New Release Coming Sunday, January 13: LAURE

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Cover Copyright ©2013
Trace Edward Zaber

It was everything college graduate Joshua Huggins could have dreamed and more. A new job on a big Southern estate named Laure, a generous salary, and the perfect boss, Adrien Brette, a scion of deep-rooted Mobile society, older, stunningly handsome, and just a little mysterious. But the mystery may be darker than Joshua imagined. Something ominous is stalking Laure. Adrien lives in seclusion, and his sister hides under the care of a strange nurse. Even Adrien’s aunt and her boyfriend are strangely protective.

Despite all the barriers Adrien puts up, he’s still the most compelling man Joshua has ever met, and the younger man can’t help following his heart. Even though Adrien can’t return his love. Even though the truth of Adrien’s wife’s death could destroy everyone at Laure.

Now, Joshua must choose between sacrificing the honor and naïveté Adrien so adores, or losing everything he’s come to love. Among the Spanish moss and azalea blossoms of Laure, the past is never dead…

Read an excerpt here.

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Monday Book Promo: THE WOLFE PROXY (Southern Beaus Book 2)

ImageThe Wolfe Proxy (Southern Beaus, Book 2)
by T. D. McKinney & Terry Wylis
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-464-8 (Electronic)
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-896-7 (Paperback)
Click HERE for sales page.

CEO Quinton Wolfe sets off every alarm on sculptor Max Bowman’s warning system. No way is that playboy getting near Max’s sister, the newest shareholder in Wolfe’s multinational corporation. No matter Quint’s charming smile and sexy form, Max won’t let his kid sister get taken in by that Lothario. Even if it means Max cuts a deal with Big Bad Wolfe himself.

And what a deal! Max becomes Quint’s play toy. Good thing Max enjoys it. He’ll just play the game until he can turn the tables on the CEO. Or that’s the plan. But somehow, even knowing the CEO is a ruthless snake at the core, Max still lets Quint worm his way right into Max’s heart.

Cutting Quint out of his life is the best thing Max can do. So why does it feel like Max might never be able to breathe again? It doesn’t help that Quint’s every bit as heartbroken and miserable. So maybe Max’s view of Quint was skewed by the media. But can he separate the ruthless CEO from the gentle, caring man who loves him? And can he trust either one?

Genres: Gay / Contemporary / The Arts / Series
Heat Level: 2
Length: Novel (63k words / 166 paperback pages)
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REVIEWS:

“4.5 Stars!…Four characters create an intricate dance and counter-dance of understandings and misunderstandings. The mutual attraction between Max, who is very out, and Quint, who is not out at all, is instant and hot…If you like a complex tale with strongly-drawn characters who don’t always do exactly as they should (or as you expect), then you will love The Wolfe Proxy. I did.”

–Carole,Rainbow Reviews

“4 Nymphs!…A fun and sexy look at what happens after two men find love when they least expect it, and under very strange and unusual circumstances, which were a unique and creative twist….All the components needed for an entertaining story that’s made for a rainy afternoon read.”

–Mystical Nymph, Literary Nymphs Reviews

4 Stars!…I really liked The Wolfe Proxy…It’s well constructed…the characters were quite likable. The heat between Max and Quint was evident and the sex between these flawed men was divine. I have given the story 4 stars because I think you will fall in love with everyone and Jenn, Max’s sister, turns out to be one kickass businesswoman.”

–Wave, Reviews By Jessewave

“…A sweet and emotional story, with angst and upheaval followed by a nice ending.”

–Cassie, Joyfully Reviewed

“… a sensual and fanciful contemporary romance novel…Quinton and Max’s reactions to each other are immediate and intense. I don’t often find love at first sight believable but The Wolfe Proxy is a notable exception. I found the instant and passionate connection formed by the heroes to be very believable and very appealing.”

–Christina, Romance Junkies

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EXCERPT (rated sensual)

Bastard. Max really hated corners, especially when he’d been backed into one. No keeping Jenn out of the office. And he shouldn’t feel this warm in the face of that icy persona. The annoyance at that fueled Max’s growl. “So what’s your damn counteroffer?”

The darkest, most decadent gray eyes Max had ever seen bored into him, Wolfe’s full lips barely an inch from his own. Rich baritone sent a tremor rushing over Max’s skin. “Here is the deal, Mr. Bowman. You want me to desist pursuing your sister outside a business relationship, I shall. But I want something in return.”

Max’s fists knotted, an action far beyond his control. He couldn’t be sure if they balled because he wanted to punch Wolfe right in those luscious lips, or to keep him from knotting his fingers in the gold silk of Wolfe’s hair and planting a kiss on those same lips of the sort to leave the other man reeling. “I’m listening.”

“Quite simple, really. A mere token.” A sudden breath of air caressed Max’s jaw, moving up to cradle the curve of his ear. Warm, male breath. Wolfe’s voice dropped to a whisper somehow richer than the deep tenor of a moment ago. “You see, Mr. Bowman, I find I have a taste for both sexes. And a rather voracious appetite for very pretty, smartass men. What I want in return for your sister’s innocence…is you. In my bed. Or yours. At my whim. Starting tonight.”

