Welcome to our third week of celebrations for the amazin
First up, Buck Baxter, Love Detective
Welcome to Wilde City, 1924—a crane on top of every skyscraper, a party in every club, a romance on every dance floor, a shooting every night, a broken heart on every street corner and a dirty secret behind every window with the curtain drawn. It’s the kinda town that keeps Buck Baxter, private detective, in business.
For despite his fondness for a cold gin and a pipe stuffed with cannabis, Buck is the best gumshoe in Wilde City. Why? Because he has rules: never make friends, never make enemies, and never ever fall in love. That is until the day playboy nightclub owner Holden Hart swings into town. He’s suave, he’s charming, he’s chivalrous… and he’s exactly the kinda man that Buck will break all the rules for.
From the romance of the Rainbow Palace atop the Wilde City Tower, to the dazzling debauchery of the gentlemen’s parlor The Velvet Viper—from the history surrounding the sinister convent on the hill better known Hell’s Bells, to the lantern-lit opium barge, The Peking Empress, run by the mystical Madame Chang—could Buck be about to unravel the greatest mystery of them all…
The mystery of love?
Wilde City, 1924, a crane on the top of every skyscraper, a party in every club, a romance on every dance floor, a shooting every night, a broken heart on every street corner and a dirty secret behind every window with the curtains drawn. It’s a city crammed with tough guys, dangerous women, loud jazz, and illegal booze; the kinda place where everyone carries a hipflask in their pocket and a spare pistol in their sock, no matter whether they’re dealing opium in a dark alley in Little Chinatown or dancing up a storm at the Rainbow Palace atop Wilde City Tower. You want a good time, you come to Wilde City; you wanna last a long time, you go someplace else. Because here in Wilde City there’s only three types of people: the lovers, the famous… and the dead.
Me, I ain’t famous, and last time I checked, I wasn’t dead either. And as for love, well I ain’t felt that in a long, long time. Sure, I’ve blown more than just money on the rent boys at the Velvet Viper; Satan knows there’s more than a few holes to slither down in that sinful snake pit. But I’d never really had anyone that I’d consider… cherished. Well at least not since I was a boy. But that’s a story for later.
So if I ain’t a lover, and I ain’t famous or dead, I guess that sorta makes me a nobody. Which is kinda what you need in my line of work. The name’s Buck Baxter, Private Detective. I stay low and keep my eyes open. I watch every shadow. I listen for every footstep, every whisper. I don’t make friends, I don’t make enemies, and I sure as hell don’t fall in love. I just get the job done fast, collect my payment, and move on to the next case.
At least that’s how the game used to go.
It all changed the night he blew in to town, announcing himself in a blaze of fireworks and a shebang so big it seemed the whole of Wilde City descended upon his glittering nightclub to hail the new prince of parties. His name was Holden Hart, and maybe I never would have met him if I didn’t get the telephone call from one Miss Winnipeg Whitmore.
“Mr. Baxter? Are you Mr. Buck Baxter?”
“Speaking.” It was just before nine. I was at my desk in my rundown old office that doubled as my apartment, sitting there stark naked but for my trusty black trilby. The night was so damn hot and sticky you could pour it in a barrel and slap a molasses label on it. I couldn’t stack enough ice in my glass of gin. The cannabis I’d smoked earlier was starting to sweat from my pores. If I held my face any closer to the electric fan on my desk, it might have shaved the stubble off my cheek.
“My name’s Miss Winnipeg Whitmore. I have a case for you, but I must be assured of absolute discretion. It’s a somewhat delicate matter that needs investigating, and I’m a very private person.”
“It’s your lucky day, Miss Whitmore. I’m a very private detective.”
“Do you accept cash?”
I clinked the ice in my gin. “Greenbacks, booze, pot, pistols… Lady, if I can trade it or spend it, I accept it.”
She seemed a little flustered by that. “Oh. Well then. Cash it is.”
* * *
Bright and early the next morning, there came a curt knock at the door. So bright and early in fact, I was still asleep on the sofa. I rolled off in a tangled sheet and hit the floor, my head pounding, and my cock already wide-awake. I grabbed my trousers and slid them on, then pulled on a worn, sweat-stained undershirt and snapped my suspenders over my shoulders. I was still tucking myself in, trying to push my erection down, when the knock came once again.
“Be right there,” I called before splashing the melted ice in my glass over my face. There was still a trace of gin left, and it burned my eyes. “Ah, shit,” I whispered to myself, wiping my red eyes dry with the back of my forearm and reaching for the door.
Evidently, my efforts to look remotely presentable failed.
The woman at the door looked somewhat shocked at my appearance. She herself came across as extremely prim and proper, in a dour kinda way. A real Mrs. Grundy if you catch my drift. On closer inspection, she was perhaps in her mid-thirties, but at first glance she had looked much older, what with the tight curls in her hair, the white-gloved hands clutching her white handbag, the pale blue blouse buttoned up to her neck, and a skirt that reached all the way to her ankles. I felt all hot and itchy just looking at her.
