Anniversary Shenanigans: Piper Vaughn Giveaway

Is that rainbows and hockey gear floating in the air?

Why we think it is!

Welcome unicorn fave, birthday author Piper Vaughn to the clubhouse!

She's dropping off a gift for one lucky person...

a $15 Amazon gift card!


While we all wish her a supermastastic birthday, the unicorns thank her for sharing a gift!

Party on!

Have an extra special birthday, Piper!


Piper Vaughn Bio
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life… even if it’s only in a book.

Visit Piper at:


Enter to win a $15 Amazon gift card courtesy of Piper Vaughn!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is open until 12:00 (Eastern time) on 11/12/16. Shortly thereafter, we will contact a winner!

Please respond to the winning notification within 48 hours or we will choose another winner. Good luck!

Don't miss entering in our month long unicorn giveaway here!

Review: Pushing the Envelope by Kim Dare

When Scott Evans sends an anonymous invitation to the dominant he’s fantasised about for months, he just hopes that Joe Stuart will be curious enough to turn up at the specified address and do a scene with him.

It never occurs to Scott that Joe will send a note back to him, or that something as simple as writing a letter could evolve into a kinky game that will test both men to the limit.

Orders, pleas, kinks and even love—there’s nothing a letter can’t contain once two hot and passionate guys start Pushing The Envelope.

Please Note: This work was previously published in fourteen short story installments. The existing parts of the story have been tweaked and re-edited, and two entirely new installments have been added. This edition is the first time all the installments have been brought together in e-book form.

Oh that was fun and kinky, just like Kim Dare always is.

Being with Scott, controlling Scott, claiming ownership over Scott—it all felt so right.

This was originally a series of short stories that were made available in installments. I never read the original series so I can’t comment on any changes to the story-line, I just read this as one story with the knowledge it used to be a serial. There were a lot of elements that made it obvious this used to be a serial. For one, there is a lot of sex! Every chapter is basically a sex scene, which would have been marvellous when they were released as individuals, as one story it can become a lot. I’m not going to take off points for that though, it comes with the territory of publishing a serial in one book, also Dare’s sex is always so incredibly hot, I didn’t mind reading a lot of it ;-). Secondly, there are no side characters, like zero. It's just Joe and Scott kinking it up. As long as you’re prepared for this to feel like a serial, then you’ll do fine.

Now let's move onto the good stuff…..

If you’re a fan of Kim Dare you’ll enjoy this book, it has everything that I’ve come to expect from her.

Close to perfect, possessive Dom.

“You’re mine now, and no one else lays a hand on my sub without my permission,”

What I extra loved about Joe was he had multiple jobs and had a pretty cruddy apartment. It was nice to see a non-millionaire Dom.

Absolute perfect, natural, obedient submissive.

He accepted the bondage with apparent pleasure. His erection remained firm, pointing straight up toward the ceiling of the salon’s back room.
Joe smiled, his own cock growing harder at the sight of Scott’s natural submission.

Scott also has crippling low self-esteem and it was lovely to see Joe help him overcome that and not completely in the ‘BDSM cures everything’ type of way.

D/S and bondage to the heart's delight.

He was perfect. Cock caged, neck collared, but without anything binding him to the chair apart from his own will, he’d never looked better.

Like other Dare books I’ve read the kink isn’t heavy but it's always present. Mostly these boys are all about dominating, submitting, bondage and a whole lot of toys. There’s also quite a bit of voyeurism and a hint of exhibitionism.

I think the only place I felt this story lacked was with the feels. I don’t know if it was because it was a serial, but any emotional connection between these two only started at approx 80%. There wasn’t anything (other than sex) for these guys to work through until the end and that left me wanting more emotional depth in their relationship. Also that was a pretty pitiful collaring scene…..

Anyway, I recommend taking your time with this one, reading it in installments even though I got through it fairly quickly. Its sweet, fun and sexy as fuck!

Find it on Goodreads!

