duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction, including lgbtq stories and young adult fiction. All e-books are DRM-free. New e-books and reissues are multiformat.
 

NEW E-BOOKS

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Far Enough AwayIn Hot Water
 

NEW E-BOOK SERIALIZATION OF A 2011 VOLUME

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Blood on the Blade
 

REISSUED E-BOOKS

Now available in multiformat. Click on the covers for more information.

The BalanceRe-creation
 

NEW COVERS

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Blood VowLaw of VengeanceLaw Links


REVIEW: The Shining Ones (The Eternal Dungeon)

"Everything Dusk Peterson writes is ridiculously deep, rich, and satisfying. The Shining Ones is no exception. It was strikingly beautiful. The prose lingers and swirls." —Inked Rainbow Reviews on The Shining Ones (The Eternal Dungeon).


FREE FICTION: Night Shadow (Darkling Plain)

A reissued story at Archive of Our Own. Information about my fiction at Archive of Our Own.
 

Night Shadow. "That will be your death."

A prince who could see beyond his borders but not see the people around him. . . . An enemy who would take any measure to get what he wanted. .. . And now a stranger has brought news to the prince of an approaching danger.

Young though he is, Farsight has inherited a powerful gift from his father that allows him to protect his realm. But when a conniving king in a neighboring country sets his sights on Farsight's mountain of gold, the prince will need help to protect himself against an assassin's knife. Will a newfound companion-in-arms be enough to save Farsight, once the Night Shadow crosses the border?

(Permalink.)


Spy Hill

FEATURED BACKLIST TITLE: Spy Hill (Commando)

"Fairview was the finest friend a man could have, and the finest battle-companion. I dared not risk doing anything that might break our friendship."

On a hot summer's day, on a high hill surrounded by the enemy, the best battle-companion can turn out to be the truth.

Rook and Fairview have worked alongside each other for years, first as officers in the navy, then as officers on a steamship, and finally as colonels in an invading army. Members of a nation where tiny differences of rank are considered all-important, the two men defy convention by treating each other as equals.

But now their life-long bond is about to meet its greatest strain, when they are ordered to seize and defend a hill whose landscape is unknown, in the company of soldiers who may be incompetent or treacherous. Will Rook and Fairview's friendship remain by the end of the battle? Or will their lives take an unexpected detour as they struggle to survive on Spy Hill?

This novella (short novel) of friendship and gay love can be read on its own or as part of Commando, a historical speculative fiction series that imagines what the South African Boer War could have been like if it had been fought on American soil.

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Spy Hill.


Excerpt

As we reached the main trench, I bent down on one knee to inspect it. The stone breastwork that Spearman's sappers had built in front of the main trench – and in front of the right-flank and left-flank trenches – reached no more than a hand's span toward the sky.

"We'll be on our bellies if anyone shoots at us," said Major Arundel, Tice's second-in-command, who had come over to see how the other two battalions were doing. "Still, these stones are solid enough. They should do their work in shielding us, since the Mippites will have to shoot at us from far down on the slope. We should be able to kill any attackers before they come near enough to harm us." He glanced over his shoulder. Tice had evidently given up on swaying the General; he had stepped away from the General's rock, disgust on his face. To my dismay, I saw that the General was sitting in his field-chair now, smoking a cigarette and reading a book of poetry.

"I heard a rumor that his father forced him into the army," said Arundel, shaking his head. "He didn't want to be a soldier at all; he wanted to work for peace between Mip and the Dozen Landsteads, through the High Masters' diplomatic office."

"Even so," said Fairview, "he knows how to shoot a gun. I've seen him."

"Oh, yes, sir; he received military training in school," said Arundel. "But knowing how to fire a gun and being willing to do so – that's another matter."

Too many of Fairview's men were listening in on us; it would not do for them to think we had no faith in our General. I said stiffly, "It's not the General's job to shoot guns. His job is to issue orders."

"That's so, sir," said Arundel, saluting me in acknowledgment of my reprimand. "If you'll excuse me, Colonel Fairview, Colonel Rook – I should be getting back to my men."

"Prayers," murmured Fairview as he knelt down beside me to look at the shallow trench. It went down barely a foot before the sappers had hit rock.

"How many prayers do you know?" I tried to smile.

"Oh, plenty." Fairview turned to accept a sip of water from Davey, who was holding Fairview's water bottle. "When we joined the navy . . . do you remember that day?"

I nodded. "I was just remembering. We flipped to see who went first in line."

Fairview laughed. "Did we? I'd forgotten that, after all these years. Well, the night before we joined, I went to my grandmama and asked her what advice she had for me. My grandpapa had been a soldier, and I thought she might have overheard him talking about military matters before he died."

"Indeed?" I relaxed back onto my haunches. Around us, the enlisted men were tidying up after their breakfasts, while their officers checked to see that everyone's rifle was loaded, everyone's extra ammunition was at hand. In the dressing station, doctors and their assistants carried out final preparations. There was no sign yet of the stretcher-bearers and water-carriers, though I knew that Fairview had sent orders for their arrival, after he discovered that the General had neglected this task.

Fairview nodded, pushing back his helmet. The morning sun was growing brighter; an occasional bird flew past us, chirping brightly. Otherwise, all I could hear was the equally bright chatter of our men. "She taught me as many battle prayers as she could recall, and then she said, 'Alec my boy, the most important thing to remember is to put your affairs in good order before you go into battle. It's no use worrying about your affairs, once battle has begun. You need to do beforehand everything that needs to be done. The Fates get awfully annoyed at you if you arrive in afterdeath and tell them you've forgotten to do something. It's like leaving a stove fire going when you depart the house."

Fairview's messenger-lad put his hand over his mouth to smother his titter. I laughed outright. "And have you followed her advice?"

Fairview gave a quirk of a smile. "I suppose not. I've always been poor at tending to needed tasks."

"You're not the one who needs to make that confession." I frowned as I glanced back at the right flank. All seemed in order among my soldiers; the officers, good men, had noticed the brightening light and were urging the enlisted men into position in the trenches. It occurred to me, as I looked around, that Fairview's men were already in position, as were Tice's.

It was true enough, that Fairview and I made decisions jointly. But I had always been a bit slower than him in thinking matters through. The result of this was that, time after time, Fairview had acted first, and I had followed in his wake. It was the only flaw in our otherwise flawless friendship.

I looked over at Fairview again, and was surprised to see that he too was frowning. "Is something on your mind?" I asked. With one hand, I indicated the scene before us.

"The fighting, you mean? No. We've done everything we can to prepare, given our orders. It's just . . . Well, this isn't the place to talk about it, I suppose. Big ears." He looked over at Davey, who had been leaning in to listen. The lad blushed and ducked his head. Fairview laughed and patted him on the shoulder.

"Sir!" It was Branchwater, Fairview's second-in-command. "The mist is lifting!"

Fairview and I rose to our feet. Everywhere, despite the orders to entrench, men were standing up, trying to peer through the pale veil that was lifting as we watched. Whiteness turned to green and brown; I saw spread before us the lower ground that led to Fort Frederick. It was dotted with soldiers, many of them clustered near a creek at the foot of Spy Hill. Some of the soldiers below were already climbing.

My eyes rose further up. To the northeast I could see a magnificent range: the highest mountains I'd spied yet in Mip. And to our left, barely six hundred yards away, was the knoll to the north of Spy Hill. Light glimmered on rifle barrels there.

"Sweet blood," whispered Fairview. It was a prayer.

Then came a boom from Fairview Mountain, and the creek shook. Every man on the summit fell to his stomach.

The Mippite gunners had found us.

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Spy Hill.


NEW YOUNG ADULT COMPANION SERIES TO THE THREE LANDS

I've started a new young adult series that is a companion series to The Three Lands. It's called Young Spies, and it will center upon teenage characters in the Three Lands of the Great Peninsula. As with the Turn-of-the-Century Toughs cycle, I've given this cycle of two series a name: The Great Peninsula. And as with Young Toughs, this is a YA crossover series, intended to be read by both young adults and adults.

(As an aside: I was stunned to discover that nobody, in the history of American publishing, has ever before used the title "Young Spies" for either a book or a series. What are the odds of that?)

To start the series, I'm serializing Law Links, which was previously published in the Three Lands series but which I've shifted to Young Spies because its protagonist is a teenager.

You'll see that I've managed to figure out a way to keep the stories of The Three Lands available at Amazon while I bring out the new multiformat editions. However, the series omnibus will be unavailable for a while.

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction, including lgbtq novels and young adult fiction. All e-books are DRM-free. New e-books and reissues are multiformat.

Survival School

NEW NOVELLA: Survival School (Young Toughs)

"This is the right place for you, boy. They'll school you here to be a right-standing man, one who can keep control over his actions, like any good man should. You just got to keep yourself open to learn and to grow."

How far can trust grow, when you're in a place you despise?

Arrested for a crime he doesn't regret, Bat ends up handcuffed to a group of fellow city boys and sent on a long journey into the countryside. He know that he is being transported to a prison for delinquent servant boys, but what form will his imprisonment take?

Tattooed with the rank-mark of servant, Bat must learn how to keep from losing his temper with the men who carry the keys to his freedom. But in the unbelievable world where he has been deposited, in which a genial master orders strict punishments and a servant acts like a master, will Bat be able to locate the door to his release? Which of his fellow prisoners can he trust to help him?

And will he survive long enough to find out?

Inspired by true events at a turn-of-the-century reform school, this novella (short novel) is set in an alternative version of the Chesapeake Bay region during the 1910s. The story can be read on its own or as part of the Young Toughs alternate history series, an alternate history series about the struggles of youths in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Young Toughs is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Young Toughs, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael's House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Survival School.


Excerpt

"Well, I've surely been schooled."

Having said this, Bat tossed another shovelful of dirt to the side and paused to wipe his brow free of sweat. The midsummer morning was clear, with not a cloud in the sky to provide them with shade. The trench they were digging remained too shallow at this point to throw shadows.

"Oh my blessed, you're right about that." Frank took up the refrain as his pickaxe chiselled another rock. "When I get my first job out there, and the master asks me what schooling I received here, I'll say, 'Why, sir, I was learned to break rocks.'"

Frank rarely voiced bitterness; that he did so now was a sign of how exhausted the boys were. Bat looked wearily over at the pails of water that Trusty had taken care to place near the boys. The water would last till sunset. He wasn't sure he would.

Bending down to scoop up a bucket of mud, Emmanuel said, "Might as well be in the Men's Penitentiary. Makes no difference to the work we do."

"Two thousand nine hundred feet long," Joe added as he reached down to lift Frank's broken rock into the wheelbarrow. "That's what the Super said the tunnel will be. Two thousand nine hundred feet times seventeen feet is—"

"Stop showing off." Emmanuel took a halfhearted swipe at him, then turned and shouted, "Hoi! Leave him alone!"

Bat turned to look. White-faced as he struggled to push another wheelbarrow full of dirt and mud and rock up the incline to the campus lawn, Mordecai was being blocked by one of the boys who worked in the main dormitory of Family Cottage Trustworthy – the "Big Dorm," as everyone called it now. Several of the other boys, who were assigned to take charge of the wheelbarrow once Mordecai reached the lawn, were laughing at the young boy's efforts to get past the barrier.

"We got to come over there and paste you?" demanded Joe.

Bat looked uneasily at where Trusty stood on the lawn. The young man was deep in conversation with the Superintendent, but it was unlikely he had missed hearing Joe's threat. For now, though, he seemed contented to let the quarrelling boys settle themselves.

The boys in the Big Dorm looked inclined to fight, if only to defend their honor, but at that moment Slow, with impeccable timing, returned from using the toilet in their cottage. He took one look at Mordecai and said, "Aw, that's too heavy for you. Let me help. We better help, right?" He turned toward the boys who had been teasing Mordecai. "Because we're big and he's little."

