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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Moccasin Trace by Hawk MacKinney - Book Tour - Book Blast - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Hawk MacKinney will be awarding a $20 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card (Winner's Choice!!!) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

It is July of 1859, a month of sweltering dog days and feverish emotional bombast. Life is good for widower Rundell Ingram and his hazel-eyed, roan-haired son, Hamilton. Between the two of them, they take care of Moccasin Hollow, their rustic dogtrot ancestral home, a sprawling non-slave plantation in the rolling farming country outside Queensborough Towne in east Georgia. Adjoining Ingram lands is Wisteria Bend, the vast slave-holding plantation of Andrew and Corinthia Greer, their daughter Sarah and son Benjamin.

Both families share generations of long-accepted traditions, and childhood playmates are no longer children. Against this rustic idyll of hard work and gracious living comes inflexible discord and divided loyalties that mutilate ties of blood and bond, tearing at their lives as smoke and battle no longer so faraway crashes and maims ever closer. Ahead of the on-coming ranks of Blue, foragers and bumlers burn, loot, scavenge and kill. Hamilton faces agonizing sacrifices with dreadful consequences. With little else than his wits, he tries anything to protect Sarah, their unborn child, his sickly father, and Sarah's family.

Like the proper exemplary young lady, a bored Sarah quietly sat in the drawing room, daintily sipped her tea, thinking how they'd be here for hours with this meaningless chitchat, and wishing she was out riding, wishing she was anywhere but here. .

Bessie stood to one side, tryin' not to think of Sam. 'Membered Mistress Corinth'a calling these folks merchants. Mistress was right, these were uppity folk with no manners. .

"It's understandable you're being so busy," Abigail sighed. "There's simply not enough time to do all the things a body must do to get ready for the Saint Catherine's Christmas Ball." She placed her Wedgwood cup and saucer just so on the marble-top tea table. .

"Of course," Corinthia fastened on a charming smile. "Charlestown is all the talk." .

Abigail leaned close, intimate, "I spoke with Jonathan. He wouldn't hear of taking time off, spending the season in Charlestown. Heaven knows it would've done him a world of good. I told him if the Greers and Ingrams are going, the very least we could certainly do is be in Charlestown to welcome our Queensborough friends." Her immaculate French maid hurried in with more tea and an array of sweets. .

Corinthia sipped with her smile fixed in place...showy hanger-on. Being invited to Charlestown's Saint Catherine's Ball the week of Christmas was all the talk, not only of Georgia and South Carolina, but considerably beyond. Invitations had come through Andrew's cotton and tobacco friends. Corinthia wasn't about to countenance having anyone think the Whiteheads were their associates. It was strain enough remaining gracious with such interlopers. .

"I surely understand why you're so very excited. Everyone will be there," Corinthia said. .

"I was so relieved they arrived yesterday." Abigail Bothwell Whitehead fairly beamed. "When your man dropped off your note telling me you would call, I was all in a twitter. At the time our invitations hadn't arrived. I immediately sent Jonathan straight to the post office." She rolled her eyes in mock relief. With an insipid smile through a pinched mouth and puckered lips, she gloated, "I was so reassured when he came back with them." She could hardly contain herself, enjoying herself immensely -- the perfect dig at uppity Corinthia Greer. "It will be so grand. Anyone who's anybody will be there." .

Sarah's expression matched her mother's composure; Corinthia's attention never left Abigail. Sarah knew Abigail and how venomous this artless woman could be.

In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk MacKinney has authored several works of fiction—historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his protagonist in the Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series: Hidden Chamber of Death, Westobou Gold, Dead Gold, Curse of the Ancients, and Blood of the Dragonfly.

Hawk’s science fiction novels include The Bleikovat Event, Vol I in The Cairns of Sainctuarie Science Fiction Series, followed by Vol II, The Missing Planets, and Vol III, Inanna Phantom.

Hawk MacKinney served in the US Navy for over 20 years. While serving as a Navy Commander, he also had a career as a full-time faculty member at several major state medical facilities. He earned two postgraduate degrees with studies in languages and history. He has taught postgraduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem, Israel. He now makes his home in Augusta, Georgia, where he writes full-time.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Mind Expressions: A Book on Poetry With Syllable Counts by Alysha Potente - Book Tour - Exclusive Excerpt - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hey, lovelies!!  It gives me great pleasure today to host Alysha Potente and her new book, “Mind Expressions: A Book on Poetry with Syllable Counts,” here on FAB!!  For other stops on her Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $15 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card!!  Also, come back daily to interact with Alysha and to increase your chances of winning!!

