Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz from Riptide Publishing and a chance to win!

One quick thing, the BEAUTIFUL handmade chainmail bracelet being given away to one lucky blog tour commenter can be seen here: http://freiainguz.weebly.com/power-play-chainmaille.html It’s handmade by the talented Amara Devonte.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Cat: I’m a California girl, born and raised. I’ve lived in Northern California, Los Angeles and now I reside in beautiful Monterey.

Rachel: And I’m from the liberal bastion on the other coast, born and raised in Jersey, quite close to the amazing center of art and culture and weirdness that is New York. I suspect being exposed to all that as a child played a big role in me wanting to go into the arts as an adult, and seeing so much diversity and so many people from so many walks of life so comfortable in their own skin definitely contributed to my own comfort with myself, my peculiarities, my kinks and my desires.

What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?

Cat: My first published book was The Arrangement, in 2008. How long did it take to get published? How about my whole life? LOL! Becoming a published author had been my dream ever since I was a teenager.

Rachel: My first book was a far-too-ambitious dystopian wherein America, after a catastrophic war, turns into a theocracy. I started writing it when I was 17, declared it as done as I knew how to make it when I was 25, and am terrified to even peek at it now because I completely lacked the skill to do so much worldbuilding (or much of anything else, really) at that age. So, it never got published, but it holds a very special place in my heart, and I’d love to fix it one day and try. As for my first published book, that was Counterpoint: Song of the Fallen #1, and I was actually fortunate enough to sign a contract for that before it was even finished.

When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?

Cat: I wrote slash fan fiction for a couple of decades (Kirk/Spock, Mulder/Krycek, Clark/Lex). So when m/m romance became a hot genre in pro-fic, I knew I’d found my home.

Rachel: Heh, I also started in fanfic—X-Files, Buffy, Star Trek Voyager, Stargate Atlantis, and now X-Men First Class (which just turned a year old—happy birthday, you crazy kinky fandom, you!)—where I mostly lurked for about five years, and then cut my slashy teeth. There are so many things to love about this genre that I hardly know where to begin, but two of the biggies are the lack of ossified genre tropes, and the similar lack of ossified gender expectations.

How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?

Cat: It took about five years from the time I decided to get serious about becoming professionally published to selling my first book. Power Play: Awakening marks my fifteenth published book.

Rachel: I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, and writing seriously with the intent of publication since I was 17. I sent out my first round of agent queries at the age of 21 or so, with that dystopian mess I mentioned earlier. Obviously it got roundly rejected, which was a good lesson for me for sure. My first book was published not quite two years ago, and since then, I’ve put out . . . hmm, Power Play: Awakening marks my fifth novel, and I’ve also done two novellas and two collections of shorts.

Do you write full time?

Cat: I’m trying to make writing a full-time career, but it’s difficult. Like any other new business, you don’t make a whole lot of money your first few years.

Rachel: No, but I’m in publishing full time. Most of my work hours these days are spent on Riptide Publishing, and I don’t have nearly as much time to write as I wish I did. The unfortunate truth is that it’s remarkably difficult to scrape by even a modest living off nothing but your royalties, especially in a genre as small as this one, but I do hope that as my backlist builds and as I connect with more readers, the day may come when I could write full time if I wanted to.

Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?

Cat: I’ve loved telling stories my whole life, and I love reading. So I guess it chose me!

Rachel: I’m with Cat on this one. I really can’t imagine not writing, so I suppose there’s nothing for it but to obey the voices in my head.

On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?

Cat: I’m not much of a morning person, so I usually write in the afternoons and evenings – sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning.

Rachel: Again, what Cat said. When I get really into something, I can lose track of time and end up on these manic writing jags that run 20 hours. Mostly, though, I’m eking out an hour here and an hour there between the day job.

Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?

Cat: I revise as I go along, but that doesn’t stop me from having to do a couple more passes either before or during the editing process.

Rachel: Curiously enough, I do the same. Every time I sit down to write a new scene, I read the last couple/few before it, and tend to poke at them just a little, then move on. The bulk of my revisions come during the edit process.

