The giveaway starts now and will last until Midnight CDT on Sunday, August 18th. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to Rhys so the winner can receive their book.
Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.
Whiskey and Wry releases on Monday, August 19th, so if you win and reply early you can get a copy on release day 🙂 Or, if you just can’t wait and don’t want to take your chances, you can always preorder at DSP here.
Also, be sure to stay tuned for my review of Whiskey and Wry on Monday!
Thanks and good luck.
Title: Black Dog Blues (Kai Gracen #1)
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Self Published (Coffee Squirrel Press)
Length: 92,479 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Series, Urban Fantasy, Fae/Elves, Futuristic, Post-Apoc, California, Graphic Violence (and other…things), Blood & Gore, Dragons, Past Abuse, Action/Adventure, Unusual Creatures, Magic, Tattoos
Rating: Really Liked It
Ever since he’d been part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figured he’d used up any good karma he had when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races were left with a messy, monster-ridden world and Stalkers were often the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy and dark moved into the neighbourhood.
There certainly were no shortage of monsters or people stupidly willing to become lunch for one.
It was a hard life but one Kai liked. And he was good at it. Killing monsters was easy. Especially since he was one himself.
After an accident retired Dempsey out, Kai set up permanent shop in San Diego, contracting out to the local SoCalGov depot. It was a decent life, filled with bounty, a few friends and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him he wasn’t really human.
That was until a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego and Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It was supposed to a simple run; head up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary with the new Court then back to San Diego. Easy, quick and best of all, profitable. But Ryder’s “simple” run leads to massive trouble and Kai ends up being caught in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.
No one ever got rich by being a Stalker. But then hardly any of them got old either. The way things were looking, it didn’t look like Kai was going to be the exception.
Pretty much all of you who read my reviews know that for the most part I’m rather reluctant to read anything angsty or intense. My tastes change and fluctuate of course, but for the last year to year and a half I’ve mostly left those alone. So somehow, I suppose because at the time I didn’t really know Rhys Ford’s writing all that well, I got into her writing even though she really flirts with the edge for me at times, no matter how much I end up liking the books. It takes me a bit of mental cheerleading to work myself into the frame of mind to start her books, and really it’s mostly the anticipation; fearing that the book will get too intense for me is more than half the battle, because I usually don’t mind as much once I start reading. But now that I know I’ll read anything by this author, it still means that I’m nervous starting her books. I was actually most excited about this one, mostly because I was really interested to see how she’d deal with urban fantasy when most of her writing that I’m familiar with are contemporary mysteries. And once I started, I was immediately sucked into it. Even though it was in many parts intense — it was just a different kind of intensity than I expected.
Kai Gracen is an anomaly among the lower denizens of San Diego. Taken in by Dempsey when only a feral elfin boy, the grizzled and uncouth hunter raised Kai in his shadow, among the human hunters of the black dogs, the spawn of the unsidhe that threaten the human population and whose hides earn money from the government. After a war between humans and the elfin races (both sidhe and unsidhe), the land is split between areas for each race to inhabit, with land specifically designated for the elfin to set up their courts. It also left the world full of monsters and beasties like the black dogs, making travel between those areas often difficult and dangerous.
As a hunter, Kai is skilled and extremely knowledgable about the area, which is why he’s called into the local government depot (where he gets paid for his kills) to take a non-negotiable contract to ferry a new elfin lord up the coast during dragon mating season. The run through Pendle is dangerous even without the complications that the sidhe lord brings, the first being their passenger on return. Ryder, the sidhe lord, is new to San Diego, setting up a new court (the Dawn Court). He needs to retrieve a pregnant human from the sidhe city in Los Angeles and needs Kai to take him, serving as guide and bodyguard.
This book drew me immediately in. It feels… literally jam-packed with action and plot. It’s almost as if there’s no stopping. And after reading the book and then seeing that it’s only just shy of 100k words. Honestly, I felt as if I’d read twice that. There’s so much to this story, starting with the world and the characters. This book does well as the first of a new series to set up the world, but so much of it is in great detail. It is rather smartly done, too. We don’t need a history lesson, because while we don’t really know how the war between the humans and elfin came about or how it played out, it’s fairly self-explanatory by how the world is set up. Both races have their positive and negative qualities, and Kai is uniquely placed to give us perspective on both of them, while having his own unique one about where the two races collide. Over the course of the book we learn quite a bit about his history, which is fairly graphic in detail but shows the evil and the good in the world. And also, there is so much world, plot, characterization that this story really can’t have it all. The romance is really non-existent in this book, except in the sense as a prelude to future stories and in the building of the relationship between Kai and Ryder. But I appreciated that there wasn’t a rush and that Rhys Ford didn’t (perhaps) bow to pressure to include it too early.