Thanks for stopping by!!  Wishing you all lots of good luck in this fabulous giveaway!!

Mind Expressions: A Book on Poetry with Syllable Counts

by Alysha Potente


GENRE:   Poetry



This poetry book has a total of over 130 poems, and most feature alongside: beautiful photography art. All of the poems are different from the next, in meaning and technique.

Analytical in nature, each poem dives into various topics. With this are also syllable counts, where the number of syllables per line are counted and arranged. This brings forward a technical side to poetry writing, where it is precise and balanced.

It is a skill that requires practice, where you hear the word for what it is, using mathematics while rhyming words together. All of the poetry features different rhyming forms.




A destination to "oh where am i going to?"..

Flying over the oceanic blue..

One ticket bought for myself..

It’s a one way ride to someplace else..

First class seats to stretch my feet..

In luxury style ten thousand feet..

I’m observing my surrounds..

I glance out of the window at clouds..

I count them all, there’s too much..

They look so fluffy and soft to touch..

I’m alone with no spouses..

High above the land with small houses..

This is a journey of life..

I’m single with being no-one’s wife..

Independent, oh it’s yes..

Independent but unless..

I find a man of my very own..

But I’m also complete on my own..

Oh soaring high within is served..

Ready to take on the world..

Many years developing myself..

Self-help books are on my shelf..

For I’ve seasoned in hell more than some..

It's quantity is a sum..

The quality is like a phoenix..

Rising from between the mix..

I’m totally myself with no chains..

Pains I’ve had are inner gains..

Single but not desperate..

Not looking for one to feel cherished..

I’ll cherish my self before..

I have potential love at my door..

Independent, I like this..

Independent still is bliss..

I will find a man for a partner..

To God I’ll be his chosen daughter..

I would love to be with a fond man..

In time this will come because it can..

Syllables: 12, 9, 7, 9, 7, 9, 7, 9, 7, 9… 7, 9, 7, 9, 7, 7, 9, 9..   9, 7, 9, 7, 9, 7, 9, 7, 9, 7.. 9, 7, 9, 7, 7, 9, 9.. 9, 9= patterns.

Every two lines rhyme together..



Alysha has been a self- taught creative writer, since the age of 16, in her hometown of Perth, Australia. Her passion for it developed on its own, the need to express herself in a different way other than verbally, was what motivated her to keep up this passion. The use of words was captivating for expression and the love of rhymes was also heard by ear.

Alysha's first poetry book that she read was actually in Primary School and it was called 'Revolting rhymes', which was a retake on nursery rhymes but in a humorous way. This book started this creative side in her at a young age, that, and also her love for art in general.

In 2015 she studied a short course at Berklee, where she was introduced to the notion of syllable counts. In fact, though she had actually been doing syllable counts unconsciously with her poetry in general. By using the same measurement of lines going off of sight, had in turn created similar syllable counts/patterns in her work.

Her book 'Mind Expressions' is a technical side of poetry writing that's come to life. It's the use of mathematics, along with creative writing. She wanted to give the reader a breakdown of each poem within, in order for them to delve into each poem further and analyse it using a different set of eyes. The poems are analytical in nature, along with syllable counts (some perfect) and perfect rhymes. This really showcases poetry at the highest skill.

Alysha is multi-talented in Art itself and is also a perfectionist. For where her passion lies in different artforms, is where she crafts her skills to a perfection standpoint.









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Alysha will be awarding a $15 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card (Winner’s Choice!!!) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those fabulous community outreach projects and awesome giveaways on here**

This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Rise of Dresca by Tim McKay - Book Tour - Book Blast - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $40 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card (Winner's Choice!!!) to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

From the pits of an ancient darkness, a new power is rising.


Ceremai has fallen.

After a decade of struggle for independence, a fledgling nation collapses under the unrelenting force of invasion.

Join an unlikely band of allies on a journey beset by shadow and intrigue, pulled by the strings of fate to the source of a new evil.

A lord’s daughter turns assassin. An orphan girl discovers her power. A captain plots in vain.

And the last soldier of Ceremai finds his destiny.

Witness the dawn of a new age, and learn if what evil intended for harm…

… can become something far more terrible.


