LOVE IN DARK SETTINGS: historical adventure speculative fiction & suspenseful lgbtq novels by Dusk Peterson

Imprisonment. Slavery. War. Love.

New stories | E-books & free fiction | Awards

Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction: alternate history, historical fantasy, and retrofuture science fiction, including lgbtq novels and online fiction. Friendship, family affection, faithful service, and romance often occur in the stories. A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books.

Story lists and tags | FAQ | About me Contact me

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | AO3

To receive notices of e-book publications and free fiction, subscribe to Dusk Peterson's e-mail list. You can unsubscribe at any time. (More information about the list.)

If the above form doesn't work for you, click on this link:

Subscribe to the e-mail version of Love in Dark Settings Press ¶ Stories by Dusk Peterson


August 2016 round-up: Big announcement! Plus e-books, free fiction, and other news

Historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction, including lgbtq novels. All e-books are DRM-free.


From this point forth, all of my new stories will be posted at Archive of Our Own as free fiction. You can read the stories online or download the stories as free e-books (in html, epub, mobi, or pdf formats) by clicking on the "Download" button toward the top of the story's page.

I'll also be posting all of my backlist at Archive of Our Own, starting with the stories that haven't yet been bundled into volumes.

I will continue to periodically bundle my online fiction by series volume or theme and offer such e-books for sale at online bookstores. However, I'm lowering the price of my commercial e-books, and I won't remove the free fiction when I publish the commercial e-books.

To those of you who have bought my e-books in the past and are now cursing yourself for not awaiting the free or cheaper versions of my stories . . . Your money has been paying my food bills. I greatly thank you.

I have eighty stories in my backlist that aren't yet free fiction. I have several hundred thousand words' worth of new stories at the editing/layout stage. I'm starting a new job. It's going to take me a while to get all my backlist posted, folks. In the meantime, my website will reflect the transitional nature of this change.

More announcements are available below, after my story announcements.

NEW E-BOOK: Risk (Dark Light)

Now available in multiformat. Click on the cover for more information.


REISSUED E-BOOKS: The Eternal Dungeon

Now available in multiformat. Click on the covers for more information. The expanded edition of the Eternal Dungeon omnibus now includes the story "Balladeer" and is available in wide distribution (including Amazon Kindle).

On GuardThe Eternal Dungeon: a Turn-of-the-Century Toughs omnibus

NEW FREE FICTION: Young Toughs, The Three Lands, & The Eternal Dungeon

Information about my free fiction. Click on the titles for the full blurbs and story.

New Day (Young Toughs). Kit has reached her apprenticeship birthday and is on a path to inherit power. But what sort of power will she wield?

Guise (The Three Lands). Daxis is the land of bards and of truths too painful to be faced.

Sweeping Day (Young Toughs). "When she was hired as a maid, no one told her that she'd hold the future of the Dozen Landsteads in her bosom."

Tax the Dungeon (The Eternal Dungeon). Nothing in life is certain but love, death, and taxes. But what if all three should converge?

REISSUED FREE FICTION: Darkling Plain & Master/Other

These stories have been unlocked again and moved to new series. Information about my free fiction. Click on the titles for the full blurb and story.

Revenge (Darkling Plain). Revenge is sweet . . . unless you are haunted by dark memories of your own misdeeds.

Cold Stars (Master/Other). The prince was told that he must find himself. But what if finding oneself means losing one's love?

REVIEW: Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon)

"Rebirth doesn't pull its punches. It is quite intense and at times, it is pretty hard to read. The main themes explored are good and evil, guilt and redemption, life and death. . . . Rebirth is about two men, both very damaged by their pasts, and both of whom want nothing more than to be reborn into men that are each worthy of the other." —My Fiction Nook on Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon).

FEATURED BACKLIST TITLE: O Most Unthankful (Master/Other)

An Arthurian tale. A simple Greek lesson reaches deep when a tutor seeks to teach a prince what can happen when love and duty clash.

Available free online: O Most Unthankful (Master/Other). Information about my free fiction.


I had already reached the summer room before I remembered; then I cursed myself. For four years, against all odds, I had maintained good relations with Belin, and one of the reasons I had managed to do so was because I had always shown him beforehand any texts I would assign to the prince. Belin had forbidden me to use only a handful of the texts I had shown him over the years; it took me little time to realize that this would have been one of the few.

I hesitated a moment, wondering what would be the best course to take now; then I molded my heart into courage and went searching for the priest, to make my confession.

