Tag Archives: dark

BLOG TOUR: Strong Medicine by J.K. Hogan

Strong Medicine BannerWe’re thrilled you’ve joined us for our stop on the Strong Medicine Blog Tour! Thanks for dropping by to check out this new, dark m/m romance from J.K. Hogan and Wilde City Press – it sounds positively chilling! We’re happy to have J.K. Hogan joining us to to discuss the setting for the story. Enjoy!

 

GUEST POST:

Exploring different settings is a really fun part of writing. It can require lots of research and/or lots of imagination, depending on whether it’s a real place or not. I’ve only written one book set in a place I’ve never physically been before—I’m not telling which!—with the exception of two that have fictional places within larger real-life cities. I prefer a certain amount of realism, even in my paranormal stories, so it’s just what works for me.

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Strong Medicine is set in a fictional hospital called Riverbend, a private psychiatric facility. The hospital exists in a fictional town called Folly Creek, that is supposed to be a sub-rural offshoot from Asheville, NC. It’s an eclectic little mountain city, and one of the more progressive areas in the state. Some might even call it a hippie town. It has a great scene for art, music, and food. All of the music venues that Cameron visits in the story—Tiger Mountain, the Grey Eagle, the Orange Peel, Asheville music hall—are all real places, and lots of fun to go see live shows at.


JK HOGAN GUEST POST PIC 2Folly Creek was modeled after some of smaller outlying towns in the mountains.  It was a quiet little place for the characters to live out their story and find each other. It was fun to write because it felt like home to me. What kind of settings do you prefer? Real places or fictional ones? Or fictional ones based on real ones?

ABOUT THE BOOK:

StrongMedicineCover
Cover Artist: J.K. Hogan (KHD Graphics)

Two men who meet in a psychiatric institution couldn’t possibly find happiness together—could they?

The world seemed to be telling disgraced former child star and singer Cameron Fox that he would never be happy again. A drunken car accident gets him sentenced to a work-release at Riverbend Behavioral Health Facility.

Reclusive, traumatized writer Jonah Radley has an entire graveyard of skeletons in his closet. Jonah regularly hospitalizes himself for psychotic episodes caused by a horrific childhood trauma, his biggest secret—one he refuses to speak about in therapy.

Jonah and Cameron form a bond inside the hospital, forged in mutual pain and hope for a better life. Once they leave the hospital, they must decide if they are brave enough to explore the intricacies of living with mental illness—and find a new normal together.

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Publisher: Wilde City Press
Release Date: 5/11/16
Heat Level: 3
Pairing: m/m
Book Length: 97k words
Genre/Tags: Psychological, Dark, M/M Romance

EXCERPT:

Jonah was feeling particularly lucid that day. He hadn’t seen any dead relatives, nothing had burned, and he actually felt like he was inside his own body, for once. He knew it wouldn’t last. It was a constant feeling of dancing on the edge of the cliff, just waiting for the one misstep that would send him plummeting into the void again.

He sat in the rocking chair, the one that had become known as ‘Jonah’s chair,’ and watched Harry the groundskeeper shovel snow off the patio next to the picture window. The scoliotic old man bent to sprinkle handfuls of rock salt over the pavers before moving on farther into the courtyard.

As usual, Jonah lost himself in the warmth of the blanket of sunlight, so much so that he was startled when he sensed a presence behind him. It was just a change in the air, a shift of the molecules, and then a new scent—sharp and heady, a mixture of cedar smoke and Old Spice. Jonah had smelled it before, yesterday. He didn’t need to see to know that the sparkly new probie was standing behind him.

And just like that, just picturing the man in his mind with his weird, shaggy blond hair, dark blue eyes, and boyish features, Jonah remembered. He’d been much younger then, the boy on the TV that his mother had sat him in front of when she couldn’t deal with his damning silence anymore. That boy, his sweet face, and even sweeter voice, had saved Jonah more times than he could count, just kept him hanging on for one more day.

