Welcome to our 3rd week of celebrations for the amazing
In this week's post we'll look at The Village series, plus a personal story Darien has chosen to share. There's also another chance to win.
First up, Safe In Your Fire
When asked to locate and interview an off-the-grid former child star for a magazine feature, novice journalist Rudy Sansone thinks he’s getting yet another demeaning assignment from his boss. But finding ‘Baby James’ Waterman proves to be a personal and professional challenge, as the elusive, hostile, and surprisingly sexy James is nothing that Rudy expected.
But Rudy’s scrappy motivation to get the story at all costs plunges him into the mountain community of Singing Bear Village, where he senses strange and frightening secrets simmering beneath the surface.
But what’s simmering between Rudy and his reluctant interview subject is something more carnal and heated, and his desire to be consumed by it clouds his judgement when warning bells urge him to flee the village and never look back.
Before his footfalls could announce his approach, Rudy paused. He studied the figure of the man tending the fire, noting now that he also held a cigar. The man took a puff, smoke spiraling wildly away from him as the wind grabbed it.
He was tall, as James Waterman had appeared in his photographs. But unlike the teen in the pictures, this man had a thick, solid torso and broad shoulders. A tangle of long, wavy blond hair fell to his collar, rustling in the breeze. He wore no jacket, just jeans and a black, long-sleeved tee shirt that hugged a muscled back. The jeans were faded and baggy, but Rudy could still see powerful thighs and an ass that filled out the pockets. Sand-dusted brown hiking boots completed the ensemble.
God I love a man with a little meat on him.
A random, inappropriate thought to have under the circumstances. Rudy shook himself out of the sex zone, recalling his focus and reason for being here.
Was this James? This windswept vision on the beach? He was tall. He was blond. It had been ten years since that last photo was taken, but…
Just go talk to him for fuck sakes, find out for yourself.
Rudy started toward the fire, shoes crunching on grainy sand. The blond man turned toward him, casually at first, like he expected it to be someone he knew. When he spotted Rudy, he froze, gripping the branch he’d been using to tend the fire, cigar in his other hand.
“Hi,” Rudy said. “Are you JT?”
Rudy stopped walking when he got no answer, pinned under the man’s frozen stare. The scruff along his jaw was darker than his hair, cheeks slightly wind-burned.
But the eyes were the key. Where they’d appeared dark in the pictures Rudy had, he could see, even with the distance between them, that they were actually blue. But it made no difference, aside from lending them luminosity. The shape was still the same. And Rudy knew without a doubt that he was looking at James Thomas Waterman. Older, more filled out, the bones in his face thicker—but the eyes didn’t lie. And though Rudy could clearly see it was the same person, pictures simply did not do this man justice. He was absolutely mesmerizing, beautiful and earthy, masculine and magical in the firelight.
But then the mystical sex-creature spoke, and it was like a brick upside the head, the dreamy spell shattering.
“You’re trespassing, asshole. Fuck off, you slimy piece of media shit, or I’ll have you arrested.” Turning toward the fire, he tossed his cigar into the flames. “Unless you prefer a mandibular fracture by way of my fist. Get off my property.”
Somewhere, Rudy imagined, a unicorn was dying.
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Book 2, Deep In Your Shadows
It’s been three months since the team were instructed to stay off the mountain, and Christian is going a little stir crazy. Until one rainy afternoon an object crashes into the water in Singing Bear Village, creating temporary chaos and confusion in the peaceful lakeside community. Given past events, Christian and his crew call Ogden, and their boss brings a specialized team to take over the situation, shutting out local law enforcement.
But Sheriff Myles Murphy doesn’t like being shut out, and is furious to have his authority superseded. Christian assures his boss that he can handle the local sheriff and assuage his suspicions, but it won’t be so easy.
Because while Christian has harbored a secret crush on the man for two years, Sheriff Myles Murphy despises him.
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Book 3, Trapped In Your Storm
Autumn has local DJ and disinformation agent Elliot Nicholson feeling renewed. He’s moved past the depression and anxiety that plagued him over the summer, and lately his job has been blessedly free of crisis. But for Elliot and his colleagues, nothing remains peaceful for long in Singing Bear Village. Baz, their outlandish ambassador, may be missing.
Strange anomalies in the forest suggest something’s amiss with their neighbors under the mountain. And an online conspiracy theorist claims to know all the team’s secrets, and is threatening exposure. Thankfully, Elliot has Nolan, his loyal friend and teammate who’s always kept him grounded.
But one night an innocent lark goes too far, and Elliot is knocked off-balance when Nolan starts looking at him in a different way.
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And book 4, Caught In Your Wake
When forest ranger Tim Patterson learned the frightening truth about his home town, it rocked his world. He’s always prided himself on being brave and strong, but it took some time to adjust to this new reality. With the help of his best friend Sheriff Myles Murphy, Tim has found his way back to his old self, though he’s still angry at the core team in Singing Bear Village for keeping him in the dark. Now he has to swallow his pride and ask for their help, because there are things going on in the forest lately he can’t explain.
What he doesn’t expect is that help to include the return of Tyler, who’s been gone from the village for ages. Tyler, the spooky, sexy young soldier who was there for Tim on a night he wasn’t brave or strong. A night he’d love to forget but can’t seem to get out of his mind.
“Why were you recruited?”
