L.M. Somerton's Warlocks series is a dangerous mix of love, magic, mayhem, and the four elements - and a great MM paranormal tale:
Elemental warlocks are a rare breed. There are only four known to exist across North America and they don’t tend to advertise their talents. But when you have the power to control earth, air, fire and water there’s bound to be some drama, especially when one of the four is young and untrained.
The elements don’t always combine well and warlocks are no different. When their lives collide, it isn’t just sparks that fly. Add love to the mix and a dangerous cocktail of magic and mayhem is primed to ignite.
Who do you think you are, writing this stuff?
As a female writing MM BDSM, I’m often asked what qualifies me to write in the genre. I think this is less to do with being a woman, after all any number of paranormal authors put themselves in the heads of characters that bear no resemblance to themselves, and more to do with implied knowledge of a lifestyle that isn’t exactly mainstream.
Over seventy years ago, an extraordinary pornographic novel appeared in Paris. Story of O is described by British journalist John de St Jorre as portraying “explicit scenes of bondage and violent penetration in spare, elegant prose, the purity of the writing making the novel seem reticent even as it dealt with demonic desire, with whips, masks and chains.” I can only imagine the reaction back then to such work. Pauline Reage, the author, was a pseudonym, and was thought by many to have been a man. The writer's true identity was only revealed in the 1990s when intellectual Dominique Aury (born Anne Desclos) acknowledged that the fantasies in the Story of O were hers.
I think this helps to illustrate that it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, however demure and academic you might appear, there is no such thing as being ‘qualified’ to write in any genre.
Why should there be boundaries to anyone’s imagination? I’m fortunate to have friends in the BDSM lifestyle who I can call upon for advice. Since being published, I’ve met others (both male and female) who are generous with their insight and clarifications. Some of the idiosyncrasies of people I know have influenced the cast of characters that inhabit my Warlocks series, and in particular Evrain and Dominic. The paranormal world also allows me to push the boundaries of my imagination even further – after all, who’s to say what is and isn’t possible?
As Pauline Reage recognised long ago, the power of sexual relationships makes compelling reading and if I can get even a little of that power on to a page, I’ll be happy.
Book One: Elemental Love - Blurb
An untrained warlock is a dangerous man to love.
On his twenty-first birthday, Evrain Brookes discovers he is an elemental warlock. The spell suppressing his talent lifts and he has to get used to a whole new existence. The protection that kept him safe during his childhood is gone, his skills are wild and uncontrolled and there are those that seek to use him for their own gain.
Evrain’s grandmother is a witch, his godfather another warlock. Between them they do their best to keep Evrain on the right path. He learns that in order to gain control of his formidable powers, he will need to ‘channel’ through a life partner, a process that happens only with consent and through love. But how will he ever find a man prepared to put up with a Dominant warlock for a boyfriend?
Dominic Castine has no idea that Evrain’s grandmother sees him as a prospective partner for Evrain. He tends her garden and she teaches him about herbs—a trade-off they both enjoy. He is drawn to Evrain’s charismatic presence but doesn’t understand why he wants to drop to his knees and submit to him.
When Agatha is murdered, Evrain and Dominic are thrown together as she manipulates them from beyond the grave. Dominic becomes the pawn in a terrifying game between warlocks whose powers he barely comprehends.
In the end, lives will depend on his courage, his willingness to grant Evrain control and the power of love.
This is a new-to-me author, and I'm really looking forward to reading more not just in this series, but from this author in general. I really liked the way the writing flowed, and the storytelling was quite good. There was suspense, sexual tension, drama all woven together to create a story that I didn't want to put down.
Evrain does come across as extremely cocky, and Dominic as his total opposite-shy and introverted. I actually felt like they were just a tad short of fully clicking together, mostly due to Evrain's overly cocky attitude that almost overshadows Dominic...but in the end, he really does demonstrate how much he feels and cares for Dominic so I was happy with the way things turned out in the end. I also liked how their relationship wasn't rushed, even though the importance of them being together was continually stressed.
I liked the supporting characters, I found Evrain's grandmother to be quite strong and his godfather Gregory was funny, smart and supportive. Symeon and Damon were great in their dastardly roles.
There's some strong groundwork laid here for future books in this series, and I'm really looking forward to reading more (and would be thrilled to get a Gregory and Coryn story as well!). Elemental Love was a 4-star read for me, and I'd definitely recommend it to M/M paranormal romance fans 18+ (for adult language, violence and explicit M/M sexual content).
Book Two: Elemental Hope - Blurb
A warlock’s blood gives him life. It can also bring his death.
It’s no wonder Evrain Brookes, newly fledged warlock, is feeling the strain. A coven of power-hungry witches is after his blood. Literally. A psychotic warlock wants him dead. His godfather’s training regime is about as much fun as chewing on nettles and an overweight, scarily perceptive cat has moved into his house.
