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Oh! The Views!

I was neither born in Britain nor raised here, but I’m lucky enough to call it my home now, a home that I love. The fact that I’m a late comer means that the stories I set in the UK choose me rather than the other way around. That being the case, it’s no wonder that I set so many stories in the Lake District, and it’s no wonder that the Lake District chose me the very first time I set foot on the fells. Being born and raised in the mountains, it’s the place in Britain where I feel most at home, the place I know the best and love the most. That being the case, it’s not any real surprise that my boys, Will and Doc’s story, Toys for Boys, is a delicious walk across England – the first five days of that walk spent in the Lake District. Love of a place is one of the sexiest, most romantic ways I know of to connect, and how could it be any better than al fresco on the Lakeland Fells?

 

The photo below was tweeted several years ago by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield from on board the International Space Station,. Commander Hadfield was a flight engineer on Expedition 34 on the station and gained popularity on Twitter by sharing stunning photos of space and his views of Earth as the International Space Station orbited roughly 200 miles above the planet, moving at over 17,000 miles per hour. I’ve shared it before, and I’ll no doubt share it again. It’s too good not to. It’s one of those images I can’t get enough of. With Toys for Boys newly re-released, now seemed like the perfect time to share it again.

 

 

I can’t help wondering what Alfred Wainwright would have thought if he could see his beloved Lakeland in such a view from above? His incredibly detailed drawings and descriptions of the Lakeland Fells are among the most accurate, most lovely, most poetic ever recorded. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat in the Twa Dogs Inn in Keswick, the night before climbing a fell I’d never walked before, drinking Cumberland Ale while reading through Wainwright’s notes and studying the maps and drawings from his Pictorial Guides of the Lakeland Fells. The beauty in the minute detail of his work is now reflected in a stunning overview from space. How could anyone not be moved by that? And how can I not keep coming back to such a place over and over again to set my stories?

I’m so glad it was clear the day Commander Hadfield took this picture. I can’t stop looking at it. I love the fact that I’m somehow connected to that place and all the stories it evokes – not just mine, but everyone else’s – all those poets and walkers and writers and photographers and artists – past, present and yet to come — who have found Lakeland as powerful and as moving as I have. I’m connected to all of them, and by that connection, to all of those who read the writings and look at the works of art inspired by that tiny, rugged piece of land that’s just as exquisite when seen from 200 miles above as it is when explored slowly, painstakingly, one footstep at a time, Like Will and Doc do.

 

 

Surely there is no other place in this whole world quite like Lakeland … no other so exquisitely lovely, no other so charming, no other that calls so insistently across a gulf of distance. All who truly love Lakeland are exiles when they are away from it.

Alfred Wainwright

 

Toys for Boys Blurb:

 

Alpha nerd Will Charles teams up with Caridoc ‘Doc’ Jones in a coast to coast walk across England reviewing outdoor gift suggestions for the Christmas edition of Toys for Boys—an online magazine dedicated to the latest gadgets to tickle a man’s fancy. Will is recording their adventures with the latest smart phone technology. Doc is reviewing the latest outdoor gear. The two quickly discover the great outdoors provides even better toys for boys, toys best shared al fresco, toys that, in spite of Will’s great camera work, will never be reviewed in Toys for Boys.

 

Note: Toys for Boys has been previously published as part of the Brit Boys: With Toys boxed set.

 

Toys for Boys Excerpt:

 

“I really am sorry, lads,” the proprietress at the Keld Lodge said, “but I’ve only a tiny single room available which, due to health and safety, I can’t rent as a double.”

 

“God, I really don’t want to spend another night in that leaky tent,” the dark-haired bloke was barely understandable between chattering teeth. “There must be something else close by.”

 

“Not within easy walking distance,” the proprietress said. “I can let you put up the tent around the back,” she offered. “You can even use the showers and the drying room for your wet gear. Of course stay inside by the fire as long as you like.”

 

The weather had been abysmal when I arrived the night before on a short writing and walking retreat. It was worse today, so I’d spent my time ensconced in the pub’s restaurant at a table by the window looking out onto the misty Yorkshire Dales. It was mid afternoon when the two drenched, bedraggled lads slogged through the door, bringing with them a gust of icy, wet wind. I had just come to the bar to order a pot of tea and, as I stood quietly in the queue behind them, I noticed the blond casting worried glances at his shivering companion.

 

“Walking the Coast to Coast?” I asked.

 

“We are,” the dark-haired bloke replied. “Though I’m pretty sure we swam most of it today.”

 

“You taking the high level route through the mining ruins tomorrow?” I asked.

