From the moment Taden rescues Nathaniel from the Sutherlin soldiers’ torture, he finds himself caught in the gaze of the most beautiful eyes he’s ever seen; amazing eyes that hold him thrilled and confused. The Sutherlins are planning to invade the beautiful Tahon Valley, but as Taden secrets Nathaniel from their reach, he finds himself drawn to the young man. Not only does he feel the urge to protect him, but he feels an ache he hasn’t felt in many long years.
Nathaniel claims to be a traveler from a distant continent, saying he comes in peace. True or not, the youth has powers beyond anything Taden has seen—control over men and animals and the very weather. Taden falls hard for the strange traveler, protecting him not only from the Sutherlins but from his own mistrustful people, who don’t understand Nathaniel’s powers and accuse him of being a witch…
Everyone, please welcome Dianne Hartsock to the House Millar. She has graciously stopped by for an interview. Once you’ve learned a bit about her, make sure you keep reading because I’ve reviewed Nathaniel as well as she’s left us a couple of excerpts (HOT).
Welcome, Dianne. I’m going to start by asking a little about you and then a couple of fun ones. Where were you born and where do you call home?
I grew up in a large, boisterous and loving family in California, spent ten years in the rocky mountains of Colorado, and now live in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon. At the moment I spend every spare second on my writing, but I also read books like mad. I enjoy going out for coffee or lunch with friends, live music and browsing antique stores. I also like walking on the beach, hiking, having a good laugh, and sitting by the fire with my husband.
What or who inspired you to write? And how long have you been writing?
When I was fourteen years old I discovered Ray Bradbury. His stories changed the way I perceived the world. They’re filled with the wonder and magic and terror of childhood. His science fiction opened my mind to new possibilities. I decided then that I wanted to write like him when I grew up. I began then, penning short stories in all genres, trying to capture his feeling in my own work. It took a while, but I finally discovered my own style and have enjoyed writing ever since.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?
My most recent book is called Nathaniel.
The Netherlin people called Nathaniel a witch. His strengths frightened Taden. But there’s something about the young magic user that calls to him, stirs his heart. This is the story of how Taden overcomes fear and prejudice to be with the man he loves.
I love reading the warnings on the blurbs for many books. If you could write a warning label for yourself as a person or an author, what would it say?
Fragile. Handle with Care! (My heart breaks easily)
Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamor to be heard over the others?
Nathaniel speaks loud and clear! He’s temptingly beautiful, sweet voiced and alluring. I can’t help but want to capture his words on paper. But it’s Taden’s soft spoken words and earnestness that holds my attention the most.
Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?
I seem to write in fits and starts, with my characters often taking control and sending my story in unexpected directions. I seldom know how it’s all going to play out until it’s in print.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I think every writer has their own style. With me, I let the characters drive the story along. I mostly write from a certain character’s point of view and write the story as if they’re telling it. Seems to work!
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I do! At the end of Nathaniel we have friends going separate ways, with Taden and Nathaniel sailing off into the distance. They have a lot more adventures awaiting them!
Who designed the cover of your book?
Isn’t the cover gorgeous? I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Nathaniel is published through Etopia Press and it is the very talented cover artist Mina Carter who designed it. But then I think Etopia Press has some of the loveliest covers out there.
Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?
C.J. Cherryh. I’ve fallen in love with more of her characters than I can count. I’d love to spend an afternoon discussing her worlds over a cup of coffee. Who was her influence for Tristen? Or her shy wizard, Sasha? What about Vanya? Josh Talley? So many others! Such an amazing writer.
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
Paperbacks, mostly because I can eat snacks and have coffee while reading them and not worry so much about spilling on the pages. But I do collect romance novels from the 1890-1920’s that are hardcovers. I absolutely love them! Gently faded covers, soft pages, and divine smell.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
At the moment, I have a short m/m contemporary erotic, Eran’s Release, coming out from Breathless Press in May. I’ve also signed a contract with them for the fourth book in my ‘Shelton’ series and will begin edits soon.
And like most authors I know, I’m currently working on three separate short stories with plans for several sequels, one of them being a sequel to ‘Nathaniel’ and also one for ‘ALEX’.
Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?
I haven’t yet, knock on wood! But I have read elsewhere that if you get stuck on a scene, have your characters make love. Even if you don’t end up using the scene in the story, it tends to loosen things up and gets the old imagination flowing. Besides, it’s fun!