Trivia Question

This author is most known for his angsty, contemporary series. A couple characters from this series are also a part of his book about a journey through purgatory. Who is the author? (worth 10 pts) 

Be sure to tweet your answer by tagging @BMBReviews along with your answer & the author's name for your chance to win DSP credits!

Did you see the Pushing the Envelope giveaway here?

Anniversary Shenanigans: Author Visit + Giveaway - Kim Dare

Get ready for some warm and fuzzy feels from the queen of kink with a heart, Kim Dare. Let us know what you think of her fic in the comments!

“You’re wearing a tux.”

“And you’re not wearing anything at all,” Simon countered, as he stepped further into the living room.

Adam scrambled up off his knees. God, he was an idiot. “I’m sorry, sir. Your flat- mate let me in. He said we had the place to ourselves tonight. I thought—” Turning his back on Simon, Adam hurried across to the chair by the window, where he’d left his clothes. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have done anything without an order, sir.”

Simon placed his hand on Adam’s arm, stopping him before he even got one foot into his jeans.

“I’m sorry, sir,” Adam repeated. “I’ll be out of your way in a second.”

“Stop apologising, pet. You haven’t done anything wrong. I gave you three weeks’ notice that I wanted you to be here by eight o’clock tonight, didn’t I?” His grip on Adam’s arm was gentle but insistent as he made Adam turn to face him.

Adam shook his head. “No. It’s my fault. I should have checked back in the meantime. Plans change. You obviously…” He trailed off as stared at the shiny lapels of Simon’s tux.

“I obviously have to attend a boring work thing tonight,” Simon finished off for him.

Adam jerked his head up. “A work thing?”

“Yes. A work thing.”

Their eyes met and Adam realised that Simon already knew what he’d assumed when he saw the tux—that Simon was all dressed up for a date with another guy—with a man who was less of a sub and more worthy of being Simon’s publically-acknowledged boyfriend. But, if it was a work thing…

“Do you have time for a blowjob before you leave, sir? Or I could come back later, if you—”

“Hush.” Simon ran his thumb across Adam’s mouth and nudged him back to lean against the windowsill. “Who’s the dom here?”

Adam swallowed. “You are, sir.”

“So, deciding what should happen is my job. You just need to wait for an order, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good boy.” Simon brushed his lips against Adam’s forehead in one of those sweet little kisses that, against all logic, had the power to make Adam feel like he belonged to Simon, right down to the bottom of his soul.

Adam took a deep breath and nodded to himself. Nothing had changed. Simon was his dom, and everything was fine. “How may I serve you, sir?” For the first time since he’d spotted Simon’s tux, Adam both felt and sounded calm.

“You can go into the bedroom put on the new tux I bought for you.”

All of Adam’s calmness deserted him in an instant.

“Then you can come to my boring work thing with me,” Simon continued.

“But, sir—”

“It’s time for you to meet the people I work with, pet.”

“I don’t—”

“I’m not starting a debate about how you think subs should be hidden away like dirty little secrets; I’m telling you what’s going to happen. You’re going to put on your new tux and attend this gala with me. You’ll nod and smile at the people I work with, and you’ll dance all the slow dances with me.” His tone didn’t invite any argument, but it softened slightly as he smiled. “The moment we can slip away, we’ll come back here. At which point, I’ll expect you to be naked and on your knees within ninety seconds.”


“You know that I love you when you’re naked and kneeling for me, pet. But I’ve told you before that I want you to be my boyfriend as well as my sub, and that means there will be times when you’ll have to be dressed, on your feet, and out in public with me. And that’s starting tonight.”

Adam stared up at Simon, trapped in a web of uncertainty and fear.

“It will be fine, pet. I promise. You won’t be any less my sub, and I won’t be any less your dom, just because we occasionally do something together that doesn’t involve leather.” He pressed another kiss to Adam’s forehead. “Okay?”

