Full Moon in Leo
Publication date: October 1st 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance
Small-town magic, two heavy hearts—one unforgettable winter solstice
Cole Morrison left Jewel’s snow-covered fir trees ten years ago. But after a disastrous family Thanksgiving, Jewel seems like the only place left to go. When a run-in with a gorgeous stranger leaves him with debt to pay, Cole’s escape from his past turns out to be much more than a lonely Christmas vacation.
Jesse Carroway, the local Jewel witch, has been running his family’s successful, small-town Apothecary ever since his grandmother passed away. When Cole stumbles into his shop and accidentally wrecks a good portion of his inventory, Jesse does the only thing he can possibly think of—offers Cole a job and himself some help for the upcoming holiday rush.
Cole’s clumsy with candles and doesn’t trust easily, but soon Jesse gets a peek at the guy behind his bad-boy reputation. As the nights lengthen toward Yule, Jesse wonders if magic is to blame or if Cole might’ve fallen into his life for a reason…
FULL MOON IN LEO—1
Cole looked closely, searching for another hint of familiarity, and came away with none. Finely sculpted bones pressed against the stranger’s skin, carving a sharp jaw into a heart-shaped face. Dark hair was swept back, sheared close to the skin on the sides and kept longer on top. A high-necked sweater clung to his lean frame, the sleeves bundled in his palms. Cole hadn’t realized he’d been staring until he met wide eyes looking back at him from behind silver reading glasses.
“Jesse, do you want soy or almond milk?” Tara said.
Once Jesse turned his gaze to the floor, Cole cleared his throat.
“Who’s that?” Jesse’s voice came out hushed, but The Crow’s Nest was too small for privacy.
“Oh, that’s Cole.” Tara swiveled around the glass case to look at him. “Hey!” Cole immediately whipped toward the window, pretending to busy himself with birds or trees, something, anything else. “Cole, come on, don’t be like that.”
Fucking hell. He turned to face them and forced a pained smile. “Yeah, hi. It’s—I’m Cole.” He braved a longer look at Jesse, whose freckled cheeks were tinged pink.
Tara pointed at him with her pen. Her grin widened again. “He’s an out-of-towner. Old friend of mine; we used to hang out when we were kids.”
“Oh.” Jesse’s throat bobbed when he swallowed. “That’s—”
“It’s been a while, ten years, honestly. He could be a serial killer for all I know.”
Cole rolled his eyes, but a laugh snorted out of him anyway. “Tara.”
“Great, awesome, thank you for making this interaction entirely too awkward to deal with,” Jesse hissed, bashful smile masked by a nervous adjustment of his glasses. He grabbed the hydroflask from the counter and darted out the door. “See you around!”
Cole watched him through the window, how he walked with his shoulders back, his profile crisp and pronounced. Jesse tipped his chin and met Cole’s eyes for a fleeting moment, mouth twisted into a crooked smile, before he stepped past the window and was gone.
“Wait, Jesse!” Tara held a paper bag in one hand, craning over the desk. A group of customers arrived and she paused, biting her lip before she narrowed her eyes at Cole. “C’mere.”
Cole frowned. “No.”
“Come on, I need a favor!” She flashed a smile at the customers. Hi, yes, oh are you visiting? Welcome to Jewel. What can I get for you today? Another pointed glare at Cole. Her lips formed silent words. Please, come on.
Cole shook his head.
Once Tara finished taking orders, she shook the bag at him. “You’ve ghosted me for a decade. You owe me.”
“So, you are mad.” Reluctantly, Cole walked to the counter.
“Of course, I’m mad. Are you kidding me? Ten years, asshole?” She chuckled under her breath. “Not, like, mad mad.”
“Mad enough to extort me for it.”
“Emotional extortion.” She gestured to the bag. “Can you take this to Jesse? He runs the apothecary next door.”
“The guy you just royally embarrassed me in front of? No, Tara, come on—”
“Excuse me, but my best friend vanished into thin air ten years ago and I still bought him breakfast,” Tara said matter-of-factly. She rushed around the barista station, steaming this and pouring that. “He’s real sweet, okay? Just a little skittish.”
“And he runs an… an apothecary? He’s—”
“Cute? Yeah, I know. He makes wreathes, candles, lotions, potions, all of it. Local witch, local sweetheart, local bachelor.” She set her palms on the counter and tilted her head, blowing a strand of hair off her brow. “In case you were wondering.”
