EXCERPT AND GUEST POST! Counterfeit Conscience by Helena Maeve



On the brink of retirement, a spy will risk all.

The writing’s on the wall. Will Rowe has no illusions about retaining his post as the head of the largest Section field office in South America. Private contractors, some more lawful than others, already see to most of their interests. It’s only a matter of time before Will himself is made redundant. He’d like to think he’s made peace with the inevitable, but when a figure from his past offers one last chance to make a difference, Will can’t resist.

Caught between his duty to the agency and his commitment to protect his operatives, Will must persuade the man who nearly wrecked his career to give up the one and only constant in his world—revenge.

Ignacio was a low-grade runner for the infamous Macias cartel the last time he and Will spoke. Now he is the head of the family and a direct beneficiary of MI6 cost-cutting measures. Will knows that approaching such a man without his superiors’ knowledge or approval is a perilous undertaking, but he doesn’t expect his body and heart to become forfeit. As events spiral out of his control, Will finds himself at the mercy of an old lover intent on awakening desires he long thought suppressed.




“I was wondering when you’d work up the nerve to come see me,” Ignacio admitted, switching to English. “Have a seat. What will you have to drink?”

“That’s not what I’m here for.”

Ignacio shook his head, shoulders slumping. “Always business with you… Very well, but it’s your loss. They make an excellent martini. Shaken, not stirred, of course. That’s how you spooks prefer it, yes?”

Ten years on and his smile was just as warm as Will remembered. He had the kind of face that made men want to confess their sins and beg absolution. Will had been stupid enough to trust his soft, slanted eyes once. He had worshiped diligently, on his knees, and nearly lost his job for it.

“Manuel Sosa,” he replied, sidestepping the question altogether.

Ignacio froze, whiskey halfway to his lips. “What about him?”

“He’s in custody. He’s under our protection. I’m here to request that you don’t attempt to interfere with that state of affairs. Again.”

A sharkish smile taking form on his lips, Ignacio clucked his tongue.

“No, that’s not it… You look like you haven’t slept in weeks. Has this meeting been keeping you up? Did you play it out in your head until you drove yourself crazy, like you used to?”

“It’s been ten years,” Will shot back, bristling. It took everything he had to keep his voice even. “I’ve grown out of it.”


Liars, traitors, and other sexy things

Thank you, Because Two Men, for hosting me today. It’s with a sigh of relief and a slight pang of regret that I watch book five of my six book series Shadow Play fly the nest for general release. What began as a chance meeting in a bar in Rome has become a tangle of lust and (dis)loyalty. Enemies have become lovers, lovers have become traitors, and now traitors must fight for their lives… or die trying.

A year or two ago, I wrote a short story entitled In the Presence of Mine Enemy, which pitted a newly retired MI6 spy against the man he thought he’d killed. It’s a claustrophobic, fast-paced, on-the-brink novella that should end in tears but somehow (spoiler alert!) doesn’t. The Shadow Play series sprang from that same kernel of an idea. Deception doesn’t quite spell out true love in real life, but fiction is more lenient with liars. And what better reason to bend the truth than Queen and country?

As much as I enjoy James Bond and the sleek, good guys fighting the good fight theme of the 007 books and films, I’ve always been partial to stories about average people doing extraordinary things. Shadow Play focuses on six such pairs. The stories are interconnected but distinct and each character must carry its own cross. Some, as the pair at the heart of Best Kept Lies, are divided by their allegiance to rival agencies, others, as in The Price of Freedom, are separated by a commitment to truth and justice, while others still are only in it for their own survival, like the hit men of Splendid Isolation.

In Counterfeit Conscience, the fifth installment in the series, the choice to be made is one between answering the call of duty and allowing oneself to be manipulated into renewing ties with a very dangerous (and very seductive) individual. But if lies are tolerable when they serve the common good, the question then becomes who decides what the common good is. And that’s when the fighting for one’s life business comes into play. (I did warn you!)

I hope you enjoy the different dynamics at work in the Shadow Play series. And by dynamics, yes, I mean all the sexy bits.

Happy reading!




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Author Bio:

Helena Maeve has always been a globe trotter with a fondness for adventure, but only recently has she started putting to paper the many stories she’s collected in her excursions. When she isn’t writing erotic romance novels, she can usually be found in an airport or on a plane, furiously penning in her trusty little notebook.

