Dancing with the Lion: Becoming by Jeanne Reames Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Hiya Peeps! We have Jeanne Reames stopping by today with her new release Dancing with the Lion: Becoming, we have a fantastic guest post, a great excerpt and a fabulous giveaway, so check out the post and then leave a comment to enter the giveaway!  ❤ ~Pixie~

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Dancing With The Lion: Becoming

(Dancing With The Lion 01)

Jeanne Reames

Two boys, one heroic bond, and the molding of Greece’s greatest son.

Before he became known as Alexander the Great, he was Alexandros, the teenage son of the king of Makedon. Rather than living a life of luxury, as prince he has to be better and learn faster than his peers, tackling problems without any help. One such problem involves his increasingly complicated feelings for his new companion, Hephaistion.

When Alexandros and Hephaistion go to study under the philosopher Aristoteles, their evolving relationship becomes even harder to navigate. Strength, competition, and status define one’s fate in their world—a world that seems to have little room for the tenderness growing between them.

Alexandros is expected to command, not to crave the warmth of friendship with an equal. In a kingdom where his shrewd mother and sister are deemed inferior for their sex, and his love for Hephaistion could be seen as submission to an older boy, Alexandros longs to be a human being when everyone but Hephaistion just wants him to be a king.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: Emotional Abuse, Explicit Violence, Self-Harm 

.•.•.**❣️ Riptide | Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords ❣️**.•.•.

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Jeanne Reames!

Xairē! That’s ancient Greek for “Howdy.” [KHAI-rae]

Welcome to my blog tour for Becoming, Book 1 of the Dancing with the Lion duology, about the young Alexander before he became “the Great.” It’s an historical coming-of-age tale with a love story embedded.

Best known for conquering most of his known world before the ripe old age of 33, Alexander made even Julius Caesar weep (for not being him). But who was he before his meteoric rise? And how did his best friend and lover, Hephaistion, give him the emotional support needed for him to become Megalexandros (the Great Alexander)?

Dancing with the Lion Website:
Contains everything from cut scenes, to videoblogs of Macedonia (Northern Greece, where Alexander grew up), to audio pronunciations of those weird Greek names!

For our GIVE-AWAY, I’m going to offer something a bit different. Yes, there’s a $10 gift certificate from Riptide Publishers. BUT, for the lucky winner, you get your very own scene request. Want to see a scene in the novel from a different character’s point-of-view? Want to know what happened after a scene ended, or before it began? Or is there something you’d like to see that wasn’t in the novel? Ask for it! I’ll write it just for you.


Some important characters in Dancing with the Lion have four legs. And Alexander didn’t enter the pages of history alone.

He rode there.

History has given us some pretty famous horses: Traveler. Secretariat. Trigger. Marengo.

But Bucephalas was first.

Jeanne Reames - Dancing with the Lion Becoming Horse pic(Or Boukephalas, in the novel, the Greek spelling.)

At the ripe old age of twelve, Alexander tamed a big, dark horse* that nobody else could handle. It’s a great story, if also likely exaggerated. Yet that’s where their legendary friendship began. Supposedly, the horse would let nobody else ride him. And when a hill tribe kidnapped him at one point during the campaign, Alexander threatened to lay waste to the entire countryside and butcher very person in the region unless they brought his horse back.

They brought his horse back.

When Boukephalas died in India, Alexander even founded a city and named it after him. Now, as much as Alexander loved Hephaistion, he didn’t get any cities named after him.

Macedonians loved their horses, and Boukephalas was a very special companion to Alexander. For those of us who’ve loved a special pet, we can empathize.

And it’s not just Alexander’s Boukephalas who plays a role in the book. If we don’t know the name of Hephaistion’s horse in history, in Dancing with the Lion, he’s Brephas, who was raised from birth by Hephaistion, and is as precious to him as Boukephalas is to Alexander. Perhaps even more so, as Alexander has just acquired Boukephalas a few months before the novel opens, whereas Hephaistion has had Brephas for years.

So it was fun to give some personality not just to the two-leggeds, but the four-leggeds. Horses play a big role, too, as Hephaistion comes from a family that breeds and trains them.

I’d like to give a shout-out to well-known SFF novelist Judith (Judy) Tarr and Carolyn Willekes (The Horse in the Ancient World), who did their best at different points to keep my horse facts on track.

(*Boukephalas is often called “black,” but the word in Greek just means “dark,” and the Pompeii mosaic shows him as a brown bay, a very, very common coat shade. So that’s what he is in the novel. Hephaistion gets the cool horse colors. Brephas is a sandy-bay.)