With the situation voiced in that stark fashion, the boys of the Big Dorm shrugged and moved forward to relieve Mordecai of the wheelbarrow. As they did so, Mordecai began to fall to his knees. Slow caught him and carefully escorted him back to where another packed wheelbarrow awaited him.

The boys of the Big Dorm took a second look at the small group digging the trench for the steam pipes, then evidently decided not to pursue the matter further. It was well known by now that the boys in the Little Dorm – as they'd been dubbed – were close pals who always protected one another. Separated at night from the other boys of Family Cottage Trustworthy, they formed their own little community, like a family within a family.

Bat watched Mordecai with concern as the young boy paused to lean against a boulder, panting. His legs were shaking. Joe, however, had turned his attention back to the work at hand. He said, "We got Comrade Carruthers to thank for this, you know. He gave the money for the steam plant."

Restored to his usual good humor by the pause in labor, Frank said, "At least we won't be cold at night."

"I'd never let you get cold, honey boy." Joe flung this observation over his shoulder as he bent down to scoop up more mud.

Emmanuel gave a snort then, and Bat and Slow exchanged smiles. Everyone in the Little Dorm knew that Joe had taken to sneaking into Frank's bed after lights were out. Even Trusty knew, because he'd caught them sleeping peacefully together one morning. Since it was clear that both boys were where they wanted to be, and since they were both fully clothed in their underwear, Trusty had confined himself to telling them that they'd best not take the matter any further than they had, or they'd be in trouble with the Night Watchman.

He had left them in an agony of curiosity as to what happened "further."

Bat had been amused. One week, not long before he was arrested, a childhood playmate of his had invited him to tea with her mother. The mother had proceeded to explain to him – with drawings, no less – what constituted "further" when it came to boys and girls, with an added explanation that he mustn't go too far with any girl he wasn't marrying. Then she had shooed them out of the room, saying, "Bat, you can go to Sally's bedroom now. I'm sure you two want to play." And they had.

Now, leaning against his shovel, Bat spared a thought of regret for Sally. She was so pretty that she'd likely be married by the time he got out of prison. In the meantime . . . His gaze wandered over to Emmanuel, who had removed his jacket and shirt to work, revealing from his physique that he was well on his way to manhood. Bat figured that, if he turned up at Emmanuel's bedside one night, Emmanuel would likely invite him under the sheets, in his easygoing fashion. They could go a lot further than Joe and Frank had. Bat knew by now that such arrangements were common in the House of Transformation, though always risky in family cottages not placed under Trusty's benevolent rule. The Superintendent, a widower who had no doubt served his liege-master in bed during his youth, had taken it into his head that the inmates' bed-play was "filthy."

Bat forced his weary limbs back to work. He liked Emmanuel, as he liked all the boys in the Little Dorm, but he had no interest in establishing the sorts of ties that might bind him here when the time came for him to leave. He'd declared that to Trusty on the first day, and he hadn't changed his mind since then. This place was a prison, not a home; he'd wait till he was out of here before joining himself with anyone else in love.

He'd missed part of the conversation; Emmanuel was saying, ". . . Most of the farms around here belong to him. The farmers are his tenants. No wonder he wants to place us out with the farmers. We're free labor to him, even when we're paroled."

Bat cast another quick glance in the direction of Trusty. Trusty had moved his conversation with the Superintendent a few yards from the trench, no doubt to prevent the Super from overhearing this conversation.

"Is the House of Transformation's farmer the Super's tenant?" asked Frank.

Emmanuel shrugged as he knelt down in the mud with his bucket. "Might as well be. He's married to Super's daughter. —Hoi, watch out." This was to Mordecai who was in danger of staggering in front of Frank's pickaxe, having returned from delivering his latest load.

Bat caught hold of Mordecai as Joe said, "I heard the farmer and his wife can't have children, even though they've been trying for years."

The other boys exchanged looks, but nobody voiced any doubts. Joe was always up to date on the campus gossip.

"But she's pretty!" cried Slow, who had not quite mastered yet the rules for how children were produced.

"She surely is," said Joe appreciatively as he paused to take out his matches, first glancing around to ensure that none of the boys from the Big Dorm were watching. Super and Trusty remained absorbed in their conversation. Slow went over to help Mordecai push the wheelbarrow up the incline.

A question had been forming in Bat's mind for several weeks. Now, with Mordecai gone, Bat blurted out the question: "Joe, did you have anything to do with that ferry fire that killed Mordecai's parents?"

Frank looked shocked. From the expression on Emmanuel's face, Bat surmised that this possibility had occurred to him too.

Joe simply gave Bat a sour look. "There were folks on that ferry. Not just men and women – kids too. I'm not a murderer."

"His master's boat was empty," Frank said in quick support.

"So why'd you set it on fire?" asked Emmanuel with mild curiosity. "'Cause you hated your master?"

"That fire?" Joe gave a wicked smile. "That fire was fun." He pulled out his box of cigarettes.

Emmanuel snorted again as he paused to drink another full dipper of water from one of the pails. Bat paused too. As Slow and Mordecai returned, Frank tossed dippers to them while Joe tamped down the end of his cigarette. Cigarettes were the most precious contraband on campus; inmates who were forcibly returned from parole would sneak back boxes of cigarettes and sell them for favors. Emmanuel, who received gifts of fruit from his mother through the mail, regularly exchanged the fruit for cigarettes that he gave to Joe. Emmanuel figured – probably correctly, Bat thought as he watched Joe lovingly strike a match – that this was the safest way to channel Joe's worship of fire.

"Can I try one?" asked Frank, staring at the cigarette.

"You ain't getting hooked on one of those coffin nails, boy," said Emmanuel as he placed Frank into a headlock. Joe laughed as Frank twisted free and thrust Emmanuel against the shallow wall of the trench. Newly returned, Slow pulled Mordecai to safety as the struggling boys thrust dirt all over the place. Bat dived to save the pails of water.

"All right, that's enough." It was Trusty's voice. The result of his arrival was striking. Frank immediately released Emmanuel. Bat rose to his feet, brushing dirt out of his hair and grabbing for his shovel. And Joe slipped the matchbox back into his drawers as he swept the lit cigarette behind his back.

"You're all here to work, not fight," Trusty told them. "Drink your water and get back to digging. Give me that." He held out his palm.

With a sigh, Joe handed him the cigarette. Trusty ground it underfoot as he said, "Matches too."

For a moment, it looked as though Joe would turn stubborn. Trusty tilted his head to one side. "You planning to eat supper tonight?"

The threat of the missed meal did its trick. With a deep heave of breath such as a martyred slave might emit, Joe took out the matches and handed them to Trusty. Slow had been looking exceedingly nervous during this conversation, but there was really no reason. Trusty never beat the boys in his care. At most, he'd tell the Super that a misbehaving boy deserved to be lowered by a merit-grade, but that rarely happened. Trusty anticipated and caught problems early on, before they had time to worsen, perhaps because he was an inmate himself.

Trusty treated the matches with the same contempt as the cigarette, dowsing them in a pail that held a bare inch of water. Emmanuel raised his eyebrows. The Watchman, they all knew, would confiscate matches and cigarettes from boys, and then he'd sell the contraband to journeymen who were being released from prison with a few coins in their pocket. Trusty could not fail to know that he was destroying a healthy profit for himself.

"Back to work," Trusty instructed; then he beckoned to Bat. Bat set down his shovel and came forward, ignoring the looks that the other boys gave him – the looks that the other boys always gave him when Trusty took him aside for a lecture. Without any word ever spoken between them, Trusty had established himself as Bat's private mentor, giving him a quiet word on the side whenever Bat began to stray from the straight path.

Bat wondered what he had done this time. He'd been trying for weeks to behave properly, though it wasn't easy, especially on week's end, when the cleric from the local chapel would stand in the transformatory chapel, thundering down his denunciations of the boys' evil ways. Afterwards, on the campus lawn, there would be drill inspection by the Superintendent, which was even harder to take, for the Super invariably had an "encouraging" word for each well-behaved family cottage about how far the boys had come from their days of ill repute. Bat sometimes suspected that the journeymen kept their family cottages in everlasting turmoil simply in order to avoid these speeches.

He and Trusty passed the boys in the Big Dorm and came out of the trench. The sun blazed like flames from a house-fire. Trusty, who was wearing a straw hat like those worn by all the inmates who did outside work, took it off to fan himself, one of the few times he had ever hinted that he suffered as badly as his fellow inmates.

Trusty looked tired. Bat had heard him get up during the middle of the night when he was fetched by the Watchman to fix some plumbing problem that had developed with the Super's toilet. He often did chores like that around the campus; Bat had overheard the Superintendent refer to him as "my man-of-all-work."

Now Trusty said, "Your transfer has come through. You start tomorrow morning."

He couldn't help hopping on his toes with joy. "At the campus farm? What about the other boys?"

"Harry is being transferred to the stables. The rest of the Little Dorm stays in the broom manufactory."

His spirits abruptly fell. He looked back at the boys. Emmanuel, Slow, Frank, and Joe were all laughing over a joke, but Mordecai, who was trying to turn the wheelbarrow around, looked as though he was about to pass out.

"Say, can't he be left off this work?" As he spoke, Bat pointed at the younger boy. "He's not made for this. He's a domestic, and he's too young to be hauling rocks anyhow. Even working the fields would be better for him than this."

Trusty took his time in answering. Finally he said, "You prepared to let him take the farm job in your place?"

The words fell like chunks of hot lead, searing through his insides. He looked back at the trench. Two thousand nine hundred feet, Joe had said. The tunnel would take months to dig. Months of shovelling in the blazing sun. . . .
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Survival School.


Prison Food and Fondness

NEW SHORT STORY: Prison Food and Fondness (The Eternal Dungeon)

"All she needed to gather were the ingredients for the meal. This she tried to explain on one summer morning, standing by the outer dungeon's exit while confronting two guards who had their daggers pointed at her."

Voluntarily incarcerated in a prison full of men, married to a man who has no desire to "love" her in the traditional sense of the word, Birdesmond Manx Chapman has chosen a challenging path in life. But she is a Seeker, a prison-worker who has taken an oath of eternal confinement in order to share the conditions of her prisoners. She has the strength to meet all challenges.

Until she encounters her greatest challenge of all: obtaining the ingredients for a wedding-anniversary meal in a dungeon filled with men who don't know how to cook.

This short story of an unconventional marriage by a woman who lives in a man's world can be read on its own or as a side story in The Eternal Dungeon, a speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison.

The Eternal Dungeon series is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Young Toughs, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael's House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Prison Food and Fondness.


Excerpt

She knew in her heart that her frantic desire to cook a meal had to do with what had taken place on her wedding night.

Her musings on this were interrupted by Weldon's arrival at the master bedroom in their "living cell," as Seekers termed their apartments. He was in his shirt and drawers, rubbing dry his hair, having just completed his week's end bathing. "I saved the water for you," he said.

She grimaced, glancing beyond him at the round iron tub sitting in the middle of their parlor. Some of the sacrifices she had undergone to become a Seeker were more distasteful than others. "I'll bathe tomorrow," she said. When there was some hope that the water would still be warm out of the maid's pitcher. "My chain is snagged on my collar. Will you loosen it for me?"

He came forward quickly, eager as always to help. It took him a moment to free the chain that held the locket she wore as a traditional indicator that she was married. The dungeon's Codifier – himself a widower who wore a marriage watch to work – had ruled that it was acceptable for her to wear the locket on duty, provided that it remained hidden under the plain uniform she wore as a Seeker. It was the uniform of a female prisoner; similarly, all of the male Seekers wore the uniform of a male prisoner, as a visible symbol of the oaths they had made to live as much as possible like their prisoners.

Weldon stepped back with the chain and locket in hand. She turned her head to look at him. Even after all these months, she instinctively expected to see a familiar sight: the expression of a man who has touched the neck of a beautiful woman and who longs for greater intimacy.

What she saw was Weldon's polite smile. "I'll put this away beside my watch, shall I?" he offered.

She nodded, turning toward the mirror before he should see the look in her eyes. Her throat ached as she reached for her brush. . . .
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Prison Food and Fondness.


