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Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes fantasy and science fiction with historical settings, including lgtbq novels. Suspense plays an important role in many of the tales; the conflict in those tales is both external and internal. Peterson's stories are often placed in dark settings, such as prisons or wartime locations. The mood of the stories, however, is not one of unrelieved gloominess: romance, friendship, and faithful service are recurring themes.
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Subscribe to the e-mail version of Love in Dark Settings ¶ By Dusk Peterson
NEW BOOK BUNDLE: Mercy's Prisoner (Volume 1 of Life Prison)
"'You have committed a vile and savage act, one that any other nation would punish with death. Our punishment, on the other hand, will only be to give you what you want. You have sought to live in a world without boundaries of civilization, and such a world shall henceforth be your dwelling place.'"
A cold-hearted murderer. A vicious abuser. A young man hiding a shameful secret. A bewildered immigrant. A pure-minded spy.
All of these men have found their appointed places at Mercy Life Prison, where it is easy to tell who your enemies are. But a new visitor to Mercy is about to challenge decades-old customs. Now these men's worst enemies may be hiding behind masks . . . and so may their closest allies.
"Mercy's Prisoner" can be read on its own or as the second volume in
the Life Prison series. Friendship, desire between men, and the costs of
corruption and integrity are examined in this multicultural speculative
fiction series, which is inspired by prison life at the end of the nineteenth
Life Prison. In the unmerciful world of Mercy Prison, there is no rule but unending pain. For Merrick, the arrival of his new guard provides hope that he may break beyond the boundaries of his life prison. But appearances can be deceptive, and Merrick does not yet recognize the danger this guard poses to his future.
Men and Lads. Two guards. Two prisoners. A multitude of problems.
Milord. He was the model prisoner, respectful to his guards and loyal to his fellow prisoners. What no one knew was that he held the key to destruction.
Isolation. Being locked in a prison cell can cause a man to re-examine his priorities. Especially when the door never opens.
Curious. His job is to guard the prisoners. But against what?
Mercy's Prisoner: Epilogue.
Mercy's Prisoner: Historical Note.
Tags: romance, friendship, comradeship, bisexual and gay characters, asexual and celibate characters, bdsm characters (in one story), multicultural characters, prisoners, guards, wardens, rebels, spies.
I had trouble sleeping that night. I don't know why; sleep had always been my one blessing at Mercy, transporting me back to the pleasant days preceding my arrest. I usually woke with a smile on my face. But tonight, tired though I was, I found myself staring up at the ceiling, hour after tedious hour, wishing there were cracks there that I could count.
Some of the prisoners had started a debate the previous year over what was most painful about Mercy. Was it the separation from family and friends? The beatings? The humiliations? The backbreaking work? The rapes? The list went on and on.
I hadn't participated in the debate, which, like all such conversations, had taken the form of shouts exchanged between the cells. There was a reason I'd been granted the luxury of a single-man cell: my last three cellmates had been prepared to murder me rather than live another moment with me. Since the death of a prisoner was not, alas, one of the many pains permitted at a life prison, Mercy's Keeper had finally dealt with the problem by giving me a cell of my own – which, of course, had been my plan all along. It was irritating to have to endure being strangled three times in order to achieve what I wanted.
Particularly since I couldn't hope that the stranglings would be successful.
Though I had no desire to become chummy with the bog-scum who inhabited this place, my own unspoken contribution to the debate was that boredom was the greatest pain. Boredom didn't come often – most days after work I was barely awake enough to do whatever my present guard required of me – but when it occurred, it was excruciating, like being flayed slowly by a dagger. I often thought that, if I were ever broken into madness, it would be through such a spell of boredom.
I say all this to explain why, when I heard the cell door being opened at lamp-lighting time, my first thought was not (as one might expect), "Oh, no, not again," but rather, "Thank the gods, something new." I rolled over onto my stomach and raised my head to look.
He was a slightly built man; I could see that at once from the outline of his shape against the fire in the pit. With my eyes still dazzled by the newly lit lamps, I couldn't immediately make out the man's face, but I could see one of his hands, gripping hard the hilt of his dagger. That grip stopped my heart for a moment, but even my wildest imagination couldn't hope that the new guard would start our acquaintance by stabbing me, so I raised my eyes to his face.
And my heart stopped once more. I jerked upright in bed, twinging an old hip wound as I did so. I had been rather foolish during my first year, testing the guards in various ways. I winced.
