When it comes to
transformation, magic only fixes what’s skin deep…
In a world where an artist’s magic brings tattoos to life, ink
gone wrong can spell lasting heartache for those unlucky enough to experience it. Jaded and
cynical on both life and love, tattoo artist Ashton is about to find out that even the most
deeply-etched scars can be transformed into something beautiful when the right person is
holding the pen.
“Enchanted Ink” is a ground-breaking romance that
showcases how, with a bit of ink, some love, and a whole lot of trust, even the ugliest scars
can be transformed into something impossibly beautiful.
Using the art of tattooing as a metaphor for life,
“Enchanted Ink” makes it a mission to show even the most cynical and scarred of us that it’s
possible to heal, to find love, and that it’s never too late to start all over again.
Excerpt The twelfth annual “Enchanted Ink” Tattoo Convention has been in full swing for hours,
but Ashton has yet to venture inside. It’s not as if he doesn’t know what he’ll find there: a
fairly standard convention space, divided using equally standard black curtains hanging from
predictable portable frames creating both booths and stations offering displays that are
anything but ordinary. Various tattoo artists and their work, in the flesh—the best of the
best, by both fact and opinion.
In addition to the booths, there are always several centralized
showcase stands, right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. Elevated platforms where
human works of art strip down to their underwear and pose, proudly displaying full-body
and wildly colorful tattoos boasting some of the most intricate and beautiful imagery that
probably exists in the entire inked world.
This particular convention admits artists by invitation only, and
while Ashton isn’t technically here to work this year, it’s an event he’s enjoyed immensely in
the past. It’s bittersweet—perhaps a touch heavy on the bitter—hovering on the
outskirts, wondering whether he’ll ever find himself behind a booth and promoting his work
again. While that remains to be seen, there’s plenty here to worry about in the
The thought of Whitaker working somewhere inside the
building behind him crosses Ashton’s mind and makes him grimace. He can practically feel
the tentative nerve he’s so painstakingly gathered, the courage to finally wander
through the front door, trickling away like water through a sieve.
Good thing it’s a nice day out, today. Sixty-eight degrees and
sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and Ashton brought a book. He can wait. The courage to go
inside will come.
Sighing, Ashton rubs the sleeve of his too-dressy collared shirt
across the backs of his eyelids. The button on the cuff pokes his eye, and it feels like a call-
out. He’s too dressed up, he looks out of place. Too covered, if nothing else. Which isn’t to
say that tattooed folks can’t be modest—naturally, that’s false and would be a terribly
judgemental view to hold. Either way, the whole point of a tattoo convention is to show off
one’s body and as much art decorating skin as possible. It’s supposed to be a positive,
That’s definitely the point, and his body is aesthetically
pleasant to look at, both sculpted and toned—yet here Ashton is, buttoned up solidly from
head to toe. Acting like he cares more about looking the part of a corporate stooge rather
than flaunting the walking canvas he is. Lame. So lame.
Lame, but necessary, he reminds himself.
About the Author
Robin Lynn is a 36-year-old
queer, autistic mother of two, an unabashed fangirl sometimes known as “Wings,” and a
disabled former firefighter, paramedic, and registered nurse. She writes for queer audiences
with the goal of reflecting and centering the lgbtqia2s+ community in more media, because
everyone deserves to see relatable, imperfect main characters who mirror themselves
simply existing and getting their happy endings. Find out more and follow Robin for additional content and future
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& Ice or one of 2 signed Enchanted Ink
paperbacks with related swag: temporary tattoos and stickers.
Tropes: Sexual identity, bisexuality, forbidden love
Themes: Psychological twist, mystery, family drama
Supplementary themes involve sexual identity and a teenage incestuous occurrence: neither
are covered in detail, or described graphically, as they were ‘incidents’ rather than
relationships, though they have an impact on the development of the narrative.
Heat Rating: 2 – 3 flames
Length: 95 000 words/362
It is a standalone story and
does not end on a cliffhanger.
It has a HEA of sorts – it fits
vaguely into the romance genre with a lot of psychological suspense and mystery
A troubled mind, a
dysfunctional love story, a psychological twist….
Somerfield, a young journalist for Planet Earth magazine, shares a brief
friendship with the enigmatic Mike Stokes during an assignment in Devon. It leads to a
disruptive fascination and a reluctant complicity in events that evolve from Mike’s tragic
On a journey
where emotions influence his brittle control, Paul pursues the truth. But the truth has many
disguises which disrupt his relationships, his rationality and his life.
