Friday, 25 September 2015

Book Spotlight: Tears by Jean Lowe Carlson

Today I have a book spotlight for dark fantasy romance Tears by Jean Lowe Carlson. It is the second book in the Three Days of Oblenite series. If you'd like to check out the first book, see my spotlight here: Book Spotlight: Breath. Now on to today's post for Tears (be warned, there is some racy, suggestible content)...

Tears by Jean Lowe Carlson

Pious half-Gypsun Phillip d’Auvery is tortured. His soul is pledged to his god, but Phillip’s life has a darker aspect that drives him to the scourging lash of the Padrenne of Saint Sommes Cathedral year after year. For Phillip’s curse is a bliss that can only be found when pain smites him until tears are shed. His blissful curse alienates him until Phillip discovers a man who understands pain and power, the stern Oruthane d’Iver. As Phillip’s love for his dominant lover grows, the two are exposed, and danger begins to follow them. But there is no greater danger than the dark secret smoldering in Phillip’s heart, which will threaten everything dear to him.

Content Warning: This book contains intense BDSM with whips.

ABOUT THE SERIES - Three Days of Oblenite (3 novels)

This darkly romantic, gothic paranormal fantasy series is rife with superstition, piety, and the devious nature of the mystic. The three novels take place in a dark version of Victorian-era Paris, and feature three characters cursed with the gifts of a dead saint. Swept up in the torturous undercurrents of their desperate curses, their lives collide in desire, lust, power, obsession, addiction, fervor, desperation, and death. “Breath” features a young woman cursed to celibacy and unable to find love because her kiss kills, all except one night a year. “Tears” tells the story of a young man cursed to feel bliss when he is whipped, and the religious conflict he feels as he finds himself in a relationship with the man who brings him release. While in “Blood”, a brilliant surgeon cursed with blood that heals descends into a desperate underworld, addicted to working miracles. And in the seedy Gypsun Quarter at the edge of the Saints Commons, there is no blessing that can save those cursed to depravity, darkness, and permission. They can only save themselves.


Phillip d’Auvery moved carefully back down the steps at the altar, nodding to a few faces he recognized who were yet waiting for the Padrenne, and then turned towards a door upon the left side of the cathedral. He made his way through and up the cramped stone staircase to the narrow wainscoted hall of the cathedral’s Holy Servants offices, and entered the first door upon the left without knocking. 

The gaslamps were low in the hall and flickered soft ghosts across the forest scene on the Padrenne’s carven door as Phillip entered. The Padrenne’s offices were tidy and plain, befitting a man of his station and devoutness, and Phillip selected his usual overstuffed chair across the desk from the Padrenne’s and sat, settling in to await Henri Coulis in quiet meditation.

Minutes stretched as Phillip prepared himself for the hours ahead, eyes closed, listening to the deep midnight hush of the cathedral. Whispering footsteps came and went upon the stone in the hall. The old scents of incense wafted upon his breath, not a new stick yet lit tonight, but the deep comforting smell of a tradition of char to push back evil. It calmed Phillip’s soul, laved him in a kind of alert ease as he waited.

At last, the iron latch of the door clicked, and the ancient wood groaned inwards, and Phillip heard the rustle of Padrenne Henri’s fine garments, the black robes and white stole used only for this particular day. He heard a sigh, and then the crack as Henri Coulis popped his own back. A rustle of the fabrics came as they were hung up properly in a cupboard to the right of the door. Phillip heard the creak of leather as the Padrenne took a seat in his usual high-backed chair behind the desk, and Phillip opened his eyes at last.

“Phillip.” Henri Coulis’ red-rimmed eyes were exhausted, but his thin lips held a benevolent and satisfied smile. “How may I help you tonight?”

“I would like to conclude my Pentriant in the old way, Padrenne.”