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His father would’ve been given his message by now. There was no going back, even had he wanted to.

Pulling off his sun hat, Hephaistion wove through the morning crowd, mount trailing behind. He’d set out at dawn with nothing more than his stallion, a pack for clothing and personals, his armor, and his hounds. His growling stomach reminded him that he should have packed some breakfast.

People thronged the narrow streets of the capital city: men at business, slaves on errands, and packs of laughing boys trundling hoops and scattering pigeons. Women headed to public fountains with pots balanced on their heads, whilst here and there a dog sat, awaiting its master. Someone’s fugitive goat had climbed a wagon to nibble at a spade-leafed fig. Overhead, the Mediterranean sun beat down like the judgment of Zeus. This was the time of year when armies marched and shepherds sheared their sheep.

The main road wound up to the royal palace perched atop a fortified akropolis, or high city. Pella’s akropolis was more a bump in the plain than a real hill, yet Philippos’s palace didn’t need height to impress. Hephaistion had heard it said this was the largest building in all Hellas. Maybe so. Portico columns rose up like ossified pine to a marble sky in garish shades of lapis and vermilion, and a gold-leaf Victory crested the monumental entrance. Hephaistion halted to gawk. The last time he’d visited Pella some years back, this place had been unfinished, squatting on the rise like the bones of some great beached leviathan.

Behind, someone cursed him for blocking the way, then shoved past. Embarrassed, he glanced about for a place to tie his stallion so he could present himself to the king. He should’ve stabled the horse at his family’s town house, but he had no intention of going there. His mother’s cousin would return him in disgrace to his father like a boy chased by a nurse instead of a youth who’d be sixteen come autumn. He should’ve been made a Page two years back; time and past time to fix that. He had a vow to keep and a vow to make. Then it would be done.

His father couldn’t make him forswear the king.


Alexandros entered the king’s study to find his father sketching battle strategy in a large sand crib set with terrain brush and tiny military figurines. Several officers looked on.

Seeing him, his father waved him over and pulled out an armless chair. “Sit.”

He did so as Philippos seated himself in the chair opposite, a chair with arms. “You’re getting old enough for a philosopher,” his father said. Alexandros’s brows rose. Was he to have an Athenian-style education, then?

And did he want one?

“Times change,” his father added. “Given current politics, I dare not send you south, so I’ve picked a man willing to come here.”


“Aristoteles of Stageira.”

“I’ve not heard of him.”

“Some say he was Platon’s best pupil, even if not his successor. I knew him as a boy; his father was physician to my father. You met him some years back, although you probably wouldn’t remember it. He came through Pella on his way to Asia after Platon died.”

That explained the choice. Yet the implications were tremendous. His father wouldn’t waste time and money on more schooling unless he was training an heir, not just a son.

Being prince didn’t mean Alexandros would be king. Kingship could pass to any royal Argead male, and his chief rival had always been his cousin Amyntas, son of his father’s elder brother, who’d been king before Philippos. When that brother had died on a battlefield, Amyntas had been passed over in favor of his adult uncle. A warrior people, the Makedonēs wanted a warrior king. The strongest.

Alexandros had stopped counting how often Amyntas had beat him up to remind him who was strongest.

Yet a king could indicate his preferred successor, and apparently, Philippos had decided to gamble on Alexandros. A slow boil of excitement started beneath his diaphragm. All his life, his mother had insisted the Moirai had chosen him for a great destiny. Goddesses of Fate, even Zeus bowed to them. Sometimes he was skeptical of his mother’s claims, afraid to believe; then came a moment like this, a twitch on his life’s thread making it momentarily visible like a snail’s trail when hit just right by the sun. Glimmering. He wouldn’t fail. He couldn’t.

To keep from letting his exhilaration show, he asked, “What does Aristoteles teach?”

“You can read the letter he sent. I’m having the old villa above Mieza repaired. You’ll study there, away from the bustle at court.”

And away from my mother, Alexandros added to himself, lips thin as he stared at the sand crib. It rested on an enormous table that took up half the room. When allowed, he watched his father try out tactics, and sometimes sneaked in after dark to play with ideas of his own. One day a month ago, he’d found an answering move waiting, so he’d replied. The next morning, he’d found a countermove, and had replied to that. This impromptu contest had gone on for days until his father had finally triumphed.

Now Philippos continued, “He wants schoolmates for you. ‘Discourse sharpens the mind,’ he says, or some such. I chose a few.” He listed names, all sons or brothers of important men. Alexandros groaned inwardly when Kassandros, son of the regent, was included. But one absence piqued his curiosity.

“Not my cousin?”

