Cover Reveal & Excerpt : “Illuminate the Shadows” (Shatterproof Bond #1)

A Scotsman and an Englishman fall in love…

I am delighted to share the cover for my new comedy thriller, “Illuminate the Shadows” — Sequel to “As You Wish”.  The cover was designed by me, and features our lovers, Declan Ramsay, and Sam Aiken.  The book will be released on 9th May 2016, and is available for pre order.  Subsequently, one month later on 6th June, the follow-up “Return to Zero” will be released.

In the excerpt below, Sam and Declan have invited their siblings to dinner at their home, and during the meal they decide to share their relationship status.  Declan’s brother, Oliver, does not take the news that his brother is bisexual, well.

Book covers ITS

 

BLURB : After the most amazing week of Declan Ramsay’s life, at Dunloch Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, in Scotland. The charming, mysterious Samuel Aiken has turned Declan’s life upside down. Declan has experienced a remarkable change. He has come to terms with the fact he is bisexual, and he has fallen head-over-heels in love with his boss’s son Sam.  However, falling for his boss’s son was never going to be an easy path to happiness, mainly because the boss in question is multi-millionaire property tycoon and former MI5 operative, Sir James Aiken.  Sir James is repulsed by his son’s homosexuality, and so discovering that his employee Declan Ramsay- the man he installed to run his luxury property rental empire- is in a relationship with Sam, does not go down well.The lovers cannot hide from the looming presence of Sir James Aiken for long! Soon enough James makes his move, and Declan finds out what he will have to endure to stay with Sam, and what he will have to give to feel worthy of Sam’s love.”

Excerpt: Coming Out- “Illuminate the Shadows”

“Declan strolled out of the living room, a look of determination on his face.  He wanted to punch his brother in the mouth for what he’d said, and had to breathe deeply to harness his bubbling anger.  Sure enough, when he turned to the top of the stairs, Oliver sat half-way down, looking a little queasy.  Declan parked his arse on the top step and looked down at his baby brother.

“Ye’ve only been sharing fer a few weeks… he’s a fast worker, that one,” Oliver said with a sarcastic sneer.

“DON’T” Declan said roughly, barely keeping the anger in check.  He was so very disappointed with his brother.  “What the fuck is yer problem?  What does it matter who I love?  What I get up te in the privacy of my own home, with my body is, frankly, none a yer damn business.”  He paused to take a couple of calming breaths and simmered with frustration at the look of disinterest on his brother’s face.

“This is important te me.  Sam and I are a couple, and we wanted to share our happiness with you and Belle, just as you shared yours wi’ us.”  Declan glared at Ollie who now wouldn’t even look him in the eye.  The silence was palpable, and the more Declan looked at his brother, the more he began to pity him.  After several minutes Oliver couldn’t hold his pinched, scowling expression any more.

“It wasnea supposed te be like this,” He burst out suddenly, sounding like a whiny brat.  “You were supposed te meet a nice lassie, and we’d have son’s and take them te football, and hiking an’ fishing.  Normal stuff, ye know”

Declan winced at the outburst.  Normal stuff… bollox te that!

“Oliver, that’s not me.  That was never me.  And as fer meetin’ a lassie, I’ve tried, a lot.  I tried for so many years te be like the other lads, but I hated the man I became.  I was goin’ through the motions, and it made me so fuckin’ unhappy.”  Declan ran his hands over his bearded face and into his hair.  Oliver was silent and taciturn.  Declan decided to try another strategy.

“When you wake up in the morning wi’ Belle sleeping beside ye.  How’d ye feel?”

Oliver’s glance darted to meet Declan’s.  “Why?”

“Just say, fer fucks sake” God, my brother is stubborn bollox.

“I guess I feel… peaceful, contented, I suppose.  She looks beautiful, like a fairy princess, or sum’ thin’,” He admitted candidly.

“And you know ye love her, fer certain?”

