She Sends Shivers
It is my pleasure to host this stop on Courtney Maguire’s Blood Pact blog tour. Recently released, the book is a bit paranormal, a bit romancy, and all of it fun. Here’s the teaser:
About the Book:
In Hiro’s world, youkai are a supernatural story used to scare children into obedience, and to keep men out of back alleys and brothels. Until Sakurai Hideyoshi walks through his door with a fantastical tale of a samurai who had killed a thousand men and drank the blood of his enemies, a man that lived in darkness but sought beauty to keep it at bay.
A story both terrifying and romantic…and completely ridiculous.
Here’s an Excerpt to Enjoy:
I arrived at Sakurai Hideyoshi’s door with a fresh bottle of saké in hand. I’d changed into a clean black kimono and tugged my hair into a high ponytail. A few curls managed to pull free no matter how hard I tried to tame them, and I batted them out of my face with a frustrated grunt before announcing my entrance.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting, Sakurai-han.”
His gaze lifted, and though his hard expression never changed, I felt every place his eyes stopped. My bare toes. My hip. The neckline of my kimono. They reached my eyes, and I flinched away before dropping to my knees beside him. His saké cup was empty. I moved to refill it, and he snatched the bottle out of my hands.
“This will help.” He filled his glass and pushed it toward me. “With the headache.”
“I don’t have a…”
He leaned forward and touched a fingertip to the bags under my eyes. A nervous laugh burst out of me, making him frown.
“Nothing. I’m just surprised.” I lifted the glass and grinned at him over the rim. “Are the stories I heard about you wrong? Are you secretly a good person, Sakurai Hideyoshi?”
His shoulders dropped a tick, and he looked away. The air between us cooled, and I couldn’t help but feel as if I’d said something wrong. I quickly downed the drink he’d served me, refilled the glass, and pushed it back toward him.
“I’ve hurt you somehow.”
He released a long breath and sipped from his glass.
“I should apologize for last night too.” I picked at the hem of my kimono before smoothing it down over my knees. “For the scene with Yamaguchi-han and…after. I may have behaved inappropriately. I don’t want you to misunderstand…”
“My role here.” His eyes cut back to me. My palms went clammy, and I rubbed them on my thighs. “If you prefer the company of boys—”
“I prefer your company.”
My heart seized. “Sakurai-han—”
“Do you believe the things they say about me? That I drink the blood of my enemies?”
“Of course not. That’s ridiculous.”
“Is it?” he asked around a dry laugh. He finished off his glass and set it upside down on the table. His usually sharp eyes went dull as if focused on something only he could see.
“Why do you really come here?” I swallowed thickly, my ears burning hot. I was taking a risk, but I had to know. “You know I’m not…available to you…in the way I think you want me.”
His eyes refocused with a blink. He shifted his weight toward me, reached up, and brushed his fingertip over the bruise on my neck, and my whole world tipped sideways. “The world is full of ugly things, Hiro. Sometimes it helps to be in the presence of something beautiful.”
A panicked fluttering started in my chest, followed by warmth that ran all the way down to my toes. Something shifted between us, and it was as if I understood him. My life wasn’t perfect, but the okiya had sheltered me from much of the world’s ugliness. Sakurai Hideyoshi, on the other hand, stood toe-to-toe with it, held it on the end of a blade. Okaasan’s words came back to me. Comfort him.
“Would you like me to sing for you?” The words came out rougher than I expected.
He nodded sharply. “Mn.”
I took a deep, steadying breath and cleared the gravel from my throat before launching into a sweeping ballad full of romance and tragedy. Normally I would stand and perform at a distance as if to an audience of a hundred, something perfect and unreal. This time I stayed on my knees beside him, close enough to touch. I might have been selling him a fantasy, but I wanted him to see the truth. I let my voice falter and crack. I sang for him and him alone, and with each note, a little more of the tension he carried fell away until he collapsed entirely, his head landing in my lap, a mountain toppled.
His long ponytail draped across my thighs and curled around my hip. As I dragged my fingers through it, I thought of his scratched and dented sword that inspired such legends. Was he the same? An ordinary thing surrounded by extraordinary stories?
By the time my song ended, he’d fallen asleep. Hanagawa poked her head in, and I waved her away. I knew I’d just proved her right and I’d be subjected to her gloating, but I didn’t have the heart to wake him. I didn’t want him to leave.
Publisher: City Owl Press (May 4, 2021)
Genre: LGBTQIA Dark Historical Paranormal Romance
City Owl: https://smarturl.it/Youkai2CO
Add it on Goodreads: https://tinyurl.com/3b3jec53
Love the Youkai Bloodlines Series? Keep an eye out for Blood Bound, coming in Spring 2022.
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