Title: The Raven Prince and Other Stories
Author: Jean-Paul Whitehall
Publisher: NineStar Press (SunFire Imprint)
Release Date: December 18, 2017
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: Male/Male, Female/Female
Genre: historical, paranormal, contemporary, LGBT, YA, fantasy, coming out, kidnapping, sports, family, shifter, gay, lesbian, romance
Our Lady of the Axe: In a Regency England where magic used to be real, Eleanor, her dear friend Diana, and three young girls are kidnapped. It will take all of Eleanor’s strength and courage, plus a magical axe and cleavage (not that kind) to set them free, and foil the man behind the kidnapping.
Edging: Will a mistake about meaning make a mess for Tommy and Vince? Or maybe lead to something more?
The Plan That Didn’t Gang Aft Agley: Jack’s plans have a tendency to go way agley. He hopes his special plan for Billy at football practice is the one that won’t.
Family Be Damned: Look for the two Br’er Rabbit moments. One: She wasn’t unhappy Tommy got paid to take her to the eighth grade dance. She even slipped him $25 to agree. Two: Her mom made her older brother take her to the dance. The $50 she paid him was just a sisterly bonus.
The Raven Prince: Sixteen-year-old Mike hopes he can blend in at his new school. Except he’s short, slender, goth-looking with the shiny black hair, black eyes and thick lashes, wears an elegant suit and tie, and drives a Mercedes convertible. He’s also gay, a raven shifter in a human school and eventually he has to be the Raven Prince.
Standing up to the bullies who rule the school—Preacher’s Son, Banker’s Son, Sheriff’s Son, Principal’s Daughter—isn’t blending in. When the Four can’t get to Mike, they go after him through his best friend, Johnny, the devoutly straight wrestling star who doesn’t care about the gay thing.
If Johnny is hurt, will it take the Raven Prince to get justice? Raven justice?
100% of the author’s royalties will be donated to a local LGBT youth organization.
The Raven Prince and Other Stories
Jean-Paul Whitehall © 2017
All Rights Reserved
Our Lady of the Axe
Saturday, 19 May 1804
I looked up at the painting in pride of place. It is not a large painting, no more than two feet wide and not quite three tall. The frame is plain wood, as if the artist did not want to draw undue attention to what it surrounded. The colors are muted, age-dimmed, the oils dried with fine cracks marring the clarity of the woman who is the reason for the artist’s work. The lady. She wears ragged furs, but you know they’re not poverty-forced—they’re what a warrior wears. She stares off to the viewer’s left, her eyes intent on whatever it is we cannot see. A single thin braid frames each side of her face, and smears of dark paint make a half moon around each eye, a slashing line along her cheeks, a vertical one on her chin. If anyone ever knew what the paint symbolizes, if anything at all, the knowledge is long gone.
In her hands she clasps a two-headed axe. Something about the handle makes it appear it was designed for her and no other. The blades are long arcs, and you can tell when the painting was new they would have been shining with the bright silver glow of magicked steel.
I didn’t understand why it was hung above the large fireplace in the parlor where, even at such a young age, I knew our guests were always welcomed, and it was an important part of the wonderful parties Papa and Mama gave. It looked quite small in a space large enough to hold a full-length painting of Grandpapa, even one with a wide, ornate, gilded frame.
Paintings like the ones I saw in the homes of my friends when I went to visit. No one else had a painting like that.
So, since Papa was in his chair and his neatly folded and carefully ironed copy of the Times was still on his lap, I asked him.
He lifted the newspaper, unfolded it, snapped it open to its full width and height, and raised it before his face. This was his signal he was not to be bothered further. But still, his “Earl of Cavendish, do not disturb your father, child” voice drifted over and down, instructing me to speak to my mama.
When I inquired, in my best, eight-year-old “I don’t wish to be a bother, Mama, but I would truly like to know” voice, Mama’s reply was odd. “It always is, my dear. And one day, when you are married, it will be yours, and it will hang in the same place in your new home.”
I kept my lips clamped tight around several opinions. One being the painting was dumb and old and faded and not at all impressive. The other being, when I married ten-year-old William, heir to Viscount Delacourt, in our home we’d have a grand and glorious and gold-framed painting of his wonderful father above the mantel. Or maybe even one of Papa.
If asked immediately after those thoughts, or any time later, I would swear a solemn oath I felt a sharp, twisty, hurting pinch on my bum and heard the words “Don’t be impertinent, little girl.” But Mama’s lips were closed and smiling, her face remembering something pleasant, and there was no one else in the room.
I kept my imaginings to myself, and carefully rubbed my bottom so Mama did not notice. The right part. Where the imaginary pinch didn’t happen.