“Aye, from the moment I laid eyes on her at that Aikens corporate party”

“Well, since when do straight people have first dibs on happiness?  Eh?”  Declan challenged.  “I’m attracted te women, and I’m attracted te men, but I have never woken up beside anyone feelin’ anything, but discomfort, like I was in the… wrong place.  I felt sick, I felt like a liar.  Every.  Time.  And it ate away at me.  It’s no’ fair te me, and it’s no’ fair te the women I was foolin,’” Declan took a breath to organize his thoughts.

“But Sam…  Sam is different.  Jesus, if I could only put into words how he makes me feel” Declan felt the tears crowd his eyes.  Talking about his feelings had always been difficult.  He’d been the stereotypical emotional cripple before Sam, but this time words flowed unbidden.

“I know who I am when I’m wi’ him.  When I wake up in his arms, I’m so at peace I don’t wantae get out of bed.  He makes me laugh until I cry.  He always cares for me, no matter that I’m a maudlin, moody control freak.  I look at him, and fer the first time in my life, I’m home.”  Declan paused to catch a breath “If you truly think our love is wrong… well… tough shite.  This is my life, and he is who I choose to live it wi’.  If ye cannae be happy fer us, I just feel sorry fer ye.”  The words felt clumsy and poorly constructed, but he needed to say them, and he hoped his brother would hear and accept them.

Sam and Annabelle stood in the open doorway, listening to their partners talk.  Belle’s hand was absently rubbing her brother’s back for comfort as Declan explained how he felt for Sam.  “I’m so happy for you” She said “I can’t believe we’ve hooked brothers” She drew Sam into a hug and when they parted Declan was standing at the door.

“Can I have a go?” he asked with a wry smirk on his face.  Sam gripped the front of Declan’s shirt and pulled him into an embrace.  The downstairs door slammed.”

©Isobel Starling 2016

PRE ORDER LINKS

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-illuminatetheshadowsshatterproofbond1-2021253-340.html

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/63038

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1104789878

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/illuminate-the-shadows-shatterprood-bond-1

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27156849-illuminate-the-shadows

Author Bio:  Inspiration strikes at the strangest of times.  Born in Germany, Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art.  She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved it more than making art.

Isobel’s first novel “Schonling” was a best seller in the GLBT-Bisexual genre on the ‘All Romance ebooks’ site.  She has just completed her sixth book, and signed French translation rights for novella “As You Wish”. 

She adores the M/M genre and enjoys writing about wounded souls and the complexities of personal relationships.  Despite not having found proof yet, Isobel believes in love at first sight and endeavours to give her men a thrilling journey and a satisfying ending!

 FREE BOOK : In the run up to the release, “As You Wish” will be free at ARe.

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-asyouwishshatterproofbond05-1872206-351.html

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Media Links

http://isobelstarling.wix.com/author

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Isobel-Starling/616067078525832

https://twitter.com/isobel_starling

 

 

‘A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion’ Box set by Jordan Castillo Price

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5 Stars

Wild Bill and Michael need a full length novel.  There, I said it!

I am not a fan of the format of novelette, or serials. I just don’t buy them, full stop. Therefore, I am eternally grateful that I discovered ‘Channeling Morpheus’ through its wonderfully narrated audio book version. Without that audio book, tragically, I would have never met Wild Bill and Mikey, and that would have been a crying shame. These guys now have me entangled in their warm, sticky fingers. (Just don’t ask what is making them sticky!)

The second half of the ‘Channeling Morpheus’ series, has gratefully, been packaged as a box set ”A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion”.  The story picks up where we left off, continuing the incredibly hot, erotically charged, soulful relationship between a vampire named Wild Bill, and his ‘heart of hearts’, a young, gothy, vampire hunter, Michael.

Bill and Michael are entwined deeply in each other, living a transient, seemingly aimless life. However, after their last run in with a coven, they are living on the down-low, and covertly, Michael is on a mission to seek out vamps and their lovers, to teach them the methods of safe vamp sex, to prevent blood ‘donors’ being infected like he was.

