Innocence & Carnality by J. Alan Veerkamp Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway!

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Hi peeps! We have J. Alan Veerkamp popping in today with his new release Innocence & Carnality, we have a brilliant guest post from J. Alan, a great excerpt, a fantastic $10 DSP Publications GC giveaway and my review, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~

Innocence & Carnality

by

J. Alan Veerkamp

Innocence is his only currency.

The gilded cage of propriety where Nathan grew up as a member of the Deilian aristocracy became a true prison when, at fifteen, his homosexuality came to light and created a terrible scandal. His parents see only one way to preserve their reputation amongst the other noble families: fit Nathan with a chastity belt to increase his value to a potential partner and marry him off as soon as possible.

The recipient of that prize is Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III. After a hasty wedding, Rother whisks Nathan away to the strange and seductive land of Marisol, where Nathan will begin a new life, free to explore the pleasures of the marriage bed, though his life is still not his own.

But Rother’s Delaga House is a place of secrets, dangers, and depravity Nathan can scarcely comprehend. Where friends are few and peril waits around every corner, Nathan must employ all the manipulation he learned from high society, along with his talent for clockwork. Most of all, Nathan must adapt, compromise to survive, and cast off the preconceptions of his homeland.

Because only he can orchestrate his freedom, and it’ll come at a cost.

Warnings: Violence

.•.•.**❣️ DSPP | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iTunes | B&N | Kobo | Google Play❣️**.•.•.

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J. Alan Veerkamp!

Where did I&C come from?

Before I ever seriously considered writing to aim for any level of the publishing world, I joined a wonderful free author’s site, GayAuthors.org. It was a wonderful community to get back to writing, which I had stepped away from for many years, and get re-acquainted with how to tell a proper story.

Part of the online exercises were the weekly prompt sessions. I went through a phase of doing them regularly to break out of my habits and spark some new ideas. This particular week, which turned out to be fairly popular was the following prompt:

“You were promised to another before you were even born. Your whole life you knew you would have no choice in this marriage. Now your life partner is due to arrive in mere hours and your entire kingdom has been working none stop to make sure everything is perfect. What is your life partner like and how will you survive with that person for the rest of your life?”

This sparked a number of responses. I wrote a scene of a young lord being dressed by his valet while bemoaning the upcoming meeting. A good portion of the original still survives in the book’s final version. A great deal of the story came to me in a flash. It had all the tropes I love: arranged marriage, non-contemporary setting, potential angst. Gay Authors Admin Cia coined the title in her blog response:

“I loved this! The regency feel isn’t my favorite time period but I really enjoyed the clash of innocence and carnality.” 

I wanted to write this story. Badly. However, another author, the lovely Layla Dorine, also responded to the prompt and the amazing scene she submitted ultimately became her fantasy novel, Broken Prince and Mismatched Eyes. Since she started writing and posting it as a serial right away, I felt a little weird with the idea of both of us posting stories at the same time with similar premises, so I decided to hold off and kept Innocence & Carnality in the wings. (I don’t know why I felt weird about it, I just did. I guess I didn’t want to compete and compare stories. Yeah, I know. I was silly in retrospect.)

Finally, I got involved with a flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers, which used prompts to facilitate stories with a maximum word count of one thousand words per chapter each week. My schedule was overloaded at the time, but I really wanted to write a new piece, and this group gave me the opportunity to finally get Innocence & Carnality off the ground. It was so worth it. I couldn’t commit to longer chapters at the time, but the short format allowed me to keep writing when it was difficult with all my other ongoing projects. I’m still a member of the group and like to use it to keep fresh stories coming when my life complicates my writing opportunities. It keeps me moving forward with new content each week on my blog.

It took two years to complete Innocence & Carnality in its various incarnations. A lot of revision went into making the novel flow from its thousand word scenes and chapters. (And I seriously mean a lot.) I & C was a labor of love and I’m thrilled to see it in Dreamspinner Publications’ hands.

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Excerpt!

“Who told you?” My mother, Lady Margaritte Valencus, huffed in disgust—or at least as much disgust as her practiced expression allowed. Perched on the settee’s edge, she sat tall with her poised back never touching the tufted, embroidered upholstery. A woman of her standing could be expected to do no less.

“Not the person who should have.”

