New Release: 5 Star Review for Love Unlocked by Claire Davis and Al Stewart, Victoria Milne, Dawn Sister, J.P. Walker, Caraway Carter, Ofelia Grand, Debbie McGowan (AUTHOR INTERVIEWS) #Romance @dawnsister1 @CarawayCarter @ofeliagrand @writerdebmcg

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Title: Love Unlocked (A Beaten Track Anthology)
Author Name & Publisher:  Claire Davis and Al Stewart, Victoria Milne, Dawn Sister, J.P. Walker, Caraway Carter, Ofelia Grand, Debbie McGowan (Beaten Track Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: February 14, 2016 – 550 pgs

Synopsis

Love Unlocked is a collection of seven short stories and novellas – unique LGBTQ romances inspired by the Love Lock Bridge.

THE STORIES:

The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Writer’s Lock by Victoria Milne

Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister

The Weekend by J P Walker

The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter

He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd

Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan

* * *

THE TRAP by CLAIRE DAVIS AND AL STEWART

New job – sexy boss – fate – Art…

When Sal attends an open exam for an apprentice artist to work alongside the infamous Matthew Picard, the last thing he expects is to be the winner. But then his role is revealed and nothing is ever the same again. As he toils day and night on the unique sculpture, strange sensations begin to affect both him and the watching master artist.

Matthew Picard thought he was through with men and love. What he wanted was for Sal to help him create one final monstrous masterpiece – The Trap.

But as he observes his young apprentice, his focus shifts, and so do the very walls of the gallery. Is it the beauty of art, or something more magical at work?

As the sculpture is created, a power is unlocked. Can love save them, or will they be trapped forever?

* * *

WRITER’S LOCK by VICTORIA MILNE

Spending a month in Paris to write his romance novel had seemed like the perfect plan, but one week in, Phil Pearson is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. With barely a word written, he’s fed up and ready to cut his trip short.

When Laurent Marceau sees Phil in his café, it sends him hurtling into the past, opening old wounds and reminding him of the love he lost. But, after watching the aspiring writer struggle for inspiration, he surprises himself by offering to show him Paris through the eyes of a true Parisian.

Finally bursting with ideas, Phil is delighted to put pen to paper, albeit badly at first. As the writer finds himself falling in love for the first time, Laurent knows he needs to decide quickly if he’s strong enough to return his affections, or whether it would be better for them both if he walked away. He knows he may not have a choice, once Phil finds out the truth.

* * *

LOCKED IN THE MOMENT by DAWN SISTER

Due to a misunderstanding, the troll that lives underneath one of the most romantic bridges in Paris inadvertently unlocks every single padlock lovers have left there over the years. L’Authoritié de Fée Folklorique are up in arms.

He has no idea what all the fuss is about. The noise was driving him mad. He just wanted a bit of peace and quiet.

A spell is cast, leaving the troll in a bit of a predicament. He is charged with the seemingly impossible task of fixing the locks before the spell can be reversed and he is allowed to return to his home. There are other complications, the least of which is the insistence and persistence of a fairy who is determined to help him against the wishes of his own people.

Now the troll has a dilemma. What is more important to him? The only home he has known for two thousand years, or a fairy he has just met?

* * *

THE WEEKEND by J P WALKER

Nat’s been through a rough breakup and trust does not come easily. When she accompanies a group of friends to Paris for a hen weekend, she finds a connection she wasn’t looking for, in the form of beautiful, passionate Morgan.

They quickly fall into a wonderful weekend fling and even engrave their initials into a lock and attach it to the most romantic bridge in the world, Love Lock Bridge.

But was that weekend fling all there was, or will news of the bridge being taken down lead to something more?

* * *

THE SCARLET LOCK by CARAWAY CARTER

Brandon Marshall, in Paris for his twin sister’s wedding, has a fling before the big day. At the end of a whirlwind week of discovering each other, Brandon and his lover place a scarlet lock on the Love Lock Bridge.

Follow Brandon through six years of letters – to the citizens of Paris, on everything from how to make love, to eating passionate fruit – and to the lover, who is now his brother-in-law.

The locks are being removed, the bridge refitted… What will be the fate to The Scarlet Lock?

