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Title: Man & Beast, The Savage Land, Book One
Author: Michael Jensen
Publisher: *Not Listed
Cover Artist: Damonza
Genre: Gay Romance
Release Date: 11/29/2016
What is the line that separates man from beast?
The year is 1797, and 24-year-old John Chapman is lost on the American frontier with winter falling fast. Near death, he stumbles upon a lone cabin, and the owner, a rugged but sexy frontiersman named Daniel McQuay, agrees to let John winter over.
John and Daniel quickly find themselves drawn to each other, the sex between them unlike anything John has ever known. But as the weeks turn into snowbound months, Daniel begins to change into someone brutish, and the line between man and beast disappears.
With the arrival of spring, John flees, eventually finding refuge in the company of a group of frontier outcasts, including a brash young settler named Palmer. But in the wilds of this savage land, love is not so easily tamed, and John soon finds himself calling upon the raging animal within him to save the man he loves.
Man & Beast, which The Advocate calls “equal parts romance novel and history lesson, heaped with sex and violence,” is the first book in the Savage Lands, a series that celebrates the untold gay history of the American frontier. Man & Beast is for fans of Harper Fox, Jerry Cole, K.J. Charles, and Mary Renault, as well as anyone who enjoys pulse-pounding suspense and romance.
(Man & Beast was previously published under the title Frontiers.)
Only by wading forward to where the creek rose as high as my knees would I be able to shake his hand.
“You don’t reckon I bite now, do you?” From the deep, confident timbre of his voice, I guessed him to be at least a few years older than me.
“I’m John,” I said, water coursing down my thighs as I stepped toward him. I thanked God my stiffened shaft had dissolved in the cold water. We shook. His hand was rough and strong, and I let go as fast as I could.
When he finally removed his hat, I was taken aback by the smiling, tan face with bright blue eyes that roamed over me. His blond hair, pulled back in a tight ponytail, further emphasized his angular features and almond-shaped eyes. Not only was he handsome, but he looked young, no more than eighteen or nineteen, and my discomfiture deepened.
“Is something wrong?” he asked, fanning himself.
“No,” I said, noting how composed and stalwart he appeared, not to mention broad-shouldered. I doubted he would ever be as easily flustered as I was, and I hated that. I started to think of how Chapman would act, but stopped — after how things had ended in Warren, I no longer thought of myself as either Chapman or John. I needed to be someone else, though I had yet to figure out who.
“Cooling off, I see,” he said.
“Well, I’ve been plowing all day,” I said, attempting to back up nonchalantly until the water came up over my hips. “I needed a bath.”
“I’d heard there was a new fellow up here. Thought I’d come up and say hello.”
“Peculiar way of saying hello you’ve got there,” I said sharply.
His smile vanished. “I’ve gone and done it again, haven’t I?”
“Took my chaffing too far. George reckons it’s one of my worst flaws.”
“Are you a friend of George’s then?”
“Me!” he exclaimed with a short, sharp laugh. “No, I reckon George don’t think of me as a friend. Maybe more like a stone he has to carry around his neck.” Palmer must have seen the puzzled look on my face because he said, “You know, a curse.”
“Oh,” I said, becoming wary.
“Reconsidering, I see.”
“You’re reconsidering. You’re not sure you want to be talking with a poor nobody that the mighty George Chase might be less than fond of.”
He was right, so I said nothing.
“It’s all right. I’m used to it. If you’re at all a decent fellow, you’ll come around to my view soon enough. After all, if it’s true that fine feathers don’t always make fine birds, then it must also be true that meager feathers don’t always make meager birds.”
He laughed. “Meaning I may only look young and poor, but there might be more to me than meets the eye. Meanwhile, it was a hot, dusty ride up here, and the water looks more tempting than beef on a spit.” His shirt fell to the ground, and I realized I was about to meet the rest of him. “So, John, where are you from?”
“Massachusetts,” I said, noting there was nothing wrong with his feathers. He was taller than I, and thin, but well muscled. Golden curls covered his broad chest, darkening as they descended down his stomach. My heart beat faster.
“Never been there myself,” he said, pulling off his shoes. “I’m a Virginia boy.” He kicked free of his breeches, stood naked on the bank, and where George had reminded me of a draft horse, Palmer put me in mind of a courser, a lean, ropy mount, but one that was tough and swift and reliable in battle.
Without a trace of self-consciousness, he ran his hand down his body until he cupped his balls. Naked amidst a copse of blooming dogwoods, he looked completely at ease, as if he were an unfettered otter and this his domain. With a single graceful motion, he sprang from the bank, arcing through the air and into the creek.
Like the said otter, he streaked through the water, shooting under the pool’s rippling surface, his white ass flashing in the sunlight; a moment later, he popped back up, blond hair streaming down over his face. Again and again he slapped at the water, all the while jumping and yelling and whooping.
I couldn’t help smiling.
After paddling around for a bit, he found a half-submerged log, climbed up onto it, and prepared to dive again. For a second, he stood there grinning, and the sight of his glistening nude body, rivulets of water coursing over his brown arms and white stomach, burned itself into my mind.
As warm sunlight dappled the pool, I ordered my thoughts away from the nearness of this carefree, naked man. In its stead came an unbidden image of Zach on top of me, pinning me to the bed the night I’d fled. Suddenly, all I wanted to do was to get away from this stranger.
The man dove back into the water. By the time he had surfaced and begun to swim back, I’d clambered out of the creek and pulled on my pants.
“Didn’t mean to chase you away,” he said, leaning back against the half-sunken log, his elbows propped up behind him for support.
“Oh, you didn’t …” I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten his name.
“Palmer,” he said, pushing blond hair from his eyes. “Guess I haven’t made much of an impression.”
“You didn’t. I mean chase me away, not make an impression. I mean, you have made an impression.” Feeling foolish, I paused. “Anyway, I’m afraid I’ve tarried too long already. I’ve a lot to tend to.”
“Of course. I didn’t mean to keep you. Say, perhaps if I find myself hunting up here sometime, I’ll come by and visit. Unlessen you mind.”
“I suppose that would be fine.” Frankly, I hoped I never saw this easygoing, smart-alecky walking complication again.
“Good, good,” he said, wading toward me. Sunlight danced off of his hard, shiny body as he held out his hand. I couldn’t help but believe he was showing off. “It was nice to meet you, John.”
Shaking his hand, I said, “Me, too . . .”
“Palmer,” he said with a mischievous smile.
I turned and fled.
About the Author
Michael Jensen is an author and editor. His books of gay historical fiction include two series, The Drowning World, which is set in 5500 B.C., and The Savage Land, which takes place on the American frontier. Man & Monster, the second book in The Savage Land series, was a Lambda Award Finalist (under the title Firelands).
Michael is also the co-founder of AfterElton.com, which covered pop culture for gay and bisexual men, and eventually become one of the largest and most influential LGBT websites on the internet. In 2006, AfterElton.com was sold to MTV/Viacom in a multimillion dollar deal. As editor, Michael interviewed hundreds of writers, directors, and actors, breaking numerous stories and advancing the issue of LGBT visibility in Hollywood.
Michael lives in Seattle, WA with his husband, writer Brent Hartinger.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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