“I think…” Adam took a deep breath. He’d never believed a man who took his sub out on dates could be a real dom. But, there again, until he’d met Simon, he’d never known a man who could state his ownership as easily with a forehead kiss as he could with a whip, either. “I think, maybe I should go and try on that tux, sir.”

About Kim Dare

Kim is a thirty-one year old bisexual submissive from Wales (UK). First published in 2008, she has since released over 100 BDSM erotic romance titles ranging from short stories to full length novels. Having worked with a host of fantastic e-publishers, she has just moved into self-publishing.

While she has occasionally ventured towards other pairings, Kim's first love is still, and probably always will be, Male/Male stories. But, no matter what the pairing, from paranormal to contemporary, and from the sweet to the intense, everything she writes will always feature three things - Kink, Love and a Happy Ending.

You can find out more about Kim's books on her website, follow her on twitter, catch up with her blog, and email her directly using the links below.

Blog: (New Blog Address!)


Can I get a group AWWWW? We'd like to thank Kim for joining in the shenanigans. Let her know what you thought of her fic in the comments below!

Two lucky winners win will copies of Pushing the Envelope, see our review here, (signed paperback for UK residents only)

UK residents giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaways are open until 12:00 AM(Eastern Time) on 11/12/16. Shortly thereafter, we will contact winner! 

Please respond to the winning notification within 48 hours or we will choose another winner. Good luck!

Don't miss entering in our month long unicorn giveaway here!

Review: Mapping the Forest by Brandon Witt

Happily ever after has no map, but sometimes fate sends a guiding light.

Gabe Rice, a seasonal ranger at the Rocky Mountain National Park, can’t seem to get his life on the right trail. He loves the rugged beauty of the land, and there is no place he would rather live than the mountain community of Estes Park. But after six years, Gabe is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever get a full-time position or find love. When Gabe sees Luis—and hears his gorgeous singing—he’s compelled to meet him.

Luis Martinez, the new owner of a hotel and steak ride business in Estes, left California and a career as a therapist for a fresh start in Colorado. But even the beauty of the mountains can’t help him forget the past or move forward. Unprepared for his strong attraction to Gabe, Luis is ready to run and hide from emotions he never thought he’d have again.

Suddenly the path ahead opens to a future that looks brighter for both of them, if they can find the courage to walk forward—together.

Some stories make you work for that HEA. But when you get there... it's glorious.

Mapping the Forest is one of those quieter romances. The pace is organic and natural. The characters are real and likable. You know the books that sneak up on you? You think everything is moving along nicely and then BAM! you're crying your eyes out? Yeah. That's Mapping the Forest.

The title is so apt for a story like this. Gabe and Luis had to really work to find their way to an HEA. They had to find their own path, making plenty of mistakes along the way. There was a lot for them to hash out. But they did. They were open and honest with each other from the get-go. It made for some awesomely awkward dates, but they kept going, full-steam ahead. That's not to say there weren't any fall-outs, because there were, but they knew what they had was special so they worked at it. I loved that about Gabe and Luis,

This one's a tearjerker. Not just a little misty-eyed, but tears rolling down my cheeks tearjerker. It was beautiful and heartbreaking. And really, all this emotion kind of snuck up on me. I knew it was sad. I knew nobody should have to experience what Luis did. But I didn't know I was feeling so much for them until I was clutching my kindle to my chest while in the fetal position. It was not cute.

The setting of Estes Park was amazing. I've only been there once, but through the descriptions I could easily picture the breathtaking landscape. Again... beautiful.

I do hope this is a series. There's a great cast of characters here and I would love to read more about them. I feel like just the surface was scratched with these guys and I want to know all the things.

So good. Mapping the Forest is just so good. I couldn't put it down and stayed up late in order to finish it. This one's a must read, Unicorns.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads and Dreamspinner Press

Anniversary Shenanigans: Author Visit + Giveaway - Edmond Manning

It's a bird! 
It's a plane!'s Edmond Manning with a delicious devious flash ficlet in his hands! Gather round and welcome his return to the stable!