Their seemingly happy transient life, traveling around in their van, and ‘vamping’ people to give them free stuff, like hotel room’s, food, blood, comes with heaps of baggage, and the acquaintance of other vampires, who can just smell how finger-lickin’ good Michael is, unnerves to them both, so, naturally tensions rise.

While Michael is slowly but surely losing threads of humanity to the mutated vamp bacteria, through loving Michael, Bill has regained some of his own. Wild Bill wants no other lover but Michael, and this unflinching love anchors them both. Back and forth, this tenuous balance is what makes their relationship so heart-wrenchingly good.

These stories are dark, gritty and deeply erotic, but not in a cheesy way. Jordan Castillo Price has such a gift for words.  The acerbic wit, and dirty talk that Bill  loves, is so well written, and comes out at the best of times, and the worst of times. Wild Bill and Michael are hot together, and in their love making, they balance each others lightness and darkness, therefore, the reader cannot help but be pulled along on the dirty grind.

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My only bugbear about these stories was that, for me, anyway, none of the vignettes reached a completely satisfying resolution. (Apart from the fact that Wild Bill and Michael live to fight (and fuck) another day) The ‘bad vamps’ they meet are due some serious whoop-ass, with help from a hickory stake. I want this to happen!

Call me demanding, but I want more!

There was no sense of completion and story ‘end’, and many, many threads were left blowing in the breeze. I read the two short stories that come after the end of the book, ‘Jackpot’ and ‘Canine’, and again, I was left wanting. That in itself is a damn good sign for an author. Jordan has heaps of scope left with these characters, and they appear to have  A LOT more to give.

So i recommend the whole series, these books are wonderful.

And I’ll say it again.

These guys need a full length novel.

Audio book review ‘Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary’ By Jordan Castillo Price. Narrated By Gomez Pugh

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Score: Five blood soaked stars.

Just when i thought i was well and truly done with vamps…I find a have an audible credit burning a hole in my account.

I am notoriously very choosy when it comes to audio books. They have to be a minimum of 5 hours long, to get my money’s worth, and the narrator has to be male, (if i wanted a female narrator i would just read aloud to myself!) Also, the narrator mustn’t just read, but perform the story, with lots of voices and dramatic pauses.

A friend recommended ‘Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary” By Jordan Castillo Price. I  have read several books by Jordan, and so at 7 and a half hours long, with a male narrator Gomez Pugh, i decided to spend my audible credit.

My what a good investment that turned out to be. ‘Channeling Morpheus’ began as a set of novellas, and were grouped for the audio version. I adored this audio book. I adored the narration and like all good series’s, it left me wanting like a vampire needing a fix of the red stuff.

One of the things that has always tickled my fancy about Vampire romances is the connections between blood, sex and sensuality, and in this story i was not left wanting. There is a lot of well written, smoking hot M/M sex, but there is also a solid plot running through it too, which tied the two main characters Michael,-pretty, doe eyed, goth boy, vamp hunter, and Wild Bill, the smoky voiced, chain smoking, sex on a stick Vampire love interest, into one hell of a soulful bind.

I won’t give any plot spoilers in this review, but I liked the little twists on what Michael had learned of vampires via Hollywood, and what the vamp ‘reality’ was. And i liked the layers of Bill’s ‘onion’ like personality peeling back, as he realized Michael was someone he could trust, love even.

I am now stuck with a dilemma. Gomez Pugh’s narration was SO GOOD. Do i buy the next set of novella’s, grouped as ‘ A bitter taste of sweet oblivion’ as e books and read now? Or do i wait patiently and hope that an audio book of it, with Gomez Pugh reading, will be out soon?

It can’t come soon enough!

Review: ‘How to Repair a Mechanical Heart’ by J.C Lillis

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“How to repair a mechanical heart” is a well written snapshot of what I see, as the distinctly American experience of fan conventions. It is goofy, laugh out loud funny in parts, and romantically adorable in others.