A reminder of how fragile the stability of love and trust can
be: a journey that follows fear and doubt as they steer lives into a downward spiral of
(To place in context: Paul (the main character) has just taken a trip over the moors
(Dartmoor, Devon, UK) with Mike (the mysterious second character) who he met just a few
days ago and befriended).
After a few minutes, with the sun transferring energy to
untanned skin, Paul plunged forward to swim towards the opposite bank. Standing up in the
shallow water, his gaze rested on his friend still stretched out below him. Mike’s eyes
remained closed, the gentle rise and fall of breath the only movement in his body. He could
almost have been asleep, but Paul knew he was not, and equally certain of Mike’s awareness
of a close observer, perhaps another gift to them both from the custodian of the paradise
who chose to share it. Paul was neither embarrassed nor aroused by the hedonic posture,
which perfectly balanced the equilibrium, complimenting the setting. He only felt
Time slowed to allow appreciation of the scene. Eventually,
with reluctance lest the spell be broken, Paul spoke again, “You need another cold dip,
mate.” The words were an intrusion. He strained to speak at all. An atmosphere of
expectancy subdued his responses.
Mike remained silent. As he turned his head, his eyes filled
with a remote but compelling vision. Paul was a prisoner to that gaze. The surroundings
drifted out of focus as the man held out a hand in an undeniable gesture of
The sensual element formed a command. With water
lapping knees, he leaned as fingers enclosed one arm in a soft grip. Mike’s eyes held a silent
appeal. It defied refusal. Legs felt weak, folded, he fell forward, his free hand placed near
“Mike….” Words came like sobs from his lips, “I … I don’t … I
can’t….” He took shattered breaths, which formed around, “I’m sorry….”
Steady hands cradled his bowed head in a gentle caress.
Wet hair supplemented the tears that unmanned him. The softest touches of Mike’s fingers
smoothed them from his cheeks.
“Get out of the water, Paul.” Words almost whispered, close
to his ear, with barely disguised authority.
Paul responded, unconsciously, climbing onto the
Lines of sweat blurred his eyes. The atmosphere, heavy
with anticipation, directed his senses, regulated his responses. Or, a will projected from a
powerful force far below him, buried in the rock beneath. The body below him appeared
able to harness that power without the need for physical participation. Paul, aware of the
reaction of his own body to so sensual a situation, was powerless to subdue it. His skin
absorbed the life below with every touch. Nerves ignited with every caress. His senses
stimulated by conduction from another’s, as the strained form below him ascended the
pinnacles of climactic rapture. Salt tears and sweat, sun warmed skin against his lips, shared
breaths of confined desire; the noise of life pounding at his ear, the considerate grip of
passion embracing him with a bond of impregnability. All volition was gone.
Suddenly, as though perpetrated by a violent act upon the
man below him, the body became still. Only Mike’s relaxed breathing convinced Paul he was
innocent of such a deed. Time was striving to catch up with its unnatural stagnancy. A stale
memory of desire stained his mind like a contamination of his thoughts; the fruit of an
unguarded crop of passion, which left behind the bitterest aftertaste.
Paul stared at the slope they walked down earlier. Then he
stood, turned, and dived back into the water. He held no immediate aspiration to emerge
from that tranquil medium, doing so only when the pain in his chest forced him to return to
reality. Thrusting his feet towards the bed of the stream, he launched to the surface, gasping
for air. The vision that met his eyes when his violent breaths had calmed was of a dream
shattered. The picture was not as it appeared earlier. The sky painted a tormented brown.
The breathtaking scene, transformed to a bleak and forlorn landscape. Air and water around
him, tainted with pollution.
Turning his eyes across the water, he saw Mike walking up
the slope wearing his shorts, boots held by their laces in one hand, his T-shirt trailing from
the other and dragged along the grass. Swimming to the bank, reaching his clothes, he
fought jeans over a wet body and slipped on his shoes. Grasping his shirt and camera bag, he
stumbled up the slope in his haste. “Mike! Wait!” he called in a weak voice, breathing hard.
The man did not respond to his cry. Catching up as they entered the trees, he reached out to
the man’s shoulder, halting his progress.
Mike turned, a hard, almost pitiless stare, as he looked
deep into Paul’s eyes.
For a moment, Paul was unable to speak. So intense a
visage, it took away what little breath he had left. “You bastard! Don’t walk away from me as
though your dignity’s been bruised.” He dropped his shirt and bag to his feet, and braced
both hands on his knees. Breathing heavily, he waited for some reaction.
“Don’t lecture me about dignity.” The man answered,
He felt a consuming fury growing within. Standing again,
Paul received a harsh look of accusation. As anger conquered instincts, he swung a clenched
fist towards the man’s head. The punch found its target, striking a heavy blow to the jaw.