When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?

Cat: I plan, but I don’t outline. And then I end up going back and changing everything anyway. LOL!

Rachel: Okay, I’m starting to sound like a parrot here, but yes, I’m the same as Cat on this one too—sort of a hybrid plotter/pantser.

What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?

Cat: It depends. Some books don’t require that much research. But if it’s going to have an impact on the character and/or plot development, I try to do as much of it as I can before I start writing. Otherwise I can do it piecemeal as I go.

Rachel: I do as much as I need to do to shape the overall sense of the world, and then I do a ton of research as I go. I can get lost in it sometimes, though, so I have to be jealous and guard my time.

How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read? Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?

Cat: I can usually bang out a novel-length book in about 4-5 weeks. Then it takes at least that long to edit it.

Rachel: It depends how much time I have to spend on it and how insistent the muse is. Aleksandr Voinov and I wrote Break and Enter (a 27,000-word novella) in three days of just nonstop write-eat-write-sleep-write, though it then took ten more really aggressive workdays to self-edit before we felt it ready to submit. Other books I’ve poked at for a year or two before I’ve finished with them.

Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?

Cat: For me, writer’s block is not knowing what project to write next. Or being stuck because there’s a problem with the manuscript, but I haven’t identified it yet.

Rachel: I don’t really believe it’s a thing, but I think there are a lot of things that can make writing much harder. Low energy, poor sleep, emotional turmoil, unsolved issues with plot or character, not thinking through the arcs ahead of time, a desire to do something or be somewhere else, distractions, etc.

When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?

Cat: I hope they love my characters as much as I do.

Rachel: I hope they enjoy themselves and can lose themselves completely in the experience, maybe get a chance to experience or think or feel something new or intriguing or thought-provoking or just plain fun.

Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?

Cat: Every book is a new puzzle to solve – and no, it never gets any easier.
A skilled editor can turn an okay manuscript into a great book.
Writing’s not an easy job, but it’s the only one you can do in your pajamas. 

Rachel: I think a lot of writers dream about how if they can just make that first sale, it’ll all be smooth sailing from there and they can quit their day job and write full time and live the dream. Except, for 99.9999999% of published authors, it doesn’t work that way. So don’t quit the day job, but do keep the dream. Your time may yet come.

Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?

Cat: Depends. Some titles spring into my head perfect and fully-formed. Some are like pulling teeth.

Rachel: Titles are almost always the very last thing I write.

How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?

Cat: I have a t-shirt with “I heart irony” on it. Does that answer your question?

Rachel: My humor’s pretty dark and cerebral. I love shows like Family Guy, American Dad, the Simpsons, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report—those things all pretty much never fail to make me laugh.

What is the most frequently asked Cat Grant question?

Cat: When will the Courtland Chronicles be available again?

What are you working on now?

Cat: A short story called Doubtless. It’s the story of one of the secondary characters in Priceless. Then I plan to spend the summer revising the first 3 Courtland books.

Rachel: A Belonging-verse story about a college student whose parents die suddenly and leave him with a mound of debt and custody of his eleven-year-old twin sisters. He has some hard choices to make and some serious struggles ahead to keep his family together.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?

Cat: Don’t follow trends, and don’t try to imitate what other writers are doing. Write what you want to write. Pour all your passion into your work, and readers who like what you do will find you.

Rachel: Write what you love, but if you want to get published, be aware you must please your audience. Which is basically a way of saying “Don’t be self-indulgent.” Just because you’re obsessed with that particular shade of hazel that is your hero’s eyes doesn’t mean your readers will be, so when it comes time to edit, don’t hesitate to cut those two-hundred lovingly-crafted sentences about them that you’ve sprinkled through the manuscript. Or, as one of the best editors I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with used to say, “Nobody cares but you.” I still write what I love, but I do my best to make sure I’m writing things other people care about, too.

Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?