Primarily the story is of two super-fan’s and their search for answers to many questions- about the show they both love, and what the two gay young men actually mean to each other.

There were many other story threads entwined- fandom, fanfic, internet fan forum’s, convention’s -with their ridiculous merchandising and Q & A’s with the ‘stars’. It was cute, but maybe I am just too jaded and cynical to fall for it all.

I have liked…loved many books, TV shows and Movies, but never to the extent that I would trek around America, hang on the word of actors/writers and feel the need to consume ALL THE THINGS that have the book/show/movie logo. Yes, the UK has the occasional convention, but as fans, the British have, traditionally been a *little* more subdued in their worship. Which is why I was a little uneasy with a few things in this story.

The character of Brandon was one of them. This young man is 18, and has been bought up in a devoutly religious family. He appears to not have an original thought in his head- a head so full of other peoples diatribe-that being Father Mike, from his church, his parents, and the characters from ’Castaway Planet’, the show Brandon is a super fan of. His faith is given to an unseen god, or a plastic action figure of his favourite Sci –Fi character.

I was bought up in an Irish Roman Catholic family. My mother was, back in the 70’s, devout and unquestioning. I knew when I was 9 years old that I did not believe in her church. I started to ask difficult questions, that she could not answer.I was sent to Bible classes on a Saturday afternoon, which, to my disgust, meant I missed the weekly episode of my favourite show ‘Wonder Woman’. But still I questioned. My lack of belief and continual search for explanations were a cause of countless arguments as I grew, and even though I am all grown up and my mum doesn’t attend church these days- it is still a loaded subject.

The reason I explained this, is because I cannot believe that Brandon was such an automaton, blindly being indoctrinated, not doubting or questioning, and living in fear of not only his sexuality, but failing in the eyes of his family, church, and community for being gay. It is such a lot of pressure to put on a person, and at 18 he had just begun to have doubts and start to question his own beliefs. I really felt mad for Brandon, and was uneasy with the interference of the creepy Father Mike, and lack of understanding from his parents, who did nothing but hinder Brandon’s search for individuality and identity.

To counter the darker, troubled character of Brandon, we had Able, his best buddy and fellow super-fan. He was campy, adorable, and I liked the fact that even though he had been burned by love before, he got over it and moved on. He learned from the experience and grew.

Bec was a nice side character- the female support system and fake stand in girlfriend and voice of reason.

Overall this was a really sweet, funny read. Maybe I could not relate to the obsession of those on the ‘Con’ circuit, but this story will be especially pertinent and entertaining to those who do enjoy fandom and fanfic. Recommended.

ART THOU OFFENDED?

Why is nothing ever simple?

It appears I have encountered a couple of bum…ps in the road to releasing my M/M novella ‘New York’s in Love’, on two retailers sites.

Let me give you a little background to the situation.

My character Simeon has a thing for Polaroids, therefore my cover design for the ‘Pretty Boy’ series follows through the prequel ‘New York’s in Love’, Pieter’s book ‘Schonling’, and Simeon’s book ‘Sweet Thing’, and each cover pictures a Polaroid.

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I decided for the prequel “NYiL” that I would add Polaroid style paintings to mark each chapter. I thought it was a cute idea, and I absolutely loved painting my characters. However, when I uploaded the manuscript to Smashwords, I received an email saying there were ’issues’ with the book. When I inquired further I was informed that

“Some of our retailers are super sensitive to nudity (even illustrated nudity) Please remove these images. Thank you”

I, of course had read the Terms of Service for Smashwords, which stated that images are not to include any graphic images, or sex acts, and, believed I had adhered to the rules.

The paintings in question to mark chapters 5 and 10, are not graphic and there are no sex acts involved. As you can see, they are two life paintings that show nothing racier than painted depiction’s of a nude bottom.

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I find it infantile that a ‘retailer’ would believe they needed to protect a reader who is over 18, and has purchased an M/M book, knowing full well, that it contains content of a sexual nature- from a painting that includes a naked bottom.