Mike made no attempt to avoid the impact; blood soon appeared between his lips, trailing
down the side of his chin. He stood motionless, looking into the eyes of his assailant. Paul
remained poised, as though prepared to deliver another attack. Yet, in reality, he’d been
stunned by the recognition of his actions. Mike’s eyes never flinched as he reached towards
the fist, then enclosed it in a strong grip. Paul stood, mentally helpless and physically
defeated, as the man lowered the arm back to his side.
“Paul, let’s go home.” The expression on his face softened
before he turned to walk ahead.
About the Author
David Blyth was born in
Staffordshire, in the UK. He graduated from Nottingham and Wolverhampton
He lived for many years in
South Africa, where he witnessed the political and social transformation during and after
His interests, apart from
writing, include anything that helps him to stay relatively sane.
The Scars of
Life was written during a two-year overland
exploration of southern, central and east Africa; much was achieved sitting under the shade
of a huge mango tree on the shores of Lake Malawi, always with a beer near at
Development, which is in fact his second novel,
though published first, was written at his home in the English Midlands.
A humorous, heartfelt,
and tragic story, navigating the unrelenting friendship between two teenage boys coming of
age in the rural south.
A fifteen-year-old Kentucky boy nicknamed “Rabbit”
must keep a secret. If mama finds out she is gonna kill him.
Dancing in the Blue Room, written in dual timelines by
J.R. Sargent, embraces the unrelenting friendship between two teenage boys nicknamed
Shorty and Rabbit. Set in rural Kentucky during the fabulous fifties, but not so fabulous for
gay people, this heartfelt humorous and tragic story is personified by the allure of hot rod
cars, jitterbug dancing, daredevil flying, and teenage sex. Navigating the boys’ journey
through the coming-of-age years will stir the embers of baby boomers and enlighten
generation Z to the carefree innocent times of bobby socks and rock and roll.
The bus was already there. I found a place about halfway back
with nobody close, so I took it. I was wantin’ to sit next to the window and look outside and
think a little. Think about Gail and how pretty she was and if she was really going to show up
and what we were going to do. And spending time with Clay and maybe taking a ride in his
1935 Ford. I loved the rumble seat and the sound of that V8 engine when he shifted gears
and tried to burn rubber. Then I wondered what he was going to think about me really
getting serious with Gail. He and I had made plans about learning to fly, and he knew all
about airplanes— at least more than I did. I had always dreamed about learning to fly. He
seemed to know about almost everything and how to build everything and fix everything,
and we both liked the same things. I didn’t want to mess that up.
About the Author
Born in Kentucky, this is a debut novel for the author. In 2015,
he produced, directed, and scripted a film that was accepted into the Short Film Corner at
the Cannes Film Festival. He has lived in Los Angeles, taken writing classes, attended UCLA
film school and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Currently he is researching a second
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An actress with a secret, a journalist with a dream, and
forbidden love that could change everything.
Blurb Desperate to save her family’s dying magazine, love
is the last thing on 26-year-old Daphne Fernandez’s mind when she agrees to go undercover
as a makeup artist to scoop a juicy story on the city’s most popular telenovela star. But a
spur-of-the-moment kiss makes it more complicated. A cheating boyfriend might not be
Bombshell Bridget’s only secret.
Bridget Blake has only ever wanted one thing in her life: to
be herself. But her overbearing momanger insists showing the world who she really is would
mean the death of her blossoming career. So when the new makeup artist fights her way
under Bridget’s perfectly moisturized, paparazzi-proof skin, it’s everything she can do to
keep the façade in place. Until one spontaneous kiss turns her world upside down. With
Daphne, Bridget is the brave, fun-loving, take-no-prisoners girl she’s always wanted to be.
But embracing her new self may mean leaving behind everything she’s ever worked for. Is
love really worth it?
Book two in the standalone sapphic celebrity romance series Entertaining Love.
Excerpt The Meet Cute
A movement catches my attention as I hesitantly reach for a
shimmering eyeshadow palette young woman with black curly hair and gold-rimmed glasses
browses the store with ease. Her hands expertly select items from the shelves as she
navigates the space in her manual wheelchair.
She looks up a second later, and her brown eyes meet mine
with a flicker of recognition. She freezes, pursing her lips before finally rolling towards me
with a warm smile.
“Hi there.” Her voice is soft and melodic with a hint of a
Hispanic accent.. “Welcome to the Mystic Beauty. I couldn’t help but notice you look a bit
lost. Can I help you find something?”
I adopt an affected Southern drawl. The last thing I need is
for my stupidity about something as simple as make-up to be splattered all over the tabloids.