The guard said softly, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."
"Not at all," I said through gritted teeth as I rubbed my hip. "I'll return the favor when I can."
It took no artifice on my part to sound annoyed, though the annoyance was aimed solely at myself. This was not the guard I had been preparing myself for. I had expected a rod-mutilating monster, and what I found myself faced with was a young man.
His face came full into the light as he stepped forward. Wearing the uniform of a Compassion guard, he looked even more like his father: he had the same thin lips and the same straight eyebrows. But the eyes were empty of all coldness – indeed, of all expression of any sort – and there was no smile on his lips, cruel or otherwise.
"My name is Thomas," he said. "I'm your new guard."
I noted the use of his given name rather than his paternal name, and with the instinct of a veteran fighter I dropped and made my attack accordingly. "Ah, yes," I said. "The son of Compassion's Keeper. I can expect great deeds from you, I'm sure."
His lips grew even thinner, but that was all; it seemed that he was well used to this mode of attack. He said, as though I had not spoken, "My job is to provide service to you during your stay at this prison, and to make your stay as comfortable as is possible under your circumstances. If you have any needs, I hope you will let me know of them."
I stared at him open-mouthed for a moment, and then I gave a hoot of laughter that resounded through the entire level. The early-morning conversations across the fire-pit paused briefly, and Sedgewick, who was passing my cell, glanced in with narrowed eyes before continuing on.
"Let me – let me understand you correctly," I said, struggling to gain control of myself. "You'll give me any service I want?"
"Any service that is in accordance with the rules of your stay."
"But the only rule is that I should not be permitted escape, either through death or any other means. So you'll give me anything else?"
"If it's within reason, yes."
"Anything at all?"
"Tell me what you want, and I'll be able to give you a firm answer." His patience, I saw with delight, was wearing down.
"Fine," I said, leaning back and pulling off the blanket to reveal my body underneath. I had given up wearing clothes at bedtime several guards before. "I want you to come over here and service me on your knees."
¶ Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Mercy's Prisoner.
A Sexual Minority Speaks Out (Rebels). "I am an adult male belonging to a rare minority group that is called, in layman's language, Plain Vanilla Straight. I have had these sexual desires for as long as I can remember . . ."
For adult readers. Tags: contemporary satire, heterosexual
characters, far-from-straight characters, business people, police, church
RECENT CATEGORY BESTSELLERS
Click on the covers for more information. Spy Hill, First Time, In Training, and As a Seeker are also recently reissued in multiformat.
"Really well written, sexy and intelligent." —Amazon (Jason Lawrence) [review to an out-of-print edition] on Transformation (The Eternal Dungeon).
"This story is set in a prison where the jailers are psychologists who use any means necessary to get to the truth of the crime. Most times torture works. Sometimes friendship works." —Goodreads (Rachael) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).
"The world-building – especially all the detail given about the Eternal Dungeon, and hints about the world abroad – are incredibly interesting. . . . The 'romance' is really only hinted at towards the end, which seems to imply another installment might continue on the theme (or revisit the characters) . . . For myself, it was just fine, as I think throwing in a romantic arc would have dampened what made the story so interesting in the first place." —Goodreads (Devon) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).
"I'm really glad I got to read it. It's pretty special." —All Romance eBooks (Lulubizou) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).
"More to the story than you'd expect . . . very engaging." —Amazon (EMH) on The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).
"I wish I could purchase the rest of this series now. If they are as
compelling as this one I wouldn't come up for air until I had read each
& Noble (customer review) on The
Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).
NEW FICTION CYCLE: YES, MY LIEGE
I've done a bit of shuffling of my fiction series in order to better
group together similar series. The Three Lands, Princeling,
and Darkling Plain are now all part of Yes,
My Liege, a cycle of fantasy novels about the bonds of affection
in service, friendship, and romance.
Those of you who prefer to shop by book cover at Amazon may be interested in my new Amazon storefront, where my Kindle e-books are divided by series. I was able to build this nifty storefront as a result of becoming an Amazon Associate.
(And no, this doesn't mean that I've gone over to the Dark Side. My
e-books are still available at other
Speaking of the Dark Side, I've finally given in and created a Facebook page:
Like my Twitter and Goodreads
accounts, my Facebook account will link to my blog entries. I've also updated
my list of social networking profiles
to add my profiles at several authors' forums: KBoards Writers' Cafe, Rainbow
Romance Writers, Romance Divas, and Romance Writers of America.