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I was obviously not happy about this. Further inquiries lead to me being informed by  a Smashwords  rep that they actually think the images are ‘tasteful’, and that the retailers who are ‘super sensitive’ are Apple and Kobo. Do you think Apple and Kobo would make it easy for someone with a ‘general’ inquiry to contact them? Of course not. So I continue to try and get answers as to what is suitable and unsuitable viewing in a book sold to ADULTS.

My book is out in it’s unencumbered form on All Romance ebooks https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-newyork039sinloveprettyboy05-1927606-145.html

and Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Yorks-Love-Prequel-Novella-ebook/dp/B01802BLO8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447864735&sr=8-1&keywords=new+yorks+in+love+by+isobel+starling

But in the end, if given an ultimatum to remove the images for Apple and Kobo, so that small minded people (who would never actually pick up my book,) feel more comfortable in having the choice of picking up a book with gay sexual content and art, would I?
Of course not!

‘New York’s In Love’ Prequel M/M Novella. An introduction to the MC’s Pieter and Simeon.

**This FREE READ will be released on 20th November 2015**

AUTHORS NOTE:
“New York’s In Love” began as a flashback chapter in ’Sweet Thing’, the sequel to my first novel ‘Schonling’. However, the story was such fun and it became far bigger than I expected. I cut it and decided to work on it as a separate M/M novella.
This story is a series of  funny, filthy, bittersweet events–insights into the relationship between Pieter and Simeon. The events in this story happen six months before the occurrences in my first book ‘Schonling’.

BLURB

“Male model and Bowie obsessive Simeon Duchamp coverts many addictions.
His main drugs of choice are booze, pills and sex. However, Sim’s most torturous addiction is for his best friend, fellow Model Pieter Bayer. Longing is an ever present ache in Sim’s gut. And now that Pieter is in New York City for a month of modelling assignments, Simeon decides to tag along. Sim hopes that a month living with Pieter will be enough time for him to find the courage to tell him how he truly feels.  If Simeon tells Pieter, he risks losing their friendship. But if he doesn’t, he may lose his mind.”

PIETER BAYER

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PIETER  is a twenty-seven year old German male model. He is bi-sexual, but in this story he is in the midst of an ’intimacy break’. He has no time for a relationship, and after a series of betrayals, no desire to open his heart to anyone. Pieter is six-foot-one.  His ‘look‘ is mercurial and androgynous. He has high cheekbones, deep set large blue-grey eyes, and blond hair to his shoulders. His body is boyish and slender, his limbs long and willowy.
Pieter has been in fashion since being discovered on a Berlin street at sixteen. Twelve years later, he is one of the highest grossing international models working runway for high-end brands and editorial. Pieter is easy going, playful and open minded. He is constantly in awe of all of the creativity he sees behind the scenes in the fashion industry. He is obsessed with music, art, and books. He lives in Berlin, but travels constantly for work. Simeon is his best friend and they have known each other for nearly two years.

SIMEON DUCHAMP

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SIMEON  is a twenty-three year old French male model and is 110% gay.
Sim’s two year modelling career is in its infancy. He wants to experience everything life can offer, so models for the lifestyle, rather than the money. Sim’s father is an ex-ambassador for France, and has a huge property portfolio, so gives his only son a healthy allowance.
Sim is six-foot tall, with long raven black hair and chocolate brown eyes. His face is Gothic pale, pretty, with an angular jaw, high cheekbones, and plump feminine lips. Anyone who saw him would think he was moody, but as soon as Simeon speaks they find he is flamboyant, French and has a ‘sunshine and buttercups’, soft lilting timbre to his voice. He is generally sweet natured, but has a fierce temper when roused. Simeon lives for creativity, beauty, and pleasure in its many forms, and he has a long term obsession with David Bowie. Simeon’s drugs of choice are pills, booze, cock, and ass. He never has any problems getting a hit. But now, Simeon craves something different, something dangerous, something that, if he can’t get, will drive him insane.