“I, um, I’m just looking for some makeup…” Well, duh. I mentally facepalm myself.
Why else would I be here? I pluck one from a nearby display and hold it up with an
exaggerated flourish. “Clearly, I’m a bit lost.”
“Of course!” she replies, wheeling next to me and holding
out her free hand. “I’m Daphne.”
“Nice to meet you, Daphne,” I say. “I’m… Sarah.”
“Sarah” is the first name that comes to mind, and I hope it’s
generic enough not to invite suspicion. Daphne’s hand is warm and steady as she shakes
mine, and I can’t help but be grateful for her genuine kindness.
“Alright, Sarah,” she says, releasing my hand and gesturing
toward a display of eyeshadow palettes. “Let’s find you something that suits your
As we navigate the aisles, Daphne explains different
products and techniques easily. After a few minutes, I no longer feel like an idiot for asking
one too many questions I should definitely already know the answer to after so many years
in the film industry. But rather someone just trying to take the time to learn a new trade.
The longer we wander through the aisles, the more. I find myself becoming intrigued by this
mysterious woman who clearly has a passion for her craft.
“Can I ask about your makeup?” I ask, admiring the delicate
lines of gold and silver that frame her brown eyes. “It’s stunning.”
“Thank you,” A blush colors her cheeks and I bite back a
smile of my own. She’s cute when she’s flustered. “I’m an aspiring special effects makeup
artist. I love playing with different styles and trying new things.”
“Wow,” I exhale softly. “That’s really amazing.” It’s not just
her skill that impresses me, but the genuine joy in her expression. Just saying the word
seems to light up the room, and I can’t help craving more of it from her. As we continue our
conversation, I slowly lower my sunglasses, allowing Daphne to see my green eyes.
“By the way, if you ever need any help or advice in the
future, feel free to reach out to me,” She hands me a small business card with her contact
information. “You seem like someone who could use a friend.”
I take the card with a grateful smile.
“I may just have to take you up on that.” I wink, and we
share a laugh. My heart skips a bit, and my chest as a blush pinkens her cheeks.
“Great!” Daphne smiles warmly as she expertly navigates
her wheelchair down the aisles, pointing out more products and explaining their uses. I
listen intently, absorbing every word like a sponge. “Primer is important for long-lasting
makeup,” she explains, handing me a small tube to examine. “And don’t forget about setting
“Good to know,” I muse, turning the tub between my
fingers. “You know my makeup artist was recently fired,” I confess quietly, glancing around
and relieved to find out the store is mostly empty. “It’s been really frustrating trying to find
someone new who understands my style.”
Daphne’s features soften with sympathy. “I’m sorry to hear
that. What kind of look were you going for?”
I hesitate, dipping my head down and running my hands
along my arms. “I’m… honestly not sure. I don’t know as much about makeup as I probably
Her eyes light up, and she squeezes my hand. That’s OK. We
can figure it out together. I actually have some ideas if you’re interested.”
“Really?” My heart flutters with anticipation. “I would love
As we continue to explore the store, Daphne’s passion and
creativity spark my own. I can’t help but feel drawn to her, her talent and kindness shining
through with every word. The longer we talk, the more amazed I am that this woman barely
knows me has already offered me more understanding and support than most people in my
“Thank you, Daphne,” I murmur, briefly taking her hand in
mine. “You have no idea how much this means to me.”
“Of course.” As we stand between shelves of sparkling
eyeshadows and vibrant lipsticks, I watch Daphne’s deft fingers pluck an iridescent shade
from its perch. The glittering powder dusts her fingertips as she swipes it gently across my
hand, creating a shimmering arc of color. “This would look amazing on you,” she says,
grinning. “It’ll bring out the green in your eyes.”
“Wow, that’s beautiful,” I breathe, captivated by the way
the light dances across the tiny flecks of pigment. “Do you really think I could pull it
Daphne smiles bashfully and flicks her hand through the air.
I’m sure you could pull anything off.” She laughs, and I can’t help but feel a flutter in my
chest. The way her eyes crinkle at the corners and her lips curve into a smile… it’s all so
For the rest of the afternoon, Daphne guides me through
the store, picking out different shades and colors for me to try on.
Daphne’s face lights up as we pause by a display of
elaborate prosthetics. “I love special effects makeup,” she confesses as she gently fingers
one of the masks. “It’s such a powerful way to transform someone and tell a story.”
“Really? Did you study it?”
Daphne nods, but her smile dims. “I did, but finding work
has been difficult, especially because of my disability. Some people just can’t see past the
A pulse of anger flares through me, but I stamp it down. This woman is a stranger. I remind myself. Still, I hate how judgmental people can be. “I’m
sorry, Daphne. That’s so unfair.”