Cole didn’t know what to say to something like that. He blinked, surprised, and scoffed. “Still playing matchmaker, Foster?”
Tara scoffed back at him. “Maybe. You scared of a cute guy, Morrison?”
Cole rolled his eyes.
“I’ll sweeten the deal. I’m making almond muffins tomorrow.”
“Another free breakfast?” He shook his head, trying and failing to suppress a grin. Some things never changed, and Tara, thank fucking god, was who she’d always been. Haughty and confident and strong in every way Cole never could be.
But this tasted like forgiveness. Like beginnings, maybe. An olive branch he could actually hold onto.
Tara balanced mugs on a black tray. “Free breakfast and a free latte. Deal?”
Cole snatched the paper bag off the counter. “Deal.”
Brooklyn Ray (they/them) is an award-winning author of Queer Paranormal Romance and Erotica. They’re a fan of fresh brewed tea, long walks through the woods, and evenings spent reading sexy books. They write about witches, necromancers, and other magical creatures, and moonlight as a tarot and palm reader in the Pacific Northwest. Find them on Instagram @brooklynrayauthor
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Edit: You can head over to See Sadie Read to see my review of Full Moon in Leo.
All the World’s Colors
Author: James W. George
Narrator: Angus Freathy, Mindy Escobar-Leanse
Length: 6 hours 34 minutes
Series: The Queen of the Blue, Book 1
Released: Nov. 13, 2020
Publisher: James W. George
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Book one of a brand-new, epic fantasy series by master historical story-teller, James W. George.
Something inconceivable has happened, and all the world’s colors are about to bleed….
Kellia. Kellia the Red. Pagan, seafaring warriors of ancient renown. They have sailed west, ever west, and have discovered an awe-inspiring, unknown land. Is it their salvation, or the seed of their destruction?
Merova and the Throne of Blue. Wealthy, cultured, and the ultimate matriarchy. Kellia’s ancient nemesis, and a realm of secrets, intrigue, and treachery.
The Holy Domain of Sanctia. Piety, sacrifice, and faith. They have a spiritual duty to spread the truth across the seas, and they will sail under the sacred banner of green.
The Confederation of Orange. Cynical, profiteering financiers and lovers of pleasure. If there is a new discovery in this world, they will be poised to exploit it.
Fans of historical fiction and fantasy will delight in this epic saga of empire, conflict, and power.
James W. George is a lover of history and historical fiction. He is a graduate of Boston University and a military veteran. He is currently residing in Virginia with his wife and children.
He published his critically-acclaimed debut novel, My Father’s Kingdom, in January 2017. The novel, set in 1671 New England, depicted the prelude to King Philip’s War. The Indie View gave it five stars: “This is high historical drama handled wonderfully…a tale that will fully engage you on every level.”
My Father’s Kingdom” is a planned trilogy, and book two, The Prophet and the Witch, was published in September 2017. This is an epic novel that spans the entire conflict of King Philip’s War, and includes such notable historical figures as Josiah Winslow, Increase Mather, Metacomet, Benjamin Church, and Mary Rowlandson. The Literary Titan awarded it five stars and a gold medal for October 2017. “Expertly written and instantly engaging from the first few pages…I was captivated…one of the more intellectual of reads.”
Angus Freathy was born and educated in London – that’s the one in England, for you Ohio folks!
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he went to Switzerland to join Nestlé for a 2-year wandering assignment, which lasted 37 years and involved travel and work on every continent (except the cold ones at the top and bottom).
Periods of residence in the U.S., Hong Kong and Switzerland have resulted in a network of friends and acquaintances with an amazing range of world insight and a wide repertoire of mostly excellent jokes.
Since retirement, Angus and his (still working) wife, Debra have lived in Oregon, Maryland and are now in Dublin, Ohio, ‘the only place we have actually chosen to live since we have been married!’.
Following a crushing rejection by the BBC at the age of 19, Angus is re-activating a long-held ambition and launching a new career in voice-over, with the sole intention of having some fun and being in touch with some very talented people.