His boyfriend Dominic yearns for a normal life, or at least a safer one. He accepts his role both as Evrain’s submissive partner and as the conduit through which he channels his gift—but he’s afraid for his lover, and the lengths Evrain’s enemies might go to in order to fulfill their lust for power.
When Evrain falls victim to a plot between the Octis Coven and malevolent warlock Symeon Malus, it’s up to Dominic to rescue him. With the help of the two other North American warlocks, Shadow the cat and an old enemy, Dominic takes steps to get his lover back. There’s a high price to pay and no guarantee that the risks he must take will work out but Evrain is worth going through hell for, even if it costs Dominic his life.
I was so glad to delve back into the Warlocks world again—I really enjoyed the first book, and here in Elemental Hope I was treated to just as much suspense and tension as I was the first time around. New characters were introduced, and while the Octis Coven made for another good set of villains here, I was even more intrigued by the fourth warlock, Nathaniel, and the reappearance of Damon.
Dominic and Evrain’s relationship felt much more solid here in book two, and along with that came even more heat and intense physicality between them. There’s also continued light BDSM aspects…in some creative ways ;-)
Besides the intimate points of the story—which are crazy hot and clearly demonstrate Evrain’s alpha maleness—the rest concentrates on a new threat, this one primarily to Evrain but with ramifications for Dominic as well. There’s plenty of excitement with Evrain falling victim to the coven’s plans, as well as strain on everyone involved when Dominic must be put in danger to help save him. It made for an exciting read that I did not want to put down until I knew how it would all play out.
Elemental Hope was a 4-star read for me; I’m really hoping we’ll get more on Nathaniel and Damon’s new relationship soon, and I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a look back at Gregory and Coryn’s story. This book is meant strictly for readers 18+ for adult language and explicit sexual content…and I can’t wait for more in the series!
Excerpt - Elemental Love
“What’s with the weather today?” Evrain exclaimed, as his grandmother and godfathers turned toward him from their seats around the fire. “I swear I left Portland in the most glorious sunshine but I seem to have dragged a storm along with me.”
Coryn and Gregory exchanged glances. Agatha rose from her chair and came toward him, holding out her arms.
“Give your old grandma a hug, birthday boy.”
Evrain bent to accept Agatha’s embrace. He kissed the top of her head. She smelled of nutmeg and ginger, the scent familiar and comforting.
“Happy birthday, Evrain.”
“Thank you, Grandma.”
Coryn and Gregory queued to take their turns for hugs.
“Did you enjoy the drive over?” Coryn asked, his eyes twinkling.
“I did. Thank you both, so much. It was a great gift and a brilliant surprise. I could get used to driving around in that.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s just for the day. A special treat.”
Evrain shrugged. “I’ll take it.” He cast his gaze at each of the people he loved. They returned his scrutiny with an intensity that made him feel a little uncomfortable. “What? Do I have a smudge on my nose or something?” He walked over to the fire and peered into the mirror hanging over the mantel. As far as he could tell there were no weird marks or splotches.
“How are you feeling? Any unexplained headaches or nausea recently?” Gregory asked.
“No. My joints are a bit sore but I’m putting that down to a lack of exercise over the last few days. I was going to hike along the river this afternoon and shake off some of the lethargy.
I haven’t been sleeping well—I think I’m still getting adjusted to the time zone.” Evrain’s sense of discomfort grew. It wasn’t like Gregory to ask after his health. “Why the sudden interest in whether or not I have the sniffles? Is there a weird hereditary disease in the family that I don’t know about?”
“Why don’t you take a seat by the fire? There’s something we need to talk to you about.”
“Is this some kind of intervention?” Now he was really worried. “I’ve heard about those.
I promise I’m not a drunk, I don’t take drugs and I’m not addicted to gambling.” He gave a nervous laugh.
Gregory stood. He placed his hand on Evrain’s shoulder and squeezed. “It’s nothing to worry about. In fact, it should make things a whole lot clearer for you. I think it’s time.
“Indeed. The hour doesn’t matter. I geared everything to the date.” She hummed a strange tune under her breath.
“And a very significant date it is.” Gregory guided him to a chair, ignoring Agatha’s weird behavior.
Evrain sat, sinking into the overstuffed cushion. He’d need a cleaver to cut the atmosphere, not just a knife. Or maybe a scythe, that seemed appropriate. Agatha’s gothic mantel clock began to chime. Evrain’s senses sharpened. He could pick out every detail, every thread of the woven hearth rug. A mixture of intense aromas—spices, burning wood, candle wax, even Gregory’s aftershave—assaulted his nose. He wanted to cover his ears there was so much sound—spitting and crackling from the fire, leaves and branches thrashing outside in the wind, breathing, heartbeats. Evrain gasped. It was too much. He gripped the arms of his chair and felt every imperfection in the wood. His head swam.