“Do you want Amyntas?”

“O Zeu, no!”

Philippos chuckled. “I thought not. Who else would you like?”


For a moment, his father looked as if he’d refuse, but Alexandros put on his best innocent face. “Very well,” Philippos said and wrote down Ptolemaios’s name on the wax board at his elbow. “Who else?”

“Erigyios.” Erigyios had shared his childhood lessons under his mother’s uncle Leonidas—a stern man overfond of Spartan training whom the boys had dubbed the Tyrant. Alexandros named two more as his father made notes, then Philippos looked up.

“That’s all?” He must have envisioned a longer list. Open and fraternal himself, he couldn’t fathom his son’s insularity, and told Alexandros so frequently.

“When will Aristoteles arrive?” Alexandros asked, to divert attention from his lack.

“Not for some months. He’s settling his affairs in Mytilene.”

Alexandros opened his mouth to ask more, but Eumenes, his father’s new, young Hellene secretary, appeared in the doorway, someone lurking in the shadows behind. “Philippos, sir. Sorry to interrupt but, ah, Amyntor’s youngest boy just arrived. He’s requesting an audience with you.”

The entire room quieted as the half-glimpsed figure stepped past Eumenes to enter the king’s study.

Tall and lanky, he moved with a grace that avoided adolescent gangliness, then halted to peruse king and officers with studied, detached interest. He reminded Alexandros of stable cats who wanted to be petted but wouldn’t humble themselves to beg. A closely clipped beard made him look older than Alexandros knew him to be, but the delicacy of his features was almost insipid: a Praxiteles marble rather than a man. The hair, however, caught Alexandros’s eye. He wore it long the way a boy might, or after the current fashion in Athenai: front clipped and caught by a browband whilst the back hung halfway down his spine like a black river.

So this was Hephaistion Amyntoros.

Philippos rose. “What are you doing in Pella?”

“I understood you sent for me to join the Pages.” The precision of his diction made him sound as if he’d grown up running about the Athenian marketplace, not the Axios River Valley.

“Didn’t Amyntor say he was keeping you home to work the ranch? Something about losing his good sons to my bad wars?” Standing in the background or sprawled on chairs, Philippos’s officers grinned.

Hephaistion didn’t. “That was his decision.” Lacking sensationalism, the full meaning of what he’d said took a moment to register with the king and the rest in the room.

“‘That was his decision’?” the king repeated. “Who decided to send you here then, boy?”

“I did.”

You decided to send you here?”

“Yes, sir.”

Oimoi!” Philippos turned his back, but Alexandros could see he was pleased. Old fox. This put Amyntor right where Philippos wanted him, and Philippos wasn’t about to send Hephaistion home but also wasn’t about to let Hephaistion know that. “Just what do you think your father will say about it, eh?”

Hephaistion didn’t seem troubled. “I don’t know, sir.”

“Well, I know.” Philippos turned back. “He’ll have a messenger here by noon, cursing my bones and demanding that I return you. What should I tell him?”

“Tell him it was my choice. You didn’t make me come. I wanted to be a Page; I came.”

Philippos’s officers muttered at the insolence, but Alexandros decided life in the Pages might be interesting with Hephaistion about.

The prince wasn’t a Page yet, but since leaving the tutelage of his mother’s uncle last summer, he often visited their barracks and counted time till his fourteenth birthday when he could join them. Not quite thirteen, he wore his hair in a boy’s braid still.

His father encouraged the association, calling it good for his bookish son, although his mother disapproved. She thought it beneath his station and he should be exempt, just as the elder princes of Sparta escaped the brutal training of boys. It was one of several quarrels between his parents. Their rows left him feeling tired and stretched, like a rag pulled between two dogs.

Now, Philippos stood with arms crossed, looking Hephaistion up and down as if purchasing one of Amyntor’s much-coveted warhorses, not sizing up Amyntor’s son. “Why did you disobey your father to come here? How do I know you’ll obey me any better?”

“I want to kill Illyrians.”

The answer was quick and intense, and the king nodded like a schoolmaster with an especially transparent pupil. “But I’m not at war with any Illyrians at the moment.”

“No, sir.”

“With luck, they’ll stay up in their mountain lairs a good long time, too.”

“Maybe.” Hephaistion had a hard stare, the kind that looked through and through until most men turned away. Philippos didn’t turn. “You owe me,” Hephaistion added, voice harsh but feet shifting. “You owe Agathon.”