Cat: I try to read as much as I can – not necessarily other fiction, but definitely non-fiction. I also try to keep abreast of current events. You never know what’s going to jump out at you from the headlines.

Rachel: I am a voracious consumer of all sorts of media, and also a habitual people-watcher. Sometimes the strangest things will spark the muse. I also like to get away, go on long hikes through some very remote places, just get back to nature and recharge the batteries, so to speak. I had three days off a few weeks ago—it was the first time in a year I’d been away from work for more than half a waking day at a clip—and the place I chose to go was on a three-day hike on the Appalachian Trail from High Point State Park. I came back feeling practically like a new person. Also sore 🙂

What kind of books do you like to read?

Cat: All kinds! These days I read mostly for research purposes, though. When you write fiction for a living, there isn’t much time to read it for pleasure!

Rachel: I’m obviously a huge fan of the genre, but I read very little for pleasure anymore between research for my writing and acquisitions for Riptide. On the plus side, acquisitions reading is almost always a pleasure, and sometimes quite a remarkable one.

If you weren’t a writer what would you be?

Cat: In my pre-writing life, I was a bookkeeper. World’s most BORING job!

Rachel: An editor. Which is what I was doing before I started selling my writing and what I’m still doing even now.

When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?

Rachel: OMG we have the most amazing cover artists at Riptide. The cover for Power Play: Awakening is the best cover I have ever had the pleasure of getting for a book. I can’t think of one negative thing to say about it.

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?

Cat: Reading (obviously!), watching TV, going to the movies, listening to music. Drooling over the latest Michael Fassbender photos. 

Rachel: Um, ditto. I also love hiking/camping, and I love to sing. I spent a lot of time in musical theater in my younger years, and some in my adult years too, but sadly nothing in the past couple years. I’m anxious to get out there and start doing it again, but it’s a big time commitment, so . . .

Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?

Cat: Last month I had a new novella out from Riptide, entitled “Priceless.” It’s from their new rent boy collection. And of course, the first book in the Power Play series, Power Play: Resistance, came out last April.

Rachel: Honestly, Power Play: Awakening may be the last book from me for the year. I’m hoping to get the Belonging-verse story I’m doing now wrapped by the end of the summer, but writing time’s been very short 😦

New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?

Cat: Pretty much the same advice other writers gave me – be true to yourself. Find your own voice. Don’t imitate other writers or follow trends.

Rachel: Learn your craft. You might be writing the greatest story ever told, but if you can’t construct a sentence, nobody will stick around long enough to realize how amazing your story is. Study hard, read craft books, get betaed by people who are markedly better than you, ask your editor a million questions, and never, ever get complacent.

What future projects do you have in the works?

Cat: The Courtland Chronicles will be reissued, but the timeframe’s not set in stone.

Rachel: Just the Belonging-verse story for me. At some point in the upcoming year, I hope to write the Break and Enter sequel with Aleks Voinov, and I have about 10,000 words of a new Nicky/Devon novella that I’d like to finish too. But for the moment, after 185,000 words of Power Play, I think I’m all kinked out :-p

Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?

Cat: Sure! Here’s a list of my most frequent hideouts:

Website: http://www.catgrant.com
Blog: http://catgrant.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cat.grant
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/CatGrant2009
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1912055.Cat_Grant

Rachel: I’m at:

Website: http://rachelhaimowitz.com/
Blog: http://rachel-haimowitz.blogspot.com/
Twitter (I’m very active here): http://twitter.com/#!/RachelHaimowitz
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4110966
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rachel.haimowitz

Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?

Here’s a steamy little excerpt from Power Play: Awakening:

Brandon’s eyes seemed to take up half his face as he took in the contraption—a black box about a foot square, a long cord, a telescoping pole with a sparkly purple cock on the end.

Brandon did his best imitation of an owl as Jonathan circled round him and placed the fucking machine on the floor right behind the spreader bar. He lubed up the cock, lined it up with Brandon’s hole, and adjusted the pole height until the dildo was buried all the way inside him. He angled it to hit Brandon’s prostate and plugged it in.