I’ve gone the route of deciding to urge you to read this yourself rather than really dig in and explore the book in my review. I would actually love to do that, but there’s honestly just way too much to talk about. And I was really surprised by how well balanced all of that was. I felt like Rhys showed quite a bit of restraint in parts of the book, which makes me eager to see what she’ll write for the sequel… there’s just so much more story left to tell.
I will say that if you might be squeamish about blood and gore this might be a difficult read for you. I was expecting more emotionally intense writing than what I got, but I didn’t expect so many physically intense scenes. There’s one scene that made even me sick to my stomach (which… I don’t know that that has ever happened to me actually), where… Well, all I’ll say is that Kai gets something really nasty in his mouth. And the blood and gore was a few times almost comical, like a Tarantino movie. I really enjoyed that part of it, though some people really might not.
But, in all, this was a really fantastic read. While I applaud the author’s decision to take the romance slow (which is really needed because of Kai’s emotional growth throughout the book), I would have liked maybe a bit more connection between him and Ryder before the ending of the book. It got there, sortof, before the end, but for a book that for most of reading it I wasn’t sure if it even was going to develop into a romance, I wanted a bit more assurance of the direction their relationship was moving in before we left them for a year or however long it takes before the sequel is ready to read.
Beautifully and smartly written. And, I think, one of the best books so far this year. Definitely recommended!
Posted by Cole in 5 Really Like It, 76-100k, Authors D-F, Fantasy, Futuristic, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Romance, Sex Freq 1 - None Tags: Action/Adventure, Blood & Gore, California, Dragons, Fae/Elves, Futuristic, Graphic Violence, Kai Gracen, Magic, Past Abuse, Post Apocalyptic, Rhys Ford, Self Published, Series, Tattoos, Unusual Creatures, Urban Fantasy
Beautiful post by Rhys Ford, which I completely understand and sympathize with every single time I write a review, especially the bad ones!
Strange place to start? Yeah, it’s pretty much the kind of thing writers end up being sidetracked on when doing research or sometimes even, avoiding writing. What? Writers avoid writing? Like we’re a slug caught on a Morton’s salt conveyor belt.
Surprisingly, sometimes taking a break in the middle of a chapter does the brain some good. It gives you breathing room and if you go and take a shower, chances are, the wrinkle in your plot will suddenly erase itself. I can’t tell you how many authors have said the shower is apparently where their brains work the best.
Myself? I’m usually lying in bed and nearly asleep, fighting for space on the bed between the cat and dogs when something hits me like a conversation or a scene that I know I’m going to forget about it as soon as I close my eyes. So I chant it over in my head to sort of engrave that into my memory but sometimes the tidbits slip away. And I’ll curse my luck, losing that conversation that surely would have broken open the industry and have me proclaimed as the Next Great Thing.
The Next Great Thing isn’t a forever kind of trophy. Why? Because while people can make a splash and shine, it really is the writer that emerges from the pack with solid writing and complex characters. Those are the books that stick with you. We all have those books that we go to for solace, inspiration or sometimes just escape. Those are the ones that takes a reader away from the room they are in and puts them in a motorcar or hot air balloon. I have crossed a mirror with Alice, tromped through the Geta landscape with Gaet and his family, lived during a performance of the Dancers of Arun… all without leaving my body.
As have we all. So taking a break from writing… from flying solo in uncharted territory is sometimes necessary. This leads to um… research.
Now if you follow my blog or Facebook, you’d know research is sort of a codeword for the usually scantily clad men I post. Usually I am dead serious about finding these pictures during research. I once started off looking around about cotton towels…. which then led to um… men in towels.
No seriously, this happens. It does.
And don’t get me started on kilts.
Well you could but we’d get sidetracked. More than we normally get.
These side trips usually lead me to places that I think I’ll explore or even ideas for the next book. Running a murder mystery series, I’m constantly trying to think of something interesting for Cole to chase after where in the Sinners series, it’s more about suspense and personal trauma than anything else. So sniffing out threads that might be interesting are always good to follow… but be careful of where you put your ideas because you may end up with more than you need.