* * *

HE MELTED US by OFELIA GRÄND

All Delron wants is to live his life with Phillipe, but when their love lock is stolen from Pont des Art, their relationship is in jeopardy. Without the lock holding them together, Delron is convinced they’ll crash and burn. The only way he can save their relationship is to find the stolen lock, and that is just what he plans to do, no matter what.

Phillipe loves Delron, he really does, but it’s driving him insane that Delron can’t see that a padlock is simply a piece of metal. The lock has nothing to do with them, not really. Up until the night the lock was stolen, their life was great, but Del’s crazy behaviour has Phillipe wondering if he has ever really known his boyfriend.

Delron’s search leads him through art-filled Paris, but will a symbol of love ever be enough to soothe the mistrust his quest has planted in Phillipe? Phillipe always thought he’d spend the rest of his life with Del, but who can live with anyone willing to break the law just to find a padlock when they can buy a new one in just about any shop?

* * *

CHAIN OF SECRETS by DEBBIE MCGOWAN

Josh and George have always shared the special bond of friendship. From days in primary school, to holidays spent riding their bikes along the canal, theirs is a promise to remain best friends forever.

But can that promise withstand the trials of adolescence, and the changes in their feelings towards each other?

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Review

FiveStars

This anthology is so fantastic I would give it six stars if I could. The first story, “The Trap (Claire Davis and Al Stewart)”, is breathtaking. Beautiful and maddeningly deep and all about art–if you have no appreciation for “modern art” this will truly change your mind.
I was sure that a collection of stories about the Love Lock Bridge would all be the same. But this anthology is lovingly curated and almost every experience is unique.
There’s “Writer’s Lock,” by Victoria Milne, which starts sort of cliched and then boom! an elevated story about loving Paris and loving a man.
Then there’s “The Weekend (J P Walker)” the lesbian offering of the book, which offers a sweet and alluring balance to the whole.
It then ends with the exquisite torture and too-many-feels of “The Scarlet Lock,” about an affair of despair and longing that transforms into a sort of holistic, open love for humanity.
See? So much. There are a couple of stories I skimmed, unable to quite match up to the untamed beauty of the rest, but that’s easy enough to cope with. There were no stories that felt unworthy. This anthology left me feeling inspired. Try the sample and see if your heart melts, too.
~ C. E. Case

Excerpt

Excerpt from Writer’s Lock

by Victoria Milne

Phil Pearson tilted his head, contemplating the blank pages of his notebook, and a dark lock of hair skimmed his eyes. Still nothing. Yet again, his mind was totally blank—an alarmingly familiar feeling. He squinted hard, blurring the faint, ruled lines into thick, grey barriers.

So much for coming to Paris for inspiration; he’d barely written a word in the six days since his arrival. Leaning back in the rickety, wooden chair, he slammed the notebook shut, sighed and gazed out of the café window at the tourists bustling past in the warm, evening sun.

He felt like such a fraud. How could he legitimately call himself a romance writer, when he was in the city of love and still struggling to write anything of significance? His fingers trembled as he smoothed condensation from his beer glass. His inexperience of love was certainly shining through. He had to prove he could do this, for his own sanity if nothing more. Surely, it shouldn’t be this hard.

“Vous désirez…un café peut-etrê?”

Phil peered blankly at the waiter, who smiled and repeated in English.

“Can I get you anything else?”

Phil shook his head, and the waiter took a step closer—a little too close, Phil noticed—as he glanced at his notebook.

“Ideas not flowing today?”

“Or any day, it feels like.”

The waiter indicated towards the empty chair opposite, and Phil shrugged his acquiescence, catching the delicate scent of the man’s aftershave as he took his seat. “You’re a writer?”

“Trying to be,” Phil said with waning conviction.

Studying him, the waiter pursed his full lips. “You cannot wait for inspiration to come to you like this. Sometimes you have to go out there and create it for yourself.”

Phil snorted a laugh. “You really think I’m going to take advice about inspiration from a His companion’s chair legs noisily scraped the tiled floor as he stood and gave Phil a long, hard stare. “Perhaps you should not be so quick to judge on appearances. Most things are not as they seem at first glance. You could learn a lot about inspiration from me, if you were not so arrogant.”

Phil stared at the man as he walked away, horrified with himself. He’d been so caught up with his own woes and torments that he’d unwittingly committed the one sin he despised most in others: not only to judge someone negatively but to do so with no thought as to whether it were true, or deserved, even.