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Towards the middle of Nathaniel, Taden chases after Nathaniel and comes upon him in the woods. They spend an intimate time together and finally come to understand each other. I think it’s a very touching moment and sets the stage for their future together.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Don’t laugh! I like to have a warm drink and watch an episode from a favourite sci/fi series.
Have you ever read a book more than once?
There are several authors who’s books I’ll read over almost every year. Tolkien, of course. C.J. Cherryh’s Russian series. Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Various old and favourite romance novels.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m currently reading ots of things! ‘Frankenstein, the final volume’ from Dean Koontz. ‘The Woman in Black’ by Susan Hill. Both in paperback. I also download and read short stories by favorite authors on the computer. Lately I haven’t had as much time to read as I like. Between working full time and writing, my free time is becoming less and less.
Is there anything you would change in your last book and why?
People have been hinting that they’d like a novel length story of this world, and I’m starting to write notes to that end.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Come ready to work! Start building that platform and reader base today. Promoting NEVER ends. And grow a thick hide. Not all reviews will be pretty! But also, there’s nothing more satisfying to me as an author than seeing my books for sale.
Cats or dogs?
Actually, I love kittens. Cute and innocent and full of energy. They make me smile.
White wine or red?
Red, please, though I like a good port after dinner better.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, freshly ground and brewed.
Red curry, it’s to die for!
Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?
It used to be Rocky Road, but now I’m allergic to nuts. It’s vanilla bean, all the way, now.
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My wallet. Keys. Spending money. Cell phone.
Laptop or desktop for writing?
Oh, Laptop. I love the mobility.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Alas, I have a full time job outside the home and have to squeeze in minutes here and there to write. On a typical day, I can manage an hour in the morning and another two in the evening. But that includes the time I have to commit to social websites as well. I never can write as much as I’d like, which would be every minute of every day! I write at the dining room table. I’m surrounded by windows overlooking the garden, and the coffee pot’s in reach.
One of your favourite quotes –
The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire. -Ferdinand Foch
List 3 of your all time favourite books?
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fortress Series by C.J. Cherryh, The Harvester by Jean Stratton-Porter
List 3 of your all time favourite movies?
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, My Fair Lady, Robin Hood
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
I saw the Lady in Black the other day, wonderfully creepy.
The cover is beyond gorgeous. I think I’d want it just to look at the hunky men, lol, even if it wasn’t such a good story.
This is a short story at 23k but with the lush world building and all the events going on around the two men, you almost forget that point. The sex is hot enough to titillate but it doesn’t overpower the story, something I was concerned about with it’s size.
As I read, all my initial misgivings were put to rest and what unfolded was a devoted romance between Taden and Nathaniel. I think she could easily either expand this to a full length novel or (hope . . . hope) maybe a follow up / sequel?
Fun, sexy read for any that love M/M! Make sure you check out her two excerpts below – pun entended, (ღ˘◡˘ღ)
Taden edged closer to the men in the clearing, careful not to snag his cloak on the fragrant scrub brush concealing him. The two Sutherlin soldiers had stripped their captive of his shirt, and his chest glistened with sweat in the firelight. His head hung heavily, arms stretched between two trees. A mop of golden curls hid his face. Taden’s knuckles whitened on the hunting knife in his hand as a soldier struck the prisoner in the face, making him cry out. Taden could see the dark bruising on his torso. This wasn’t the first time he had been beaten.
The second man slammed a balled fist into the prisoner’s abdomen and laughed at his grunt of pain. It was too much. Maybe he was being a fool for interfering, but he couldn’t stand by and watch the needless cruelty. He eased from hiding and silently closed the distance between him and the soldiers.
The closest man was raising his fist again when Taden reached him. He threw an arm around the soldier’s neck and jerked, exposing the vulnerable throat. The smell of sweat and fear filled his nostrils as he drew his blade in a quick motion across the knotty windpipe. Hot blood spilled over the back of his hand. The soldier wheezed and slumped heavily in his arms.
Taden threw the dead man from himself and started for the other, but his prey had no stomach for a fight and ran into the trees. Taden sprinted after him. He couldn’t allow the man to reach his companions. He caught the soldier within heartbeats with his longer stride and plunged the knife into the man’s back with both hands. Thrown off balance, they both went down hard on the forest floor. Taden scrambled to his knees and straddled the screaming soldier. He jerked the knife free and thrust it again into the blood soaked uniform. The keen blade severed bone and muscle, seeking the heart.
The soldier’s life pumped out around the knife handle and Taden swore bitterly, witness to the terror on the face pressed into the dirt. A boy playing at being a man. “Damn them,” he fumed. The Sutherlins had no scruples about whom they sent out to fight.