 

They both nodded. “Supposed to be sunny,” the blond replied. “Three days of bad weather and last night the tent sprung a leak. We were hoping for a hot meal and a real bed tonight.”

 

“I’m truly sorry, lads,” the proprietress said. “I wish I could help.”

 

I’m not sure what inspired me to make the offer, perhaps memories of the times I’d walked cold and wet, but more than likely it was simply because I’m a hopeless romantic and I recognised that the two men were more than just mates out for an adventure.

 

“Look, why don’t you take my room for the night? I’m on my own and I have a nice double until the end of the week. I can take the single, and then we can switch back tomorrow. Wouldn’t that work?” I asked the proprietress.

 

“I don’t see why not,” came the reply. “I’ll sort it with housekeeping, and you can work out the details among yourselves.”

 

“It has a bath and lots of hot water,” I said, recalling what a pleasure an actual bathtub was after a long, cold walk.

 

“Oh God, you’re a saint,” the dark-haired one said, offering me a blinding smile between chattering teeth.

 

Still thanking me profusely, they introduced themselves as Will Charles—the dark-haired lad with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen, and Doc Jones—the blond with a lovely Welsh lilt in his rich, baritone voice. They helped me switch my meager belongings to the smaller room. Then I returned to my table and my tea. I couldn’t help wondering what their story was and just what they might get up to in that deep tub and on that nice bouncy bed. Quite the coincidence that I was here because I had agreed to write a story for the Brit Boys: With Toys anthology and, with the deadline bearing down on me, I was still drawing a blank, but with Doc and Will’s arrival, I suddenly felt inspired.

 

 

Sex and Ritual

As I work on the final draft of Blind-Sided — the second of the Mesusa’s Consortium novels, I’ve been thinking a
lot about sex and ritual. Here are a few thoughts on the topic in this post from the archives. 

 

Carl Jung saw symbols and rituals as containers for numinous power. It’s a small step from our need for ritual to the idea of sex as ritual. It infiltrates our myths, it permeates our literature and it fills our fantasies. Many of the earliest religious rites were fertility rites involving either the sacred prostitute or the sacred couple whose sexual union insured abundant crops, cattle and children for another season. Certainly it’s not hard to see the ritualistic aspect of sex in the natural world. We’ve all watched birds or badgers or elephants going at it on nature programs. There are often complex courtship rituals before actual copulation.

 

Jung’s definition of ritual as a container for power intrigues me. The power contained in sex is astounding. It’s the power to pass on life. It gives us the ‘little death’ and the out of body experience. It elevates us to the level of heaven while bringing us back to our most primitive animal nature.

 

Sex is the ultimate mystical experience. The closest we can get to a power beyond ourselves is the power within ourselves. There’s a reason I chose to write my very first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly as a modern day retelling of the Psyche and Eros story. In the Greek myth, Psyche must undergo ritualistic tasks before she is allowed to be with her lover Eros. In achieving these impossible tasks, Psyche so impresses the gods that they not only allow her to be with her lover, but grant her divinity as well.

 

In Greek mythology sex usually involves one of the gods, most often Zeus, coming down to earth and ‘seducing’ a mortal female, who then gives birth to a child destined to do great things. Sex as the representation of the creative force permeates the Greek myths. It permeates the paranormal world as well, but what else are vampires and shifters but the modern representation of the mythical gods? It’s there in the Christian myth as well, the child of divinity and humanity destined to save the world. Tragically the power of sex is most of the time omitted from the Christian myth. Oh it’s there all right, but you just have to look a little harder to find it. When I wrote In The Flesh, one of my favorite scenes is Susan’s research into the sexual relationships between gods and humans. Here’s a snippet to illustrate what I mean:

I had little enthusiasm for the handbag sale, nor for lingering at the make-up counter. Instead I found myself back at the Starbucks, Mac open, researching God’s love life, which turned out to be a long history of seducing humans.

Zeus visited Danae in a shower of gold. He seduced Leda in the form of a swan. Eros came to Psyche in the dead of night forbidding her to look upon his face. Hades dragged Persephone down to the Underworld. The Virgin Mary was impregnated by the god of the Bible. In the New Testament, Christ is the bridegroom, and the church his bride. And the list went on and on. Perhaps even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was just another way for divinity to experience flesh.