I found him, appropriately, in the house's chapel. It had been a shrine to Mithras in the old days; Belin was not above desecrating other men's sacred places. To be fair to him, he probably thought he was bringing the shrine into the use that its original creators would have wanted, had they been so fortunate as to know of the Anointed One. Unlike some priests I had met over the years, Belin was refreshingly free of talk about pagan demons and their devillish followers; instead, he spoke of the fulfillment and summation of all good things in the Anointed One.

He was innocent of the fact that anyone might be offended upon being told that they adhered to a childish faith. I had not disillusioned him, partly because he was a good man in his own way, but mainly because he and his clergy friends were of too much importance. I had been in Ravenna when Rome's fourteen-year-old emperor was deposed there, partly because the Bishop of Salona denounced him.

Belin was not praying; he was reading from a bound wax tablet. At first I thought it was the letter from the King, but as I came closer I saw that the tablet's seal was not red but golden.

He looked up as I stopped next to him, and I said, "Bishop Dubricius has written to you?"

He nodded; his face was shining with joy. "He has asked me to send him the treatise I told him of, on the Blessed Paul's denunciation of pederasty."

I sat down on the bench beside him. The chapel was small, having originally been part of the larger room beside it, and then walled off when some earlier priest had decided that this mixing of sacred and secular was unwise. A tortured man hung from the wall – Belin was fashionable in his artistic tastes, and he preferred this design over the bare crosses that hung in most churches and chapels that I had seen. I slid my gaze away from the atrocity – after all, I reminded myself, my own ancestors had not been adverse to shedding blood for sacred purposes, though they had not gone so far as to revel in the agonizing death of a god. The altar below the cross was more to my taste, having been consecrated originally to an older god, as could be seen from the fact that the lettering of dedication had been hacked away.

The chapel was otherwise beautiful, filled with candles and incense and spring flowers. I breathed in the spice of the incense – I recognized it as one of the spices I had brought as a gift from the old Empire four years before – and tried to think what approach I should take in my confession. It did not appear that this was the best time for raising such a topic.

Belin, thankfully oblivious to my thoughts, said, "He says that he would like to use the treatise to help him compose a homily on the subject."

"Indeed?" I said. "That is a great honor."

Belin nodded, continuing to smile. "That such a great and influential man should value my thoughts on the subject is humbling to me. I hope that he will not be disappointed by what I have to offer. All that I have done is suggest some scriptural support for the Holy Church's condemnation of pederasty."

Belin was always the most polite of men; he never used words such as "sodomy" in the presence of an unbeliever. I said, "Surely that is not a matter that is under debate among the Anointed One's followers?"

The priest shook his head, his smile fading. "You would be surprised what wicked arguments men will make in the name of God. The bishop has among his flock some men and youth who, having lapsed into this sin, refuse to show proper contrition, but instead argue that the Blessed Paul did not condemn pederasty but some other sin instead. They quote the Blessed Hippolytus, who said that the Blessed Paul was speaking of those who take part in the orgiastic rites of the mother goddess. But I believe this is a misinterpretation of the letter to the Romans, and that the true interpretation of the passage can be found by examining the letters' later use of the words arsenokoites and malakos . . ."

He continued on for some time in this vein, with me pretending to show great interest – and indeed, I can always stay attentive to a good discussion of translation problems, however trivial the text may be. When Belin reached the point where he was preparing to describe the use of malakos in Homer to refer to Achilles' "soft bed," I interrupted him and said, "But does your holy man Paul say why he is opposed to pederasty?"

"That is clear from the words he uses," Belin replied promptly. "A malakos is a soft man, an effeminate man, one who has allowed himself to be used for the sexual pleasure of another man, as a woman should properly be used. 'Men abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another . . .'"

This was tiresome; I had heard this argument made by too many would-be philosophers over their drinks. "I can see that might be true of men," I said mildly, "but we are not talking about men, we are talking about youths. Surely at that time of life, the role of a young man is to follow, not lead, and it would be as improper for him to serve as master over his lover as it would be for a woman to serve as master in a marriage."

Too late, I remembered that it is never wise to try to argue philosophy with followers of the Anointed One; they always end up appealing to their holy book as certain proof that their god ordained such-and-such an action. Belin, who had turned concerned eyes toward me, said, "Good Arnobius speaks of how the King of Pessinus sought to withdraw his son from so disgraceful an intimacy, but spurned on by the frenzied madness of his lover, the youth mutilated himself—"

I stood up hastily, my head swimming from the sudden rise. For a moment, I thought that I was on the edge of a vision, but then I saw before me only the priest, staring up at me with the benevolent concern of a holy man who has failed to assist a soul that has strayed from his god's ways.

"I am out of my depth in these matters, I fear," I said with a smile. "I would appreciate it if you would lend me a copy of your treatise so that I may learn more on this subject. For now, though, I must return to my pupil."