REISSUED NOVEL: Transformation (The Eternal Dungeon)

Now available in multiformat. Click on the cover for more information.

Transformation


REVIEW: Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon)

"Rebirth is the dark, fascinating tale of two very different men who come to know and love each other under almost impossible conditions. The writing is detailed and powerful, the story fresh and unpredictable." —Outrageous Heroes (with major spoilers) on Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon).


The Abolitionist

FEATURED BACKLIST TITLE: The Abolitionist (Waterman)

"The servants were scared stiff of him, and the masters were clearly uncertain what to say to a man who came from such an eccentric House. Nothing was different, nothing had changed. And yet everything had changed since Carr met a young foreigner who showed him not the least bit of respect."

When a foul-mouthed, seditious foreigner turns up at your door, what are the benefits of letting him in?

So wonders Carr, a young man living in a bayside nation that is troubled by internal battles. In his world, servants fight against masters, tonging watermen fight against dredging watermen, and landsteads eye one another's oyster grounds with greed. It seems to Carr that the only way in which to keep such warfare from entering his own home is to keep very, very quiet about certain aspects of himself which his family would not be able to accept.

But "trouble" is a word that appears to delight the new visitor. He is ready to stir up danger . . . though he may not be as prepared as he thinks to confront what lies within Carr.

A finalist in the Rainbow Awards 2013, his novel can be read on its own or as the first novel in Waterman, a speculative fiction series set in an alternative version of the Chesapeake Bay region during the 1910s and during the future as it was envisioned in the 1960s.
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): The Abolitionist.


Excerpt

Perhaps in acknowledgment of the guest's political leanings, Carr's father had chosen to hold supper, not in the formal dining room, but in the family dining room. By the time they arrived there – having taken a tour of the mansion grounds – Sally had returned from town: she was stationed in the corner, breathing heavily as she pulled the rope that stirred the peacock-feathered ceiling fan, which hung over the dining table. Jesse took one look at this and demanded, "Do we really need that?"

"Hmm?" Carr's father, who was making last-minute adjustments to his manuscript, looked up from the galley proofs, transformation-blue pencil in hand. "No . . . no, I don't suppose so. It's cool enough today that we don't really need the fan. That's enough, my girl."

Sally let go of the rope, practically collapsing as she did so. Bat, his footman's uniform slightly askew, came forward to support her with his arm. Carr made a note to himself to remind his father that he should really remember to assign the House's heaviest duties to the male servants. His father, who lived under the delusion that the servants would inform him if they didn't like the tasks they were assigned, was inclined to forget such niceties.

Carr's mother entered the room, all aflutter, her embroidered shirtwaist dress shining cream-colored in the late-afternoon sun. "Oh, dear, I'm sorry I'm late," she exclaimed. "I was helping Cook with the dessert."

Carr managed not to wince. Carr's father said equably, "I'm so glad you can find the time to assist the servants. I dearly wish I could. Carr, do have a seat."

Carr sat down, acutely conscious of Bat, who had not rushed forward to help him. When Carr's father had presented Bat as a gift in honor of Carr's seventeenth birthday, as a potential future valet for his only son, Carr had spent an entire week having disturbing dreams. . . . But the dreams had come to nothing. It soon became clear that, for Bat, service was merely a way to earn money so that he could keep from starving. The young footman was very unlike Variel, Carr's father's valet, who was dedicated to serving his master.

Carr turned this dangerous thought from his mind as Jesse, rather than wait to be seated in a master's chair, pulled up a servants' stool to the table. Nobody besides Carr noticed; Carr's father's attention was focussed on Sally, who was pulling back a chair for her mastress.

"Why, thank you!" As always, Carr's mother managed to sound surprised and grateful for the duties she herself had trained the servants to do. It was one of the reasons why, despite everything, the servants loved her. "That's so very kind of you. And so nicely done."

Turning pink, Sally curtsied. "Thank you, ma'am."

"Oh, please, no curtsies. And no 'ma'am' either. Benjamin," added Carr's mother, turning her head toward her husband as Sally, crestfallen at this reproach, retreated from the table, "it's really too bad that the servants have no suitable title by which to address me. Can't we create a female equivalent of 'Comrade Carruthers'?"

"'Comradess,' perhaps?" Ignoring the plate of terrapin meat that Variel was offering him, Carr's father paused to consider the dilemma.

"Food's at your elbow," Jesse pointed out. "Why do you need a special female title anyway? What's wrong with calling her Comrade Carruthers too? It would show that she's your equal."

Carr's mother gave Jesse a delighted look. Smiling, Carr's father said, "Daisy, allow me to introduce our guest, Comrade Jesse. Carr has invited him to join us today."

Carr could feel Jesse's eye on him. "I thought, Father, that we might invite him to stay with us for a few days." Seeing his father's incipient frown, he added, "There are so few Egalitarian homes in the Second Landstead for him to stay at, and it seems a shame for him to have to resort to a hotel."

His father's expression cleared. The elder Carruthers valued his privacy, but he responded, as Carr had intended, to this clear reminder of his duties as the highest-ranked Egalitarian in the Second Landstead. "Of course," replied Carr's father. "Our home is yours, comrade, for as long as you need. Have you travelled far?"

"A fair bit. —This food is good." Jesse directed this comment, not at Carr's mother, but at Variel and Bat and Sally, who had retreated to the serving table.

"We have an excellent cook," said Carr's mother, always happy for an opportunity to compliment the servants. "I wish that I could prepare meals half as well as she can."

"Nonsense, sweet one; your meals are always a delight to eat." Carr's father frowned as Sally came forward again to retrieve the napkin that Carr's mother had dislodged in her excitement. "My girl, what is that you're wearing?"

Sally stared down at her dress, bewildered. Carr's mother looked surprised. "Is something wrong with the servants' uniforms?" she asked.

"Her top button is undone. And her skirt is far too short. She looks like a woman of the streets." Carr's father glared at the young servant, who was now blinking back tears.

"Oh, dear." Carr's mother grew flustered. "I hadn't noticed. . . . Sally, perhaps it would be best if you made a few adjustments to your uniform."

"Yes, ma—" Sally quickly cut off the forbidden word. "Now?"

"Yes, now." As the girl retreated, Carr's mother looked over at her husband, who continued to glare in the direction of the departing servant. "It's not her fault, is it, dear? I mean, she's very young."

"Yeah, she is, isn't she?" Jesse's voice was lazily speculative. Carr winced, wishing that his guest was less perceptive.

His father's expression turned to puzzlement. "Excuse me?"

"Nothing," Jesse replied around a mouthful of hominy. "Look, why is it that you don't have the time to do household tasks alongside the other residents here?" He waved his hand toward Variel and Bat, who continued to stand by the serving table, silent and alert.

Carr's father sighed. "Because, regrettably, my primary responsibility is to earn the money that keeps this House operating. We lost our tenant farmers during the financial troubles three tri-decades ago, and the Bay doesn't bring in as good a harvest as it used to. If it weren't for my work at the Bureau, this mansion would be in a state of disrepair."

"The Bureau?" Jesse had gone suddenly as still as the servants. Carr bent his head, concentrating his gaze on the celery salad that he was pushing around the plate with his fork. Not merely perceptive but quick-witted. Jesse was going to prove . . . interesting.
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): The Abolitionist.


AT MY BLOG

If you're interested in reading about my daily life, you may wish to read my March daily life entry: Trying to get back into the writing habit.
 

INTERVIEW OF ME BY TAMI VELDURA

For those of you who didn't see my earlier announcement: This interview of me originally appeared in the March 2016 newsletter of Tami Veldura, who writes science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and queer fiction. Ms. Veldura begins by saying, "Today's interview with Dusk touches on apprenticeship, history, and alternate universes."
 

NEW TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY TOUGHS MAPS

The number of Toughs maps are beginning to multiply, so I've added a maps page to the Turn-of-the-Century Toughs resources. You'll see three new maps there.
 

MORE FREQUENT STORY ANNOUNCEMENTS & A REMINDER ABOUT REVIEW COPIES

You might have noticed that my monthly update is getting a bit clogged. For the sake of you who don't want to read a whole bunch of blurbs and excerpts at once, I'm going to start posting weekly updates of my latest e-books at my blog, e-mail list, and the various social networks that my blog feed goes to. The blog/list/feed will continue to carry a monthly round-up (like the one you're currently reading) of all my e-books issued during the past month, as well as links to my online fiction, excerpts from backlist titles, links to posts I make at my blog, and general announcements.

Because my posts are ending up in so many places besides my blog these days, I'll be adding hashtags to my post titles. Since I can't add every hashtag that applies to any one of my stories (#sff #althistory #crimefiction #romance #newadult #suspense #adventure #lgbtlit #histfic #everygenreunderthesun), you'll need to take these tags as a hint at the nature of the story, not as a definitive description.

Because these posts will also be going to potential reviewers, you'll see notices in the posts about the availability of review copies. This is just a reminder: Anyone who is willing to post a review online – at online bookstores, at their blog, or anywhere else – is welcome to request a review copy of any of my e-books. Your review needn't be a positive one; I value honest, negative reviews (as you can tell from the fact that I frequently link to them here).

For those of you who can't afford to buy as many of my e-books as you'd like, reviews are a good way for you to get the word out to fellow readers of what you think about my writings and to satisfy your curiosity about what happens next with my characters.

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction, including lgbtq novels and other types of diverse fiction. All e-books are DRM-free. New e-books and reissues are multiformat.

Journey to Manhood

NEW NOVELETTE: Journey to Manhood (Young Toughs)

"Perhaps, when they spoke next, the other young man could tell Simmons of any masters here who were in need of an apprentice who was perilously close to the age of journeymanship."

Simmons has been waiting all his life for the day when he would come of age and pledge his service to a liege-master. But at the last minute, all his plans go awry; he is left in the awful position of having to find a liege-master quickly. Desperation may force Simmons to pick the worst of liege-masters.

Working at his uncle's waterfront store on a bay island, Simmons seeks a way out of his dilemma. Then another young man walks through the door, one whose problems may be even worse than Simmons's. . . .

With a setting based upon an island on the Chesapeake Bay in the 1910s, this novelette (miniature novel) can be read on its own or as a story in Young Toughs, an alternate history series about the struggles of youths in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Young Toughs is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Young Toughs, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael's House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Journey to Manhood.


Excerpt

At that moment, the door opened. A light spring breeze, fresh with the smell of Bay water, entered the store, along with a waterman, unmistakable in his oilskin hat and coat and boots. Simmons caught a flash of the man's rank-mark on the back of his right wrist as he removed his glove: black.

The servant wasted no time in the doorway; he limped forward as Simmons's uncle said, "Ah, Sol. I'm glad to see you up and about. How's that leg of yours doing?"

"None too good." The servant's reply was so brief, and without proper salutation, that Simmons might have thought the waterman rude, but he noticed that the man had carefully removed his hat the moment that the owner of the general store spoke.

His uncle, at any rate, seemed to treat his remark as inoffensive. "I'm sorry about that – very sorry indeed. But you've found a new captain, I hear? How have the oysters been this winter?"

Sol shook his head as he removed a list from within his coat. "None too good neither. Way I figure, all the right good ones've been stole by those dredgers from the Western Shore."

His uncle sighed. "It's very sad, very sad indeed that there's such animosity between our landstead and the Second Landstead. That their boats should take oysters from our own territory . . . Ah, well, oyster season is over. And Captain Harvey is doing well, I suppose, if he could afford to hire you as his new man."

Sol shrugged as he laid the list on a lard barrel next to Simmons's uncle. "Needed couple more servants for his boat. He's still short a man. Come autumn, he'll be looking for more watermen."

"Really? He needs more crew, with all the watermen on this island?" Simmons's uncle took the list and peered at it through his spectacles.

"'Deed he do. He's like to hire a full-grown man, but an oyster-shucking boy would do." Sol's gaze wandered over to Simmons. After a moment, Simmons realized why, and he felt his face grow flush.