Henri nodded, his burnished grey-opal eyes unsurprised and shining with the pleasure of devotion despite the red that rimmed them. Phillip knew why those tired eyes shone now in that time-stretched face. The next few hours would be cleansing for them both. It was merely a formality between them, Phillip’s asking with such careful propriety, after so many years. Padrenne Henri knew that Phillip d’Auvery held to the old ways, like his mother had before him, one of very few who still did.

And he also knew why.

“Very well,” Henri smiled, just a slight twist of the lips. “Give me a moment to prepare. You may strip to the waist, remove your boots and socks, and anoint yourself at the basin in the prayer niche. Then please kneel upon the bare stones before the Immaculate, my son, and settle into silent meditation. I will attend you shortly.”

“Thank you, Padrenne.” Phillip inclined his head.

“As the Immaculate wills it, my son.”

Padrenne Henri made an offering gesture towards the prayer niche with his long parchment-thin hands, and Phillip rose, turning away from the desk and walking to the niche. He settled upon the plain wooden bench by the wall and removed his boots and socks, then hung up his grey wool coat upon the peg. His trim black waistcoat followed, then his loosened cravatte was folded up neatly and tucked into a pocket of the waistcoat. Once the cravatte was gone, Phillip stripped his black shirt off over his head rather than bothering to undo all the buttons. His lean muscles ached from the day, and Phillip’s abdomen seemed thin and hollowed from fasting. He adjusted his neck and shoulders again, rolling them out a little as he took his place upon his knees before the small statue of the Immaculate in the prayer niche.

The Immaculate’s pale marble arms were open and welcoming as Phillip knelt upon the familiar cold stone floor, the effigy’s face kind and slightly wistful. Phillip knew the contours of that face, knew why the effigy seemed both pleased and saddened to see him. Phillip’s knees protested what had already been today and what was yet coming with twin surges of pain, but he consummately ignored them, settling before the effigy. He leaned forward, dipping his hands into the silver bowl of water to the side, and rubbed the water over his face, hands, neck, chest, and through his short ruff of unruly black hair. Then he rested his forearms upon the stout wooden railing that housed the statue. Phillip clasped his hands and closed his eyes. He allowed his head to fall forward and his neck to relax, his forehead coming to rest upon the wood railing with his elbows.

Immaculate trust settled within Phillip d’Auvery, and a small thrill of fear mixed with anticipation as Phillip listened to the sounds of the Padrenne moving around the room, preparing. Phillip’s rose-beads were left around his neck, their miniscule weight comforting. With long, slow breaths, Phillip d’Auvery prepared for his final Cleansing of Pentriant, and urged every muscle in his body to loosen. He heard the Padrenne approach at last, and fought the urge to tense. Henri Coulis took up his usual place directly behind Phillip, the quiet step of his bare foot a whisper in the chamber as he took his ready stance.

A thrill passed through Phillip again.

“Are you prepared to come to the Immaculate, my son, and to be Cleansed of your sufferings at last, upon this Most Holy Day of Pentriant?”

Phillip swallowed, fighting the tension of anticipation, urging his body to be calm and loose. “I am, Padrenne. Cleanse me of my sufferings, and bring me to the Everlasting Joy, the Infinite Bliss of His Holy Soul. So Be It.”

“So Be It,” Padrenne Henri murmured.

The crack of the lash startled Phillip as it always did, as it curled over his bared back and snaked around his ribs. There was always a moment, the first moment, when his body responded to the sound, tightening with surprise, before the pain came.

But then it came.
A searing of pain, a bright line of misery, a flash of horror and anguish and then the surge, the blossoming of every dark touch and miserable need of Phillip d’Auvery’s flesh and his soul. Phillip gasped at the pain, all pretense of manhood abandoned. It devoured him, blistered him, dived within him and scourged him, knifing like hot fire through every part of his poor corpse and his everlasting soul.

He had a moment to breathe. The Immaculate gave him that small concession, at least.

And then the lash fell again.