The waiter was preparing coffee behind the bar, and Phil looked at him more closely. His shoulder-length, auburn hair was tied neatly into a ponytail, and he had the physique of a long-distance runner, or perhaps a cyclist. The sleeves of his crisp, black shirt were rolled to his elbows, and a wooden beaded necklace graced his throat. The more Phil watched the man’s practised movements, the more intrigued he became, and also more embarrassed.

Draining his beer and packing up his things, he stood and walked the short distance to the bar and placed the empty glass down with a thud.

“I’m sorry about before,” he said and slid twenty euros across the bar. The waiter glanced over his shoulder and made to open the cash register, but Phil shook his head and began to walk towards the exit. “Have a drink on me.”

“Wait!”

Phil spun to look at him and was studied with a guarded smile.

“How would you like to know Paris through the eyes of a true Parisian?”

Phil eyed him cautiously, and the waiter strolled over.

“This is not true Paris,” he scoffed and waved his hand at the tables of tourists. “You will never feel inspiration here. Allow me to show you Paris, the places we Parisians go. If you cannot write afterwards, I guarantee it was never meant to be your passion.”

Phil considered his offer for a moment. “Okay, you’re on.” He scraped a lock of hair from his eyes and held out his hand. “I’m Phil, by the way.”

“Philippe, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Laurent.” He leaned forward, ignoring Phil’s outstretched hand, and kissed him on both cheeks. “But we should start right away, and I know exactly where we’ll go. I’ll get my coat and tell Luc I’m leaving.”

Phil hovered by the doorway, wondering what exactly he’d agreed to. He’d just put what felt like his entire future in the hands of a complete stranger. To his surprise, instead of feeling apprehensive, he was excited to see where this journey would take him.

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Love Unlocked Anthology

The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Writer’s Lock by Victoria Milne

Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister

The Weekend by J P Walker

The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter

He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd

Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan

AuthorInterview

Dawn Sister

1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?

I have a desk, which I rarely use. I write on a laptop, so that means I can take it anywhere. You will frequently find me sitting in bed in my pyjamas, writing away. My bedroom has a sea view, and I have a very comfortable seat at the window. Everywhere I sit becomes cluttered. There are note books, pencils, lists of characters, sweet wrappers, empty cups, motivational posters. I have the biggest ass set of blue tooth headphones to block out the outside world. Most of the time there’s nothing on them, but sometimes I listen to music while I’m writing.

2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?

Well, in a story that was published last year, called “Eagle Man and Mr. Hawk” there is a character named Rupert. He’s a Golden Eagle, and he has this terrible habit of ripping off the clothes of his very handsome handler, Ethan. Ethan has abs to die for and I find I can totally relate to Rupert’s need to expose these exquisite muscles at every opportunity.

3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?

Oh lordy, I think I’d probably be committed because if I couldn’t write down all these stories in my head I’d go completely, barn-door crazy. Otherwise, I would love to be working somewhere wild and outdoors.

4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?

How to use punctuation correctly? I wish I had listened better at school. Editors must look at my work and despair.

5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?

You know, I don’t think there is. It is told all from the point of view of one character and I did try to write from the other character’s point of view but it just didn’t work in this context. Maybe next time.

6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?

Sometimes they develop from a prompt, sometimes they just appear in my head and I have no idea where the idea came from. Sometimes I’ll be watching something on TV and find my mind wandering as I totally rewrite the plot as an M/M romance.

7) What’s next for you as a writer?

I have three WIP that I would really like to finish and submit for publishing this year.

8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?

I live in the North East of England, in a small seaside town. We have the best of all worlds here. I am ten miles and a short train ride away from the heart of a bustling city, but if I drive in the other direction for ten minutes, I can be in the heart of the Northumberland countryside. I can see the sea from my house. I can take a few steps outside and be walking along one of the loveliest beaches in the world. I am only fifty miles from the Scottish border. If I drove there today I would pass at least eight medieval castles that I know about.

They say Northumberland is one of the UK’s best kept secrets though, so don’t tell anyone I told you how awesome it is here.

I think this does influence my writing a great deal, but I have only written one story that is set in the heart of Northumberland. The rest have been influenced in subtler ways I’m sure.