“What’s… What’s happening?” He squeezed the words from between gritted teeth.
In the hearth, the fire exploded, sending huge flames shooting up the chimney. The storm outside intensified, pounding at the cabin with weapons of hail and wind. Evrain took short, sharp breaths. He sensed movement behind him and swiveled around to see the pot plants on the windowsill sprouting shoots and new leaves at incredible speed, the foliage spilling over countertops and onto the floor. This could not be happening. The pressure in his head built to an intolerable level. He was aware of Gregory’s touch, clasping his hand.
“Let it go, Evrain. Don’t be afraid.” Gregory’s voice, calm and soothing, penetrated his panic.
Evrain willed his body to relax. Multicolored lights exploded before his eyes, then everything went mercifully dark.
* * * *
“Evrain, you’re a warlock.”
“What the hell happened, Grandma? Am I ill? My head feels like a grenade exploded inside it.” Evrain massaged his temples and groaned. “Wait. What did you just say?”
“I said, my dear boy, that you are a warlock. Now drink this, it will make you feel better. You were out cold for a few minutes there.” She thrust a mug into his trembling hands.
“What is it?” He sniffed the drink with some suspicion.
“Butterbur, chamomile and ginger root tea sweetened with a little honey. My own remedy and better than any chemical you could poison your body with.”
“Does it cure insanity, because I could have sworn that you just told me I’m a warlock?”
“It doesn’t, and you are. Don’t be a child. Drink it.”
“Don’t be a— Gregory! Please tell me I’m hearing things.” He looked to his godfather who stood in front of the fire making strange movements with his fingers.
“Just hold on a minute, Evrain. I need to damp down your conflagration a little.”
“What? Wait… You’re… Oh my God. I’m in an alternate reality, aren’t I?” He addressed his question to Coryn, sitting in the chair next to him. Coryn seemed a bit pale despite the heat. His smile was full of sympathy and understanding.
“It’s true, Evrain. You are a warlock and so is Gregory. Your grandma put a suppression spell on your powers shortly after you were born, to protect you. You heard her humming? Well, she was lifting the spell. You have come into your powers. You’re very strong, Evrain. The change was too much for you and you blacked out for a few minutes.”
Lucinda lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.
She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She's fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and some not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.
Hiring a boyfriend for Christmas; what could possibly go wrong?
Derek is facing yet another Christmas where his life feels out of control. He has a new career that doesn't feel like his, and parents who would just love to see him settled down. All he needs is a temporary buffer for the parties he has to attend, and for his parents to leave him alone. Enter, Luke.
Luke is twenty-thousand dollars short for the renovations on Halligans; his family's bar in New York's Financial District. A favor for a buddy has him agreeing to play the part of boyfriend to a guy with more money than sense.
But when the spirit of Christmas works its magic on the two men, and they begin to fall for each other, Derek runs scared, and Luke needs space.
It doesn't matter what obstacles you throw in the way of love, or how much you run in the other direction, because, when you're least expecting it, whether you want it or not, love happens anyway.
I knew Marcus was six-two, just a little taller than me. I knew he had blue eyes, and dark hair with red tones in certain light. He had a brother, but they didn’t see each other much, being that his brother was in the Navy. His parents were retired in Florida, but they’d had Marcus and his brother Adam late in life. Marcus was twenty-nine, same as me with only a few months separating our birthdays, and he was a firefighter. Oh, and he was a good, kind man who was thoughtful all the time and treated me like a prince.
“That’s such a shame. Anyway, how are Marcus’ kittens?” Mom asked. I pulled myself back to what she was saying. It was never good to not pay full attention to anything Mom said, otherwise you’d end up agreeing to all kinds of things she’d throw at you when your defenses are down. I loved her dearly but she was sneaky like that.
Which is how I got myself into this mess with Marcus in the first place.
“Did he find good homes for them?”
“Absolutely, the last of them went to a widowed grandmother in his apartment block.”
“Socks? The dark one?”
I glanced at my notes. “No, you remember Socks went to his uncle; Spider went to the old lady.”
“Oh yes, of course, although why someone would name a kitten Spider I don’t know.”
“There were spiders in the house where Marcus found the kittens.”
“I still don’t understand how there could be spiders in a burned-out house.”
Sh*t. “Spiders are hardy.”
“You said the house was razed to the ground, dear.”
Now I was losing the will to live. “Well, maybe the spider was outside. Mom, I need to go, Moira is at the door and she needs me to sign off on the new AbbaLister raisins account.”