He tucked a blond curl of hair behind the boy’s ear as he muttered his soldier’s prayer, stirred to sadness for the one in the young man’s life who would never have the pleasure of that small intimacy again. Taden climbed to his feet, bone weary and heartsick, and tugged the hunting knife from the soldier’s back. A twig snapped as he wiped it clean in the dirt, making his heart pound, but it was only the scurry of a small animal in the brush. He took a last look at the dead soldier then made his way back through the moonlit forest towards the flickering fire and the young man bound to the trees.
The prisoner had his feet planted apart, knees locked to keep from sagging against the bindings, but blood slicked his wrists and ran down his forearms from where the ropes bit into the skin. His head was lowered, and Taden wondered if his strength had given out.
“Hello? Don’t be afraid,” he said carefully. “I come without enmity.”
The prisoner lifted his head, and Taden was caught in the gaze of the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen, clear green with a starburst of gold at the pupils; amazing eyes that held him confused and thrilling. The look brushed against the lonely spot in his heart he kept deeply buried. Then the man blinked, and Taden felt released, as if he’d been spellbound. His heart lurched at the exhaustion in the oval face.
The captive dropped his head as he lost consciousness, and Taden slung an arm around his waist, supporting the dead weight. He groped for the hunting knife at his belt and cut the ropes, finding the prisoner a lesser burden than he’d feared as he carried him through the trees to the horse hidden in a nearby glen.
The stallion snorted at the scent of blood as he approached. Taden spoke softly to him, murmuring endearments and promises of apples as he draped the loose body over the saddle. He stroked the muscular neck and warm chest of his horse, talking quietly as he untied the reins from a low branch. The man roused at that moment, and Taden heard a moan, quickly stifled.
“Let me help you,” he said in the same gentle tones he’d used with the horse. The newcomer struggled awkwardly to a sitting position, holding tightly to Taden’s arm for balance. He panted against the horse’s neck, then looked down at Taden, his face shockingly white against the dark hide of the stallion.
Taden waited expectantly, but the prisoner’s heavy lids fluttered and Taden swung deftly up behind him, pulling the young man against his chest before he could fall. The man was shivering, and Taden pulled his cloak from his back and dropped it over the prisoner’s hunched shoulders. He nudged the horse into the forest, listening for the sound of pursuit, and frowned, grim at the thought. The men working his fields had claimed they’d spotted Sutherlins slipping into the forest. He now carried the proof of that with him.
EXCERPT #2 (HOT):
Taden’s scalp prickled, a shiver running through him. He twirled, hand on his belt knife, and found Nathaniel standing inches from him. They were almost touching, and Taden watched, fascinated, as Nathaniel’s green eyes darkened under his stare. The heat from Nathaniel’s body wrapped around him, caressing him in that intimate moment.
“Miranda’s finally asleep,” Nathaniel told him shakily.
“That’s good. She appeared exhausted.” Taden didn’t ask who she was. At that moment, he didn’t care. He touched Nathaniel’s gold-flecked curls, as silken as he’d imagined them to be. Enthralled by the dimple at the corner of Nathaniel’s luscious mouth, he impulsively cupped his cheek, stroking the alluring hollow with a gentle finger. His pulses hammered at the contrast of pale skin and his own sun-darkened hand, picturing the exotic tangle of their bodies.
He slid an arm around Nathaniel’s waist as desire seared him. “Come with me,” he said huskily, aching to love Nathaniel as gently and tenderly as he could and drive the anxiety from his lovely eyes. Nathaniel lifted his shoulders but didn’t resist as Taden urged him into the trees.
Nathaniel remained silent as Taden spread the blankets on a fragrant carpet of pine needles. Taden gave him a close look. With a pang he realized that the young man stood passively, waiting for whatever Taden chose to do with him. As much as he hungered for him, Taden didn’t want Nathaniel like that, unresponsive. He reached for Nathaniel’s hand and pulled him down beside him on the blankets.
“I would never hurt you,” he said as he leaned into Nathaniel’s body and slid his tongue over his full lips. He played with the laces of Nathaniel’s tunic, loosening them further. Fire licked through him as Nathaniel’s chest rose on a quick breath. Taden slipped two fingers inside the soft fabric to stroke the lean muscles of Nathaniel’s chest.
He nudged Nathaniel’s lips wider and groaned as the young man’s tongue darted into his own mouth, jolting him with lust. He caught the tongue with his lips, sucking, wanting to swallow Nathaniel whole.