Elaryn pressed her back against the sharp cliff rocks, panting as she sucked in the stale, toxic air. Her team, huddled together around the corner, felt the fumes scraping their lungs as much as she did. They wouldn’t have thought much of her forced, frantic breathing. They didn’t know.

They had to die.

She’d been planning these murders for months, but her resolve was untested. She knew there’d be no going back, and once it started, she’d have to be quick.

A crashing force shook the cliffside. Elaryn heard a few stifled screams as she fell onto her hands and knees. Her ears were ringing and her vision blurred, but she turned to take in the chaos. Four members of the team were bloodied masses scattered around the small crater where her pack had been. Good. There needed to be blood. Her heart raced, but the cold edge to her inner voice was unnerving.

Vorsha, the Selvan envoy leading the mission, began to stir and whimper a few paces away. Elaryn charged, covering the distance in seconds and driving her knee into the woman’s face. Vorsha’s head snapped back and cracked loudly against a rock. Shrapnel wounds peppered her abdomen and stained her scarlet dress a deeper crimson. She wouldn’t be trouble. Five down.

One last kill. Elaryn knew this one would be the hardest. She stepped over the corpse by her feet, boots dripping blood that pooled in charcoal sand. She left the woman’s eyes open, her face already pale with death. Evil like this didn’t deserve peace.

But Paltess was different. The boy was seventeen, just five years her junior. And she couldn’t be sure he was compromised. Unlike the others.

Tim McKay is a writer, editor, and marketer from Ottawa, Canada. He used to be a pastor, still cares about good and evil, and still strives to create meaningful experiences for others. He has degrees in history, theology, and public policy, along with a diploma in professional writing, but likes nothing more than hiking in the woods, running along the Rideau Canal, and connecting with the people he loves. Oh, and reading a good book.

Author Site: https://www.timmckay.ca/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/timmckay52
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/timmckay52/


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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Star Rider Universe Book Series by Heidi Skarie - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!


by Heidi Skarie


GENRE:   Science Fiction


The Star Rider Universe Book Series Blurb:

Can a small band of heroes save their world from a ruthless interplanetary conqueror?

The Star Rider series is an exciting space opera series that takes place in a distant galaxy during an intergalactic war. The first three books are about two undercover operatives, Toemeka and Erling, and their friends, lovers, and enemies as they fight for the freedom of their world.

The next three books are about Toemeka and Erling’s young adult children as the war continues and a new generation is pulled into the struggle for peace.

You'll love this thrilling series if you like stories that take place in other worlds with feisty heroines, brave heroes, space battles, and starships.


Book One: Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge

He wanted to rule the stars. He shouldn’t have murdered her family…

Toemeka Ganti won’t rest until the universe is rid of the sinister sorcerer-deity who killed her parents. Working undercover to liberate a peaceful people from his ruthless usurper, she attempts to develop a weapon that can break through the tyrant’s shields. But she’s barely begun her work when she’s captured by the despot’s dark agents.

Rescued by a mysterious and handsome warrior-priest, Toemeka and her team join forces with the planetary resistance. But without her device to knock out the enemy defenses, their budding rebellion could swiftly be crushed. And her time to complete it has almost run out…

Can Toemeka free an oppressed planet and light a spark of hope throughout the galaxy?

Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge is the electrifying first book in the Star Rider space opera series. If you like feisty heroines, high-tech weapons, and courageous crews, then you’ll love Heidi Skarie’s thrilling saga.


Book Two: Star Rider and the Golden Threads

Toemeka Kimes doesn’t sit back when her loved ones are in trouble . . . she jumps in to save them.

While Toemeka is living in a secret dome-city for refugees, an urgent message arrives for her husband, Michio. It’s a plea for help from Queen Koriann of Jaipar. Planetary-conqueror and sorcerer, Samrat Condor, is threatening to attack unless they surrender.

Michio has left the dome-city for specialized training to stop Condor’s spread of dark power, so Toemeka goes to Jaipar on planet Borko in his stead. There she is reunited with Agent Erling Fenian, her former Coalition partner.

Complications arise including old feelings between Erling and Queen Koriann, personal betrayal, dark sorcery, spiritual tests and hostile alien

Will they be able to save Jaipar?


Book Three: Star Rider and Bonds of Love

Toemeka wants peace . . . but Condor, the universe’s most powerful world-conqueror, wants her dead.