Fingers knotted tighter, digging into Max’s palm. Oh, the bastard, the utter and complete bastard. Max really did want to feel his knuckles collide with that smug little smile. And he’d indulge that whim. Later. After he made Mr. Quinton Wolfe pay up. “Okay.”

The CEO was a damn good poker player, no doubt, but not quite good enough. The tiniest gasp escaped before Wolfe pulled back to stare at Max again, those gorgeous eyes only a millimeter wider than they’d been. Then a slow smile revealed even white teeth. One manicured nail slid over Max’s cheek and down to the top button of his shirt. “Then let us begin our negotiations, shall we? I’m sure your…good buddy…will keep pretty Jennifer amused for some time.”

“Oh, I can promise you that.” Max held up a finger, indicating Wolfe stay just where he was as Max plucked the kerchief from the other man’s breast pocket. He looped it around the handle of the door he’d opened in preparation for tossing Wolfe out on his completely grabbable ass and then slid it closed with a rattling bang. “Old signal from when we roomed together. A cloth around the doorknob means I’m entertaining a lover.” He grinned at the blond. “So, lover, what were you saying about negotiations?”

The smile he got in return sent another shiver over his skin. “Actually, that wonderful little `okay’ of yours was agreement to my whims. Negotiation was a diplomatic but rather inaccurate term.” Wolfe blew another soft caress of air over Max’s throat as the exec undid that first button. “And right now my whim is to see just what sort of a marvelous prize I’ve acquired. And to watch your face as I do so.”

So that’s how Wolfe wanted to play it. Fine. It wouldn’t be the first time Max had taken a dice-roll at this particular game. But no need to let the corporate eagle think he’d won already. “Works for me. But I should warn you, I make a really lousy bottom.” Max flashed a smile, deploying the dimples to their full effect. “Just a natural leader, I guess.”

“Indeed?” Wolfe’s hands stopped their removal of Max’s shirt and he considered him for a moment. Then a solid form pressed him against the wall and those full lips claimed his, Wolfe’s hands diving below Max’s waistband to squeeze his ass. “Really, I’d say you have a remarkably fine bottom.”

Max reached around and grabbed a double handful. “And I’d say it’s mutual.” He returned the kiss with fervor, exploring, dueling his tongue with Wolfe’s. “Mmm, you taste good. You like chocolate mints.”

“And you favor cinnamon. Somehow I’m not surprised.” Wolfe pulled him away from the wall and shoved Max toward the living space without letting go. Impassioned kisses scraped at Max’s throat and chest, buttons nearly freeing themselves under a mobile tongue. “God, you smell like those damn cookies she brought into the office. I should eat you alive for that alone.”

Max laughed. “I don’t have any objection to that.” He pressed his hips to the other man, letting Wolfe feel the evidence of hard desire. “I have a good-sized snack for you if you’re serious about it.” His chest collided with the other man’s. All rock-solid muscle under that silk suit. Damn, the corporate jockey was hot. Way more than pretty Gomer Pitt.

“You do surprise me in some areas, Maxwell.” Not that surprise showed up in that heated gaze or rich, rich voice. “Quite honestly I never suspected you were anything but straight.” Wolfe’s palms slid over Max’s bare chest, teasing circles over his nipples. Eyes dark as a summer storm over Tulsa warmed Max further, sultry and full of hunger. “I must say I’m pleased beyond words that my proposition didn’t send you screaming in the other direction.”

“You should pay better attention. I’ve never been in the closet, hot shot. And I’ve never pretended to be straight.” Max let his grin spread wide, well aware of the devastating effect it could have. “I thought you corporate barracudas were the observant sort.” Oh, he did like the way the other man’s touch skimmed over sensitive skin. The good-looking suit had talent!

“Must be the influence of your very handsome, very straight buddy.” A soft slide of a thumb tip across Max’s bottom lip. “Watching the two of you together at the company picnic. He seemed too uptight to be comfortable around you unless you were straight as well.” Wolfe’s other hand trailed a path down to the waistband of Max’s jeans, teasing just inside. That intense gaze never left his face though. “You have a beautiful mouth, Max.”

Desire rippled through Max, heated and demanding. His hand tightened on Quinton’s waist. “Thanks. I get that a lot.” The force of the other man’s unrelenting attention caused another ripple to race through Max’s body. “Why don’t you kiss me again and show me what you meant by being at your whim?”

“Indeed.” Quinton’s smile had a real good devastation quotient going, too. “I have something very special in mind for you tonight. But I find I crave a kiss as much as you seem to.” Full sensual lips brushed over Max’s before Quinton claimed him completely. The taste of chocolate mint paled against the sheer power of Quinton Wolfe. A questing tongue slipped between Max’s willing lips, bent on conquest, sure of its power to dominate. Hard fingers knotted in Max’s hair, holding him tight against Quinton’s mouth, assuring the man could have as much of Max as he wanted. Or as much as Max would allow.