Staring unblinking out the window, Jonah breathed deep of that fragrance and addressed the spectral memory of Kyle Chase. “I know you,” he whispered.

The air stilled as the movement behind him ceased, as if the other man had turned to stone.

“I loved you once.”

Footsteps. Soft, padding, staccato beats of leather against linoleum, until Jonah was face to face with his boyhood crush. Well, more like face to chest, since Jonah was seated and Kyle was looming over him. He wasn’t Kyle, of course, not really. Though Jonah strained, digging through layers of memory, he couldn’t extract the boy—man’s real name.

“Excuse me?” Not-Kyle asked, bushy eyebrows raised toward his hairline.

Jonah tried for a rueful smile, and he could practically hear his skin cracking with the effort. “Sorry, probie. It’s well known around here that I don’t make any sense. What I meant was ‘I used to watch your show.’”

“Oh. I, uh… really?”

Jonah half coughed, half grunted, because it was as close as he ever got to a laugh. “That surprises you?”

“Yes—No! I just sometimes forget that the people who used to watch my show are all grown-up now. Most of the time, I still feel like a kid, so it kind of catches me off guard.” He ran a hand through that mop of messy hair—bleached blond like he was still playing a Cali surfer boy on TV—then squatted down so that he was on Jonah’s level.

“I think you’d be the first one to call me a grown-up. I’ve been called a lot of things, but never that. Besides, I’m not as old as I look.”

“Yeah? How old?”

“Twenty-three.”

“Oh. Wow.”

“Yeah, I know. That’s what hard living and insanity will do to you,” Jonah explained without a hint of malice.

“Oh, no. I’m sorry, that came out wrong… You don’t look bad. It’s the opposite, really. You look… yeah, anyway, you’re right, you do just look older than twenty-three. Not in a bad way.”

“Easy there. It’s really okay. I’m pretty hard to insult. Most of the things you could think of to say about me would be true anyway.” Jonah wiped his sweaty palms on his sweatpants and reached on out to him. “Jonah Radley.”

“Cameron Fox.” Cameron took his hand, shook it, lingered just a second longer than was proper.

“I have to admit, I was wrangling for an introduction because I couldn’t remember your real name. I figure you probably wouldn’t want me calling you Kyle.”

Cameron’s laugh was soft, cozy, like a splash of honey in some warm Earl Grey. “No, I guess not. It’s nice to meet you, Jonah Radley. Radley, that’s an unusual name.”

“Indeed it is. Not as unusual as you’d think, but yes… I did have to deal with the well-read students in school calling me ‘Boo’ all the time. But this is rural Appalachia, so it wasn’t always a problem if you get my drift.”

Jonah could see it took Cameron a moment to get the reference, but when he did, he chuckled again. “So what made you decide to join the wonderful world of psychiatric care?” Jonah asked.

Something flashed in Cameron’s eyes, a cloud, a moment of indecision, before he answered. “I got arrested.”

“Ah, you’re one of Rohan’s boys.” Jonah kept his voice neutral, careful not to seem like he was judging, because people in glass houses and all that… “A probie in every sense of the word.”

Cameron lowered his head, studied the ugly, weathered linoleum. “Unfortunately.”

“Hey, we all have pasts. At least you have a future.”

That blond head snapped up, and Cameron gaped at him. “So do you, Jonah.”

Jonah shook his head sadly, then caught sight of a pair of dark, yawning eye sockets peering through the window. One of the dead girls, of course, just when he was starting to feel human again.

He didn’t make eye contact when he spoke to Cameron. “You should go now,” he whispered.

“Jonah…”

“Go!” Jonah shouted it, his voice tinged with desperation. He never cared before, but he didn’t want this man to see him disappear, to see him float. His eyes welled up, something that hadn’t ever happened at Riverbend before, and he felt ashamed. “Please.”

“Probie!” Rohan’s rich tenor rang out across the buzzing air, slicing the tension between them. Cameron tensed, and his feet seemed to obey Rohan before the rest of him caught up. He cast one more sad, sidelong look at Jonah before he was led away.