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BLOG TOUR, EXCERPT AND GIVEAWAY! Fistful of Lies by Helena Maeve



Location, location, location

Where to set a novel is as important as figuring out who your main characters are going to be and what you’ll call them. Whenever I sit down to plot a story, staging and décor are among the first things I put to paper. Sometimes a few lines will be enough to give me a clear idea of the world I want. Other times, I venture to the Pinterest machine and start scrolling for ideas.

If anyone asks, yes, that hour (or six) of research is absolutely vital before I can start writing. Really.

My newest title, Fistful of Lies, was no exception to this rule.

Greece is a country I know well and I’ve wanted to set a story there for a long, long time. Because it’s me, though, I’ve chosen to turn a wonderful country rich with history into the backdrop of a twisted murder-mystery with shades of family feuds and high-octane romance.

In Fistful of Lies, the fictional island of Ligeia plays host to a colorful cast of characters whose entanglements are as knotty as they are deep and dangerous. Between Leif and his sister Petra, their friends and lovers, the promise of a lengthy summer holiday under the sun couldn’t be more appealing to freshly retired professor Reuben. That is, until someone only narrowly fails to bash a man’s head in.

Ligeia had to be a heavenly place. After all, that’s where you least expect horrible things to happen. It needed the luxury and history of the old villa, constructed by Leif’s father and inherited by his children—not unlike his work ethic and empire—as much as it needed the harsh lines of the newly erected modern guesthouse at the other end of the island.

And of course there had to be that blissful sense of lethargy, of unending sea and sky and summer that could really drive a man insane.

It was imperative that the island and all its secrets to beckon Reuben as an extension of the man he loves, but I also wanted it to the kind of place that takes its toll on Leif. Tacking on the whiff of a family mystery to a glorious paradise always helps to hint at the skeletons buried beneath the olive trees, I think.

And if my editor asks, yes, I did figure all this out by spending six hours on Pinterest.


About Helena Maeve:

Helena Maeve has always been a globe trotter with a fondness for adventure, but only recently has she started putting to paper the many stories she’s collected in her excursions. When she isn’t writing erotic romance novels, she can usually be found in an airport or on a plane, furiously penning in her trusty little notebook.


Fistful of Lies Blurb:

If you wanted to, how would you kill your lover?

Freshly sacked from his professorship, Reuben could do without a month-long holiday on his boyfriend’s private island. But he may as well enjoy the perks while they last. As soon as details of his dismissal surface, he’s sure to wind up alone with his murder mystery fixation.

Born with a silver spoon firmly between his teeth, Leif Claeson is no stranger to loss. He and twin sister Petra could lose their father’s creaking multinational at any moment…unless they fulfil his last wishes to the letter. Then again, Leif has always been something of a wild card. He’d rather vacation with his lover than worry about the future. When a stranger crashes their holiday, Leif sees only the potential for blissful debauchery. Ruben disagrees.

Power and sex make for a potent cocktail and everyone in Leif’s inner circle has a stake in what becomes of this Hellenic paradise. As Leif and Reuben struggle to reconcile their feelings with the strange happenings on the island, a chain of events is set in motion that could endanger their very lives.

Reader Advisory: This books contains scenes of MMM ménage, drug use and murder.


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Excerpt from Fistful of Lies

Leif squeezed my hand. “How was your flight? Is this all your luggage?”

My guide had finally finished tying off the motorboat and was setting my single suitcase on the jetty. It was small enough to pass for carry-on on the plane, the plastic only slightly dented by hard use. I’d picked it up for a conference in California last year, before all the mess began. I tried not to think that I would never again be invited to speak at academic gatherings.

“I pack light,” I answered in the face of Leif’s arched eyebrows. “Speaking of my flight…”

Leif had the good grace to look slightly abashed. “Are you totally pissed off?”

Courtesy of his generosity, I had enjoyed a single aisle seat, champagne at take-off and landing, and a gourmet meal along the way. Pissed off wasn’t the right word for how I felt.

I slipped my hand into Leif’s. “I’ll make it up to you later.”

“You don’t have to…”

The tips of his ears colored as my gaze slid down his body.

“Oh. Oh. Yeah, okay.” He grinned. “Let’s get you settled in.”

In my relative ignorance, I’d assumed that Leif’s vacation home was a villa somewhere on the Greek Mediterranean coast, no different from the luxury bungalow in Maine or the chalet in Switzerland. That was before I’d discovered that my partner owned not just the house but the island it was built on, too.