Travelling from the capital to Hoopers Island had been no problem; Simmons had simply hired a boat with most of the remaining money his father had given him for the brief period during which he would still need his family's income, before his liege-master should begin paying him. But Simmons's belongings had been a greater problem. He had not anticipated having to move them further than the bedroom that had long awaited him in the house of his liege-master's father.

With his plans turned awry, he had been forced to dispose of all but his most precious goods. Fortunately, school term had only just ended; he had been able to give many of his belongings to the servant who had tended his study-bedroom at Capital School.

His trunks, he had sent down to Hoopers Island by road. He had taken care to hire an automobile, naively believing that, with such a swift means of transportation, his trunks would be awaiting him when he arrived by boat.

His uncle had smothered a laugh when he heard this, then had patiently explained that most of the marshy roads between the capital and Hoopers Island were not yet paved. The roads on Hoopers Island were. The pavement consisted of logs and oyster shells.

Feeling very much an ignorant townboy, and envisioning the automobile wallowing in the mud – or even sinking without a trace in the marshes – Simmons had made do as best he could. His uncle, a portly man, had no clothes that would fit the new arrival, and his uncle's apprentice was several sizes too small. So Simmons – by now grateful for anything that would cover his body – had borrowed clothing from his uncle's manservant, a waterman who spent most of his days making deliveries by boat.

His uncle, looking up from the list and seeing Sol's gaze upon Simmons, seemed to realize the mistake that the waterman had made. Characteristically, he did not reprimand the erring servant. Placing his arm across Simmons's shoulder, he said, "This is my nephew, Jasper Simmons. His journeymanship birthday is coming next month, so he's staying with us this month while he decides which master he wishes to pledge his liege-service to."

Sol did not embarrass Simmons by asking, "Why did you wait till now?" But neither did he dip his eyes, as any well-trained servant would ordinarily do under such circumstances. All that he said was, "Right glad to meet you . . . sir."

The slight pause could have been taken any number of ways, but Simmons, staring into the waterman's eyes, suddenly realized that this was a servant who rarely addressed masters as sir.

Smiling at the special courtesy he had just been granted, Simmons said, "I'm glad to meet you as well, Servant Sol."

Then, and only then, did the waterman dip his eyes. And Simmons realized that he had been granted a deep courtesy indeed. Simmons wondered what, by all that was sacred, he had done to earn such honor.

His uncle squeezed Simmons's arm in some sort of silent accolade. "I won't keep you, Sol; I know you're busy. Some of these items will have to be wrapped. Your boat-master still docks at Back Creek? I'll have my apprentice bring the goods over, then."

"Master Simmons." Sol's slight nod of farewell encompassed both uncle and nephew; then he turned away.

At the doorway, he paused. Another man had just arrived, wearing a wool coat against the spring chill. He made some brief greeting, and Sol, hearing the man's refined accent, carefully stepped to one side to let the master enter.

"That's a good man," said Simmons's uncle softly as the door shut behind Sol. "A very good man. I'm glad you didn't take offense at his mistake."

"Why should I?" Simmons laughed as he turned to his uncle, but he kept his voice low as well, so as not to disturb the newly arrived master, who was now at the other end of the store, fingering a bottle of morphine.

His uncle raised his eyebrows. "Some masters would be very offended indeed to be mistaken for a servant."

"Oh, but I look like a servant at the moment." Simmons stared down at his shabby clothing. "It's not his fault. I suppose I ought really to change out of these, lest I mislead—"

A bell, higher in pitch than a fog-bell, interrupted his speech. His uncle glanced out the window facing the water and said, "Postal boat. It's early today."

"Shall I help you bring in the mail, Uncle?" asked Simmons.

"No, no, my lad. You stay here and tend the customers." His third-ranked uncle patted Simmons's shoulder somewhat awkwardly.

Simmons could understand why. He was still becoming used to it himself, his rise in rank. At school, he had always held the awkward position of being the son of a third-ranked master who was very, very rich. Now, after many years, the Third Landstead's House of Government had eased the lack of alignment between their family's wealth and rank by granting to Simmons's father the title of Envoy Extraordinary, assigning him duties in an overseas nation in the Old World and raising him to second rank.

Until that time, as a third-ranked lad, Simmons's choices were clear: as a journeyman, he could train under his father, under a third-ranked master, or under a second-ranked master – not under a first-ranked master, as he futilely tried to point out to his first-ranked schoolfellow Eugene on many occasions.

But now Simmons was second-ranked. He could train under a first-ranked master. He could even pledge his liege-loyalty to that master.

"I told you it would work out," Eugene had squealed, hugging the older boy on the day that Simmons received the news of his eligibility to be Eugene's liegeman. And Simmons had hugged Eugene back, stunned and joyful at this turn of events.

But it had not worked out – not in the end. . . .
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Journey to Manhood.



FREE FICTION: Crossing the Cliff (Darkling Plain)

A reissued story at Archive of Our Own.
 

Crossing the Cliff (Darkling Plain). After ten years as apprentice to a Peacesteward, the one thing Erastus is sure of is that he's ill-prepared to become a master. Unfortunately, he's about to discover just how ill-prepared he is.

When he and his master stray into forbidden territory, Erastus is thrust alone into a community that is on the brink of war. His only hope for bringing peace is to ally himself with a young boy . . . a boy who has stolen what Erastus values most.

(Permalink.)


REISSUES: The Eternal Dungeon

Now available in multiformat. Click on the covers for more information.

RebirthThe Unanswered QuestionCommoners' Festival


REVIEW: Life Prison

"Beautifully written. Even the things that shouldn't be beautiful, were." —Amazon (Fenriz Angelo) on Life Prison (Life Prison).


Unmarked

FEATURED BACKLIST TITLE: Unmarked (Waterman)

"Master Meredith, whose entitlement to a last name had not yet been determined by the courts, was sitting in a window-seat overlooking the playing fields of Narrows School when the Third House bullies found him."

He needs a guard.

In his final terms of school before his university years, Meredith is faced with a host of problems: A prefect who abuses his power. A games captain who is supposed to protect Meredith but has befriended the prefect. And a legal status that makes everyone in the school question whether Meredith belongs there, among the elite.

Unexpectedly, rescue arrives, in the shape of a fellow student who seems determined to right wrongs. There's only one problem. . . .

"Fair play" is the motto of the Third House, but that motto takes on a different meaning when Meredith is secretly wooed by a young man from a rival House.

This novel can be read on its own or as the third and final story in the "Master and Servant" volume of Waterman, a speculative fiction series set in an alternative version of the Chesapeake Bay region during the 1910s and during the future as it was envisioned in the 1960s.
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Unmarked.


Excerpt

"Power boats is more important," insisted Billy to Theo. "Think of all the right calm days when we could be tonging oysters."

"The master of the House of His Master's Kindness wants power boats too," pointed out Sol. "And power dredging to go with it." In the silence that followed, he raised his voice, saying, "Lad, you're as quiet and dark as a dredger boat come night. Didn't hear nor see you till now."

Meredith stepped forward from where he had been fingering a muskrat trap that hung for sale from the ceiling. "I didn't mean to disturb your conversation, sir."

"You ain't disturbing nothing that don't deserve disturbing. You looking to find your daddy?"

"Yes, sir. My father said that he would meet me at the foot of the drawbridge, but he isn't there, and his skiff isn't docked at Back Creek. I thought you might have seen him recently."

"'Deed I did – seen him at his workplace just this morning, and he gave me this note for you. He figured you'd be coming by here." Sol reached down and pulled a piece of paper out of his rubber boot – probably the driest place he had for storing paper. He offered the note to Meredith, without rising.

Meredith cautiously came forward. As he reached out his hand to take the note, his overcoat spread open to reveal his blazer. The new crewman, who had just taken hold of the mug, choked on the coffee. The crewman hastily rose to his feet.

None of the other servants followed suit. With the exception of Sol, the servants were looking at the fish-hooks, the stuffed eagle on the wall, the turpentine, the tins of chewing tobacco, the corsets . . . anything but the young master standing in their midst.

Meredith tried to ignore his churning stomach, instead concentrating his attention on unfolding and reading the message. It was written in his father's uneven hand and erratic spelling: "Substute keeper sik. Yu come. Yur father, Master James Hooper."

His father had almost written "Yur daddy," but had scribbled out the servant-style word in time. Meredith looked up. Everybody was still staring at the store's merchandise, other than the new crewman – who was gazing with horror at his fellow servants – and Sol, who was watching Meredith.

"Thank you, sir," said Meredith to Sol. "Will you be going back to see my father any time soon?"

Sol shook his head. "Not till Spring Death. You needing a ride out? Believe Master Simmons is sending out goods to your daddy today."

"Thank you for that information, sir. I'll ask him whether I can ride along in his boat, then." He hesitated, seeking an excuse to linger longer, but most of the crewmen were beginning to shuffle their feet, and the new crewman looked as though he was about to expire from terror. "Goodbye," Meredith said, looking around at the crew, trying to make the farewell general.

Sol was the only one who bothered to reply to him. "You keep warm and safe, lad, and you give your daddy my respects, hear?"

"Yes, sir, I'll be glad to," replied Meredith eagerly, relieved to carry out a duty. "May I do anything else for you?"

In the next moment, he would gladly have thrown himself in front of the rifles of the Second Landstead's dredgers. Billy and Theo exchanged looks, while Hallie simply rolled his eyes.

Sol, far more patient than the others, said, "Thanks, lad, but there ain't no need. You'd best be getting on your way."

Meredith, taking the hint, backed away from the warm circle of fellowship. He opened the store's door, which was nearly wrenched from his hand; a moderate gale wind had blown up while he was inside. He swiftly closed the door, then leaned on it to make sure it had shut properly. As he did so, he heard the new crewman say, "Sol, have you gone mad as a 'Mippian in battle, speaking like that to a master? He's making fun at you, certain, calling you 'sir.'"

Sol said something in a voice too low for Meredith to hear.

"Him?" The new crewman sounded incredulous. "He don't look nothing like his daddy."

"Don't speak like him, neither," said Billy. "But he's the one, all right – Jim's son."

"You mean, Master Hooper's son." Theo's voice was bitter.

Billy made a sound like spitting. "Mean what I say. Jim was born a servant. He's still a servant, whatever he may think."

"It's him getting that new religion that messed up his head," suggested Hallie, who had barely been born at the time that the episode happened. "Him and all them Reformed Traditionalists—"

"Ain't a matter of Traditionalists 'gainst Reformed Traditionalists," Billy insisted. "Even if a man can go in one lifetime from being servant to being master, Jim ain't that man."

There was a murmur of agreement, and Theo asked, "Why d'you suppose he asked to be raised in rank? He was doing right smart in our crew."

"Why d'you think?" shot back Billy. "Way I figure it, he wanted a crew of his own."

"If that was his reason, he's well punished," interjected Hallie. "Ain't a crew in this fleet that'll sail under him."

"Neither would any boat-master take him as journeyman, back in the days when he was that young. Well, he's burned his own corpse-ashes." Theo sounded satisfied.

"The lad's who I feel sorry for," said Billy. "Being brought up figuring he's a master, when it's plain to see that he's just like his daddy."

"That's enough talk," said Sol gruffly. "You boys shouldn't be speaking 'gainst your betters."

"Our betters?" said Billy incredulously.

"Servant Sol, you keep your tongue to yourself," said Theo. "You ain't my master."

"But Jim is his best pal." Hallie sounded hesitant. "We shouldn't be talking like that 'gainst Sol's pal."

"He ain't my pal." There was no mistaking the bitterness in Sol's voice. "He's ranked as a master now; masters can't have servants as pals. But he was my pal once, and he followed the water along with us, over many a year, so there ain't no call for talk 'gainst him. He's catched his fair share of oysters and crabs and fish; it's his right to do what his faith and his conscience tells him."