The funny, filthy, bittersweet events in this story happen six months before the events in the book ‘Schonling’ (Pretty Boy 1)  released in March 2015
Simeon’s story continues in the sequel ‘Sweet Thing'(Pretty Boy 2) to be released in February 2016

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25389630-new-york-s-in-love

‘ENDURING NIGHT’ (More Heat Than The Sun) Book 7 By John Wiltshire

 **THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS**

A CONFUSED, UNCOMFORTABLE 3.5 stars

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This was not the book I was expecting, at all. After the shocking occurrences in book six ‘Deaths Ink Black Shadow’ I was looking forwards to understanding the ghosts from Nik’s past that would not lay down and die.

John is an onion of a writer. There are so many layers to his stories, and when the reader thinks they are on solid ground, he pulls back another layer. Once again, his storytelling is addictive.

In ‘Enduring Night’ we see a *little* of the fall out of that fateful death on the moor. The depths Nik went to, to save Ben’s life became an unspoken wound between them. Consequently, what Ben had then done for Nik,in dealing with Anatoly haunted him. Ben decided that Nik had too many burdens and he alone would carry all that Anatoly told him. Nik need never know. But psychologically, Ben Rider-Mikklesen began to fall apart.

This book is a tale of two halves. After a heart wrenching prologue, we follow Nik and Ben on yet another holiday, this time to Svalbard in the Arctic Circle. We know it won’t end well. The pseudo ghost story part one was fun, the sex was smokin’ and wonderfully written, and Nik continues to delight with his one liners. The spooky moments were enjoyable and very Scooby Doo.

Now,I can take or leave horror, and gore, it rarely scares me. However, in part two, John pulled out the one thing that does freak me out, down to my very bones. And it is this thing that John used to put a wedge between Nik and Ben that made this story uncomfortable, and annoyingly frustrating, Religion.

Ben has always been beautiful, occasionally a little dumb, and very gullible. The prime example being in book 4 (?) when Ben first discovered his real family in Devon, and was lead astray by his half brother and their hurrah party set, to then have his family attempt to murder him to get his inheritance. Ben was at a vulnerable stage in his life and in need of roots. He was so desperate to belong and have a place in the world, that he was easy to fool…and it nearly cost him his life.

You would have thought Ben would have learned his lesson about gullibility, but here again, Ben is vulnerable, in need of reassurance. His world has been shaken to the core and he is waiting at the hospital for Nik to recover. This time he is set upon by those who recognized his vulnerability and used…of all things, GOD to make Ben believe that his love for Nik was wrong, that gay sex was a sin.  NO NO NO!

The whole religion angle HORRIFIED me. There is nothing scarier to me than a deluded religious person. And to have that deluded religious person be the stunning Ben Rider-Mikklesen was downright cruel. How could you John. This will give me nightmares.

The conclusion to the story was, again left hanging. With both Nik and Ben deluding themselves and allowing extremely suspicious people,who now know far too much about their sins,(because of Ben’s big mouth) into their lives.

I have lost my trust in Ben’s character if he can be so easily swayed. He is supposed to be SAS, and Nik had seen him go through so many physical and mental trials- including torture training. Why, suddenly AFTER Nik had been saved- for him to love in this life-did Ben think purity was a good idea so they could be together in the next. It doesn’t make sense. I’m baffled. And another movie storyline…uugh!

The only good thing is that with Nik’s recovery and training montage, he is now battle ready, and know’s Squeezy is physically his better, and has his back.

But still, so many questions remain unanswered.

-Who killed Kate? …oh yeah…remember her!!
-Whatever happened to the ‘forces’ that were aiming for Nik’s downfall?…they are  taking a bloomin’ long time to get their mark.
-What secrets did Anatoly tell Ben?
-Who sent a text asking ‘those people’ to ‘come’ and pray for Nik?
-I’m sure there are lots more !!

Consider me disturbed, confused, uncomfortable…and desperate for book 8 to tie up some threads.