Something Superman by Edmond Manning

“Jerry, this will never work. I’m sorry. You’re too conservative for me.”

“No, no, no! Michael, please. I’m trying. I love how outrageous you are. You awaken this spark in me who wants to go skateboarding and rent jet skis and eat spicy food that’s too hot for my mouth. I know I’m boring—“

“You’re not boring. Don’t say that.”

“Fine, not boring. But you’re fireworks and loud laughing and extreme silliness, and I…I’m in awe.”

“Jerry, I don’t need a fanboy. I need a partner. I need someone who surprises me with pranks and gestures bigger than edible arrangements. Which was a nice gift, but, I need something crazier. I know you like this energy in your life, Jerry, but I need Superman to my Batman. I don’t want Robin.”

“Wait. Michael. Give me a chance. Give me until Saturday noon. Saturday is our one month anniversary. Let me show you I can play. Let me…come up with something. Something big. Something Superman.”

“Jerry, c’mon. Don’t do this.”

“Michael, here’s the first of my big gestures. Here’s me, standing on my chair in a Thai restaurant. C’mon. Give me until Saturday.”

“Get down! Jesus, get down. Okay, okay, you have until Saturday. Get down, okay?”

“Did I surprise you?”

“You did.”

“You just laughed.”

“Yes, I laughed. You surprised me, I admit it. So…Saturday. You have something planned?”

“Not yet. But I will. Trust me. Something Superman.”

“Okay, Jer. Eat your basil noodles.”

“I want to delight you, Michael. Like you delight me.”

“You’re very sweet, Jerry. I definitely feel appreciated by you. I do. But you do realize I live on the 12th floor, right? Whatever street surprise you’re planning, I probably won’t see from up there.”

“Just wait, Michael. For Saturday. Something Superman.”


Author info:

Edmond Manning has always been fascinated by fiction: how ordinary words could be sculpted into heartfelt emotions, how heartfelt emotions could leave an imprint inside you stronger than the real world. Mr. Manning never felt worthy to seek publication until recently, when he accidentally stumbled into his own writer’s voice that fit perfectly, like his favorite skull-print, fuzzy jammies. He finally realized that he didn’t have to write like Charles Dickens or Armistead Maupin, two author heroes, and that perhaps his own fiction was juuuuuuust right, because it was his true voice, so he looked around the scrappy word kingdom that he created for himself and shouted, “I’M HOME!” He is now a writer.

In addition to fiction, Edmond enjoys writing non-fiction on his blog, When not writing, he can be found either picking raspberries in the back yard or eating panang curry in an overstuffed chair upstairs, reading comic books.


Let Edmond know what you thought of "Something Superman" in the comments. BMBR humbly thanks Edmond for jamming with the unicorns today and delivering a hot, sweet, funny prezzie!

Didn't think BMBR would let you leave empty handed, now did you? Thanks to Dreamspinner Press, one lucky person will be able to choose one Dreamspinner Press book of their choice! 

Enter in the Rafflecopter Giveaway below for a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is open until 12:00 (Eastern time) on 11/11/16. Shortly thereafter, we will contact a winner!

Please respond to the winning notification within 48 hours or we will choose another winner. Good luck!

Don't miss entering in our month long unicorn giveaway here!

Trivia Question

Where do Emmet and Jeremy find their feet and begin to build a life together? (worth 20 pts)

Be sure to tweet your answer by tagging @BMBReviews along with your answer & the author's name for your chance to win DSP credits!

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Hotline by Quinn Anderson

Quinn Anderson is here today to promote her new book Hotline (which we reviewed here) and there's a $10 Riptide credit up for grabs!

Hello, everyone! This is Quinn Anderson, author of the Murmur Inc. series, and I'm here to share some inside information about, Hotline, coming out October 31st. Stay tuned to hear about where I get my ideas, writing comedy, and how I went "undercover" as a sex worker to research my novels. Leave comments on the tour posts for a chance to win a $10 Riptide Publishing gift card!