Some people call them plot bunnies. I never really thought of them as such. Caltrops perhaps but never bunnies. They are these irritating burrs under your brain that shout out really great ideas. FANTASTIC ideas. And then leave you to cobble together the eighty thousand plus words to make it all make sense and interesting.
They are bastards, those plot bunnies. Keep them reined in but at the same time, feel free to do um… research.
Because oh there is inspiration.
Sometimes you see a photo that breaks open something you’ve been meaning to write. Something you didn’t even know existed in you. Share your research. Talk about the process with your readers. Show them where you go when you write. Because honestly, I like seeing where an author is during a book. The flights of fancy that give the writer a break also give insight.
Okay and it also allows a lot of us to post a lot of pictures of mostly naked men in tartan.
That tartan wearing man with his oiled abs are as good an inspiration as the brain in the shower. And really, so much more accessible and easier to remember.
Dirty Laundry is the latest of Cole and Jae’s adventures and surprisingly enough, a part of the plot came from a video about Korean fortune telling. Tarot cards and the I Ching have a huge impact on the daily lives of so many people. I wanted to touch on that a little bit and since Dirty Laundry has everything to do with familial connections, it was pretty easy to weave that into the story. Cole McGinnis, perhaps an investigator who should find another line of work to give his lover’s heart a rest, is pulled into a case by a Korean woman whose clients are dying around her.
Research played a big part of this book. Mostly trying to figure out how Cole was going to maneuver around the case. There are parts of Koreatown I put into this book and in trying to capture the flavour of the place, going up there or doing research is purely to communicate that to the reader because I as a writer need to be able to take you someplace you’ve never been. And in most cases, that place is Los Angeles…and Cole’s bed where he loves Jae as best he can.
By immersing a bit and sometimes sidetracking to places like Korean fortune telling, I can get places that may be interesting to be. I hope you all find it so.
So visit a few blogs, interact, post “research” and most of all, remember to laugh once in a while and breathe as you write. I suggested to Jacob Z. Flores we should have a post a hot picture day once in a while on Facebook. He said every day. And yes, he’s right. Post hot pictures. Post silly pictures. Start a conversation. Inspire. Talk. Laugh. Learn. Reach out. We’re a small genre… incestuous nearly… and there is no better place to find really sweet and dear people with the same humour and love of books.
See? Lots of potential story material. None of which are on my horizon of what I’m writing but you never know when I might need to have information about ice cream. Which I did. And well, I also needed information about electro magnetic interference. Not as sexy as ice cream but relevant to what I’m writing.
But when it’s all said and done, writers do need to go back to the page and the keyboard, leave the interwebs be and forge ahead into places yet undocumented. Because those are the places we hope to take you and we want it to be someplace you enjoy.
The spare bit of hyrax information aside, if you’ve got some nice research, let it inspire you. Oh and share it too. Be sure to tag me if it’s very… inspiring. Readers too. You can help in this. Don’t think inspiration is one sided… because you inspire us as well.
We do it all for you, Mulder. All for you.
* By the way, that little hyrax fact was given to me by Jordan L. Hawk in response to me posting some hyrax pictures on Facebook. Now I’ll never forget it.
For ex-cop turned private investigator Cole McGinnis, each day brings a new challenge. Too bad most of them involve pain and death. Claudia, his office manager and surrogate mother, is still recovering from a gunshot, and Cole’s closeted boyfriend, Kim Jae-Min, suddenly finds his teenaged sister dumped in his lap. Meanwhile, Cole has his own sibling problems—most notably, a mysterious half brother from Japan whom his older brother, Mike, is determined they welcome with open arms.
As if his own personal dramas weren’t enough, Cole is approached by Madame Sun, a fortune-teller whose clients have been dying at an alarming rate. Convinced someone is after her customers, she wants the matter investigated, but the police think she’s imagining things. Hoping to put Sun’s mind at ease, Cole takes the case and finds himself plunged into a Gordian knot of lies and betrayal where no one is who they are supposed to be and Death seems to be the only card in Madame Sun’s deck.
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.
Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats, a black Pomeranian puffball, a bonsai wolfhound, and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a red Hamilton Beach coffee maker.
**Update: The change is in red. I forgot to add that Rhys offered both this release, anything from the series or from her backlist 🙂
Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Dirty Laundry or any backlist book by Rhys Ford. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Tuesday, April 23. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to the author so the winner can receive their book.
Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.
Thank you and good luck!
Title: Sinner’s Gin (Sinner’s Gin #1)
Author: Rhys Ford
Length: 85,843 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Rockers, Cops, Diverse Pairing, Irish, Past Sexual Abuse, Hurt/Comfort, Injuries, Man’s Best Friend (Dogs!), Big Families, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Pretty Good
There’s a dead man in Miki St. John’s vintage Pontiac GTO, and he has no idea how it got there.
After Miki survives the tragic accident that killed his best friend and the other members of their band, Sinner’s Gin, all he wants is to hide from the world in the refurbished warehouse he bought before their last tour. But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet.
Kane Morgan, the SFPD inspector renting space in the art co-op next door, initially suspects Miki had a hand in the man’s murder, but Kane soon realizes Miki is as much a victim as the man splattered inside the GTO. As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved — provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.
I read this with a friend over Christmas, and while I enjoyed this book, I think that other readers seem to be liking it more than me. I’ve been thinking about it since, and while I’ve avoided looking at how it’s been received since those early few days and from reader and reviewer reviews, at that time it seemed like this was coming off really well. And it deserves it. I’m not really sure what it was about the story that I didn’t quite connect with, but I’ll try to flesh it out in a minute.
The story starts with a stunner of a prologue (which I’ll leave alone, but btw, RF, you are really packing the punches with the prologues and epilogues lately!). As the main story starts, we get to know Miki mostly from Kane’s POV as the man who owns the dog that keeps stealing his art supplies. Soon after he gets to know Miki from terse front door words about the exact ownership of the dog, they become embroiled in a murder mystery. Kane finds a dead body in Miki’s classic restored GTO, and not just any dead body, but the body of the man who used to torture Miki as a street kid, opening up a past of abuse and cruelty that Miki doesn’t want to face.
I suppose it is just personal that parts of this story didn’t connect with me. I loved Kane, and I loved Miki to an extent. I had a difficult time going through all of his horrible upturned life with him. He suffer(s/ed) quite a lot at the hands of various people, as well as fate, and as one thing packed onto a another and the dynamic between the two became, at times, very hurt/comfort. The problem for me was in the structure of the story and the pacing, which seemed to relegate most of the action to the first and last 25% and the bulk of the middle to character growth and relationship growth. But that middle part got bogged down for me because the emotions were pretty heavy. And not exactly the emotions but the type of abuse that Miki suffered and his bleak day to day existence was difficult for me to read in one stretch. I kept braking and wishing for some of the investigation to come back and break up some of the tension.
That said, the rest of the story was a treat. Where the white cop/lithe korean man dynamic might seem familiar, the characters are quite different from Cole and Jae, especially in the differences between Kane and Cole (I found Kane much more immediately accessible but not lacking in depth). This book deals with what might seem to be heavier issues (child sexual abuse), I didn’t find it any darker in tone than her previous books. I compare the start of this new series to that one because I know that almost every reader who reads this, or plans to buy it, will. And while there are surface similarities, I found them satisfyingly different.
What I can’t really figure out from my own feelings is how much my liking of this book is wrapped up in how much I look forward to the next coming book in the series. Because while this book has a lot to recommend it, I didn’t ever get excited about it while reading until the surprise epilogue, which immediately made me upset I couldn’t read further 😉 And while it did feel good to leave on a note that excited me about reading more, I’m not sure I’d be happy if RF ended up relying on this device (not saying she will, just my feelings). Still, I have a feeling that this book is worth reading to get to that second book, and I hope the exploration of that secret will inject some more forward momentum into the story that I wanted here.
So, I’m very much looking forward to the rest of this series, and as always remain an avid fan of this author’s work.
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 76-100k, Authors D-F, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Cops/Crime, Diverse Pairing, Dreamspinner Press, Family, Hurt/Comfort, Injured Character, Irish, Man's Best Friend (Dogs!), Musicians, Rhys Ford, Secrets & Lies, Series, Sexual Abuse/Assault, Sinners series
Title: Dirty Secret (Cole McGinnis Mystery #2)
Author: Rhys Ford
Length: 78,615 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat:4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Diverse, Korean, Closeted, Private Investigator, Murder, Cops/Crime, Secrets & Lies
Rating: LOVED It!