The sculptor let a moan slip past his lips as he ground his hips against Quinton. The sensual feel of a firm-muscled body against his own urged him to play Quinton’s game, to take whatever he could and enjoy it to the fullest. Let the other man think he was in charge if he wished; Max would still be the one having all the fun.

Help save Undershaw – Time’s running out!

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The spacious home where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles and a great number of his Sherlock Holmes stories is in danger of being razed and replaced with a block of flats. Tomorrow, 23 May, is the Judicial Review in which those who wish to preserve this historical home of one of England’s greatest authors have one last chance to avert a national tragedy.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save_undershaw/ – A chance for US Sherlockians to help in the fight save the historical home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – they’re shooting for 10,000 signatures – we share it enough, we could give them far more.

The judicial review is tomorrow – time is short. Sign, Share, Save!

SHERLOCK Series 2: The Wrap-Up

WARNING: This is an in-depth review and discussion of SHERLOCK Series/Season 2. As the episodes have not yet aired in the United States, if you do not wish SPOILERS, do not read further.

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Terry Wylis: Alas, the tears have been shed, the gasps uttered, and our hearts stomped on enough times to leave bruises. And the brilliant cast and crew of the BBC’s Sherlock deservedly praised. As the first entry in our new co-blog, we thought we’d summarize our thoughts on the series as a whole, and then address our own theories of how Sherlock managed to survive a 60+-foot dive off the roof of St. Bart’s hospital.  Kettle’s boiled, T.D. McKinney. Pull a chair up to the fire.

TDM:  Ta, love.  It’s been great fun and now we suffer for another year or more waiting for our next fix.  Horrible thing to do to addicts, isn’t it?  Even my husband mentioned how boring Sunday seemed without a new Sherlock.  Boring hardly touches it.

Terry: It’s a good thing they’re totally re-watchable. I pick up new layers and new tidbits every time. A real master work for Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. I hope they continue for many seasons to come. LOL, once their leading men come home from all the globe-hopping.

TDM:  Yeah, at least we’ll have other movies to watch while we’re waiting.  It will be interesting to say the least.  

Terry: Well, the whole of the UK and shortly everywhere but the United States is buzzing about how Sherlock Holmes could possibly have survived that plunge off St. Barts. Several theories, but Moftiss have debunked them all. The question is, are they bluffing?  Or could elements of the various theories be right?

TDM:  I feel like Lestrade during that press conference in A Study in Pink “Wrong, wrong, wrong.”  It’s rather annoying.  We know Moftiss likes to mess with us, so it’s likely the will have some interesting twist to whatever they’ve done.

Terry: Let’s take a look at some of the elements from our favorite standpoint, that of the evidence we were given.  For example, the body on the pavement. Actually Sherlock? And if so, is there evidence that some tricks were used to ensure his survival from a height of 62 feet 7 inches (supplied by the Barts Archives – thank you!)?  I saw a couple of possibilities. You?

TDM:  Visual evidence would indicate it was Sherlock Holmes.  However, we do know there is at least one look-alike in the vicinity (witness testimony of kidnapped child Claudette).  There is a possibility the body could have been that of the look-alike kidnapper.  Conclusion:  Open.  More evidence needed.  There are numerous ways Sherlock himself could have survived a fall from that height.  I could name three that are feasible and even probable, and at least a dozen that are more improbable.

Terry: There’s one particular reason I believe it actually was him. Normally you wouldn’t see a doctor or paramedic rocking the victim of a fall like that, for the simple reason of exacerbating any possible spinal or neck injury. Yet it’s very clear he’s being rocked. The body is lying on its right side, the hand extended, and it’s that hand John takes a radial pulse from–one imagines a non-existent one, for at least the few seconds before someone pries John’s hand away. Is it possible to block a radial pulse without actually stopping the heart? A little Google journey, and I find that yeah, it is. And fairly easily. Some good pressure up in the armpit could do it. Maybe that squash ball he was playing with in the lab–something we’ve never seen Sherlock doing. Moftiss made a statement that everyone had missed a big out-of-character thing that was a clue.

TDM:  I think we had confirmation of that from our favorite former assistant coroner in the UK, too, when he first mentioned it.  * Kisses to JMG for being utterly brilliant in all ways *  The speedy manner Sherlock was whisked away supports that, too.  You don’t want to maintain that sort of pressure for too long, nor is it an easy thing to do.  So, John only has a few seconds to confirm Sherlock’s death before he’s pulled away.  Likewise, how quickly Sherlock’s “body” is removed from the scene.  If he’s dead at the scene (or a dead body standing in for Sherlock), there’s no need to move him.  But he’s taken away like there’s a chance of revival, except no one’s working on him.  All kinds of suspicious.  All things John would have noticed immediately if he weren’t incapacitated.