“Thank you.” Her brown eyes meet mine and my throat
dries up. “But I won’t let it stop me. I know what I’m capable of, and someday, the right
opportunity will come along.”
Her determination and resilience never cease to amaze me.
Nodding I plant my hands on my hips. “I know it will.” Suddenly, an idea takes root in my
mind. A bold, daring idea that could change both our lives. “Daphne,” I begin, my voice
wavering with nerves. “I have a proposition for you.”
She tips her head to the side and I grin.
“Would you consider being my personal makeup artist?”
The words tumble out before I can second-guess myself. “I know it’s not special effects, but I
think together, we could create something amazing.”
The faint scent of lavender fills my nostrils as I watch
Daphne’s eyes dart back and forth. Her fingers tap the armrest of her wheelchair, betraying
“I… I don’t know, Bridget,” she hedges, looking down at her
lap. “I’m so honored, but… I can’t I just started down at the warehouse and I can’t just
abandon my crew.”
Oh. My heart sinks. “Of course. But if you change your
“Gracias.” Daphne smiles weakly, the gold rims of her
glasses catching the store’s fluorescent lights.
“De nada,” I murmur softly, warmth blossoming in my
“Now, let’s get back to finding the perfect makeup for you,
The corners of her mouth lift into a genuine smile, and I
watch as her hands deftly select products, her fingers moving with practiced ease despite
the tremors that sometimes betray her. Her passion for her craft is evident in every gesture,
and it only strengthens my belief that she’s the perfect person for the job.
“Thank you, Daphne, “I say as she bags up all my purchases
a few minutes later.
She smiles, and my pulse speeds up again. “You’re
welcome, Sarah. I’m just glad I could help.” She folds the last of my purchases into the bag
and hands it over to me with a nod.
Daphne’s cheeks flame scarlet as I scrawl my number on
her hand. “Here,” I say, trying not to let my embarrassment show. “If you ever change your
mind, feel free to call or text any time.”
Her gaze flits between the numbers and me. Finally, she
gives a small nod and murmurs her thanks. As I back away, feeling oddly proud of myself for
taking such a risk, Daphne watches me go with an intensity that leaves me slightly
About the Author
Claerie Kavanaugh has spent
most of her life telling stories, but she never imagined herself writing romance. In fact, she
used to think it should only be reserved for Hallmark movies. It wasn’t until college, when
she discovered fanfiction, that she learned what romance was truly about: not just fluffy
relationships and happily-ever-afters, but human connection, the desire to push one another
to be better, and create hope that somewhere, somehow, everyone has
When she’s not writing, she
loves to travel and explore new cultures, helping other authors polish their works as a
freelance editor, and singing while doing so. Broadway musicals are her soul-food,
something her mother and sister know well. She constantly blasts the newest soundtrack
through the halls of their Missouri home, much to the chagrin of her very sassy and spoiled
Talented Serafino is apprenticed to Mastro Filargiro, one of the city’s leading artists.
Serafino finds love, but his mastery takes him on a perilous journey across Italy’s feuding city-states, unaware that his virtuosity is a threat to the pre-eminence of the hitherto unchallenged masters of the Renaissance.
His life must take a dramatic new turn in the hope of escaping their enmity.
Washington DC, 2008.
Parker’s first year at Georgetown High is coming to an end.
His father is appointed Consul General in Florence. Parker enthusiastically embraces his new life and befriends handsome Beppe.
But almost everyone around him has been keeping secrets. And the fifteenth-century palazzo where his family now lives unexpectedly reveals its long-buried mysteries.
Separated by five hundred years, yet united by their talent, Serafino and Parker embark on similar journeys of discovery while fellow artists, assassins, princes and envious classmates rage and scheme around them.
He hears the final bell. The school erupts, classroom doors slam open barely holding on to their hinges, the metallic noise of lockers being opened and shut again is deafening.
Summer break is here. A torrent of students regurgitates into the street causing an almighty traffic jam. SUVs with mothers or nannies at the wheel vie for space, right of way, and ultimately a not-too-subtle parade of the best four wheels in Georgetown.
This is no cheap suburbia, most of their husbands or employers are toiling at some desk or chairing important meetings at Foggy Bottom, on Capitol Hill or the White House. Most often all three.
Parker walks out of the front door with his hands in the tight pockets of his slacks and his rucksack on his shoulders. A few hugs with the girls and some high-fives with fellow boys ensue. His older brother is already waiting at the bike stand. When he gets there the high-five is followed by a manly hug.