Her lips pursed into a tiny, painted frown. “So in other words, your brothers are the culprits. Sometimes I think they delight in tormenting you, Nathan. I swear they’re like a pair of gossiping old women at times.”

My chest pinched at the news. “So it’s true.”

She paused for a moment and sighed. Having been through this herself, she must have understood my concern. “Yes. Yes, it is.”

I knew this day would eventually come, but the proof brought me to a morose silence. Amongst the elaborately decorated furniture of my mother’s salon, on the end table next to her rested a handcrafted hourglass. The elegant glass bulbs were suspended between a framework of brass and gears. All the fine sand had emptied to the bottom, marking the time left to choose my own future. I wanted to invert it, to start my chances over once again.

Mother turned to the small canvas atop the nearby easel and began dabbing a slender paintbrush to the surface. It was an affectation. The bristles were void of paint, and in my twenty years, I’d never seen her finish a single painting. The possibility of staining her sable and gold brocade gown was unthinkable. Women of Deilian lords were expected to fill their days with arts and crafts, while providing the proper trophy for their husbands.

I played along with her fiction, giving myself time to absorb my own reality. Finding the brass dial embedded in the wall along the ebony wainscoting, I gave it a slow turn. The tension of hidden cogs thrummed under my fingertips and the gaslights grew brighter, illuminating the sanguine, patterned fabric lining the walls, giving her more light to pretend to work with. In the late spring afternoon it wasn’t necessary, yet I did so out of polite habit.

“Thank you, Nathan.”

I leaned against the mantel, fingering the edge of my waistcoat. The layers were snug and tailored, the fine wool properly adorned with buttons of fine metal, befitting a young man of my status. In another hour or two, I would be expected to change into formal dining dress to eat. There were clothing standards for every aspect of our lives. Only certain hobbies were permissible, and employment outside of family investments was unacceptable for the nobility.

With little to spend my time on, I’d grown restless and found hobbies my parents frowned upon. However, if I gave them little trouble, they were content to allow me my eccentricities. How odd they must have found my love of clockwork mechanisms. The precision. The order. Given the expectations my parents laid at my feet, one might think I’d be more attuned to my future requirements. The prospect of a marriage held the hallmarks of opportunity and disaster all at once.

“Do you know who he is?”

“A business associate of your father’s. Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III from Marisol.”

“So far away?” I didn’t want to whine—I was accused of it often enough—but this house and land were all I knew. For all my complaints, I wasn’t prepared to abandon it and my family.

Mother gave me a dismissive shake of her head. “Marisol is an airship ride away. Not far at all.”

“Do you know when?”

“Lord Rother will be coming in two weeks to meet you and hopefully accept your father’s offer. I’ve made an appointment with the clothier. We want you to make a good first impression.”

Well, as if that didn’t make me feel like a commodity. “At least I’ll get to meet him first before I’m shipped off.”

Mother slapped her dry brush onto the end table in her displeasure. “Don’t be droll, Nathan. You know perfectly well how things are done.” “And what if I don’t like him? Will Father force me to go through with it?”

“Most likely. This is an important union for our family.” “He can’t do that.”

She paused for a moment for effect. “Of course he can. Under Deilian law, until you are married or turn twenty-five, your father has final say.”

Pacing in a circle, I waved my hands in the air. “Wonder of wonders…. All hail the land of Deilia.”

Her delicate snarl was sharp and potent. “Stop that. Given your… orientation, there have been pitifully few options in this area to find a suitable mate for you. You don’t remember because you were an infant, but since the plague struck, Deilia has been focused on repopulating. The Monarch demanded it. And because you are unlikely to bear children—”

I stopped and glared at her. “That’s not my fault.” Layers of ire deepened my anger. I hated when she spoke to me like a vacuous noble who’d never been taught a smidgeon of Deilian history. The mention of the Monarch in this context only made it worse. As if I could forget the day I met him and my fall from grace began.

Mother pulled a brooch from her collar. With a touch of her thumb, it spun itself out, expanding into an exquisite fan with translucent blades. Another affectation. I’d been scolded enough over the years to know she didn’t require fresh air to have an uncomfortable conversation. “No, it isn’t your fault, but it’s the situation you’ve been saddled with. It is our duty to follow the plan laid out for us.”

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About J. Alan!