There was an acknowledging murmur that sounded like it was more of dissent than of agreement. Sol, reading his fellow crewmen's mood, said, "Ain't worth talking 'bout what we can't change. You hear that wind out there? Sounds like the nor'west blow has arrived. Oh my blessed, I sure am glad the master let us take the day off."

That remark brought loud calls of agreement, and Theo began talking about what the annual autumn storm had been like in his great-granddaddy's day.

Meredith, turning away from the door, almost tripped over the watermen's tongs, leaning against the wall by the door. One of the tongs still had an oyster shell stuck within its tines. Absent-mindedly, Meredith took off his mittens, pried the shell off the tine, and nearly threw it in the great pile of shells near the porch. Master Simmons bought shells from the oyster packing houses and then resold them to companies that used the shells for road paving or fertilizer or chicken grit.

Then, on a whim, Meredith curled his hand round the shell. Letting his rucksack lie sheltered against the leeward side of an empty barrel, he shoved the shell and his mittens into his overcoat pockets and stepped off the porch.

The wind was hard as a culler's hammer now. The water had nearly emptied; most of the boat-masters, seeing the signs of the coming storm, had retreated to harbors and coves. Meredith, who had endured worse winds than this over the years, walked slowly toward the store's wharf, his thoughts on matters other than the weather.

It had never occurred to him to call Sol anything other than "sir." Whatever Sol's perspective might be on Servant Jim's transformation into Master James Hooper, Meredith knew that Sol was the closest thing his father had left to a friend. And so, since Meredith called his father "sir," he had also called his father's friend "sir." His father had never forbidden him from doing so, and Sol had not seemed disturbed by Meredith's manner of address.

But Meredith had not seen Sol in over three seasons, he recalled now. Perhaps the rules for proper address had changed, now that Meredith was beyond his apprentice years. Perhaps it would be safer to address Sol as "Servant Solomon." That would still be respectful, wouldn't it? Or would it overemphasize Sol's rank in relation to the young master who spoke to him?

Meredith sighed. The person he should be addressing such questions to, he was fully aware, was his liege-master. But Pembroke would treat any such question as a sign of weakness in him. Meredith supposed he would have to ask his own father instead – yet he was growing overly old for seeking answers from his father. Most of his fellow students treated their confirmation ceremony as a time when they broke away from the care of their parents. As journeymen, they still could not own property or run a House or business in their own right. But they were old enough to work under their liege-master, to study at university, and – with their liege-master's permission – to marry. They were even old enough to father children.

Meredith reached the shore. Master Simmons had cleared out all the Bay grass from the shoreline, so the shoreline was bare except for mud and the usual assortment of shells. Meredith fingered the shell in his pocket as he stared out at the churning waves, his eyes blinking against the harsh wind. He had wished, many a time, that he had never been fathered, or at least had been fathered after the revocation of the Act of Celadon and Brun. If that had happened, then his life's path would be clear. As it was . . .

The oyster shell was cutting into his tightened fingers now. He stared out at the water, where the crew of a lone shallop was struggling to reach shore. In a sudden and uncharacteristic fury, he took the oyster from his pocket and prepared to hurl it into the waves.
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Unmarked.



NEW TOUGHS SERIES & NEW YOUNG ADULT FICTION PORTAL

I've started a new Turn-of-the-Century Toughs series, entitled Young Toughs, which will center upon teenage characters in the Toughs world. Some of the characters will have appeared in other Toughs series, while other characters will be new. So Young Toughs is a crossover series with other Toughs series. It's also crossover fiction in another sense: this is a young adult series that is intended for both teens and adults.

I've added a portal, ya.duskpeterson.com, that will help readers go directly to my YA fiction. All the series listed there appear on the duskpeterson.com website, so you needn't check both places. However, those of you who are interested in young adult fiction may like to see my links to my favorite YA adventure fiction authors.
 

ABOUT THE REISSUES OF REBIRTH AND SPLIT

The Toughs series' volume e-books (Rebirth, Whipster, etc.) have needed new covers, and some of the volumes haven't been available in multiformat, so I'm gradually (re)issuing them all in multiformat editions. I'm taking this opportunity to reread the stories within the volumes to catch any stray typos or continuity errors that I missed the first time through. Other than that, there are no changes to the content.

Speaking of typos, I'm usually pretty good about catching them before publication, but I let a couple of really horrendous ones slip by me with Split. (Such as switching my protagonist's first and last names toward the end of the story.) Since I didn't want to wait till the full volume of Sweet Blood was issued before correcting errors of this magnitude, I've uploaded a corrected version of Split to the bookstores. If you've bought a copy in the past, you can try downloading the e-book again from the bookstore where you bought it, if the bookstore allows that. (The new edition is marked as the February 2016 edition in the copyright notice.) If that doesn't work, drop me a line, letting me know which format(s) you bought, and I'll send you a replacement. I'm sorry about the extra trouble to you.
 

THE THREE LANDS IS GOING TEMPORARILY OUT OF PRINT

Or whatever the electronic equivalent is of "out of print." Although I'm keeping all of the Toughs stories published as I reissue the volumes, The Three Lands is a more serious marketing challenge, since it's never found much of a readership. I've decided that it would be best to take an entirely fresh approach to the series, so I'll be taking down the current editions as I begin to issue the new editions (and will bring out new stories in the series, if my Muse is cooperative). I'll be taking down the current Three Lands e-books at the beginning of April; in the meantime, they remain available.
 

PROGRESS REPORT

The progress report of my writings has been updated, showing which stories are closest to being published (and which aren't).

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Historical speculative fiction, including lgbtq novels and other types of diverse fiction. All e-books from Love in Dark Settings Press are DRM-free. New e-books and reissues are multiformat.
 

NEW NOVEL: Checkmate (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood  #4)

Checkmate

The Eternal Dungeon is no longer a prison. It's a battlefield.

Split apart from their closest loves and friends, a small group of prison-workers seek to abolish the use of torture against prisoners in the queendom's royal dungeon. Time is running out, for the deadly High Seeker has already flogged and executed prison-workers who opposed his policies.

Do the reformers have enough time and skill to bring about radical change in the dungeon? Will they be able to overcome their mistrust of one another?

This suspenseful novel can be read on its own or as the fourth story in the "Sweet Blood" volume of The Eternal Dungeon, an award-winning speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

Available from Love in Dark Settings Press as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Checkmate.


Excerpt

"It would have to be a bloody big protest to get the attention of all those people." D. spoke lightly.

Zenas shifted restlessly in his seat on the floor. D. had spoken in a seemingly careless manner, but from his expression, and from the expressions of the others in this living cell, it was obvious that everyone knew what was being proposed.

Finally, Birdesmond said, "We knew we'd reach this stage in the end. I wasn't willing to take chances if our sacrifices would be useless, but. . . Yes, now is the moment to move."

"Surely you're not in danger, ma'am?" said Clifford. "You've never tortured any of your prisoners. You're not allowed to, by the dungeon rules on searching female prisoners."

Birdesmond gave a faint smile. "But I am a leader of the New School. If the New School makes its final move, the High Seeker will know which of us are to blame."

"Well, it's about bloody time, that's all I can say," growled D. "Some of the other guards who belong to the New School, the ones we represent – they've been asking me how long we planned to drag our feet before we did the fucking obvious."

"Language, please," Elsdon reprimanded automatically. "Do you mean that the other members of the New School would be willing to assist with this?"

"The ones with guts will," inserted Clifford. "Look, I don't want to sound stupid, but I just want us to be clear: We're talking about refusing to torture prisoners, aren't we?"

Barrett said, "Hangman."

"Yes," agreed Birdesmond softly. "The Code's penalty for Seekers and guards who refuse to carry out the prescribed methods of searching prisoners is execution."

"Ready to be hanged, Cliff?" As he spoke, D. gave a gruesome grin.
 

Available from Love in Dark Settings Press as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Checkmate.



NEW STORY COLLECTION: Lockup (Dark Light, Volume 1)

Lockup

Deep underground lies a prison filled with idealistic men who have committed themselves to putting the best interest of their prisoners first . . . through torture. Soaring high in an adjoining nation are two "reformed" prisons where life prisoners (and a few sympathetic guards) must band together for survival.

Friendships between prisoners and guards, romance between two torturers, a young woman's appalled discovery that a dungeon-worker is courting her, desire and companionship in prison cells, a teenage guard's struggle to survive when his train is attacked by soldiers intent on slaughter . .. The two nations are broiling with events centered upon their prisons.

This historical speculative fiction volume explores with drama and dry humor the complexities of prison life in the nineteenth century, while taking a peek at the surrounding societies in the nations' alternate universe. Characters who appear in one story reappear in other stories, seen from a different perspective and at a different age.

This first volume of Dark Light collects seventeen stories from Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Dark Light, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael's House, and The Eternal Dungeon) about disreputable men on the margins of society, and the men and women who care for them. Set between the 1880s and the 1910s, the cycle's novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times.

Available from Love in Dark Settings Press as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Lockup. Includes two new Eternal Dungeon stories: "The Whipping Post" (flash fiction) and "New-Fashioned" (short story).
 

Volume Contents:

In the Silence (Life Prison). He can't speak. He can barely see. He experiences only fear and the faint whispers of something he had once known. But an intruder into his secure retreat from danger will pull him into awareness of what stands before him. What stands there is renewed danger . . . and the hope of something more.

Green Ruin (The Eternal Dungeon). Three guards and a mysterious substance provide a temptation too great to be missed . . . especially when two torturers add their skills to the mix. Soon three very different men – a married man who is committed to respect and honor, a bachelor harboring secret desires, and a soldier with an unfulfilled ambition – will find themselves caught in a trap. Their rescue will come from an unexpected quarter.

Hunger (The Eternal Dungeon). Some hungers can only be satisfied by reaching out. As a prisoner struggles to find the right path, a foul-mouthed guard and an uncommon torturer will open a door . . . but stepping through a doorway with blackness beyond requires courage.

Wax (The Eternal Dungeon). The Record-keeper of the Eternal Dungeon has always prided himself on his skills in procuring any object needed by his employers. But when the head torturer makes a seemingly innocent request for wax, the Record-keeper goes in search of a very special supply.

Never (The Eternal Dungeon). She was attending the ball at the palace to dance. That was all. Which made it annoying to face a proposal of marriage from a guard who was distinctly not the sort of man she would ever consider marrying. Certainly not.

The Whipping Post (The Eternal Dungeon). Ten minutes left to contemplate what lies ahead, before the end begins.

New-Fashioned (The Eternal Dungeon). The Eternal Dungeon's youngest torturer has a special talent. He's about to discover what it is, at the worst of moments.

Broken (The Eternal Dungeon). What would happen if a technophobic torturer was plunged into the twenty-first century?

Torture (The Eternal Dungeon / Life Prison). When the High Seeker of the Eternal Dungeon visits a foreign prison, he discovers that his dark reputation has preceded him. So has the dark reputation of his dungeon. The host is eager to show him that matters are run very differently at Mercy Life Prison. The High Seeker has his suspicions about what he will find in that prison, but even so, he is not prepared for what the prison has to teach him about man's nature. . . and his own nature.

Cell-mates (Life Prison). Sentenced to life in prison, Tyrrell didn't have many opportunities for bed-play . . . unless he could count what the guards did to him as "play." So his future seemed brighter when he was paired with a cell-mate he'd been eyeing for a long time with affection and lust. If only Tyrrell could keep from becoming his cell-mate's latest murder victim . . .

Coded Messages (Life Prison). One of them rapes prisoners. The other wants to help prisoners. So why are they talking to each other?

Lord and Servant (Life Prison). A tramp and a lord may seem to make an odd pair. But Compassion Life Prison is an odd place to start with, and the tramp has his own perspective on life there.

Rain (The Eternal Dungeon / Life Prison / Commando / Michael's House / Waterman). Five boys. Five rainy days. Five opportunities for trouble. In this cycle of five short stories, five young men in troubling situations must make choices that will change the path of their upcoming lives . . . and the path of the societies they dwell in.