Mindy Escobar-Leanse is an actor, puppeteer and voice actor. Some puppetry credits include: Dinosaur Train Live! Buddy’s Big Adventure by Henson Studios/PBS, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show off-Broadway, in the UK & Japan tour, Puppet Romeo & Juliet and Puppet Titus Andronicus. Additionally, she’s been collaborating on a play called The Last Rat of Theresienstadt which won awards in Poland, traveled to Bulgaria, Israel and will now be performed in El Paso, TX. Escobar-Leanse began her voice over journey at the end 2019 and is loving every moment! She has done six audiobooks, including a children’s sci-fi book called That Thing in the Sky. Recently, she can be heard as the Bond girl voice in Voodoo Ranger’s IPA campaign and multiple voices in the soon to be released children’s podcast called Cobbler’s Gulch. For Videos and photos of all of Mindy’s work, visit her website: mindyleanse.com.
Q&A with James W. George
- You call this genre “history-inspired fantasy.” Can you tell us more?
- The book is fantasy in the purest sense, in that it’s a world of my own creation. Much like “Game of Thrones”, however, it derives a great deal of inspiration from European history, specifically the 16th century (or thereabouts) and the discovery of the New World.
- Savvy listeners will make connections with the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Viking cultures of Scandinavia and England, the French monarchies, the Spanish missionaries, the Italian and Dutch merchant clans, and the scandalous rumor that dogged Queen Elizabeth I.
- Why did you feel like you needed two narrators?
- I think listeners might love or hate the two narrator format, but I love it. This is a book of contrasts and conflict. The masculine vs. the feminine; the barbaric vs. the refined; the pious and ascetic vs. the profiteering lovers of pleasure. I think this audiobook definitely cried out for both male and female voice actors.
- How did you select your narrators?
- I’m proud to say this is my third audiobook with Angus, so an easy choice there. A consummate professional, and a simply remarkable voice. He’s a great example of why we Yanks are so fixated on everything British when it comes to our entertainment. The 2nd narrator was a simple audition process, and I was very fortunate Mindy Escobar-Leanse auditioned. I’ve been astounded by Mindy’s talent, and she has truly captured these characters.
- How closely did you work with your narrators before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- Surprisingly little. I set the foundation with pronunciations (Bromid? Averrie?) and just turned them loose. They are both such talented performers that they were entirely self-directed.
- Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects was developing the voices for Marcel and Averrie. They needed to be child-like, but not childish. Averrie needed to convey a haughty, imperious nature, qualities not usually found in a girl so young, and Mindy portrayed her wonderfully.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- I’d say the relationship between color and societies. I think the visual imagery associated with flags, uniforms, and colors is quite striking. Sometimes colors can be so ubiquitous that they become almost synonymous with a culture. British redcoats. The all-encompassing red of the Soviet Union. Orange and Dutch culture. Orange and Protestantism. Green and Ireland.
- You may be familiar with the controversy associated with the development of the modern-day Canadian flag; everything red was associated with British culture, and everything blue was associated with the French, so it was difficult for them to agree on anything. Perhaps this is why I find strategy games like Catan and Risk to be so enthralling – the hypnotic imagery of watching colors and kingdoms expand and contract across the world.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- It’s important to dabble in different projects and diverse genres. I’ve devoted a lot of effort to my Puritan fiction, so it’s fun to step back and invent my own world. It’s a joy to invent my own empires, monarchies, geography, and religions.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- The Kellian Hymns of Battle certainly resonate! Imagine a commander of a barbarian vessel extemporaneously shrieking his prayers to the gods. Angus tactfully delegated the task to my teenage son. I think any throng of bloodthirsty Kellian marauders would be impressed with the results.
- But that’s only the first thing that comes to mind. Angus and Mindy magnificently captured so many moments and emotions I couldn’t possibly list them all. Olmar’s transformation, Averrie’s sinister condescension, Bromid’s scheming, Burboh’s sincere inquisitiveness, Amira’s lustful passion…this audiobook really transports the listener to a different world.
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
- Jeppe Beck Laursen probably is not a household name, but if you’ve seen “The Last Kingdom”, he portrays Haesten the Dane. He is blessed with a tremendous screen presence, and I could definitely see him as Jarrow. I’d love to see Beatie Edney as Bromid (you may know her from Poldark). Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) can steal a scene or two as Aniliese SDR. Ben Hawkey, one of the minor characters from Game of Thrones, (Hot Pie) can take on Burboh the Cleric.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- There are approximately five million books for sale in the Amazon Kindle store. Literally. Five million. If you genuinely believe the world needs another one, you’d better be extremely passionate about it.
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- There is nothing you can do successfully if you don’t have a great narrator. (Or two great narrators!)
- What’s next for you?
- It’s time to finish up the Puritan New England trilogy. It’s time for Israel Brewster and Linto to meet their destinies.
Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.