Belin nodded, satisfied with this excuse, and turned his attention back to the tablet. I left him in the chapel with the flickering candles and made my way hurriedly down the corridor as the bells began to chime for dinner. No, not a good time for a confession, I thought. My best course of action would be to take the scroll back and return it to its hiding place.

I could only hope that the prince had not read far.

Available free online: O Most Unthankful (Master/Other). Information about my free fiction.

NEW SERIES: Dungeon Guards

The Eternal Dungeon is soon to wrap up after five volumes and fourteen years' worth of stories. (I do plan to write an additional postlude novel.) However, don't worry. Although my main protagonists' stories are wrapping up, the Eternal Dungeon is a big place, and some of the other residents there have been clamoring for their own series.

Dungeon Guards is my response to their demands. That series begins with The Shining Ones, which I originally published as a side novella in the Eternal Dungeon series, but which is now story #1 in Dungeon Guards. The rest of the first volume of Dungeon Guards is already written (my Muse has had a good summer), so you'll be seeing those stories too, probably next year.

OLD SERIES: Young Spies & Young Toughs

Because I'll be having less bookstore presence in the future, I've taken down my YA site and am folding the current volume of Young Spies (Law Links, which started off as a Three Lands volume) back into The Three Lands. The Turn-of-the-Century Toughs series Young Toughs will remain independent, but it will serve as a companion series to Waterman, featuring minor characters from Waterman in their own series. (If you've been paying attention, you already know that this is what Young Toughs has consisted of so far.)


I've moved my progress reports to the bottom of each series page, for readers' easier reference: The Eternal Dungeon, Dungeon Guards, Michael's House, Life Prison, Commando, Waterman, Young Toughs, and The Three Lands. (The Three Lands has an especially long "in progress" list. Man, was I ambitious in the 1990s.) I haven't included progress reports for the archived series, because who knows when I'll get around to updating any of them; but I can say that I plan to repost all the completed stories from Loren's Lashes and Leather in Lawnville. Also, Wizard of the Sun is coming soon.


I've revised two FAQ: Which accessible books are available for the disabled? and I'm visually impaired. What else should I know about this website?

The copyright and FAQ pages have been changed to reflect my return to concentrating on free fiction.

About the Author has been updated with information on my preferred pronouns (they/their) – and wow, how amazing it is to live in an era when people actually ask for that information.

The Older Writings section of my home page has been expanded to list fiction series titles and nonfiction site titles.


Scribd is carrying my e-books again, and 24symbols has been carrying them for a while, so I've added those links to the entries for my e-books that are in wide distribution.

I'd talked on my blog last spring about placing some of my stories in Kindle Unlimited. Instead I'm posting all my stories online! Which means I can't put them in Kindle Unlimited, since Amazon requires exclusivity of KU titles, darn it. I apologize to those of you who prefer to download stories from the Kindle store.


As mentioned above, I'm lowering my e-book prices. Omnibuses are now $9.99, novels/volumes are $2.99, and short fiction is 99c.


I had a couple of interviews last spring that are already a bit outdated, in terms of my e-book plans, but a lot of what I said remains relevant.

MM Book Escape interviewed me. Much of the interview is about The Eternal Dungeon. You can read about the interviewer, KathyMac.

J. Scott Coatsworth also interviewed me. The interview centers on my lgbtq speculative fiction. In addition to being an author of lgbtq speculative fiction himself, Mr. Coatsworth is the energetic founder of the Queer Sci Fi community for readers and writers of lgbtq speculative fiction. I highly recommend Queer Sci Fi's Facebook group; it's lively with interesting conversations.

[ Previous round-ups ] [ Latest online fiction] [ Latest e-books ]



See the series pages below for all my stories, neatly listed in order, with direct links to obtain each story. If you prefer to obtain my stories directly from an archive, e-bookstore, or e-book subscription service, click on the linked images in the next three paragraphs.

Online fiction & free e-books: 

Main stores: Dusk's store (multiformat) | Smashwords

Stores & subscription services with selected e-books:OmniLit (multiformat) | All Romance eBooks (multiformat) | Smashwords (multiformat) | KoboBarnes and NobleiBooksScribd24symbolsDusk Peterson's books at other stores

Cost of bookstore e-books: Omnibuses $9.99. Novels and story collections $2.99. Short fiction 99c.

Turn-of-the-Century Toughs

Tough (noun): a tough and violent person; a street ruffian; a trouble-maker.