A startled gasp as the machine began to do its thing. The cock slid slow and steady from Brandon’s body until just the tip remained inside, then rocked back up inside him at the same pace. Jonathan dialed up the speed—not too much, not yet, but not a torturous tease, either—and Brandon’s head fell back on a moan, fingers tightening into fists around the suspension cuffs. Jonathan spat into his hand and circled back round to Brandon’s front, grabbed his cock and gave it a few firm pumps. Brandon’s chest heaved, and his hips thrust forward into Jonathan’s hand in time with the thrusting of the dildo. If he remembered he had a punishment coming, not a hint of it showed on his face.

Not a hint of embarrassment either, and though it’d been Jonathan’s intention to erase such self-consciousness all along, he’d not dared to hope that Brandon would take such a big step forward so quickly. To be fucked by a machine while tied hand and foot and not so much as blush about it? To let himself get lost so quickly and so thoroughly in the pleasure . . . It was almost a pity Jonathan would have to break the spell with pain. But that too was part of the plan—that perhaps, in this way, Brandon might mix the two successfully. Might get lost and stay lost. Find subspace again.

Still lost in his pleasure, Brandon didn’t even seem to notice when Jonathan stepped away to the toy rack, scanned it for the perfect implement. Ah, there it was—a ten-inch leather strap, not too soft, not too heavy, not too wide. He plucked it off the rack, tested it against his palm with a satisfying slap. Brandon’s shoulders jerked at the sound, eyes flying open, shaking off the pleasure haze in a fit of nerves.

He’d be jerking even harder in a minute or so. Jonathan circled back to where Brandon hung in his bonds, reached out for his cock and began stroking him again. “Focus on this,” he said softly, “Keep your mind on the pleasure. That dildo in your ass, my hand on your cock.”

Another stroke, and then a snap of the strap on the underside of Brandon’s bound balls, hard enough to make him bark a loud, “Fuck!”

A bit early to be heedless of the swear jar. “Language, Brandon; that’s a dollar,” he said, then turned his attention back to the matter at hand.

Brandon’s cock had deflated—not all the way, not with that rawhide cord around the base—but enough to disappoint Jonathan a little. “Breathe,” he whispered, brushing a kiss across Brandon’s heaving chest, stroking him back to hardness. “You can do this. You’re strong, Brandon. It doesn’t have to hurt.”

Brandon coughed out a laugh at that, like Jonathan had just told him the most un-funny joke in the world.

Jonathan twisted his hand round the crown of Brandon’s cock—hard again, rock hard—and said, “I mean it.” Leaned in, flicked his tongue across a nipple. “The pain can make this better. Take it, use it. Feel my hand on you, that cock fucking you. When you reach sixteen, I’ll take the cording off; I’ll let you come. Would you like that?”

He hit Brandon’s balls again before the man could answer. Just as hard as last time, and Brandon still shouted like Jonathan had tasered him, but this time, remarkably, his cock didn’t wither in Jonathan’s hand.

Power Play Resistance by Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant

Title: Power Play Resistance
Author: Rachel Horowitz and Cat Grant
Publisher: Riptide
Pages: 267
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: BDSM
Kisses: 5






Blurb:

Brandon McKinney has scraped and sacrificed for what little in life he’s ever had. Though it’s been fifteen years since he escaped his father’s abuse, the damage remains. Trust seems as far out of reach as his dream of becoming an architect, and though he’s come to accept being gay, he can’t deny the shame and confusion he feels at other urges—the deeply-repressed desire to submit.

Jonathan Watkins is a self-made Silicon Valley billionaire whose ex-wife took half his money and even more of his faith. Comfortable as a Dominant but wary of being hurt again, he resorts to anonymous pickups and occasional six-month contracts with subs seeking only a master, not a lover.