Terry: I did note several shades of the canon story The Dying Detective. I know there have been a lot of theories that Sherlock actually landed in the laundry truck and the body on the pavement was not him. I don’t buy it for a couple of reasons. Yes, John was disoriented after Sherlock landed. And yes, his eyes were fixed on Sherlock as Sherlock stood on the roof edge. But John followed every inch of that plunge, at least until the last ten or twelve feet when Sherlock vanished behind the ambulance center building that stood between them. I can’t imagine he wouldn’t notice if Sherlock’s plunge vector took him out the extra ten feet it would require to land in the laundry truck. Also, it’s too easy. I don’t see Moftiss resorting to easy.

TDM:  Oh, they’ll do easy.  They just won’t make it easy on us!  Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if that laundry truck didn’t haul away some of the evidence.  Nor if it had a part in making for a safe landing.  There had to be a safety net.  Literally.  And a way to get it out of the way quickly.

Terry: No doubt. In fact, a net or a firefighters’ jump blanket makes sense on a number of levels. Sherlock dives off the building and his body is perpendicular to the building — but when we see a body land on the pavement, it’s parallel to the building. An air bag of some kind would take too long to deflate and put away – but a jump blanket would be like a trampoline – he landed face down, but the momentum (and the holders of said net manipulating it) could easily have taken him back and to the side so he hit the ground parallel to the building.  

And I noticed something else when I paused the video (LOL, numerous times and in numerous places): Sherlock was wearing a black suit and that dark purple shirt, and The Coat, of course. But as he’s falling, there’s a clear flash of white around his waist, and it’s not his skin — so it can’t be simply the shirt coming untucked. Perhaps a little padding to guard against rib damage in the jostling around?

TDM:  Could be.  We know in reality, Benedict Cumberbatch was attached to wires and so that was part of the harness.  But in the Sherlock world, padding works.  I think it’s a good theory that fits the available evidence.

Terry: Why, thank you! 😀  The blanket/net is easily rolled up and stuffed into the laundry truck – wouldn’t even have had to be the back – just the passenger seat, which is right next to the sidewalk as the truck’s parked. It would take all of 10-20 seconds. And the blood splatter pattern by Sherlock’s head is weird.

TDM:  More like someone dumped a bucket of blood and he lay down in it and then they pour a bit more over him, hm?  There’s a lot of it and no brain matter, so serious head trauma but not.  Sherlock’s hair is soaked in blood on one side where it lies in the blood, of course, but again, no sign of a cracked skull.  

There is also no sign of facial damage.  No sign of a broken nose, cheeks, or chin.  None of the extensive sort of damage you’d expect if he’d landed on his face as he would have from the trajectory of his fall.  Had he turned his head at the last moments and landed on the side as shown, there would have been visible injuries to his skull, resulting in at least some damage you could see.  Certainly one of those glorious cheekbones would have suffered.  And though his eyes are open, there is no blood in his eyes.  And yes, we know way too much about what dead bodies are supposed to look like.  We can supply some links for those interested in the forensics of this at the end of our little party.

Terry: Hey, I don’t mind our readers knowing we’ve spent more than one evening deciphering a crime scene in the search for a story or just to hone our skills. But I agree with you about the evidence not matching what we’re being led to believe. There’s blood on the upper part of his lip, but none at the corner — from the angle he was lying at, blood pouring from his mouth would have pooled in the corner and run down to the pavement at the corner of his mouth.  The only blood on the left side of his face is coming from his left ear – leading us to believe further the skull fracture theory — and that could easily have been poured there.  It just occurred to me that Molly could have easily drawn a pint of blood from Sherlock to use for this very purpose, so the DNA would match.

A fully coherent John Watson might have picked out some of all this, even if he didn’t catch it all. But concussed — slightly at least — and already in shock over having just watched his best friend leap off a building, a crowd of people pushing in and pulling him away, plus the terrible finality of the phone conversation he’d just had…Yes, I can see him missing a lot of the minutiae and letting his shattered and foggy brain come to the conclusion Sherlock needed him to. So we have a decent working theory not quite in line with what we’ve seen elsewhere.

TDM:  You and I have dissected enough real crime scenes to know a case of staging when we see it.  So, yeah.  Evidence points to that really being Sherlock on the ground pretending to be dead.  The medical personnel and all those concerned, helpful people are part of Sherlock’s homeless network.  A lot of knowledge and access supplied by Dr. Molly Hooper.  End result, one very dead Sherlock Holmes.

Terry: And one rather shattered John Watson. I have to admit, that’s where my main curiosity for Series 3 lies. How Sherlock plans to make his reappearance without getting a real broken jaw from John punching him out.

TDM:  Let’s hope he has good reflexes.  

Terry: I think the tea’s gone cold, so we’ll wrap it up for this week. Again, well-deserved kudos to the creators, cast and crew of Sherlock — “Brilliant” is too mundane a word now. We may have to make up a new one.  Have you got those links, T.D.?