Turn-of-the-Century Toughs is a cycle of alternate history series about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

The Eternal Dungeon. In a cool, dark cavern, guarded by men and by oaths, lies a dungeon in which prisoners fearfully await the inevitable. The inevitable will be replaced by the unexpected. ¶ The Eternal Dungeon is an alternate history series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

NEW! Dungeon Guards. In the Eternal Dungeon, there are only two types of guards: skilled guards or dead guards. But one guard has been both. ¶ Dungeon Guards is an alternate history series set in a nineteenth-century prison where guards seek love and companionship as they fight together against danger.

Michael's House. In a world where temples are dying and sacred theaters have been replaced by brothels, what will happen when a hard-headed businessman joins forces with an idealist? ¶ Michael's House is an alternate history series set in a Progressive Era slum.

Life Prison. They are imprisoned until death, and their lives cannot get worse . . . or so they think. But when an unlikely alliance forms against their captors, the reformers risk losing what little comforts they possess. ¶ Life Prison is an alternate history series about male desire and determination in nineteenth-century prisons.

Commando. The nautical nation is backed by the military might of an empire. The mountainous republic is populated by farmers and shopkeepers, and it has no standing army. The nautical nation is about to make the mistake of attacking the mountainous republic. ¶ Commando is an alternate history series that imagines what the South African Boer War could have been like if it had been fought on American soil.

Waterman. How can a youth from a bay island boarding school survive when he is sent to a futuristic prison? ¶ Waterman is a speculative fiction series set in an alternative version of the Chesapeake Bay region during the 1910s and during the future as it was envisioned in the 1960s.

Young Toughs. During the turbulent years between the cannonball battles and the atom bomb, life is not easy for young people. ¶ Young Toughs is an alternate history series about the struggles of youths in the twentieth century and into the future.

Dark Light. Only in the dark can one truly see the light. ¶ Dark Light presents short reads from Turn-of-the-Century Toughs.

Turn-of-the-Century Toughs series resources.

The Three Lands

Koretia, Emor, and Daxis were all founded on the same day, but as the centuries have passed, the Three Lands of the Great Peninsula have become increasingly divided by religion, government, and culture. Koretians worship many gods, Daxions worship one goddess, and Emorians revere only their law. Emorians claim that Koretians are vicious and superstitious, Koretians think that Daxions are vile oath-breakers, and Daxions charge that Emorians abuse their children and slaves.

If a god were to appear in the Three Lands, would his appearance bring an end to the fighting between nations? Or would he merely help to spark an inferno of war?

As the inhabitants of the Three Lands struggle to adjust to the appearance of an unexpected visitor into the human world, two people will play crucial roles in the conflict. One is a young Emorian – clever, courageous, and affectionate – who will come to understand the Koretians with a depth and intimacy that few others of his land can match. The second person is a young Koretian whom the Emorian will seek to destroy.

The Three Lands. He vowed himself to his god. Now the god is growing impatient . . . ¶ The Three Lands is a fantasy series on friendship, romantic friendship, romance, and betrayal in times of war and peace. The series is inspired by conflicts between nations during the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages.

The Three Lands series resources.

Older Writings

Archived series. Series of mine that I'm no longer updating regularly, though I do try to prod my Muse that way from time to time.

My online nonfiction is also available. I've written a lot of nonfiction. This part of my website is no longer updated; some of the information presented is out of date.


Turn-of-the-Century Toughs timeline, with stories linked in chronological order.

The Three Lands timeline, with stories linked in chronological order.

List of published fiction in reverse order of the date of composition. Includes publication histories for each of the stories.

List of published fiction by date of publication. Also serves as a timeline for my literary life.

Story tags.


Biography | Awards | FAQ.

My blog, e-mail list, and social networks. Stop by to see which stories I've just released, or to give me your feedback.

Shared universes. Fan works! Commissioned art! Stories and art set in my worlds by other authors and artists.

Word counts. For those interested in my creative process.

All writings by Dusk Peterson are copyright © 1981–2016 Dusk Peterson. For more information, see the author's policies on copyright, sharing, derivative works, and fan works.

Permission is granted for the reposting and reprinting of the banners, covers, and story summaries (blurbs) for the purposes of providing information on Dusk Peterson's writings. Please link to if possible.


If you send me pretty compliments, I will print your letter out and frame it above my computer. (This isn't much of an exaggeration.) If, on the other hand, you send me a letter that begins, "What kind of nit-witted writer are you? You gave your character blue eyes in scene one and green eyes in scene two!" then I will raise up a shrine in your honor and burn candles upon your altar.

Constructive criticism, enquiries, and idle chit-chat may be sent to Mx. Peterson at  duskpeterson(at) If your e-mail is time-sensitive, please include the word "urgent" in the subject line, because my apprentice monitors my inbox when I'm offline.