When a sizzling back-alley encounter cues Jonathan in to Brandon’s deep-seated submissive side, he makes the man an offer: Give me six months of your life, and I’ll open your eyes to a whole new world. Brandon doesn’t care about that; all he wants is the three million dollars Jonathan’s offering so he can buy the construction company he works for. But he soon learns that six months on his knees is no easy feat, and shame and pride may keep him from all he ever wanted—and all he never dreamed he had any right to have.

Publisher’s note: This title contains heavy BDSM play and total power exchange. While consent is clearly established and frequently reaffirmed, some moments in Power Play push hard against the outer edges of consent.


Review:

What a book. What a story. I think this is one I need in paperback just to put on my shelf along with the others that I know are coming. This isn’t a story that is full of love, not by any means of the word. This is a hardcore BDSM story that revolves around a Sadist, whose name is Jonathan and the man he finds a sudden interest in, Brandon McKinney. Now Brandon isn’t, when he met Jonathan into the scene at all. He’s a hard-working young man who is striving to make something of his life. As a child his father abused him, many times he ended up bloody, a couple of times in the hospital. Bran, as he wants to be called, fights an inner battle over how he was treated as a kid. Once his mother died, he received the full brunt of the beatings. He left home as soon as he could and ended up in Chinatown and worked as a foreman on a constructive crew. He wasn’t making the best money but he made enough to keep his bills paid and food, if he was careful with it.

Jonathan is a billionaire, money is not an issue for him and he worked hard to get that. It wasn’t handed to him by any sense of the word and he was raised in a loving if not odd environment. His parents lived like perhaps gypsy’s or naturalists. Jonathan was home schooled until he went to college and ended up creating a bright future for himself. He married but was unhappy, as he needed more from his partner. He is all Dominate/Sadist.

Bran is an average man, that is until he meets Jonathan. They meet in a bar in China town and it’s somewhat funny because Bran is not a stupid man by any means of the word. And he’s sitting in this bar, drinking a warm beer, as that’s how the Chinese drink it, and Jonathan tries to order some expensive drink that this bar doesn’t carry. Funnier yet, they don’t understand English. Bran had a good laugh off of that one, watching Mr. High and Mighty trying to get a drink. He ends up helping him out, talks for a few with him and then when he sees Jonathan isn’t going to drink the warm beer, he takes it and goes and sit elsewhere, only Jonathan had other ideas.

Now, Bran is very head strong, he’s a man of his word, he’s determined and he’s troubled. He’s troubled because his boss is selling the company and Bran wants to buy it and wants to expand what the company can do for it’s clients. The man is smart, he wants to take it to a level that far surpasses other construction companies but he needs money to buy it. Where is a man like him going to get 3 million dollars?

Well, two or three beers later, has Bran in the alley on his knees giving Jonathan a blowjob, or better term here, Jon is actually forcing him to his knees, forces Bran to deep throat him, forces Bran to service him and Bran found himself hard and very turned on by this. Drunk as a skunk he was, but the next morning he wakes up on his bed, still in the pants he came in, dirty and in need of a shower.

Jonathan ends up finding Bran again at that same bar a week later and they strike up a conversation, they enjoy each other’s company and at that time Jon is an interesting man and Bran loves having sex with him. Then one day everything changed. Bran told Jon of his goals for that company and Jon, a man with oh so much money offers Bran a deal. Six months of his life and Jon will give him the money he needs to buy the construction company.

This is where the story really starts. This is where we see the true Sadist Jonathan is. And this is where we see how the power play comes to be. Bran is not a submissive man, and Jonathan is a Dominate man, and he has this need to hurt his partner/sub. It’s just how he’s wired. It’s what he needs and that’s not to say that he doesn’t care about his partners, it’s to say it is a part of who he is.

This story is much like the frog and the scorpion. I’m sure you’ve heard of that fable? Let me re-freshen it for you. There’s this frog and this scorpion sitting on the river bank, and they both need to get across. Scorpions can’t swim, frogs can, so the scorpion tells the frog to give him a ride to the other side and the frog says no way, you’ll sting me and the scorpion says no. No I won’t sting you so the frog says okay, hop on and he does and off into the river they go…midway guess what the scorpion does? Yep, he stings the frog and the frog says, now why did you do that? You promised you wouldn’t do that and now we’re both going to drown and the scorpion says…”It’s my nature.”