TDM:  I do.  Forensics fun.  Not for the faint of heart, since this deals with real investigations into real deaths.  But some very interesting facts on death by falling.  And here you thought the body parts in the crisper were odd…

http://www.physics.usyd.edu.au/~cross/FORENSIC-PHYSICS/FALLING-FATALITIES.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1397448/pdf/annsurg00391-0148.pdf

http://ad-teaching.informatik.uni-freiburg.de/zbmed/Springer%20Verlag%20E-Books/Springer%20E-Books%20August%202010%20in%20Kapitel/ftp_PUB_10-08-20_15-48-14/BSE=7643/BOK=978-1-59745-110-9/PRT=2/CHP=2_10.1007-978-1-59745-110-9_2/BodyRef/PDF/978-1-59745-110-9_Chapter_2.pdf

Interview/Review: T.D. McKinney and “Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia”

(We saw the original UK broadcast back in January, hence the references)

 

SHERLOCK, the BBC‘s landmark hit series, returned for a second season on New Year’s Day to over 9 million viewers in the UK. Kicking off the triad of episodes this season was “A Scandal in Belgravia,” Stephen Moffat‘s story based on the canon “A Scandal in Bohemia.” I have with me today my co-author and best friend, and one of the most informed Sherlockians I know, T. D. McKinney.

(She just stuck her tongue out at me.)

TW: So we’ve both watched “A Scandal in Belgravia,” a number of times now. Let’s start with overall impressions. Does it hold up against Series 1?

TD: Of course, it’s only one film from a slate of three. But if they maintain this quality for the other two, it will certainly exceed Series 1. The cinematography is excellent, the acting is superb, and the cast has gelled into their roles perfectly. Steven Moffat offered up a script, that¾while not perfect¾certainly had a great deal of excitement and humor. There were the expected “Easter eggs” for long-time Holmes fans and some interesting twists on the Canon.

TW: I agree. They’ve certainly honed the blade. So on to some more specific things. The “pool solution” – which we won’t detail here. What did you think? Brilliant or bust?

TD: Freaking hilarious! It was definitely “out of the box”‘ and one none of the fans had thought of. As such, it was brilliant.

TW: LOL, I still laugh every time I see it. While we’re still hovering somewhere near Jim Moriarty, let’s talk Andrew Scott for a minute. Impressions?

TD: Excellent actor. He’s taken Moriarty in an unexpected direction. I’m still deciding what I think of that direction, but I have to give him all credit for doing something new and interesting with a iconic character.

TW: They’ve done that a lot¾Moffat and Mark Gatiss¾let the characters take some new directions while still remaining true to the spirit of the canon. And created some new ones as well. Anyone in particular stand out to you, whether from the first series or since the new series began? In terms of either characters or actors.

TD: Misters Moffat and Gatiss have taken all the characters in new directions. They have remained true to the heart of Conan Doyle’s work while following their own vision. Sherlock himself, under their hands, is a very different man from the one who existed in 1895. So is the somewhat ditzy Mrs. Hudson, the handsome and rather sarcastic D.I. Lestrade, the almost pixyish Mike Stamford. Odd, the least changed may be John Watson. Of the new ones, the most famous have to the antagonistic Sgt. Sally Donovan and Medical Examiner Anderson, and the love-struck Molly Hooper.

My personal favorite has to be Lestrade. The most famous agent New Scotland Yard ever had, a ferret-faced little man anxious to one-up his rival Gregson, always a little in awe of Holmes and never quite willing to admit it, completely re-imaged into a world-weary, 21st-century cop who comes to Sherlock begging for help because he needs the man. This time, he’s not afraid to snark back or call Sherlock on childish behavior, though he knows he can only push so far. And did I mention handsome?

TW: LOL – yes, your vicarious love affair with Rupert Graves is well-documented.

TD: Oh yeah!

TW: LOL!!! Go for – wax rhapsodic for a minute – just keep it PG J

TD: I’ll be good!

TW: Seriously – go for – he’s fabulous in the character – we’ve talked about Andrew Scott – we’ll probably get along to the others as we go.

TD: Well, what’s not to love? Mr. Graves has amazing talent. And big dark eyes. An impressive body of work. And that wonderful silvery hair. You’ve seen Maurice; he was brilliant and he was barely an adult. He’s finally grown into that voice. Oh my God, that voice! That little-boy smile and then that voice. It should be illegal. No, it should be bottled and available for sale.

TW: “A Scandal in Belgravia” introduced one of the most iconic adversaries in the canon Holmes’ career – though the original Irene Adler wasn’t a villain and she only appeared briefly in the one story. There have been a few rather cutting reviews of the upgraded version. What’s your take?

TD: The original Irene was an opera singer and an “adventuress” – Victorian catch-phrase for a woman who was no better than she should be. She wasn’t a proper lady at all, but rather a sophisticated woman of rather looser morals, a courtesan. Undoubtedly, there was more than one gentleman in her career. She was not a thief (as many of the Hollywood productions make her out to be), nor some criminal mastermind. She was a very clever and rather resourceful woman who liked to wander around dressed as a man. She had an affair with the king of Bohemia and kept a photo of herself and His Highness as protection. Sound familiar?