Excerpt (from "New-Fashioned")

Layle pressed his hands upon his ears, his eyes watering as he tried to read the volume on his desk in the flickering light of the oil lamp. It was not as though he had an easy job before him. One hundred and twenty pages of the Code of Seeking were devoted to the three dozen instruments of torture in the dungeon. He would have to decide when they should be used, for how long, and how many dead bodies could be tolerated in the quest for justice.

There were also a couple of pages at the end of the Code about determining first whether the prisoners were innocent. He thought that section could use a bit of expansion.

The hammering continued. He'd already met the chief engineer, an amiable man imported – so like so many of this queendom's engineers – from the tiny island nation that the Queendom of Yclau had colonized several centuries before, at the time when the New World rediscovered the Old World. Layle had read a book about the travails which the Yclau explorers had undergone during that time. On one occasion, for example, the explorers had visited a primitive city by the name of Londinium. In Londinium, they had decided to bring back to Yclau a native playwright to whom they'd taken a fancy.

There had been riots in the streets over that. "He's a national treasure!" had cried one native as the playwright clung to his desk, desperately trying to scribble a few more words of the play he was working on, which had the eccentric name of Hamlet.

Natives could be absurdly parochial. However, the playwright had refused to create any plays during the rest of his captive life, so after that, Yclau's explorers had abandoned the idea of enslaving natives; instead, they lured talented natives overseas to the queendom with promises of riches. As a result, Yclau – not the little island colony – was now the most technologically advanced nation in the world: the birthplace of an Industrial Revolution that had changed the queendom forever.

Layle glanced at a mechanical jill-in-the-box which the native engineer had been fiddling with when he came to visit. The engineer had left it behind when Layle expressed his admiration of its ingenuity. Layle had spent most of the afternoon since then attempting to figure out how to revise the Code in a manner that was unlikely to draw the wrong sort of attention from the High Torturer.

The High Torturer was a man of changeable tempers. The last dozen torturers he had executed had discovered that too late.
 

Available from Love in Dark Settings Press as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Lockup.



FREE FICTION

A new story at Archive of Our Own. Information about my fiction at Archive of Our Own. Also available free in The Slash Pile's PDF anthology Restart.
 

AI (Waterman). Tripp has two friends in high school: a rebel without a cause, and a girl fighting the social restraints upon her. But only one human being has any real hope of understanding Tripp, and he isn't human at all.


Reissues of older stories at Archive of Our Own. Information about my fiction at Archive of Our Own.
 

Debt Price (Master/Other). No one would pay his debt price to gain him release from prison. So he sought to pay it himself by offering the only thing he could, his body. But one man would require more. (Permalink.)

Pleasure (Master/Other). Egon had a position that won him respect, friends who raised his spirits, and lovers who gave him pleasure. Then a man came into his life who would take all that away from him. If Egon was lucky. (Permalink.)

Clothesline (Leather in Lawnville). An encounter with clothesline at the Lawnville 5&10 leads the narrator to discover his neighbor's secret fantasy. (Permalink.)

Bad Habit (Leather in Lawnville). A leatherman shows off his leatherboy to a skeptic. (Permalink.)


NEW COVERS

Click on the covers for the blurbs and ordering information.

Checkmate Checkmate Unmarked


FEATURED BACKLIST TITLE: Whipster (Michael's House)

Whipster

Michael is an ex-prostitute, which means that nobody in polite society wants anything to do with him. He believes that the only way to help other male prostitutes is to make their working conditions bearable. His friend Janus is an upper-class gentleman who believes that his duty to the gods requires him to fight against sexual immorality. Now Michael wants Janus to help him run a house of prostitution.

This novel is the first volume in Michael's House, a speculative fiction series set in a Progressive Era slum. Male friendship and gay love intertwine in this multicultural series based on life in America during the 1910s, a time when society seemed as stable as ever, though it was about to be turned topsy-turvy.
 

Available from Love in Dark Settings Press as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Whipster.


REVIEW: Re-creation (The Three Lands)

"I think that in today's more – ehem – 'accepting' society, far too many people are far too quick to jump to the conclusion that just because the story revolves around two guys who are close, that they must be banging each other. This story could certainly disprove this belief, yet show that a friendship story is just as captivating and endearing as any M/M romance."  —Reckless Indulgence of the Written Word on Re-creation (The Three Lands).
 

REVIEWS: Mercy's Prisoner (Life Prison)

"The world-building is exquisite. . . . The writing is fantastic. Each word shows talent and craft, research and imagination, passion and purpose." —Inked Rainbow Reads on Mercy's Prisoner (Life Prison).

"This historical speculative fiction novel easily captures the minds of any reader, even those who might not think this to be 'their thing,' with its dark setting and even darker themes. But there is a point to all this seemingly unnecessary suffering and pain. Reformation is at hand and with it comes a serious call to action, to the re-examination one's own sense of morality and of right and wrong. Believe you-me, this book makes you THINK – about topics of discussion most would prefer never to think about or take into account." —Reckless Indulgence of the Written Word on Mercy's Prisoner (Life Prison).

"It's clear that the author has done their research and has cleverly woven this into an atmospheric and gritty read." —Shari Sakuri on Mercy's Prisoner (Life Prison).

"What's my opinion about these stories? They made me think. They really made me feel, and it wasn't always a comfortable feel. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. It's very important that tales like these be told so that we remain aware of the different shades of humanity and that there are those who suffer unjustly. I'm not sure if the word 'love' is the proper label for me to attach to my feelings regarding Mercy's Prisoner, but I was wholeheartedly invested and lost in the horror of the world Dusk Peterson created. When writing successfully does that to me, then I have no choice but to give it 5 Stars." —Crystal's Many Reviewers on Mercy's Prisoner (Life Prison).

Other reviews of Mercy's Prisoner (Life Prison): World of Diversity Fiction and Love Bytes Reviews.
 

REVIEWS: The Eternal Dungeon

"Why [do] authors always describe sadists as people unable to control themselves and their sexual urges? Not that this part of the story is not good. It gives the author the opportunity to explain her vision of good/bad, right/wrong, moral/immoral and how the margin between one and the other could be thin." —Goodreads (Danny Tyran) on Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon).

"Some found this novel cold. I don't know how their minds work, but this story is as hot as the fire burning behind the transparent wall of the cells of the eternal dungeon." —Goodreads (Danny Tyran) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).

"This is a very dry, asexual and extremely thought-out and intricate AU of a past world in which torturing and truth-'seeking' has been elevated to a religion, or rather to achieve the end goal of the belief system of these people." —Goodreads (Steelwhisper) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).

"I think I might have fallen in love with the characters. They do adorably stupid things while keeping me interested with their gruesome acts." —Amazon (Shinasuki) on Love and Betrayal (The Eternal Dungeon).
 

STORY LISTS AND TAGS

The Turn-of-the-Century Toughs timeline has been greatly expanded to include more information, as well as links to all of the Toughs stories in chronological order.

The story tags page has also been greatly expanded. Tons of new categories there. However, since the extensive time needed to maintain that page only narrowly passes the WIBBOW test ("Would I be better off writing?"), I've decided to stop listing the online fiction series on that page, since all of my online stories at Archive of Our Own have their own tags there.
 

MY E-BOOKS AT BOOKSTORES AND E-BOOK SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES

Courtesy of my distributor Draft2Digital – which provides me with links to my e-books at bookstores – I've added back in links to my e-books at Kobo and Barnes & Noble. I'm having some metadata problems with iTunes, but hope to have more of my fiction back up there next year.

Alas, Scribd is no longer lending my e-books, so I've had to remove those links. My e-books are still available at Oyster, but that e-book subscription service is due to shut down soon. I'm hoping that new e-book subscription services will arise.
 

MIND THE WEBSITE DUST

I apologize for the lengthy delay in an update. As a glance at my website will show, I've done the first major reworking of this site since 2007. Duskpeterson.com is now centered upon Turn-of-the-Century Toughs and The Three Lands.

My remaining stories are in the process of being uploaded to Archive of Our Own (AO3). I'll post notices of updates here. I have a new page (or rather, a revised version of an old series page) that links to all of my online fiction at AO3.

The Darkfics series has been renamed Dark Light. The series page's URL remains the same.

The progress report on the status of my upcoming stories has been updated.

If you have problems finding stories of mine that you've read in the past (or were planning to read), drop me an e-mail, and I'll help you locate the stories. You can also check the list of published fiction in reverse order of the date of composition, which links to all my fiction.

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Historical speculative fiction and suspenseful lgbtq novels. All e-books are DRM-free; new e-books and reissues are multiformat.
 

NEW E-BOOK: Tour (Life Prison)

Tour

"'How have any folk here managed to survive so long? These are killing conditions!'"

He has taken his first step to being accepted by the other prisoners. But what is the secret of the missing prisoners?

As Tyrrell is granted a tour of Compassion Life Prison, he realizes that the truth about his new home is both more horrific and more wonderful than he could possibly have imagined. An intricate network of protection, service, and love is enabling the prisoners to battle against harsh living conditions. As Tyrrell begins to penetrate the mystery of a massive affliction of pain and death within the prison, the question arises: Who is to blame for the suffering? And how can they be stopped?

This suspenseful novel can be read on its own or as the second story in the "Hell's Messenger" volume of Life Prison. Friendship, desire between men, and the costs of corruption and integrity are examined in this multicultural speculative fiction series, which is inspired by prison life at the end of the nineteenth century.

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Tour.

Tags: crime fiction, friendship, comradeship, romance subplot, bisexual and gay characters, couples and poly, multicultural characters, prisoners, guards, wardens, rebels, spies, servants, slaves.


Excerpt

The "lads," the prisoners who were required to offer their service, fell silent. There were about two dozen of them – just enough to make a tight line across the length of the wide gate. Tyrrell moved closer into his corner, until all the lads merged in his sight, and then he peered cautiously around the corner toward the guards.

Pugh spoke briskly. "Medinger?" He looked up at the balcony, where Medinger had just walked into view.

"Pass," replied the guard, leaning onto the balcony railing.

There was light laughter from the other guards. One of them said, "And you'll keep passing till the magisterial seats send us female prisoners."

"I know that you're not interested in claiming a lad," Pugh said in an annoyed voice. "You're not eligible, anyway. I'm asking about Keeper. It's his turn."

Medinger shook his head. "Our Keeper is passing as well. He's already left for town – didn't you hear the riot doors ring the alarm half an hour ago? He left when I came in from the auxiliary wing."

"What in Hell's name is wrong with Tom Keeper?" asked one of the guards, to nobody in particular. "Is he planning to act like a lovelorn man for the rest of his life?"

"He'll recover," said Pugh. "Whose turn is it next?"

"Yours, as you very well know," said Landry. "I don't think you've forgotten that you're second in rank here."

"Maybe we should wait until the night watch arrives," suggested another guard.

"They're not eligible to claim," said someone else. "They're on duty during claiming hours."

"Yes, but they always seem to arrive for duty at the same moment that the lad is brought out for his claiming. If we waited till they entered the outbuildings, then we wouldn't have the riot doors screeching just when the taking starts. The first few minutes are always the best."

"If you think I'm going to take a lad in front of you lot, you're mad," rejoined Pugh. "I don't put on performances. Medinger, is the claiming room clean? It was a pigsty the last time I used it."

"Bed-sheets were changed today," said Medinger, his voice clipped short. "New toiletries as well. And Keeper told me to remind everyone that this prison's regulations require the use of a sheath whenever there is penetration—"

The rest of what he said was lost in loud laughter that came from the other guards. His voice rising above the others, Landry said, "Fifteen drilling years he's been going on about that. It's like living with a schoolmarm."

"Oh?" said Medinger. "Well, you're welcome to drill naked if you like, Landry. What's the name of that lad whom Chambers gave the Damnation to, a few weeks before Chambers died?"

The laughter cut off abruptly. Starke, who had lit another cigarette, smiled as he said, "Medinger, you're wasted as Keeper's orderly. You should be in the army. They need soldiers who can shoot straight into the belly."