 

More than a procreative force, sex is a creative force. Its ritual act allows us contact with the power, contact we can have no other way. But who controls the ritual? We’ve all seen lories transporting heavily reinforced tankers bearing CAUTION: HAZARDOUS MATERIALS signs in big red letters. We know a breech of containment would be disastrous. The purpose of ritual is to keep the power contained so we mortals can interact with it safely. Religions have always tried to control the rituals involving sex, to dictate with whom the act may occur, how, and even when it may take place. Property and inheritance rights depended on controlling women’s sexuality.

 

These days the ritual containers set in place by religious superstition and prejudice are being breeched. Those vessels can no longer contain and control sexuality in all its vibrant varied guises. The ritual is being taken out of the hands of institutions and reclaimed on a more individual, more personal level. That means the creative force of our sexuality is being freed in ways we could have hardly imagined a few years ago.

 

The container for the ritual has changed drastically in recent years. In some cases it no longer exists at all, and we’re struggling to find safe containers, safe places to learn about, understand and explore all aspects of our sexuality. The ritual of sex is being reinvented to something vibrant and alive and open, and translating that into story a part of what makes our job a pleasure, whether we write contemporary erotic romance, historic, sex in space, paranormal romance, the container is new with each story we tell. How can that not be exciting?

 

Side Effects of a Good Read

I’ve spent the last week dragging around with a brutal cold. I’m very seldom ill, and almost never ill enough to take to bed. But this time, without full brain function, it seemed the expedient thing to do — lousy timing or not. While I groused and grumbled between sniffles and sneezes, aches and pains, I also made a discovery. I did have enough brainpower to lose myself in a good read. Since I wasn’t sleeping well for the first couple of nights, I took full advantage, binge reading Pippa DaCosta’s wonderful Veil series while snuffling and coughing and feeling sorry for myself.

 

I’m on the mend now. Though I’m still dragging, still dealing with the after effects. But here’s the thing. Being forced to take some down time and fully indulge in the pleasure of a good read was worth every sniffle and ache. It’s not that I don’t do my best to make sure there’s reading time in my schedule. It’s just that it’s often the first thing to go when that schedule gets tight. It’s sad that it takes a nasty bug to remind me that reading is far more than just my duty as a writer. It’s far more than just a frivolous pleasure; it’s a priming of the pump, a feeding of the creativity, a grounding for the storyteller in me.

 

Creativity cultivates creativity, and being inspired by the works of other people’s imaginations is one of the best ways I know of to be more productive and more creative myself. Sadly that fact is one of the easiest things for a busy writer to forget. I’m willing to bet it’s one of the easiest things for most of us to forget, whether we write or not.

 

I used to read every novel with the idea of learning how to be a better writer – whether the novel was a good one or not. Now I’m way less likely to even finish a poorly written novel. Time is too valuable. More often now I hold out for the really good novels, and I read them for the sheer pleasure of being drawn outside myself into another world, into another person, into an experience far different from my own. Coming off a good read, I’m reminded just exactly why the ancient storytellers in some cultures sat with kings and queens as their equals.

 

It’s far too easy to pick up all of our information in bits and pieces off social media and the Internet. We’re connected in ways we could have never imagined even twenty years ago. But while all the information we could ever want and, in some cases WAY too much,is available at our fingertips, the magic, the real magic, only happens when we slow down, back away and let the storytellers enthrall us.

 

Toys for Boys Launches Today!

 

I’m very excited to announce the launch of my M/M novella, Toys for Boys, just in time for Valentine’s Day. If you like some serious hot male bonding fun al fresco, then you’ll enjoy T4B.

Toys for Boys was a fantastic opportunity to revisit one of my very favourite holidays of all times — our Coast to Coast walk across England. One of the best parts of doing the Wainwright Coast to Coast Path was that it was mostly low tech – good walking gear and navigation skills and putting one foot in front of the other. That meant a feeling of accomplishment at the end of each day and it meant that my husband and I didn’t miss the finer moments because our noses were buried in our iPhones.

Will and Doc’s story is one of adventures with high tech while being very creative with low tech at the same time. That combo made for fun and sexy writing.

Here’s a sizzler of an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

 

 

High tech meets low tech in a wilderness adventure that sizzles

 


Toys for Boys Blurb:

Alpha nerd Will Charles teams up with Caridoc ‘Doc’ Jones in a coast to coast walk across England reviewing outdoor gift suggestions for the Christmas edition of Toys for Boys—an online magazine dedicated to the latest gadgets to tickle a man’s fancy. Will is recording their adventures with the latest smart phone technology. Doc is reviewing the latest outdoor gear. The two quickly discover the great outdoors provides even better toys for boys, toys best shared al fresco, toys that, in spite of Will’s great camera work, will never be reviewed in Toys for Boys.

