Hello everyone! Welcome to the kickoff of the Pawn Takes Rook: Conventional Love blog tour. Conventional Love is the third and final installment in the Checkmate series. Being the final adventure for my boys Rook and Garth, I’m doing a bit of a retrospective tour. I’m sharing tidbits of inspiration, stuff that didn’t make the final cut, and fond memories as my first year as an author. And like all awesome superhero stories, I’m giving out trading cards drawn by yours truly. Make sure you check them all out in the tour!
To start with, the Checkmate I planned from the beginning to be told in first person. Only it wasn’t going to be Garth telling the story, but Rook himself. The line that started it all for me was this voice in my head, all gravelly, tired, war weary, and defeated.
“He told me to protect him, but he was already bleeding out in my arms. His wife wouldn’t stop screaming as I sat there with a fistful of the boy’s intestines in my hand.”
Yeah. Checkmate would have been a really different series then. We’d really get into Rook’s head with all the angst, the self-pity, the self-loathing, the constant paranoia that everyone is out to get him, the waking up in the night screaming with nightmares, that whole kit and caboodle.
Problem. It had been done before. Not only done before. Done to freaking death. Then came the thought of telling Rook’s story through the eyes of his sidekick. Only his sidekick is so obnoxiously happy-go-lucky, brings ADHD to new levels, and really, for the love of god, needs to lay off the caffeine. And lo, Hogarth Dawson was born.
And now, Rook’s dark tragic story was told through this sunny, rose-colored glasses perspective. There’s just one catch to the whole thing…
While Garth was teaching Rook to hope again, Rook’s darkness took a toll on Garth. In the progression of all three books, you can see it clearly as Garth’s shining star became a little bit tarnished. And that’s where Pawn Takes Rook: Conventional Love takes us. To the darkest places Garth’s star has ever been.
Will he come out of it?
Sequel to Cashing the Reality Check
Checkmate: Book Three
Three years ago, superhero Memphis Rook saved Hogarth Dawson’s life, and now the two can’t imagine being apart. Sort of.
By day, they’re a loving couple. By night, they’re the superhero duo Checkmate. Since that’s too much time in each other’s personal space, Rook and Garth decide they need friends outside of each other. Garth finds friendship with a D&D group comprised of the social misfits Chad—who has crammed himself so far in the closet he might never find the door again, Jackson—who’s so mysophobic he’s afraid of his own germs, and El Jefe—who has all the social grace of a brick.
With an epic dose of peer pressure, the group urges Garth to go to Tolkicon, the biggest comic convention in Axis City. When the supervillain league the Coalition of Calamity appears and takes the convention hostage, as the only real superheroes around, it’s up to Garth and Rook to save the day. With Rook as one of the hostages, Garth knows it’s time to nut up or shut up about being a hero.
Pawn Takes Rook Trading Card!
Starting things off with Mystery Card #1!
Pawn Takes Rook: Conventional Love Excerpt
I limped down the foyer and into the great room, where he lounged on the couch, in a black robe, reading The Bucolic Plague as if the memoir of gay goat farmers in upstate New York meant anything to him beyond that they were gay.
“You can drop the act,” I said, and he looked up. “I know you don’t read memoirs.”
His brow furrowed and his lips pursed into a childish frown. “You’d be surprised,” he said, petulant.
I decided to play along as I inched down the steps into the recessed room. “What’s so interesting about it then?” I asked as if he’d spout the easy answer.
“It’s normal,” he said simply.
I blinked. Okay, that’s not what I was expecting. “Normal how?” I asked, once again fishing for the easy answer.
“The goat farm, the country life, the being self-sufficient, the being kind to your neighbor,” he said, watching me and clearly aware he had totally lost me. “You were expecting me to say they were gay, right?”
“No,” I lied.
“Hogarth,” he said, calling my bluff.
“Well,” I said, curling up next to him. “Of all books, why that one? Shouldn’t you be reading the updated Krav Maga compendium?”
Rook scanned a page, flipped it, and then scanned again. “I needed to be reminded,” he said softly, his tone having a strange sense of apology.
“Reminded of?” I asked, watching him while he kept his gaze on the book.
Finally his attention settled on me, and the murderous tint in his aquamarine eyes was replaced with the watery glaze of calm. Like the cool, still underside of a glacier.
“That I still feel,” he said, and my body shivered. “That underneath it all—the urges for violence, the lust of breaking bones, the frenzy at the scent of blood—I still remember I’m just a simple farm boy, raised on wholesome values from Iowa.”
Okay. So there’s those touching, sweet moments when you know you should be totally serious and sincere, like now. Now is a totally serious and sincere moment. But you know when you’re going to react completely inappropriately? Well, you never know when you’re going to react inappropriately, but I regrettably snorted a giggle into my hand.