‘Dude, summer break and birthday tomorrow. Lucky little bro.’
‘Bet you know what the old folks have got me.’
‘Sure I do.’
They start cycling. When Parker reached the age of fourteen, their parents went out and bought a cheap bike for his growing frame. The Hendersons’ pristine drive sports the standard two SUVs parked neatly by each other, yet their mother wasn’t fond of school runs. In their opinion he was still a bit too young to cycle all the way to school by himself but the city had finally built some decent bike lanes and Tommy was now seventeen so they made them promise to stick together on the journey.
Tommy, who finds cycling by himself rather dull – he’s not much of a loner, any activity has to involve other people – had gone out of his way to promise to look out for his little brother at traffic junctions.
They had also promised never to set off without their helmets, though Tommy had swiftly pointed out to Parker that “setting off” with them was not the same as “wearing them”. Parker, the more academic of the pair, had found the distinction clever though he had laughed while retorting that it was still cheating.
So when they are a couple of blocks away from home they stop, unlock their helmets from their rucksacks’ straps and don them before reaching the driveway. A few times Parker had remarked that one day they might get caught by their mother driving by.
He walks to the garage door to open it but he’s shouted down by Tommy who parades himself in front of it.
‘Off-limits until tomorrow, bro.’
A smiling Parker leaves his bike with his brother and heads for the kitchen door. Tommy has just narrowed down his guesses for his present. One doesn’t need a garage to hide a watch or a pair of trainers.
To his surprise he finds them both at home, sat at the kitchen table with two mugs of coffee in their hands. After kissing his mother on the cheek (Tommy is starting to cringe at that, but Parker still likes it. Tomorrow’s birthday might change that), he meets his father’s closed fist with his; they have gradually stopped hugging.
‘Why are you home?’ Parker’s face frowns in suspicion. ‘You’ve got the day off tomorrow, haven’t you, Dad?’
‘‘No worries. All free tomorrow. Left office early, not much to do at the moment. There might be a few changes in my career; new President, new direction.’
About the Author
Paolo G. Grossi was born and raised in Milan. Thirty years ago he spent a weekend in London and decided to stay. Like most Italians, opera and the visual arts are his main passions. When not writing, you will surely find him attending a performance, visiting a museum and, of course, spending some time cycling in Berlin or around the Wannsee. He lives in London with his partner David.
A dead prostitute. A mysterious meeting. And a
retiring cop set on righting past wrongs…
Kyoto mafia don Nao Murata is enjoying a quiet reign. Now that his boyfriend,
Aki Hisona, has a clean bill of health, they can finally have some much-needed intimate time.
If only a persistent detective wasn’t about to throw a wrench in those plans.
Aki’s ready to fully consummate their relationship, but Nao doesn’t appreciate
his scandalous flirting in the office. Being left alone to deal with one of Nao’s top men, Aki
ends up learning about a secret that puts a crack in Nao’s control.
Amidst worries about whether they’re as compatible between the sheets as
they are on the streets, Nao and Aki are forced to work with the police to cement Nao’s
reign. As the secret begins to unravel, they’re pulled deeper into a treacherous game of cat
Now it’s no longer just their love life they have to fight for…
Prelude to Decay is the seventh book of The Yakuza Path thriller series. If you enjoy gripping
suspense, authentic Japanese traditions, and a healthy dose of gay drama, then you’ll
devour Amy Tasukada’s latest instalment.
About the Author
author Amy Tasukada writes thrilling times of crime, love, and gore. Readers who crave
diverse characters, unique settings, and edge-of-your-seat action will devour her Yakuza Path series. Readers who seek less blood and more love will swoon over the Yakuza Path Romance and Would it Be Okay
to Love You? Series. Amy is an atheist, queer
author who enjoys drinking tea, Japanese street fashion and visual kei music. Her calico cat,
O’Hara, is never far from her side. Amy lives in North Texas, but is always planning her next
trip to Japan.
When the only course of action is revenge, only the most damaged man is capable of maximum destruction.
Hired by a Chicago billionaire to pluck his runaway son from the Palm Springs compound of a wealthy pedophile, former military extraction and information specialist, Cordon Finn, believes it will be a simple snatch and go job with a big payday. But after grabbing the kid at a Pride Week party, Cordon discovers that nothing is as it seems. His quarry isn’t underage, and isn’t the billionaire’s son, but rather his trans-daughter who goes by the name of Lucious. And her father wants Lucious dead, putting Cordon, who is dealing with his own sexual identity, in the crosshairs as well. After fighting off a cadre of assassins, Cordon vows to keep Lucious alive. But when the billionaire kidnaps Cordon’s girlfriend and comes after his family and friends, Cordon takes the fight back to the billionaire’s door. With the surprising help of Lucious, as well as his sister, Annie, Cordon battles the billionaire’s small army, until he’s face-to-face with the billionaire. And in this battle, there will be only one man left standing, the one who is capable of maximum destruction.