About Hotline

Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.

Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.

A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending.

About Quinn Anderson

Quinn Anderson is an alumna of the University of Dublin in Ireland and has a master’s degree in psychology. She wrote her dissertation on sexuality in popular literature and continues to explore evolving themes in erotica in her professional life.

A nerd extraordinaire, she was raised on an unhealthy diet of video games, anime, pop culture, and comics from infancy. She stays true to her nerd roots in writing and in life and frequently draws inspiration from her many fandoms, which include Sherlock, Harry Potter, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Buffy, Marvel, and more. You will often find her interacting with fellow fans online and offline via conventions and tumblr, and she is happy to talk about anything from nerd life to writing tips. She has attended conventions on three separate continents and now considers herself a career geek. She advises anyone who attends pop culture events in the UK to watch out for Weeping Angels, as they are everywhere.

Her favorite television show is Avatar: the Last Airbender, her favorite film is Tangled, and her favorite book is Ella Enchanted. She can often be spotted at conventions, comic shops, and midnight book releases. If you're at an event, and you see a 6'2'' redhead wandering around with a vague look on her face, that's probably her. Her favorite authors include J.K. Rowling, Gail Carson Levine, Libba Bray, and Tamora Pierce. When she's not writing, she enjoys traveling, cooking, spending too much time on the internet, screwing the rules, finding the Master Sword, guided falling, consulting for the NYPD, guarding the galaxy, boldly going, and catching 'em all.

Connect with Quinn:
To celebrate the release of Hotline, one lucky winner will receive $10 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 5, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Day Blitz + Giveaway: Tru Smoke (Ember Peak #1) by Edie Danford

Tru Smoke Blitz Banner

Title: Tru Smoke
Series: Ember Peak Book One
Author: Edie Danford
Publisher: Edie Danford
Release Date: November 3, 2016
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 90,100 words
Genre: Romance

Add to Goodreads



Where there’s smoke, there’s fire… Whenever Jones touches him, flames flicker in Truitt Larkin's smoky-gray eyes.

Growing up in Ember Peak, Colorado, Jones nurtured dreams as big as the Rockies. Why else would a flat-broke college student believe he has a shot with Truitt Larkin, the billionaire CEO of Larkin Corp? And, sure, Tru might own the fab, five-thousand-acre Ember Peak Ranch, where Jones is just the son of a ranch employee, but that doesn’t mean a future with Tru is doomed, does it? When he finally, finally convinces Tru to break his chiseled-in-rock no-sex-ever policy, Jones is sure smoke will never shroud Tru’s silver-flame eyes again.

But fire burns and dreams crash. And when Tru shuts down Jones’s hopes, Jones leaves Ember Peak—and a big chunk of his heart—for good.

Tru knows he’s responsible for fracturing his valued friendship with Jones. Indulging his attraction to the younger man was selfish and destructive—something he’ll always regret. When Jones returns to Ember Peak for a family wedding, Tru wants a chance to heal their friendship and give back to Jones the comfort of coming home. But sparks fly the moment they reunite, and they scramble to douse the passion that’s burned them both before. Yet a flicker of hope glows brightly, and soon they need all their courage to see their way to a future together.


I was playing with fire. The phrase churned through my head even though it was the kind of cliché I’d usually have no use for. I knew too well that every worthwhile risk had a good chance at ending up in flames. I also knew fire could be hypnotic and beautiful and feel fucking great, especially if your soul had been encased in ice for a good long while.

Being scorched by Jones Hudson and his amazing fire was like a ride to hell I never wanted to end. But what I wanted wasn’t good for me or for him, and so…

This morning was gonna suck. It was time to pay the price for my selfishness, my weakness. I held back a sigh and glanced at the clock. 5:45. I had two hours. Two.

Sweet Jesus.

My fingers tangled gently in his hair. He’d fallen asleep like this—smashed against my side, one arm draped over my chest, one leg draped over my thigh, his face nestled into my neck—at least twenty times in the last week.

