Today I am so pleased to welcome Keira Andrews to Joyfully Jay. Keira has come to talk to us about her latest release with Leta Blake, Rise: A Gay Fairy Tale. And her post today is all about redheads (which I love, even being one myself). She has also brought along a super sexy excerpt and a copy to give away. Please join me in giving Keira a big welcome!
Leta and I have always had a thing for redheads. There’s just something about that fiery hair and pale skin that we find so beautiful. Cosmopolitan agrees, and posted a gallery of the hottest male redheads last year.
Out Magazine also weighed in with the sexiest 15 red-haired men. Yum!
But for centuries, redheads were persecuted and suspected of witchcraft. This 17th century defence of redheaded men is fascinating:
During the height of the witch trials in Europe, for example, red hair was considered evidence of witchcraft. Judas Iscariot was often depicted with red hair in Renaissance art and the Spanish Inquisition even suspected that redheads had been marked by the fires of Hell itself!
Sadly for our hero Jack in Rise, our newly revised, expanded, and republished gay fairy tale, he’s persecuted as many were over the centuries. The victim of bullying and scorn thanks to his red hair, his only friend is his loyal dairy cow, Inga. Jack’s gay and unbearably lonely, but soon he finds himself scrambling up a certain beanstalk with nothing to lose.
In a castle in the clouds, Jack meets a man who isn’t a giant at all. They’re mortal enemies in a struggle for power and survival, but Jack and Rion soon find they have more in common than they think…
Jack pulled up the cloak and tucked it in around Rion’s chest before giving him more water. Then he sat on the side of the mattress again, a tense silence settling in. Finally he cleared his throat. There was no point in wasting time on pleasantries. “Why do you pretend to be a giant?”
“To stop scum like you from stealing my family’s treasure.”
“Was there ever a giant?”
“Did you ever meet him?”
Rion was stubbornly silent.
“I just want to understand. Please. We don’t need to be enemies.” It was the truth, at least. “It seems we are stuck here together for the time being. Help me understand why you live this way.”
“There is nothing wrong with how I live,” Rion gritted out.
“No. But why the tale of the giant? Who was he?”
“What does it matter to you, Outsider?”
“My whole life I’ve heard tales of the ogre in the sky, greedily guarding his treasure and refusing to share it with even the least fortunate. We grow up dreaming of the climb, and capturing the treasure. Doing what no man has done. The seemingly impossible. I suppose I want to know why. Especially since in truth there is no giant here.”
After a long silence, Rion said, “He lived centuries ago.”
“Then how do you know he was real?”
His eyes flashed. “My parents told me.” He gazed at the ceiling again. “Cease with your questions. You’ll never find the treasure.”
Jack kept his tone steady. “Because it doesn’t exist?”
At this, Rion appeared surprised. “Of course it exists, you fool!”
“Have you seen it?”
“Many times.”He shook his head, smiling grimly. “So now you lull me into telling you where it is? Is that the plan? You’re wasting your time, Outsider.”
It was indeed the plan, if it could be called that. Jack forged ahead. “Why do you call me that?”
“It’s what you are. You come from the land below.”
“How am I different from you?”
Rion gave him a withering look. “As if you have to ask. Your people are unclean. Evil. Filthy, thieving dogs.”
“We are not!” Jack thought of Adair and the people who’d taunted him his whole life. “Well, I’m not.”
“Oh, so you didn’t climb up the beanstalk in the dead of night to steal my family’s treasure?”
Jack flushed despite himself. “I told you, I wasn’t going to take it all.”
Rion snorted. “Of course not.”
“I was desperate. I…am desperate.” This truth seemed to just trip off his tongue.
“Because of your debt.”
“Yes.” He swallowed hard. “I have nothing to go back to. You think you hate the people below? Not as much as I do. And you could never hate me as much as they do.”
Rion frowned. “I don’t understand this. You’re one of them. Why would they hate you?”
“I’ve never been one of them. I never will be. I’m different. Can’t you see that?”