It’s my nature. Jonathan is that scorpion. It’s his nature to be a sadist. It is what and who he is, so he offers this Bran 3 million dollars to become his 24×7 slave. Bran says no, no way. But 3 million dollars is a LOT of money and it’s enough to buy him that company he so desperately wants. And what was six months of his life for that kind of money? He could withstand anything the short bastard could put out.

Now, I have to say here that the internal dialogue or the internal thoughts coming from Bran, funny as hell. Talk about stubborn pride? He’s full of it and Jon, he saw it and he set out to break him down, make him see that Bran IS a submissive man. However, Bran, in my opinion is anything but. He does it for the money, however, he could be taught to be that. His body does react, and Jon does turn him on, especially when he’s being a nice Dom/Sadist. Bran begins to respond and react as a good sub would. But he went through hell to get to that level. I’m not talking spankings and floggers here. I’m talking much more. Though there is NO BLOOD, no body fluids of any sort. Things get intense to break Bran and wow. The instruments Jon uses.

Don’t think that Jon is a cold-hearted bastard, he’s not. He does care for Bran more than he wants to admit and when Bran does leave him he is torn up. He does have feelings and that’s something I am hoping to see more of in the next book.

This is not by any means a light BDSM read. If you aren’t familiar with what the Sadist part of it is, look it up. If you think it’s more abuse than a D/s, spanking, bondage light play, hang this one up. This is a hardcore BDSM book that kep me flipping pages as quickly as I could.
Now, I love BDSM, love to read it. And this is the first story that goes to the levels it does in that lifestyle. A pure sadist working with a man who may or may not even be a submissive man. Is Bran in this only for the money OR is it something more? The ending when Bran goes back to him…I am thinking I had my answer but only the next story will tell.

Looking forward to it, ladies. Looking forward to it.

Reviewed By: Michele

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Crescendo (Song of the Fallen, #2) by Rachel Haimowitz


Title: Crescendo (Song of the Fallen, #2)
Author: Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Pages: 350 (approx.)
Characters: Freyrik Farr, Ayden Vaska
POV: third person
Sub-Genre: mm romance, fantasy
Kisses: 5






Blurb:

Bridging the hatred of centuries did not come easy for Freyrík Farr and Ayden Vaska. As prince of a war-torn human province, Freyrík could ill afford to fall for an enemy. And Ayden, an elven warrior with three-hundred years of bitterness in his heart, wanted no part of love—not elven, and especially not human. Yet they came together despite themselves and despite the will of their peoples, joining heart and mind to fight a race of Dark Beasts threatening the extinction of mankind.

But the Dark Beast threat pales beside the dangers of the human High Court, home of the Aegis Exalted and the harshest test yet of Ayden’s and Freyrík’s fledgling love.

While Ayden is stripped of his magic, Freyrík is forced to choose between his love for elf, Aegis, and brother, all the while seeking the one uncertain path that might save his doomed race. Time is fast running out for mankind, and only by making peace amongst themselves and with their ancient elven enemies can they end the Dark war—and undo the tragedy that’s plagued humans, elves, and Dark Beasts alike for the last three-hundred years

Review:

Crescendo is book two of the Song of the Fallen Series and is the conclusion of Freyrik and Ayden’s love story. Book one ends with Freyrik being summoned to High Court, where he must face his superiors and account for his actions. Both Freyrik and Ayden realize that their relationship may be in jeopardy and are uncertain of their future as a couple.

When they arrive at High Court, immediately they are separated, and Ayden is stripped of all his magical powers. Ayden’s human captors use a form of elven Kryptonite called Starfall to bind him, thus muting his elfsong.