Sex wore him out.

For about ten minutes.

My lips curved into a smile even though my heart was beginning to thump a pained rhythm beneath his warm grasp. It was dawn and the curtains were open on the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun wasn’t strong yet, but the newborn beams making it through the glass had found Jones’s hair.

Talk about fire.

My first horse had been a sharp little chestnut with a coat that had turned to flame in the sun. So pretty it had made my eyes hurt. Jones’s hair was the exact same color.

His fingers tightened suddenly on my ribcage and I prepared myself to get hit with a dose of pure autumn sky. “Morning,” he mumbled, his voice scritchy as rough-grade sandpaper.

More guilt there. I’d gone a little wild when he’d blown me in the elevator last night, his welcoming throat a temptation I couldn’t resist.

He propped himself on my chest, opened his eyes all the way, and smiled. And there it was—eyes heartstoppingly blue and a smile that inspired me no matter how stale my dreams had become.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, tracing the curve of my lower lip with his fingertip.

He asked it, of course, even though I was wearing my best everything’s-cool face. Never could fool Jones. I could occasionally fool his mother. And on very rare occasions my half-sister, Sandra. But never Jones.

I shook my head and tipped my chin for a kiss. His lips were chapped and I licked at them gently before going deep, wanting to taste him, refusing—goddamn forbidding myself—to think about how this was the last time I’d be with him this way.

“Mmm,” he sighed into my mouth. “How can you taste this good?”

“Because you crave the flavor of morning-after jizz, wine, and pizza?”

He licked my smile. “Yep. Must be it.”


Edie Danford | Amazon

Tru Smoke Teaser

Meet the Author

Although her extended family hails from the Rockies, the Plains, and the Midwest, Edie has spent the last ten years in her Green Mountain home. She seeks romance wherever and whenever possible.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |
| eMail


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Review: Settling the Score by Eden Winters

Outed and dumped on national television by his rising star boyfriend, Joey Nichols must face the bigotry of the locals in his small Southern town alone. His dreams of a happy ever after lie crushed at his feet.

Novelist Troy Steele has an axe to grind against Hollywood heartbreaker types. Transforming Joey into a gorgeous, unobtainable hunk would be payback worthy of Troy’s poison pen. It's a brilliant way to get back at Joey’s image-obsessed ex-boyfriend and the movie producer who’s mutilating Troy’s novels.

What begins as simple revenge may tangle them together in something far more complicated. Living well may be the best revenge, but Troy and Joey could rewrite that to loving well.

Another fun one from Eden Winters.

The premise was interesting to me. I don't know that I've read a love story quite like this one. I've read the fake boyfriends trope, but nothing quite like Settling the Score. While I didn't love everything about it, it was nice to read a M/M romance with a little something different.

Joey was outed on TV by his long time boyfriend. Not only was he outed to his family, but also to everyone in the small town he lives in. His ex (who is an actor) got big time publicity for this stunt, and it helped his career. Basically, the ex is an asshat. 

In comes Troy. He's a writer and wants to use Joey's situation as his muse. He hires him, gives him a makeover, and uses him to write his newest book. And uses the new-and-improved Joey to get revenge on his own ex.

Lots of revenge happening here! It was fun and different... if a little much. The revenge thing got a tad old, but I liked how it all worked out in the end. And it did bother me how much Troy was changing Joey. He stressed that Joey didn't need to change but... then he went on doing it anyway? Eh. Rubbed me wrong.

That being said, I really liked Joey and Troy together. They made a for a fun couple to read about. While they were both seeking revenge on their exes, they were able to see what was right in front of them. 

Settling the Score is full of fun shenanigans with a lighthearted romance. Definitely recommended for some easy and relaxing reading. 

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads.

Trivia Question

Who is the author of a book containing tails, a rainbow cock, and cinnamon cum? (worth 10 pts) 

Be sure to tweet your answer by tagging @BMBReviews along with the answer & the author's name for your chance to win DSP credits!

