Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Good Karma, Good Books: Ransom (Book 1 of the Royal Navy series) by Lee Rowan


Good Karma, Good Books: Ransom (Book 1 of the Royal Navy series) by Lee Rowan

Every Wednesday, I put on my pimp clothes (I favor feathered hats and zebra prints
with a little crushed velvet) and help promote the new or old work of some of my favorite fellow authors. Be sure to stop by every week and see what’s new. 

This week, I’m all about RANSOM by Lee Rowan.

Here’s what Lee has to say about "Ransom:"Ransom was my first published work, and will always be special to me--partly because it was nominated, and then won, the first-ever LGBT Eppie award in 2007.  It's also still the most complicated story I've written, because there are three sets of characters all moving toward the same point in time, and they had to get there all together.  I had huge handwritten timelines posted all over my writing area.  (I also had my first editor -- now my wife -- giving me her left-brained input:  "You have to change the time for this scene, a full moon would rise a lot earlier..."

I've also got a couple of close friends who were sexually abused in their youth, and I wanted a story that had a hero who had to deal with that and triumph over it. David Archer kind of surprised me, both in Ransom and in the sequels - a real case of discovering who the characters really were.  I had planned a series of adventures on the ocean waves -  a sort of romanticized Master and Commander, even though I knew that level of period style was beyond me. 

What I got was something different.  Will Marshall's sexual innocence was kind of endearing, but it created problems because he was not only growing up very fast, he was much more intense than I'd realized he would be -- and found his ambitions affected and altered by his love for Davy.  By the end of the second book, I realized that the universe was going to be more complicated than I'd ever imagined.

This was also my first attempt at writing sex... probably the most difficult part, so I stuck to the emotions and basic physical feelings -- I know brains are wired differently but not all that differently.  A gay friend paid me a huge compliment when I asked him to beta-read for any physical impossibilities.  He read the story and wrote back, "Are you sure you're a woman?"

Well, yes, I am.  But I grew up on adventure stories and there was nobody like Xena when I was a kid.  Like women who ran away to sea in that era - and there were some - it wasn't a matter of what's in your pants, but can you do the job? 

I never got to climb in the rigging as a child, but I spent a lot of time up in oak trees, and down at the lake.  And I dreamed of white sails....

La Rançon, the French edition of Ransom will be October 27!

An officer, a gentleman... and a sodomite. The first two earn him honor and respect, the third may cost him his life. David Archer realizes how hopeless his attraction to his fellow midshipman is from the moment a newly-arrived William Marshall challenges a sexually abusive shipmate to a duel – and shoots him dead.

To Marshall, the Navy is his one chance to move beyond his humble beginnings. While others spend shore leave carousing, he curls up with a navigation text. When they and their captain are abducted, Archer and Marshall become pawns in a renegade’s sadistic game. To protect the man he loves, David Archer chooses to face his own demons of past abuse returned in a different form. When Marshall learns of Archer’s sacrifice, he discovers what he feels for Davy runs stronger and deeper than friendship. He's in love, for the first time in his life, and he wants to know all about this new emotion.

But first they must escape. Only then will they find out if they can preserve their love without losing their lives
“Davy,” Marshall whispered. “Davy!” He caught his friend by the shoulders. “Wake up!” But Archer, trapped in his nightmare, only fought harder. Worse, he started shouting. Marshall had to clap a hand over his mouth and roll on top of him to stop his thrashing. Damn these nightmares! He didn’t want Archer whipped for creating a disturbance, and his own back would not welcome another beating. “Davy!” he hissed.

The struggling body stilled under his hand. “Wha—Will?”

“Yes. Davy, please, you must be quiet—”

His words were cut off as David’s arms snaked round his bare shoulders, pulling him down. Not an embrace; it was like a drowning man clutching at a straw. Marshall turned his face to get Archer’s hair out of his mouth, and his lips brushed against David’s. They parted, and he was lost. A surge of wild pleasure engulfed him; he found himself holding Davy just as tightly, just as close. It wasn’t exactly passion—more some strange mix of protectiveness and a need he’d never realized, a craving for something tangible in this fearful dark place where all the rules that shaped their world were suspended. For an instant he teetered between sensation and control, then the riptide of feeling yanked him under.

Some small part of his mind worried over the problem while his body hurled itself eagerly into the maelstrom. Wildfire blazed from his mouth all the way to his toes, kindling a flame in his groin as he felt himself harden. His lips tingled, the sweet hot touch of Davy’s mouth drawing his tongue deep inside—like kissing a girl but nothing like it, no courtesy, no caution, just a blinding urgency, almost the bloodlust of battle.

