward to in 2018! Follow us @InterludePress as we reveal covers and announce summer and fall titles.


Candysse Miller, Director of Marketing & Communications at Interlude Press, is a former journalist and media industry veteran, guiding communications programs that have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, and every major U.S. television network. She is a native of Los Angeles and bleeds Dodger Blue.

Learn more about her and Interlude press at: www.interludepress.com.


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Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh + swag trading cards

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Contemporary Romance Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Published by: InterMix

Format: mobi

Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance

Order at: Amazon | B&N | Publisher

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: It’s Santino Hassell. What do you think you’re gonna get? You’re going to get hot, snarky, sarcastic dudes making you wish your AC went up to eleven. Or, maybe fifteen. So what’s different? This is the series that could have the tagline: Tight End Seeks Same.

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Contemporary Romantic Suspense Review: Complete Agents Irish & Whiskey Series by Layla Reyne

Agents Irish & Whiskey Series: Single Malt, Cask Strength, and Barrel Proof by Layla Reyne

Published by: Carina Press

Format: ePub

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: A sporty, boozy, crime-solving partnership complete with Italian suit wearing older man who needs to stop dying his hair blond and resisting the basketball playing hacker who is sweet enough to make bees drown in their own honey. Read More

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Guest Post: How Much Does a Bear Weigh? (And Other Things a Novelist Needs to Know) by Alysia Constantine

 How Much Does a Bear Weigh? (And Other Things a Novelist Needs to Know) by Alysia Constantine

My Google search history and my little notebook of Things to Remember have become quite amusing reads this year. My second novel, Olympia Knife, tells the story of a woman who grows up in a travelling circus in early 20th Century America, and in researching that book (even if it was often only on Google and not through airless hours in the library, as I was trained for), I wound up seeking the answers to a hundred little questions that presented themselves: how much would Viselik, the trained bear, weigh? How many of those mean, alcohol-soaked clowns could fit into a clown car, and is it a special car? When was the circus canon invented (in case I want to shoot a character out of one)? How do you swallow a sword?

Since the novel takes place in the early 20C, this research was made ever more important by my need to be historically accurate. I also wound up researching period circus costumes, customs of the time and early 20C American slang. (My favorite discovery: “It’s all jake,” as in “everything’s cool”.) I even found myself trying to figure out when folks in the U.S. started saying “OK.” (In case you need to know, it was originally a joke in Boston ‘round about the 1830s… cool Bostonians liked to abbreviate everything—“That’s an NG” instead of “That’s a no-go”, for instance—and OK stands for “Orl Korrect,” which is the 1830s Bostonian’s Intentional Silly-Talkin’ way of saying “All Correct.”)

My point, I suppose, was that the old saw “write what you know” will only get you so far. In my case, it means all my novels would be about middle-aged, fat, disabled, white, first generation, lesbian professors who live in New York and have two dogs. That would dubiously be good for one novel, but after that, one probably must move on. On the other hand, I’ve never been interested in “historical fiction,” either—like sci-fi, much of it seems too caught up in the details of the unfamiliar world, and privileges those details over good, strong characters, beautiful language and sensory detail (the good stuff, of course, doesn’t… hence my love for Octavia Butler).

So how does one strike the balance between research and writing when one’s writing something creative? It’s a version of that same predicament about whether good writing requires routine and diligence or inspiration. (I cannot count how many people, upon hearing that I write novels, have made the assumption that I sit around eating bonbons and waiting for inspiration to strike. I must then explain that if I did that, I’d never write anything at all, because I usually find other things—things that don’t feel like work, like sorting through my fourth-grade papers or arranging my socks—more inspiring, and that writing, at least for me, is work and often an unpleasant task I must make myself do on the regular by, usually, sitting at my laptop for a prescribed 6 hours a day.) Eating bonbons is pretty good, too—as long as I’m also working.

What I’ve finally discovered, well into my forties, is that for me, writing works best as a tightrope walk balanced between inspiration and routine: I must get myself inspired within the confines of a routine. Research helps with this—I can spend hours flipping through pictures of early 20C circus performers, or reading about the history of poi spinning (that’s twirling stuff, often stuff on fire, for you uninitiated folks). But if I limit myself to twenty minutes of research, which must be followed by an hour of writing, I have the inspiration I need to feed me in the drudgery, and the structure to make sure the drudgery gets properly drudged.

