Oohhh, I don’t usually read books about the sea, but this one sounds very very promising! Don’t forget to sign up for the giveaway at the bottom!
James Harkow has his worries—as first mate on the corsair ship Morag Rose, he carries the weight of the crew and a drunkard captain to boot. But when his ship makes port in Rodaley, an unexpected diversion awaits him. A mysterious sailor by the name of Castor captures his eye, then his heart as a single tryst becomes a lasting friendship.
But there’s more to Castor than meets the eye. He pulls Harkow deeper with every kiss, all the while denying the end he knows must come—the true reason he lures his lover out beyond prying eyes to the shore of sea. Torn between his growing love for Harkow and hunger for the soul he must take, Castor risks all to reveal the truth. In that moment, both men strike a deal for the other’s lives: nine years together as comrades and lovers, before the sea takes the soul it’s owed.
Nine years later, the debt comes due. And if Harkow wants to keep the love he has found in his siren’s arms, he must fight the very sea itself.
…Harkow set his coat and made his way across the deck straight to the gangplank, then down to the quay. The hollow thunk of the dock beneath his feet only augmented the cold fire burning through him, and he picked up pace, striding out of the harbor and onto the barren stretch of rocky beach.
At first, he did not know where he was going. He walked determinedly, as one accustomed to freedom, and that was enough—it felt good, after a full three months at sea, to be free to roam wherever he chose. The growing discontent left a bitter taste in his mouth; the futility of his anger only made it more certain to stay. But for a few minutes, at least, he could be free of Rosch’s tyranny.
He wandered farther from the quays, out beyond where the beach became nothing but rocks and the cliffs began rising on his left. The warmth of the day lingered over the tide pools, and he savored the salt air in his lungs.
Then his eyes caught something in the distance—a figure.
He stood silently, arms crossed, looking out over the incoming surf. A tattered white tunic hung from his broad shoulders, and golden hair framed his ears in haphazard locks. A firm-set jaw betrayed the sternness of his mood, and yet, his air was not one of anger. Pausing for a moment in quiet appraisal, Harkow caught the darkness on the man’s brow. He knew that darkness, recognized it—a longing for the sea.
Wisdom warned caution; Rodaley was peaceful, as much as a port town could be, but the Morag Rose was a well-known pirating vessel, and her crew learned quickly to keep a sharp eye. Harkow himself was no stranger to trouble. But there was something about the man, a lone figure on the shore of the bay, that called to him. Perhaps in his loneliness and anger, the solitude of another drew him as misery searching for company.
He approached silently, making his way across the rocks. As he drew near, the man did not turn, or even acknowledge his presence. At last Harkow came to stand beside him. He cast his gaze out across the tumbling waves to the clouds brewing on the horizon. The water churned in warning, and the wind blew the coat around his knees; he slipped his hands into his pockets with a frustrated sigh. Weather did not take long to turn, here on the western coast. It did not bother him, though—the dark sky suited his mood.
They stood in silence for minutes; the man at his side did not shift or turn. At last, Harkow broke the quiet. “She won’t answer you.”
A tremble ran down Harkow’s spine—the answering voice was deep, eerily placid amid the surf. The man remained still, almost as if he had not spoken at all. In answer, he cursed: “The sea. I know the look of a land-bound sailor when I see one. You can stand at her skirts all day. She won’t answer you.”
A flicker of a grimace passed on his features, and a sorrow. More certainly, he said, “She does not need to answer—I know her game.”
He nodded gently. “She lures men to her bosom with promise, then abandons them to their fate alone. She does not care what becomes of them, once she has them snared.”
The poetry of the words struck Harkow, even as the truth of it echoed hollow in his chest. Thought of the merchant crewman, strewn dead across the burning Oskheim skiff, sent a chill to his bone. “…I suppose I am a fool, then.”
The words weighed heavier than they should have; the stranger’s brows raised in surprised curiosity. “Why is that?”
Harkow grit his teeth, and bit back the torrent of anger still brewing beneath. “I return to her over and over, at the mercy of drunk old men who care more for gold than the lives of their crew.”
The latent anger impressed the man beside him. He lips pressed in grim harshness. “…Years are hard on men of the sea. It turns them into cruel tyrants afraid of death… They drink themselves into oblivion to forget they will die at sea, no one to mourn their passing.”
Unbidden, the image of Captain Rosch facing such a fate—cornered in his bunk like a frightened animal—came to mind. Despite his anger at the man, verging on hate, he could not take comfort in it. He grunted noncommittally.
“And you?” the man asked. “What fate do you see for yourself?”
The question was unexpected—he paused only momentarily to consider it. “I expect I will die like rest, drowned or slain. Men of the sword often die by it.”
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Alex Jones is a young writer with a passion for character-driven prose and looking at things from different angles. She enjoys writing complex characters, and it has developed into a love for antiheroes of all stripes. Early on, she encountered The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the grandness and tragedy of the heroes inspired her to create her own worlds, and her own tales. She alternates writing epic fantasy and GLBT romance.
As a person, Alex is an an irredeemable cynic, a hopeless romantic, and in love with the impossibility of it all. She enjoys spending cozy nights at home with her brilliant husband, Anthony Gillis.