Freyrik is thrust into a tenuous situation where he must choose between remaining loyal to his leader, the Aegis, or supporting his brother Berendil in a coup attempt. When he tries to remain neutral, he loses favor with both the Aegis and his brother, and he is banished—condemned to carry out the hopeless mission of tracking down the Dark Elves who have controlled the black magic which has fueled the deadly surges of feral animals which have attacked and killed Freyrik’s people for over three centuries.

If I could summarize book two in a word it would be “balance”. Everything about book one which did not sit right with me was offset by the events of book two. In the first book, it was Ayden who was the hero. He made all of the sacrifices. He was separated from his people, imprisoned, humbled, vilified, demonized, and even tortured. In book two, it is Freyrik who must sacrifice for Ayden.

Freyrik loses his kingdom, is imprisoned, faces beatings and humiliation, and finally must decide whether or not to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his lover and his people. Freyrik and Ayden are yin and yang, the completion of one another. The story is a beautiful portrayal of shared sacrifice in which leadership and heroism are not defined by lionizing the few who claw their way to the top but rather by presenting a character who is already at the top but is willing to humble himself and assume responsibility for wrongs previously committed in order to cleanse his people of their sins.

The concept of the story is not a novelty. It’s the greatest story ever told.

The writing and editing are impeccable, and the intricate details of the world building which are so masterfully woven into the plot are almost beyond comprehension. Crescendo is a powerful story of love, loyalty, forgiveness and redemption. The series as a whole is a must read.

Reviewed By: Jeff

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Pssst! Look What Rachel Haimowitz Has For You…

Yes, Rachel has goodies for one lucky winner! Just leave a comment here before 11:59pm Eastern time today (11/16/11) and you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win your choice of a book from Rachel’s backlist! (excl. Crescendo)

Counterpoint (Songs of the Fallen #1), Anchored (Belonging #1), OR Where He Belongs (Belonging #2)

Good Luck!

Master Class by Rachel Haimowitz


Title: Master Class
Author: Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 57 (.PDF)
Characters: Nicky Avery, Devon Turner
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: BDSM
Kisses: 5







Blurb:

Broadway darling Nicky Avery is a shooting star by night, but by day he bounces from one heartless one-night stand to the next. A quick flogging, a rough lay, a new whip-hand to manipulate—yet still he yearns for something he cannot even name.

He finds his first true hint of satisfaction in Devon Turner, a self-possessed film star and expert Dom. Devon knows what he wants the moment he sees it, and what he wants is Nicky Avery. Nicky’s never learned to trust and has a nasty habit of topping from the bottom, but he learns fast that in the bedroom, Devon won’t tolerate his actor’s masks.

Nicky’s a broken boy, but Devon knows exactly how to put his new sub back together. With patience, care, and all the punishments his little pain slut can handle, Devon breaks Nicky down one scene at a time, revealing a mind that yearns to trust and a heart that hungers for the ecstasy of true submission at last.

Review:

Master Class is a provocative and scintillating exploration of the complex inner-workings of the Dom/sub relationship. The story examines the direct connection between pain and pleasure, and the distinct difference between what is torture and what is an affirmation of one man’s physical, emotional, and innate need to submit, though the underlying current of that need remains buried beneath layers of undefined guilt.

Nicky Avery is very good at hiding who he truly is. Escaping within different personas is how he makes his living, after all, and he’s become an expert at it, both on stage and privately. Nicky was essentially born to do what he does, the product of a mother and father both in the show business industry; his career was practically mapped out for him from birth, then handed to him on the proverbial silver platter, his connections gaining him access to roles he might not have had, otherwise. In essence, Nicky has never known what it means to be denied anything in his life. For a man who longs to give up control, to be dominated, to be denied by his master for the sake of giving himself, completely, to another, that carte blanche access to success has caused him to build walls and conceal his true feelings, even from himself.

