QSFer Dusk Peterson has a new queer alt history book out (ace, bi) – Dungeon Guards book 1: The Awakening.
Barrett Boyd has awakened from death to a new and baffling life. He knows that he is a guard in the queendom’s royal prison, the Eternal Dungeon. But why do the prisoners matters so much to him? Who are these other guards who appear to have claims over him? And how will he survive while he finds his new place in this world?
As Barrett seeks to make sense of his surroundings, he must contend with a would-be love-mate, a grumbling rebel, deadly enemies, and the challenge of how to wield his expanded skills.
This suspenseful novel can be read on its own or as the first volume of Dungeon Guards, an alternate history series about nineteenth-century prison workers who seek love and companionship as they fight together against danger.
Dungeon Guards is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series about disreputable men on the margins of society, and the men and women who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as in a future that never existed, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times.
Now the Midcoast nations of this world have reached a turning point: the old order is about to be overthrown. Brought together in friendship and romance by the danger of rising events, the people of the Midcoast nations must learn to adjust to a new world.
Honored six times in the Rainbow Awards for LGBTA literature, Turn-of-the-Century Toughs presents an epic tale of adventure, friendship, romance, and class struggles.
In addition to being Volume 1 in a series, the novel is also Volume 6 in a series cycle. However, it can be read without reference to the other volumes in the cycle.
Warnings: Brief nongraphic violence (gun, whip). Brief scene of nongraphic judicial racking of a side character. References to past disciplinary punishment (flogging) of the protagonist, which nearly resulted in death. Brief temptations toward partner abuse. Emotional abuse and neglect of adult offsprings, one of whom is a main character (with references to past childhood abuse and neglect).
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“Sir! The gunfire has stopped!”
He looked back at Clifford. The junior guard was swathed in light. Only recently had Barrett realized that the light was evidence of his love for Clifford. It was still a strange revelation to him. Until he met Clifford – or rather, until he took notice of the guard who had been desperately trying to attract his attention for three years – he had thought that nobody in this world mattered except the prisoners.
It had been a severely limited perspective on the world; he knew that now. That being the case, Barrett spared a thought for the Seekers. There was no knowing how many of them had been in their so-called living cells when the gunmen burst into the Eternal Dungeon. Some would still have been sleeping; Barrett had come on duty early. The remaining Seekers would have been scattered in various portions of the dungeon: in the breaking cells, in the rack rooms, in the entry hall . . . perhaps a handful in the common room or the crematorium or the healer’s surgery. Some might even have been in the outer dungeon or in the judging rooms in the palace above; those Seekers were presumably safe from the gunmen.
Though there was no way to know what was going on in the palace, Barrett reminded himself as he returned to Clifford’s side. This might be a general attack on all who worked for the Queen.
“How did they get in?” he asked Clifford.
The junior guard shook his head rapidly. He was dressed in his uniform; like Barrett, he had evidently intended to arrive for duty early, but he kept his uniform in the outer-dungeon apartment where he lived. “I don’t know. I was just entering the inner dungeon when the Codifier’s guards reached that entrance. They were about to thrust me back into the outer dungeon, but Mr. Sobel appeared and grabbed me. He had a gun in his hand. He asked me where you were. I told him I didn’t know. He gave me his extra key to the rack rooms and ordered me to find you and to come here. He said he’d come for us.”
To kill them? Barrett contemplated that possibility. In the midst of so much bloodshed, it would be easy enough for the High Seeker’s senior-most guard to shoot Barrett and Clifford and any of the other guards and Seekers who had recently raised a rebellion against the use of torture in the Eternal Dungeon. The High Seeker had seemed mild-mannered when Barrett spoke with him privately two nights before, but Layle Smith frequently seemed mild-mannered. Killers often were.
“Gun?” He fastened on that image.
Clifford gulped air, the first sign he had shown that he was struggling for composure. “He has special permission to use a gun in the dungeon, if it’s necessary in order to protect the High Seeker.”
Whereas the remainder of the Seekers’ guards, working in a cramped dungeon where it was too easy for bullets to ricochet, were bereft of all weaponry except daggers and whips. And neither Barrett nor Clifford were armed with even that, Barrett was acutely aware.
“There’s only him and the Codifier’s guards,” said Clifford, misery permeating his voice. “They’re the only ones with revolvers. The guards at the main gates have rifles, but if the gunmen killed them—”
Barrett held up his hand. A moment later, Clifford’s face changed. He too had heard the approaching men.
Dusk Peterson writes award-winning historical speculative fiction: history-inspired mythic fantasy, alternate history, and retrofuture science fiction. Amidst dangerous events, love often occurs in the stories: family affection, friendship, platonic life-companionships, and romance. A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books. Visit duskpeterson.com for serialized web fiction, exclusive pre-releases, series resources, and notices of new releases.
Blog and newsletter: http://duskpeterson.dreamwidth.org