Taden lingered over his kisses, slowly undoing the rest of the ties on Nathaniel’s tunic. He shifted on the blankets and thrilled at Nathaniel’s sigh as he bared his chest. Taden slid his tongue along Nathaniel’s chin with a fond murmur, savoring the saltiness of skin and the prickle of unshaven hair. He kissed the slim column of his throat and paused to suck gently on a vein pulsing in the heated skin.
He glanced lower and suddenly leaned on an elbow, his eyes ravaging the intoxicating sight of small nipples sitting like jewels on white skin. A single mole, innocent, utterly provocative, lay within kissing distance and drew his lips. Taden teased it with his tongue, smiling slyly when Nathaniel made a startled sound and gripped his shoulders.
Taden circled each hardening bud with his tongue, tenderly kissing the fading bruises. He slid a hand across Nathaniel’s abdomen and felt his muscles tighten. He slid a finger along the edge of Nathaniel’s pants, then moved his hand upward to brush his thumb over a sensitive nipple. Heat slammed through him as Nathaniel arched his back with a guttural cry. Unable to resist the temptation, Taden dropped his lips to the free bud, flicking it with his tongue, nibbling and nursing on it until Nathaniel was panting, a pleading note in the sound.
The tone changed suddenly to panic, and Taden jerked his head up in surprise, clashing with eyes wide with fear and arousal. He watched a trickle of sweat follow the curve of Nathaniel’s cheek. Surely the Nathaniel wasn’t afraid of him?
“I won’t hurt you,” Taden assured him again. Unexpectedly, Nathaniel gave him a tentative smile and touched Taden’s hair. The shy, heated glance undid him, and he had to fight the urge to strip Nathaniel then and there and thrust his arousal deep into the enticing body.
Taden dropped his head on Nathaniel’s chest. “Give me a moment,” he whispered hoarsely, concentrating on control. He wanted their joining to be perfect. It was hard when Nathaniel continued to thread his hands through his hair. With a growl, Taden straddled him, pinning the wandering hands over his head. “Careful, or I can’t promise to be gentle.”
Nathaniel’s eyes were hooded, and Taden watched, enchanted, as the tip of his pink tongue slid across pale lips. “Do anything you like,” Nathaniel invited.
Shelton in Love
Breathless Press: http://www.breathlesspress.com/shelton-love
Shelton is falling hard for his best friend and roommate, finding Nevil’s dark good looks and moments of gentleness almost impossible to resist. But Nevil is more interested in affairs of the body than the heart. As Shelton’s desire for the man grows, he wonders if he can change Nevil’s mind. But does he even want to? Nevil might not stay, once he learns Shelton’s secret, and then his loneliness would be complete.
Breathless Press: http://www.breathlesspress.com/sheltons-promise
Shelton has a gift he’s eager to give to Nevil. At a party, Nevil flirts with one man after another, keeping Shelton on his toes. Then Percy, an ex, shows up to complicate things. Despite his best efforts, Shelton can’t find the right moment to give Nevil his gift. Will Nevil ever let Shelton get close to him, or will Shelton have to keep the gift in his pocket all evening?
Breathless Press: http://www.breathlesspress.com/sheltons-choice
After a year of bliss with Nevil, Shelton is offered the promotion he’s been working toward at the bank. Unfortunately the new position is in another state, and Nevil doesn’t want to move. As tension mounts between them, Shelton is given another challenge in the form of a besotted coworker. Torn between the pressures at work and at home, Shelton has to choose his future. That is, until Nevil takes the decision out of his hands.
Alex is twenty and confused. He always is. He hears the cries of children, the screaming women. He sees the brutal images of the tortured victims. Severely abused as a child, he is left with horrible scars on his body and even worse scars within his mind. Even though it puts him in danger, he’s compelled to help those who call to him. He’s driven, motivated by his visions to rescue them and uncover the killer. When he can, he helps the police; yet some detectives suspect he’s the cause of the problem, not the solution. Often, Alex finds himself alone and afraid in a world he doesn’t always comprehend.
Trials of a Lonely Specter
There’s been an accident. Quinn believes he’s dead, though Liam insists otherwise. But if that is the case, why does Quinn see the two of them as ghosts? And why does Liam play along? Exposed to mediums and apparitions, Quinn has to make a decision: either accept his fate or risk everything to trust Liam one more time.
Dianne lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write her tales. There’s something about being cooped up in the house while it pours rain outside and a fire crackles on the hearth inside that kindles her imagination.
Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which she says is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.