Thank you Love Bytes Reviews for inviting me to stop by today! Hello, intrepid internet adventurers, and welcome to the blog tour for The Artist’s Touch, the first book in my Art Medium series. After the release of book two, Tested in Fire, in April, I’ll be giving away a $40 Riptide gift card, so please leave a comment for a chance to win.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a voracious reader. Reading is my solace, my escape, my inspiration, and my primary leisure pastime. If I love a book, I re-read it, sometimes an embarrassing number of times. A re-read is usually prompted by my memory of a favorite scene, and wanting to experience that scene again, even if it means reading an entire series to get to that point.
Before 2008, I had a recurring reading cycle—first, I’d be in a mood for speculative fiction (mostly fantasy, but sci-fi too), and that’s all I’d read for a couple of months. Then my brain would short out and I’d move on to mysteries. Wait—has it been three months? Time to re-read Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion, and maybe five or six Georgette Heyer books. Then back to spec fic again.
Although I’d gone through my requisite Victoria Holt Gothic phase in high school, other than Austen (whom I didn’t discover until I’d graduated from college) and Heyer, I didn’t read anything that was explicitly categorized as romance. However, regardless of what genre I was reading, my favorite bits always seemed to be the parts related to a romantic relationship.
In Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall trilogy, for instance, my favorite scene is the one with Menolly and Sebell on the boat in Dragondrums (and they’re not even the main characters in that one!). I’d re-read the whole series (not that that was a bad thing—Menolly is one of my favorite fictional characters, despite the inherent misogyny of those particular books) just to get the build-up to that scene.
With Barbara Hambly’s Stranger at the Wedding and Bride of the Rat God (which are two of my favorite all-time books) same thing. The scene when Kyra and Spens first give in to their mutual attraction (even though Spens is engaged to Kyra’s sister), and the scene where Alec and Norah finally share a kiss and then a bed? I’m so there.
But in 2008, The Thing happened. Amazon released the first version of the Kindle and I got one for Mother’s Day. Back then, the Kindle didn’t have a lot of content. I believe my first purchases were Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga (because, you know, spec fic). Then, in May 2009, Harlequin offered six books for free (each from a different line) and holy crap.
I discovered modern romance novels.
Whole books that were about the romantic relationship. I binged on romance (still not on Kindle so much, but my local library got a real workout). In NaNoWriMo in 2010, instead of working on the fantasy trilogy I’d been noodling on for a year, I knocked out the draft for a M/F romance set in a summer theater (I met my Curmudgeonly Husband when we were working at a summer theater in Vermont).
I had planned several other books in the series, two of them featuring a hero and a hero rather than a hero and heroine, because that was my experience—couples were just as likely to be same sex as not. After talking with several editors at pitch events, however, I discovered this was Not Done, Suzanne Brockmann’s Jules Cassidy notwithstanding.
Then, based on a random comment from one of my local RWA chapter mates, I read my first story by Josh Lanyon (The French Have a Word for It) and shortly after that, Damon Suede’s Hot Head, and discovered that even if I couldn’t mix couples in the same series, M/M romance was definitely Done.
Based on my Kindle purchases since then, I’ve continued to Do it (so to speak) ever since.
How about you? What was your “first time?”
About The Artist’s Touch
Two men haunted by more than the past.
Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.
Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.
As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.
Publisher’s note: This is a heavily revised and significantly expanded reprint of Northern Light. The second book in the Art Medium series, Tested In Fire, is a first edition. Both are sold together in both ebook and print collections.
About the Art Medium Series
Artists use all manner of materials to express their vision, to interpret the world around them, to affect the hearts and minds of their audience.
But what if the artist himself were the medium? And what if artistic inspiration weren’t the only force at work?
If painter Stefan Cobbe and art investigator Luke Morganstern don’t answer those questions fast, they stand to lose their reputations, their relationship—and their lives.
About E.J. Russell
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
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To celebrate the release of both books in the Art Medium series, one lucky winner will receive a $40 Riptide credit! Winner will be pulled from entries to both blog tours. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Contest closes at midnight, Eastern time, on April 7, 2017 and is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following The Artist’s Touch tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!