Note: Toys for Boys has been previously published as part of the Brit Boys: With Toys boxed set.

 

 

 

Toys for Boys Excerpt:

“We’re not going to make Ennerdale tonight,” Doc yelled into the wind.

Will’s answer was incoherent, an incoherence that wasn’t entirely because the wind was interfering with Doc’s hearing. They’d already got lost once and had fought their way back to the trail. Doc was fucking freezing, but he had spent enough time outdoors in bad weather to push his body way further than most people could. No matter how fit Will was, Doc recognised the signs of hypothermia when he saw them. They had to get out of the weather and get warm.

They lost the trail twice more before Doc made the executive decision to set up a tent in the first spot halfway flat. To his surprise it had been the damn urBrain that had saved the day. Will had downloaded detailed, interactive OS maps, but in his condition, Doc doubted if he could read his own name in bold letters, let alone the contours of a map. He’d pried the device, safe from the weather in its own little waterproof sheath, from Will’s icy hands and, with the light from the screen, he was able to find a wooded area relatively flat and as shielded from the weather as they were likely to get. The rain turned to hail and the Arctic wind made it feel like bird shot against all bits of exposed skin as Doc struggled to set up the tent. He’d shoved another energy bar at Will, and when he’d only stood there looking at it, Doc had opened it and half crammed it down his throat before he went back to work on shelter, desperate to get Will out of the weather.

Once the tent was secure, he chucked the bags inside, then grabbed Will by the collar and dragged him into the tight little space.

The energy bar must have helped. Will seemed coherent enough. “I can’t feel my hands,” he said, battling to get his sleeping bag out of its waterproof sack.

“Give me that,” Doc said through chattering teeth. “Let me do it. My hands aren’t all delicate and dainty like yours.”

“Would you look at that?” Will said as Doc grabbed the bag. “Amazingly, my middle finger works just fine.” He flipped him off.

“So does your smart mouth.” Without thinking, Doc zipped the two bags together.

“What are you doing?” Will was suddenly serious.

“You’re hypothermic. Get your wet clothes off and get into the bag.”

“Oh. Right.” But Will could no more manage the buttons and zippers on his clothing than he could his sleeping bag.
This time when Doc shoved his hands away and pushed the waterproof jacket off his shoulders, Will only watched, eyes focussed on the process as though it were something totally new to him. Doc cursed the fiddly buttons on the man’s shirt, his own hands none too agile from the cold and wet and the fact that he was undressing Will fucking Charles, about whom he’d been having less than pristine thoughts since his first view of the man’s arse. Will fucking Charles with whom he was about to cuddle down into a sleeping bag butt naked, never mind that it was with good reason.

Will sucked in a harsh breath. “Your damned hands are like ice cubes, Woodsy.”

“Oh shut it, William, or I’ll kick your arse outside and make you sleep in the rain.”

“Fucking like to see you try.” Will’s teeth were chattering hard, and his whole body trembling from the cold as Doc worried the shorts down over his commando bum and found himself face to cock, which made the blighter burst into hysterical laughter. “Have we ulterior motives, Mr Jones? Where the hell’s urBrain? I have to get this on camera.”

“Want a selfie of your cock, do you, you shivering bastard?” Doc turned his attention to the walking boots, which had stopped all progress of getting the man naked. Focusing on something other than the naked, very vulnerable body of Will fucking Charles helped clear his mind. He was too cold, too tired to get hard over what was essentially a matter of life and death, he told himself. Surely!

Once the boots were dispensed with, he shoved the man into the sleeping bag and went about the awkward business of stripping himself.

“Where the hell is the urBrain when I need it?” Will chuckled between chattering teeth.

“You point that thing at me, and I’ll shove it up your arse.” Doc’s own teeth sounded like a couple of spastic tap dancers had been turned loose in his mouth.

“Now that’s a function I didn’t find in the instruction manual,” Will replied.

What started out as ribald comments on the shrivelling effect of the cold on male tender bits dwindled to nothing more than the sound of convulsive shivering. By the time Doc had shed the last of his clothes and shoved his way down next to Will, he was seriously worried. It took all his strength, which wasn’t a helluva lot at that moment, to pull the bloke into his arms and hold him close enough to share body heat, what little there was of it. The worry subsided a bit when Will threw his arms around his neck and gave a harsh chuckle against his throat. “This was seriously worth getting hypothermic for. Pity I’m too fucking tired to appreciate it.”