“Iowa?” I asked, tears welling in my eyes. “Like potatoes?”
Thankfully, Rook humored me and gave me a double-knuckle noogie in my wet red hair. “That’s Idaho, cuddleskull,” he said with a grin. “Well, we can’t all be Mister Das Uber Urban from Axis City.”
“Wisconsin,” I said, confessing my best-kept secret. “Scandinavia, Wisconsin.”
It was Rook’s turn to pause. “Oh?”
“Yeah, your turn,” I said, nudging him with my elbow.
“Charles City, Iowa,” he said. “It was simple then. Before all this….” He pointed to the driftwood chandelier and the rolling fireplace. “This.”
“This,” I said, pointing to his forehead. “This,” I repeated, and lifted his broad hand and placed it over my heart.
It was his turn to take on the stunned, deer-in-the-headlights expression. I had never seen him so fragile before. So genuinely skittish. He swallowed. “I-I can’t change it,” he said quietly.
I knew what he meant. And it was my choice, right at that moment, to either cash in my chips and walk out that door, or just ignore it like it never was a problem. Like it’s never a problem that I’m sitting on a ticking time bomb. That it’s only a matter of time before one of us goes off. How could I have just ignored it? It’s not like it doesn’t come up every few months with every new explanation of what we do as Checkmate. It’s in our genes to destroy each other one day.
“I’ll understand,” he said, his warm hand gently wrapped around mine and his telepathy kicking in at the most appropriate moment. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Shh.” I pressed two fingers to his lips. He blinked owlishly as I straddled his clean, warm lap in my soggy clothes that smelled vaguely of motor oil and dog pee. “I’m dirty,” I said, rolling my hips against him, and he gasped under my fingers. “Let’s not think about this until I’m clean.”
Rook hummed thoughtfully against my fingers. “Are you doing what I think you’re doing?” he asked, and my fingers snaked under his robe, finding his length and giving a firm stroke. His head fell back against the couch. “Oh, Christ, Garth, you are doing what I think you’re doing.”
I giggled, leaning in to whisper my command against his mouth. “Fuck me, farm boy.”
What story would you have liked to see from a different point of view? Like the villain? The best friend?
About the Author:
Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” She knew then she wanted to make the world a little more interesting.
Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure, epic love—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes if you’re going to going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.
Lex is a pop culture diva and her DVR is constantly backlogged. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind. She is incredibly sentimental, to the point that she gets choked up at holiday commercials. But like the lovers driven to extreme measures to get home for the holidays, Lex believes everyone deserves a happy ending.
Lex also has a knack for sarcasm, never takes herself seriously, and has been nicknamed “The Next Alan Moore” by her friends for all the pain and suffering she inflicts on her characters. She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine residing in the ’burbs of Northwest Florida where it could be 80F and she’d be a popsicle.
She is grateful and humbled for all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and welcomes feedback.
1 winner will receive eBook copies of the full Checkmate trilogy
(Pawn Takes Rook, Cashing the Reality Check, and Conventional Love)
2 winners will receive an eBook copy of Conventional Love
Drawing is open to US and International readers.
Facebook Chat will have it’s own prizes!
All 20 Checkmate printed trading cards! Including the 4 special mystery cards! Free books! Or a 25 USD Visa Gift Card!
Just leave a comment on any of the blog posts along the tour, along with a contact email address. If you would still like to enter the contest but don’t wish to leave your email address in the comment, you can also enter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, February 4th at midnight, Eastern Time.
Pawn Takes Rook: Conventional Love Tour stops:
1/1 – Gay List Book Reviews [Collect Mystery Card #1]
1/3 – Lily Velden [Collect Trading Card #1]
1/5 – Release Party at the Dreamspinner Press Facebook Page [Collect Trading Card #2 and Win Bonus Goodies]
1/7 – Tali Spencer [Collect Trading Card #3]
1/8 –House Millar [Collect Trading Card #4]
1/10 – Tempeste O’ Riley [Collect Trading Card #5]
1/9 – Tricia Kristufek [Collect Mystery Card #2]
1/12 – Epically Romantic [Collect Trading Card #6]
1/15 – The Novel Approach [Collect Trading Card #7]
1/16 – Charlie Cochet [Collect Trading Card #8]
1/17 – Tara Lain [Collect Trading Card #9]
1/18 – CJ Elliott [Collect Trading Card #10]
1/24 – Anne Barwell [Collect Trading Card #12]
1/26 – Dawn K. Johnson [Collect Trading Card #13]
1/28 – Chris T. Kat [Collect Trading Card #14]
1/30 – Skylar M. Cates [Collect Trading Card #15]
1/31 – Cate Ashwood [Collect Trading Card #16]
2/3 – Joyfully Jay [Collect Mystery Card #4]