Here’s the disenchanting, unromantic truth: writing is usually neither fun nor magical nor John-Berryman-wild-eyed-crazy-inspired. Writing drunk or high doesn’t usually make for good writing, either, at least in my experience. (Lots of writers wrote in spite of drinking or drug use, not because of it.) Dead Poets Society got it 100% wrong: writing is work, often unpleasant or tough or boring or just unrewarding in the moment, and rarely does it involve standing on your chair and bursting with emotion and quoting Whitman. And almost never does a writer get to witness the effects of the writing (except when a reader makes the effort to find her and tell her about it, ahem, friends).

I’m not trying to make writing sound more difficult than it is, or more important, I’m simply trying to demystify it here.

It’s the same thing I had to learn when writing about circus stuff, too: I was really drawn to writing about trapeze performers and fat ladies and bear trainers, but what I found was that the more real I made these characters, the more I had to think about what people threw at Minnie the Fat Lady while she was on stage (newspaper, rocks and hair pins, mostly), or whether Samu slept in his bear Viselik’s cage at night (yes, he did). I also figured most of their costumes smelled like sweat, and the air around the Flying Knifes was always filled with chalk dust from their hands. And the clowns were mean and cliquish and a little bit ominous.

Oh—and in case you were wondering and your Googling finger is broken, the answers to the questions I began with are, in order: about 400 pounds; between 14 and 21 clowns in a car without seats; the first human canon ball performed in 1877.

And how do you swallow a sword? Very carefully.


Alysia Constantine is the author of the novels Sweet (2016) and Olympia Knife (2017). She lives in the lower Hudson Valley of New York with her wife, two dogs, a cat, and a cucumber vine that has completely taken over the garden and produces ridiculous, armlength cucumbers.

Her next book is Olympia Knife. It will release on 11/3/17:

Born into a family of flying trapeze artists, Olympia Knife has one small problem: When her emotions rise, she becomes invisible. Everyone in the traveling circus has learned to live with this quirk; they banded together to raise Olympia in a loving environment when her parents vanished midair during their act, never to return. But the same fate befalls Arnold, the world’s shortest man, followed by one act after another, until the show is a crumbling mess of tattered tents and terrified troupers. Into this chaos walks Diamond the Danger Eater. Olympia and Diamond forge a friendship, then fall in love, and, together, resolve to stand the test of time, even as the world around them falls apart.

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Historical Romance Review: The Ruin of the Rake by Cat Sebastian

Title and Author: The Ruin of a Rake  

Published by: Avon Impulse

Format: ARC

Genre: Historical romance

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N  

Reviewed by: Anya

What to Expect: Enemies-to-lovers story with a unique twist. And kittens! Read More

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Horror-Romance Anthology, All in Fear, currently on sale! Plus excerpts from each of the stories…

 

Spotlight on: All in Fear! Currently on sale now through 10/31 for only 99 cents!

Authors: Steve Berman, KJ Charles, Avon Gale, Roan Parrish, Kris Ripper, J.A. Rock

Original Release Date: 12/1/16

Available at: Publisher | Amazon | All other retailers


Learn more about the book:

All in Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales

Horror wears many faces, and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in time—and all in fear.

Company by Roan Parrish

Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous . . . and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself.

Love Me True by Kris Ripper

Palmer’s life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he’s found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband.

When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the worldto other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him.

How could he have possibly been so stupid?

The Price of Meat by KJ Charles

Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive?

His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman

Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse?

Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale

STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:

REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED]

ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING.

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED.

Beauties by J.A. Rock

When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold.

Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him. Lester has always wanted the chance to work with an adult AI, and around Lester, Ira isn’t violent. He’s strangely innocent, uncannily perceptive, and his company does much to ease Lester’s loneliness. Except something’s not quite right: Ira roams at night, even when Lester’s sure he’s locked Ira’s door.

Soon Lester is certain of only one thing: Ira has a secret. Something that will link their pasts and change the course of their future—if Lester is willing to face what’s on the inside.