Toemeka resigns as a Coalition operative during an interplanetary war, to live peacefully with her warrior-priest husband, Michio. Her plans are shattered when she’s abducted by one of Condor’s sorcerers, who’s interested in twisting her unique abilities to increase his own dark powers.

Michio is devastated and searches the galaxy to find her. But time is running out for them—as well as the free world they’ve dedicated their lives to protecting.

After the sorcerer-conqueror Condor destroys Coalition headquarters, he turns to annihilating Toemeka and Michio’s home planet.

Will Michio rescue Toemeka in time for both of them to use their mystical powers to save their world? Or will their attempts ultimately lead to their deaths?


Book 4: Call of the Wind

Will a young pilot shot down in occupied territory be executed or overcome impossible odds and survive?

Living under the shadow of an interplanetary war, Baymond Kimes’ life is shattered when his father is shot at a spiritual gathering. He turns to his childhood friend, Princess Fawniteen, for comfort. Their innocent love blossoms, but when Fawn’s parents reveal she was betrothed at birth to another, the young couple is devastated.

Fawn dutifully accepts her fate, and Baymond escapes at sixteen by joining the Interplanetary air fleet.

Trained as a fighter pilot against the forces of a powerful sorcerer-deity, Baymond grows up fast. Eventually, his aircraft is shot down and he’s captured.

Can Baymond escape to see Fawniteen again and use his special gifts to save the galaxy?

If you like brave heroes, true love, exciting adventures and space battles you’ll love Call of the Wind.


Book 5: Call of the Eagle

One reckless decision and now he must face a sinister world conqueror in battle . . .

During a time of interplanetary war, Baymond escaped heartbreak by joining the galactic air fleet. Now he faces death daily while living on a military space station far from his home planet. His latest assignment is to travel to a war-torn planet on a reconnaissance mission.

Meanwhile, Princess Fawniteen is expected to marry Prince Radcliff to form a political alliance between their countries. But when Radcliff’s father dies, she realizes she’s still in love with Baymond and wants control over her life.

Fawniteen breaks off her engagement and travels across the galaxy to be with Baymond. She joins him on what’s proposed to be a peaceful mission. Instead, they find themselves cut off from the space station and war erupts.

When Baymond and Fawniteen become separated, he must face his hardest trial yet when he’s captured by the enemy when searching for her.

Will Fawn and Baymond survive their separation by war? Can Baymond draw on his unique gifts and defeat a powerful sorcerer-deity to save the galaxy?


Book 6: Golden Cord of Light

When darkness descends can a few courageous heroes save their planet?

Princess Morisa’s world is turned upside down. She planned to be a priestess living at a monastery for the rest of her life. But now she’s being sent to a foreign country and is expected to use her special powers to entice the prince to marry her. How can she seduce him when it goes against everything she’s been taught?

Prince Everette is embroiled in the world of politics and rebellion. With his father leaving for war and his mother ill, he’s the regent ruler and head of the military. As if that isn’t enough, he’s expected to be polite to the feisty Princess Morisa, who is staying at the palace for the summer.

Everette and Morisa’s stormy relationship intensifies as the warring world around them erupts. Can they put aside their differences long enough to keep the most dangerous sorcerer in the galaxy from destroying their planet? Or will the galaxy plunge into darkness?



From Book 1 Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge, A Space Opera Adventure

Toemeka raced through the dense, ominous forest, pursued by Talon soldiers and their vicious hounds. More hounds rushed out from behind trees. Saliva and blood dripped from their fangs as they growled and stalked her from all directions.

Toemeka jerked awake, her heart pounding and body shaking. Only a nightmare, she reassured herself, drawing a deep breath to control the anxiety. She felt awful - hung over and thickheaded. Not knowing where she was, Toemeka shoved a damp lock of hair off her aching forehead and sat up. In a nearby berth less than five feet away lay Michio, sleeping soundly.

Distorted memories of the previous evening sprung to mind. Hammering music. A snake slithering around a man’s neck. Rochambeau shot. The smell of a ship burning. She wasn’t sure what was real and what was an illusion caused by the drug.

Monitors along one wall dimly lit the room. The low drone of engines and a distinct vibration suggested she was on a starship or perhaps a space station. Stars and planets shone as dots of light in the blackness of space when she looked out the porthole. Most likely a space station with simulated gravity, she decided.