A pregnant hush greeted that, yet Philippos just gave another nod and uncrossed his arms. “All right, you’ll get your chance at Illyrians, boy. You’re assigned to delta squad. They have duty tomorrow afternoon; that should let you settle in and get your bearings. Take your horse to the stables and present him to the horsemaster. Time off is your own except for meals and drill. As a Page, you’re under my command, and under my discipline too—don’t forget it—but Kleitos Melas is drill master. He’ll be delighted to get another son of Amyntor.” Sarcasm fairly dripped from that pronouncement. “Koinos Polemokratous is Senior Page. He’ll fill you in on mess, drill, and bed. I hope you traveled light, because one chest for clothing is all you get.”

Seeing that he’d won his petition, Hephaistion stood placidly, apparently unaware that assignment to delta was a bit of a joke on him, subtle punishment from the king. Philippos was always subtle.

Kassandros was in delta squad.

Deciding his father had finished, Alexandros ducked out a rear door. He should see his mother regarding this philosopher. Yet as he headed up the chief staircase of the public portion of the palace, his cousin Leonnatos ran him to ground on the landing.

Alexandros wasn’t sure if he liked Leonnatos. His cousin presumed, but he also accepted Alexandros’s presence in the Pages without resentment or patronizing—the sort who expected to be presumed upon in return. Alexandros had a difficult time condemning that disposition. His childhood friend Erigyios was with Leonnatos, and lame Harpalos too, son of the prince of Elimeia, an Upper Makedonian canton.

“What do you know?” Leonnatos demanded now.

“What do I know about what?” Alexandros asked.

“What do you know about Hephaistion?” Leonnatos spoke as if to a dullard.

“He ran away?” Alexandros wasn’t entirely sure what they were after. “My father won’t make him go home, though.” Alexandros said nothing of Hephaistion’s declaration that he wanted to kill Illyrians. It had seemed a matter deep and tender, and Leonnatos—who was neither—wouldn’t understand. Alexandros reckoned he’d said enough to satisfy their curiosity.

It served too well. They left, sauntering down the stairs and out the palace’s main entrance. Deciding his mother could wait, Alexandros followed, hoping the others wouldn’t mind. In fact, they didn’t seem to acknowledge him at all, like the family dog.

Crossing a well-tended park, or gymnasion, behind the palace complex, they spotted several Pages at exercise and called out in greeting. The others waved back. “Philippos isn’t sending him home!” Leonnatos was saying. “What’ll Amyntor do?”

“He’ll send my father a complaint, demanding Hephaistion’s return,” Alexandros replied, hoping to validate his presence among them by sheer wealth of information.

Yet Leonnatos didn’t even let him finish before continuing, “Maybe Amyntor’ll recall the Europos cavalry regiment! By the dog, we could have a real feud here.”

Breath short from the struggle to keep pace, Harpalos said, “Don’t be daft. All that’ll happen . . . is Amyntor . . . will send the king . . . a letter telling him . . . to send Hephaistion home.”

Which was what Alexandros had just said. Pursing his lips, he wondered if he’d become transparent.

Harpalos was still speaking. “The king’ll tell Amyntor . . . ‘Take up the matter . . . with your son . . . not me . . . He came on his own.’ . . . And that’ll be the end of it . . . Amyntor’s pugnacious . . . He’s not stupid.”

Nobody slowed for lame Harpalos; they’d all learned better.

Still trying to inveigle his way into notice, Alexandros blurted, “My father assigned him to delta squad.”

This time, his ploy succeeded. The other three stopped dead and broke up laughing. “Ai!” cried Harpalos. “The king put him . . . in with Kassandros.” Slapping a hand over his heart, he staggered as if from a mortal blow, making Leonnatos and Erigyios howl louder. Then they began walking again. Alexandros had to hurry to catch up.

Reaching the Page’s dormitory, they found it deserted. Boys not on duty were out riding, hunting, or in the gymnasion. A long, single-story building, it held two rows of bedcouch cots flanking a center aisle. Each couch had a chest beneath, a shelf above, and wall hooks to hang armor. Alexandros plopped down on an empty one to lean against the white-washed, mud-brick wall.

“Actually,” Harpalos said, throwing himself across his own couch, “I’m not sure if it’s poor Hephaistion or poor Kassandros. Philippos may have put him right where he belongs: with the lackwits, egoists, and peacocks.”

“You know Hephaistion?” Erigyios asked.

“Sort of. Amyntor raises the best horses in all Makedonia, but you wouldn’t know that.” Erigyios suffered for his foreignness. “My cousins knew Hephaistion’s brothers, so I’ve met him. He’s not like the rest of his family. He’s got his nose stuck so far up his arse, all he can smell is his own shite.”