While spending years more focused on visual arts, J. Alan Veerkamp never let go of his innate passion for storytelling, wanting to write and draw comic books when he grew up. Once he discovered M/M fiction, a whole new world opened filled with possibilities. Why couldn’t you have fantastic and dynamic sexy tales with an M/M cast? He started reading the online tales of authors like, Night Tempest, Rob Colton, and Alicia Nordwell, which only fueled his need to create. Eventually he found GayAuthors.org, and with a little coercive nudge, started sharing his tales with an unexpected level of positive response. The experience and support gave him the courage to cross his fingers and aim for the world of M/M publishing.

Born and raised in Michigan, J. Alan continues to type away, wishing it was practical to use an noisy, old fashioned keyboard that clacks with each strike, if just to annoy his loving partner and spoiled miniature dachshund.

Author Links

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Giveaway!

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Review

Title: Innocence & Carnality

Author: J. Alan Veerkamp

Genre: Alternative World, Steampunk, Historical

Length: Novel (348pgs)

ISBN: 978-1-64405-193-1

Publisher: DSP Publications (23rd April 2019)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Innocence is his only currency.

The gilded cage of propriety where Nathan grew up as a member of the Deilian aristocracy became a true prison when, at fifteen, his homosexuality came to light and created a terrible scandal. His parents see only one way to preserve their reputation amongst the other noble families: fit Nathan with a chastity belt to increase his value to a potential partner and marry him off as soon as possible.

The recipient of that prize is Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III. After a hasty wedding, Rother whisks Nathan away to the strange and seductive land of Marisol, where Nathan will begin a new life, free to explore the pleasures of the marriage bed, though his life is still not his own.

But Rother’s Delaga House is a place of secrets, dangers, and depravity Nathan can scarcely comprehend. Where friends are few and peril waits around every corner, Nathan must employ all the manipulation he learned from high society, along with his talent for clockwork. Most of all, Nathan must adapt, compromise to survive, and cast off the preconceptions of his homeland.

Because only he can orchestrate his freedom, and it’ll come at a cost.

Purchase Link: DSPP | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Wow! This story blew me away with its twists and turns.

Innocence & Carnality starts out as expected for a historical setting story, a young stripling told point blank that he will be marrying a man of his father’s choice and he’d better like it or else. Then said young man comes over all aflutter when first meeting his husband to be, being swept off his feet by an older man who oozes carnal delights, and then rushed through marriage and dropped into a setting he is too innocent to understand. And that’s when things start to get juicy and veers off from a standard historical.

Nathan is the young man in question, after the first couple of days with his new husband he has high hopes but they are swiftly dashed, he gets a brutal awakening as to what his husband is really like and our young Nathan starts to plot.

Rother is the man who had to have Nathan after seeing just one picture, he’s a ruthless man who knows how to get what he wants and he never allows anyone to get the best of him.

When I first started reading this I expected it to follow the normal historical formula, young innocent breaking through to the ruthless lords’ heart and softening his outlook, well I was swiftly disabused of that notion as it is Nathan who comes into his own and changes vastly from the innocent young man we first meet.

All the characters in this story stand out in their own ways, each one vibrant with their personalities, and whether you like them or not each one leaves a mark in your mind. There are some characters you end up adoring who you weren’t sure of in the beginning, others earn your scorn and hate even though at first they appealed to you.

The rich settings have you plunging into the story, with a few well-placed words you’re in an office, a bedroom, a hallway, a salon, walking down a busy street or a quiet shop. We are treated to an amazing story that surprises at turns and shocks with its twists, it has vices and violence that has your eyes widening and yes there are some scenes of brutality.

One thing I want to say is don’t be put off if you hear about the cheating, I’m one for turning my nose up at cheating in a story and I take a very dim view of it but with this story it is essential and makes the story what it is.

I’m not gonna delve further into the story as it really does need to be discovered by yourself, but I will say it’s thoroughly enjoyable that I had a very hard time putting down.

This story isn’t about hearts and flowers, it’s not about first loves and breaking through someones toughened shell, it’s about surviving a situation that looks bleak, it’s about playing the game until you can turn the tables, and it’s about striving to make your own life on your terms.   

J. Alan Veerkamp has written a story that drags you along on a journey that you just don’t know where it’s going or how it’s going to end, and you’ll love every minute of it.

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