This new Irene is not such a stretch from her Victorian sister. Instead of a singer/courtesan who sleeps with a king, she’s a high-grade hooker who sleeps with a princess. She’s still clever and resourceful. And like the original she falls in love. Just instead of falling for her lawyer, she falls for a consulting detective.

TW: We’ve talked in the last couple of days about “mirror images” and also the idea that, overall, Irene Adler actually did win on a number of levels…

TD: Yes, I love the whole mirror thing Moffat did. In the beginning, it’s very blatant. Sherlock is looking at photos of Irene as she’s flipping through camera images of him. She’s trying to decide what to wear; he’s trying to decide what to wear. Both mention girding for battle. Then he bloodies his face as she decides her lipstick shade will be “blood.” And just as Sherlock was earlier naked, albeit with his trusty sheet, Irene is naked. It becomes more subtle as the film continues, but if anything it’s stronger for that.

She is no more mature than he is, is just as addicted to drama, exhibitionism, and praise. Sherlock basically ends up falling for his own doppelganger and Irene for hers. That’s the ultimate appeal – they are truly two of a single kind.

TW: She gave John Watson something to think about.

TD: Didn’t she though? Poor John. He has quite enough going on. I think everyone gave him something to think about. His latest girlfriend certainly did. Of course, there are many forms of love. And many forms of attraction. John’s a big boy. I have no doubt he’s capable of deciding for himself exactly what he wants and how he fits best into everything.

TW: Speaking of parallels, I noticed Sherlock has his own rather vicious version of “recreational scolding.” Only his isn’t welcomed by his target.

TD: Oh yes, he’s very talented at it. If he got paid for it, Anderson would be bankrupt and Sally Donovan would owe Sherlock her first-born.

TW: Poor Molly, though. Defense mechanism? I did note he stopped dead when he realized…and then apologized, to everyone’s utter shock.

TD: Part of it is Sherlock showing off. He has to be clever and once that mouth starts going he doesn’t stop. No social skills, of course, which is why John is so important. Actually, John should have kicked Sherlock in the ankle and stopped that particular rush of inductive reasoning (it’s not actually deductive, you know). But yes, he did stop as soon as he realized what he’d done. He didn’t mean to hurt Molly. The apology was genuine. And props to Molly for calling him on it for once. He might like her more if she were less of a doormat. Of course, if Lestrade does something to match that dropped jaw of his now that he knows his wife is worthless, it might all just be a moot point. Hey, I can wish my favorite D.I. someone sweet who’ll appreciate his wonderfulness, now can’t I?

Especially since I’m hotter than Molly.

TW: Yep. Moving on… 😛

TD: Brat.

TW: Always. So…most powerful scene? And your reason for choosing it. Going to ask for your favorite next, in case they’re one and the same. (scenes is okay, too – several very powerful moments)

TD: Oh, that’s evil.

TW: LOL – you thought I wouldn’t ask?

TD: Yes, I know you. You are evil. I love you for it until you turn it on me.

TW: “Too many to choose from” is a perfectly acceptable answer. And scenes are powerful for different reasons.

TD: Okay, the most powerful and quite possibly my favorite is one and the same. Those few moments between Sherlock and Mycroft after Sherlock identifies Irene’s body at St. Bart’s.

TW: Most powerful why?

TD: In terms of the Holmes brothers, that’s the equivalent of an embrace. “Do you ever wonder if there’s something wrong with us?” Right there – all of Sherlock’s insecurities laid bare. A plea made to the one person who might understand, who shares that possible wrongness. The question isn’t “Is something wrong with me?” but “Is something wrong with us?” Sherlock isn’t in this alone. He isn’t the only creature of his kind. There is one other. There is Mycroft. For all their bickering and their rivalry, they are brothers. Sherlock turns to Mycroft for the answers to the big questions, for that ultimate guidance. And Mycroft answers without condescension or mind games. There’s sadness and gentleness and the guiding hand of an older brother. “All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage…Sherlock.” Yet Mycroft shows nothing but caring for Sherlock over these next few minutes.

TW: We saw quite a bit of Mycroft this time around. And a lot of peeks into the backstory of the Holmes boys.

TD: Seeing Mycroft is always wonderful. I have to say that Mark Gatiss has become my visual internal Mycroft. He wasn’t originally, but he’s worked his way into the mental role in my brain. It helps that he transfers easily to late Victorian garb. He practically dresses that way for SHERLOCK.

As a Sherlockian, I’ve always enjoyed The Game, so any hint about Holmes’ childhood and background is fun. It’s lovely to see what two well-versed Holmesians think it might have been like.

[Blogger NOTE: “In North America, the term ‘Sherlockian’ refers to fans of Sherlock Holmes. In Europe, and especially in Great Britain, the term ‘Holmesian’ is used.” (from A Baker Street Glossary for Beginning Sherlockians)

“…devotees of Sherlock Holmes have regarded him as a real person. It’s called playing The Game. Sherlockians were the first (I believe) to devise elaborate, book-length chronologies for a literary character.” (taken from Sherlockian.Net: Working Back to Sherlock through Tarzan by Carl William Thiel]

TW: Back at the start of the interview, you said “Steven Moffat offered up a script, that – while not perfect – certainly had a great deal of excitement and humor.” I’m just curious – is there something specific you would liked to have seen done or done differently? Just pure personal opinion.