Arriving at his car, Cordon puts down the top and tosses his bag in before opening the door to climb in, when he hears, “We’re even,” from behind him.
Turning, he finds the young guy, smiling cheekily, standing behind him.
“Even?” Cordon asks, unsure.
“You enjoyed the show I put on for you inside, I enjoyed the show you put on for me as you sashayed across the parking lot,” the kid says.
“I don’t sashay. And I didn’t take off my shirt for you.”
The kid giggles, rolling his eyes dramatically as he says, “Liar. That’s the only reason you took off your shirt. Hoping I’d notice and come running up to you.”
“And here you are.”
The kid’s face squishes up like he’s eaten rotten lemons.
“I’m a sucker for a muscle daddy. And you certainly got size. Hopefully, in the places I can’t see.”
“How old are you?” Cordon asks, ignoring the kid’s comment.
“Now who’s the liar?”
The kid smirks mischievously, hand on hip. “Nineteen. Five-ten. Twenty-eight-inch waist. My name is Gio. Want to know my cock size?”
Cordon doesn’t answer, which causes Gio to grin mischievously.
“Come on, I saw you looking at it. Though I imagine being a giant, yours is bigger. But for my frame, mine is super-sized,” he laughs.
“This bullshit work?”
“On other guys. Talking about your dick like it’s a 78-inch flat screen.”
“Just the ones who I think are interested,” Gio laughs, then suddenly gets more direct as he adds, “or have the money to pay.”
Cordon nods, understanding more clearly Gio’s game. “Which one do you think I am?” Cordon asks.
“You’re driving a really nice car, so you got the money. But I don’t think you have to pay men to have sex with you, unless you do it for the control, or you’re married, which I wouldn’t doubt, and you hope money will keep your trick’s mouth shut. Either way, I know you’re interested. I always know.”
“You party up at Lansing’s?” Cordon asks, tiring of the conversation.
Again, Gio’s smile fades, his head turning slightly as if looking at the Cordon from a different angle might jog his memory. “Did we meet up there?” Gio asks more of himself than Cordon. “No. I’d remember. Lansing would never invite a guy like you. All his little boys would flit around you like butterflies to bougainvillea, and he doesn’t allow anyone to steal his thunder. You a cop?”
“You know if I ask, you have to tell me,” Gio inserts.
“That’s bullshit. But I’m not.”
Gio takes Cordon in silently for a moment. And even though he knows he shouldn’t say too much to the statuesque man he doesn’t know, Gio is not adept at shutting up, even when it’s in his best interest.
“Sure, I party up at Lansing’s. Never lived there, though. Those guys think Lansing’s the answer to their prayers. Please. He has a revolving bedroom door with guys going in all young, dewy-eyed, and hopeful, and coming out all used up and sad. The man’s an emotional vampire. Sucks the life out of everybody. They all think that he’s going to help make them a star, or they’ll meet some other old queen through Lansing that will. And they all end up going back home, broke, hungry, and completely jaded, or they end up selling it to pay the rent. Hell, even when you’re up there, all that’s there are other fairies just like them or some dried-up, old, coke addict trying to get his Viagra dick up your ass. Don’t know anybody Lansing’s actually helped. Ever.”
“You don’t hold back, do you?”
“Just so I know who just insulted me, what’s your name?”
“Cordon from where?”
“You’re a long way from home, aren’t you, Dorothy? Are you here for Pride Week? I mean, I don’t get that vibe from you, that you’re down here to party with the boys. But you could be one of those sad, married men who told your wife back in Chicago that you’re going on a golfing trip or a hunting trip or something equally lame. And you’re here because you really like dick but you’re Catholic or worse, Evangelical, like my parents, and your guilt is off the charts because you married some pretty blonde, church-going girl, you have two kids, but all you think about when you’re fucking her is guys like me.”
“If you’re paying and I get to pick the restaurant,” Gio quickly tacks on.
Cordon lets a half-smile slip on his lip at Gio’s young, alpha nonsense.
“Get in,” Cordon says.