9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?

I’m a big scifi nerd. I do like reading and watching scifi. I have never tried writing it though. It always seems too complicated, so I admire it from afar.

10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?

Coffee. I drink too much. Doctor Who. Although, I can never watch enough of that.

Claire Davis and Al Stewart

1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?

A mess!! There is a desk which is full of post-its and notes, and oddly – perfume. On the wall is an enormous year planner with more stick its , and a few poems. On my desk I have a thesaurus, a few CDs, and a troll with pink hair. And it can be absolutely anywhere as long as I have a computer and relative quiet. Sometimes I think of a few lines at work, and scribble them down. My ideal would be a hut at the bottom of the garden.

2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?

All of them! Hhahaah. Of course they are made up, but I use my own experiences a lot so I expect they all have bits of me. The poor sods.

3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?

I would be really miserable if I couldn’t write anymore. So I would be a misery guts.

4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?

So much! I wish I had taken creative writing courses and learnt to write properly.

5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?

I try not to think about that hahahah.

6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?

They just come, or they don’t.

7) What’s next for you as a writer?

A lot of our readers are asking for a longer book, but I just don’t know if I am that good.

8) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?

Literary fiction. I love the English language. I love stories of all kinds.

9) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?

Shoes, soap, scarves, bubble gum.

Caraway Carter

1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?

It’s crazy, my desk computer is a cluttered mess, in an office I share with my husbear. Our backs are to each other, so we tend to send IM’s to each other. I generally have a headset on to listen to my work music. Or I have my laptop and I’m out and about writing in a coffee house somewhere.

2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)?

Brandon, from The Scarlet Lock Why? He’s searching for love, and over time he realizes its love of himself that is the most important. And when love finally comes his way, he’s ready for it.

3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?

I’d be a Librarian or Archivist. I just need to finish all that schooling.

4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?

I wish I’d paid more attention in English class. I hated school when I was younger; I never paid attention and therefore spent more time in detention, than I did in class.

5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?

I might like it to be a little longer, but I’m really satisfied with the work that is being released.

6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?

They come to me. I find a character name and tell that story. The most recent Storming Love for MLR Press, I had the names of my characters and then their story came to mind, I wrote the synopsis down. (A First for me.) And BAM! I’ve got a story. Be sure to look for Dante & Brooks sometime later this year.

7) What’s next for you as a writer?

The above book from MLR Press and BTP is releasing a collection of my short stories and novellas titled: Caraway Seeds in May.

8) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in?

I love mysteries. Why? I love that they keep me guessing.

9) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?

Coffee… but I’m slowly becoming addicted to Tea. Oh, I forgot I’ve got a couple other stories I’m working on, one about a guy named Tommy, who’s got a podcast… and an interesting shifter idea.

Debbie McGowan

1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?

I’d like to say it’s a glamorous retreat, but…

Me: I’m moving out to the garage to write.

Family: But we’ll never see you!

Me: OK. I’ll write at the kitchen table.

Family: Mother, this is a kitchen, not your office.

I like it here in the kitchen – everyone comes by at some point.

2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?

Sean Tierney, in the Hiding Behind The Couch series. Underneath the happy-go-lucky façade, he’s quite sensitive. He’s a listener, always willing to lend an ear, and will do anything for his friends. And his lips flap, but he says little of any value. That’s me all over!

3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?

Be an academic and sneak fiction into my published papers, or a painter. I wish I could paint, but I’m like a five-year-old let loose with the poster paints and a splayed brush.

4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?

That I missed writing about Josh. I’ve written around 1.3 million words of Hiding Behind The Couch, so he’s probably reached imaginary friend status by now. He’s based on nobody I know, although without a doubt he carries a few characteristics I recognise from myself and other people who I care deeply about.

Writing Chain of Secrets made me realise that regardless of who reads it (or if anyone reads it at all), writing Hiding Behind The Couch is still my therapy.

5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?

I would’ve liked to have more time to work on the anthology as a whole, but the stories themselves – mine included – I’m really happy with them all!

6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?

I tune into that other plane of existence where my characters reside and they tell me what they’re up to. 😉

7) What’s next for you as a writer?