TD: The naked Sherlock thing dragged on a bit. So did the naked Irene thing. Mind you, I’m as in favor of pretty naked people as anyone, but it was starting to get dull. You have to know when to deliver the punch line or you ruin the joke. There were a few other places where the pacing could have been fine tuned. Moffat is also overly fond of being cryptic. A little is fun. But again, you have to know when and how much or it’s annoying. Yes, I read through it. But I can also tell your relationship with your mother by how neatly you keep your car. Profiler stuff again. It’s really only nitpicky things. The episode was brilliant.

TW: So onward to “The Hounds of Baskerville” this coming Sunday. What are you most looking forward to?

TD: I actually don’t know. I know Gatiss did the script and that makes me happy. He’s very good with horror and HOUN has always been a horror tale. I know it’s a favorite for many fans, but not for me. I don’t like the separation of Holmes and Watson in the Doyle story and never have. I understand that’s mostly been avoided in this one, so that may be very interesting. It’s also one of the more physical tales and that’s also not a big draw for me. I’m all about the cerebral. It’s probably how I ended up in love with profilers. So… I just want to see what they come up with. If it’s anything like PINK or GAME or BELG, it’s going to be great.

TW: Thanks for sitting a spell and chatting. Can I refill your tea? 😉

TD: Thank you, John.

My Own GayRomLit Journey – Terry Wylis

“I write gay romance.”

God forbid those words should ever echo past my lips into the room beyond. Not in the highly-religious, ultra-conservative state where I live (Utah). Not to my father, a New England blue-collar worker with more opinions than Fox News. Not to my sister, a born-again minister’s wife.

I cringe every time it comes out a hushed and hurried whisper under my breath. Because I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not ashamed of the people I’ve met in the course of my authorship. I’m not ashamed of the stories I tell, of fans who leave me in tears when I get an email saying “thank you.”

But I am most thoroughly ashamed of the people who make me feel I have to say it that way.

I have a good friend, one who used to go to the same church I currently do, who dared to speak up that he favored gay marriage. On Facebook. So about as public a declaration as you can have these days. He was shredded by nearly all of his so-called friends, berated and outright threatened (right down to threats against his wife and 3-year-old daughter) by supposedly upstanding members of this same church. I think he didn’t realize how vicious the outpouring would be from people who are supposed to be practicing “the pure love of Christ” or whatever version of that you believe in. I know I didn’t expect it.

Since then I’ve done a LOT of thinking. And realizing that for pretty much my entire life, I’ve been stuck in a stencil. Or sort of. I grew up in a conservative, religious atmosphere – Fundamental Baptist, to be precise. When I was eighteen, I switched religions but not the conservatism – in fact, I probably increased the conservatism by becoming LDS (aka Mormon). I’ve been shaped and driven by the so-called “norms” of conservative society: that something must be wrong with me if I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school (let alone college), that I was expected to get married and raise 2.5 kids (of course, the LDS notion  is to repopulate the earth). My center was to be my home and my kids. And I know women who are perfectly content with this, to nearly lose any sense of their own identity in favor of husband and children.

I’m not. Never have been.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m straight – far as I know to this point. In talking to my BFF, who is bi, the only deviation of the needle I’ve ever had is a single “girl-crush.” But I’ve never been one to force my beliefs or morals on anyone. Hell, I figure I’ve screwed up enough times in my life I don’t have any cause to judge.

When I started college, I was a brand-new LDS convert on a campus of about two hundred not-LDS kids. The school had a rep for being a party palace (way Eastern Maine, apparently there was nothing else to do), and I was by no means even a novice party animal. But it occurred to me I really had only two choices: I could spend every weekend locked in my dorm room, or I could find a way to be friends with people who were different than I was. So I ventured out into the world.

And I discovered something. If I wasn’t giving them grief for things they did, very few of them gave me grief for things I didn’t do. And the few who did give me grief were always cuffed by one of the ones who didn’t care. I played quarters with soda, I managed to convince at least a dozen rather flown people that Berry Blue Kool-Aid in a Miller Mug (I love secondhand stores) was really some concoction called a “Blue Angel” (LOL – “It’s Kool-Aid, dork. Think who you’re talking to.”)

But I made friends. Good friends. Friends my bishop and my sister would have been aghast over. Friends who to this day I still occasionally get Wall posts from.

A lot of you at this point are probably thinking What the hell does all of this have to do with GayRomLit? I’m getting there, I promise.

As a result of college, I don’t see people as gay, straight, black, white, etc. I see them as people – all potential friends. I didn’t realize I had taken the first step out of the stencil. I didn’t truly realize I’d been in one.