Though Doc agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment, his focus was on getting Will warm. Then he’d get out the backpacking stove and fix them something hot. That was the last thing he remembered, that and the feel of Will’s body shivering against him, in the tent redolent with the male scent of core heat and wet gear, all overlaid by the icy metal smell of the fells in a storm.

 

Buy Toys for Boys Here: 

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

Amazon DE

Barnes & Noble

iBooks UK

iBooks US

Kobo

Smashwords

 

 

New from Lisabet Sarai — Divided We Fall: A Story that Gives Back

Make a Comment, Make a Difference:

I deliberately chose to share news of Lisabet Sarai’s new release, Divided We Fall, today because, not only do all proceeds from Divided We Fall go to Planned Parenthood, but today Lisabet has a special blog post for her regular Sunday Snog this week. She’s donating another dollar to Planned Parenthood for every comment she receives. So follow the link below and make  a comment, make a difference  — any time this week.

http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2017/02/sunday-snog-new-release-divided-we-fall.htm

 

 

 

Divided We Fall

By Lisabet Sarai

 

#politics #ghetto #prejudice #resistance #diversity #contraception

 

 

Hate takes too high a toll

 

 

Divided We Fall Blurb: 

Linh’s three year old brother has wandered out of Viet Village into Niggertown. Despite the danger, she has no choice but to go looking for him in hostile territory. She manages to convince the rifle-toting guard at the entrance to the black ghetto to help her search, using a mixture of bribery and bravado. As they comb the desolate streets of Niggertown, seeking any trace of Duy, Linh discovers that the barrio’s inhabitants aren’t necessarily the violent, drug-addled brutes she’s been taught to hate, and by the time Linh and Steel have rescued the injured toddler and spent a long night hiding in a derelict building, she has come to understand who are their real enemies.

 

Please note: This book includes racial slurs that might not be considered acceptable by some readers. Using these terms was deliberate, and necessary, since they are symptoms of the inter-group prejudice and suspicion that provide the main conflict in this story.

 

Buy Links

 

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N163BNU/

 

Amazon UK –   https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N163BNU/

 

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/699997

 

Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/divided-we-fall-lisabet-sarai/1125594805?ean=2940153989365

 

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/th/en/ebook/divided-we-fall-7

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34053587-divided-we-fall

 

 

 

Divided We Fall Excerpt:

“Can’t go nowhere now. Gonna be dark in quarter of an hour. And believe me, girl, you don’t want to be out after dark around here.” Cradling Duy in his arms, he climbs the iron and concrete steps leading to the first floor apartments. In the old days, they would have had a view of the swimming pool.

 

He nudges one door open with a sneaker-clad foot. “This place is in pretty good shape.” He must have done some exploring, I realize, while looking for first aid supplies. “No electric, but the roof’s solid, and so’s the lock on the door.”

 

I step into what had been the living room. It’s been totally stripped of furniture, aside from a broken dinette chair in one corner. The looters even tore up the carpets, exposing the rough wooden planks underneath. Through the uncurtained picture window beside the door, I can look across the courtyard to the corresponding apartment on the other arm of the U. Behind the building, palms make graceful silhouettes against a purple-streaked sky.

 

“Throw the bolt,” Steel orders, already headed for the bedroom with my unconscious brother. I follow his instructions, then join him. There’s no bed, either, but a tangle of towels, sheets and blankets cover the floor.

 

“Found these in a locked closet,” he says with a grin as he arranges Duy’s body on the nest of moderately clean fabric. “Guess the looters were too lazy to get it open.”

 

I sink to my knees next to the plump three year old. He lies on his back, the improvised splint resting on his chest. Although he’s totally motionless, his breathing is deep and even. “How long will he sleep?”

 

“Dunno. Don’t usually give oxy to kids. We carry it in case something happens on a foraging run.” He reads the concern in my face, even in the dim light. “Don’t worry, Linh. He’ll be okay.”

 

It’s the first time he’s called me anything but “girl” or “bitch”. Shows he’s paying attention, too. It turns me strange for a moment, soft. And that sets alarm bells ringing in my head.

 

 

Remember Make a Comment, Make a Difference:

Lisabet is donating another dollar to Planned Parenthood for every comment she receives. So follow the link below and make  a comment, make a difference any time this week.

http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2017/02/sunday-snog-new-release-divided-we-fall.html

 

 

About Lisabet:

Lisabet Sarai became addicted to words at an early age. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – nearly one hundred titles, and counting, in nearly every sub-genre—paranormal, scifi, ménage, BDSM, GLBT, and more. Regardless of the genre, every one of her stories illustrates her motto: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

 

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads and finally, on Twitter.

 

 

 

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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