He’d dodged my questions, describing the place first as a tiny island in a larger archipelago, then as one of his father’s poorer investments.

By the time I passed the White Gate, I knew better.

Coming in from Athens, I’d noticed the sheer size of the rocky islet. It was easily as large as neighboring Fleves, with pine-covered rocky outcroppings which that afforded only the occasional glimpse of white washed walls and blue-painted shutters. The forbidding natural gateway concealed a vast swath of pink sand, the slanted oval of the private beach dipping into the shimmering Mediterranean like a slip of gold cloth. Here and there, a forgotten towel buffeted by the warm breeze, drew the eye to signs of life.

“Everyone else has already arrived,” Leif reported, following my gaze. “They’re excited to meet you.”

“Are they?” I struggled to inject a cheery note into my voice. My hand was beginning to grow clammy in his grasp.


Enter our December blog tour competition for the chance to win a free eBook from Pride Publishing:




Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway! Twice Upon a Blue Moon by Helena Maeve

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Twice Upon a Blue Moon


Helena Maeve

Publisher: Totally Bound

Categories: Contemporary, MMF, BDSM

Twice Upon a Blue Moon is the first instalment of the Surface Tension trilogy, a contemporary, BDSM ménage from Totally Bound.


Some affairs are like playing with fire, but knowing you’ll get burned is no reason to throw the game.

When her best friend doesn’t show up after a no-strings date with a man she met in a fetish club, Hazel is duty-bound to fetch her from what could be a sticky situation. She doesn’t expect to find her friend’s date so attractive—or so unflappably cool. Not that it matters. Hazel has been burned before and she knows to stay away from handsome men who are patently out of her league, especially when they’re involved with her one and only friend.

Tesla-driving, suit-wearing Dylan more than fits the bill. But every barb Hazel throws him makes him rise to the challenge, and he doesn’t want her to find a way to say no. But not only does Dylan have his own playroom and a sound grip on the S&M lifestyle, he’s also a man of many secrets. Dylan sees a place for Hazel in his bed, but what he wants is more than a one-night stand.

As she acclimates to the idea that Dylan may not be entirely straight or entirely single, Hazel soon finds herself caught between two dominant men whose bond seems to balance on a knife’s point.

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“I’m sorry he’s so difficult,” Dylan whispered in her ear as he pulled her close. “If you want to leave…”

Hazel wrapped an arm around his shoulders and let Dylan fold his hand around her wrist. “Already? But I’m having such fun.” It wasn’t a complete lie. Ward had ‘life of the party’ practically stamped on his forehead. He wasn’t likable, but he was entertaining. Hazel had no desire to capitulate just because he’d annoyed her a bit. “You’ve known him for a long time, haven’t you?”

Dylan hummed a note of acquiescence, the sound bubbling out from deep within his chest.

“We met in freshman year. That’s… God, is that really twelve years ago?” He shook his head, brushing her temple with his lips. “He’s a good guy. A little standoffish, but a good guy.”

If you say so. It wasn’t Dylan’s past that Ward had gone digging into.

“And will he be a good guy at the loft tonight, or… Is he going back to San Diego, by any chance?”

She felt Dylan’s smile more than saw it. “I think he’s headed back.”


“Yeah?” Dylan spun her under his arm. “You have designs on my virtue, do you?”

Hazel shook her head. “It’ll all be very spontaneous. Not like I spent all day thinking about it—or you.”

“Oh, really?” Dylan tipped forward, close enough to press a delicate, chaste kiss to the hinge of her jaw. “That makes two of us.”

“How narcissistic.”

His chuckle gusted against her cheek, rippling like a caress across her skin. She wanted nothing more than to kiss him as he pulled back, but Dylan didn’t stop at a few inches. When he turned, Hazel glimpsed Ward over his shoulder.

“May I cut in?”

Dylan hesitated, wary puzzlement on his handsome face.

“Sure,” said Hazel. There was no other polite answer she could give. Ward would be offended if she refused and, hands down, he’d win Dylan in the custody battle. He’d known him longer.

Appropriately, the house band transitioned into the eponymous Habanera as Ward offered his hand. She took it. “I don’t tango.”

“Neither do I,” Ward replied. “But if I were to learn with someone, I could do worse.”


Enter Totally Bound’s April blog tour competition for the chance to win any eBook of your choice, not including boxsets or anthologies.