I've added new items to the tags page:
* female homoromantic love, female romantic friendship, and female classical
* service love (lord/liegeman, master/servant, etc.).
* polyamory and multiple partners (in romantic friendship, romance, or just plain sex).
Turn-of-the-Century Toughs is a cycle of speculative fiction series about disreputable men on the margins of society, and the men who love them. The novels are set in an imaginary version of Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic states between the 1880s and the 1910s. One of the series in the cycle, Waterman, combines elements of the 1910s with retrofuturistic imagery from the 1960s.
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 a speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.
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 a speculative fiction 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 a speculative fiction series that imagines what the South African Boer War could have been like if it had been fought on American soil.
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 a speculative fiction series set in a Progressive Era slum.
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 inspired by the Chesapeake Bay oyster wars, boarding school rivalries in the 1910s, and 1960s visions of things to come.
Darkfics. Only in the dark can one truly see the light. ¶ Darkfics collects side stories from Turn-of-the-Century Toughs.
Turn-of-the-Century Toughs series
Yes, My Liege is a cycle of fantasy novels on bonds of affection in service, friendship, and romance.
Princeling. In a world in which only the pitiless nobles who wage war hold power, and those who cannot fight must suffer or seek slow death . . . What would you do if you were a noble, and you lost the ability to fight? ¶ Princeling is a fantasy series set in a world where war has lasted for generations.
The Three Lands. He vowed himself to his god. Now the god is growing impatient . . . ¶ The Three Lands is a fantasy series on 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.
Darkling Plain. Separated in time and place, these young women and young men are united in their goal: to protect those they care for from the destruction of battle. The odds are against them. ¶ Darkling Plain is a collection of fantasy tales about young people in times of conflict.
The Three Lands series
Sweet Suffering is a cycle of fantasy and science fiction series on friendship, romance, and faithful service amidst hardship and transformation.
Master/Other. Masters come in many forms. Some don't even know they're masters. ¶ Romantic and poignant, Master/Other offers speculative fiction stories exploring the dangers and sweet bonds of power.
Slaves of the Northern Corporate
Dominion. When humans are seen only in terms of profit and loss,
what happens to humanity? ¶ Slaves of the Northern Corporate Dominion
is a shared-universe science fiction series on exploitation and love, set
in a time when a nation's corporate government has institutionalized slavery.
Unmasked. Behind the screaming news headlines, behind the hype and the sensationalism, lies the quiet but dramatic tale of people whose actions may change the lives of the next generation. ¶ Unmasked is a contemporary fiction series on a challenging topic.
Main Street Leather. Leather
is a world of rich pleasure palaces and endless sensual delights, where
dreams can be pursued without limit, provided that a man has the strength
to stand the test. . . . But in the rural town of Mayhill, population 32,000,
leather life is a little different. ¶ Main Street Leather is
a cycle of contemporary series with gay love stories and satire on transgressive
sexuality in past decades and the present.
Pixel-Stained: a documentary memoir of the electronic publishing revolution in gay genre fiction. The Pixel-Stained series publishes Peterson's memoirs in the form of e-mail, posts, and other documents. These accounts depict life at several electronic literature communities connected with gay genre fiction, as witnessed from the inside of those communities.
Narrative Nonfiction. Narratives and other nonfiction about religion, literature, gender, sexuality, and other topics.
Online nonfiction. Just click on
the link. It's a long list.
Subtext. My fan fiction (rare litfic), as well as a list of the novels that inspired my original works.
Shared Universes. More fan works! Stories and art set in my worlds by other authors and artists.
Buried Treasure. My recommendations of online male homoerotic stories and male friendship stories (and anything else that catches my interest).
Beta readers for my stories. My
editors, editorial assistants, proofreaders, and technical consultants,
with links to their websites.
List of published writings, positions, and honors: Divided by date.
List of published writings, positions, and honors: Divided by subject.
Word counts and progress report. Includes a list of the stories I'm currently working on.
Updates e-mail list, blog, and social networking
Cover designs: Dusk Peterson. 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 duskpeterson.com if possible.
Constructive criticism, enquiries, and idle chit-chat may be sent to
Peterson, if you wish to be formal) at
duskpeterson(at)fastmail.fm. When I'm writing, my e-mail inbox is monitored
by my assistant; please mark any urgent e-mail with the subject heading