From The Nightstand ~ Hitting Black Ice

Today I’m excited to have Heloise West here to talk about her new release, Hitting Black Ice.  I’ve been looking forward to reading a novel by Heloise, having been a fan of the fiction excerpts she posts on her blog, Velvet Panic.  When the excerpt is never long enough, you know you’ve found your next favorite writer!



Heloise tells us about her inspiration for the book, followed by a delightful, much too short excerpt:


Alexis asked me what inspired my story “Hitting Black Ice.” Here’s my attempt at an answer 😀

I love mysteries and suspense, romantic or otherwise, and I knew I needed to work on a contemporary story to offset the historical mystery romance I was struggling with at the time.

It’s a little like putting a soup or stew together at first. Or a sketch that needs to be developed because you’ve fallen in love with a line or a shape, a color. I honestly can’t remember who said a story is a juxtaposition of two ideas, but I find that very true. I have to fall in love with that place of juxtaposition first in order to be inspired. I had a winter setting in mind and a character who was trying to talk another out of suicide. I like darker stories, and stories of redemption, so their journey together became important. One of them was on the run from something and living in terror of discovery. The other character had resources. But I needed another layer, the juxtaposition, and that became Nick, the evil FBI agent. I really liked the idea of turning the Romance trope of the enigmatic law enforcement alpha male character on its head.

The story gave me fits, and I abandoned it once or twice, and worked on the historical until that story needed me to step away from it. A glimmer of potential always remains beneath that stagnant pond when the words dry up or I’ve written myself into a corner.

It’s funny how after awhile, the story itself becomes the inspiration to continue writing it.



Hunter opened red wine instead of whiskey and was savoring the first sip when the cell phone dinged with a text message.

Hunter? It’s Shawn.

His heart leaped into his throat. Ok.

“You brilliant asshole,” he told himself, thumbs twitching over the keypad.

U home?

Y. wru?


The Starbucks across the damn street? U ok?

Y. U want anything? Biscotti? Muffin?

Get up here, muffin man.

He waited a heartbeat.


Fuck, the bed still needed making. Hunter raced into the bedroom, threw sheets and blankets back together, and shoved the body pillow in the space between the bed and the wall. The building buzzer went off. He ran into the living room to answer it and slid in his socks on the hardwood, nearly going down. He limped to the bathroom, combed his hair, washed his face, and sniffed his armpits. He swished cinnamon mouthwash around and managed to spit it out without dribbling on himself. Off came the pajama bottoms. He jumped into the tightest jeans he owned and changed the rumpled sleep T-shirt for a fresh one.

“Get hold of yourself, boy,” he said to the man in the mirror. “It’s not effing prom night.”

He tucked the T-shirt in, trying not to catch his swooning cock in the zipper as the door buzzer went off. He stood in front of the door, counted to three, and jumped when it buzzed again with his hand still on the knob. He yanked the door open.

Shawn stood on the threshold in a black leather jacket, holding a cardboard box with two coffees and a bag of cookies or muffins or damn biscotti perched on top. His eyes were light with hope, though his smile was tentative and sweetly unsure.



ER physician’s assistant Hunter guards his heart carefully, but that doesn’t stop him from falling for Shawn, the front desk clerk. He keeps his distance from relationships for a reason, but just can’t help himself when it comes to Shawn.

Shawn is on the run from the law and love to protect himself and anyone else involved. One man is dead because of him, and his life now is simple and easily thrown into a bag at any hint of danger. Until he meets Hunter, and he no longer wants to run.

Forced into a hostage situation, buried passion explodes in the aftermath, and sex in the supply closet brings their hearts back to life. Tentatively, step by step, they begin to explore a relationship together until the past catches up with Shawn.

FBI agent Nick Truman has finally found his man, but when Shawn escapes, he focuses his attention on Hunter. Shawn returns, even though it means sacrificing himself to save Hunter from the man who framed him for murder.

Title: Hitting Black Ice

Author: Heloise West

Publisher:  Loose Id

Publication date: December 2, 2014

Word count: 75,000


Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mayhem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of 10 years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.