“Maybe he’s shy.” Erigyios liked to give others the benefit of the doubt.

“He’s not shy.” Harpalos sat up. “He’s shut-mouthed. You never know what he’s thinking. His great-grandfather came from Athenai and he assumes that means something.”

Hephaistion picked that moment to walk through the door, and Alexandros wondered how much he’d overheard. He carried a panoply of arms—fighting, not dress—a large pack, and a smaller bag that clanked with cooking gear. Two dogs followed him, but it seemed he had no servant, which was just as well. As a Page, he’d be doing his own body service for a while, in addition to the king’s. “Is one of you Koinos?”

At his voice, Leonnatos glanced over, then burst into laughter. It must have been the hair. Turning with an uncommon amount of poise, Hephaistion stared down the other boy until all trace of humor was wiped from Leonnatos’s mouth. “Is Koinos here?” he repeated.

Erigyios answered. “Koinos is at the gymnasion, I think. Come on; I’ll show you a cot.” He led Hephaistion down the aisle to a few empty spots near the middle. Their voices drifted back, too low to make out what they said.

Leonnatos was patting his hair and batting his eyelashes.

“Stop it! He can see you,” Alexandros scolded.


Coming back up the aisle, Erigyios frowned at Leonnatos. “Let’s go.” He called to Hephaistion, “Supper’s served at dusk; you can eat your portion where you like, but most of us eat here. You’re welcome to join a circle.”

Hephaistion glanced up—“Thank you”—then returned to the business of unpacking.

“See what I meant?” Harpalos said as they exited the dormitory. “Shut-mouthed.”

“Well you hardly made him feel welcome,” Erigyios replied.

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Dancing With The Lion series!

Alexandros is expected to command, not to crave the warmth of friendship with an equal. In a kingdom where his shrewd mother and sister are deemed inferior for their sex, and his love for Hephaistion could be seen as submission to an older boy, Alexandros longs to be a human being when everyone but Hephaistion just wants him to be a king.

Check out the series today!

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About Jeanne!

Jeanne Reames bioJeanne Reames has been scribbling fiction since 6th grade, when her “write a sentence with this vocabulary word” turned into paragraphs, then into stories…and her teacher let her get away with it—even encouraged her! But she wears a few other hats, too, including history professor, graduate program chair, and director of the Ancient Mediterranean Studies Program at her university. She’s written academic articles about Alexander and ancient Macedonia, and does her best to interest undergrads in Greek history by teaching them (et al.) to swear in ancient Greek.

Her Website: https://jeannereames.net/Dancing_with_the_Lion/DwtL.html
On Facebook: facebook.com/jeanne.reames.3
On Instagram: instagram.com/jeannereames
On Twitter: twitter.com/DrReames

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One lucky person will win a $10 voucher for Riptide. But this giveaway also includes something much more personal:
Your very own SCENE.

I’ve committed to write, for the give-away winner, a scene of her/his/their choice.

Would you like to see X scene described from a different character’s POV (point-of-view)?

Or would you like to know what happened just before X scene, or right after?

Or maybe there’s something I didn’t write about at all, but you’d like me to write it for you?

There are some parameters, especially for the third category (write a scene not included). The request is subject to my agreement that the characters would engage in the requested behavior. So keep that in mind. (I wouldn’t write a scene wherein Alexander beat his dog, for instance.)

But I look forward to the winner’s scene challenge!

I have some “cuts scenes” as well as “missing scenes” (in the year between the novels) that will be available on my website (https://jeannereames.net/Dancing_with_the_Lion/cut_scenes.html) after July 1st

When done, this one will join them.

(Each tour stop is a chance to enter by leaving a comment below.)

(Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 6, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. )

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Check out the other blogs on the tour!

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12 thoughts on “Dancing with the Lion: Becoming by Jeanne Reames Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

  1. Lovely post about the animal friends! Quick question: Somehow Hephaestion is always portrayed as someone who loves and knows horses. Is there any evidence behind this?

  2. Not sure if it went through. Great post about the animal frienNot sure if it went through. Great post about the animal friends! It seems Hephaistion is usually portrayed as someone who loves and knows horses. Is there any evidence behind this characterization? freyall at gmail dot com

    1. I know Jo Graham did so in her novel STEALING FIRE, but I wasn’t aware of it in other novels especially. (I can’t remember if Judy did it in LORD OF TWO LANDS.) Anyway, as far as I know, there isn’t any evidence for it. I did it because I wanted the family to be fairly well-off, and raising horses would do it. 🙂

  3. Interesting post. Great prize. I think I read somewhere that Alexander named a city for his dog, Peritas, as well – is that true?

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