Anniversary Shenanigans: Author Visit + Giveaway - Stephen Osborne

Get your s'mores ready and pull up a log around the campfire as Stephen Osborne has a spooky tale for you!

The Spell
Stephen Osborne


The basement had a faint musty smell, and the brickwork was crumbling. No one had been down there for ages, and Noel Dickson could see why. Even though it was still daylight outside, the grime covering the windows filled the room with dark shadows. The single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, which, miraculously, still worked, did little to dispel the gloom.
At one time his grandmother had used the basement as a laundry room, but this had stopped when she no longer felt able to navigate the stairs, and Grandpa Dickson and a couple of his buddies had managed to haul the washer and dryer upstairs to the little alcove off the kitchen.
Noel was house sitting while his grandparents were on yet another cruise, the Caribbean this time. Noel’s mother had volunteered him for the task, thinking it would “get his mind off his troubles.”
Troubles? Having your lover of six years suddenly die on you could be considered “troubles?” No, a trouble was a traffic violation, or having to report for jury duty. Russ McCormick’s murder wasn’t a trouble. It was devastation.
Noel moved closer to the far wall, where there were some shelves. Most of them were old tools that Grandpa’s gnarled hands could no longer use, but there were boxes of old clothes, various items of junk, and even discarded dishes that had been forgotten when Grandma got her new china several Christmases ago. Although, the lighting was so dim that it all looked like lumps of shadow to Noel.
He exclaimed as something moved in front of him. Noel laughed as he realized that a grime-caked mirror was resting at eye-level on one shelf, and it had been his own reflection that had startled him.
He gazed at himself. If he was truthful, he now looked much older than twenty-nine. I guess some guy holding up a gas station and putting six bullets into your boyfriend will do that to a guy, Noel thought as he examined the dark circles under his eyes and his shaggy brown hair. Yeah, he needed a shave, too. Days overdue, in fact.
But if the book he’d purchased at that antique shop was the genuine article, he would soon be able to get on with his life, which had been put on hold since Russ’s funeral.
He found the candles he was looking for in a little box just to the left of the mirror.

“Is this an actual book of spells?” he’d asked the woman who owned the shop.
She had raised an eyebrow at him. “That’s what it says on the cover. It’s all malarkey, of course. Witches, spells…all Halloween stuff, made scare little kids!”
But Noel had bought the book, because it had felt strange in his hands, as if he could feel the magic within.