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From The Nightstand~ Dirigibles Are Forever by Tina Christopher

This is definitely moving to the top of the nightstand stack.  I’ve been reading excerpts and looking forward to reading Tina Christopher’s Steampunk Christmas Novella, Dirigibles Are Forever, for like, forever, seems like. Today I get to share the fabulous cover by April Martinez, the blurb and a link to the first chapter.  Just what we need to get in the mood, right?


Dirigibles Are Forever is a super-sexy Christmas novella set in an alternative Victorian London, filled with adventure, secrets and fun.

Working as an Aether Traffic Controller saved Holly Acklin after the death of her husband, but now she wants more—including a night of uninhibited passion with Jack Smith, whose very presence has kept her body tingling for months.Special Agent Jack Smith kept his identity a secret when he came to the London Royal Port Authority with one assignment, one he cannot fail. It holds him back from following his attraction to Holly. But on the eve he must complete the mission, Holly asks for one night with no rules or boundaries, and his control snaps.When London experiences an unexpectedly white Christmas, all dirigible traffic is grounded, leaving Holly and Jack free to act upon their stormy passions. Holly finds her determination to stay emotion-free crumbling unaware Jack is experiencing the same need. Each lover wishes for more, but fears it can’t be. Instead they focus their desires in mind-blowing passion.But when Holly discovers that Jack isn’t who he claimed to be, everything is thrown into turmoil. Can she trust the man she thought she knew?
Here is the link to Loose Id where one can download the first chapter.

From The Nightstand ~ The Devil Lancer by Astrid Amara

Welcome to my nightstand. This week I’m very excited to tell you about my favorite page-turner of the week~

The Devil Lancer by Astrid Amara


I’ll admit I was surprised by the depth and breadth of details regarding the Crimean War in Ms. Amara’s historical romantic fantasy (despite the subtitle: A Novel of the Crimean War- duh!) I was all set for a juicy demon-rich fantasy with sprinkles of a historical backdrop for interest. Whoa, did I get a heck of a lot more than that. And I’m happy to say, it’s all fantastic.

At first I was a bit taken aback by the grim reality of the British troops’ dire situation in Turkey in 1854, but Amara sucked me in and had me hooked before I had a chance to get persnickety about the violence and muck. Be warned, this is war in all it’s ugliness, but thankfully, it revolves around the developing love of two extremely well-developed characters, Captain Elliott Parrish, a totally lovable, upstanding young officer and Cornet Ilyvas Kovakin, a morally challenged half-Russian with a terrible secret.

The developing relationship between the two opposites is presented skillfully and with just the right amount of tension/anticipation. I both marveled at and cursed the author as I tore through the pages, anxious for the men to achieve intimacy against incredible odds. And when they do – oh, man. It was worth the wait.

The fantasy side of the story is also wonderful. It’s unique and seemingly grounded in folklore. Maybe the demons and their coffins are entirely fabricated, but Amara does it so well you feel like you’re getting a glimpse into an ancient, forgotten culture. Another admission for me here, it is the fantasy in the novel and the hope it provides that got me over my fear of reading about the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade, a military disaster of epic proportions which Amara handles deftly and believably.  She presents a breathless, harrowing scene that could be studied in how-to-write-a-battle workshops.

I’m delighted to have discovered this author. Color me impressed. I find myself wishing once again that truly gifted authors like Amara might find a larger audience in historical fantasy and not be limited by the fact that her protagonists happen to be two gay men.


  • Series: Crimean War Novels
  • Paperback: 475 pages
  • Publisher: Blind Eye Books (October 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935560301
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935560302

Official Blurb:

Captain Elliott Parrish of Her Majesty’s 17th Lancers cavalry division finds most details about his assignment in the Crimean peninsula insufferable. Rampant cholera, missing supplies, and inept planning start the British war effort against the Russian Czar’s expansion into Turkish territory on poor footing.

What should have been a swift and decisive summer victory soon drags into a harrowing winter campaign, and Elliott must rally disheartened men through sickness, battle, and starvation. But when he is assigned the additional task of spying on a fellow officer, the inscrutable Cornet Ilyas Kovakin, he finds himself disconcerted and fascinated by both the work and the man.