Once he was alone, Jonah began to shake. Shivering violently though he was burning up inside, Jonah felt tears sear flaming rivulets down his cheeks. He dug the heels of his hands into his eye sockets until they ached, and eventually the tears stopped. Then there was nothing left but smoke.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

6427555J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and two sons, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit www.jkhogan.com.

CONNECT WITH J.K.:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads Author Page | Amazon | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest

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GIVEAWAY:

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of Strong Medicine.

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BLOG TOUR: A Taste for Poison by Aleksandr Voinov

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Welcome to our Spotlight Stop on the A Taste for Poison Blog Tour! Today we’re thrilled to share our thoughts on the newest book in Aleksandr Voinov’s Memory of Scorpions series from Riptide Publishing. Be sure to follow all the way to the bottom and enter for your chance to win a full set of paperback copies of this series!

About the Book:

Cover by Reese Dante
Cover by Reese Dante

Even a king gets stung when he reaches for a scorpion.

After barely surviving an assassination attempt, King Adrastes is a changed man—one who mistrusts even his allies and friends. He readies his empire for war against an enigmatic enemy, the Elder of Vededrin, but not everyone approves. While courtiers dare only to whisper dissent, an outrider called Death foments rebellion in the mountains, aided by a prophecy that promises he’ll stop the Black King.

Kendras—former lover to Adrastes and leader of the Scorpions—is sent with his elite mercenary force to bring Death to justice. But when Kendras learns who’s hiding behind the mask, he must choose between his lover Graukar, newly-appointed general to the king—and King Adrastes himself.

With no man to call master, the Scorpions could flee the danger and intrigue. But Kendras cannot abandon the man he once loved—or the man he’s growing to love—without first uncovering the real threat to the Empire.

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Our Review:
What a way to welcome back to this dark, enchanting world. This book has all the mystery and intrigue of the previous two, told in Aleksandr Voinov’s detailed, thought-provoking way. His writing is inherently complex, providing numerous plot twists and surprises. It’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the action and conflict, both physical and political. The intricacy of the military maneuvers and their ramifications are utterly impressive. As for what actually happens, well, I’m afraid to say much because I don’t want to spoil a single second of it. You’ll just have to read it for yourself – it’s definitely worth it.

What continues to amaze me is not just the story at hand, but the overall evolution of these characters and this world. In looking at where Kendras started and where he ends up, I can’t say I’m entirely surprised by his role within the Scorpions. He’s clearly set up for something big from the beginning, but how that would come about is remarkable and tragic all at the same time. We’ve come a long way since The Officer placed that scorpion on his shoulder. I commend Voinov for his ability to grow his characters, giving them unprecedented depth. I can’t even imagine the amount of planning necessary to plant those seeds early so that he can manipulate details later. It’s absolutely remarkable.

I need to confess something: in reading this series, I absolutely tried to hate Widow. From the beginning I just didn’t trust him, because his character is shrouded in mystery and mired with duplicity. I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop for a long time. However, I have to say in trying to hate him, I grew to love him. He might even be my favorite character. (Did I just say that out loud?) He’s gotten under my skin, and the rapport he and Kendras build is one that amazes me. Plus, he’s just plain funny and smart, and I love that he can assess just about every situation quickly and accurately.

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!

About the Author:
Aleksandr has been published for twenty years, both in print and ebook. He has ten years’ experience as a writing coach, book doctor, and writing teacher, and until recently worked as an editor in financial services.

After co-authoring the M/M military cult classic Special Forces, Aleksandr embarked on a quest to write gritty, edgy, sometimes literary M/M and gay fiction (much of which is romance/erotica)—the only way he can use his American Literature degree these days.

He’s been published with Heyne/Random House, Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, and others, and is an EPIC Awards winner and a Lambda Awards finalist.

Connect with Aleks:

WEBSITE / BLOG / TWITTER / GOODREADS

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