Blog Tour ~ Claiming Marcus (Lords of Discord #1) by Jocelyn Drake (Review + Guest Post +Excerpt + Giveaway)

Title: Claiming Marcus

Series: Lords of Discord #1

Author: Jocelynn Drake

Publisher: Indie

Release Date: 10/31/2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 100,000

Genre: Romance, paranormal romance

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Synopsis

Vampires slaughtered my family.

No one believed me until I met some new friends, who promised to help me get justice.

But nothing prepared me for Marcus Varik.

Tall, dark, and mind-numbingly sexy.

But he’s also shy, protective, and adorably eccentric.

Oh God, I should have never agreed to betray him.

Hopefully, it’s not too late to fix my mistake before I lose more people I love.

Claiming Marcus is the first book in an MM paranormal romance series that has vampires, betrayal, annoying brothers, music, heartbreak, hope, sexy times, and a raven named Ozzie.

Excerpt

Ethan wanted to feel panic and fear when he stared at Marcus. There really was no doubt in his mind that Marcus and his brothers were vampires. A sane person would have taken his brother to a hospital. Ethan hadn’t seen the actual wounds, but just the amount of blood he cleaned up meant that Bel had been seriously injured. No one could heal from that without medical assistance.

And yet, just an hour later, Bel’s color was starting to improve. He was resting on the couch, his breathing falling in a steady rhythm.

Looking at the aristocratic creature seated on the piano bench, streaked with his brother’s blood, Ethan couldn’t see anything but a man exhausted and hurting in ways that he couldn’t fully understand. He trusted Marcus to not harm him. He’d already gone out of his way to protect him from Meryl and Cain.

Ethan wanted to take care of Marcus. It was clear that he was the family protector. He was the one who made the hard decisions and directed the others in order to get things done and keep them safe. But who was there to take care of Marcus?

Taking Marcus’s bloody hand in his, Ethan pulled him to his feet and led him out of the music room. He paused in the hallway. The third floor held four rooms with locked doors. One of them was Marcus’s private bedroom, but he didn’t know which one.

“Here,” Marcus said, pointing to a pair of double doors farther down the hall.

Ethan nodded and led the way, pulling the keys Marcus had given him out of his pocket. He unlocked the doors and pushed them open. There was only one small lamp on the nightstand burning, but it was enough to illuminate the large room with an enormous four-poster bed and a long bureau made of a dark wood. The walls were a dark blue with white trim. The carpet under their feet was so thick it was almost like walking on a cloud.

“Thank you, Ethan,” Marcus murmured. He squeezed Ethan’s hand before releasing it. “You can sleep in the green room if you’re too tired to return home. And you don’t have to come in to work tomorrow…or rather today. You need your rest.”

Ethan turned and smirked up at Marcus. “Work, huh? I thought I was fired.”

Marcus gave him a tired little smile. “I don’t think I technically fired you. Just threatened to do it.”

Taking a step closer, Ethan slowly reached up and touch the top button on his stained shirt. “Well, I think I’m technically here as a friend, because if your employee did this…” Ethan paused and slipped the first button through the hole. “We’d have to deal with a whole lot of HR shit, and we don’t want to do that.”

Marcus swallowed hard, staring at Ethan. He licked his lips as his breathing picked up, but he didn’t say anything to stop Ethan. Yeah, Marcus was attracted to him. Ethan thought he’d picked up a few little tells over the past couple of weeks, but Marcus was overall very careful. The guy was stuck so far in the closet, there was little hope of him ever seeing daylight.

But this wasn’t about Marcus exploring his sexuality. There was still the issue of him being a vampire and holding knowledge of his mother’s killer. This was about Ethan seeing that Marcus got some well-deserved rest.

Still moving slowly, Ethan lowered his hands and unbuttoned the next three buttons before Marcus finally moved, capturing both of his hands in his.

“Ethan?”

“It’s okay,” he said, giving him a reassuring smile. “I’m just helping you. I’m going to turn on the shower and get the water to warm up. Do you want me to help you finish getting undressed?”

Marcus’s mouth dropped open and sort of soundlessly bobbed for a second like he couldn’t get the words out.

Ethan chuckled. He was so damn attracted to this man, to this vulnerable side that he was sure his brothers didn’t get to see. Ethan pulled his hands free and resumed unbuttoning his shirt. He pulled the shirt free of Marcus’s pants to get the last couple of buttons. Hours ago, Marcus had rolled his sleeves up his forearms so that all Ethan had to do was run his palms up Marcus’s strong chest, reveling in the feel of hard muscle. A low groan rumbled in Marcus’s throat and that sound sent blood rushing to Ethan’s cock. Fuck, that was an amazing sound. He smoothed his hands across Marcus’s shoulders, pushing the shirt down his arms and to the floor.

“Ethan…I…”

“Shhh,” Ethan murmured. “Nothing is going to happen. You’re safe.” He leaned up on the tips of his toes and pressed a light kiss to Marcus’s throat. Strong hands immediately clamped down on his hips, holding him in place. Fingers dug into his ass and Ethan nearly moaned. He’d die to feel those hands all over his body. Just the thought had his cock stiffening.