Noel sat cross-legged under the light, the only spot in the room where he could read the words of the spell he’d found. First he lit the candles and placed them around him in a circle, and then he opened the book. He supposed after getting the candles he could just have easily gone back upstairs to conduct his little magic session, but he was too eager to begin.
He began to read aloud the spell he’d found. “For thou who sleeps in rock and clay, heed this call. Rise up and obey!”
Noel felt a little silly saying the words, but he continued on. If it didn’t work, he was out nothing. But if he could have Russ back, then feeling idiotic was a small price to pay.
“Trek through the mortal door, and assemble flesh once more!”
The light seemed to dim, and two of the candles went out, despite the fact that Noel could feel no breeze. Goosebumps covered his arms, and he realized he could see his breath.
He suddenly remembered a warning at the beginning of the book, something about first casting a protection spell, in case something went wrong. In his haste to see Russ again, he’d forgotten to do that.
Too late now, he thought. Noel finished the incantation and sat back, looking around the room. Nothing. Just shadows and dust and old boxes. It had been silly after all…
And then there was a bright light in the corner, a blue glow that got bigger and bigger until Noel could make out a male shape. The figure stepped forward, and Noel gasped.
It was Russ. But yet, it wasn’t Russ. It had Russ’s long black hair, tied back in a ponytail, and Russ’s gentle, easy smile, but Russ had never been that…well, buff. This man was muscular, with a finely developed chest and big biceps. And Russ certainly hadn’t had wings sprouting from his back.
An angel. Noel was seeing Russ as he was now, an angel.
“Russ?” he asked, his voice hesitant.
The angel’s smile grew. “Who else were you expecting?”
Slowly, Noel got to his feet. He swayed, as if his legs couldn’t decide if they wanted to hold his weight or not. “Is it really you?”
“Come here,” the figure said as it beckoned. “I’ll show you.”
Noel rushed into the angel’s waiting arms. It was Russ! It had to be! “Oh my God, I’ve missed you so much! I can’t tell you how much…”
“Hush,” the angel said, “and kiss me.”
Noel pressed his lips to the angel’s, and his heart soared. He was back with Russ. The book had been the genuine article! It had worked! Yeah, he hadn’t expected Russ to have wings, but at least he was in his arms again.
Once the kiss finally ended, Noel put his head on the angel’s shoulder. “Never leave me again.”
“I never will,” said the voice that sounded so like Russ’s.
Behind Noel, an impossible breeze turned the pages of the book, now on the floor. It was almost like invisible fingers were finding a certain page. Finally, the page flipping stopped right at the warning Noel had neglected.
Before attempting any spell, especially an advanced one such as a resurrection spell, it is imperative that you first cast a protection spell. Otherwise, anything can happen! You put yourself and others at risk. There’s no telling what may come through from the other side!
The angel caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror across the room. Of course, the mirror showed the being’s true self, not what Noel Dickson was seeing. The face in the mirror was black and evil, a mockery of the human visage, with a ridged forehead and red, red eyes.
The figure smiled crookedly. “I’ve missed you, Noel,” he said.
“I love you, Russ,” Noel said, clutching what he assumed was his lover tightly.
The being’s eyes blazed. He fought the desire to kill this stupid mortal right away. No, that wouldn’t be fun. Let him think he’s brought his lover back. Let him be happy. And then days from now, weeks even, he’d discover the truth.
When, finally, Noel stepped back from the embrace, he was surprised to see that Russ no longer had wings. “Where did—” he began.
“They’re still there. They’re just not always visible.” The young man looked around. “Do we have to stay down here? It smells!”
Noel laughed. “No. Let’s go upstairs.”
They trudged up the steps, arm in arm. Noel seemed reluctant to let go for fear of losing Russ all over again.
They reached the top of the stairs, and unseen by either of them, the blue glow reappeared in the corner. As before, it grew and grew until a figure could be seen within its light.
The young man who emerged from the light was tall and had long black hair, tied back into a ponytail. Although the blue light had diminished, there still seemed to be illumination coming from the young man himself, as if golden light was emitting from his very pores. He looked up the stairs, and shook his head.
“I don’t think so,” he said aloud. “Noel, you never could follow directions.”
He started toward the steps. “Luckily, I’ll always be here to look out for you.”

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Author Bio

Hello! I live in rural northern Illinois and have a wonderful dog named Christine, named after the heroine of The Phantom of the Opera. I love Broadway musicals, and head into Chicago at least 20 times a year to see shows. Other than writing, I like folk music, watching British TV shows like Doctor Who, and playing games with my admittedly odd group of friends. I first fell in love at the age of 9. Her name was Alexandra Moltke, and she played Victoria Winters on the soap opera Dark Shadows. Yes, I was one of those kids who ran home from school to watch Barnabas and the other spooky people on that show. I obviously never lost my love for the macabre, and it turns up often in my writing. I graduated from Purdue University and went on to manage a pizza restaurant. I also worked in bookstores for many years, and I joined an improvisational comedy troupe and did that for nearly a decade. I now work in a food packaging plant, testing the product before it goes onto the I basically bake brownies for a living. Someone has to do it. Even though I write about ghosts, zombie bulldogs, and impulsive college students, some of my real life seeps into my writing every now and then. I'm not saying which bits, but there's a scene in a bedroom in Pop Goes the Weasel which still brings back painful memories...



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