Check out excerpts from each of the stories of ALL IN FEAR:

Excerpt from Company by Roan Parrish:

“Hello, Nicholas,” he said. How the hell did he know my name? I ran through many possible responses and settled, naturally, on the worst one.

        “Did my mom send you after me?” I asked, like a total loser.

        Michel didn’t respond, just cocked his head as if to say, “I am a beautiful and otherworldly creature. Where I come from there is no such thing as mothers.”

        “Are you real?” I asked then, congratulating myself on a slightly more pressing and practical question.

        “Of course,” he said.

        He was just how I’d imagined him: graceful, and beautiful, and so, so lonely. I realized that I had returned his handshake without thinking and was now just standing there, holding his hand and staring like an idiot. At this thought, Michel smiled kindly, and lifted my hand to his lips in a soft, gentlemanly kiss. I’m not proud of it, but it was my first kiss, and even though it was just on my hand, I felt it everywhere.


Excerpt from Love Me True by Kris Ripper:

“Truth or dare, Palmer.” He lay back against the pillows of our bed, still idly playing with the band of his shorts.

“Does this game really work if we already know everything about each other?”

He grinned. “You think we know everything about each other?”

“Oh, come on.” I poked him in the chest. “Do you really have secrets from me, mister?”

“Maybe one or two things that haven’t exactly come up yet.” The grin turned into a smirk. “I don’t tell you everything I think about, Palmer. Aren’t secrets supposed to keep things interesting in a couple?”

I rolled my eyes. “I don’t think we need any help keeping things interesting. Plus, I want to know everything about you. Don’t you want to know everything about me?”

“Uh huh. I really do. So: truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Okay. How about . . . when did you know you were in love with me?”


Excerpt from The Price of Meat by KJ Charles:

The doctor grasped her arm. Johanna stamped on his instep with everything she had, wrenched her arm free, and fled out of the terrible room, running for the stairs. Reynard gave a roar that might have been amusement or rage, and at the cry his men rose from the shadows with leering grins and stretching arms. Two moved to the base of the stairs. Johanna changed direction and fled for the other door, driven by the instinct of the hunted fox to seek any hole, and this time, nobody got in her way. She pulled it open, hurtled in, batted aside something heavy and cold that swung from the ceiling—

One of dozens of things, hanging from great hooks, cold and pale and heavy in the dim light from the door, white bone-ends showing where the inedible parts had been trimmed off.  It was a meat store, full of carcasses. The one she’d shoved swung back at her and on its side, like a cattle brand, Johanna saw an anchor-shaped tattoo.

A shadow fell over her. Reynard, with ragged, grinning men at his side, loomed in the doorway.

“Not a bad idea, Miss Oakley. We leave meat here to tenderise, and this should soften you up nicely. A couple of hours should make you more obliging, don’t you think? I’ve got to gather the Freemen for a meeting, but I daresay we can let you out once I’m done, if you ask nice enough.”

He stepped back and shut the door. It slammed on her like the thud of a coffin lid; the bolt scraped on the outside; she was alone in the dark. She hammered on its unyielding surface with her fists, begging and weeping and screaming for release from this dreadful larder, while behind her the dead men creaked and swayed on their hooks, quietly, gently decaying in the dark.


Excerpt from His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman:

As I push open the trapdoor at the top of the ladder, a moist, thick heat trapped within the attic overruns me. The outside daylight seeps through the oddly peaked roof, enough that I can find the dangling cord of a single bare bulb. One pull and I see the attic is really an unfinished elevated crawl space. By the time I worm off the last rung and onto the floor beams, my face feels like a windshield in the rain.

Carl climbs after me. The brothers ordered me to retrieve last year’s Halloween decorations, but Carl volunteered to help. I almost wish he hadn’t because there’s not enough room in the attic for the two of us to move about comfortably. He ends up on his hands and knees beside me.

The cardboard boxes I brush with one hand are mottled with mold and coated with dust. I reach blindly into one box and pull out a cheap plastic devil mask, the scarlet streaked with thick crud.

“I hate Halloween,” Carl says. His pained face is inches away from my shoulder. Dark crescents bloom under his neck, his armpits.