“Not sure if the promise of nothing has me relieved or disappointed,” Marcus admitted in a shaky voice. He looked down and Ethan could feel the slight tremor creeping through Marcus’s muscles. “I’ve…I’ve never—”

“I know,” Ethan interrupted. “That’s why nothing is going to happen.” Well, one of the reasons, at least. “You need someone to take care of you tonight. Shower and then bed. Once you’re tucked in, I’m going to head home, but I’ll return later today.”

Sadness crept into Marcus’s blue eyes, but there was also relief there. He nodded and released Ethan.

“Finish getting undressed, my sexy friend,” Ethan said and sauntered toward the open door across from the bed. He was guessing it was a private bathroom.

He flicked a switch and sucked in a harsh breath as buttery light cascaded over warm marbled and gold fixtures. The bathroom was almost as big as his old apartment. There was a large garden tub that could easily fit three full-grown men, a double sink vanity with a long mirror, and a shower stall that had enough space and heads to cover the same three men who just climbed out of the tub.

There was muffled thump on the floor and Ethan guessed that Marcus had dropped a shoe. “Are you so touchy-feely with all your friends?”

Ethan laughed as he walked over to the shower. “Would you be jealous if I was?”

“Yes,” Marcus hissed, and that single word wrapped in a possessive tone warmed Ethan like nothing else could. He’d had more than a few sexual partners in his life, but no one he’d call a boyfriend and no one who ever felt possessive. He was just a warm body, a tight hole, a great mouth to fuck.

But with Marcus, he felt like more.

Opening the door, Ethan turned the handle, starting the shower. He stuck his hand in the spray, checking the temperature. Still cold. He started to turn to make sure that Marcus had a clean towel, but he jumped when he found Marcus standing directly behind him. The man had moved so silently and so fucking quickly. How had he not noticed him?

Because he’s a vampire.

Oh, yeah. Ethan’s brain kept conveniently forgetting that little fact.

It was even easier to forget when Marcus was standing just a couple of inches away, wearing only a pair of black boxer briefs. He was pale, but it didn’t detract from his beautiful body. Every inch of him was hard. Every. Fucking. Inch.

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A Family Moment – A Lost Scene From the Variks

Here is a lost scene that could fit within Claiming Marcus:

Marcus leaned forward and rested both of his forearms on the top of the grand piano from where he sat behind the keys. He accepted the crystal tumbler from his brother Bel with a nod and took a sip of the dark liquid. A part of him relaxed as the exquisite flavor danced across his tongue. It was a house blend—half twenty-year-old Scottish whisky and half AB negative.

Setting his glass on the piano, he looked over at Rafe, who was draped over a high back leather chair. He had one leg thrown over the arm and the arm rest on the top of the chair, his hand still lightly gripping his violin bow, while his violin rested on his chest. The bow would dance and bob in the air as he talked to their other brother Winter as if he were absently conducting an invisible orchestra.

 “Are we really going to just stay in tonight?” Rafe complained. “It’s not often that we’re all together and disaster isn’t striking. We should go out, drink, dance. Find something delicious to play with.”

Winter gave a half-hearted shrug as he dropped in a chair identical to Rafe’s. “A little distraction would be nice. Mother has turned in for the night. All should be quiet.”

“Mother has turned in because the sun will rise in three hours. There’s no point in going out if we’ll have to seek shelter soon,” Marcus said with a shake of his head.

Rafe heaved a loud sigh and shifted in the chair so that he was sitting upright. He carefully grabbed his violin with his free hand and moved it to his lap. “Well, if you’re all going to be boring, I’m going home where there are more interesting people around to play with.”

“Maybe Marcus is eager to go to bed because he’s been rising so early each day,” Bel murmured. Marcus glared at his younger brother, but Bel just smirked at him.

“And how would you know that?” Marcus grumbled.

“A little birdie told me.”

Marcus sniffed. Little birdie his ass. Ozzie was a five-pound raven that liked to visit his home, with a little direction from Bel. “He’s not going coming in here again if he’s going to give you updates on my habits.”

“But Ozzie likes your house,” Bel argued. “A lot more than Rafe’s.”

“Only because he knows that if he shows his black beak around my penthouse again, I’m going to fry him up and serve him with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy.” Rafe waved his bow at his brothers as if brushing off the distraction. “But what’s this about Marcus rising early? Why? It’s not like you can go outside.”

“Must be who has coming inside,” Winter said with a grin.

Rafe’s expression turned dirty and Marcus groaned. 

“You’re all ridiculous,” Marcus snapped. He picked up his glass and quickly downed the rest of its contents. 

“It’s this Ethan person. The man you hired as your assistant,” Rafe said. He was practically vibrating in his seat now.

“Ethan Cline,” Marcus corrected before he could stop himself. “He’s just helping with a few things. I’ve adjusted my schedule so that I’m awake when he’s here in case he should need anything.”

“Shouldn’t he be worrying about your needs?” Winter needled.

“What’s he look like? Have either of you seen him?” Rafe demanded.