About the Author
Mr. Baker has written seven novels, including WHAT REMAINS, THE VIRGIN DAIQUIRI, and THE WEDDING GIFT. The film rights to his beloved novel, HONEYMOON WITH HARRY, were purchased by New Line Cinema. The book also spawned two sequels, A SECOND HONEYMOON WITH HARRY and THE LAST HONEYMOON WITH HARRY. Bart has also written for the theater, having eight plays produced around the world. The film rights to his play, RELAY, were purchased by Warner Bros., which led him into screenwriting. Bart has had 18 produced film and TV credits, including the feature film, LIVE WIRE, starring Pierce Brosnan, the BRIDE trilogy of films for CBS, as well as projects for CBS, ABC, FX, The Family Channel, Lifetime, The USA Network, and Hallmark among others.
Separate Development is a work of fiction inspired by real events. Many names, places and timelines have been altered to provide anonymity to third parties. Character names do not reflect anyone, living or deceased, whom I have ever known. However, I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for being part of my life, and for their understanding and acceptance. I recognise that their memories of the events described in the novel may be different from my own. There was never any intention to misrepresent anyone; in fact, I am honoured to have known them.
At twenty-five, recently qualified Dr Jonathan Conner leaves his comfortable life and love in London, taking up a charitable post during the last months of South Africa’s apartheid system. Weeks from a planned visit by his long-standing girlfriend, he falls in love with a young African man in the northern homeland of Venda.
Their passionate, heart-rending love story unfolds against the backdrop of conflict between social tolerances that lag behind political freedoms. Returning to England after eight years, he’s forced to confront the consequences of his decisions for those left behind in two very different worlds.
Through this story of love’s endurance beyond society’s acceptance and geographical separation, can the enduring power of the human heart overcome adversity?
The stark beauty of Venda’s voluptuous landscape could have replaced many an artist’s requirement for naked models of either sex. Rounded hills, writhing between cleaved valleys, yearned for lustful hands to caress their contours in pleasurable embraces. Admittedly, on that solemn day, it was not a mental image to dwell on. But I was to make the journey more than once.
The last twenty miles were dirt, dust dry, following the undulating curvature of parched hillsides. Rain was a distant memory, the last breath of summer’s bounty, yet portions of verdant green interspersed the struggling rampant growth of a forgotten season. Soon the skies would fill again with heat born clouds, storage towers of sustenance, destined to release daily torrents. Today, the brightest greens picked out pockets of humanity, cultivated patches and plots, tall stands of maize, fringed with bananas and peppered with papayas. Water was available for those who worked hard enough to find it, and the rich African soil rewarded those who took the trouble. These oases were increasing in frequency, many still surrounded by round, thatched, mud-wall huts or rondavels, some supplemented by larger rectangular versions, roofs still often traditional but occasionally replaced by bright or rusty zinc. Tracks worn by years of footfall fed the settlements. Vehicular access was rare, but where it existed, the residences built of brick, though often rendered: similar modern bungalows to mine.
As the frequency of dwellings increased, so did the appearance of structures clearly having other functions. Eventually we reached a broad flat plane. Gone were the patches of green, and in their place, the straggling thorn bushes — which conquered any area where humanity didn’t — had grown to tall spreading trees; all were bare of leaf, yet in the seasons of rain, broad panoplies of shade would provide protection from Capricorn’s sun. The space, ringed with buildings of a relatively modern construction, had occasional notices of printed or hand painted letters attached. Enclosing one side of the quadrangle stood a long dormitory style block of rough plastered walls, patched and peeling paint representing the faded choices of many years, or perhaps revealing the use of colours kindly donated at the time. Windows, placed only a few inches below the rusty corrugated overhang of the roof, in some sections without frame or glass, allowed light yet probably deterred its occupants from external distraction. Three well-worn steps led to broad double doors, also reflecting the indecision or availability of bygone supplies of colour. Only the signage appeared to have received regular maintenance. Bold black lettering, written with skilled hands on a fresh blue base, told me Sarah’s directions had led me to park in front of Ha-nthabalala Secondary School, Established 1972. Headmaster: Mr Joseph Ramanala. The name had a slightly deeper blue background, suggesting it represented the most recent promotion to the post.
About the Author
David Blyth was born in Staffordshire, in the UK. He graduated from Nottingham and Wolverhampton Universities with a BSC.hon and a PGCE. He lived for many years in South Africa, where he witnessed the political and social transformation during and after apartheid.
His interests, apart from writing, include anything that helps him to stay relatively sane.
Separate Development, which is in fact, his second novel, was written at his home in the English Midlands. It is due to be published in the spring of 2023.
His first novel, The Scars of Life, was written during a two-year overland exploration of southern, central and east Africa. Much was achieved sitting under the shade of a huge mango tree on the shores of Lake Malawi, always with a beer near at hand. It will be published during the summer of 2023.