Rion regarded him for a long moment. He opened his mouth to reply and then snapped it shut with a sharp inhale. “Spare me your sad tale, Outsider.”
“All right. If the people below are unclean, where do you come from?”
“From here. I was born here. I shall die here. It is my birthright.”
Not the immortal Jack had assumed the giant to be, then. “But where did your family come from originally? Surely your parents weren’t both born here.”
“My mother was. My father came from across the sea. That is the only place we can go to find a mate.”
“Across the sea? Beyond the cliffs, you mean? But no one can pass there. The water is too rough, ever roiling. It quickly swallows anyone who dares attempt to cross. I’ve heard there is no other side, just churning sea until the edge of the world.”
Rion seemed to want to say more, but after a long moment he shrugged. “My father came from across the sea,” he repeated.
So there was another kingdom there? Jack’s curiosity grew. “When I was young I dreamed of building a boat and sailing off. I never thought it was possible.” Maybe I could go there! Maybe they’d accept me!
Rion scoffed. “They’d never permit you to enter even if you survived the sea.”
His surge of excitement receded. “Are the borders guarded?”
“No. It’s a peaceful land.”
Jack frowned. “Then why would they stop me from entering?”
“They’d…they’d arrest you on sight. You’re a filthy Outsider! It’s obvious with a glance.”
Jack ran his palm over his head self-consciously. “Because of my hair?” Yet no one else in his village had the curse.
Rion’s brow furrowed. “Because you’re unclean! What does your hair have to do with it?”
Jack blinked. How strange that for once, his hair seemed to be accepted. It was just the rest of him Rion hated. Although Jack was used to being the subject of scorn, he found it cut just as deep as ever. Why do you care what this man thinks? “Have you been there? To this land across the sea?”
“Many times.” Rion tellingly avoided his gaze.
“No. I don’t think you have.” I think you’ve stayed locked up here all alone. A pang of hurt for Rion echoed through him.
“You dare to call me a liar? You Outsider scum! I’ve been across the sea more times than I can count. I have many friends there.”
Jack barked out a laugh. “Oh yes, I can tell. So where is your mate?”
At this, Rion shifted and tugged on the ropes binding him, eyes on the ceiling. “Cease these useless questions.”
As empty as his own life in the village had been, Jack couldn’t imagine living in this prison in the sky.
“How long have you been alone?”
Rion’s nostrils flared, and his voice was steel. “Save your pity, Outsider. I have no need of it. I’ll tear you limb from limb and toss down your bones to fertilize the beanstalk. And when another of your kin climbs it, I won’t take pity on him and send him back with tales of a giant’s wrath. From now on there will only be death to the Outsiders!”
Fine. If that’s the way he wants it, that’s the way it shall be. As he left, Jack slammed the door behind him with a clang that seemed to shake the walls. He leaned against the cold stone and breathed deeply. What did he hope to gain by talking to Rion? This greedy, cruel man. This man who would clearly kill him without a second thought.
This man I somehow desire. This man who might just be as lonely as I am.
Jack hurried down the passageway. He needed to find the treasure and leave this cursed castle behind.
Rion shifted restlessly, his bonds still holding fast. Why had he told Jack so much? Truths, yet! It had been odd, the way in some moments he’d actually…wanted to talk to Jack. No. The Outsider. My enemy. Don’t even think his name again, you fool. Outsider. Outsider. Outsider.
Rion repeated the words like a mantra under this breath.
When the Outsider returned after a short time, he was even more on edge than when he left, his shoulders hunched and fists clenched. He stood by the bed, vibrating with tension. “There is no treasure. Just admit it.”
Although Rion knew if he were to lie he might be freed, his pride wouldn’t allow it. “It’s here. You simply have to know where to look.”
The Outsider pulled the knife from his belt and thrust it out. “Tell me where it is. Now.”
“Or what? You’ll kill me? Then you’ll never know.”
He took a step closer, his outstretched arm trembling. “I’ll do it. I will.”
Despite everything, Rion knew that was untrue. “You won’t.”