Bel shook his head and Winter gave another shrug of one shoulder. “He’s cute, I guess, for a human.”

Marcus had to bite his tongue to keep from arguing that Ethan was far more than just cute with his enormous soulful eyes and handsome face. But there was no reason to throw more fuel on this fire.

“Bah!” Rafe said, waving his bow at Winter. “I don’t trust your taste.” 

Silence fell over the music room for a moment and Marcus searched his brain for a new topic of discussion to distract his three younger brothers from thoughts of Ethan. But he was too late.

Rafe sprung to his feet and thrust his bow straight into the air. “I have a new idea! Sleepover at Marcus’s!” He pointed the bow at Marcus and a wicked grin spread across his angular face. “That way we can all rise early and get a look at this Ethan Cline.”

“No!” Marcus said, also shooting to his feet. “Absolutely not!”

“Come on, Marcus. Let us play with him,” Rafe teased. He was joined be more choruses of pleading from Bel and Winter in between their bouts of laughter.

“No. Out. All of you, out now,” Marcus declared, shooing them toward the exit.

Their laughter echoed through the townhouse, bouncing off the high ceilings as they slowly made their way toward the front door. Marcus loved his brothers dearly. Would do anything for them. 

But if he could help it, sharing Ethan was not one of them. Their time together was going to be short, but Marcus planned to enjoy Ethan’s company as much as he could before they had to part ways. For now, Ethan was his and his alone.

4.5* A very good start to a new, ‘with purpose’ vampire series, where the plot isn’t obscured by sex – yay!

The first chapter of this tale is a little confusing and I think that’s deliberate to throw readers off a little, so that they can plunge into the world and have a few eureka! moments as things get revealed. I’m glad that the ARC that I got didn’t have a synopsis of the tale, as I just went with the flow.
I liked that we got enough of the vampire leads’ (we get introduced to all 4 brothers, who all pretty much feature equally, despite this being Marcus’s tale; I suppose it was necessary to introduce this vamp/human world) family and past to understand who they were and the new world in which they, and humans (and possibly more?) exist. I wasn’t entirely sure, even at the end, if humans were officially aware of the existence of vamps, or whether the European and American vamp councils kept them concealed for the most; it didn’t sound like those agencies acted like a liaison with humans.

The romance felt believable and played out in a low-key way in between the introduction to the good guys in this world, and those who want to make vamps the dominant race. The tale had balance and the brothers all seemed worthy of getting to know. I wonder if one of the tales might be a menage, or even if there might be a MF romance. The storyline here read as more mainstream than the majority of MM vampire tales and I liked that there weren’t any tropes or glamouring or claiming or ‘my mate! mine, mine, mine’ and that there was no blood lust stuff. Refreshingly, neither lead was an alpha male, and in fact, this distinction only hit me later on in the tale, as I was engrossed in the story and the possibilities of what future tales might reveal. I did wonder most about an older vamp who appeared briefly, was a hugely important person to the brothers, but then faded away due to a devastating incident. I can’t help but think there will be more revealed about him, and I wonder if betrayal and/or things that are part of a bigger scheme will slowly be revealed.

This was a really refreshing change from the majority of MM vamp tales out there, and I can’t wait for more.

ARC courtesy of the author and Bayou Book Junkie, for my reading pleasure.

4 stars

I LOVE me a good vampire story! The pacing of the story was fluid and I loved getting the two sort-of-prologue chapters that gave us insight into both Ethan and Marcus before they meet each other in the present. Going into the story knowing each MC’s background definitely made it easier to connect to both characters in different ways. 

Ethan and Marcus worked well together and it was nice to see them building their relationship but at the same time navigating everything that comes with being a human with a vampire. And this story is not your typical romance. There is a whole vampire world with politics, backstabbing, killings and power grabs among multiple groups that will most likely play out as similar themes in future books in this series! 

I like the emphasis on the Varik family and how all of the brothers interact with each other. They are all very different so getting each of their stories should be fun! 

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. *** 

 

Meet the Author

It started with a battered notebook. Jocelynn Drake wrote her first story when she was 12 years old. It was a retelling of Robin Hood that now included a kick-ass female who could keep up with all the boys and be more than just a sad little love interest. From there, she explored space, talked to dragons, and fell in love again and again and again.

This former Kentucky girl has moved up, down, and across the U.S. with her patient husband. They’ve settled near the Rockies…for now. She spends the majority of her time lost in the strong embrace of a good book.

When she’s not hammering away at her keyboard or curled up with a book, she can usually be found cuddling with her cat Demona, walking her dog Ace, or flinging curses at the TV while playing a video game. Outside of books, furry babies, and video games, she is completely enamored of Bruce Wayne, Ezio Auditore, travel, tattoos, explosions, and fast cars.

She is the New York Times Bestselling author of the urban fantasy series: The Dark Days series and the Asylum Tales. She has just completed a gay romantic suspense series called The Exit Strategy about two assassins falling in love and trying to create a life together. Her newest project returns to her vampire roots with a new MM paranormal romance series. She is also the co-author of the Unbreakable Bonds, Ward Security, and Pineapple Grove series with Rinda Elliott.

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