She pushed the silver space blanket off her clammy body and slid off the berth. Her bare feet hit the cool floor. She took a soft step, swayed unsteadily and threw out a hand, pressing it against the wall to regain her balance. Michio’s brown leather jacket hung from a hook on the wall. She crept quietly towards it in hopes of finding his energy gun.

Michio rolled over; she froze. once his breathing became regular again, she thrust her hand into the jacket pocket. empty, but something heavy clunked against the wall. Underneath the jacket hung his gun belt. Her hand closed around the solid handle of a Juggernaut 50, a powerful energy gun; she pulled it from its holster.

The berth creaked. She swung around and aimed the Jug 50 at Michio as he leaped out of the berth. He coiled before her like a huka panther ready to spring, radiating self-confidence. He had the muscular body of a warrior and seemed taller and more dangerous than he’d appeared when asleep. He wore nothing but loose-fitting silk sleeping pants that hugged his taut stomach.

Blast it! Why did she feel vulnerable when she was the one holding the Jug 50? Then it hit her. The weapon was of little use because she would never shoot someone who might be an ally. “Stay where you are!” she exclaimed.

He studied her with piercing eyes. “I see you’re finally awake.”

She held out her free hand. “Give me the Viper’s keyless remote.”

He scowled. “Are you crazy? Do you think I’m just going to let you steal my ship and leave me stranded in space?”

“I’m sure you know someone who will come get you. Now give me the remote or I’ll blast a hole in your thigh.” Feeling weak and nauseated, she locked her knees, afraid her strength would give out.

“So this is what I get for risking my life to rescue you.” His stance remained guarded.

“If you were rescuing me, you won’t mind taking me back to my apartment.”

He shook his head. “It’s no longer safe for you there.”

“I’ll decide what’s safe and what isn’t.”

“Fine,” he snapped, “but I need to get dressed before we go anywhere.” He reached for his clothes hanging on the hook behind her.

“Stay back. I’ll hand them to you.”

“Don’t push me. And put the Jug 50 away before one of us gets hurt.”

“Not likely.” She kept the gun trained on him, then turned to snatch his clothes off the hook.

He sprang, knocking her backwards, slamming her right arm against the wall. The gun discharged with a flare of light as it flew out of her hand and onto a berth. She pushed against his unyielding chest.

He pinned her against the wall. “Now will you listen to reason?” His eyes flared with fury.



The Craziest Thing I’ve Done in the Name of Research

When writing Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge, the first book in my Star Rider Series, I wrote a scene where the main character, Toemeka, an undercover operative, had to parachute out of an aircraft into enemy territory. I wanted to write the scene authentically, so when my daughter gave me the gift of a parachute jump, I went for it.

My daughter, her husband, and I arrived at a small airport and we all received instructions on how to parachute. I chose to do a tandem jump. That means a skilled jumper is strapped in back of you, so it requires less training.

I changed into one-piece flight suit and put on a helmet and goggles, then we took off in a small plane. I sat next to the door on the floor where the roar of the engines made it hard to talk. When we were over the jump spot, the instructor asked if I wanted to do a flip. I said, “Yes!” We jumped out and did a couple of rolls, then floated down peacefully. The free fall felt wonderfully like flying.

Finally, I pulled the cord and we jerked to a slower speed as the parachute opened. Rocking beneath the chute, we glided down to the landing stop, using the shroud lines to guide us. After successfully landing, I turned to watch my daughter and her husband sail down. I had to laugh when I saw the plastered-back skin on their faces. Mine probably looked the same.

When I wrote the scene in the book, I decided to make it more exciting by adding dangerous elements. Such as making it a high-altitude night jump and making one of the four jumpers less experienced. And despite the darkness, Toemeka and her friends could be spotted and shot down or attacked by vicious dragon-like creatures.

To make it even more of a challenge, Toemeka’s shroud lines get crossed and the parachute can’t open correctly. She has to cut that chute free and pull the ripcord of the emergency chute. She lands roughly in a meadow. The last team member out of the aircraft misses the landing site and gets hung up in the trees. Her chute has to be cut down.

When writing action scenes, I don’t just consider the action but the character’s feelings and reactions to the situation. So to make the scene even more tense, two of the characters get into an argument after they landed.

One parachute jump was enough for me though I was happy to have had the experience. More than that, I was thrilled to be able to write the scene more accurately.