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About Helena Maeve:

Helena Maeve has always been globe trotter with a fondness for adventure, but only recently has she started putting to paper the many stories she’s collected in her excursions. When she isn’t writing erotic romance novels, she can usually be found in an airport or on a plane, furiously penning in her trusty little notebook.


Why not both? Polyamory in the romance genre

Helena Maeve

Back when I was a wee Maeve peeking at Harlequin titles on the sly, the recipe for romances seemed simple: one man, preferably shirtless and hunky, and one woman, preferably sporting long, flowing locks, the two of them entwined in a passionate embrace on some windswept peak, balcony or boat. Sometimes the hero was blond or wore a cowboy hat. Most often, he was dark and brooding. And though they say never judge a book by its cover, I’d take one look at those and think, eh, not for me.

If it sounds like I’m being too harsh on Harlequin, that’s because I am. Harlequin and the romance genre more broadly were only repeating a message already prevalent in the wider culture. The recipe is familiar because it’s been the bedrock of some of our greatest classics. Even action movies, theoretically geared toward a male audience, use the shorthand of ‘sexy girl as prize’ to reinforce a cultural narrative about desirable men or desirable women.

More recently, the oh-so-common love triangle has become a staple across genres and mediums in a similar way. Multiple love interests pursuing a (usually female) protagonist sketches out a roadmap for and transforms the famous ‘will they or won’t they’ gimmick into ‘will she pick this guy or that other guy’. And yet just as the Harlequin covers I used to peek at offered a narrow view of romance, so does the reflex assumption that three is a crowd.

Depending on where you’ve planted your flag in this vast and perilous Internet, polyamory can seem perfectly acceptable or a slippery slope stretching down from the frightful peak of gay marriage. It can be an evo-psych explanation for male adultery (and, for some reason, only male adultery) or a means of coercion. It can be proof that a potential partner is incapable of fidelity.

A few days ago I came across an exchange about the latest instalment in one of my favourite romance series. Readers were perplexed that the hero could be so eager to share his girlfriend with other lovers and that she’d enjoy watching him with other women. If they truly love each other, the thought of their partner with someone else should send them into apoplectic fits of jealousy, right?

As a society, we love our mixed messages. Monogamy is supposed to be simple because only two people are involved, the roles are often culturally prescribed, and there is broad understanding about how such a relationship is meant to evolve. On the other hand, polyamory is presumed to be unstable (too many people!) and a ripe terrain for distrust. But in this exchange, it was monogamous contributors who defaulted to the assumption that a relationship must be possessive in order to be real—surely the unhealthier option.

I’m always wary of singing the praises of non-mainstream lifestyles, because no way of life is faultless—including monogamy. But I do think polyamory gets a bum rap. Compromise, communication and respect are values that any relationship should aim for regardless of the gender or number of participants.

When it comes to polyamory, there are few cultural narratives in place to serve as the basis for how, practically, such a relationship unfolds. And sometimes that’s challenging, as charting new courses usually is, and sometimes that can be freeing. For instance, if time has to be divided between three or four partners, that forces a degree of planning and forethought that might be absent in a relationship where it’s simply assumed one partner will make time for the other because that’s the way it is.

Coming to romance, and erotic romance in particular, as a queer reader and author has been an interesting experience. It took me time to realize that there was an appetite for all kinds of pairings and subgenres among the readership, and to shatter my own preconceptions. I suppose it’s no surprise that my first novel with Totally Bound was an MFM ménage-à-trois. Since then, I’ve dabbled in MF contemporary romances and MM sci-fi, gay vampires and bisexual fighters.

And now with Surface Tension, my first trilogy, I’ve come full circle.

In Twice Upon a Blue Moon, Hazel catches the eye of dark, enigmatic Dylan when she comes to retrieve her friend from a D/s booty call. Wary but flattered by his interest, Hazel soon discovers that there’s more to Dylan than good looks and a firm hand. Specifically, that Dylan is already involved in an unconventional friends-with-benefits situation—with another man. At first suspicious of this added complication, Hazel doesn’t expect to find herself attracted to Dylan’s sometimes-lover, much less wind up in bed with him… But must she choose or can she have both?

The romance genre changes and evolves constantly, and it can be a mirror for broader social acceptance. I’m still waiting, though, for that action hero to get the sexy boy after he defeats the bad guys…