**Contains spoilers for those who haven’t read the first book of the series**
Loving Kim Jae-Min isn’t always easy: Jae is gun-shy about being openly homosexual. Ex-cop turned private investigator Cole McGinnis doesn’t know any other way to be. Still, he understands where Jae is coming from. Traditional Korean men aren’t gay—at least not usually where people can see them. But Cole can’t spend too much time unraveling his boyfriend’s issues. He has a job to do. When a singer named Scarlet asks him to help find Park Dae-Hoon, a gay Korean man who disappeared nearly two decades ago, Cole finds himself submerged in the tangled world of rich Korean families, where obligation and politics mean sacrificing happiness to preserve corporate empires. Soon the bodies start piling up without rhyme or reason. With every step Cole takes toward locating Park Dae-Hoon, another person meets their demise—and someone Cole loves could be next on the murderer’s list.
I read this sequel to Dirty Kiss (reviewed here) directly after that book, simply because I really love these characters and I feel very invested in their happiness. As a sequel, this book did everything it needed to rise above Dirty Kiss, both in the mystery and in the continuation of the romance.
Cole and Jae ended the first book on shaky ground but with a solid commitment to give their relationship a try — at least for the time being. The atmosphere of the Korean-American culture in southern California is such that Jae feels as if he’ll eventually have to give up Cole and create a family, if he wants to keep his own family. In Dirty Secret, the couple is surrounded by evidence of that decision made by other men, both in their father’s generation and their own, and the consequences of it are frightening.
Cole is brought a case by Scarlet, his cross dressing Filipino friend, to help a young man find his father. Park Dae-Hoon was Scarlet’s best friend and disappeared from a club in the pre-LA Riot’s days. He’s been missing a long time now, and his now grown sons are looking to make their own lives. One son is like his father, a gay Korean man entangled with the politics of their demanding society, the other is getting married to the daughter of their father’s lover. It is a hopeless mire of family secrets and lies that Cole must wade through, and nothing seems to be what he expects. At the same time his family has shown up and he must put aside his pride and hurt towards his parents if he wants a chance to meet his younger sisters, all while Jae is having problems with his own mother. Their obligations are slowly but surely encroaching upon their relationship, in a race against time until Cole can convince Jae that the shit-storm is worth sticking to his side.
The first book was really an incredibly written novel, and I was at first worried that this sequel might not be able to match it. I should have had some faith. The two things this book really needed were an even better mystery and a real progression in their relationship, both of which happened. The mystery is different from most that I’m used to reading. I found it less along the lines of serial killers and more in line with actual private detective work, and I love seeing Cole in his work. He’s such a wonderfully multi-faceted character and where the first book got the history out of the way so that we got to know Cole and Jae well, this book allows them to really shine. Cole really gets a workover in this book when his family crops up and he has to face his father and step-mother. It was a really, really difficult scene to read. I’m usually so scared to read angst, I just don’t like it, and it was beautiful how this author could explore such heavy emotion and hurtful things without getting lost in it. Instead, we really understand Cole better because of the way that pain is excised and also Jae for the way he handles it. This book shows them really working as a team, for the first time, and that gave me hope for their relationship. Where the first book explored their passion for one another, this one showed their commitment and deeper connections, something they’ll need with the teaser we’re left with in the end about the next book (and it is a DOOZY).
The only complaint I might have is how much like superheroes these characters seem, especially Cole. There is only so many times you can be shot at, or even shot without dying! It became absurd at one point near the end, and maybe that is because I read both books back to back and there are so many (cumulative) bullets flying by that point, all the characters should have been dead. It’s like the OK Corral in Cole’s front yard, seriously! If I had my way, I wouldn’t necessarily want the near death experiences to end, or even lessen, but I would enjoy a little more diversity than just flying bullets. A few more creative scenarios would be fun to read about 😉
I love these books. Rhys Ford has become one of my new favorite authors and I won’t be able to rest until I read any book she releases. She’s incredibly talented and I’m really excited to see where both this series goes in the future and where her writing goes in the future. It would be interesting to read a different genre of romance from this author. Everyone should read this series, though you may want to do a quick search about how to read Korean names first! It would help you to have any trick in hand to keep them all separate and not slow down your reading.
Posted by Cole in 5 Really Like It, 76-100k, Authors D-F, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: a Cole McGinnis Mystery, Closeted, Cops/Crime, Diverse Pairing, Dreamspinner Press, Korean, Murder, Private Investigators, Rhys Ford, Secrets & Lies, Series