But he didn’t want to kill Davy or hurt him—God, no, he just wanted to get closer, somehow. He could feel his own blood racing, could sense another pulse through the thin barrier of cloth between them. He had never in his whole lonely life felt so close to another human being, but there was a familiarity about this, as though he knew exactly what to do. It was incredible, glorious, and hovering just out of reach was the tantalizing promise of one tiny bit more, and he wanted it desperately.

Archer was writhing against him now, one hand tangled in his hair, the other arm locked around his waist. He abandoned himself to the rhythm, hands sliding down with a will of their own to catch Archer's hips. Davy whimpered, and suddenly they were fumbling with fly buttons—their own, each other's, it hardly mattered. Trousers slid away and they were twined together in the straw, rolling around like a couple of young animals, slippery with the sweat of their furious struggle, frantic but silent.

It was like being on deck in a hurricane: no control, no chance of mastery, just holding on for dear life and hoping to survive the cataclysm. Davy's shirt was an obstacle, bunching up between them, and they wrestled that off, lips separating only long enough to get the thing over his head and out of their way.

The wave broke almost immediately as their naked bodies touched full length, small cries drowning in each others' throats. The tidal surge seemed to go on forever, then slowly ebbed until they were two separate beings again, two gasping, spent bodies, two very shocked and bewildered young men. But Davy held his face for a moment longer, time enough for a gentle, piercingly tender kiss. "Thank you," he breathed.

Released, Marshall rolled away, dazed, his body still humming like rigging in a gale. As the feelings calmed and his brain cleared, he realized that what had felt like an age could have lasted barely a minute or two. Had they been overheard? The only sounds he could detect were Archer's ragged breathing, the rustle of the straw, the creaking of the ship.

No alarm outside.

Hardly necessary. Alarm was shrieking within him, and he tried to still it with mundanity. "We—we had better wash up." He groped for the water bucket, shivering as the cold wetness splashed against his belly, rinsing himself, passing the refilled cup to Archer.

His breeches had wrapped themselves around one ankle, and the small problem of untangling them and pulling them back on gave him a moment to try to think. It was like swimming in glue. The enormity of what he had just done nearly paralyzed him. What in the world had possessed him? And Davy had thanked him. For stopping, of course. If he could voluntarily drop dead, this very moment, he would. But of course it couldn't be that easy.

He couldn't see David in the darkness, didn't have to look him in the face; that was a small comfort, since it meant Davy couldn't see him, either.  He couldn't hear Davy's breathing anymore, but sensed that he was waiting.  Speechless with fury, most likely. 

Oh, God, now what?  He sagged against the bulkhead, face in his hands, and struggled for words.  Finally, he took refuge in formality, pushing the phrases out through a throat almost too tight to breathe.  "Mr Archer, I--I most humbly beg your pardon. That was inexcusable, I don't know what came over me-"

Archer had curled into a tight ball, choking on pain, cursing his own stupidity.  He could have just released William, apologized, pretended to be asleep, something.  If only he hadn't said anything!  Well, he wouldn't have to worry anymore about being a pawn in the hostage game; now Will could simply find the Captain and leave.  Or I can just attack Adrian, if I can't kill him I'll just go on fighting until he has to kill me.  He heard Will say something about washing, took the cup that was thrust into his hand, used it to rinse away the stickiness on his belly.   For all the good it would do.  This won't wash off.

Then he heard Will's voice, and his mind finally made sense of the words.  Except that the words didn't make sense.  Why in God's name should William be apologizing to him?  But he sounded terribly upset, as why shouldn't he, and he seemed to be standing there waiting for an answer.  What came over him?  That was too absurd.  Archer swallowed.  "I seem to recall having something to do with it."  His voice sounded almost calm, strange in his own ears.   Well, he had just destroyed the last bit of anything that made his life worth living.   What was there left to fear?   Poor Will was breathing heavily, as though he’d run a mile.   "Will, for God's sake, please sit down before you fall over."

Marshall slid to the deck with a thud, knotting his hands together to keep them from shaking.  "If you wish," he said woodenly, "When we return to Calypso  I shall place myself under arrest for--for indecently assaulting an officer under my command, I shall resign my commission--"

"Are you mad?"  Panic flooded out any other feeling, though Archer had just enough control to keep his voice low.  "Will, that's a hanging offense.  Have you ever seen a hanging?  I have."  Terror made him babble.  "I was eight.  My father thought it would be an eye-opening experience.  He was right.  I didn't sleep for three days."  He took a deep breath and continued, trying to sound more reasonable.  "Even if you had... done anything to harm me, do you think I would say one word to send you to the gallows?" 
Dreamspinner Press ebook
Dreamspinner Press paperback

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