And then I met Theresa. (That would be T.D. “Ebs” McKinney you all met at GRL)

Now, the gap between college and Theresa spans about seventeen years. And in that time, I just went along my merry little way, not paying a lot of attention to the world around me, just trying to make my happy little home and my 2.5 kids. There’d been a previous kid-less marriage (for which I’m grateful; stupidest choice I’ve ever made in my life) before, and five glorious years working at a community theatre before I decided it must be time to grow up and focus on my husband.

Only one problem with that. Much as I love my husband, we have nothing in common. And the LDS church teaches that once you get married (hopefully to your best friend), the friends of your single life should take a back seat. So all my theatre friends wandered off to their lives. Except one. He just moved to Japan. Thank God for the Internet.

Wil is still one of my best friends. But I didn’t know he had a secret. One he didn’t dare share even with me.

Anyway. I discovered fan-fiction, and discovered that I both liked to write and was decent at it. I also discovered a passion for forensics and profiling. This in turn led me to John Douglas’ website (for those who don’t know, John Douglas helped build the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit and to this day is known as probably the best profiler on the planet) and the forum. That’s where I met Ebs. We clicked almost immediately, and she promptly swatted me upside the head for being jittery that she was a published author and I was just a fanfic writer. A beautiful friendship was born.

We’d been playing around with a sort of alternate-universe version of her published vampire book, Dancing in the Dark (excellent read!), and I think maybe she was testing me out a little. One of the characters is bisexual, a vampire who doesn’t hunt but survives instead on a large seraglio of humans who both feed his hunger and please his body (and he’s a very generous master in return, and very caring). My fanfic agent found himself on the receiving end of a great deal of Jean’s interest. At first I resisted the direction the story was taking; I’m not sure if it was because I was personally uncomfortable with the idea or if it was just a product of the stenciled upbringing. But eventually I acquiesced; wasn’t like we were going to publish it, right?

I don’t remember to this day how we got started writing Portrait of a Kiss. The story drew me in, the ghost doomed to stay bound to a home and a town that had been so cruel to him all his life and then accused him of murder for no other reason than he was gay and he was friends with the young man who was killed, and of course no gay man could ever be just friends with another male and all the other crap assumptions. The cop willing to risk similar ostracization by finding and standing up for the truth. A little seed of outrage poked its head up out of my soul as we wrote, and I cried at the end when Brian had to leave. And I think maybe it was then I realized love stories are love stories, no matter the gender of the people involved.

“It’s ready to publish,” Ebs said.

And my heart stopped.

Oh God. It was one thing to write it…but publish it? What would my husband say? What would my family say? What would my church say? Was I setting myself up for the biggest freaking lightning strike in history?

I agonized over it for a solid week. I did tell my husband, and he didn’t take it as bad as I’d thought – not overjoyed by any means, but he didn’t divorce me on the spot. I still don’t know what he really thinks of it, even three years later.

I weighed it and weighed it and tried to not make Ebs feel like I was backing out. Because it was her story, too – and it was good. It wouldn’t be fair to her for the manuscript to just waste away in a computer file somewhere.

Finally, I decided to just leave it up to Karma, Providence or God, whichever you favor. I came up with a pen name from my maiden initials, stuck it on the manuscript and let her send it in to her publisher. My thinking was this: “If I’m not supposed to do this, it won’t sell.” At least this way I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life guilting over backing out on her.

It sold. It got great reviews. It was on the freaking best-seller list at the publisher’s site.

Well….shit. Now what?

That was three years ago. Today, we have seven novels written together, and she kicked my ass to finish and publish a hetero romantic suspense I’d had on my shelf since the 2005 NaNoWriMo. And what a journey it has been. I’ve had no less than ten male friends, men I’ve known for up to thirty years, tell me they’re gay. I’ve had a discussion with my husband (a tad heated) over his cousin, who is my dear friend:

Hubby: “He’s been at the family reunion for the past ten years with the same male friend and they share a tent. You didn’t know?”

Me: “Your cousin Marsha’s been coming with the same female friend for that long. Should I assume about them, too?”

And so on. I don’t tell my dad; the family consensus is that’s a wise choice. I ignore my sister and she ignores me, so that’s no big. I’m very, VERY careful about who I tell at church; I’ve gotten mostly positive feedback, but one negative one has made me far MORE careful. And I don’t announce it on Facebook. Not as me anyway. Terry Wylis can say whatever she wants because the people who know her agree with her. But Traci needs to stay quiet.

For my kids. For their safety.

I feel like I should apologize for that to every one of you I met in New Orleans.

So many people have said how wonderful it was to feel “safe” at GRL. For me, it was a different sort of safety. For the first time in my life I felt I was able to step out of the stencils and into ME. I liked who I found. I felt maybe other people liked who I found, too. I didn’t go off the deep end and do things that for me would be so out-of-character Ebs would lasso me and ask what the hell was I doing. But I didn’t have a shadow of guilt dogging my every step, either (and no, I didn’t tell my husband everything we did – I don’t feel I did anything needing an accounting).

It was a nice feeling.

I can’t wait for Albuquerque. It’s too quiet around here right now. And too…stenciled. On the outside. But my soul won’t ever be stenciled again. And I thank you all for that.