Howling in frustration, the Outsider charged, landing atop Rion. “No one thinks I’m capable of anything. But I will find this treasure, damn you. I’m the one in control! Not you!” He tossed the knife to the floor and gripped Rion’s shoulders. “I’m not weak. I scaled the beanstalk and bested you. I’m going to find the treasure no one else could.”
Rion bucked up, writhing beneath the sweet pressure of the Outsider’s body. “You’ll never find it. I’ll never help you.” Fruitlessly commanding his flesh not to respond, Rion went still, breathing heavily. “You’re wasting your time, Outsider.”
“Stop calling me that.” Deep blue eyes flashed with fury.
“It’s what you are. Outsider.”
He reached down between their bodies and squeezed Rion’s cock. “If I’m so unclean, why do I make you hard?”
Rion gulped, concentrating on keeping his tone even. “You don’t. It’s friction. Nothing more.”
“You’re lying. You do want me. You do.” Emotion flickered across the Outsider’s face. “I’m not nothing.”
“I could never want you. No one could.”
His nostrils flared. “You don’t want me to touch you?”
“Never. You disgust me.”
The Outsider yanked out Rion’s thick shaft, stroking roughly, and Rion swallowed a gasp as pleasure shuddered through him. “You don’t want me to take you in my mouth? Suck you and lick you and make you spend? You don’t want that?”
Rion jerked his head side to side in a no, but his heart sang. All his deepest, most secret desires were being given voice. There are others like me. I am not alone.
He didn’t trust himself to speak as the Outsider worked Rion’s cock, flicking the head with his thumb. With his other hand, the Outsider kneaded Rion’s bollocks in his palm. Rion shuddered as a gasp escaped his lips. Nothing in all his days had ever felt so good. So right.
“I think you’re lying, Rion. I think you do want me to suck you. I think you want to fuck me. You want to ram my arse full of your big, meaty cock. Even though you hate me, you want me.” With a determined gleam, the Outsider loomed over him and gripped Rion’s shoulders. “Admit it.”
Rion’s cock was painfully hard and he thought he might explode if he didn’t come. His muscles were stiff and cramped from being tied to the bed in the same position for so long. He needed release. But more than that, he wanted Jack to touch him. He knew it was shameful, and he screwed his eyes shut.
Jack’s lips brushed Rion’s ear, his breath hot. “Tell me what you want.”
Rion clenched his jaw.
Fingertips brushed the head of his cock. “Tell me.”
With a groan, Rion gave in. “Use your mouth.”
Copyright © Keira Andrews & Leta Blake
What happens when Jack meets a sexy man atop that beanstalk?
Rumors of treasure have long sent fortune hunters clambering up a magic beanstalk to a mysterious castle in the clouds. Survivors told of an evil giant who guards the gold and glittering jewels with savage strength. No sane man would dare risk the climb—but Jack has nothing left to lose. Shunned for his evil red hair and abandoned by his cruel lover, he’s desperate to escape his life.
Rion isn’t a giant, only a man bearing the burden of protecting his family’s legacy. It’s a lonely existence, but he’s duty bound. Then Jack appears, and Rion’s world is turned upside down. After a blazing confrontation, undeniable lust sparks. Isolated in the clouds, Jack and Rion give in to their desire and growing connection. But do they have the courage to let go of the past and follow their dreams?
Soon they must protect the treasure—and each other—from a new threat. And they have everything to lose.
This is a retold fairy tale with a twist. Previously published as Ascending Hearts; this version has been revised and expanded.
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” You can find Keira online:
- Website: http://www.keiraandrews.com
- Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/2Z-G5
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/keiraandrews
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/keira.andrews.author
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1366040.Keira_Andrews
- Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/keiraandrews
Leta’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively, but her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting the romance stories that she would most like to read. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family. You can find out more about her by following her online:
- On the web: http://letablake.wordpress.com/
- On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/letablake
- On Twitter: https://twitter.com/LetaBlake
Keira has brought a copy of Rise to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, March 29th at 11:59 pm EST.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
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- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
- Void where prohibited by law.