Heidi Skarie is the author of the Sci-Fi, Space Opera series The Star Rider Universe. The sixth book in the series, Golden Cord of Light is a new release and the seventh is coming out in 2024. She was inspired to write Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge after having a series of six dreams that was like watching a movie.

Heidi Skarie loves writing and creating stories. She especially enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy because it allows for creativity, imagination, and freedom of ideas. All inventions come from a feeling or dream of possibilities that can later manifest like computers, cell phones, zoom calls, and self-driving cars.  She vividly remembers the amazing day when Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon and the possibility of space travel became a reality.

Skarie teaches classes on writing and has spoken on podcasts, radio, and television.

She lives in Minnetonka, MN with her husband, Jim, and their cat, Lucky.  To find out more about her journey as a writer visit her website and blog.













Heidi will be awarding a $20 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those fabulous community outreach projects and awesome giveaways on here**

This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

King of the Mountain by Aiden Ainslie - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hi, lovelies!!  It gives me great pleasure today to host Aiden Ainslie and his new book, “King of the Mountain,” here on FAB!!  For other stops on his Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $25 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card!!  Also, come back daily to interact with Aiden and to increase your chances of winning!!

Thanks for stopping by!!  Wishing you all lots of good luck in this fabulous giveaway!!

King of the Mountain

Love at Lake Clyde Series

Book One

by Aiden Ainslie


GENRE:   M/M Romance




After years of hard work and training, I finally have the chance of fulfilling my lifelong dream of winning the Tour de France. Nothing can be allowed to distract me from this mission, especially not Gabe O’Reilly, the adorable art student from San Francisco.

But he looks so vulnerable – all alone in France.

I would be failing in my patriotic duty to a fellow American if I didn’t take care of him, wouldn’t I? And what possible harm could come from spending twenty-four hours with him on the shores of the Mediterranean? I deserve that little break, don’t I?


I have never seen a human specimen as perfect as Clifford Du Frey. During our fleeting encounter in Paris, I saw a man who was funny, caring, and tender – so very different from the way the media portray him. He is everything I could ever dream of in a boyfriend.

But in what universe will an international sports superstar pay any serious attention to me?

Do not get involved, my brain yells; you can only get hurt again. But my heart is thrumming to a different tune.




In my line of work as a professional cyclist, me-time was rationed like the tiny, individually wrapped squares of chocolate my mother would give me as a reward for good school results. Of course, once I had found her secret stash, I used to help myself and haughtily decline her miserly tokens of approval.

But there was no secret stash of time. I had to live with the given rations to deal with my anxieties. I knew what none of the team even suspected – this was do-or-die, my last attempt at finally pulling off the big win that had eluded me throughout my ten-year professional career. I knew that I would not be able to muster the hunger for another Tour – to withstand the hundreds of hours of training rides in extreme heat and the Alps' arctic altitude. This was it. But if my cycling career was at an end – then what? It was all I had ever done. My grueling schedule had not allowed me to attend college. At twenty-eight, I stared into the chasm of obscurity, a has-been, yesterday’s hero discarded with yesterday’s trash.

I nursed a coffee and was about to spiral into a pit of self-doubt and anxiety when I noticed a young man at the restaurant entrance. His indecision was palpable. He had a camera on a strap around his neck. Who still used cameras? Didn’t everyone have a smartphone? And he held a copy of the Lonely Planet in one hand. He wore cargo shorts, a UC San Francisco T-shirt, and leather sandals. There was something so open, innocent, and vulnerable about him that it tugged at my jaded heart. He might as well have had “American student – rip me off” tattooed on his forehead. Physically he was gorgeous – average height with sun-tanned skin and the perfect proportions that come from working on a farm or construction site. The soft curls of his dark hair shone in the midday sun and fell in unruly waves over his forehead. I had the fleeting, insane urge to push my fingers through that hair so that I could get a good look at his eyes. A few well-heeled ladies in the bistro were giving him the once-over, but he was utterly oblivious.

The man bit his lower lip as he studied the menu, and it was as though I could read his mind. The hand in his pocket was no doubt assessing how many euros he had and whether he could afford the expensive bistro which the Lonely Planet recommended as a “must-do.” Again, his eyes scanned the packed restaurant, and the waiters were too busy to notice his dilemma.

To this day, I do not know what made me do it. I, who had wanted anonymity, to get away from the oppressive togetherness of a competitive sports team in a foreign country. I, who desperately needed time to straighten out my head. I, who definitely did not need any distractions in my life. I rose from my seat and beckoned for the stranger to join me at the intimate table with its white tablecloth, the vase with lavender, and the table-setting for two.



