Hello all! I’ve had the pleasure of working with this awesome author and am happy to be a part of the Pawn Takes Rook: Conventional Love Blog Tour! This is book three in the world and you’ll want to get them all! Check it out!
Hello, everyone! I’m Lex Chase and thank you for joining me on stop #5 on the Pawn Takes Rook: Conventional Love blog tour. In this final installment of the Checkmate trilogy, we bid a fond farewell to Rook and Garth. For this tour, I’m talking about the Checkmate series as a whole. I’m sharing behind the scenes goodies, inspirations, and my crazy journey for the first year as an author. And that’s not all! I’m giving out trading cards drawn by yours truly. Make sure you check them all out in the tour!
For today’s topic, is the spy vs. spy element of Checkmate. When I had written the first book, Pawn Takes Rook, the whole Checkmate super soldier program wasn’t planned up front. I knew I wanted Rook to be a part of some kind of secret program. And I admit I’m totally a sucker for characters being linked together by destiny somehow. (If you don’t believe me, check out my first novel Chasing Sunrise in Summer 2014)
So, Garth had this dead grandpa that apparently left him everything. Garth wasn’t really living in the lap of luxury, but his grandfather made sure he was cared for after he passed away. Grandpa Dawson, his alleged brilliance, the creator of the crucial Google algorithm, and just how Garth seemed to idolize him.
It was just a big blob of things that made you go hmmmm… So, since I hope we’ve passed the grace period for spoilers, Grandpa Dawson is what tied Rook and Garth together. Garth’s Grandpa, Conrad Dawson, was the mastermind behind the Checkmate program. And in the course of Pawn Takes Rook, I had just enough to go on that this rabbit hole went pretty deep. Some readers didn’t care for it, or didn’t really have enough to go on. And that’s fair. Honestly, I was still figuring it out too.
I had Rook pretty set, it was Garth that was tricky. Because Garth was raised by his grandfather. Granted, we can all agree Garth was that kid brimming with an overload of ADHD, but he had to have noticed something. Hints have been dropped along the way with Garth’s place in the world. Pixel in Pawn Takes Rook: Cashing the Reality Check has a very crucial line about the whole thing. If you know what you’re looking at, or looking for, it’s spelled out right then and there what purpose Garth serves. And that comes to fruition in Pawn Takes Rook: Conventional Love.
I’d like to be that author that said “OH I TOTALLY MEANT TO DO THAT!” but, you caught me. I had a vague idea at first. But with both Checkmate books done and out in the wilds, I had to figure out how to connect the dots. Or how the dots were going to go together. My hope in Conventional Love I made the dots connect in a satisfactory way. So when I am dead and gone, scholars can look back at my sheer foreshadowing brilliance.
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!
OH OH! Time for Mystery Card #2!
(Miss a card? See the previous ones at: Gay List Book Reviews | Lily Velden’s blog | Release Party at the Dreamspinner Press Facebook Page | Tali Spencer’s blog | House Millar)
Pawn Takes Rook: Conventional Love Excerpt
I met Rook in the lair, where he was conveniently dressed in his usual obscene layers of black leather. You know, you’d think I’d be into that sort of thing, having a boyfriend with a strange penchant for looking like Dom in some S&M fantasy. But I’m not really. I like them clean-cut, gentlemanly, suit and tie, with ambition, goals, and a ten-year plan.
Instead? Somehow I got my very own Viking Biker Bad Boy. How did this happen? Did I trade in the lust for a Wall Street mogul from the penthouses of New York for the lust for a corn-fed farm boy from Depression Era Iowa? Somehow this will all make sense someday.
“This way,” Rook said, gesturing toward the wide gaping maw of a rocky cavern.
“If hundreds of bats are going to fly out, I’m outta here,” I warned him and cautiously followed.
The darkness swallowed Rook, and the only thing visible were his glowing aquamarine eyes, blue on blue, like he’s been huffing the Spice of Arrakis by the boatload. “Better,” he said in a content tone that was likely Rook-code for “Traumatizing.”
I sucked it up, putting on my best big-boy face, and followed. The darkness swallowed me, and the temperature dropped a handful of degrees in the span of a few feet.
“Look,” Rook whispered.
“Better not be bats,” I muttered, tracking his eyes, which seemed to be floating in the blackness.
There was a flutter of green, a shimmer of blue, and then a glittering of purple. I watched, turning my gaze upward. And there they were.
Lunar moths. Thousands of them. They lit the way with their bioluminescence, and their wings fluttered casually while they sat perched on the ceiling of the cavern. They pulsed in waves of green, then blue, then purple, winking like the flash of a camera in a crowded stadium. Sparkling. Enchanting. And this was in my lair. What? I don’t even….
Rook’s fingers laced into mine, and I smiled, watching him in the green light.
“Remarkable, isn’t it?” he asked.
“Definitely not bats,” I said, chuckling.
“Come on now, we have a stupid nerd prom to get to,” Rook said and turned to punch a hidden button.
Gigantic steel doors slid apart with a hiss and a puff of vapor. The lunar moths took flight and shot out of the cavern in a gargantuan glowing flock. I covered my face with my jacket sleeve as the moths brushed over my clothes. I blinked in the new darkness as my eyes adjusted to the light beyond the steel doors. Pale-blue spotlights, yellow tracer lights, and red beacons twirled, all tossing colors and shadows on the stalactites and stalagmites.
“It’s a hangar,” I said, realization clicking in with that oh dur moment. “We can’t afford this,” I spat, panic rising in my brain.
“We can afford this,” Rook said all too confidently.
“On what? Cereal box tops?” I asked, stepping up to observe the compact jet. I noted the folded wings, the nested propellers—of course it would be a vertical-takeoff-and-landing-capable vehicle. “We can’t—”
“We can afford this,” Rook said in a stern way that echoed off the cavern walls.
I jolted, and my attention darted to him. He didn’t seem the least bit amused about my agonizing over every last nickel and dime. Just how much did he make doing heroics for money? What was he even doing while on the job? Assassinations? My gut rolled as I immediately jumped to that conclusion.
“Okay…,” I said weakly and offered a nod.
The cockpit’s locks popped and slid open. Rook was already ascending the rungs of the side ladder. He got halfway up and held out a hand to help me. “Come on,” he said, flicking his fingers.
I put my hand in his, and with a sure pull, he lifted me off my feet and placed me in the rear of the cockpit behind the pilot seat. I buckled in, tightening the unreasonable amount of straps. I had no idea what they were all for.
Rook got situated at the controls and started crosschecking the various pieces and parts. Once he was satisfied, the jet engine revved to life and he took the control stick in a sure grip.
Finally, I mustered the courage to ask him, “You’re a pilot?”
“Nope,” he said, and my stomach hit the deck as we lifted off the ground.
“What?” I squeaked.
Why God, why would you put me in a flying machine with a madman?
“I read the manual,” he said and tilted his head toward my left. “It’s there. In the compartment.”
Immediately, I yanked that puppy out of said compartment.
And held a folded three-page pamphlet.
I said nothing and tightened my seatbelts again.
Oh, God. I hate flying.
Do you have a story that you enjoy that’s full of clues and puzzles of the bigger picture? What are they?
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]
1/9 – Tricia Kristufek [Collect Mystery Card #2]
1/10 – Tempeste O’ Riley [Collect Trading Card #5]
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]
1/20 – Jaime Samms [Collect Trading Card #11]
1/22 – Mrs. Condit Reads Books [Collect Mystery Card #3]
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]