Phillip screamed, the sound torn from his throat like the beasts howling in the night, like all the desperate sinners who cried and died in torment, whose pitiful pain mimicked his own. It sent him reeling. Their suffering abounded within him. Phillip breathed it in and keened it out. Every night of passion abandoned into misery, every mother aching for a child long gone, every curl of madness and anguish and every twisted, obliterated heart that cried out into their own endless Inferno.

And then the lash fell again.

Phillip d’Auvery broke with a sob, and began to weep.

Tears beaded upon his dark eyelashes and dripped down his hanging head to his nose, dropping upon the cold stone of the floor and striking upon the wood of the stout railing. And as they fell from his lashes, Phillip felt the Ecstasy of the Immaculate begin to flow through him like honeyed wine.

Tears streamed freely now, and the lash fell a fourth time. Phillip screamed, a short cry of surprise and pain and release, rocking forward upon his elbows at the railing, absorbing the agony, taking it all in, holding it close within his heart, transmuting it. Bliss filled him, eternity filled him, life itself filled him and he gasped from the pure pleasure of the Immaculate building within, scouring away his sufferings at last. Abandoning himself to its deep succor, Phillip shuddered with livid pain and infinite pleasure. He lifted his head, the breath of his Immaculate surging through every pore. Drinking it in, he opened his throat and cried out for the Great Mercy.

The lash fell a fifth and final time.

Phillip d’Auvery fell back upon his knees and bare ankles, his elbows falling from the wooden railing. His chest opened and his head fell back, baring his throat in surrender, his hands resting palm-open at his sides, fingertips trailing upon the cold stone of the floor.

Open to the Eternal Bliss, Phillip wept in silence.

Open to the Light and the Life and the Joy, Phillip wept in silence.

Broken open, his back streamed blood from the lash and his naked throat gasped. The pure ecstasy of the Immaculate dived down Phillip’s throat and in through his closed eyes. It penetrated his chest and thrust deep into his aching flesh. And as the tears streamed down his jaw to his neck, the world opened up suddenly in the flickering lamplight behind Phillip’s closed eyes. The ecstasy rolled out from his flesh in a burgeoning wave, saturating everything it touched. No longer contained within the poor corpse that was Phillip’s body, the Immaculate’s Own Touch expanded in every direction, blessing, commanding, unstoppable, undirected, blissful.

Phillip heard Padrenne Henri fall to his knees with a short cry. And then he felt the Padrenne’s benevolent hands upon his bare shoulders as Henri Coulis was taken by the Immaculate’s ecstasy also, this night like every other. The Padrenne sighed, wrapping his stringy arms around Phillip’s chest, cradling Phillip close and resting his gaunt cheek to Phillip’s forehead. Uncaring of the blood from Phillip’s scourged back, the Padrenne cradled his Holy Son, and Phillip felt the wet of Henri’s own tears upon his forehead like a blessing from the Immaculate himself.

So it was, with Phillip d’Auvery.

That his suffering, his pain and tears, brought himself and those around him so much bliss.

Tears is available at:

Author Bio:

Jean Lowe Carlson is a writer of dark supernatural romance and epic fantasy fiction, but her novels vary widely into dystopian fantasy and even into supernatural westerns with some erotic content. Jean writes genre-bending and genderqueer fantasy, mixing a keen and gritty blend of epic, romantic, erotic, dark, supernatural, and dystopian fantasy. Her sensual, raw worlds remind one of Jacqueline Carey, Clive Barker’s Imajica, Anne Rice, and Robin Hobb. Jean holds a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, and as a doctor, she has a keen awareness of psychology, energy, nature, and human behavior. She currently practices Esoteric Buddhism (tantra), yoga, Reiki, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Jean pulls from this knowledge to paint vivid and emotionally complex characters, set amidst the broader scope of nations in turmoil or societies with riveting secrets or supernatural elements. Not afraid of exploring all kinds of relationships, including LGBTQ and BDSM, her novels are exciting, passionate, challenging, and lush.

For more on the author and her books:

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