I’m currently working on three separate instalments of Hiding Behind The Couch (four, if I include the Christmas short I’ve been working on for two years):

The Lost Mitten – Cordelia Kinkade catches up with her ‘little ones’ and delivers to each an extra-special Christmas gift.

The Wag and The Scoundrel – the first part of Gray and Will’s story (for those who’ve read far enough into the series to know who they are) – it’s (same-sex) romance and industrial crime solving rolled into one.

Those Jeffries Boys – a flying visit with Mike, Andy and Dan Jeffries. Contemporary fiction. Will romance be on the cards for single dad Mike? (opposite-sex romance)

Reunions (season seven) – the ongoing story of The Circle. Contemporary fiction.

8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?

Burscough, which was once a village, but is now a sizeable town in West Lancashire, North-west England. I don’t think Burscough specifically influences how I write, but the North-west of England (and the country as a whole) certainly does. British accents and dialects are various and diverse, and I find them fascinating, so a lot of my characterisation draws on that fascination. Also, I live near Liverpool, where the F bomb is part of everyday language. I don’t swear quite as much as Scousers do, but I swear more than my characters!

9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?

Light sci-fi fantasy. Anything that is well-written, doesn’t take itself too seriously and has characters whose names I can pronounce is a winner.

10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?

I HATE shopping with a passion. I even abandon online shopping carts. My worst vice, though, is work – writing, editing, publishing. I do it for up to eighteen hours a day and completely lose track of time! My editor/friend Andrea demands that I go out to lunch every…few months, just to get me away from my computer.

AuthorBio

Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Al Stewart and Claire Davis write about people who are not perfect. Claire embraces the dark side, and Al the good side of the force. Their work is there for a fusion of both, mixed often with kink and humour.

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goodreads.com/author/show/8328423.Claire_Davis

goodreads.com/author/show/8510218.Al_Stewart

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Beaten Track

* * *

Victoria Milne

Many years ago, Victoria chose the words ‘watch this space’ to accompany her picture in the school yearbook and had no dreams of being a writer. Sixteen years later, after someone joked that she should be an author, she began the first page of her very first novel and realised how perfect those words had been.

As a latecomer to the world of creative writing, Victoria is now making up for lost time and enjoying every second of the experience.

In the rare moments these days when she’s not writing or dreaming up new plots, she can usually be found at either the ice rink or the dojo and all of these activities are done listening to loud music.

Victoria would love to hear from anyone who shares her passion for writing; and in particular from anyone who has tips on how to tame the editing fetish she has unwittingly acquired along the way.

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* * *

Dawn Sister

Dawn is from the North East of England. Her life is spent juggling. The juggling balls are: children, husband, work (occasionally), voluntary work, professional knitting (notice she doesn’t class this as work), and writing. When she has time she actually sleeps.

The whole point of writing for Dawn is just to get it all off her chest and out of her head. If she doesn’t write it down then she ends up having long conversations with the characters out loud and her husband thinks she’s crazy.

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* * *

J P Walker

Jem Roche-Walker was born in Norwich and moved to the Northwest in order to attend Edge Hill University, studying Social Work Studies. After studying, she began working in rehabilitation for patients with acquired brain injuries and spent seven years writing her first novel, Knights of the Sun, (2013, Beaten Track).

She lives in Burscough with her wife and baby girl and loves spending family time with them.

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* * *

Caraway Carter

Caraway Carter has worn numerous hats. He’s been a furniture salesman, a dresser, a costumer, an actor/waiter, a rabble rouser, a poet and most recently a writer. He married his husband on Halloween and they are the loving parents of two rambunctious cats. He loves words and stringing them together, he loves sex and sexy men. He loves seeing how far his muse will take him and he’s looking forward to entertaining you.

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* * *

Ofelia Gränd

Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes contemporary and paranormal, and dreams about one day writing a post-apocalyptic story—if that ever happens we’ll see.

Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.

When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods. She’s recently discovered the miracle of podcasts and spends her strolls listening to wise people talk.

If you want to know more, subscribe to Ofelia’s Mailing List.

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* * *

Debbie McGowan

Debbie McGowan is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven, realist fiction, celebrating life, love and relationships. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at seventeen, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At twenty-five, she went back to college to study social science—tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can.

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Filed under 5 Star, Author Interview, Bisexual, C. E. Case, F/F, M/M, New Release, Review

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