“Miss Whitmore, I’m guessing.”
She looked past me to the office apartment behind me. I could see her eyes scanning the room, and I knew exactly what she was seeing: the sheet on the floor by the sofa; the worn curtains and frayed rug on the bare boards; the empty gin bottle and glass on the desk; the pipe sitting in a silver dragon ashtray filled with the ash of last night’s cannabis hit; the bath tub and john in the far corner with the rusty plumbing running up the walls.
She looked even more shocked when she got to that.
I shrugged and by way of explanation said, “There used to be a wall there, but I live alone and it was kinda in the way, so why bother with the formalities?” I suddenly thought aloud, “Oh, do you need to use the restroom?”
“Gracious, no!” she gasped with no hesitation whatsoever. “Perhaps this was a mistake.”
She turned and started to leave when I said, “Suit yourself, Miss Whitmore. There’s plenty more gumshoes in Wilde City. Like Bones Mahoney, who spills all his leads to the editor of the Wilde City Chronicle. Or Freddy Finkster, who solves his cases with the help of the local authorities. Or Snitch Taylor, who… well, the name says it all, really. So go ahead. Take your pick. Although when it comes to a ‘delicate’ case such as yours, discretion and privacy may not be their strong suits.”
Miss Whitmore stopped in her tracks, slowly turned, and took a deep, silent breath.
“Why don’t you step into my office?” I asked.
Get the book:
Secondly, Buck Baxter and the Disappearing Divas
Something sinister is happening at the Maharaja Majestic Theater on Broadville Boulevard. The domineering actress, Dominique Darlington, has vanished without a trace, the opening night of the theater’s new production of The Snake Charmer’s Slave is now in jeopardy, and six suspects are about to have the pleasure of meeting Buck Baxter, Private Detective, as he investigates whether there’s a killer on the loose… or a phantom at the opera?
Could it be the handsome leading man, Errol Hemingway, who’s responsible for the disappearance of his leading lady… or perhaps it’s that sweet, doe-eyed understudy Olivia Overton? Is it the theater owner himself, the tall and mysterious Raja Khan who has committed the crime… or the show’s investor, the autocratic aristocrat Serafina Somerset? Or is it possible that the meek and mild stage manager Stanley Small, or the flamboyant and frustrated director Barnabas Blake, are guilty?
And what of Buck’s romance with playboy millionaire Holden "Harry" Hart? Will Buck get a backstage pass to access all areas of his one true love… or will this be the final curtain for Buck and Harry?
Follow the clues, and you might just solve… the mystery of the disappearing divas!
Get the book:
And third in our line-up, Harm's Way
Zach Taylor is a successful businessman, but his ascension up the corporate ladder has not been without its fair share of losses, including his five-year-old daughter Isabelle, with whom he has all but lost contact.
But his cold world, his frozen existence, is about to melt into a fiery hell.
For Zach is about to discover that his father was a serial killer.
Can the craving for killing be passed down from parent to child? Does murder flow in his veins? What kind of legacy has been lurking in the shadows of his past, waiting to step out of the darkness and reveal his true nature? And who is the handsome, mysterious stranger Zach now finds himself falling for?
In the abandoned home of his childhood, the haunted visions of his past will once again become terrifyingly real.
And Zach will be forced to meet his fate—whoever he may be.
The old woman’s hands were shaking as she carried two cups and saucers over from her tiny kitchen into her tiny living room. Zach took his drink and placed it on the coffee table. He was being polite accepting the drink, although he had no intention of drinking it.
“That’s the finest tea I have. From Ceylon, it says on the box.” The old woman managed a smile. “I know you like expensive things. I’ve been saving it up for something special. For someone special.”
“Please, don’t do me any favors. Our relationship isn’t exactly based on them. You say you’re my mother, right?”
The woman swallowed with guilt and nodded. “Yes.”
“I’d like to see some proof.”
The base of the teacup clacked against its saucer as the woman put it down in front of her. “Of course. It’s only right you should ask.” She got up from her chair and shuffled over to a chipped credenza made from wood stained so dark it looked black. She produced a large yellowed envelope then sat back down with it. She nursed it on her lap for a moment.
“You were a beautiful child,” she said after a moment, after thinking long and hard about what to say first. “I loved you, I loved you very much. Despite what you might think. Despite what happened.”
She handed Zach the envelope.
Zach accepted it warily, but a second’s hesitation suddenly caved in on itself when he realized that the old woman had succeeded in spooking him. Like a fortuneteller at a fair. She had dragged him into her silly world of sorrowful gazes and fearful whispers.
“I should warn you that whatever documents are in here, they won’t be sufficient,” Zach announced, promptly reminding himself that all fortunetellers were fakes. “If you really want to pursue this I’ll insist on blood tests.” He reached inside and pulled out what was in the envelope.
He was expecting a birth certificate. He was expecting original papers putting a little five-year-old boy up for adoption.
