When Benjamin is shipwrecked on Dread Island, fortune sends an unlikely savior—a blond savage who is everything Benjamin didn’t know he needed. Falling in love with Sun is easy. But pirates have come looking for the remains of Benjamin’s cargo, and they find their former slave, Sun, instead.
Held captive by the pirates, Benjamin learns the depths of Sun’s past and the horrors he endured and was forced to perpetrate. Together, they must not only escape, but prevent a shipment of weapons from making its way to rebellious colonists. Benjamin is determined to save the man he loves and ensure that a peaceful future together is never threatened again. To succeed might require the unthinkable—an altruistic sacrifice.
SWIFT FOR THE SUN Exclusive Excerpt from Chapter 12: Sacrifice
Hours later I woke in the dark alone, and a terrible feeling of foreboding made breathing hard. I felt my way over to the corner. Sun’s spear was still there. I felt better for a moment, until I thought things through, and the realization made my skin prickle. He was gone. And he’d left his weapon behind.
Oh no. Oh God no.
I don’t remember the trip from the tree house to the beach. I only remember the bottom dropping out of my world as I stood holding his spear, then the utter blackness of the night jungle, and then crouching where the tree line ended at the band of sand surrounding our island like a shackle.
The Portuguese had a fire going again.
The smell of roast pig filled the night. I felt nauseous when I realized the source must be Ernest.
The big man, Martio, loomed by the fire. He stood looking into the night while everyone else ate and drank. I almost yelled a warning when I saw what Martio was staring at.
Sun stepped out of the forest shadows, his lean body bathed in the flickering light of the fire. He looked naked in his loincloth compared to the pirates, and the fire lit up his golden skin and braids like the Greek’s Helios or Rome’s Sol Invictus. His hands were empty, arms at his sides with palms facing out to show he had no weapons.
Two sentries at the edge of the light pointed their guns at him, but Martio held up his hand.
“Come,” the big man said in his native tongue, and Sun walked with fluid grace into the camp. There was no trace of the trembling fear I’d seen in him when we’d hidden in the bushes together. It was as though making up his mind to come to the fireside of his former masters had also banished his terror.
The other pirates gathered around, the more drunk glaring through squinted eyes, as if working hard to figure out who the newcomer was.
“Sóli,” Martio said. I watched open surprise and recognition mingle on his face. It was quickly replaced by a narrowing that spoke of both greed and desire. Clearly Sun was someone, something, he valued.
Martio sunk into a fighter’s crouch as Sun approached, and Sun mirrored him. The big man was more than twice Sun’s bulk, but he moved with a grace that looked just as deadly. I held my breath and imagined them fighting, Sun would be quicker, but I had the feeling Martio would be tireless as well as stronger.
“You remember well.” Martio stopped circling, straightened, and laughed, the sound booming across the beach. Sun straightened too, but he didn’t laugh. He watched Martio like a snake watches a boot, ready to strike if a man steps too close. This didn’t escape Martio’s notice. In fact, he seemed to expect it, like it, a smile curving his full, cruel lips. He stepped away from the roast hog with a chuckle, leaving a wide space.
“Join us.” He sat and indicated a place by the fire next to him—I didn’t like how long his reach was. Sun’s eyes flicked to the sentries, who still stared, mouths gaping. Martio waved their muskets down. The men obeyed without argument, but I noticed they didn’t sling their weapons. Everyone in the camp watched Sun as he crossed the short distance and crouched by the fire.
Martio gave him a generous piece of hog off the spit, and Sun took the steaming meat from him and tore into it with his straight, white teeth. For reasons unknown to me, Martio found this gladsome and laughed again. He touched one of the braids tailing down Sun’s back and ran it through his fingers. It reminded me of someone inspecting a horse for soundness. There was a look in Martio’s eyes I didn’t like, and for a moment I fantasized skewering him with Sun’s spear.
Sun casually took his braid back and rotated on the balls of his feet so he faced Martio directly. I couldn’t see the expression on his face from where I was, but Martio stopped laughing and instead watched him eat for long moments.
“Why are you here?” Martio’s voice was low but rumbled through the clearing.
“I want you to leave.” Sun’s voice was steady, easy to hear. His Portuguese was perfect, his accent very slight.
“Why would we do that?” Martio grinned at him like Sun was a child asking for an indulgence.
Sun chewed and didn’t answer him.
“We’re looking for a man,” Martio said as he held up the charred wing from the Sea Swift’s prow. “Have you seen him?”
“Já. I have seen him.” Again, Sun’s voice was clear. I tensed. Had I been wrong to trust him? Had he only been waiting for the right moment to turn me in? No, I would not believe that.
To a man, the pirates looked out into the night past the circle of light. I felt eyes raking the darkness where I lay.
“Where is he?”
“If I take you to him, will you leave my island?”
Martio’s eyes narrowed as he searched Sun’s face. What he looked for, I couldn’t say.
“This is not your island.” Martio’s voice deepened with the ring of command.
Sun shrugged and tore another piece off the meat. Martio no longer thought this was so amusing.
“He belongs to us. He owes us.”
Sun shrugged again.
“Show us this man.” Martio stood.
“It’s dark.” Sun stood too and reached down to pull a piece of flaming wood from the fire. He turned it slowly in his hands, considering it.
“Torches,” Martio ordered.
I kept as low as I could in the undergrowth. All the men on the beach gathered into a scouting party. The atmosphere turned festive, and the bottles of liquor were brought as well. The men seemed to regard the outing as a hunt. There was no other choice—when they passed, Sun leading them into the forest, I followed.
Wow! I’m really not sure where to start with this review. I will qualify it by saying I love historicals as a general rule. It is what I started reading back as a teenager. The true “bodice-rippers” that I got from who knows where, and sometimes would read over and over. I’ve read a few since I’ve started reading exclusively m/m, and they have always been good. This one knocked it out of the park for me, though.
First, I must touch on the research. Now I didn’t follow up to make sure all of Karen Bovenmyer’s historical accuracy was there, but enough of it was what I knew to be true to the history of the time, that I imagine most of the rest of it was. Either the author has a history degree, which it appears from her bio that she does not, or she spent an incredible amount of time researching the locations, the cultures, the people and the time. I was astonished at the level of detail she gave, and yet I didn’t feel overwhelmed with words. I could visualize exactly what I was reading, and with such a beautiful locale to read about, it was a great vacation of the senses. In addition there was quite a cast of characters in this book, all very different, both physically (well except for two 😉 ) and personality-wisse, yet I could almost see each character as a separate person.
I’ll admit there were a few times, I considered taking a break from the book. Not because it wasn’t well-written, but for the exact opposite reason! She wrote situations so real for the time, and with such precision that some of it was tough to read. I knew there was a happy ending at the end of Swift for the Sun, but these characters went through so much to get there that I wondered if I could make it without crying. (Final Answer: No.)
The heartbreak of watching all that Sun went through before he found Benjamin made me wonder how he had any humanity intact by that point. A lesser man would have been the savage that Benjamin thought he was, and later learned he was on the edge of. Yet Benjamin saw the beauty inside Sun, and never let his light be diminished.
This book isn’t an easy book to read in some ways. And in so many others ways, I can’t imagine a love story that would shine brighter than the gemstone this book turned out to be.
5 pieces of eye candy
Author Short Bio:
Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as the Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writers Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her poems, short stories and novellas appear in more than 40 publications and her first novel, SWIFT FOR THE SUN, an LGBT romantic adventure in 1820s Caribbean, will be available from Dreamspinner Press on March 27, 2017. http://karenbovenmyer.com/
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