Rumors surround Ilyas Kovakin, the half-Russian officer who reports to none in his division. People say they’ve seen snakes slithering into his tent at night, that he has another face visible only in certain light, and a penchant for violent acts carried out in darkness, alone. But the truth that Elliot soon discovers is much more dangerous then mere superstition.

For Ilyas, his return to Crimea is colored with the horrors of his past.

Once a mercenary, he has made a terrible mistake and inherited horrifying powers that he can barely control. He feels his hold over his humanity slipping away daily, and fears that salvation may already lay beyond him when the cheerful Captain Parrish catches his attention. Among men who hate him and superiors who covet his brutal power, Ilyas finds the young captain’s charming company almost irresistible.

But Ilyas knows that the closer he is drawn to Elliot the more he will endanger them both.

Blind Eye Books

Amazon buy link

From the Nightstand ~ Author Interview with K. Ferrin

Today I’m kicking off a new feature on my blog. I’ll be spotlighting books, authors and interesting literary phenomena on hopefully a regular basis.

Author extraordinaire K. Ferrin is doing me the favor of being my first featured guest!  Read on to find out about K. and then check out her new release, Desidirium.


Welcome to Chateau Alexis, K.!

What are some of your absolute favorite things other than writing & reading?

K: Traveling is probably my favorite thing to do outside of writing and reading. I also love camping, mountain biking, movies, and dinner with friends.

If you could read only one book for all the rest of your days (a horrifying terrible thought, I know!) which book would it be?

K: Horrifying indeed! I’m going to break the rules a bit here and say it would be the Lord of the Rings books. It’d have to be the entire trilogy though, I couldn’t handle having only one of the three!

Give us one of your absolute favorite lines from a book you’ve read.

K: There are so many! Recently a line from Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina stuck with me. “That’s the secret to performance: conviction. The right note played tentatively still misses its mark; but play boldly and no one will question you.” So applicable to so much in life!  I also fell in love with several lines from I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan. “The road to Hell, you say, is paved with good intentions. Charming. But actually it’s paved with intriguing questions.” Or: “For you, my darlings, freedom to do what you like is the discovery of how unlikable what you like to do makes you. Not that that stops you doing what you like, since you like doing what you like more than you like liking what you do…” – That one makes me laugh every time.

Halloween or Christmas?

K: Halloween, full stop. It’s just plain fun! My husband and I put on a large party every year and deck the house out in some theme. I’m a bit of a history buff so they always include some element of history. This year our theme was Witches and the decor included excerpts from the Maleus Maleficarum (one of the definitive guides to identifying and destroying witches during the Salem Witch Trials), pictures and biographies of some of the victims of the trials and similar.

What are your favorite times/places to write?

K: I adore writing either while in motion (such as on a cross country train) or with a view (on a patio overlooking the ocean). Given unlimited funds this is how I’d do all of my writing! Day to day I’d have to say the mornings are best, where I’m most creative and fresh.

Who is your favorite character from your books?

K: I can’t say too much about her yet, but Port is a character in my current WIP, and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. She’s got an interesting backstory, has some serious skill with knives, and some impressive tenacity in the face of … well, stuff.

If you were the last person on earth, what would you do?

K: Outside of scavenging for or growing food I’m sure I’d do a serious amount of reading. I’d also do a lot of writing, you know, recording the story of humanity for whoever/whatever comes next. I’d also clear out all the roads around town, find the fastest coolest car, and have my own super cool track I could speed around on as long as there was fuel.

How can people find you?


Twitter: @ScrivK




Head Shot Web

During the daylight hours K. Ferrin runs a web development and business consulting company. But when the working-day ends the world of business and technology shifts into one of magic, myth and adventure. K. Ferrin writes fantasy of all kinds-some epic, some dark, some young adult and some for mature readers. She lives at the foot of the Rocky Mountains with her husband and their two dogs. You can find Magicless and Desiderium on all major online book retailers.