“Of course dear, just, please tell Marcus he is welcome at any time. We so want to meet him and thought it’d be better at the house.”
“I will, I know he’s keen to meet you.”
“Oh good,” she said, and I knew I’d f*cked up and somehow given her an opening. I’d never mentioned once that Marcus wanted to meet them, because that would just give them the impetus to take matters into their own hands. My worst fears were confirmed. “Oh, I’ve had the most wonderful idea.”
Oh God, what?
“Your dad and I are coming into the city on Monday; book us dinner on any night, or lunch, breakfast, anything. I want to meet this young man of yours and if it has to be in a restaurant then so be it.”
“I’m not sure—”
“Derek, he can’t be busy every night next week, and every lunchtime, goodness me, we’ll even take a quick coffee if that is all he can manage.”
Sh*t. Sh*t. And double sh*t.
“I’ll see what I can organize.” I kept my tone regretful, to at least give the impression I would try to organize them meeting Marcus, but that it would be unlikely.
We finished the call, and I replaced the handset in the cradle, fighting the urge to throw it against the wall, sit and cry at my desk, or maybe, less drastically, move to Montana and become a cowboy.
So many lies.
There was no Moira standing at my door. It was still closed and I’d lied to my mom.
There were no kittens, I made those up, and the spider story. The word spider came about because when I’d been talking to my mom about Marcus and the kittens, a tiny spider had crawled over my notes.
I closed the notebook in which I had the names of five kittens with their various characteristics listed.
Mom wanted to meet Marcus, any night, any lunch, anytime.
Which sucked big hairy balls.
Because that was another thing I had made up.
There was no Marcus either.
From my experience, boyfriend-for-hire stories can either go very right or monumentally wrong. Love Happens Anyway is one of those that goes right, with one pretty uptight guy (Derek) who hires one slightly broken but determined man (Luke) to act as his boyfriend during the holidays.
I loved, loved, loved Luke. He’s responsible, protective, strong and sexy—but he’s also in need of help in order to take care of his family’s bar. Derek is tired of what he feels is others trying to impose their will on his life (both personal and professional), and has kind of talked himself into a corner with his parents by making up the fact that he has a boyfriend…who his parents insist on meeting. This is the mechanism that brings Derek and Luke together—much to Luke’s consternation and protests to his friend who put him up for the “job” of boyfriend.
There’s the expected issues of keeping to the “boyfriend” story that Derek has made up thus far with his family and work colleagues, as well as the anticipated heat that blooms between him and Luke. But there’s also Derek’s character growing and becoming more his own man, and finally standing up for what he wants both at work and in his private life. I love to see characters grow like this, and Derek’s evolution—prompted by Luke’s influence on his life—was quite satisfying to read. The hot physical chemistry and eventual comfortable feelings around each other when they were together? A wonderful bonus.
Love Happens Anyway was a 4-star read for me, and is a great M/M holiday romance to add to your collection. At 42,500 words this story was a short enough that I finished it in a couple of hours, but long enough to tell a full story without feeling rushed. Extra points for the great epilogue as well as the cute cover. This story is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.
About the Author
RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.
The last time she had a week's break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn't defeat.
Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship
Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son there aren't many hours left over. Heís lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn't mention that he has a child. It's early days and he's worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.
Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He's surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn't recognise Luke, and Luke realises he's not the only one with a secret.
Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches their secrets pile up like colourful packages under the tree. If they're not careful, they'll lose the best gift of all-each other.
Now this? This is exactly what I like to read for holiday romance. A relatively quick read for me, sweet and cute with just the right touch of angst, and just a few touches of spice to heat things up—all centered around Christmas for that bit of holiday magic.
Both Luke and Theo have things about themselves they don’t want to reveal to someone new; Luke because he’s a bit embarrassed about his holiday job and Theo because he doesn’t want a potential boyfriend to bolt once they find out he has a child. These may seem like things that have been written about before, but the author puts a fresh spin on them by weaving a little twist into it with Luke finding out Theo’s secret without Theo knowing it, adding a convoluted bit of extra secrets into the mix.
As the story progresses, I was hoping all that secrecy wouldn’t wind up blowing up in Luke and Theo’s faces—because they had such a natural chemistry between them, everything with them felt just right and I wanted to see them make it as a couple. They had physical attraction as well as a great rapport with each other, easily feeling comfortable together even once Theo’s son Archie (who is absolutely adorable) is adding into the equation.
Secret Santa was a fun, mostly light holiday romance, and it was a very solid 4-star read for me. I definitely recommend this story to anyone looking for a good M/M holiday romance. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and some hot and steamy sexual content.
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.
One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story-just to see if he could-and found it rather addictive. He hasn't stopped writing since.
Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.
Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.