“No one hates Halloween. There’s all you can eat candy. Free candy.”

He shakes his head like a thick-coated dog after a bath and the sweat flies in droplets. “My folks celebrated the ‘harvest’—”

I hold the devil mask in front of my face. The bits of Carl I see through the cut-out eyes look miserable. “That sounds spookier—”

“It’s just pathetic.” Carl reaches out and lifts the mask off me. “I was . . . quieter before I came here.”


Excerpt from Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale:

Personal Journal

Today I asked Cain if demons really did eat human souls. I expected him to tell me that wasn’t true (they don’t live in a lake of fire, either) but . . . well. Apparently that part of demon-lore is true.

“When I’ve broken these bonds of magic and found those who summoned me, Jason, I’m going to feast on their souls so slowly they will die a thousand deaths before I swallow them.”

That probably should have put an end to my thoughts about getting him out of there, but honestly . . . could I really blame him? If I were kidnapped and put into a cage, experimented on and held against my will, I’d be pretty pissed and looking for revenge, too. Definitely.

“Do you need souls to survive? Like food?” I asked. Because there’s only one human here at the moment. Freeing Cain doesn’t mean I have to be his lunch. At least, I hope it doesn’t mean that.


Excerpt from Beauties by J.A. Rock:

Lester turned in time to see Ira pinch each end of the worm and pull it in half.

“Ira! What are you doing?”

Ira held the two halves up, each one still wriggling. “I want to see what’s on the inside.”

“But that kills the worm. Don’t you know that?”

Ira frowned at the dark half. “It wipes the worm?”

A sharp pain pulsed behind Lester’s right temple. It’s just a worm. Just a worm. It was startling, to see something come apart like that, is all. “It kills the worm,” Lester repeated.

“It doesn’t,” Ira said steadily. “Both halves can live on and become new worms.” The halves curled around Ira’s thumbs in perfect synchronicity, as though Ira had commanded them. “I just wanted to see what was on the inside. Lester.”

Lester didn’t answer. He studied the dark red clots at each end of the severed worm, unable, for a moment, to move.

A pale mass trailing wires like jellyfish tentacles. Lips moving. No screams. The long, spindly appendages of a cancer cell. Shaking in a white hospital bed. Lips moving. Last words. You had to take things apart to make them whole. That was how ABs had been created—by dissecting the human body until it was nothing. By building its echo.

Ira tossed the worm halves aside. “They have nothing on the inside.”


Get to know the authors of ALL IN FEAR:

Steve Berman

Steve Berman loves to tell stories that are both queer and weird. He was a Zeta Psi back in his college days at and remembers being hazed. He survived and graduated and even earned a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies. He has written and sold over a hundred articles, essays, and short stories. His YA novel, Vintage, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award.

Website: www.steveberman.com

KJ Charles

KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, and a cat with murder management issues. KJ writes mostly historical romance, mostly queer, often with fantasy or horror in there.

Find her on Twitter @kj_charles, pick up book info and free reads on her website at kjcharleswriter.com, get the infrequent newsletter at kjcharleswriter.com/newsletter, or join her Facebook group, KJ Charles Chat, for sneak peeks and exclusives.

Avon Gale

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Connect with Avon:

Website: www.avongalewrites.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/avongalewrites

Twitter: @avongalewrites

Sign up for Avon’s Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bOXXp9

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/14237686.Avon_Gale

Roan Parrish

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

Sign up for her Newsletter to receive updates about new releases, works-in-progress, and bonus materials like sneak peeks and extra scenes! eepurl.com/bmJUbr

Website: www.roanparrish.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/roanparrish

Twitter: @RoanParrish

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ARoanParrish

Instagram: www.instagram.com/roanparrish

Kris Ripper

Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a little kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

Links:
The site: krisripper.com

The Facebook group: Ripper’s Irregulars: https://www.facebook.com/groups/405062456366636/

The Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SmutTasticKris

J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A. has received Lambda Literary and INDIEFAB Award nominations for Minotaur, and The Subs Club received the 2016 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

Website: www.jarockauthor.com

Blog: http://jarockauthor.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jarockauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ja.rock.39


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