Hi, everyone, thanks for having me on this tour for Gabriel's City! Don't forget to leave a comment at the end of this post to win a chance at the ZOMG Smells giveaway!
Spoiled young aristocrat Colin Harwood has always enjoyed flirting with danger, but he’s always been able to retreat to safety—until bad decisions and a chance encounter plunge him into a world far more savage than his own. Gabriel is an urban legend, famous in the underworld for his unpredictability and violence. He’s also a believer fairy tales, and quick to decide to the handsome stranger who came to his aid must be good luck. With few other options remaining, Colin will need to keep his wits about him to learn to survive in Gabriel’s City.
For spoiled young aristocrat Colin Harwood, the port city of Casmile is a buffet of easy pleasures. But when he steps into a pub brawl to help a dangerously outnumbered young man, he is drawn into the seedy underbelly of the city the young man calls home.
Gabriel is a cutpurse and a knife for hire, practically an urban legend. His vision of Casmile is touched by a strange combination of faith and madness, driven by fairytale logic and a capacity for love that he often must suppress to survive. He’s always worked alone, but when a dashing dragon who calls himself Colin saves him in a bar fight, he pulls Colin into his world.
Gabriel’s city is nothing like the refined, socialite existence that bored Colin senseless. Colin finds adventure and excitement there—and maybe even love. But with his layers of finery stripped away, nothing remains to protect him from poverty or danger—except Gabriel. So he must choose: go back to the civilized young man he once was, or fly free as Gabriel’s dragon.
Part I: Autumn
Colin fidgets, wondering how much longer this dinner party can drag on. The rest of his table has just burst out in politely scandalized laughter at someone’s prettied-up version of a bawdy gaming house joke. He’s had enough lectures on how these people are his peers that he could recite them back to his father word for word, but compared to the company he’d rather be keeping, they remain excruciatingly dull.
At least he’s had the fortune to be seated across the table from Captain Darius Westfall of the city guard, who’s a falcon among finches if Colin ever saw such a thing. His blood’s common, to judge by his tan skin and black hair, and his features are too sharp to be truly handsome. Likely he was never invited to this sort of party at all before he was appointed captain. Colin smiles at him.
“What about you, Captain?” he asks. “You’ve been so quiet. Surely you must have some entertainment to offer.”
“I would hate to give offense,” Captain Westfall replies. His voice is smooth, carefully free of any trace of a dockside accent. “I’ve no fit entertainment to offer such polite company.” He reaches for his glass of wine, and there are raw scrapes on his knuckles.
“But you must have stories to share,” Colin persists. “I expect your line of work gives you no end of exciting tales.”
“Master Harwood,” Madame Hewitt says, her lips pursed. “That’s not decent conversation for young ladies, and you should be ashamed to encourage it.”
The only young lady in their immediate circle—Julia Mear, one of the more tolerable girls of Colin’s acquaintance—rolls her eyes. “Don’t keep all the fun to yourself.” She glances sidelong at Captain Westfall. “I promise not to faint away in horror, no matter what you say.”
Madame Hewitt harrumphs disapprovingly, but Colin grins. When his sister is old enough for society parties, he’ll introduce her to Julia. They’ll like each other.
“I cannot refuse, then, if the lady would make me such a promise.” Captain Westfall smiles at Colin. “What sort of story strikes the gentleman’s fancy?”
Colin says the first thing that comes to mind. “Tell me about Gabriel.”
The captain laughs, low and rough, but Colin imagines there’s a ferocity to it and shivers in anticipation of the tale. “No wonder your mother worries about you, if you’re keeping company with the sort of rogue who tells stories about Gabriel.”
“I heard of him from Sebastian Dunsmuir,” Colin protests.
“I hope you don’t think that’ll make me retract the statement,” Captain Westfall says. “He should still know better than to talk of such unsavory things with well-bred young gentlemen.”
“But clearly he doesn’t, and I do hope you don’t, either.” Colin leans forward, elbows on the table. “Sebastian made it sound like Gabriel doesn’t really exist. Is that true?”
“There’s something in Casmile that goes by that name,” Captain Westfall says. “I’ve seen what’s left of men who run afoul of Gabriel, and no matter how prettily you plead, Miss Mear—” here the captain looks over at her, and she blushes; really, he’s quite the showman “—you won’t get me to describe that horror in polite company.”
“You make him sound like a monster.” The servants are coming around to clear away the dishes from the meat course; Colin waits until the table’s bare between them before he goes on. “It’s hard to believe you’re not simply toying with me.”
Captain Westfall takes a sip of his wine, amusement clearly written across his face. “He may be a man. He may be an excuse, a bogeyman blamed for the crimes no reasonable man wants to confess.” He leans back in his chair so the serving girl can set the last course in front of him, stewed late-season berries bleeding into thick cream. “I’ve heard grown men swear he enjoys the favor of the Green Lady—and not only in battle, if you take my meaning.”
Madame Hewitt flinches. “Captain!”
“That’s perverse,” Colin adds before he can help himself. Arhon, the Green Lady of the Grave, is the eldest of the Fates; Colin’s not entirely sure he believes in them, but if she does exist, then the idea of anyone seeking her rotting embrace is grotesque.
Captain Westfall doesn’t look at all contrite. “My apologies,” he says with a self-satisfied smirk, as though he’s just won a hand on an outrageous bluff. “Madame Hewitt is right after all. I have no conversation fit for civilized company.”
To read more visit Riptide Publishing under the Gabriel's City link.
Laylah Hunter is a third-gendered butch queer who writes true stories about imaginary people in worlds that never were. Most of hir work deals with queer characters, erotic themes, and the search for happy endings in unfavorable circumstances.
Hir mild-mannered alter ego lives in Seattle, at the mercy of the requisite cats and cultivating the requisite caffeine habit, and dreams of a day when telling stories will pay all the bills.
Connect with Laylah:
• Website: laylahhunter.com
• Twitter: @LaylahHunter
• Goodreads: goodreads.com/Laylah_Hunter
• Laylah is Riptide's Featured Author for November: http://riptidepublishing.com/authors/laylah-hunter
I have the good fortune to be friends with the charming people who run http://www.zomgsmellsshop.com/ZOMG Smells, who make, as their tagline says, “Fine nerdy scents for fine nerdy people.” They have created a set of perfume oil blends inspired by the characters of Gabriel’s City, and I’d like to give some away at the end of this tour! You’ll get seven 5-ml bottles.
Leave a comment below and on any stop on the tour to be entered into this giveaway**