"The issue is moot." Pugh's voice had returned to his usual tone of boredom. "I always use a sheath. I wouldn't trust myself inside one of those filthy lads otherwise. Landry, are you and Starke ready?"

"Ready and willing," replied Landry, pulling himself back from the parapet in order to take hold of his machine rifle.

"Medinger, take charge of the switch."

Medinger remained motionless. "I'm on the night watch. I don't take orders from you, Pugh."

Pugh muttered something under his breath, and then said, "Niesely."

"On my way." Niesely mounted the right-hand stairway, taking two steps at a time. Pugh turned his head toward the gate.

Tyrrell ducked back in the brief second before Pugh's gaze swung in his direction. He looked over at the lads. He could only see the one closest to him, an older lad with lines of experience on his face. The lad's expression was set, but his hands were white-knuckled on the bars.

"You." It was Pugh's voice, flat. "The one with the rag on your leg."

"No!"

The claimed lad's shout of rage was overwhelmed by the scream of the gate alarm. The other lads scurried back, leaving an open space next to the gate that was filled now only with two prisoners: the claimed lad, who was shaking his head over and over, and his mate, who had his hands on the claimed lad's arms as he spoke to the other lad.

Whatever he was saying, it was not reaching his mate. "No!" shouted the claimed lad, so loudly that he could be heard over the alarm. "I won't do it again! Not with Pugh!" He pulled himself away from his mate at the same moment that the alarm ended, taking a dozen rapid steps away from the gate.

"Wild lad!" The shout came from Ahiga, somewhere beyond Tyrrell's view. "All back! All ba—!"

The rest of his words were broken off by the sound of machine-rifle fire as bullets blazed thick into the prison.
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Tour.





FREE FICTION: What Slaves Do When They Aren't Cleaning Toilets: A Tale of Web Accessibility in the Cybersex Era (Rebels)

"'What I want from you is quite simple. I want you to design a Website that's compatible with Section 508— Stop sobbing, damn it!'"

What Slaves Do When They Aren't Cleaning Toilets is the first story in the world that presents web accessibility information for the disabled in the form of gay leather erotica.

For adults only. Available as online fiction or download FREE as a multiformat e-book: What Slaves Do When They Aren't Cleaning Toilets.

Tags: contemporary erotica, gay leather master/slave, disability issues, W3C, geek humor.
 

REISSUES

Click on the covers for more information.

Tops and SopsDeceptionTwists and TurnsA Prisoner Has NeedThe Consultation

RECENT CATEGORY BESTSELLERS

Twenty-nine Love in Dark Settings Press e-books were category bestsellers at Amazon during the past month; below is a small sample of the bestsellers. Click on the covers for more information.

Blood VowLaw of VengeanceBard of PainDeath WatchGreen RuinWax / Broken
 

RAINBOW AWARDS 2014

Rainbow Awards honorable mentionMercy's PrisonerRainbow Awards finalist

Mercy's Prisoner (Life Prison) has received an honorable mention in the Rainbow Awards 2014, indicating that a judge gave a rating of 36 or above out of 40 to the e-book). The book bundle has also become a finalist in this annual awards contest for lgbt literature. A judge's comment:

"Dusk is all about subtlety and shades of meaning. The details of the plot were slowly revealed, and often by reading between the lines of what a character says, rather than having motives laid out clearly before us. Sex does not dominate the plot, it is about relationships, companionship and the unexpected development of love. I also liked that the [five] stories linked to each other because I was so immersed in the world Dusk had created that I didn't want to leave it."

My congratulations to the other authors and artists who have been honored; I was pleased to notice the names of some of my blog readers.

On my awards page, you can see e-books of mine that received honors in previous years.
 

REVIEWS

"If you like Dark and brooding and BDSM, I would highly recommended it . . ." —Amazon (Roger G. Grace) on Love and Betrayal (The Eternal Dungeon).

"I don't quite understand why Elsdon suddenly is crushing hard on Layle.. . . It seemed to turn into a romcom. Heroine's gossiping with her bestie about omg I can't figure this guy out at ALL, and bestie's like, 'well, I mean he seems to respect me because I don't fawn over him, so maybe he's looking for that,' heroine's like 'well, he does seem to like it when I'm assertive; maybe he wants me to assert myself more.' They do this as the bestie sorts through her clothes. (Okay, fine it's probably for laundry in this one, but close enough.)" —Goodreads (Ayanna) on Love and Betrayal (The Eternal Dungeon).

"The only reason [I kept] glued to the text was the text. It flows. I don't know how else to put it. It's like listening to music that's so translucent and harmonic you barely notice it's there; instinctively you just bathe in it. The style of writing, the whole world created by the author . . . Elsdon, his timidness and hesitance which grew into something so magnificent, and Layle, who just took my breath away and made me want to scream at the same time." —Goodreads (Jaz) on Love and Betrayal (The Eternal Dungeon).
 

NaNoWriMo & HOLIDAY GIFT STORY PROMPTS

NaNoWriMo Participant 2014

I'm seeking Writing Buddies at NaNoWriMo (this is my first year doing NaNo), and I'm asking readers for prompt requests for my holiday gift story this year.
 

BORROW MY BOOKS

On my fiction series pages, I've added links to my e-books at Scribd (my other Scribd books are here) and Oyster. At either of these e-book subscription services, you pay a flat monthly fee to borrow as many e-books as you'd like. (To those of you who are wondering: I get paid the same for a borrow at Scribd or Oyster as I do for a sale at most online bookstores.)

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Historical speculative fiction and suspenseful lgbtq novels. All e-books are DRM-free; new e-books and reissues are multiformat.
 

NEW BOOK BUNDLE: Mercy's Prisoner (Volume 1 of Life Prison)

Mercy's Prisoner

"'You have committed a vile and savage act, one that any other nation would punish with death. Our punishment, on the other hand, will only be to give you what you want. You have sought to live in a world without boundaries of civilization, and such a world shall henceforth be your dwelling place.'"

A cold-hearted murderer. A vicious abuser. A young man hiding a shameful secret. A bewildered immigrant. A pure-minded spy.

All of these men have found their appointed places at Mercy Life Prison, where it is easy to tell who your enemies are. But a new visitor to Mercy is about to challenge decades-old customs. Now these men's worst enemies may be hiding behind masks . . . and so may their closest allies.

"Mercy's Prisoner" can be read on its own or as the second volume in the Life Prison series. Friendship, desire between men, and the costs of corruption and integrity are examined in this multicultural speculative fiction series, which is inspired by prison life at the end of the nineteenth century.
 

VOLUME CONTENTS

Life Prison. In the unmerciful world of Mercy Prison, there is no rule but unending pain. For Merrick, the arrival of his new guard provides hope that he may break beyond the boundaries of his life prison. But appearances can be deceptive, and Merrick does not yet recognize the danger this guard poses to his future.

Men and Lads. Two guards. Two prisoners. A multitude of problems.

Milord. He was the model prisoner, respectful to his guards and loyal to his fellow prisoners. What no one knew was that he held the key to destruction.

Isolation. Being locked in a prison cell can cause a man to re-examine his priorities. Especially when the door never opens.

Curious. His job is to guard the prisoners. But against what?

Mercy's Prisoner: Epilogue.

Mercy's Prisoner: Historical Note.
 

Tags: romance, friendship, comradeship, bisexual and gay characters, asexual and celibate characters, bdsm characters (in one story), multicultural characters, prisoners, guards, wardens, rebels, spies.


Excerpt

I had trouble sleeping that night. I don't know why; sleep had always been my one blessing at Mercy, transporting me back to the pleasant days preceding my arrest. I usually woke with a smile on my face. But tonight, tired though I was, I found myself staring up at the ceiling, hour after tedious hour, wishing there were cracks there that I could count.

Some of the prisoners had started a debate the previous year over what was most painful about Mercy. Was it the separation from family and friends? The beatings? The humiliations? The backbreaking work? The rapes? The list went on and on.

I hadn't participated in the debate, which, like all such conversations, had taken the form of shouts exchanged between the cells. There was a reason I'd been granted the luxury of a single-man cell: my last three cellmates had been prepared to murder me rather than live another moment with me. Since the death of a prisoner was not, alas, one of the many pains permitted at a life prison, Mercy's Keeper had finally dealt with the problem by giving me a cell of my own – which, of course, had been my plan all along. It was irritating to have to endure being strangled three times in order to achieve what I wanted.

Particularly since I couldn't hope that the stranglings would be successful.

Though I had no desire to become chummy with the bog-scum who inhabited this place, my own unspoken contribution to the debate was that boredom was the greatest pain. Boredom didn't come often – most days after work I was barely awake enough to do whatever my present guard required of me – but when it occurred, it was excruciating, like being flayed slowly by a dagger. I often thought that, if I were ever broken into madness, it would be through such a spell of boredom.

I say all this to explain why, when I heard the cell door being opened at lamp-lighting time, my first thought was not (as one might expect), "Oh, no, not again," but rather, "Thank the gods, something new." I rolled over onto my stomach and raised my head to look.

He was a slightly built man; I could see that at once from the outline of his shape against the fire in the pit. With my eyes still dazzled by the newly lit lamps, I couldn't immediately make out the man's face, but I could see one of his hands, gripping hard the hilt of his dagger. That grip stopped my heart for a moment, but even my wildest imagination couldn't hope that the new guard would start our acquaintance by stabbing me, so I raised my eyes to his face.

And my heart stopped once more. I jerked upright in bed, twinging an old hip wound as I did so. I had been rather foolish during my first year, testing the guards in various ways. I winced.

The guard said softly, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."

"Not at all," I said through gritted teeth as I rubbed my hip. "I'll return the favor when I can."

It took no artifice on my part to sound annoyed, though the annoyance was aimed solely at myself. This was not the guard I had been preparing myself for. I had expected a rod-mutilating monster, and what I found myself faced with was a young man.

His face came full into the light as he stepped forward. Wearing the uniform of a Compassion guard, he looked even more like his father: he had the same thin lips and the same straight eyebrows. But the eyes were empty of all coldness – indeed, of all expression of any sort – and there was no smile on his lips, cruel or otherwise.

"My name is Thomas," he said. "I'm your new guard."

I noted the use of his given name rather than his paternal name, and with the instinct of a veteran fighter I dropped and made my attack accordingly. "Ah, yes," I said. "The son of Compassion's Keeper. I can expect great deeds from you, I'm sure."

His lips grew even thinner, but that was all; it seemed that he was well used to this mode of attack. He said, as though I had not spoken, "My job is to provide service to you during your stay at this prison, and to make your stay as comfortable as is possible under your circumstances. If you have any needs, I hope you will let me know of them."

I stared at him open-mouthed for a moment, and then I gave a hoot of laughter that resounded through the entire level. The early-morning conversations across the fire-pit paused briefly, and Sedgewick, who was passing my cell, glanced in with narrowed eyes before continuing on.

"Let me – let me understand you correctly," I said, struggling to gain control of myself. "You'll give me any service I want?"

"Any service that is in accordance with the rules of your stay."

"But the only rule is that I should not be permitted escape, either through death or any other means. So you'll give me anything else?"

"If it's within reason, yes."

"Anything at all?"

"Tell me what you want, and I'll be able to give you a firm answer." His patience, I saw with delight, was wearing down.

"Fine," I said, leaning back and pulling off the blanket to reveal my body underneath. I had given up wearing clothes at bedtime several guards before. "I want you to come over here and service me on your knees."
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Mercy's Prisoner.


ONLINE FICTION

Reposted:

A Sexual Minority Speaks Out (Rebels). "I am an adult male belonging to a rare minority group that is called, in layman's language, Plain Vanilla Straight. I have had these sexual desires for as long as I can remember. . ."

For adult readers. Tags: contemporary satire, heterosexual characters, far-from-straight characters, business people, police, church folk, psychology.
 