World-building can be the most important element of your book.  What media outlets, role-models and real-life inspirations did you draw from while writing this book?

I have been to France a number of times and on every occasion I have been swept up by the charm, the history, and the romanticism of that country. Provence is my favorite region. One just cannot get enough of the quaint century-old, fortified villages perched on hilltops, the shops, boulangeries and the vine-covered mountainside. The city of Nice is one of my favorite places. It has beautiful architecture, warm, clear Mediterranean water, fantastic pastries, and centuries of history. I spent much time browsing the markets where they sell everything lavender – soap, lotions, potpourris, etc. So, invariably, the Nice market ended up being the backdrop for one very dramatic scene in King of the Mountain. One of the main characters upends a couple of market stalls to create a diversion, allowing his buddy to escape a paparazzi onslaught.

I also happen to be a keen cyclist and watch the Tour de France on TV every year. The television producers do a fantastic job of showcasing the French countryside's castles, mountains, and forests. These images helped inspire me to write a love story involving a competitive cyclist in France.

When I write, I always have Google open to allow for research and fact-checking so as to keep the story authentic. Imagine my surprise when I found that there has never been an openly gay rider in the Tour de France. Well, I simply had to create one. And so Clifford Du Frey, the Tour de France leader and King of the Mountain, started to take shape. Of course, he’s gorgeous. A composite of every man I’ve ever dreamed about.

To help me get the setting right, I surround myself with pictures. Many of the photographs are my own but I also research the settings. Then I allow myself some artistic license to make the setting fit my purpose – a restaurant in a market square, Nice harbor by moonlight, or an encounter near the ruin of a crumbling old brick tower.

One of the great joys of writing is that you can imbue your characters with your own passions, dreams and fears. And the best part is that they don’t all have to reside in one character. You can disperse them among the cast and shape them as you see fit.

I visited Paris for the first time right after high school and I was enthralled with the architecture, especially the old churches like Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur. Hence, it was easy to draw on that experience to make Gabe, the second MC, an authentic wide-eyed young student reveling in the history and foreignness of it all. By contrast, since I’ve been to France many times in the intervening years, I can also understand Clifford who has lost that sense of awe and wonder.

Here is a brief extract of an exchange between Clifford, the professional cyclist, and Gabe, the art student.

“So, you’re doing the student travel thing?” Clifford asked. “Good for you. Is it travel in the summer break or a semester abroad?”

“Four weeks of travel,” Gabe said. “I arrived two days ago; going to spend a few more days in Paris and then wind my way south to Nice and the Mediterranean.”

“I envy you,” Clifford said.

“How so?”

Clifford gave a lopsided smile, which made him look less perfect, more approachable. Then he said, “To see it all for the first time; to feel that awe. I have the advantage of it being familiar, but the price I pay is that France is…well, it’s just France. I’ve seen it all; known it my entire life.”

Gabe couldn’t help but shake his head, “No way! No way have you seen it all. Every nook, every cranny of this place is brimming with the most amazing art, history, architecture. The smell! The colors! You just need to unleash your senses, and you would still be…amazed. I could live here till I was eighty years old and still be awed every day.”

A smile played around Clifford's lips, and Gabe wondered whether he was being mocked. Then Clifford shrugged and said, “Maybe I have yet to find the right guide.”


Here are a few of the pictures that I took and kept looking at for inspiration while writing “King of the Mountain.”

Gordes, an ancient, fortified town in Provence

Wonderful linen shirts and skirts in a cool cave-like shop

View from Menerbes



Aiden Ainslie lives in the Diablo foothills, east of San Francisco. He grew up in various small towns and loves to draw on that small-town feel for his romances: the sense of community but also the petty grievances, intrigue and rivalries. “An author has to draw on personal experience to create authentic stories.

According to Aiden, setting and mood are critical parts of a romantic story, hence he is always taking pictures of romantic settings to be used in future novels. Check them out on his website www.aidenainslie.com.

When Aiden is not writing or listening to audiobooks, he likes to cycle and hike. During those solitary pursuits, he dreams up the characters and plots for his MM Romance novels. He also enjoys zipping around town on his motor scooter, drinking coffee at the local coffee shops, and watching people to get inspiration for his writing.









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