Until he meets Devon Turner, that is; the man, the Dom, the Master who can see behind those walls and becomes determined to mercilessly deconstruct Nicky, layer by excruciating layer, then rebuild him for the role of a lifetime—the one and only part Nicky has ever been denied—that of the perfect submissive. Devon is a harsh and unrelenting teacher, something the manipulative Nicky is unaccustomed to but something he longs for in order to become the man he is meant to be. There is little doubt that this is a relationship based in mutual need and is fulfilled only when Nicky becomes willing to explore that need and relinquish himself to the man who knows precisely how to take what Nicky has to offer.

Rachel Haimowitz has written a gritty and seductive story of lust and power, of the need to control and the need to be controlled, of the exchange of trust between two men who are drawn to each other through the intangible bond of Master and submissive. Master Class delves deeply into the most complex aspects of BDSM, drawing a contrast between what is cruelty and what is crucial to the Dom/sub relationship. Though Devon’s methods were undoubtedly extreme, they were the ideal illustration of his conviction to teach Nicky what it means to offer the gift of his obedience to a man who will not only respect that gift but will continue to build upon it as Nicky evolves.

For an author to draw a connection between the reader, the characters, and their conflict in the short story format is an accomplishment. The narrative of this piece flows effortlessly, beginning to end, providing the audience with just enough plot and character development to become involved in the resolution without becoming bogged down in superfluous details. This one left me with nothing less than the hope we’ll hear more from Devon and Nicky sometime in the very near future.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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Where He Belongs (Belonging #2) by Rachel Haimowitz


Title: Where He Belongs (Belonging #2)
Author: Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Pages: 31 (.pdf)
Characters: Daniel Halstrom
Setting: Contemporary/Alternate Reality
Sub-Genre: Fantasy/Alternate History
Cover Rating: 4
Kisses:5





Blurb:

The hottest name in network news is Daniel Halstrom. He is a sensation, a rising star. He is also a slave, owned wholly and completely by NewWorld Media.

But before he was a star, he was a frightened child from a bad place with a promising, if limited, future ahead of him. In The New Kid, young Daniel begins his schooling. Then, for a slave, the simple pleasure of a Bathroom Break is sometimes the only pleasure to be had. Later, Daniel doesn’t know it, but A Chance Encounter might be the most important of his life. Next, in Camera Obscura, one of Daniel’s colleagues reflects on the fact that as much as the camera may show, it can hide even more. Finally, when you’re a slave, Independence Day is just another day.

Exclusive Bonus Content!

Excerpt from Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz, the debut novel in the Belonging series
The never-before-published prologue to Anchored
A sneak peek at Counterpunch, the upcoming Belonging novel by Aleksandr Voinov

Review:

Imagine a world in which owning another human being was never declared to be illegal or immoral, a world where people are considered a commodity, bought and sold, objectified, trained to become Companions, serving the sexual whims of the freemen.

Imagine a world in which a man is expected to achieve a certain level of sophistication, encouraged to engage the mind, to acquire knowledge, yet doesn’t possess the free will to use that knowledge for personal advancement or gain.

Imagine a world in which a man’s potential to succeed is limited not by his ability to learn but by the restrictions placed upon him by those who own him, a world in which a man’s intellect is tempered by the incessant need to remember his station in life.

Subjugation is a natural part of the social stratum in the 21st century. A man can be owned by another man, or, in the case of Daniel Halstrom, he can be owned by a corporation, can become a cog in the machine that is NewWorld Media, but must always remember that he is nothing—nothing more than a ghost in the machine of a society that doesn’t see him as equal.

Where He Belongs is a collection of short stories that introduce the reader to the world created in Anchored, an alternate universe that provokes the question, what if? What if slavery had never been abolished? What if every single choice in life was limited by the fact that you didn’t have the freedom to stay the course of your own future? What if the bitter irony of celebrating Independence Day every July 4th was nothing more than a mockery of your bondage?

Each of these stories succeeded in drawing me into the Belonging world, and though I haven’t read Anchored, it didn’t prevent me from understanding or becoming invested in them, the characters, and the lives they lead. What it did serve to do was make me want to go back to the beginning and delve a little deeper into the alternate reality Rachel Haimowitz has so skillfully created.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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