RECENT CATEGORY BESTSELLERS

Click on the covers for more information. Spy Hill, First Time, In Training, and As a Seeker are also recently reissued in multiformat.

Spy HillMen and LadsTrialCell-matesLost HavenRe-creationThe BreakingLove and BetrayalFirst TimeIn TrainingAs a SeekerBarbariansHiddenBondsSearching
 

REVIEWS

"Really well written, sexy and intelligent." —Amazon (Jason Lawrence) [review to an out-of-print edition] on Transformation (The Eternal Dungeon).

"This story is set in a prison where the jailers are psychologists who use any means necessary to get to the truth of the crime. Most times torture works. Sometimes friendship works." —Goodreads (Rachael) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).

"The world-building – especially all the detail given about the Eternal Dungeon, and hints about the world abroad – are incredibly interesting.. . . The 'romance' is really only hinted at towards the end, which seems to imply another installment might continue on the theme (or revisit the characters) . . .  For myself, it was just fine, as I think throwing in a romantic arc would have dampened what made the story so interesting in the first place." —Goodreads (Devon) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).

"I'm really glad I got to read it. It's pretty special." —All Romance eBooks (Lulubizou) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).

"More to the story than you'd expect . . . very engaging." —Amazon (EMH) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).

"I wish I could purchase the rest of this series now. If they are as compelling as this one I wouldn't come up for air until I had read each one." —Barnes & Noble (customer review) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).
 

NEW FICTION CYCLE: YES, MY LIEGE

I've done a bit of shuffling of my fiction series in order to better group together similar series. The Three Lands, Princeling, and Darkling Plain are now all part of Yes, My Liege, a cycle of fantasy novels about the bonds of affection in service, friendship, and romance.
 

AMAZON STOREFRONT

Those of you who prefer to shop by book cover at Amazon may be interested in my new Amazon storefront, where my Kindle e-books are divided by series. I was able to build this nifty storefront as a result of becoming an Amazon Associate.

(And no, this doesn't mean that I've gone over to the Dark Side. My e-books are still available at other stores.)
 

SOCIAL NETWORKS

Speaking of the Dark Side, I've finally given in and created a Facebook page:

facebook.com/loveindarksettings

Like my Twitter and Goodreads accounts, my Facebook account will link to my blog entries. I've also updated my list of social networking profiles to add my profiles at several authors' forums: KBoards Writers' Cafe, Rainbow Romance Writers, Romance Divas, and Romance Writers of America.
 

TAGS

I've added new items to the tags page:

* female homoromantic love, female romantic friendship, and female classical friendship.
* service love (lord/liegeman, master/servant, etc.).
* polyamory and multiple partners (in romantic friendship, romance, or just plain sex).

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"I admit, I was ready to dislike this novella as soon as I started it: a young man in prison for a nefarious crime (killing children) has to pay his debt becoming a whore, first raped by the prison guards, and then sold to the relatives of the children he killed. . . . I [came] to deeply care for both the young man and the young lord [who was one of the relatives]; towards the end, it seemed almost a fairy tale, a tragedy turned [into] romance . . . but that wasn't surprising, cause, [from] what I remember, the best fairy tales are indeed tragic love stories." —My Reviews and Ramblings (Elisa Rolle) on Debt Price (Master/Other).

"Slightly different in comparison to other serials I read by the same author due to the sci-fi/futuristic setting instead of an historical one, there is in any case a common thread. The primitive and passionate nature of human beings is tamed by the force of intellect or by the ability to dominate their own emotions. . . . The bond between Egon and Halvar is there, and it was real, I [came] even to see it turned from captive to protector, with Egon caring for [his captor], and dreading the time when he will die, cause it will deprive Egon of his mainstay, the reason why he managed to find a balance in his own existence as a slave." —My Reviews and Ramblings (Elisa Rolle) on Pleasure (Slaves of the Northern Corporate Dominion).

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"A love story between a young lord and his new slave [which] combines rich worldbuilding and characterization to produce a touching sweet romance.. . . Perhaps a good comparison is Mary Renault's The Persian Boy, but without the distance Renault's romantic elements usually come with. This is immediate and tender." —T. C. Mill on Re-creation (The Three Lands).
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"Wonderfully written. A harsh tale told by the slave to a boy too young to really understand it at first. Over a few days a boy grows up and learns just how unfair his world is." —Amazon (Gina) on Re-creation (The Three Lands).

"It's so dark, so intriguing. Peterson is able to build a fascinating world in 84 pages. . . . It is a story that definitely will stay with you for a while." —Solace in Another World (Mierke) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"I was so focused on the relationship and where it was leading that i read the book in one setting. Do yourself a favor and read this series of books. Mr Peterson does not disappoint." —Barnes & Noble (customer review) on Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon).
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"[The prisoner Llewellyn] manipulates the guards to get what he wants, until he's paired up with Milord, a guard with honour and a tight control on his emotions. . . . [The setting is] a mix of historical and fantasy, with enough detail given in this short format to be able to understand what's happening in this story but with other details that are only alluded to and which made me want to seek out other stories [in the series]. .. . If you like dark romance stories then this would be a good one to pick up." —Brief Encounters (Jenre) on Milord (Life Prison), with major spoilers.
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"When I started reading, I had no idea where this would go. The prince was very naive. The slave a bit too hardened. But it all became clear and a friendship developed. . . . Such a short tale left me with much to think about." —Amazon (Lee Phillips) on Re-creation (The Three Lands).

"Strangely awesome. . . . Full of twists and turns and half-revealed truths, the reader is led down a path of mysteries and surprises. . . . I found this tale to be riveting and rewarding – Dusk Peterson at her best!" —Amazon (Lee Phillips) on Love and Betrayal (The Eternal Dungeon).

"Terrible, horrible, and a true love story. I very seldom say anything is a 'must-read'. (After all, we do all have different tastes . . .) But, if you are a Yaoi lover with a taste for the darker side, Dusk Peterson's The Breaking, Love and Betrayal and Death Watch are indeed 'must-reads'." —Amazon (Lee Phillips) on Death Watch (The Eternal Dungeon), with spoilers for Rebirth and a different take on one of the characters' motives than I have, but hey, that's why readers exist, right? To bring out different facets in a character.

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
BDSM Book Reviews (link includes non-worksafe images) on Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon).
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"Dusk Peterson is 'different' . . . in a good way. Her writing style .. . can be a little difficult at first. Once you get the hang of it, though, hang on for some great reading!" —Amazon (Lee Phillips) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Review: Waterman

"The hero's parents are hilariously daffy and heartbreakingly heroic and heartbreakingly wrong – just like parents always are, only larger than life and twice as true. . . . Plus the story absolutely nails all kinds of abolition-related power dynamics which almost never get into slave fiction because they're so subtle and awkward – and here they're not just acknowledged, they're hot. So, in summary, the emotions and ethics and world-building are rich, deeply satisfying and sexy." —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine) on The Abolitionist (Waterman).
 

New series page: "Just the Facts, Ma'am"

I now have a page devoted to my current and upcoming nonfiction e-books: Just the Facts, Ma'am.

(If you're one of my fiction readers, don't worry; I still have plenty of fiction e-books lined up to publish.)
 

New tag: "New Adult"

I've been struggling for a while now with the problem of how to easily describe my numerous coming-of-age stories that are aimed at readers of adult literature. I finally found the term I was searching for: new adult. I've accordingly added this term to the tags page.
 

New e-bookstores: All Romance eBooks, etc.

I've begun uploading my books at All Romance eBooks and OmniLit. Romance-related titles will appear at both stores.

Kobo is now pairing with independent bookstores in the United States to give them a share of the profits on e-books sold through Kobo's bookstore. Not all of the bookstores on the linked list sell Kobo e-books (some simply sell Kobo e-readers), but if you have a favorite bookstore that you'd like to support, it's worth checking to see whether it's on the list.

The list of international e-bookstores carrying my titles has grown so large that I've divided it by country. I've heard that buying items from U.S. e-bookstores can be a frustrating and expensive experience for some non-U.S. readers, so I hope that this list will provide those readers with a more convenient way to buy my e-books.

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"The story of a sweet and courageous submissive helping his tormented but formidable dominant get it together . . . It's hot like [cough], and soul-searing beyond romance." —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine) on Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon).

"A rich and tender fantasy rooted in solid historical research. . .. I know it sounds like a BDSM fantasy cliché – terrified prisoner interrogated by grim torturer. But the prisoner is surprised, the torturer is surprised, and you will be too by the wheels within wheels within the characters, setting and plot." —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).

"This story subverts heaps of slash clichés – who writes about people losing their erections, triggering their partners, or taking time out to solve equipment problems? But I didn't even notice all that good stuff because I was having far too good a time enjoying the hot first-time-ness and power dynamics." —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine) on First Time (The Eternal Dungeon).

"Powerful, tender love, against the backdrop of a brilliantly imagined dungeon of horrors, unbound by any ethical code. You get more than a whole novel's worth of character, plot twists and world-building. —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine) on The Consultation (The Eternal Dungeon).

"The resolution is so . . . beautiful. Tragic, glorious, sweet. You need words like catharsis and anagnorisis to talk about the ending of this story." —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine) on Barbarians (The Eternal Dungeon).

"This story really is dark comedy of the best kind. I mean, who gets professional advice from the person you're torturing?" —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine) on Hidden (The Eternal Dungeon).

"This is a prequel to The Eternal Dungeon, and unlike most prequels, it's good stuff on its own. You will be amazed at all the layers hiding behind the weaponless terrorist forcing his way into the palace." —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine) on The Unanswered Question (The Eternal Dungeon).

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"If you like reading about masters and slaves, you will love this collection. You get caring masters, neglectful masters, abusive masters, devoted slaves defying their masters, despairing slaves being comforted and trained. . . . Also, the hurt/comfort is amazing, I cried over this book. The heroes go through such emotional agony that it's hard to believe there can be enough comfort to make it worthwhile – but it is!" —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine) on Waterman: a Turn-of-the-Century Toughs omnibus of historical fantasy and retrofuture science fiction.

"This book broke my heart. All pieces from my shattered heart were scattered in different directions. Each page cast them away, further and further away from me. When I believed hope was lost, and nothing could be saved, I had a surprise . . ." —Goodreads (Bookwatcher) on Debt Price (Master/Other).

"This is a series that shows enormous promise, with truly fabulous characters, and perfect worldbuilding. (Peterson gave me actual nightmares. That's gotta be a sign of evocative writing. I dreamed all night that I was being prepared for Seeking. It was not restful.)" —Goodreads (Emma) on The Eternal Dungeon: a Turn-of-the-Century Toughs omnibus of historical fantasy novels.

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"This story does a great job of showing how Layle became so important to the Eternal Dungeon, and of giving more insight into his character." —Review (with major spoilers for the first volume of the series, but not for this particular story) of The Unanswered Question (The Eternal Dungeon) by Zoe Cannon at LibraryThing.
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"Another sneaky bit of psychological exploration, the author's specialty." —Four-and-a-half-star review of Noble (Princeling) by Rosemary O'Malley at Goodreads.

"Intriguing description of alternative birth of psychology – in a dungeon. Layle is an incredible character, complex and unsettling. . . . [The series] requires much from the reader, especially when it requires from the reader to see things from the characters' perspective that is vastly different from our own. . . . Fascinating premise and characters I would like to know more about." —Four-star review (with major spoilers) of The Eternal Dungeon by Lady*M at Goodreads.

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"A story of the young man's struggles to recover and to understand his place in a world that doesn't seem to want him. . . . [It's] a story of love and compassion and, ultimately, is a promise that sometimes the intent to sacrifice is equal to succeeding in that sacrifice in order to honor a debt." —Four-and-a-half-star review (with minor spoilers) of Debt Price (Master/Other) by Lisa at The Novel Approach.

"An unconventional and unexpected love story between two men who aren't free in any sense of the word, but who nonetheless forge a loving bond." —Four-star review of Pleasure (Master/Other) by Lisa at The Novel Approach.

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