Tyler stared at him, silent.
“Does your black ops stare translate to ‘Shut up now, Tim’ or something like that?”
“Yeah. Something like that.”
“I see. Just give me a hint. Myles said Christian got recruited after he broke into the Pentagon. You do something like that?”
“No.” Tyler smiled. “I wasn’t recruited because I had a crazy-smart brain like JT or because I was a talented child-thief like Christian or anything like that. I’m here because I survived something when all odds were against me surviving. Ogden decided I was brave and that he could use me. And that really is the last I’m going to say about it.”
“Okay, got it.” Tim moved to the sofa, sitting down beside Tyler. “But again, thank you for prepping me today. You didn’t have to.”
Tyler eyed Tim shyly, clearly not expecting him to suddenly be there, sidled up right next to him. He didn’t look disappointed, but perhaps a bit flustered, which pleased Tim. It wasn’t easy to catch Tyler in a moment of discomposure. “I just want this all to go smoothly,” Tyler said. His lashes dipped as he cast his gaze to the floor. “If you’re in a good state of mind, helps everyone.”
“I see. So it’s all just work-related.”
Tim laughed. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe you actually care for me?”
“Nonsense,” Tyler said, but his cheeks dimpled with a tight smile.
“Ah, okay, you don’t care. My mistake.” Resting a hand on Tyler’s thigh, he said, “Then maybe you just want to make sure I survive it all so we can have that casual sex you were talking about last night.”
“Hmm.” Tyler glanced at the clock on the wall. “They’re gonna need us over there soon. But we can probably spare a minute if you want to fuck now.”
“A whole minute, huh? Sounds romantic.”
“Who said anything about romantic?”
“I see. Then what, you want me to just bend you over and jackhammer you?”
“I told you last night. I’ll let you do whatever you want. So sure. Jackhammer works for me.”
“What if it doesn’t work for me? What if I want something else?”
Tyler looked wary. “Like what?”
“Ah, something with a bit more feeling, maybe?”
“Feeling?” Tyler huffed, but a pink flush climbed his neck. “You’ll get off. That’s a feeling.”
“Not just that kind of feeling.” Tim placed his hand flat on Tyler’s chest.
Tyler glanced down, then eyed Tim with amusement. “You want to touch my chest?”
“Doesn’t sound nearly as fun as fucking, but okay. Whatever works for you.”
“Shh, be quiet. I’m checking for a heartbeat.”
“Oh you’re hilarious, Patterson.”
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There's also a Holiday Special story available called Stirring Creatures, set between books 3 and 4, which you can find here.
The extent to which setting is important depends on the book, the author, a bunch of different things. For me setting is extremely important, because if I can’t see, feel, taste, and smell the world I’m writing in, I feel like I’m flying blind. Even if I don’t use a ‘real place’ for a book’s setting, I have to get to know it inside and out. In my Village Series for example, I literally have a little hand-drawn map of the place, and know every corner store and bend in the road, whose house is where, etc. It’s fictional, but I see it like it is a real place.
But it’s not just that the setting has to feel real, it also has to feel good. Which leads us to how I ended up using my old Boston neighborhood as a setting for my Guys Series trilogy (Guys on Top, Guys on the Side, Guys on the Bottom). When I lived there, that place I eventually wrote about, I was in my first real serious relationship. I thought it was an okay relationship at the time. It wasn’t. I can see that clearly now, because hindsight is everything. The kicker was I couldn’t really see how big the problems in my relationship were at the time, because I was so happy with everything else in my life. I loved where I lived. Loved it. That neighborhood right near the pond. I had good friends living nearby all around me, we saw each other constantly, and there were always plans, always something fun going on. I was so fulfilled that I didn’t notice my intimate relationship was not the source of my happiness…not even a source of my happiness. Until my significant other said he wanted to move away from the city.
“Are you joking?” I asked. Because he must be. He had to be. Move away from the city? From this neighborhood? From all our friends? He said he wanted to be closer to his family. This was something I truly did not understand. Not only because his family was annoying and boring and judgmental, but because we were grownups now. Why on earth did he feel the need to be closer to his family? My own family were scattered all over the place, I was only on good terms with a portion of them, and had spent my childhood dreaming of the day I could sever myself from them and be out on my own. We got together on holidays and such sometimes, and it was enough. But now this person I lived with wanted to uproot me so he could live down the street from his family, taking me away from my found family. From my happiness. My support network. My neighborhood that I loved. All so he could live in the suburbs near his mommy and daddy. But I was dumb and inexperienced, so figured suffering must be a relationship requirement or something. So we moved. I went with him. And was miserable. The relationship ended not long after.
I never quite got that utopia back, but it stayed with me, and I was able to take something amazing from it, to revisit it and share it when I wrote my Guys Series. Through writing those three books, I got to hang out in my old neighborhood again, and explore in a unique way that brief moment in time when everything made sense, when everything felt so good that I didn’t even notice I was starting to hate my boyfriend. The setting made the writing flow easier and gave me some of my most beloved characters.
So in hindsight? It was all worth it.
About the author:
Author Darien Cox lives in New England and enjoys using romantic fiction to explore the intensity, insanity, humor, and chaos that accompanies Cupid’s arrow.
Thanks for joining us today to celebrate this fabulous author with us. Come back next week for more of Darien's books, our author interview, and one more chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!