But in his hand was a photograph from the page of a newspaper.
A very old newspaper.
The top and bottom of the page were folded under the photograph.
It was of a house. A farmhouse. With a barn in the background and a lake in the foreground. It took Zach a second to recognize it, but when he did, he actually stopped breathing. When he finally let out a breath, two words swept quietly from his mouth.
Zach’s throat suddenly tightened with fear. He had trouble breathing. He snatched up the tea in front of him and took a gulp to clear a passage. He gasped, then stared back at the picture with horrified eyes. The ancient newssheet, weak and flimsy, trembled in his hands.
The old woman sat forward in her seat. “You know it, don’t you? You remember it.”
Zach had trouble finding the words. He began to shake his head. “It’s not a memory. It’s a dream. It’s always been a dream. Nothing more.”
“It’s alright. I wanted you to forget us. I wanted you to forget what happened. I changed your name. I left you at the orphanage. It terrified me, but not as much as the thought of letting you grow up with the burden of our lives.”
“The boy in the lake,” Zach barely breathed. “That was me? But he drowned. The little boy drowned.”
“You almost did. Somehow, you made it out. Some people found you, miles away, wandering lost and alone.”
“I remember the water. Filling my lungs.” Involuntarily he began to cough. “God, I can still feel it. I remember it!”
Cautiously the old woman leaned forward, close enough to touch a pair of fingers to the folded top of the newspaper clipping. “Do you remember anything after that?”
Zach looked at her, confused and feeling suddenly unsteady, but the old woman didn’t take her sad eyes off the turned-down end of the paper.
Zach’s head was reeling with the sudden shock. His skin felt prickly, as though a current was running through his veins. With numb fingers, he pinched the fold of the newspaper and turned it up to reveal a headline above the photo, thick and black.
HOUSE OF HORRORS: 14 BODIES FOUND
Zach’s vision suddenly exploded in bright bursts of white and bleeding yellow.
Get the book:
A Personal Story:
In 2011 I embarked on a journey to answer a question that many readers and authors still ask today: Why do straight women love gay romance? When I first discovered that the vast majority of readers of gay male fiction were straight females, I desperately wanted to know why. I pitched the idea of writing my first (and only, to date) non-fiction book to Laura Baumbach at MLR Press, with the intention of interviewing straight female readers around the world and asking them why they read – and love – gay male fiction.
The result was a series of interviews with 32 women across 9 countries and 4 continents which was eventually published in 2012 in a book simply titled Why Straight Women Love Gay Romance.
The book was edited by Kris Jacen and included an extraordinary and passionate foreword by New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann.
The amazing interviewees in the book came from far and wide, including the United States, Australia, Germany, China, Iceland and more.
Their reasons for falling in love with gay romance were as diverse as each interviewee, but threads of similarity exist that tie these women together, namely a need to understand male characters emotionally.
Just about all of these women had been fans of heterosexual romance before dipping their toes into gay fiction. But the majority of them shared a sense of emptiness when it came to getting to know the male protagonist of straight romance stories. Yes he was always handsome and strong, but he was also often emotionally-inaccessible.
These readers wanted to get inside the heads and hearts of these male characters and understand them more, but they found few books in the straight romance genre gave them that opportunity.
That’s when they discovered gay romance, where they were given the chance to fully grasp the emotions of not just one man, but two.
When this came to light, I looked at my own books in a whole new light. I was so proud to share my own feelings and fears and joys and experiences as a gay man with women who wanted to understand and listen to me.
The book also opened my eyes to how powerful these readers were in advancing equal rights around the world. Not only were these women falling in love with gay characters, they were getting out and joining groups and making gay friends in real life or on social media. They were fighting for gay causes. They were supporting our rights. And most importantly, they were educating their husbands and children and friends and families on the importance of equality and love.
What began as an attempt to answer a curious question became one of the greatest undertakings of my life.
I am still friends with the women who took part in this project. I will always be grateful for their honesty and courage to participate in the book and I love watching this fanbase of females grow in strength, pride and numbers.
Thank you to all the readers out there – female, male, gay, straight or however you like to identify yourself. Your love of this genre makes you part of something powerful and wonderful, and is a constant reminder that love is love!
About the author:
Geoffrey Knight is the author of more than 25 gay fiction novels, novellas and short stories, ranging in genre from gay adventure, gay romance, gay suspense and gay comedies. He is the recipient of two Rainbow Awards including Best Mystery Winner and Best Overall Gay Fiction Runner-up. His work has been featured in several anthologies including Best Gay Erotica 2013, and he appeared as Guest of Honor at the inaugural Rainbow Con in Florida, 2014.
Geoffrey has worked in advertising, politics and journalism, but nothing is as fun as telling stories. He lives with his partner, their young daughter and their small furry family in a rambling old house in North Queensland, Australia, where the paint is fraying and life is good.
Connect with him via Amazon.
Thank you for celebrating this fabulous author with us. Come back next week for more of Geoffrey's books, our author interview, and one more chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!